The July HR Roundtable (of Cincinnati) took a risk in stepping out into a topic that is really more of a debate. The topic for the month was looking at two sides of a subject – How do people in transition view HR, and how does HR view those in transition?
HR people talk often about those in transition and how they approach HR and organizations. Transition groups also share opinions about HR, but rarely have those two sides come together to be open about what is being said and how things can come together.
To start this discussion, the small groups took on the following teaser questions:
- What should HR do that it’s not doing for people in transition?
- What does HR expect from people in transition that they’re not seeing?
- What should people in transition do after they land?
The energy in the room jumped when they started taking on the teaser questions. You could really feel the buzz and it was difficult to bring everyone back to the larger group to have them share. However, when we did, it was fantastic!
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What should HR do that it’s not doing for people in transition?
- Be responsive throughout the entire hiring process — No one likes to be left hanging and wondering what the status of a job opening is. HR would be viewed more positively if it were more consistent in communicating with candidates throughout every step of the hiring process. If someone isn’t a fit, or if the position is filled, let those who were part of the candidate pool know where things stand. It’s a matter of respect.
- Be realistic about the expectations of the role — It was shared that the roles people interview for rarely match up to the job descriptions. This happens in the interview process and folks in transition are either experiencing ambiguity and vagueness around the role, or they are hearing something that is completely different altogether. People want things to be clearly explained so they can assess how they fit the role, or if they even want to consider it.
- Apply for the job yourself — Zhis was a fantastic suggestion! The idea was for HR people to go online and try to apply for a job in their own company and see the process from the eyes of someone in transition. When you see it from the applicant’s perspective, you may see redundancy or gaps that you can address to make it more efficient.
- Be realistic about timelines — Applicants are anxious during the interviewing process. This is more than just being responsive. People going through the process don’t want to be strung out just sitting by a phone waiting to hear from a company. Remember to look at the situation from their perspective and give your best estimate on when decisions will be made about filling openings.
- Stop the buzzwords — In our job postings, we use buzzwords to look for resumes that will pop and show up. Applicants are being coached to list those buzzwords just to get our attention and be considered. They don’t show if a person truly has skills for the job, they just fit your algorithm. Describe what you’re looking for. It works!
What does HR expect from people in transition that they’re not seeing?
- Know the company — This doesn’t mean memorize the website. It means that you should know what the company does and how it reaches the market. You should then be able to share how you could add value in what you do in the role you’re considering. Just reciting the website isn’t enough.
- Follow-up appropriately — HR does realize that you want to get to work and/or hear an answer back from the company. However, calling from the parking lot after you interview shows desperation not eagerness. Also, calling or emailing every day doesn’t communicate that you’re showing interest. It also communicates desperation. A good rule of thumb is to wait one week and then follow-up. It may seem too long, but it really is realistic.
- Remember that HR folks are doing other things as well as consider you — When you’re in transition, it’s hard not to be focused solely on your own personal situation. However, your interview is only one of a myriad of things that HR people have in front of them. If you remember that and ask about how your interview is fitting into all the HR person is working on, you’ll set yourself apart because it just doesn’t happen. Remember that the respect you seek is the respect you can give as well.
- Be solutions oriented — Everyone comes in to interviews to point out how their skill set will help fix problems. No one comes in and shares how their strengths and experience will be used to be solutions oriented to move the company forward. You have the chance to show that you are more than a problem solver. If you can communicate that, you will set yourself apart from the pack.
- Make the “ask” — You need to remember that you’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you. Therefore, you should own your job search and be confident in asking about next steps and timeframes. Ask about job expectations and how someone would like to hear back from you. Don’t make assumptions. When you are confident, you are a better candidate.
- Be nice . . . to everyone — The laser focus to get to the hiring manager at all costs is extremely detrimental to your success. You need to remember that you are joining an organization, not getting a job. So, work with HR and don’t skip them. Be nice to everyone you meet including the receptionist and all other staff. Remember that everyone is watching how you treat others. That is a reflection of who you are as a person regardless of your skills.
What should people in transition do after they land?
- Thank those that helped you — We often are so excited after landing a job that we don’t take the time to thank people. This is a giant miss. No job search is done on your own. People want to celebrate with you when you land so make sure to let them know the great news and also thank them for what they did – no matter how small it was.
- Follow-up on openings you didn’t get — Responsiveness is true for HR and folks in transition. If you landed a role, and were considering others, you need to reach out to the companies you didn’t join and let them know you’ve landed. It makes a fantastic professional impression when you do this because it rarely happens. Take the extra step. You never know but that you may end up working with those other potential companies in the future in some capacity. It’s classy to take this step.
- Add value to your new company — After you breathe a sigh of relief when you get your new job, jump in and start adding value. Today’s economy doesn’t need people who just do tasks and go through the motions. As stated before, you aren’t getting a “job”, you’re joining an organization. Do all you can to make them thrive and succeed.
- Keep networking — You need to realize that networking isn’t about getting a job. Networking is an essential business skill that needs to be practiced by professionals in all industries. If you only network to land a job, I guarantee that you’ll be looking for another role very soon. People shouldn’t be “takers.” Now that you’ve seen how networking truly helped you, remember that and stay connected as well as reach out to help others – just like others helped you!
This was one of our best HR Roundtables. It was great to take on a topic that needs to be discussed more often. If people in transition and those in HR understood each other better, we’d see more great talent land and improve organizations.
The Roundtable ended with another note of encouragement to tell others about the HR Roundtable and invite them to be part of a forum that has worked to maintain and add to the brand of human resources.