Category Archives: I Love/Hate Technology

Confessions of a Current (and Former) Social Media Whore

There. I said it. A lot of you already know it. I know some of you have talked about it, so let’s bring it out in the open. My attitude towards social media changes more than my underwear during any given week. Sometimes I feel like everything is so damn fake and I want to delete everyone I don’t see personally within any given month. The remaining people will be declared my close inner circle and everyone else is persona non grata. Then other times I want so many followers I find myself turning into my own little version of Jim Jones. There used to be no rhyme or reason to my whims. One day I’d have 400 Facebook friends, then whittle it down to 100, then get off Facebook altogether for months at a time. Actually that’s how the whoring started.

I think it was last summer when I decided I wasted too much time on Facebook. It was all Facebook. I had a Twitter account but never used it, same with LinkedIn, no Google Plus, no Tumblr, no Instagram, no FourSquare…all Facebook. And I was quitting. And then I replaced that addiction with what? Reading? Exercise? Cleaning my house? Nope. Twitter. If Facebook is crack then Twitter is crystal meth. It’s a faster pace, more immediately gratifying, and it will get you hooked INSTANTLY. My personal Twitter was ok for a while, but then I started the blog. And I needed a Twitter for that, which has now pretty much totally replaced the personal Twitter. Then I rejoined FB because of the blog.

meth Social-Logos

THEN I GOT A JOB AT A MARKETING AGENCY WHERE EVERYTHING IS SOCIAL ALL THE TIME, ALWAYS. I feel like a diabetic working days at Krispy Kreme and nights at Baskin Robbins. And the thing was, I didn’t expect people to be friendly. I didn’t expect people to give a crap about what I had to say…but they did. And that’s the biggest high of them all. People kept following me and I felt obliged (on Twitter) to follow them back. The more I followed, the more people followed me, and doesn’t this sound like the intro to an episode of Intervention?! It snowballed. I became friends with people. We connected on LinkedIn and then Facebook. Yes, most of this was me friending people, but some of them friended me! I swear!

news_generic_intervention

And then there was Klout. OMG for someone as bitchy and judgemental as myself, it was nirvana. A quantifiable way to determine someone’s “cool factor” as it were. First my score was 54. Then I linked all accounts to it that I could find and friended everyone and their dog catcher. I watched with glee as it slowly crept up. It lingered on 65 so long I thought I was going to have to screw George Takei to get it any higher, but higher it went. Past the scores of people that I liked and respected and just knew had more real clout that I do. It went all the way to 68 and I loved it.

mean girls

Then, I began to see the cracks in the Matrix. First off, LinkedIn is about as useless as a third nipple with regard to “clout”. I have recommendations from people I have never met. Because my world is somewhat HR-centric, I am an open networker on LinkedIn. Taking any and all requests. I know a lot of recruiters and if strangers connecting with me can help my recruiter friends find a candidate, great. But when a random boat captain (what?) started endorsing me for all kinds of skills, it became a bit silly. Really? Do you just expect me to endorse you back? For what, boat captaining? I do not feel qualified to give that reference.

This is all I know about piloting a boat. If you had anything to do with this, especially the peanut butter version, we can be friends for life.

This is all I know about piloting a boat. If you had anything to do with this, especially the peanut butter version, we can be friends for life.

Then, Twitter got ugly. I was following about 3000 people because I had largely felt obliged to follow everyone who followed me. I was up to 3800 followers and was very grateful, till I realized they mostly don’t give a shit. I can’t keep up with following 3000 people. You might be able to. Congrats. I can follow about 350 and get genuine, good info that I can use. Any more and my brain will explode. I unfollowed about 90% of my 3000 and 1100 followers went away within a week. If you are one of the ones I purged, I am sorry. It’s not that I didn’t like your tweets. It’s that I probably never saw them. I’m thrilled that 2700 people stayed with me – that seems way high. But I’m also sad that 1100 people were evidently only following me to get me to follow them back.

The exodus from my Twitter.

The exodus from my Twitter.

Remember when social media was supposed to be fun and helpful and not a spiteful high school popularity contest? Yeah, me neither. Still. It’s getting to be too much.

