Career Advice My Mom Gave Me!

My past away a couple of years ago, but I’m constantly reminded of advice she gave, or more accurately, things she told me, but at the time I probably blew off as stuff your parents tell you that you believe they have no idea about! Sound right, parents!?

I had someone come into our office recently to interview. Right before this person came in, I was driving into our parking lot and it struck me that every single vehicle in the parking lot was newer and clean. A bunch of nice-looking cars! How stupid is it to notice something like that?

That’s when I remembered my Mom telling me that when you go on an interview pay attention to the cars in the parking lot. She said you want to work at a company where the employees drive nice cars because that means they pay well. If there are a bunch of junkers and a few nice ones, only a few people are getting paid well!

And there it is – Mom’s advice that I thought was stupid at the time it was given, and all of sudden it was pretty accurate!

I’ve given out a lot of career advice over the years. Some are probably based on my own experience, and some were given to me by all those mentors in my life (parents, grandparents, respected leaders, and peers).

Here is some of my favorite career advice:

Don’t chase titles, chase responsibility. I chased titles and I missed out on some great career outcomes by not being patient enough. All along I had the responsibility I wanted, and that should have been enough.

Culture always wins. We think as leaders we can just come into any company and make the culture our own. You can’t. You can make the culture something new, but it will be a mix of old and what you bring to it, it will not be just yours entirely.

Find ways to stand up for your trusted advisors, publicly, and never break that trust, privately. Professionally, you are the measure of your circle of trust. You will have times when you can demonstrate that trust both publicly and privately. Make sure you do both, as often as you can.

Don’t be a disgruntled employee, ever. If you are underpaid or underappreciated, just leave. Being disgruntled will follow you in ways you don’t even know. Being a strong employee that leaves to pursue other employment, will not follow you.

Hire people who are so talented, they scare the sh*t out of you. I want to be surrounded by people who should have my job. That’s how I will continue to push myself to be better and actually create the greatest outcomes for all involved. I’m scared because they are so good, they will take my job unless I get better! One of my mentors once asked me, before she hired me, “Are you better than me?” The only way she could hire me was if I said, “Yes”.

What is the best career advice you have been given by someone close to you, that at the time you might not have agreed with, but over time you’ve come to appreciate?

Hit me in the comments!

 

It’s 2020 and I’m Re-certifying with @SHRM. Want to know why?

In 2001 I got my SPHR certification for the first time. I started my first real HR Manager job and the CHRO wanted to make sure every single HR person on our team had either a PHR or SPHR. I did an eight-week group study course with fellow HR pros studying for the test and I was lucky that my company had also purchased a SHRM study kit.

I remember leaving that test thinking, “I have no idea if I failed or passed! And, boy, I only know a fraction of what I thought I knew in HR!” This was after studying for two months straight and putting legitimate hours in on the study kit.

I passed and vowed to never have to take that test again!

It’s 2020 and SHRM just sent me a reminder that my SHRM-SCP is up for renewal. For years I carried both the HRCI-SPHR and the SHRM-SCP. Again, I figured I did all the education to keep them up, I’ll just carry both.

Why am I re-certifying for the SHRM-SCP? 

  1. If you’re in HR, SHRM is the world-recognized leader in HR. So, having a certification from SHRM carries career weight.
  2. 99% of Leaders of organizations who care about someone having an HR certification have always believed it was a SHRM certification, even though for most of that time HRCI was the actual certifying body. Now, SHRM has its own HR certification, and quite frankly, it’s as good as the HRCI one, and in some cases better.
  3. I don’t see any other association in the world doing as much as SHRM does to advance the practice of HR. Because of that, I foresee them being the leader in the HR space for a long time.
  4. When I speak to actual SHRM card-carrying members, they are very satisfied with the association and they are very happy with the education and support they are getting.
  5. It’s a cost-effective way to stay on top of changes in HR and show those who care that I’m staying on top of my profession, probably better than most people are.

Let’s be honest, I’ve reached a point in my career where the SHRM-SCP certification isn’t needed for me personally. I don’t have to re-certify and I’ll have a job tomorrow and at any time in the future. But, I’m choosing to anyway because I did the work!

I developed content for webinars and presented it to my peers in HR and TA. I sat and watched peers in HR and TA present at conferences and on webinars and I learned things I didn’t know. I read books and listened to podcasts, and consumed tons of HR-related material so I was staying up on all the changes in the HR field.

Maybe it’s PTSD from taking that test once, but I’m re-certifying because I never want to have to take it again. I’m re-certifying because having my SHRM-SCP makes me feel special and accomplished. It sets me apart in the field of HR, and I won’t apologize for that, I passed the test and did the work.

