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Posts Tagged ‘human resources’

 

Several business people wander through a maze looking for a job

When I published the article “You’re hired!”…and it took me a year, I had no idea that I would be looking for work three years later.  Back then, I had just concluded an intensive search after my position in a stable, global financial institution was abolished, ending a successful career that progressed nicely over 16 years.

When I accepted the offer for a permanent full-time position the following year, it was not quite the dream job I was looking for, but I was convinced, and still am, that I was forging a new path to take me to the next level.  In fact, I deliberately disrupted myself.  It was a newly created job with the mandate to develop and deliver a marketing strategy for products I had never marketed before.

Two years in, there were budget and staff cutbacks.  I sub-consciously knew that the time to move on was fast approaching.   Last summer, my position was eliminated.

Although it’s cold comfort, I realize that I am not alone.  I’ve met many mid- and advanced-career professionals on the job search trail.  I see the struggles to remain positive, diffuse anxiety and stay the course.  My career transition experience has given me some insights on stumbling blocks that can potentially derail a job search and how to avoid them.

  1. Other people’s stories are theirs, not yours

During my networking, I’ve met many people who’ve “been there, done that” and they tell their stories of how they got through it.  The Winners, who took only 2 to 4 months to land on their feet; the Whiners who give very detailed explanations as to why they won’t ever get hired (age…, conspiring former bosses and colleagues…, no one hires in summer… etc.) and the Copped-Out & Lucked-Out who boast about the luxury of being able to retire early so they avoid looking for a job.

Then there are those who haven’t “been there.” They have never lost their jobs.  They are really Secretly Scared that this could happen to them, while they hint that they pity you and don’t envy you.  There are also the Helpers and Hinters who in an awkward effort to provide good advice, actually end up saying exactly what you don’t need to hear (“You’re doing something wrong, otherwise it wouldn’t take so long…”) or they send you job postings that are no match for your skills and experience.

It’s so easy to buy-in to other people’s stories.  Comparing your experience with other people’s stories is a waste of time and energy.  The truth is you need to own your story.

Instead of trying to explain your story, make a commitment to yourself to be clear on what’s best for you.  Only you can make sense of your life’s journey.  Only you really know the things that motivate you and ultimately matter to you.  Very few people will understand your story.  Most people are trying to figure out their own story and others don’t have the time or are not really interested in listening to yours.

The temptation to set low expectations and settle for less becomes real when you compare yourself with other people. It takes courage to say “no” to seemingly good opportunities in order to say “yes” to the very best.  You are not a loser if you haven’t found a job within a given timeframe or if you made it to the final interview but didn’t get the job.

Even if you don’t have the financial independence to prolong your search, if you accept a position out of necessity, remind yourself that you can work while continuing to search for your dream job.

  1. The corporate ladder is an obsolete metaphor

Job seekers, who have progressed over many years in one company, tend to be overly concerned with titles, organizational structures and status.  In most progressive organizations today, dotted lines, flat organizational structures and collaborative team environments are the norm.

I agree that people should look for challenging work that fits their experience and expertise.  But looking for a job with a title that fits into the next step on the corporate ladder can prevent you from finding enriching opportunities for meaningful work that expand your talents and capabilities.

The truth is that we are living in a new corporate world order where the corporate ladder is fast becoming an obsolete metaphor.

Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In, encourages professionals to forget the corporate ladder and consider careers in terms of a jungle gym. You can venture down different paths and explore numerous possibilities on the way to achieving your goals, just like trying to climb to the top of a jungle gym.  It took me quite some time to get this during my career transition four years ago.  I am glad I did, as I ended up finding an interesting opportunity which has broadened my experience not only professionally, but in my volunteer work and social life.

  1. Being stuck really sucks!

Following on my two earlier points, getting stuck can happen very easily if you can’t define what you want or if your definition of what you want doesn’t fit in the new corporate world order or with your values.

I’ve come across a few people who are stuck within a destructive ‘my way or the highway’ mindset, hanging on to what was and what will never be, taking job loss personally and feeling victimized.  When corporate priorities change, it so happens that some jobs are no longer needed. That’s why no one should take a layoff personally.

I know that it can be a drag to be out of work and pounding the pavement can be tough.  But here’s the upside:  going through a career transition can be the best opportunity to reorient a career.  On reflection, many people thank their lucky stars that they had the chance to move on, rather than stay stuck in a career that was no longer meaningful.

Most successful careers rarely ever follow a smooth, upward north-eastern trajectory.  Compromises and disruptions do occur along the way.  The truth is that compromises can be beneficial.

Speaking from my own experience, the job with a lower salary with less formal influence may just be what you need to gain more relevant experience in a changing world, while applying your past experience in a way that is beneficial to the organization and to your career in the long run.