I purged the Twitter. I’m keeping the Facebook but using it less. The blog is down to once a week (for the most part) because I’m busy with school and work this summer. My Klout score is down to 64 and falling fast. I’m ok with that. I’ve decided I’d rather have a few good friends and colleagues in this industry that I really get to know vs. being Jim Jones with my brain falling out. I’m still super friendly and awesome. You can still find me on LinkedIn, but I’m no longer keeping score. In my mind, that means I’m winning.

Why Trusting Your Gut Can Go Badly – A Sheriff’s Tale

Once upon a time, there was a lowly HR assistant, newly tasked with hiring several manual laborers for a factory. The factory was located in a poor neighborhood with not many good jobs available. Most of the people in this neighborhood were semi-literate, under or improperly nourished, and all were affected in one way or another by the neighborhood’s high crime rate.

climbing-resume-stackThe only thing good about this scenario for our lowly HR assistant is that on the rare occasions she did have jobs open, she had many applicants for them — so many, in fact, that she often had stacks and stacks of applications on her desk without having spoken to the applicant or without being able to put a name to a face.

Such was the case with Billy. She happened upon his application one day and, on paper, at least, he seemed okay. The job was packing and lifting boxes. No one needed a neuroscience degree and it was clear Billy didn’t have one, but his app looked like he’d had steady work and could do the job. At the bottom of the application was a section marked “For Employer Use Only” and it listed out the various positions available. The site had off-duty sheriffs providing security virtually round-the-clock, but the big qualification there was that you had to BE a sheriff. Billy, like many applicants, didn’t understand that this bottom portion of the application was for the lowly HR assistant to mark on when sending his info to payroll. That’s how she’d let them know that he worked in the factory and made $8 an hour. A lot of applicants, semi-literate, mixed up this part and put what they wanted to make at what position. Billy had put down that he wanted to be the sheriff for $9.00/hr.jiFfM

That should’ve been my first clue, but I’m naive and try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Plus we needed bodies — not geniuses, just bodies. I lined up about 6 interviews and one was Billy. He came in and when I saw him, I immediately called the interviewing manager and apologized. Billy looked ready to collapse from malnutrition. The one tooth remaining in his mouth was on its last legs. When I asked him what he was applying for, he actually said he wanted to be sheriff. He thought we’d give him a gun maybe?! I have no idea. I’m all for helping out someone who is hungry and willing to work, but Billy just had this air of “WTF?” around him that I couldn’t shake. He was NOTHING like he seemed on paper. It was like he floated into the office on a leaf, just going wherever the wind blew him. He was a ‘no’ vote from this judge immediately, but we did the interview anyway.

7938f1e9ecd76cb6f6134b6abf756f5f_rectangle_fullsize

I have no idea what kind of voodoo Billy worked on that hiring manager, but he must’ve made a good case for himself or appeared even more needy than he did to me, because he was hired. And apart from the 3 heart attacks he faked at work, even having ambulances called only to tell him he had a “pulled muscle” (the medical equivalent of ‘quit wasting my effin’ time’), he kept plugging along. He was eventually fired and I think it was because he kept up these incidents and it was decided the work was too strenuous for him. I think. I have kind of blocked it out. That took place within my first 2 months at this particular job, and Billy was nicknamed “the Sheriff” from that very first day. I was judged for inviting him in for an interview despite NOT being responsible for hiring him. On paper he looked good. On paper, my gut really liked him. Even when I told his manager not to hire him, he went with HIS gut and his gut overruled mine. We all like to think we know people but we don’t. We’re guessing and flying blind. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes the ambulance pulls up to yell at Billy to quit wasting their effin’ time and all you can do is roll your eyes.

If we’d had a way to test Billy beforehand, that might not have happened. Granted, for such a blue-collar situation, not all tests will be applicable, but an emotional maturity assessment sure would have been nice for Billy and for the guy who told all the older black ladies they wore too much makeup and he’d like to…do things to them, but only with a bag over their heads. A better way of weeding out the undesirables would have saved us some turnover, some training costs, lots of paperwork on both those fellas (and a few others) and made work much more boring…in a good way.