Me re-certifying isn’t about taking a stance for or against something. This is about me and my professional development. I encourage every single professional to find ways to continue your professional, functional development long after you have “gotten the job”. Getting the job is just the start, not the end!

(FYI – for those thinking somehow SHRM is paying me for this post. They aren’t. But as always I welcome anyone to pay me for anything if they are so inclined! I’m an equal opportunity check casher.) 

Does Your Average Employee Tenure Matter? (New Data!)

I keep getting told by folks who tend to know way more than me that employees ‘today’ don’t care about staying at a company long term. “Tim you just don’t get it, the younger workforce just wants to spend one to three years at a job than leave for something new and different.” You’re right! I don’t get it.

BLS recently released survey data showing that the average employee tenure is sitting around 4.1 years.  Which speaks to my smart friends who love to keep replacing talent. I still don’t buy this fact as meaning people don’t want long term employment with one organization.

Here’s what I know about high tenured individuals:

1. People who stay long term with a company tend to make more money over their careers.

2. People who stay long term with a company tend to reach the highest level of promotion.

3. People who tend to stay long term with a company tend to have higher career satisfaction.

I don’t have a survey on this. I have twenty years of working in the trenches of HR and witnessing this firsthand. The new CEO hire from outside the company gets all the press, but it actually rarely happens. Most companies promote from within because they have trust in the performance of a long-term, dedicated employee, over an unknown from the outside. Most organizations pick the known over the unknown.

I still believe tenure matters a great deal to the leadership of most organizations.  I believe that a younger workforce still wants to find a great company where they can build a career, but we keep telling them that is unrealistic in today’s world.

Career ADHD is something we’ve made up to help us explain to our executives why we can no longer retain our employees.  Retention is hard work. It has a real, lasting impact on the health and well-being of a company. There are real academic studies that show the organizations with the highest tenure, outperform those organizations with lower tenure.  (here, here, and here)

Employee tenure is important and it matters a great deal to the success of your organization. If you’re telling yourself and your leadership that it doesn’t, that it’s just ‘kids’ today, we can’t do anything about it, you’re doing your organization a disservice. You can do something about it. Employee retention, at all levels, should be the number 1, 2, and 3 top priorities of your HR shop.

Here’s how to fall in love with your job!

Do you know what it felt like the last time you fell in love?

I mean real love?

The kind of love where you talk 42 times per day, in between text and Facebook messages, and feel physical pain from being apart? Ok, maybe for some it’s been a while and you didn’t have the texts or Facebook!  But, you remember those times when you really didn’t think about anything else or even imagine not seeing the other person the next day, hell, the next hour. Falling “in” love is one of the best parts of love, it doesn’t last that long and you never get it back.

I hear people all the time say “I love my job” and I never use to pay much attention, in fact, I’ve said it myself.  The reality is, I don’t love my job. I mean I like it a whole lot, but I love my wife, I love my kids, I love Diet Mt. Dew at 7 am on a Monday morning. The important things in life!  But my job?  I’m not sure about that one.  As an HR Pro, I’m supposed to work to get my employees to “love” their jobs.  Love.

Let me go all Dr. Phil on you for a second. Do you know why most relationships fail? No, it’s not cheating. No, it’s not the drugs and/or alcohol. No, it’s not money. No, it’s not that he stops caring. No, it’s not your parents. Ok, stop it. I’ll just tell you!

Relationships fail because expectations aren’t met.  Which seems logical knowing what we know about how people fall in love, and lose their minds.  Once that calms down – the real work begins.  So, if you expect love to be the love of the first 4-6 months of a relationship you’re going to be disappointed a whole bunch over and over.

Jobs aren’t much different.

You get a new job and it’s usually really good!  People listen to your opinion. You seem smarter. Hell, you seem better looking (primarily because people are sick of looking at their older co-workers). Everything seems better in a new job.  Then you have your 1 year anniversary and you come to find out you’re just like the other idiots you’re working with.

This is when falling in love with your job really begins. When you know about all the stuff the company hid in the closet. The past employees they think are better and smarter than you, the good old days when they made more money, etc.  Now, is when you have to put some work into making it work.

I see people all the time moving around to different employers and never seeming to be satisfied.  They’re searching. Not for a better job, or a better company. They’re searching for that feeling that will last.  But it never will, not without them working for it.

The best love has to be worked for. Passion is easy and fleeting. Love is hard to sustain and has to be worked, but can last forever.

Advice for Landing a Job from a CEO (who never hires…)

I get it, you’re the CEO of a sexy brand so all the media companies want to interview you, but when you give advice out that your HR and TA leaders would never give, you’re basically just spewing B.S.!