 

Take ownership and responsibility for your career transition

The world is waiting to embrace talent and you have a fair shot to offer yours. Don’t let people, old ideas or a closed mind derail your job search.  The power to shape the future resides within each of us. That’s why it is important for every job seeker to take ownership of their career transition.

When you can clearly articulate to potential employers, who you really are and why you care, they will see that the value you bring to their organization is far greater than what you know and what they expect you to do.  This sets the stage for you to find meaningful work and for your future employer see you as a true partner, stakeholder and contributor to the organization’s success.

 

You may find the following articles helpful –

Career mistakes you must avoid@Deepak Chopra MD (Official)

Forget the Ladder; Try the Jungle Gym: What Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Says You Can Do for Your Career Right Now – Maggie Malon

It’s called a life, not a life sentence!  How to move forward when you’re feeling stuck@Michaela Alexis

 

Camille N. Isaacs Morell is a proven marketing strategy and business development enabler. She is passionate about inspiring people to make decisions that support business success.  

She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of enterprises and non-profit organizations with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

See the BIG picture…Focus on what’s important

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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Can you tell me about yourself?   Prospective employees come prepared to answer this inevitable question in the job interview. They know that recruiters and hiring managers very often use the response as a key element in their final selection criteria. Job-seekers are advised by career counsellors how to and how not to respond. “Don’t give a chronological account of your life or career. Do tie relevant aspects of your professional experience to the job description.”

Good advice? Maybe.

In today’s ever-changing business environment no one can bet that the job description at the time of hiring will be the same twelve months later. All of this begs the question: to what extent should the interviewee’s ability to explain how his or her professional experience is aligned to the job description be considered as a deciding factor in the hiring process?

The context of constant change
Changes in the economy, the impact of new technologies, market demand and the availability of talent, are some of the factors that require organizations to make frequent and important adjustments to their business strategies. These adjustments give rise to the need for employees to expand their knowledge and for companies to seek talent with specialized skills. McKinsey reports that over the past three decades, advances in technology have impacted companies. An important trend has been the disaggregation of roles into more specialized functions. For example, social and digital media have caused new and more specialized marketing roles to emerge in companies that previously only hired generalist, corporate marketers.
Adaptability, resilience and loyalty
In the context of constant change, hiring managers and recruiters can no longer rely primarily on the alignment of past professional experience with the current job description in the selection process. Constant change requires employees to be adaptable, resilient and loyal: adaptable – willing to embrace new knowledge and skill requirements; resilient to successfully work through the inevitable disruptions and stresses of change; and loyal, so that the company benefits from their experience over an extended period of time.

Rather than relying heavily on the best match between past professional experience and the current job description, hiring managers should aim to find out the value of skills and differentiating attributes that potential employees bring to the organization that are relevant now and in the future. The most likely way to find out is to ask the question: What is your personal brand?

Having a personal brand is important
A brand definition outlines a promise of value that is different from other providers who are perceptively similar. The term personal brand was first defined in Fast Company magazine (August 1997), in an article written by Tom Peters. In his words, “You’re hired, you report to work you join a team. Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself – you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.” But long before landing the job, anyone who wants to thrive and prosper in their prospective place of work will define their personal brand. This brand differentiates potential employees from other candidates, positions the potential employee as an expert and establishes credibility and value to the potential employer.

The personal brand provides answers to key questions
Potential employers should expect that at a minimum, candidates for professional and leadership positions should be able to articulate their personal brand. The best responses to the question: what is your personal brand? include:

  • Succinct explanations of the specialized skills and differentiating attributes a person brings to the organization;
  • How personal values support the corporation’s values; and
  • The factors that drive commitment to the mission of the organization.

Recruiters and hiring managers should also be able to gather answers to other key interview questions: what can you do for this company that someone else can’t? and why should we hire you? In fact, so much more information can be gleaned from the potential employee’s definition of his/her personal brand with probing questions. By asking for specific examples that demonstrate the personal brand in action, recruiters can gain some insight into the interviewee’s resilience and ability to navigate change.

Bringing all this information together will help both potential employees and hiring managers determine whether or not there is a good fit for the role and the company over time. Recruiters and potential employees will agree that information on qualifications, competencies and shared values ought to be the key elements in the hiring decision. A well-defined personal brand can initiate the discussion of these points during the job interview and provide valuable information required to make the final decision to hire employees who support the immediate and longer-term business needs.
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Camille N. Isaacs-Morell is a marketing professional whose personal brand is expressed in the statement “See the big picture. Focus on what’s important.” She passionately believes that all departments play a role in the delivery of marketing strategies and that employee engagement and the alignment of personal and corporate values are essential to make work a gratifying and satisfying experience. Read more at www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

This blog was published  on 11 June 2013 at Your Workplace.

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Attracting and retaining the employees who are a good ‘fit’ has become as important as the skills and professional experience presented on the CVs of prospective employees. Many organizations are investing time and resources to develop compelling reasons why potential employees should work for them. Corporate values, benefits packages and special incentives are communicated in job descriptions, hiring advertisements and on career portals.

