Archive for February, 2012

A few days ago I stumbled upon a link to a great video posted by SHRM titled “How to get HIRED — tips for HR pros looking for jobs.” While it is short (just 1:57), the video is very inspiring and helpful for those looking to advance their HR career. I have found that getting advice and insight from successful HR professionals, whether it be in person or through the media, can make a huge difference in your job search if you use and apply it correctly. While this video contains the contributions of several different HR Professionals, I was able to pick out a few common themes.

The first speaker on the video is Karen Rieck, a VP of HR. Ms. Rieck talks about the importance of continuing your education and developing yourself through certifications (PHR, SPHR, GPHR) and advanced schooling. I couldn’t agree more on the topic. By not furthering your education you will be falling behind those who are. Never let your skills become stagnant, especially those related to your field of interest. Human Resources is such a diverse and ever-changing career field; you must stay on top of your game. Ms. Rieck also mentions she looks for someone with an interest in the whole business and who “takes on challenges outside of HR.” Your knowledge and your experiences will not only give you the chance to develop your skills, but show your character and what you may have to offer the organization. I touched on this in my last post about transferable skills from previous experiences.

Brian Cox, an HR Operations Director, is the second contributor to the video. Like Ms. Rieck, he also acknowledges that he looks for a candidate with interest in continuously advancing their education. Another quality Mr. Cox recognizes as important for HR professionals is global experience, e.g. working for an international company or working abroad. So once again, we realize how important it is for us to keep learning and take on unique challenges. I believe experience is a part of learning, too. To create a diverse workplace, an organization needs diverse employees. If you have a distinguishing experience, such as working on an international scale, you will be more qualified to add to that diversity, as well as adapt to a new environment.

Although Kellie Dunn-Doggeman, HR Manager, had the shortest contribution to the video, her message was quite clear. In the modern business, globalization is very real and happening for more companies every day. Since interaction with foreign countries, people, and businesses is rapidly increasing, an organization will not only look for HR professionals with international experience, but multi-lingual skills as well. Despite the fact that English is the most prevalent language used in business, we cannot (and should not) always expect that other countries to conform to us. By showing respect and knowledge in other cultures, we have a greater chance for success.

The last speaker on the video is Lisa Kluczinsky, HR Manager. I liked her contribution because she mentioned what we all have heard and acknowledge as important, but what very few people actually do: research the job you are applying for and show your passion for the position. There are many ways of educating yourself, and researching companies is one of those ways. Hiring managers want to see not only your interest in HR, but your interest in the organization as well. Be prepared to answer questions, such as why you want to work for that particular company, and even why you want to work in HR. That extra step could be what pushes you ahead of the rest.

Overall, I believe there’s a lot we can take away from this video, but as I mentioned before, there are some common themes we need to take note of. A successful HR Professional continues developing themselves through education, certifications, global experience, and research. They take on challenges and are passionate about what they do. After watching this video, I feel a renewed confidence in my future as a Human Resources Professional and excitement for the experiences and opportunities a career in HR has to offer.


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We said our final good-byes today. My students’ graduation had come and went, and as I sat at my teacher’s desk for the very last time, looking around the classroom that contains so many memories from the past two years, I found myself reflecting on what this unique experience as a foreign teacher has given me.

I can honestly say I didn’t give teachers enough credit before I became one and realized first hand the dedication and diligence required of the position. Being a teacher is being a leader, a manager, a supervisor, a counselor, a mentor, and a representative all in one. 

Consistent Leadership

As a teacher, I quickly learned the importance leadership plays in the classroom. A good leader will take the time to understand those who look up to them, create positive moral, and value and appreciate others. Just like anyone in a leadership role, a teacher cannot expect or demand immediate respect; it needs to be earned and mutually nurtured. This also applies to relationships with fellow teachers and colleagues. If co-workers or students sense a lack of leadership, they will not trust you to lead them.  I’ve seen the classroom full of students who don’t respect the teacher as a leader and trust me, it’s not a place you want to be.

Flexible Management

Flexible management are essential skills a teacher must learn to maintain order and facilitate success in the classroom. I say “flexible” when referring to management because even though a teacher might have a particular way of managing the lesson, it is sometimes necessary to adapt to a situation if the “usual” way isn’t working out. What works for one person might not work for another, so we can’t expect to use the same tactics for everyone. If a teacher isn’t flexible in classroom management, the success of his/her students will not be consistent since some will be left behind. By changing and adapting to our environment, we can become better managers, prepared for all types of situations and people.

