Are we taking care of ourselves?

Two weeks ago I decided to write about healthy habits you can implement in your workplace.  This week I want to continue this conversation, but focusing it on taking care of yourself before you take care of others.  This concept has so many stigmas behind it; as humans, we put this pressure on ourselves even before others put it on us.  Today, a lot of organizations are actively looking for ways to relieve our stress, whether it is by giving more flexibility or by giving better benefits.  Although not all organizations are at this point yet, I do believe we are headed into that direction.

Don’t get me wrong, work ethic is extremely important and shouldn’t just be put aside, but how can anyone expect you to be functioning 100% if you haven’t felt 100% lately.  You wouldn’t go to your doctor’s office to treat a cold if you knew that they have the flu.  There is no way a physician who has the flu has the energy to take care of their patients, and a physician in their right mind wouldn’t allow their patients to be exposed to a whole different illness by being seen by them.  In order for the doctor to give the quality care, they need to feel energized and healthy.  We work in a very similar way, we have been told to separate what’s happening at home from what’s going on at work and vice versa.  In an ideal world, this would be the perfect formula, but we are human and we know that if things aren’t going well at home it becomes a distraction, just like when you have issues with your boss; you sometimes come home in a terrible mood and unfortunately, your family will see that.  In order for you to tackle work at your maximum capacity, you need to make sure that you are already taken care of.

I know that this won’t always be possible.  I have had times where I need to meet deadlines no matter what else is going on in my life and that’s just part of life.  To avoid this happening too often, I always try to put myself in a good space and reiterate to myself that although I want to I can’t be everything to everybody.  We all play multiple roles for multiple people and entities.  I am a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, coworker, leader, volunteer to name a few and reality is there is no one time I am equally devoted to all my roles.  During work hours I am more devoted to reaching goals and leading by example, at home I try to forget about that and focus on my different personal relationships.

In order to be able to handle all my roles and responsibilities, I make sure I have taken care of myself first.  Taking care of myself comes in different forms depending on what’s going on around me.  On my luckier days, I have the luxury of free time by myself and use it to catch up on reading, watching television, sleeping in, or catching up on different personal projects I have for myself.  Realistically speaking this doesn’t happen as often as I like and sometimes taking care of myself looks more like making good food choices, taking some time to exercise, making sure I go to my annual physical exam, among other basic things I should be doing on a regular basis.  When these things are taken care of I feel better about myself and more energized to continue working.

Whenever you feel burnt out, try to think about the last time you did something for yourself, chances are you haven’t in a while.  Make sure you take some time for personal wellness and add it to your routine, even if that means you need to let go of a few things.  It might be hard at first but you will thank yourself for doing so later on.

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Are Your Employees Engaged?

When I hear people talking about what they love most about HR, I always hear things like talent acquisition, benefits, employee relations, etc. While all of those things are great, I have more of a unique answer; I love employee engagement. My passion is helping others and making an impact, and I get to do that by focusing on employee engagement. Because let’s face it: our employees are the foundation of our organizations and they are also our number one customers.

As my friend Steve Browne says, it is so important to get out into our organizations and know our team members. I understand this can be difficult if you work in a large organization, but at least get to know the people that you are around every day as a start. I have been pretty lucky in my HR roles and have always had the ability to support employee engagement. Today, I really just want to share with all of you some of the things that I have found successful when it comes to engaging your employees. After you’ve read mine, I would love to hear about what you do in your organization!

 

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  1. Employee Survey. Create a survey to give to your new hires on their first day. Ask them questions like, what is their favorite desert or what is their favorite restaurant. That way when their birthday comes around, you will know what kind of desert to surprise them with or what kind of gift card to send them as a present. The funniest part about this is that after a few months have gone by, they’ll forget they completed the survey so they will be super surprised when you give them something they really like! You could also ask how they like to give back in the community. That way if you are planning a volunteering outing, you can customize the experience to something your team will hopefully feel good about personally.