The term “employer brand” has become almost a buzzword in the language of HR professionals, brand specialists and marketers.

But what really is the employer brand?
In a nutshell, the employer brand defines what the company offers to its employees. It’s the identity of the company as an employer. More specifically, the employer brand conveys the reasons why the organization is a great place to work and sets expectations for employees’ experience throughout his or her career.

A good example of a company with a strong employer brand is Google. Google is renowned as a great place to work because the company offers a fun, energetic place to work that encourages new ideas and innovation. An astounding number of prospective employees from around the world know this and want to participate in Google’s international internship programme and apply for jobs in their Silicon-Valley operations. According to global employer branding firm Universum’s global talent attraction index “The World’s Most Attractive Employers 2012”, Google has retained the top position in both categories — business and engineering — for the fourth year in a row.

The BIG picture
Defining and communicating the employer brand to attract prospective employees is only one element that contributes to business success. A well-defined and well- managed employer brand has a much bigger role to play than attracting and recruiting employees. It is important for employers to understand that the definition and on-going management of the employer brand should not be treated as an after-thought or delegated to the Human Resources department.

To be meaningful and effective, all business leaders and people managers in the organization must buy in to the definition of the employer brand and understand its alignment with the business brand. Businesses cannot be successful unless employees see the connection between the roles they are expected to play in the business plan of the company. This, in my view, is the BIG picture.

Connecting the business brand and employer brand
One reason why companies fail to retain top talent is because employees don’t see the relevance of their role in the overall mission of the company. Far too often companies attempt to develop an employer brand without any reference to the mission and business brand of the company. The business brand gives expression to the mission of the organization so that it is perceived as having a competitive advantage. The aim of a well-defined business brand is to create interest and engagement among its target clients and to win their business and loyalty in the long-term. Companies do this by establishing a brand promise – what customers can expect when they do business with the company.

Like the business brand, the employer brand must aim to give the organization a competitive advantage by defining what employees can expect when they join the organization. Employees generally expect that their employer will enable them to successfully contribute to the delivery of the company’s business brand promise.

Google is able to attract employees who are a good fit because the company establishes a clear connection between its business brand promise and employer brand promise. Google’s brand promise is to provide access to the world’s information in one click – making simplicity out of complexity. Google succinctly weaves its business brand promise into its employer brand so that prospective employees join the company expecting that they will be enabled to solve complex problems every day to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible to Google users. And this is done in a fun, energetic, innovative work environment.

Defining the employer brand
The process of defining the employer brand is not dissimilar to the process of defining the business brand. Key steps include:

Clear understanding of the corporate goals and business strategy of the organization – develop a definition of the employee profiles required to execute the strategy

Qualitative and quantitative data gathering – on the internal experience of employees and external perceptions of the organization – its values, culture, image, performance management and rewards

Gap assessment and opportunity identification – comparison of strengths, weaknesses and differentiators with those of competing organizations

Understand target audiences – an understanding of the needs and values of the target recruits and existing employees

Connections – matching the organization’s values with those of the target employee audiences and constructing a clear definition of the employer brand.

Giving expression to the employer brand clearly requires the combined use of Marketing and Human Resource expertise to determine the appropriate messages and ensure that there is an obvious connection between the employer and business brands and that they are both aligned with the overall strategy and vision of the organization.

For example, an innovative company that chooses to base its business brand on its customer-centric focus, would do well in its employer brand definition to highlight its people-focused culture – how it enables its employees to develop their talents and encourage customer-focused innovations.

What’s more important….bringing the employer brand to life
Defining the business brand is a very important starting point. What’s even more important is bringing the employer brand to life by ensuring that employees are equipped to deliver the business brand in a workplace that is truly a great place to work.

 • Equip employees – for on-going employee training and development programmes, Marketing can and should be regarded as an important contributor to help non-Marketing staff understand and perform their tasks in ways that support the marketing strategy (e.g. cross selling and up-selling) and brand identity (e.g. style of communication).

Manage the employer and business brands in tandem – Human Resources must involve Marketing in the on-going management of the employer brand. When there are changes to business strategies and adjustments are made to the business brand, the employer brand must also be evolved and communicated to employees.

Communicate constantly– business leaders and managers must commit to an on-going programme of internal, bi-directional communication activities so that employees embrace the essence of the business brand and enthusiastically promote it.

A final word
To be successful, the communication of the employer brand should be genuine, persuasive, differentiated. The employer brand must be internally embraced, positioned appropriately to external audiences and most importantly, be consistently delivered by the organization during recruitment and on-boarding activities and throughout the employee’s career. In this age where social media platforms are accessible, it is very easy for potential employees to validate whether or not organizations are in fact being true to their employer brand and business brand.

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.
www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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