Let me Google that for you!

I am running up fast on ten years of HR and recruiting experience. Seems like I shouldn’t be able to say that, because ten years is a long time. I’ve learned a couple of things through the years and that’s sort of why this blog exists- to tell the other good folks of our profession about my massive mistakes and how to avoid them. This one is particularly fun because it happened early on in my career and has recently come full circle.

Sometimes people say mean things about my generation. They talk about us like we can’t read or don’t have ears for hearing. People say my generation is rude and full of lazy know it alls. I’ve defended those things for my generation many many times, but unfortunately I’ve also exhibited that dreadful behavior.

Early on in my career I joined my local SHRM chapter. Our chapter was rather large and I started volunteering so I could get to know some other professionals in a smaller atmosphere. Eventually I ended up on our board and as one of the youngest and most inexperienced professionals on the board I did allow myself a juvenile moment in front of all of my peers.

The amount of emails you receive on the board can sometimes be outrageous. Group emails, much like group texts, are like a solidified prison that you can’t tunnel your way out of. On one particularly busy work day a useless board related group email came through my inbox and instead of answering the question in the email I responded with the lmgtfy link to the answer. I know, I know-AWFUL. I considered making this one a video blog just so you could hear the agony in my voice as I relive that ridiculous antic. So how did this come full circle? There is an HR position open that someone else thinks I would be a PERFECT fit for and honestly the job sounds great, but guess what? The owners wife is that HR person that I sent a let me google that for you smart alec answer to on a reply all email on our local SHRM chapter board. Yep. Sigh…. Guess who isn’t touching that one!

let me google that for you

What should I have said in that email? How about something along the lines of “I googled your question and the top answer was xyz.” Much better than a smart alec link. Google, whats up with that link? I can’t be trusted to use that tool responsibly and now it’s come back to bite me.

google first

Lesson? It’s all in the delivery. Even on your busiest or crummiest days, what you say and how you act is a reflection of you and can come back and bite you or it can help you! Where do you want to be and what behavior is going to get you there?

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It’s time to go full-time #truestorytuesday

I love a good story about how off mark a manager has behaved. One of my favorites was the one  I read about the supervisor that decided it would be a great idea for him to take everyone’s cell phones when they got to work and give them back when they left (and not for security purposes). I believe in most cases the manager is just trying to get the job done and hopefully has good intentions, just the wrong way to get to the end result.  I also know what it’s like to be so desperate to get the job done that you start taking extreme measures, but here goes a classic conversation with a manager and a new mom working part-time:

Manager: Look, I know you want to stay home with Violet, and you don’t want anyone else to keep Violet, but I really need you to be here full-time. I’ve made a list of local day cares that can take Violet now. I’ve circled and highlighted my favorites with notes about their curriculum. I think this one is the best and the staff I met with was very friendly, it’s also very affordable. You should call them.

Employee: My availability is part-time and that is not changing.

Close curtain.

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What would you do different in this event as either the employee or the manager?

 

It’s my yeariversary!

I’ve been a part of the corporate world for exactly a year now. The weird thing is it feels like I’ve been here forever! I assume that’s a good thing, but I suppose that depends on who you’re talking to. Some of you already know, I spent seven years at one place and it was a much different atmosphere than where I am now so I’ve made it a point to celebrate some small victories, even if I just celebrated them with myself, to help me adjust to a different environment. Not to say that it’s been a hard adjustment (really it has been), but to say that when you get used to certain things it is hard to adjust to something completely opposite. So, what are some of the small things I’ve celebrated?

  • I got comfortable enough to give up my back up job of waiting tables/bartending.
  • I feel like my immediate manager has my best professional development interest at heart (at times it was questionable, but one day he said exactly what I needed to know and it was 100% genuine, it immediately increased my loyalty. Seriously, on the spot).
  • I’ve survived my first year of on-campus college recruiting.
  • I’ve survived two EDPs (employee development plan)-this type of thing was absolutely unheard of at the previously mentioned job, so I still get nervous about sitting down with my manager and telling him my goals. I’m not fully convinced there isn’t some strings attached to this deal, so YES this is a big deal for me.
  • I also survived my first performance review.
  • My co-workers and boss rocked my birthday month like some kind of crazy birthday month pros.
  • I have an awesome work-out buddy from work.
  • I’ve made some new friends (yes, they are in the HR dept lol)
  • I’ve learned some new phrases, some of them only unique to Rick, otherwise known as Rick-isms.
  • I’m getting closer to not letting it intimidate me that I’m not the smartest person in the room, most of the time, at this job.