 

  1. Appreciation. In your survey, you should also ask how your employees want to be appreciated. Believe it or not, some people don’t like to be publicly celebrated. You should understand how they want to be recognized or rewarded and show your appreciation in a way that makes your employees feel comfortable. Examples of appreciation are: hand-written notes, private emails, email including peers, public praise/recognition, peer-to-peer, and gifts.
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Special Olympics Plane Pull 2017
  1. Team Building Events. My employees really love this last one. Full-time employees put in between 200 and 250 days of work each year, at minimum. Work can be hard, stressful, and sometimes intense. So it’s important to get out and have fun every once in a while. Yes, I said fun! Hold a team building event where your team can get together and enjoy time out of the office. Over the last couple of years, I have organized events at Dave & Busters and at TopGolf. The employees love it! I even split them up into teams with people they don’t normally work with so they can get to know others in the company better. The one thing that I heard several times after the recent M&A announcement was, are we still going to have annual team building events? It’s important to them, and that’s what we should be focused on as HR.

 

I know that we have a lot of responsibilities in HR and putting efforts into employee engagement may not be top at your priority list. So let me leave you with this; if we aren’t putting efforts into our people, then our people aren’t going to put effort into their jobs.

How Healthy Habits Help Boost Productivity

Halloween just happened and you might feel a bit unproductive and it may not be for the reasons you may think.  Usually, offices do festivities, costume contests, pumpkin carving contests, office decorating, etc. Sure, these may be considered distractions but studies have shown that these activities actually boost productivity because employees feel more engaged at work where they usually spend most of their time.  The one thing that might’ve made you unproductive this week: Eating all the goodies.

Those who personally know me know that this year I decided to focus my new resolutions on two things: my professional development and my health.  I did well in the professional development portion and have bragged about it enough in social media (hey what can I say, I’m just proud of my accomplishments), but I want to focus a bit on how building healthy habits has made it easier for me to sleep better and get to work more focused on tackling my never-ending to do list. Yay productivity!  A few things I implemented on my daily routine were the following:

  • Taking walking breaks: I wake up, drive 40 minutes to work, get to my office sit down, walk to the cafeteria to lunch, I sit down and eat, walk back, continue working, walk to my car at the end of the day for my hour commute. See what’s trending here? The sitting down part.  I now try to walk 2-3 times a day around our building; on busy days I aim for at least one walking break.  A few things changed once I started this; I started to feel more energized which meant I was drinking less coffee and tea and actually spending more time talking my work, I felt less exhausted on weekends when I usually run around and do my errands, and I started to notice my legs were getting stronger.
  • Switching unhealthy snacks to healthy ones: Not going to lie this was the hardest thing for me.  I enjoy indulging in sweets and at work, we have a lot of chocolate and candy going around even if we aren’t celebrating any Holidays or birthdays.  I started to eat less and less of the goodies and started bringing more fruit and veggies from home.  Whenever I was craving something sweet I would eat my grapes or an apple, when I wasn’t craving sweets I would eat carrot sticks with my favorite Olive Garden Light Italian Dressing or a healthy portion of cheese and crackers.
  • Started exercising more on my free time: This is in addition to taking the regular walking breaks and what I continue to struggle with the most.  I have never been athletic; I was the kid that was picked last during P.E. class (unless my best friend was choosing teams haha!).  To this day I still have to talk myself into exercising.  What has helped me personally is walking while listening to a fun podcast, time goes by faster and sometimes I end up walking more than I originally intended to because of how engaging the podcast was.  When it comes to exercising there’s a lot of trial and error, some people prefer the gym, others prefer taking group classes, others listen to music and so on.  Once you find something that works for you, continue to do it as much as you can. Can’t exercise every day, aim for once or twice a week until you are in a place where you can add more exercise to your routine.
  • Aiming to go to bed at least 5 minutes earlier than my usual 11:00 pm bedtime: I love surfing the web, reading blogs, books, or watching my favorite TV shows on Hulu and Netflix, which have caused me to go to bed too late for my own good. Now I am going to bed earlier, but even if you’re super busy and don’t have the luxury to go to sleep that much earlier, try to go to bed 5 minutes earlier than usual for a week and keep adding more time if the 5 minutes actually worked for you.  A little extra sleep is better than no extra sleep.