Perceptive Supervision

Perhaps perceptive supervision is even most important for teachers, since they are trusted with the care and safety of children, who many times cannot take care of themselves. A teacher must know what is going on in the classroom at all times, lest a child gets hurt or does something dangerous or inappropriate. This could be compared to how a supervisor or manager of a company must be constantly aware of the workplace environment, carefully monitoring the employees to maintain a safe, comfortable, and productive environment.

Objective Counseling and Mentoring

As the person who spends the most time with children other than the parents or guardians, a teacher must be prepared to provide support to the students if tough situations arise. The students should view the teacher as easily approachable and easy to confide in. This can be a challenge at times since the teacher should do their best to remain objective and fair, which the student might have a hard time understanding. I found the best way to handle this kind of situation is to explain to them very simply, in a way they also can agree is fair. This explanation is vital if the student will continue to look up to the teacher as a role model.

Respectful Representation

As I just mentioned, a teacher is a role model not only to the students, but possibly for other teachers or co-workers as well. During my time as a teacher, my role as a representative was very unique as I was also representing my country, my culture, and other foreign teachers for my students, my co-workers, my school, and my company. I quickly learned the best representative must first SHOW RESPECT to others’ cultures and traditions, and remain neutral in debates on the subject. I’ve seen too many teachers in my position abuse this role and talk down on the Korean culture while talking up theirs. I took this as a challenge to show my students and co-workers that not all stereotypes about foreigners are true. I made sure to listen to what others had to say, as well as ask appropriate questions to express my interest in the subject. By doing my best to learn about the Korean culture as much as I was sharing my own, I was able to portray myself as a credible representative not only at my school, but FOR my school as well.

I realized while writing this post that all of these experiences and skills I have been lucky enough to take away from my teaching experience can 100% be transferred into a successful career in any field. I can’t wait until I get the opportunity to learn and teach again as a Human Resources professional.

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In this post, I talked about the beginning of my job search and some of the mistakes I realized I was making, particularly sending most of my resumes into a big black hole never to be seen or heard of again. Since I didn’t feel like delaying my HR career any longer, I decided to change my strategy. I went back to the basics.

In order to find and obtain your dream job, you have to learn as much as possible about it. I began by simply googling “What is Human Resources?” and went from there. It may seem simple, but sometimes even if you think you know the answer to a question, you might not. Besides, a little review never hurt anyone.

Other possible searches can be more specific. Search about different departments, concentrations, job titles, salaries, companies, etc. This will tell you what you should expect when applying or interviewing for a job, give you a clearer idea of what position is right for you, and it will prepare you when dealing with tough questions during an interview. If your search goes anything like mine, you’ll end up overwhelmed with information and sites needing to be bookmarked.  And it doesn’t stop there.

I recommend searching for ways to get involved with the professional community as much as you can. My researching and reviewing stage began leading me towards searching about HR volunteering opportunities, local HR businesses, and HR social communities and meetings, such as SHRM. Don’t be afraid to email people with your questions. Inquire about volunteering at their company, local meetings they attend, etc. I have found many professionals to be extremely open and helpful. Just remember not to be pushy about it and try to make it as mutually favorable as possible. You’re asking a favor of them; they don’t have to help you.

In addition, start to get super involved on social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Connect with professionals in your field of interest and ask them if it would be okay to email them with a couple of your questions. Follow companies you want to work for, read and comment on blogs, and stay on top of the latest and greatest news in the industry. This is a full-time job in itself, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall behind. It gets easier over time and you’ll develop your own strategies for dealing with the constant flow in information.

For me, the most helpful job search strategy has been networking through close family and friends. The people who know you on a more personal level are more likely to advocate for you and set you up with some great opportunities. If you are lucky enough to be closely connected to a professional in your field of interest, try to set up a phone call, meeting, or informational interview. Again, these people are busy and making time for you, so make sure you let them know how much you appreciate their help.

After revising my job search strategies, I am spending a large portion of my time researching and getting connected to the HR community. As a result, I don’t always have time to apply to many positions. But I don’t feel too bad about that. When I do search for positions now, I am pickier about what kind of job I am looking for and my search has become a lot more focused. If I apply for a job now, I know it’s something I want and am qualified to do — not just another shot in the dark.

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Anyone who knows me could tell you what a huge advocate for international experience I am. Whether it’s for work, study, or pleasure, I’m always telling people to just do it — get yourself immersed in this world and its various cultures. But even though 99.9% of the people you talk to will recognize this as a wonderful and beneficial opportunity to grow as a person and expand your social network, very few will actually take the next step.

It’s not easy to go abroad for an extended period of time, and it certainly isn’t cheap, but your international experience isn’t something you will likely regret. My own personal experiences abroad have completely transformed the way I view our world and those who live in it. Did I spend a ridiculous amount of money? Yes. Did I pass up opportunities in my home country? Sure. Would I change anything? I think you already know the answer to that.