This list could probably go on for at least a few more items. I was just as intimated as any new employee when I showed up for my first day. My office mate at the time helped ease my concerns and the fact that the whole department did their part to embrace me went a long way as well. Switching jobs can be tough for anyone. Your always tempted to say “at my old job we did it this way” or to compare your current workload to a workload at a previous job (yes I’m guilty of both), but your new co-workers probably don’t want to hear it. It’s important to know that it is just as much the new employees job to engage with the group and show some commitment as it is the existing employees job to embrace the newbie.

meow get back to work

So in summary: I’ve survived a year with them and they’ve survived a year with me 🙂 Employers, be sure and have a good mentor, sponsor, whatever you want to call it type program to acquaint your new employees with your work environment-even the most experienced professional needs to learn their way around the new digs (physically and mentally). Job seekers: keep your chin up and don’t alienate yourself, when the time comes take responsibility for integrating yourself into the new group!

#GivingTuesday #TrueStoryTuesday

I wrote about Giving Tuesday last week to prep you lovelies for today… the day… Thanksgiving has come and gone. You have survived Black Friday. You milked Cyber Monday for all that it is worth. Close out your holiday madness with Giving Tuesday. This is powerful stuff guys. 1 in 5 children in America go hungry every day. We are equipped to stop this, don’t tell me you aren’t. If you are online reading this post the least you can do is share it. If you have a dollar in your bank account you can pass it on and connect a child to TEN meals. The cool thing about today-Tyson Foods will match your donation up to 25k.

Here is a useful link to help you get involved and donate:

DONATE

Go there. Donate. Share it.

Follow @nokidhungry

Thank @TysonFoods for matching our donations today

Update a status or tweet for the givathon.

HASHTAGS to use:

#GivingTuesday

#TeamNKH

#givathon

#nokidhungry

By the way, did you follow the link? What are you waiting for, go get involved 🙂

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Initial here, here and sign here… #truestorytuesday

Non-compete edition

NC

A year ago today I was evaluating what I was going to do next as far as my career. Officially separated from my employer I looked over my non-compete until my eyes were fully crossed. I had signed this document 6 and a half years prior and didn’t think twice about what it could mean. I was 20, it was my first real job, I accepted the simple run down and understood that it was expected that I would sign in order to continue employment. I didn’t feel bullied or tricked into signing it, I just knew I was supposed to sign it. 6 and a half years later I was not doing the work I did the day I signed it. I had climbed a considerable amount and positioned myself to bring home a pretty nice paycheck. Besides the fact that I obviously couldn’t do similar work I also wouldn’t find a position that allowed me to earn the income that I was earning in a different industry.

I had always heard “you can fight your non-compete” from everyone and their mother; even while I was still working and not even considering the need to fight it. In fact, there was a well-known story of a woman who did win the fight against our company and the non-compete we signed. I decided to start looking for work and just see what happened, if a job came up that would require me to look at the non-compete a little closer than I would do it at that time. I really wanted to honor my non-compete, but I wasn’t sure I was going to find decent employment outside of it. I was really good at what I was doing and I made a good amount of money doing it. Of course the first couple of calls that came through after putting my resume out there were from direct competitors who I easily turned down. Those offers were clearly very similar to the job I had just been doing, no gray area.

The area became a little gray for me when I had an offer to work as an on-site coordinator for a competitor. I pulled out the non-compete so they could send it to their legal department, who decided they didn’t have a problem with it and we could move forward in this position without breaking my standing NC. I still didn’t take the offer, I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted to do. I was working somewhere already and happened to know that my former employer was tracking where I was to see if I did violate my NC. Rest assured the owner of the company declared my current position did not violate the non-compete agreement and the sleuths laid off a bit. After 6 and half years with one company I did have a lot of information and a pretty strong client base. Had I any intention of using what I knew against them it could mean trouble for them so I was not shocked that they were making sure I was abiding by our agreement… annoyed, but not shocked.

