Career Confessions of Gen Z – The Bass Player

Have you seen the movie Almost Famous? It’s a great movie but I’ve always struggled with watching the movie’s fictitious band, Stillwater, head towards disaster as they come to grips with fame.

The infighting of the band members is unnerving. The guitarist has a charisma that sets him apart from his band mates, and the lead singer is pissed that he isn’t recognized as the “front man”. There are a few other members of the band as well, but they don’t matter in the grand scheme. Long-term success of the band hinges on the tumultuous relationship between the guitarist and singer.

A while ago, I had the fortune of meeting three impressive individuals at a conference. These individuals are positioned incredibly well to bring a much needed, and very disruptive, product to an industry. They had great chemistry as a team and gave a well-polished elevator pitch as a three piece.

As I watched them woo a string of investors, I was trying to figure out the characteristics that made this team particularly impressive. Then, it hit me as I was having a sidebar with two of the members.

We were talking about the role each member played. In the midst of the explanation, one of the members excitedly blurted out that they were like the bass player of the “band”. The other member contested, saying that it was in fact themself that played the role of bass player. Some friendly jabs were thrown, and that’s when it hit me.

This band of innovators will continue be successful together because they were arguing about which member was the bass player. Not because they didn’t want to be the bass player, but because they were humble enough to each feel and understand that the bass player played as integral a role as the front person.

Seriously, who the hell wants to be the bass player?

Don’t get me wrong, I love all things music, and as a result, tremendously respect the role of the bass player.

If you’d like to geek out with me for a moment – a few favs among so many others include: John Paul Jones, Flea, Krist Novoselic, Sting, anything relative to reggae or jazz – but I digress. Bass players drive the song, and nothing can replace an iconic bass line.

Despite this, I’d argue we don’t always recognize them. As it translates into business, we often overlook the value individuals bring to the collaborative process of a project. Even if we tell ourselves we’re team players, and for most part exemplify it, it’s easy to slip into the trap of putting our own progress and recognition before team success.

All of this to say, it just wasn’t the case in what I experienced at the conference. I continued to watch this band take down question after question from investors. They had the upper hand.

Just like a break in the concert where each band member is highlighted and shows off their chops with a solo, each member took the leading role when it was their time during the Q&A, and then quietly slipped back into a supporting role as the next member rose to the occasion.

No Stillwater fate for these guys. I can’t wait to see what they do in the coming months. How about yourself – are you content being the bass player for your “band”?


Quintin Meek a talent consultant at Pillar Technology (part of Accenture Industry X.0). Also an active member of Detroit’s startup and tech community. Every day is something new and challenging, and I am learning more than ever before. I’m finding that I’ve become a lifelong student, and I’m excited to see how that continues to shape the road ahead.

Career Confessions of Gen Z: 3 Tips for Starting a New Job — The Intern Addition

STOP, COLLABORATE, AND LISTEN.

While these may be the words to an iconic and catchy song — you’re welcome if it’s now stuck in your head — they are also words of wisdom for a college student or new grad about to start an internship or entry-level job. So, let’s take a piece out of Vanilla Ice’s lyrical genius and apply it to some real life advice.

Stop:

If you’re anything like me, starting anything new can be extremely overwhelming. Be sure to stop, take a breath, and know that it will take time to adjust. Don’t try to rush yourself. Allow yourself some grace and your transition will be much smoother than if you put ten tons of unneeded pressure on yourself.

Collaborate:

You’re in your new job and you want to impress the big cheeses. What’s a great way to do this?

By demonstrating all you learned from those college group projects.

Show that you know how to be a productive team player, that you’re willing to share your ideas, and that you’ll make the effort to work well with your new co-workers. Your ability to collaborate successfully will stand out more than a 4.0 GPA, I promise.

Listen:

I have saved the best for last. This tip is the most important:

If you cannot listen actively, you will not advance nor impress. Just like your mom used to say, “There is a reason you have two ears and one mouth”. When you start your new job you will have to take in a great deal of information.