Once I started to make these changes I noticed I was being more productive at work even when we spending part of our days on office festivities.  That’s when I realized that our habits usually make or break our days.  So try to apply some of these habits (or all) and see if you start feeling more productive at work.  If you have any other ideas to make your day more healthy and productive I would love to hear them.   Now that the year is ending I am thinking about what I want to do for next year’s resolution and I definitely want to continue adding more healthy habits.

Disconnect & Unplug

Vacations are a time where we are supposed to unwind, relax, and recharge. However, when we have a mini computer in our pockets with the ability to talk to others in an instant through voice calls or texts, our down time becomes more limited. When we say we’re going on vacation, its just fancy terminology for working remotely; or so it seems. Why is disconnecting so hard?

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The one picture that I posted from the Bahamas using Wi-Fi.

A little over a year ago I went on a cruise and was hit with a sudden dose of reality. When you’re on a cruise, you can’t make calls, send texts, or get on the internet without paying a ton of money for Wi-Fi. If you are like me, the first couple of days were hard. I still managed to make a couple calls and post a pic on Facebook from the Bahamas, but for the most part I was completely shut down from my so called “life.” It took me about three days to realize I needed to just enjoy living in the moment. I had finally stopped worrying about, “what if they need me for this or that.”

Fast forward about 11 months, I head out of town again for another real vacation. Prior to leaving, there was a lot going on at work that had me pretty stressed out. It was hard to leave knowing it would be 10 days before I could return and continue with my work. My new boss told me not to worry about anything, that we’d pick back up when I returned. However, not everyone thinks that way. There are still some people that continue to ask for things, even when you are supposed to be enjoying your time off. I appreciated being informed when a couple of issues were resolved that I had been stressed about. But there were also times when I was told, “I have so much to tell you.” I mean come on – when you’re on vacation, that’s the last thing you want to hear. You start stressing because you’re trying to enjoy yourself and other people are getting in the way. But in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, I wonder what the name for our new company is going to be, so you make sure you’re available to dial in for the webinar on Tuesday at 3:30 PM. Is it FOMO (Fear of Missing Out?) Who really knows. The good news is that I did refuse to carry my laptop with me. I left it in my bedside drawer and only pulled it out a couple different times. I tried to be strong and tell people that I wasn’t available because that was my time. I did respond to some personal emails, but mostly to tell people I was on vacation and that I’d get back to them when I returned. Lesson Learned #1: Don’t just put up an out of office on your work email, but an automatic reply on your personal email too so you don’t have to worry about replying to people letting them know you are on vacation.

dogsSo what is my life lesson this week? We need to learn how to truly disconnect. We need to teach our employers that when we are out of the office, we are unavailable. I think as young professionals we want to try so hard to please our superiors that we just give in and please them.  I envy hourly employees, because as a salaried employee, I feel like we always make ourselves available, when in reality, we need to try and stick to a schedule because we end up training our leaders that we are there for them whenever, wherever. Learn how to take time to clear your brain and how to recuperate from the stress and struggles of the workplace and life in general.  Learn how to say no to those that expect you to say yes.

Most importantly, don’t just wait until your annual vacation to disconnect and unplug. Find ways to do these things on a regular basis. Take time for yourself to just close your eyes for five minutes, relax, unwind, put yourself in a calming place, and know that whatever it is you’re working on will still be there once you’ve had time to unwind.

Believe it or not, life is still happening all around us. The conversations or events you could be experiencing with someone right beside you may never happen if you’re always looking down.

Lorena’s Updates

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So I wanted to change the tone this week and talk a bit about myself and what has been going on with my life lately.  I am very excited to say that my episode of the HR Social Hour Half Hour Podcast was published a little over a week ago and I had so much positive feedback.  People connected with me via Twitter and LinkedIn from literally different parts of the world, which is always exciting.  Jon and Wendy were excellent hosts and made me feel at ease (I’m not going to lie I was very nervous during and after recording).  I have really enjoyed the podcasting world and hope to find future recording opportunities!