A little of what I found out:

…The employer has the burden of showing that any restriction is reasonable and necessary to protect against unfair competition. California, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Oregon and Michigan have the most restrictions against non-compete agreements…

…However, in order to be enforceable courts have ruled that: (1) the employer has to have a protectable interest; (2) the restriction has to be reasonably related to that interest; (3) the restriction is reasonable as to time and place; and (4) the restriction imposes no undue hardship on the employee…

…But when an employer asks an employee to sign a non-compete agreement after starting employment and there is no extra payment or benefit to the employee for signing it, then almost all courts will invalidate the agreement for lack of consideration…

…If your job was to go through the phone book and cold call people and ask them to buy your product that probably would not constitute a protectable interest because a phone book is something that is available to the public…

I’m in Alabama and have always heard they are tough for the employer to win here. A protectable interest became unclear when considering my job did indeed require me to pull out a phone book and cold call people. I was also told by an attorney (side note, I did not seek out an attorney this attorney volunteered this to me) that my non-compete was excessive and could easily be won because a) the 200 mile radius had previously been deemed unreasonable by a court in Alabama b) 18 months waiting period was previously deemed unreasonable by a court in Alabama. I signed my non-compete 7 days after I started my job, 8 days after accepting and was not given any extra payment or benefit for signing it. Even with all of this information and much, much more I decided to honor my non-compete. It wouldn’t be like me to fight against something that I had signed and I couldn’t bring myself to do it even with multiple companies and legal departments and people telling me I could do it and cheering me on.

I share this with you to remind you to think into the future when you sign things. It’s nice to think that we are going into a forever relationship with a company, but you honestly never know what will play out in the long-term.

This is the EEOC calling #truestorytuesday

“Kristina, you need to call Mark with the EEOC back” says trusty employee.

Hmmm… I sit back in my chair for the half of a second my day will allow to reflect on what I was just told. Really? I toss that statement around in my head a few times before I’m snapped back to the reality of my super busy day. I call the number back only to find its just the general 800 number for public use. Strange. Not ten minutes later I heard the page down the hall “Kristina, EEOC on line 1 for you…” I can’t lie, for what seemed like an hour I held my breath (pffft, like I had that much free time) before I picked up the phone and jumped right in. I remember looking at the caller id and the call was blocked…strange, but not unheard of.
“This is Kristina how can I help you”
“This is Mark representing the EEOC. Did you have an employee by the name of Max Martin (name changed to protect the guilty).
“Yes.”
“We received a complaint in reference to how his termination was handled and I have a few questions.”
…. Something isn’t right, I’m super busy, I can’t handle this right now. Mind you I’m a young 20 something at this time and inexperienced in this area.
“Okay. It may be best to contact our corporate representative.”

I call corporate and give them the heads up about what is going on. I tell them this is strange and I don’t feel like this is legit, it doesn’t match up with the little bit I do know about the EEOC procedures. Corporate gets the call and talks with them for a little while. While corporate is on the phone with me telling me about the conversation they had I get a call back from Mark. I take it and tell him that further communications will need to go through our corporate office. He’s really pressing for information and trying to intimidate me; I now have a good idea of who this might be. I get off the phone with him and he calls corporate again then calls me again… Only this time he doesn’t block his number! Bingo! My assumption was correct so I wait for him to say he is Mark from EEOC again.
“This is Mark from the EEOC, I need to get your corporate fax number”
“Hey Max Martin, I’m sure you can find our fax number on the website, is there anything else I can do for you today, Max?”
It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop from miles away. “Oh hey Ms. Kristina… I uh I was just wondering what all jobs you had open for me.”

So what’s Max’s back story? He worked for us at a metals plant and had been there for almost the 90 day probationary period. He became angry during the last shift he worked and walked off the job. (After having an argument with a family member that worked at the same job site.) Less than 24 hours after he walked off the job he regretted it of course and came by the office begging us for his position back. We had a policy that if you walked off a job or quit without notice you would not be eligible for rehire. Period. We of course referenced this policy in an attempt to diffuse the situation. Somehow in his mind he thought if he impersonated an employee of the EEOC that he would be able to intimidate us to the point that we would hire him again. This tactic failed miserably for two reasons: 1) we were certain that we were within legal compliance in our actions 2) that time he called impersonating EEOC employee Mark and forgot to block his number.

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