11519397-hiring-made-easy

SmartRecruiters has developed an Assessment Center that would’ve been a big help back in the day. It lets you check an applicant’s skills, references and behaviors. For my particular company back then, behavior would’ve been my biggest need. Today it would be skills. New position, new company…new needs. These are all available at the assessment center and can lead to vastly improved hiring over just a resume. From an article on SmartRecruiters’ Talent Assessments page:  ”In fact, academic research (Schmidt and Hunter 1998) shows resumes are one of the worst ways to select candidates. Combining interviews with assessments improves accuracy of hire by over 3x (.63 correlation with work performance vs. .18 correlation without testing).” Imagine that! Three times better hiring through basic skills and behavioral testing before hiring.

SmartRecruitersLogo“We are adding science to the art of recruiting,” said SmartRecruiters’ Founder & CEO Jerome Ternynck. “Our Assessment Center recommendation engine will encapsulate the performance and review of every assessment to present the best test for each position and company type.” And that’s what they can do for companies that recruit. Imagine what they could do for companies that are bombarded with applications all day long whether they have openings or not! You could really hire THE ABSOLUTE BEST. It wouldn’t matter if you could put a face with a name before you called each applicant. The applicant would self-select from the pack in the testing. You could avoid being the lowly HR assistant (or manager, director, recruiter) who hired “The Sheriff” and avoid that shame and embarrassment for years to come!

Losing a Job Before the Interview – Facebook No No’s

Hola all!  While I was out for finals week, other people were kind and generous enough to surprise me with offers of guest posts!  I LOVE THAT.  It’s like the Tooth Fairy for grown-ups!  In case any of you are wondering, I definitely accept guest posts.  Email me or contact me on Twitter if you have some ideas.  In the meantime, enjoy this excellent post about cleaning up your Facebook during a job search from Jeri Johansen, PHR.

Hope you’re all having a great week!  I am! – HRGF

 

facebook popularityFacebook.  People either love it or hate it.  One thing’s for sure, its popularity can’t be beat – Facebook has now surpassed Google as the most visited site in the U.S. with over a billion users.  It didn’t take long for employers to understand that a lot of information can be learned about prospective employees from their Facebook page.   While those pictures of you doing a keg stand provide a great memory of a great party, recruiters are not usually amused by this activity.

Effective January 1st, 2013, new state laws make it illegal for some employers to demand access to their worker’s Facebook accounts, although that does not mean they won’t try to view them.  It’s hard to believe that employers had been taking it upon themselves to demand employees’ social media passwords!  This tactic just screams Title VII violation.  Just think of the type of information an employer could possibly learn from your social media page: gender, race, religion, sexual orientation; the list goes on and on.

mehWhether or not hiring managers should use social media for employment screening, recent surveys show that about 37% do check Facebook before making a hiring decision.  Below is some information to help you clean up your Facebook page before embarking on your post-graduate or post-layoff career search.

 

Facebook Privacy settings

Take the time to set up your privacy settings so that only “friends” can view your timeline.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you restrict a lurker’s access to your information, it makes it all the more difficult to not only find you, but to dig up dirt on you.

stalk

Photos

Quite possibly the biggest indicator of a person’s “social media maturity” is their photo section. Would you be interested in going into business with someone whose first impression of themselves is a picture of them chugging a 40-ounce beer and making an explicit hand gesture? Yeah, neither would your future employer.

abort

 

 

 

 

 

 

Status Updates

What you choose to share about yourself on a widespread social platform like Facebook says more about yourself than what you actually say. Constantly complaining about your life, putting other people down or stating controversial opinions with disregard to others’ feelings are all sure-fire ways to have strangers judge your personality before actually getting to know you. You had a bad day at work? Posting about it on Facebook makes it seem like you hate your job and could concern employers that you would bad mouth them as well.  

job status

Proper Grammar & Spelling

Not being an English major is no excuse for improper grammar or spelling errors.  Profanity is another huge turnoff for employers, with 61% saying that they view the use of profanity on social media sites negatively.  Maybe you have great things to say but you can lose your credibility if your spelling or grammar is off.   Let’s review the following post:  “Im so exsited for there company to schedule my inter-view”.   Although you may mean well, this post could be viewed by the interviewer who may become “not so ecxsited” to schedule your interview.

reply

This is my blog and I have a job already, so profanity is ok.