It’s important that you be an active listener. Take notes, ask for clarification, and don’t be too prideful to ask for help. Active listeners are some of the most valuable employees. While I am no expert — or famous rapper — by any means, I do work on these things each and every day that I come into work.

These tips will help you transition smoothly, impress the big cheeses, and demonstrate your value as the incredible employee you are!

*Though I don’t know if Vanilla Ice took these tips, he is worth $18 million, so he’s doing something right.


Elena Moeller is currently junior at the St. Edward’s University and Intern of all trades for Proactive Talent in Austin, Texas. Being born and raised in Minnesota I grew up playing hockey, riding snowmobiles, and fishing. One thing you should know about me is that I have never been labeled as shy — I live for getting to know new people and learning new things. This has enabled me to travel the world, become fluent in Spanish, and live in Milan, Italy where I learned a bit of Italian! I find I am happiest at work when I am able to spark my creativity and create something that is useful for our company but is also an entertaining read.

Career Confessions of Gen Z: Make Your Data Work For You

When you think about the top companies in the world, what are the first companies that come to mind?

I would bet that Google was one of the first companies that popped in your mind.

I am positive that HR professionals around the world are trying to figure out the formula to building such a great workplace environment for employees. After reading the book, Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Block, I learned that one of the keys to Google’s continued success is metrics.

Every new initiative or process that they introduce to employees is calculated and analyzed to determine how successful it was. They often use a small sample group to test and get feedback on the new idea.

The problem with most companies is that when they introduce something new, they don’t have a strategy as to how they will determine the program’s success. Companies are basing the success of initiatives purely on opinion.

In 2016, fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and budget over the course of the year (Capterra). Here are a few tips to using metrics to properly gage the success of a project:

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

What are we trying to accomplish with this project that is measurable? What benefit will this project bring to involved stakeholders? What is our budget and time frame for this project?

These are all simple questions that should render the data that you need to measure the success of the initiative.

For some companies, there may be historical data from the past that you can use to compare a new project in terms of success. This can be helpful for looking at what was done in the past and how it can be improved upon.

However, not every company has been around long enough to use historical data. These companies can use data from other companies who have done something similar as a benchmark. No need to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.

Get Feedback From Those Involved

Getting the proper feedback from the people involved in a project is essential for improving on that project in the future. How else are you going to know what employees like and what they don’t like? Come up with a creative way to get honest, useful responses.

Make Sure it Aligns with the Company Strategy

I’ve seen companies come up with great ideas that are successful as soon as they are implemented. The only problem is that the project does not fall in line with the vision and values of the company. Whether that project has success or not, you must consider what message you are sending to your employees.

Not everybody likes dealing with numbers, I know, but numbers can be very beneficial if used properly. I’ll leave you with a quote by the musical genius Jay Z:

“Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t lie”


Jonathan Sutherlin is a human resource professional with experience in the engineering and automotive industry. Currently going for his Master’s in Organizational Change Leadership in a hybrid program at Western Michigan University. He is very passionate about reading, philanthropy, basketball, and fitness. You can connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn or through email at jonsutherlin@gmail.com. When Jonathan is not at work trying to impact lives, you can either catch him in the gym or nose deep in a good book!

Career Confessions of Gen Z: Busting Common Misconceptions

Tim Sackett released a tweet last week about a Gen Z coworker not knowing what Kinko’s was. That coworker was me — GUILTY!

I have to admit, maybe my lack of awareness of Kinko’s is due to my age, or maybe it’s due to the fact that I grew up in a very small, rural town and the closest office supplies/copy center was a Staples a few towns over. Regardless, the tweet got a lot of traction and the comments were super funny. Many of them however, took shots at Gen Z showcasing some common misconceptions of the generation .

Below are a few comments that stood out to me that I thought I would address so that employers of Gen Z’s have a better understanding of them and can refrain from making the same misconceptions.