On a different note, as I have mentioned before in this blog, in the past I used to be a student officer for two different SHRM student chapters as well as the Co-Advisor for the Rollins College Student Chapter.  I really enjoyed these roles and wanted to continue to support students but due to different circumstances, I had to say goodbye to my role at Rollins College Student Chapter for the moment.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to work with students directly for a while, but it is an honor to announce I will go back to supporting student chapters but at a different capacity.  In December I will be sworn in as Director of College Relations for the Greater Orlando SHRM chapter!  I have been on the board as Director of Internal Membership for almost a year and it has been a great experience, but I am ready to start a new challenge.  The SHRM student chapters were essential for my professional development and I really want to give back to students who want to enter the HR profession.  I have already started working with Nate, our 2019 GOSHRM president about a few things I want to tackle this upcoming year for College Relations and I can’t wait to share them with you all!

I am also working on making the Holidays special at work this year.  I started my current position back in November and between learning my role, tackling compliance, and recruiting for our newest office I had little time to plan Holiday related festivities at work.  I’m trying to get creative and think about inclusive activities we can do in addition to our usual “Secret Santa” and last year’s “Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest”.

Finally, on a personal note, I will be traveling internationally next month for ten days and plan to post about it once I get back (even though it isn’t necessarily HR related).  I think traveling helps us learn more about people and their cultures and HR is all about people and culture!  I will be taking a lot of pictures and taking mental notes about memorable places and moments on this trip.

So that’s basically it for now.  This post is shorter than usual and a bit more informal, but that’s what’s great about blogs, we can make them personable and fun! Very excited about what’s coming next!

P.S. Here’s a link to my episode of the HR Social Hour Half Hour Podcast in case you haven’t checked it out yet!

https://hrsocialhourpodcast.podbean.com/e/episode-36-jon-w…/

 

 

 

I’m Finally Here

I’ve been working in HR now for four years. At my first professional job, I started out as an Intern and then had an opportunity to stay on in a full-time non-HR role where I still had opportunities to support the HR team with a few things after the internship ended. My roles at that company was perfect for me at that time as I finished my degree because my team there was supportive and flexible. However, we all knew that once I reached the point of graduation, I would no longer be challenged enough and would need more.

An amazing opportunity came around to me about five months after graduation. I was given a chance to work as an HR Generalist in an HR Department of One. The first few weeks/months started out slow. I started out doing things I felt like I should do; I did an I-9 audit, created some policies, and got to know my team. But a lot of the time it would just be so slow that I’d put on a Netflix movie just to help the day go by. My mom told me I should start a journal so I could write about those days because one day I would miss them and would find it hard to believe that it actually happened. But then there was a point where it was like the light switch just flipped around the three-month mark. We started making a lot of changes around the organization. We started with our payroll company, then our FSA and 401k vendors, followed up by our insurance broker. Although my title is HR Generalist and I was doing HR work, something still felt off. The funny thing is though, I didn’t realize it felt off until about six weeks ago.

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The owner of our company decided he wanted our organization to grow extensively, which is great! So now we’re going through a merger and acquisition. Thankfully my job remained safe, because it is my understanding that sometimes that isn’t the case when a M&A happens. After I was informed of the news and started meeting some of the new leadership team, I started reflecting on some things. One thing that I felt was that I had never really worked for someone that appreciated the value of HR. I think we’d all agree that HR is a leadership role and I felt like I was “just an employee” at times. Maybe it was just my perception, but the feeling was still there. However, this new growth opportunity opened a ton of doors to me that I am still trying to wrap my head around. I finally feel that I actually work in HR now; I’m finally here. It isn’t because of all of the hours I’ve been putting in and all of the craziness we’ve been dealing with to make this M&A a success; it’s just the fact that I finally feel that the right people believe in the value of HR and that they will encourage us to be leaders.

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Now there is always a point to my stories, so what is the point to this one? I know that the younger generations (mine included) have a tendency to not feel challenged enough by entry level jobs so they don’t stay at them very long. We don’t give our employers a chance to train us over time to become the best we can be. We jump from job to job trying to find the most perfect role, but no role ever stays perfect for long. We look at those slow days sitting around watching Netflix as an opportunity to jump ship because we feel like this is the way it’s always going to be.