Likes

Your “likes” on Facebook can be extremely telling.  While you may well be a fan of “Tattoos by Deviants”, it may come off as unappealing to some more conservative employers.

While changing or updating your Facebook profile is a good practice for job searching, it’s important to remember that nothing you post on the internet is ever completely hidden.  I can still find pictures of myself that I posted during my “only cool people post self-timer shots of them alone in the bathroom” phase in high school.  If in 10 years from now you think you could be embarrassed by the stuff on your social media page, don’t post it!  You don’t want a profile picture or status update to be the determining factor between you and a competing candidate!

jeriJeri Johansen, PHR is an HR Blogger, Manager of Human Resources at Crimcheck.com, and Chair of the 2014 Northern Ohio Human Resource Conference (www.nohrc.org).  She has never been skydiving but claims she would do it, if given the opportunity.  Her favorite vacation is cruising around the Caribbean. 
Crimcheck.com specializes in employment screening and background checks. You can follow Crimcheck.com on Facebook and Twitter also.

A Novel Approach to Intern Recruiting from MasterCard

I hate cash.  I really do.  I almost never use it and when I do, I always wonder if those bills were used for some type of nefarious purposes before they reached my hands.  Snorting coke, tipping a stripper, handled by someone who works at the CDC and didn’t properly clean the Ebola off themselves…who knows?  It’s gross.

SONY DSCWhat’s more, it’s inconvenient.  A few years back a friend and I went to a concert at the New Orleans Arena and parked across the street at the Superdome.  They gave us our ticket and we parked, went inside, and enjoyed the show without purchasing any beverages or food cause we had already eaten.  We never looked in our wallets.  It didn’t dawn on us until we were in the throes of the parking line that we’d now have to pay cash to be let out of the Superdome or be held hostage and delay hundreds of cars behind us.  We scrambled through our purses, the seats of her car, and the floorboards — and came up $1 short.  In her wallet, she had another $1 bill that she didn’t want to part with because a friend at her job had folded it into a perfect origami flower that she kept as a good luck charm.  We had no choice though, and had to unfold that masterpiece to get out of the garage.  I guess it was lucky we had it, but that seems like a poor reason to waste a good luck charm.

800px-Buick_Roadmaster_Wagon

That’s right. Grandpa was a balla’ yo!

My family also tells a funny story about my grandfather returning from a vacation in the Netherlands.  He took a cab home from the airport and did not realize until the driveway that he had not changed over any of his money yet.  I think he was able to pay the fare with a credit card but had nothing but Euros to tip this poor cabbie in Shreveport, Louisiana.  This isn’t DC or NYC where you can change that on any street corner.  This would have inconvenienced that cabbie quite a bit to accept a tip in Euros.  Instead, (and luckily) grandpa remembered that he kept an emergency $20 bill in a hidden compartment on the gas cap of his beloved faux-wood-paneled Buick Roadmaster station wagon/land yacht.  The cabbie waited in the driveway while grandpa had to get into the garage and fish out a $20 bill that had been in the gas cap for God knows how long and probably smelled of petrol enough to give the cabbie a headache.  See?  Cash is gross and inconvenient.

That’s why, when I read an article on Ryan Estis’ blog about MasterCard Worldwide and saw they were holding an internship contest around the idea of a cashless society, my eyes lit up IMMEDIATELY.   College students in the US, Canada, Italy, Turkey, China and Singapore will be developing ideas that might be implemented and lessen the need for gnarly paper money and stupid little coins.  Some people gripe about Big Brother.  Whatever.  I say bring it on!!  I can’t wait till I can pay for stuff with my retinas – and I bet these kids are going to have some GREAT IDEAS!

Add my bank balance and we have a deal.

Add my bank balance and we have a deal.