“Ok so where’s the new cool place to get copies made? What are all the cool kids doing?”

Staples.

“Did you ask your GenZ to fax a copy, too? 🤣

Honestly, If you asked me to fax something today I would probably ask for a refresher on how to fax something or I would have to google it. Truth be told, I’ve only faxed something twice in my life and I was doing it for a teacher back in grade school my Freshman year — This was in 2010.

Like the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. The reality is that we haven’t had to grow up faxing things. To us, faxing is basically an archaic way of sending documents.

“I’m surprised your co-worker didn’t just Google “Kinkos””

Gen Z’s love to Google. It’s a fast and easy way to get information. So yes, we Google the heck out of everything to get immediate answers.

“And then you can rent a movie at Blockbuster”

Sometimes people forget that the oldest of the Gen Z’s are in their 20’s and do remember a time with Blockbuster, VHS, no flat-screen computers or TV’s, and the rareness of cell phones. 

Technology was advancing at an incredible speed when the oldest of us were growing up. A phone one day looked nothing like a phone a year later nor had the same capabilities. The same goes for music devices, computers, TVs, ect.

“Someone asked me how to make a copy today, same deal. I told her that was half of my work as an intern and asked her to take an educated guess.”

Honestly, I don’t make copies very often. In grade school, you don’t need to make copies for anything and most high school students work in food or retail service not in an office setting where copies are typically made. I can’t even remember a time in college when I really needed to make copies. However, making copies is not rocket science by any means and I hope all Gen Z’s are capable of this.

“Just redirect my existence to/dev/null … smh… I knew what a Kresge’s was when I was a kid, even thought they hadn’t existed for years. Where the F are their parents talking about life before those self-absorbed kids were brought into this world.”

This is probably the one comment that made my eyes roll. Self-absorbed is a term that I often hear regarding Gen Z and I here’s why it’s so wrong:

Sure, we might be a little self-absorbed but truthfully what human isn’t? In reality, Generation Z is the most diverse, globally aware, environmentally friendly, and social justice oriented than any of the previous generations. So while yes, we all at times act for our own interest, this generation is also advocating for the greater good of all and is cleaning up messes of previous generations.

With All That Said

The point of this wasn’t to defend myself or Generation Z against these comments but rather to use them as examples to give employers a deeper understanding of us and our upbringing. We all grew up in different times, developed different mindsets, and all come from different backgrounds and experiences.

The fact that the workforce is so multi-generational is awesome! There is much diversity between the generations and even within them. As everyone should know by now, a diverse workforce is the best workforce.

And while yes, Gen Z’s are young, naive, and technology dependent we shouldn’t be punished or made to feel stupid for the lack of certain knowledge that to others is so well-known and understood. Though I got frustrated at times, I didn’t make my grandma feel stupid when I was teaching her how to text. I was patient and encouraging. 

Employers should embrace and learn from the differences of each generation and be eager and patient to teach them new skills and spread knowledge, no matter how simple those things might seem.


Hallie Priest is a digital marketer for HRU Technical Resources, a leading engineering, and IT staffing firm based in Lansing, MI, using her skills to create content to serve all involved in the job seeking/hiring process. When she is not strategizing campaigns, going over analytics, or talking about her dog you can find her at the nearest coffee shop fueling her creativity. Connect with her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/halliepriest

 

Career Confessions of Gen Z | The Power of Seeing – B-roll!

Hello everyone!

Thank you for joining me on this Gen Z journey. In the last episode, I talked about what verbal and spoken content can do for your recruiting methods, but I think it’s just one side of things to simply hear what a job is like. It takes it to a whole other level when you can visually capture what the processes of a job are like. So follow me into the world of b-roll!

(Don’t worry, I’ll explain it all in the video) 😉


Skyler Baty is a Videographer and Video Editor for SkillScout and lives in the Detroit Metro Area in Michigan. Skyler loves doing video work and helping organizations with their video projects. Connect with him, he’s a genius with this stuff!