So here is my advice to other young professionals out there. Give your job a chance. Look for opportunities within your organization to grow, flourish, and shine. You may not always feel challenged enough, and I totally get it. There have been a lot of times in my last four years that I didn’t feel challenged enough. There were even times when I knew the job wasn’t going anywhere for me, but I still stuck with it because I was learning what I need to know so I could be successful when I did end up moving on.

The end goal is to be in an organization that trusts you and values you and the work you are doing. It may take time because trust doesn’t just happen; it’s something you have to earn. If you give it time though, and you put all of your efforts into being successful, you’ll have nowhere else to go but up. Then like me, you’ll start to miss the slow days. #DontGiveUp

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Be an Advocate

HR isn’t always black and white.  Of course, there are certain issues especially in the legal and compliance context that it has to be, but when dealing with employee relations I have learned that we can’t always be black and white.  For some of us HR professionals this is a given, especially in organizations that have a strong HR department presence, but others work for smaller organizations or can even be an HR Department of One and in these cases, it is our job to make a case for these exceptions that happen in our day to day.

A perfect example that comes to my mind was a situation that happened to me weeks ago.  I interviewed a young woman who was very excited about the possibility of being employed by our organization.  She did a stellar interview; everyone loved her.  We quickly offered her the job.  She came in the first day and her trainer was very impressed by her energy and willingness to learn.  The next day she didn’t come in, she never called in sick or let us know she was running late. We have a no call no show policy and management was ready to use it. I didn’t feel comfortable with terminating her from our system; it just felt very odd that someone with that energy on the first day decided not to come back on a whim.  So I called her and it went straight to voicemail.  I decided to call her emergency contact, her mom. What I learned was that she had a medical emergency the night before and was having emergency surgery at the hospital. That made so much more sense.  I immediately communicated the information to her supervisor and arranged to send a gift from the organization.  After surgery and feeling fully conscious the first thing this employee did was call and let us know what had happened.

When situations like these arise, it is important to understand that although showing up at work is ultimately important, sometimes life gets in the way and things like these can happen.  Does that mean that we have to let everyone get away with excessive call-ins and attendance issues?  Of course not, but it is important to treat things in a case-by-case matter.

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Another situation I had to deal with on a previous job was with a stellar employee at the practice.  She never had attendance issues, she came in early or stayed in late when asked.  She was very good at speaking with patients; she was so good that she was promoted right after her probation period.  She was dealing with a difficult employee at our practice that didn’t usually follow protocol and this irritated her within reason.  The problem was that instead of taking it to management she wrote an email that sounded very passive aggressive.  This was brought to my attention and her supervisor and I sat with her to take about the incident.  We obviously told her that the behavior was unacceptable and we wanted to know why she took matters to her own hands.  She was very angry but maintained composure.  She did, however; request a demotion because she didn’t want to deal with this specific employee again.  I told her that if this was what she wanted to do that I would arrange for this to happen, but I urged her to think about it for the next 48 hours and to let me know by that Friday if she still felt the same way about it.  She apologized and told me she would think about it but she thought her mind was set.  That Friday she came by with two apology letters, one for me and one for the employee she had been rude to over email.  She told me she had thought about it and she wanted to keep her position. Later, she thanked me for giving her the opportunity to think about it and told me that a lot of people would’ve just given the demotion to avoid dealing with the problem.

In this case, I had a really good employee who never had any issues, making the mistake of writing something that came out as rude.  I could’ve easily written her up without having an in-depth conversation about what brought her to do that and given her the demotion to avoid this ever happening again.  In my profession, I believe it is important to get to know who your employees are, whether you supervise them directly or not.  If I hadn’t known this employee’s background I might have lost a key player in a very important department.

With these two stories what I mean to say is, to think about our people.  Realize that not everything will be black and white, and be an advocate whenever it is the just thing to do.
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Blessings in Disguise

Have you ever experienced something that really upset you? Were you left wondering why did this happen? Maybe it is something you’ve never gotten completely over or maybe it is something that you processed and accepted. Everyone has their own way of dealing with situations. Personally, I don’t like to hold grudges or hold negative feelings in for too long. I feel that life is too short and that we need to take time to process situations, accept them, let them go, and move on. I haven’t always felt this way, but I have had great role models in my life that have taught me this great lesson.