In the spirit of learning more about this global internship contest and how a huge corporation like MasterCard Worldwide runs their internships, I reached out.  Cut to – my teeny little blog here got an interview with Jen Cowan in HR at MasterCard!

mastercard_logo

Here’s our chat.  Jen’s responses about #internswanted are in BOLD.

How did you select the 6 countries?  Are those where the major MasterCard offices are located or were there other considerations? The six countries were not selected as much as they were the first to express interest in recruiting interns through this innovative social campaign method.

What do you prioritize in selecting interns?  Creativity?  Grades?  What is in the mind of the selection committee or individual during this process?   Overall, we like to see a well-rounded applicant. Our requirements are 3.0 GPA or higher, leadership experience, volunteer experience and demonstration of a work/life balance.  All of these characteristics fall within MasterCard’s vision, mission and values.

Internships will be held in areas of emerging payments, technology, marketing, issuer management and product management.  Apart from their major, how do you decide which team to place someone with?  The interviewing process gives us the opportunity to learn more about the students and what their interests are. From there, the students interview with the team to see if there is good fit.

We’ve all heard HR horror stories of interns being tasked with not much more than fetching coffee and dry-cleaning.  This sounds like a much more immersive process.  What is a typical day like in the life of a MasterCard intern?  We provide our interns with real life work experience.  Our interns will work on real projects.  At the end of the day, they can see how their efforts helped MasterCard as a whole.

Obviously the interns benefit from putting this experience on their resume and learning new skills and technologies in the corporate workforce.  What does MasterCard receive in turn from the interns?  The internship program provides us the opportunity to look at potential full time applicants.  We use this program as a 10 week job interview to see if the intern would be a good fit for their group and MasterCard.

globepic

This is the 3rd year that #internswanted has taken place, but the first year it’s gone global.  Why now?  Do you think including Millenials in Asia and Europe will give different viewpoints about the need for cashless societies?  We have seen such success with the campaign in Canada that we wanted to expand into other areas. This provides the opportunity to consider different parts of the business and different skillsets.

Are there any plans to expand to South America, Africa or Australia in the coming years? Yes, these would be locations to consider in the coming years.

Is there anything that was done in the first years that’s been changed or deleted?  Lessons learned from those programs that will make year 3 the best yet?  In the past, we asked a very broad question for the applicants to answer for the creative submission. This year, we are asking a very specific question.  From this, we should see some very exciting and creative submissions.

This process has been described as a 10 week job interview.  There are approximately 5 winners in each country, right?  Of those 30, how many do you estimate will be offered full-time employment with MasterCard upon graduation? If you come in and work hard, there are potential opportunities for full-time employment for post-graduation.  Depending on business need, we will be able to determine our full-time offers. Stefan from Canada is a great example.  He went through the program and is now a full-time employee.

Universally important.

Universally important.

What does an intern need to do to really shine and guarantee a job offer during those 10 weeks? To stand out at MasterCard, ask lots of questions, network, be well prepared, thought-provoking and punctual.

The application process includes a cover letter, resume’ and a creative/problem-solving element.  “Applicants are asked to submit an idea for a product, system, app or techniques that can help people go cashless in the future. Successful candidates will validate their application through social media using #internswanted— the more likes and retweets, the better the chances for success.”  Once selected, does the intern get to work on their idea at all or will they solely be working on other projects?  At this time, the interns will be working on business specific needs that have already been identified.

I’m sure a lot of ideas the students have are creative, but not ultimately feasible.  Do you encourage “out of the box” ideas or is MasterCard more focused on practicality? The #internswanted campaign provides us the opportunity to find those diamonds in the rough that are out of the box thinkers. The more creative the better.

What is the best advice you can give to an applicant to be successful in applying for this internship?  Think BIG and think outside the box. You have the opportunity to show MasterCard why you should be one of our summer interns.  Take the all the time you need to put your submission together. Be creative and have fun! If you have questions, reach out to the LinkedIn group for questions. We are here to help!