 

 

 

 

How to Speak Gen Z – The HR Edition!

I wanted to share this video on “How to speak Gen Z” that my Recruiting Manager, Zach Jensen, from my office found. Zach is a Millennial and his original comment was something like “I don’t get it!” Zach gets most everything, he’s a complete rock star in recruiting! So, this made me laugh out loud!

Check out the video and then I’ll break it down:

The Gen Z phrases in the video and the meaning:

“Suh” – Hello (short for what’s up – or ‘whatsup’)

“Fam” – Friends – short for ‘family’

“FamJam” – Family – short for I have no idea

“The Fest was Lit” – It was a fun event

“Okurrrrrrr” – Okay – which I’m assuming is Ok – with some Cardi-B r rolling at the end

“I’m finna Dipset” – I’m getting ready to leave

“Them kicks are drippin” – Those are some neat shoes (FYI – I’ve actually heard this exact statement in the wild with a Gen Z)

“BET” – I would be glad to help – or another form of ‘sure’

“Dudes took an L” – My favorite team lost

“He little mad” – He seems upset

“He big mad” – He seems very upset

“No cap” – He’s not lying

“Wierd flex but okay” – That’s an interesting statement

“Facts” – I completely agree with that statement

“Yee Yee” – I agree

“YEET” – That’s exciting news – or – excuse me – or – congratulations on your baby boy – or – basically anything “YEET” is used for almost anything!

So, I have to be honest I’ve actually heard about half of these in the wild many times, primarily from my 22-year-old son’s college baseball team. When you get 36 boys together between 18 and 22, this is basically much of their language between each other, not really with those older or younger than themselves.

So, how can we use some of these in HR for our young Gen Z employees?

Don’t. Just don’t ever use these with your Gen Z employees! Unless you write a talk for your CEO for something like a new employee orientation and you sprinkle some of these phrases in and tell her that the ‘fam’ will love it! And while she might be big mad when she finds out you played this joke on her, it will be really funny! YEET!

Career Confessions from Gen Z: Tips to Being Successful

Everyone’s goal is to be successful.  There are little changes that you can make each day that can have a big impact on your success.  Three things that are not taught in a college lecture hall, but that will make you stand out among your coworkers and be successful are:

1. Being on Time

Being on time is so important no matter what it’s for. Punctuality is great for work, attending a sporting event, or meeting friends for dinner.  When you’re on time it shows that you care and that you’re putting forth effort.  When a you’re late, you’re holding up others and showing that you don’t respect other’s time.  Your being late simply makes everyone else late.

In my opinion, if you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re late.

2. Having a Positive Attitude

Having a positive attitude changes your whole outlook on life and your optimism affects those around you.  When you’re positive, it makes others around you more positive too.  Of course, the opposite is true as well. When you’re negative it makes others around you more negative and brings down the mood.

My dad is one of the most positive people that I know, and even though positivity bugs me at times, in the end I am thankful for it.  He tells his employees at work all of the time that Monday is his favorite day of the week.  As we all know, Monday’s are usually peoples least favorite day of the week, but going into a Monday with a positive attitude helps the day go better.

3. Staying out of office politics

Avoiding office politics is another important thing you need to try and do because once you’re involved in them, it’s hard to get out.  You should only worry about yourself, the work you’re doing, and the things that are in your control.

Yes, it can be frustrating when you feel that you’re putting in more effort and working harder than your co-worker in the cube next to you who is always playing on their phone; but you can’t worry about that and let it bother you.  You need to just keep doing your work and in the end you will be the one rewarded.

You Will Be Recognized

If a you can consistently do these three things everyday, YOU will be the one promoted instead of the coworker that shows up five minutes late everyday.  YOU will get the next important project instead of the person that is always negative and doesn’t want to be at work. Lastly, YOU will be the one that’s promoted over the worker that spends most of their time online shopping.