Pulled directly from the headlines of CNBC, 1-800-Flowers CEO (wait, is that a sexy brand!?), Chris McCann, has to hire 10,000 seasonal workers for the upcoming holiday season to fill the rush of orders they anticipate:

“The ambitious hiring plans will fill part- and full-time roles in production, gift assembly, customer service and distribution and fulfillment center operations. Openings are primarily in-person jobs on worksites throughout Illinois, Ohio and Oregon. Some work-from-home positions, particularly those in customer service, are available.

Here, McCann shares his best tips for getting hired in a seasonal role right now.”

Are you ready for these great tips!?! Here you go:

  1. Arrive at your interview ready to uphold safety guidelines due to COVID
  2. Have a flexible schedule
  3. Express interest in overtime
  4. Tell 1-800-Flowers who want to return to work seasonally, next season
  5. Tell 1-800-Flowers your desire to stay on permanently after your seasonal job.

Okay, not awful, but here is what, I believe, the head of TA for 1-800-Flowers would actually give as advice to someone, right now, looking to work as a seasonal employee for $13.50/hr:

  1. Show up for the interview
  2. Don’t show up drunk or high
  3. Don’t throw up on the person interviewing
  4. Don’t lick anyone during the interview
  5. Show up on your first day

Hiring seasonal workers, especially right now during a pandemic is hard work! It’s almost impossible in the best of circumstances, Chris McCann is so far removed from hiring a seasonal worker he has lost all touch with reality!

First, these are seasonal jobs, McCann himself said only about 5% will make it to the big leagues of a full-time offer after the seasonal job is done. So, let’s not give out a ton of hope, because you just end up with thousands of pissed off people after the seasonal job is done! HR and TA hiring for seasonal spend most of the interview validating that the applicant actually knows and understands this job is going to end in 3 months!

Second, seasonal hiring is warm body, show up hiring. Calm down, Chris, on making a great first impression. When you’re trying to hire 10,000 people at low wages for three months, if you show up, you get the job!

Third, Chris McCann, did Undercover Boss, which tells you a few things. One, he acted like an hourly worker for a TV show, so he thinks he knows what it’s like to be an hourly worker in his environment. Two, he actually wanted to go on a TV show versus running his business. Some CEOs just like media attention.

Here’s what we all should know at this point. The larger the company, the less the CEO actually knows about the reality of hiring. Once that CEO is working for an organization that has more than 500 employees, there’s a good chance they haven’t hired an hourly worker in years. So, thanks for the advice, Chris, but you’re not helping your HR and TA team fill jobs!

What Is Your 3 Minute Interview Monologue? This is mine!

Right now, with high unemployment and seemingly endless competition for jobs, nailing your interview is critical! Almost every failed interview can be traced back to the first three minutes. Experts will tell you the first ten seconds, but these are the same experts who have never interviewed or haven’t interviewed in the past twenty years. The reality is a little longer, but not much.

An interview doesn’t really start until you’re asked to open your mouth. And, not the small talk crap that you do while people get settled and wait for Jenny to get her coffee and find your resume.

When you get asked that first question, “So, tell us a little about yourself.” Bam! It’s on. Start the clock, you have 180 seconds to show them why they should hire you.

Here’s what I would say:

“I was raised by 6 women. My grandmother is the matriarch of our family. I was raised by a single mom, who had four sisters, my aunts, and my sister was the first grandchild born into the family. As you can imagine, I was dressed-up a lot! The women in my life love to laugh and I have always had a stage with them to make this happen. 

The other thing it taught me was to cook, sew, and iron. All of which I do to this day. My wife is a baker, but I’m the cook. Mending and ironing fall in my chore bucket around the house.

The real thing it taught me was the value of women in the world. I did my master’s thesis on women and leadership. My mother started her own company in 1979 when no women started companies. Not only that, but she also started a company in a male-dominated technical field.  I was nine years old, and she would pay me ten cents to stuff envelopes for her. We would sit on her bed and she made calls to candidates, and I would stuff envelopes with the volume off on the TV.

Living with a single mom, who started a business during a recession was a challenge. I learned the value of work and started my first real job the day I turned sixteen. I paid my own way through college, my parents who could afford to help, but believed I would get more out of college if I found a way to pay for it on my own. I did. In hindsight, I’m glad they taught me this lesson. It was hard but worth it.

All of these experiences have helped shape my leadership style. I set high expectations but work hard to ensure people have the right tools and knowledge to be successful. I hold people accountable for what we agree are our goals. I believe hard work leads to success, and in business when you are successful you have way more fun! 