I have learned that everything happens for a reason. Whether we know the reason now or we learn it in the future, that doesn’t really matter. We are meant to learn a lesson from everything we experience and from everyone we encounter. I know there are a lot of negative situations that people may encounter that they may wonder, why do I need to learn something from that? It is a fair question; I have spent many years asking myself the same thing. However, as we grow, mature, and learn, everything always seems to come back around.

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There are certain situations that have occurred in my life that I like to refer to as “blessings in disguise.” I am the type of person that has a hard time saying no to people and opportunities. I want to thrive and do the very most I can do. I enjoy supporting others and being involved with multiple organizations. Sometimes life has had to interject and take things away that I may not be able to say, “I need to give this up.”

Without going into specific details, in order to protect the names of those involved, I want to provide an example. I was involved with an organization for many years. My role evolved over the years as the needs changed. During my last year with the organization, I had every intention to remain involved, but the leaders of the organization had other ideas. The communication that occurred during this time was not handled appropriately, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. The most unfortunate part was that a friendship was sacrificed because of the whole thing. Needless to say I was hurt that I would no longer be involved with the organization, and I was also angry with the way it happened. It took awhile to fully process, and I had many conversations with friends, family, and mentors. I’m sure they all said the same thing to me, but it wasn’t until I connected with one particular person that I was able to fully process everything and let it go. After that conversation, it felt like a weight had been lifted. Since then I have moved on and have decided that leaving that organization was a blessing in disguise because it has allowed me to take on newer opportunities.

As a young professional, I can attest to the fact that the guidance we receive as we go through school and as we start our careers, is that we need to network and get involved; even I recommend this to people seeking advice from me. But don’t forget about the time commitments that all of these opportunities may require. Don’t overdo yourself and burn yourself out from what you love to do. If you are burnt out, your passion for HR may fade and those around you will notice. Most importantly, do as I say, and not as I do, because anyone that knows me knows that I don’t listen to my own advice. Do me a favor, if you don’t remember anything from this blog post, please remember this: keep your eyes peeled for your own blessings in disguise. If you are going through something you don’t quite understand, just remember, one day you will realize why it didn’t work out and why something else did.

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Yours truly, Amanda Brunson, SHRM YPAC Social Media Lead, HR FL Conference Committee Communications Coordinator, GOSHRM Marketing Director and Blog Writer. 😉

Interview Tips from an HR Pro

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You landed the interview! You were able to stand out from hundreds of resumes in the applicant tracking system, which means you have one foot inside the door.  What’s next, how do you get this job?

In my current role, I interview candidates on a daily basis for different types of positions.  Based on my experience I thought I would share a few tips that might help you get closer to landing the job you want. Although I can’t guarantee you’ll get the job I can guarantee that these tips will definitely get you close.

Research the organization. Never walk into an interview without knowing what the organization does.  Search for the company website, read about what the company does, their mission and values.  Make sure you are ready to impress your interviewer(s) on all the company knowledge you have.  Look up recent news where this organization has been mentioned, this information will give you an idea of where the company is headed and it shows that you’re up to date with what is happening in the industry.

Dress the part! It is important to always dress up for an interview; it makes you look sharp and shows that you care about the way you present yourself.  There’s a small exception to this rule, sometimes the employer will tell you to dress down and it is ok to do so, but keep in mind you still want to look professional.  For example, a few weeks ago my boyfriend was told to dress casually since the team wore jeans on Fridays, he decided to wear khaki pants with a nice polo shirt.  He managed to maintain a professional look while looking casual.  For women in this situation, I would recommend wearing dressier jeans with a blouse, a casual pair of pants or skirt with a nice blouse or a simple casual dress.

Practice answering possible interview questions. It is impossible to know what questions you will be asked in an interview, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice.  There are always a few popular questions such as questions that inquire about work history, strengths, weaknesses, and what makes you a good fit. Also, search online common questions asked to people who are applying to similar positions.  In situational questions don’t dwell on the problem, focus on the solution to the problem.

It is ok to be nervous and it is ok to be honest about it. With that said, don’t let your nervousness overcome you.  Try your best and don’t overthink it.