Even though these may seem like small things, in the long run they will help get you recognized and YOU will be rewarded for it.


Mallory Armbrustmacher graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2017 with a BA in Human Resource Management. She is an HR Generalist with the State of Michigan, Talent and Economic Development Department Human Resource Office, where she coordinates ADA Reasonable Accommodations and Ergonomic Assessments. In addition, she takes the lead on various special projects, conducts new employee orientations, processes payroll, and assists in labor relations, classifications, and selection. She is currently studying for the SHRM-CP exam, but also loves spending time with her family and friends, playing games, and cooking.

Career Confessions of Gen Z: HR without a Degree

It was exam season of my 2nd year at UC Berkeley, the “#1 Public University in the World”. Per the typical college student in the midst winter, I thought, “What am I going to do this summer?”. Little did I know, this single thought would change my life forever…

To paint this picture a little better, I am currently writing this blog from my desk at work in Detroit, MI. If I didn’t have that little thought, I would currently be finishing my final semester of college in a couple short months.

What did I do exactly?

I accepted a job as a sourcer at a company that I knew I loved despite being less than a year away from completing school.

How did I do it?

I internalized what I really wanted and compared the pros with the cons.

Cons of leaving school to work

  1. I won’t have a college degree if I drop out — at least not yet
  2. I have to leave a good amount of friends that I’ve built great relationships with
  3. All of my family is back in California

Pros of leaving school to work

  1. I was going to school to do what I am doing now
  2. I have spent 3 internship seasons building relationships and finding mentors (something I lacked in the past)
  3. I was DROWNING in debt – loans, friends, etc. — I could pay this off if I take this job!!

 

Honestly, it was one of the easier decisions I’ve had to make because it made perfect sense for ME. After 8 months in my current role, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

What I did not know would be an added benefit for me was empathy – more specifically, I am more motivated than ever to seek to understand. I think this is a benefit in all aspects of life; seeking to understand something before you seek to be understood. Now that I’m much more open with my experiences and invite the same from others, seeking to understand has become second nature to me and I can’t imagine a close-minded life.

So, I guess the point of my story wasn’t to tell you all that I dropped out of school – it’s to let you know that people have got a lot of junk sometimes. It may take a little digging to come out with that nugget of gold I like to call understanding.


Hunter Casperson — self-proclaimed “Sourcing Nerd”, is currently an Associate Talent Strategist at Quicken Loans out of Detroit, MI. Originally from Southern California, he spent lots of time outdoors and in turn, loves nature. Hunter attended UC Berkeley where he studied Math & Psychology for three years before joining Quicken. His all-time favorite thing to do is beat-box, where he has consecutively ranked amongst the Top 10 in the United States over the past 3 years (under the name Huntybeats)!

How am I Really Doing?

One of the things that is very important to me as I navigate my professional career in Human Resources is feedback and constructive criticism. I cannot stress enough how important it is for managers and supervisors to communicate with their people frequently. In my opinion, the relationship between a manager and his direct report can be compared to an intimate relationship between a couple.

There are many things that go into a romantic relationship, but two things that are non-negotiable are transparency and communication. Your significant other always expects you to be open and honest with them no matter what the situation. I think that managers owe their employees this same courtesy.

Praising or giving recognition to an employee when he’s doing well is simply not enough. A manager must also have the tough conversations when an employee may be missing the mark in an area. There is nothing worse than having a disconnect on performance between an employee and their manager. Part of the problem is that most companies are not requiring anything additional from managers in regards to feedback and reviews. Companies who place a higher focus on performance management will benefit by changing the culture through feedback and recognition.

Most companies that I have been apart of up to this point follow the typical annual performance review process. However, a manager should be communicating with their subordinates all throughout the year in addition to the formal review. Employees cannot be expected to increase efficiency on a task when the only time they get feedback is at the end of the year.