What else would you like to know about me?”

That’s it. I shut up and wait for a response.

What did I tell them in my three minutes?

I told them my story.  People don’t hire your resume, they hire your story.

If you want to get hired, you need to craft your story. A real story. A story people want to listen to. A story people will remember when it comes time to decide whom to hire.

Once you craft that story, sit down with as many people as possible, and tell them that story. You need to perfect it. You need to be able to “perform” that story in the interview so that it’s 100% natural. Pro tip: try and get people that don’t like you very much to listen to your story and give you feedback. They’ll still be nice, but you’ll get more honest feedback from them, then your fans.

You have 3 minutes! How are you going to use that time?

What can we really hope for out of a work experience?

I heard this quote recently, it was used by an old football coach to his players:

“It’s hard, but it’s fair.”

He wasn’t the first to use this and probably won’t be the last – but the line stuck with me because of how I don’t think many people in today’s age really think this way.  Many want to talk about what’s fair, few want to discuss the ‘hard’ part.  The football coach’s son described the meaning of what he feels the phrase means:

“It’s about sacrifice,” Toler Jr. said of the quote. “It means that if you work hard that when it’s all said and done at the end of the day, it will be fair based on your body of work. It’s about putting in the time, making sure that you’re ready for the opportunity.”

I think we all think our parents are hard on us growing up.  I recall stories I tell to my own sons of my Dad waking me up on a Saturday morning at 7 am, after I was out too late the night before, and ‘making’ me help him with something, like chopping wood or cleaning the garage out.  He didn’t really need my help, he was trying to teach me a lesson about choices.  If I chose to stay out late at night, it was going to suck getting up early to go to school.

He shared with me stories of his father doing the same thing, one night my Dad had gotten home late, so late, he didn’t even go to bed, just started a pot of coffee and waited for my grandfather to get up, figuring that was easier than getting a couple of hours of sleep and then hearing it from my grandfather the rest of the day.

As an HR Pro, we see this every day in our workforce.  There are some who work their tails off, not outwardly expecting anything additional, they’re just hard workers.  Others will put in the minimum, then expect a cookie. It’s a tough life lesson for those folks.  Most usually end up leaving your organization, believing they were treated unfairly, so they’ll go bounce around a few more times.

Eventually, they’ll learn to put in the work, put in the time, and more times than not, things work out pretty well.  Sometimes it won’t, so you go back to work even harder.  It’s been very rare in my 20 year HR career that I’ve truly seen a really hard worker get screwed over. Very rare! Now I know a ton of people who think they work hard, but they don’t, and they’ll say they get screwed. But the reality is they don’t work hard, they do the same as everyone else.

Do some idiots who don’t deserve a promotion or raise sometimes get it? Yep, they sure do, but that doesn’t happen as much as you think. The hard workers tend to get the better end of the deal almost always.

I hope I can teach my sons this lesson:  Life is going to be hard, but if you keep at it and put in the work, it’s going to be fair.  I think that is all we can really hope for.

The 4 Lessons I Learned From Job Searching During the Pandemic! #TheProjectTakeover

Hi everyone! I’m back! If you don’t know me, I’m Cameron (Tim’s middle son) and I have been featured several times on my Dad’s blog, podcast, and social media. Recently, I have been featured heavily on his social feeds and blog because I am doing what no one wants to be doing right now: searching for a job. I recently graduated from the University of Michigan into a horrible economy and job market. Just my luck! While this job search so far has been frustrating and agonizing (and is still ongoing), I have learned a few lessons that I hope might be helpful for anyone in the same position as me. 

1. It takes a village

In order to find a job, most times you will need some help. I have needed some form of help to get almost every job that I have ever had. During this period, I have reached out and asked for help from more people than I ever have before. Although I really don’t like to ask for help, I have received so many encouraging and positive messages from people that have been trying to aid my job search  in whatever way that they can. Thanks to my Dad, I have a plethora of HR pros to help me through this, but I have received help from so many of my friends, adults in my community, and random people who saw a post on social media and reached out to me. When I do find a job, I will have a village of people to thank when I’m on the other side. 

2. When you’re stuck, try something new

One of the first things that I started at the beginning of quarantine was learning how to podcast. I have been a huge fan of podcasts for years and I have always wanted to be a part of the production of one. My Dad asked me to help out with his podcast and now, I am a producer and editor of the HR Famous podcast. When I started, I had very minimal knowledge of audio editing and the production/distribution of podcasts, but I have been able to learn more and add a new skill to my resume. Not only has podcasting helped me feel productive during my job search, but it may potentially open up a new door for me in my job search. 

