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Today I had the opportunity to participate in the first Twitter discussion (hashtag #peoplechat) lead by PeopleClues, a global provider of assessment technology. The weekly chat sessions will be held every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. CST. PeopleClues and its moderators will pose questions and encourage discussions on topics relating to HR.

Today’s topic was Culture and HR, which is right up my alley, so I was sure to tune in. I’d never taken part in one of these rapid-fire discussions on Twitter before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It lasted for 30 minutes, but it felt like only 3 by the time everyone signed off and all that was left was the last bit of the high I was getting by just clicking the refresh button over and over again, hoping for yet another great question or answer put out by the many participants, and perhaps, if I was very lucky, another mention directed at me, hehe. (I know, but I don’t think anyone can disagree that it is infinitely more fun to participate when you’re getting positive feedback.)

PeopleClues does plan to post a recap of the #peoplechat discussion tomorrow on their blog, but I’d like to do a mini-recap of my own. Unfortunately it will mostly be from memory alone. Lesson learned: next time, take notes!

The first question that was posed was what you can do to improve culture when it’s less than impressive to begin with. While all suggestions were well thought-out and helpful, a few of the responses were re-tweeted by PeopleClues. Those answers centered around acknowledging that there is a problem, facing it head on, and making a change! My tweet, the idea to ask the employees what they think is the problem and how it can be improved, was also a common theme in the answers for question one. Overall, I guess we learned, if it doesn’t work, fix it until it does!

After ten minutes of discussing how to improve culture, the second question on how to foster an innovative and creative working environment was posted. This time PeopleClues also offered their own answer, suggesting “hire the right people, be the culture, employees will follow!” Another great answer reminded to minimize negativity by taking employee input and feedback seriously. Personally, my favorite theme in the answers for question two was investing in your employees by offering ways to develop themselves and their skills. If your employees are learning and happy, productivity and retention will increase. Can’t go wrong there, folks.

Finally it was time for the last question of the week: “What is one thing you do to develop your culture from the top down?” Suggestions ranged from setting good examples to making sure to be transparent about what’s going on at all times. Then, as quickly as it had begun, it was done. And wait, I think someone also mentioned free yogurt for everyone?

Be sure to join the #peoplechat Twitter discussion next week on Tuesday at 12:30 CST. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

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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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