Companies that implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback (ClearCompany). That’s a very interesting statistic to think about. Managers and supervisors could be saving their companies thousands of dollars in turnover costs simply by giving more consistent feedback. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week (ClearCompany). This feedback does not have to be a half hour- or hour-long formal meeting either.

Ensuring that your employees are highly engaged is critical to the overall company success. Feedback and recognition are imperative to keeping an employee engaged.

Some may wonder what the difference is between an engaged employee and a not engaged employee. In my experience, an engaged employee is one that is going to give 100% effort and then some daily. This person is going to do everything in their power to ensure the company is successful. Which in turn will make them look good in the process. An employee who is not engaged typically is a person that is doing his daily tasks and waiting on the next paycheck. Granted, this person may not have any issues with their performance, but you will always get the bare minimum needed from this person. Don’t expect them to go the extra mile.


Jonathan Sutherlin is a human resource professional with experience in the engineering and automotive industry. Currently going for his Master’s in Organizational Change Leadership in a hybrid program at Western Michigan University. He is very passionate about reading, philanthropy, basketball, and fitness. You can connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn or through email at jonsutherlin@gmail.com. When Jonathan is not at work trying to impact lives, you can either catch him in the gym or nose deep in a good book!

Career Confessions of GenZ: Flexibility as a Benefit!

Statistically, Generation Z makes up the largest population of any other age grouping in the United States of America. Most companies already realize this, and if not, they probably should be reading this post. Companies are almost obligated to structure their environments so that they are appealing and welcoming to our generation. If they choose not to conform, they will likely deteriorate as Baby Boomers simply cannot work forever. There is often much speculation about what is most important to us when it comes to choosing a company. Based on my peers and experience thus far, the best thing a company can offer a Generation Z individual is flexibility.

When I say flexibility, this can encompass a few things. For some of my peers, flexibility can mean the ability to work from home once or twice every other week. I’ve noticed that this is something that is engrained in most start-up cultures as they fully understand the impact Generation Z is going to have on the workforce. For other people, flexibility could present itself in a lenient dress code. Most of these companies have something written in their policy that tells employees to dress appropriately if you have meetings with clients or other third parties. I advise against wearing your normal t-shirt, jeans, and gym shoes combo if you are scheduled to meet with important stakeholders in the company. But, hey that’s just me!

Another area where a company can be flexible is with a food budget. There is nothing more appealing to people in my generation than free food. Granted, almost all generations would be happy with a free meal. However, people in Generation Z are transitioning from college campuses where Ramen Noodles and peanut butter jelly sandwiches could frequently be dinner for the night. At my workplace Rivian, free lunch is served every Monday and Thursday in addition to free dinner four days out the week. Probably one of the best perks that I’ve encountered so far.

While a couple of the topics that I just discussed are certainly great perks, flexibility for me is a company’s ability to adapt to the changing environment. What I mean is that even if a company has been doing something a certain way for 50 years, how resistant are they when a more efficient way is introduced. A company who is set in their ways can be very frustrating to a person in Generation Z because we often bring new and innovative ways to get things done.

In today’s day and age, businesses have to be dynamic in their ability to change because of how rapid society is changing. Technology is progressing at such a fast pace, companies who do not adapt will be left in the dust. I like to think that companies bring people of my age in for a new and fresh perspective. When a company doesn’t respect or appreciate your opinion, that’s almost a deal breaker in most situations. The business world is changing before our eyes and Generation Z has a lot to do with that. Companies like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn have created environments that breathe flexibility and creativity. Generation Z is taking over the workforce whether you want to believe it or not, what is your company going to do to in response?


Jonathan Sutherlin is a human resource professional with experience in the engineering and automotive industry. Currently going for his Master’s in Organizational Change Leadership in a hybrid program at Western Michigan University. He is very passionate about reading, philanthropy, basketball, and fitness. You can connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn or through email at jonsutherlin@gmail.com. When Jonathan is not at work trying to impact lives, you can either catch him in the gym or nose deep in a good book!