Don’t lie to your interviewers.  This backfires so much.  A lot of the information you give can be verifiable; even if it isn’t, recruiters have done this long enough to know when they are being lied to.  Maybe they don’t know 100% of the time but once you are caught they know they can’t trust you.  Showing your integrity goes a long way.

Ask questions at the end.  This is not only about the employer getting to know you, but also about you getting to know your potential employer.  You both have the right to know if this job is the right fit for you and the organization.  When the interviewer(s) gives you the opportunity to ask questions do not waste it. Make sure you are asking questions related to job tasks, organizational values, your potential coworkers and team, and the culture.  It is okay to ask about pay and benefits, but be smart about how you approach those topics. I usually recommend asking a few questions first, ask about pay and benefits, and then ask about a lighter topic afterward.

Thank them! Always thank the interviewer(s) before you leave. I also highly recommend a thank you note whether it is handwritten or through email.  Make sure this note is sent/given within 24 hours after the interview. After that it is a bit of a waiting game; if you haven’t heard from the organization/recruiter within a week, make sure you send a follow-up email or call.

If you follow these tips, interviews will start getting easier to do and you will make a better impression. Always remember to practice your interview skills even when you aren’t thinking about switching jobs/careers. It is helpful to do so with friends, family and professionals who have experience interviewing. Also check out if local colleges, professional associations, or even churches are hosting mock interviews. That is a great opportunity to practice and listen to feedback. Trust me, you will get better at this.

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Take Time to Give Back

We all have had someone that has influenced us at all points of our career. Whether it’s a mentor that has our best interest in mind, a “bad boss” that shows us how not to act, or a phenomenal leader that teaches us all we know, it’s important to remember to honor those influencers by giving back. What do I mean by that? A few examples of giving back include: being a mentor to others, volunteering to present at speaking engagements, or supporting job seekers that need assistance with resume reviews, interview prep, and/or dressing for success.

When I was new to Orlando and new to HR, I immediately started seeking support. I attended a Greater Orlando SHRM meeting and was welcomed with open arms. I was connected with Ivette Dupuis who was already a student at Rollins College, the school I would be starting two weeks later. Ivette became a mentor, colleague, and true friend that pushed me out of my comfort zone in order to achieve my goals. I always say that I want to be Ivette when I grow up.

ivette

Fast forward a few months… I was working for a beverage distributor in the Central Florida area. We were recruiting for an HR Generalist and a guy by the name of Danny Becker was hired. Little did I know then, but he would become one of my best friends. Not only were we friends, he was an amazing leader in our organization and I learned so much from him. Sometimes I still hear his voice in my head reminding me how to do something. It was because of him that I felt comfortable going into an organization where I would be working in an HR Department of One.
danny

These four years that I have been in Florida pursuing my HR dream have been amazing. I have been so lucky to come across so many influencers. In addition to Ivette and Danny, I want to also give a shout out to Jackie Brito, Rollins College and Callie Zipple, SHRM. I could probably list a bunch more people, but then the list wouldn’t seem as special as it truly is. I believe we should always continue learning and having those influencers in our lives, but there comes a point where you should take everything you’ve learned and pay it forward. I have found a few ways to do this.

Over the past few months, two of my social media connections gave me an opportunity to give back. I hope they don’t mind if I mention them by name, but both Steve Browne and Kristina Miynard had HR connections they knew that were new to the Orlando area. I connected with both of them to learn about how I could support their contacts. Additionally, I have returned to my alma mater to speak to their SHRM chapter about how to transition from student to professional. Not only does this support the Rollins students, but it also helps me overcome my fear of public speaking.

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If you are looking for a way to give back, but aren’t sure where to start, I would recommend starting with your local SHRM chapter. Check to see if they have a mentorship program you can be a part of or if they partner with organizations in the community that provide workforce readiness support. There may even be speaking opportunities with the local colleges. I know Rollins was always looking for local professionals to come speak to our students about their area of expertise.

Most importantly, remember your influencers that helped you get to where you are. I know we control our own lives and take the steps necessary to get to certain levels, but we’d be lying to ourselves if we didn’t recognize the people in our lives that gave us knowledge, confidence, and support we needed to get there.