3. It is a full-time job to get a full-time job

I think anyone who has job searched before may already know this, but as a recent college grad, I had no idea how much time it would take to get a real job. I thought I would be able to spend a few hours a week applying to 5-10 jobs and that would be enough. Oh, how I was SO wrong.  After 6 months of being on the job search, I cannot even fathom the number of hours I have put into looking and applying for jobs, networking with people, and updating resumes, cover letters, and portfolios. Although it is extremely exhausting and at times debilitating, I am (kinda) grateful that I have had something to fill my quarantined days. 

4. Don’t be ashamed

I would say I am a pretty outgoing person and I am not too afraid to talk to new people, but it is scary reaching out to people who have no idea who you are and asking for help. I was very reluctant at first to reach out to strangers on social media or through email and try to make a connection, but I am so glad that I did. After doing this for several months, I am starting to see the beginning of the benefits of doing this. Some new opportunities are starting to open up and people have been reaching out to me about them. It is scary to put yourself out there in a vulnerable way to new people, but most likely they’re going to be nice and try to help.

All four of these lessons add up to one bigger lesson that is something I am still working on: you cannot tie your identity to the amount of rejection and failure you receive. It has been agonizing to see my friends start their jobs at incredible companies or get ready to head off to grad school, while I sit and wait for any company to email me for an interview request. However, I know that I did almost everything I could have done during college to aid me in this job search and the cards are just stacked against me right now. In the future, I will be grateful for all of this rejection because I will be better equipped to handle it then. It just feels pretty damn bad right now. But it will get better for me and for everyone. 

Cameron Sackett is a recent Communications and Marketing graduate from the University of Michigan with internships in social media and marketing at MTV/Viacom, Quicken Loans, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Skill Scout.

Pandemic Job Searching with @LRuettimann and @CamSackett

I’ve been exceptionally fortunate in my career to find friends and mentors willing to give me their time and resources to help me succeed. One of those people who help support me when I first started writing is Laurie Ruettimann.

I tease her a lot and frequently call her HR’s Big Sister because she helps so many people! When you write, speak, have a successful podcast like she does you tend to get a lot of people reaching out for advice and Laurie finds time to help out so many folks.

Today, she’s helping out my son Cameron, who is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, and in the middle of his first ‘real’ job search. Enjoy their podcast together!

Resources from this episode:

Cameron on LinkedIn

HR Famous Podcast

Laurie on Instagram

Laurie on LinkedIn

Read more from Laurie

Work with Laurie

 

COVID Career Pivots – The One Thing You Need to Know!

On a daily basis, I get messages from folks who are ready to make a pivot in their career, and with so many folks losing their job because of COVID the amount looking to pivot seems to be increasing. Career pivots aren’t a new thing. On average people change jobs like 358 times during their career or something like that.

Here’s how that conversation normally goes when I have a conversation with a friend who’s deciding on a pivot:

Friend of the Project: Tim! So, I lost my job (or I hate my job) and I’ve always wanted to be a Professional Puppy Petter!

Me: OMG! Me Too! I love puppies! So awesome!

FOP: Okay, so I’m currently making low six figures, like $127,350. And while I know I won’t make that same amount in my pivot profession, I still need to make $127,300. What advice do you have for me to become a Professional Puppy Petter?

Me: Don’t.

FOP: Haha! No seriously, petty puppies are my passion! I’ll do whatever it takes!

Me: You have to be prepared to take a pay cut of at least 99% (in reality, for most career pivots, it’s probably 30-40%).

The reality is, most of the actual examples are people asking me how to get into HR. They are usually coming from a sales job or management job where they are making $65-85K. Some even have an HR degree, but little or no experience.

That’s awesome. I love HR! But, you have to be ready and prepared for an offer around $40-45K for your first HR job, depending on the market. That means you need to adjust your lifestyle to make that career pivot. I find about 1 out of 25 people are willing to make that adjustment.

When I first jumped from agency recruiting to HR I took a 65% cut in pay to move into straight corporate HR. I actually lied about how much I was making because it was probably double what my new corporate boss was making. They never would have hired me knowing they were making me an offer so low from I was currently at. But, I truly wanted to make that pivot!

Career pivots take major sacrifice, but often they are worth it if you find a career doing something you truly care about. It’s easier to pivot at the beginning or end of your career. You have less to lose. When you are mid-career with a house payment and kids and a dog, career pivots are almost impossible, without major adjustments to lifestyle.

The one thing you need to know…

Career pivots have less to do with your ability to do the new job and everything to do with your willingness to take a major step back in life comforts.

Good luck out there my friends!