International experience will provide you with a highly transferable skill set useful in ANY job. Globalization is a real thing and more and more companies are expanding their businesses beyond national boundaries. Even if your company isn’t international, your fellow employees will come from diverse backgrounds. Your experience abroad will prepare you for interaction with people who share different cultures, customs, beliefs, styles, etc. In order to succeed in your profession, especially one as people-focused as Human Resources, developed cross-cultural communication skills are essential.

Many of the attributes gained from international experience that enhance your professional ability, will provide benefits on a more personal level as well. Through my interaction with people from various backgrounds, I have been able to assess and evaluate my character and how others view me as a person. In order to be successful in building and maintaining professional and personal relationships, I had no choice but to adapt to my current environment and remain flexible and accessible to my peers. As a result, my initial, tiny network now reaches several continents, with contacts in several different countries. (Friends from around the globe also can help you cut back on hotel costs when visiting the area. But don’t forget to return the favor!)

Not everyone can get the chance to go abroad. But the good news is, you don’t always have to travel to gain international knowledge and expand your global network. Getting a position where you work directly with foreign clients or companies can help you build successful international relationships. Also, most companies maintain a diverse staff, providing the opportunity to learn from your colleagues. Just remember to keep an open mind and remain respectful and sensitive to cultural differences and customs.

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Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

If I’ve learned anything over the course of my recent job search, it’s the importance of networking. I think networking is something everyone accepts as an important process in getting a job, but very few actually utilize their resources available for networking as much as they could. I’d like to share one way I’ve used LinkedIn groups to my networking advantage, and maybe you’ll find it will work for you as well.

I love LinkedIn. In fact, I love it so much I added a link to it for you in the menu of this very blog. Once I discovered the wonders of LinkedIn, I wanted to talk to everyone I knew about it! Did they have an account? Were they a member of this group? It was the Facebook for professionals! Of course I wanted to connect with everyone I knew. What I didn’t expect was how many people didn’t even know what LinkedIn was.

If you’re one of those people, click on that link I set up for you and create your profile asap. After filling out a decent amount of information, begin searching for connections under the “People You May Know” menu. You can instantly send a connection request to those people. Connecting to others may be a little trickier. Unlike Facebook, you can’t just request to connect to random people. If you try, LinkedIn will ask you how you know that person and if you have no real connections, it’s time to take another route. This also goes the opposite way. You want to be accessible to people trying to connect to you as well.

The solution? Joining groups!

I’ve joined Alumni groups related to my university, HR specific groups, company groups, even common interests groups. I’ve found the more specific the group, the more likely you’ll be able to make a connection. For example, try joining a group specific to alumni who graduated from your university with your major. Or if there’s a specific sector of HR you’re interested in (Talent Acquisition, Global, etc.) try searching for a group related to that. Once you’re in these communities, it’s easy to connect to your fellow members by simply indicating your shared group.

Ok, you’re in the group. Now what?

Once you’re in the group, there’s a number of ways you can utilize your membership beyond connecting with its members. I recommend getting daily notifications of the group’s current discussions. This could get overwhelming if you join a lot of groups, but you’ll quickly discover the ones you need to concentrate on. Read the articles and discussions people post, and try to jump in every now and then. Even if you feel like you have nothing to offer, you’ll find many people are more than willing to offer their advice or opinion.

Through my LinkedIn groups, I’ve been able to gather useful information and talk to top professionals in the HR industry. I’m more prepared and have a better idea of what I can expect, what is required of me, and what I’d like to focus on in my future career in Human Resources.

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One of the first Korean sentences I learned was the proverb “시작이 반이다.” Roughly translated it means “The beginning is half.” The idea is that if you start something well, you’ve probably already gained the momentum to get you halfway through. Finally beginning the job search can be daunting, but I promise that if you give it your all from the beginning, you’ll be wondering why you waited at all.

It’s never too early to begin your job search. Whether you’re thinking about transitioning from your current career, still a student at university, and especially if you’re unemployed, it will never hurt to begin revising* your résumé and researching your field of interest. I know that if I drag my feet doing something, I might wait until the last-minute and stress myself out. I don’t know about you, but I hate being stressed out, so I began pushing myself to bite the bullet and basically just get over that initial hump. I’m not claiming that it will be smooth sailing from there on out, but once I started I was so motivated to continue and reach my goal that I almost felt like I couldn’t stop at times!

I began by giving my résumé a complete makeover. This was necessary because I hadn’t been on the job hunt for over two years, and to top that off, my résumé was tailored for an Asian country. (Not to mention some information required on my résumé for my job in Asia would be illegal for an American company to inquire about.)

Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy task, and even though I was pretty proud of my first draft, I have since found ways to improve upon it immensely. I started out by making a list of my experiences and writing down what I thought were note-worthy responsibilities and achievements. It helps to look online to find some examples, but like I mentioned, try not to get too attached to that résumé because chances are it’s going to change. One important thing to remember about your résumé is to make sure you have a summary section at the top, where you list your main accomplishments and specific skills.

I made a few mistakes at first for sure. One of my mistakes was throwing around too many basic phrases and keywords, without backing them up. Even though in my mind I was thinking, “Strong work ethic? Organized? Attention to detail? Yeah! That sounds exactly like me!” how would anyone just looking at your résumé really know that? Anyone can put a bunch of words on a paper and claim that they are true. Save your time and space and skip those basic phrases unless you have specific examples or accomplishments to back them up. Find the strengths in your experience and character and be sure to highlight those.

Another major mistake I made was once I “finished” my résumé and cover letter, (Yes, one cover letter. Yikes. That should tell you how many mistakes I actually was making!) I began to search and search for jobs. Once I found anything related to HR that I might be interested in, I applied. In my mind I was thinking, “Wow, I’m so productive; I just applied to 10 jobs today!” But the ratio of the number of jobs I was applying for to how many call backs I was getting was terrible. Basically, I was wasting my time and obviously doing something wrong.

That was the point when I decided to start putting a LOT more focus on educating myself, researching HR, networking with HR professionals, and asking a billion questions. I’m still in this phase, and honestly I feel like these are all excellent things to be doing, even after I get a job in HR.

My point is: don’t wait around for information and jobs to come flying into your lap. Unless you’re super lucky, it’s not going to happen. Your résumé is a good place to start. Just make sure you don’t stop there.

*I say “revising” and not “updating” your résumé because in addition to just adding your most current experiences and achievements, you should also be constantly trying to think of way to better showcase your skills and abilities, as well as tailoring your résumé to fit each position you are applying to.

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I’ve just come across this article by Lin Grensing-Pophal on SHRM’s website about HR job seekers and what they need to do to ‘step up their game’ in today’s environment.

I think one reason the contemporary job market is so intimidating is due to the increased numbers of diverse and experienced candidates competing for the open positions. It’s easy to develop a “Why bother?” attitude after all your hard work revising your résumé, job searching, and applying and interviewing for positions fails to reap any rewards.

But don’t give up just yet. It’s possible the problem might be you don’t know what the company is looking for.

The article makes it quite clear that the HR field has been subject to changes over the recent years, notably leaning more and more in a business focused direction. Here’s where any business or customer service related experience would come in handy. Even the smallest connection could make a world of difference, if you can make it.

If you really don’t have any related experience, fear not, there may be hope for you yet.

The ability to create employee engagement and to manage change effectively are two additional skills that successful HR job seekers must have…

Maybe you have the ability to inspire and connect well with your fellow employees. (Here’s where your references would come in handy.) Perhaps you are extremely adaptable and flexible with the examples to prove it. Great! But is it enough? The author notes that these skills have transformed along with the HR field.

Creating employee engagement seems to have expanded to focus more closely on innovative approaches when it comes to increasing moral, productivity, and the business’ marketability. This, in turn, is where adaptability will come in handy, except now HR professionals will be responsible not only for their own transition, but aiding others through the passage as well. My advice? Do your best to highlight any leadership experience you’ve had, especially if it involves improving processes in the workplace. Also, if you can show how you would be capable of going through significant change, or have helped others during theirs, you might just get the step ahead you need.

Of course we can’t talk about the changing times if we don’t mention the biggest factor of them all: technology. Tracy McCarthy, senior vice president of HR at SilkRoad Technology in Chicago, is quoted in the article, reminding us that social media can put us job seekers ahead of the game (if we utilize the resources available), or put us at a disadvantage (if we don’t). It also had to be mentioned that we need to be bold and reach out to anyone who we might think can help us, and even if we think they can’t. That was a major step for me to take, as well. But what’s the worst that could happen? Nothing could happen. The best? You get a job.

The reason I wanted to share this article is because it gave me hope and confidence. I know I am capable of what companies are looking for, and with a clearer idea in mind, I am able to once again reevaluate my experiences and strengths to better showcase to my future employer what I would be contributing to the company and work environment to ensurethe right fit. If you have a more specific HR path

Society for Human Resource Management

Image via Wikipedia

in mind, I would suggest researching anything you can to prepare yourself for your future role, no matter how far in the future you might obtain it. I wish I had started sooner than I did. Once you have an idea of what skills are needed, you can get to work developing those skills or even focusing on building ones you may not have yet.

Your pertinent skills and dedication to the HR field are what might get you that job you’ve been looking for.

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