What is the best advice you can give to a winner to be successful during the internship? For any intern, I suggest being open-minded. Be open to feedback, ask a lot of questions and network as much as you can. You never know who may be looking for a full-time hire.

jonny_asking_questions_2networking539__1231533611_9633

This sounds like a fun program and I’m sure the winners will be glad to participate.  I was so thrilled to get to do this interview and it was very kind of them to answer my questions.  I am incredibly grateful.

There is more information at MasterCard’s website.  Even if you don’t plan to enter, the videos are cute.  I recommend them highly.

The US deadline for entry was April 7th.  The other countries will be accepting applications soon.  If you know a student in one of these other countries, I would encourage them to apply!  It will be great on a resume, it sounds like they’ll learn a lot, and if they can help the world go cashless then godspeed!!

Many thanks to @MasterCardNews, @CashCowan and @MasterCardBecca for their assistance and to @RyanEstis for that original blog post!

jen cowan

Jen Cowan is MasterCard’s Campus Program Manager tasked with identifying top innovators for their College Programs. In addition to campus recruitment, Jen is helping to shape the social media platform for HR and recruiting.  In her spare time, she is an avid tweeter, non-profit social media consultant, shopper and Food Network Groupie.

Why I am 99% Against the Death Penalty

Because I wanted to kill a man.  I was pushed to that level and now I understand murder just a teeny bit more than I did before…and maybe some of those people on Death Row were pushed too.

behind-bars-death-row1

It all started a couple weeks ago with that (#*!&#)$_*( scanner!  Gah!  First I thought I had it plugged in wrong, then it froze a couple times, then I got everything working right…except the duplex scanning.  It would scan the front side, flip, scan half the backside, then turn into some cheap Salvador Dali impersonation and the paper, if it came out at all, was askew.  Most of the time it got stuck and I had to pull gently, but hard, in a wiggle back and forth motion to get the paper out.  And I did this about 11 times.  I fantasized about picking up this incredibly expensive piece of machinery and dropping it off the roof of the Ed Sullivan theater like Letterman used to do with stuff.  Instead, I called Hewlett-Packard.  The scanner, at this point, was 9 days old.  Mind you, I don’t feel like this was an issue with the scanner, per se.  I feel like something got bent in shipping and I just want it fixed.  Or replaced.  It’s not hard.

Like a million bouncy balls, I wanted to set the scanner free.

Like a million bouncy balls, I wanted to set the scanner free.

The first person I spoke to was Ambitesh, and he changed everything I thought I knew about myself.

My friends often say that everyone should be forced to be a waiter or waitress for a little while in their career to understand what it’s like to serve people.  I was a restaurant hostess, so I did my time there.  I’ve been told to fuck myself by a man wearing a Santa suit who arrived with his church group, party of 20, five minutes after calling to make their “reservation” and angry we couldn’t immediately seat them.  I’m good on taking crap from the restaurant industry.

I’ll take it a step further.  I think everyone should have to work in a call center.  I spent 6 weeks pretending to be “Jenny” and asking people if they might like to refinance their mortgage before the situation felt iffy and I quit.  I came home every night crying because the people were so rude, or they were desperate and really wanted my help but they lived in a trailer or an apartment and I couldn’t help them, or my boiler room boss didn’t think I’d gotten enough leads.  It is a truly horrible job and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Now imagine you’re in a foreign country (or Omaha, or L.A…I really don’t know where Ambitesh was) and you speak with a very thick Indian accent.  It must be so crappy to be on the phone with idiots like me all day who make dumb mistakes with their computers and have to ask you to repeat things you’re saying all the time because they don’t understand either computers or your accent.  I feel for Ambitesh, I really do.

Telemarketing and tech support is hard, you guys.

Telemarketing and tech support is hard, you guys.

That being said, he’s an a$$hole and I wanted to kill him.  The first thing he did was sigh a whole bunch in that “I can’t believe I have to talk to this idiot” tone that set me off immediately.  Then he told me that the printer was top of the line and therefore it was impossible that it was broken.  Then, “This printer doesn’t even HAVE a duplex scanning function, Ma’am.”  Silence.  He goes to speak with manager.  “Like I said, you cannot duplex copy from this machine.”  I wasn’t trying to duplex copy, I was scanning.  “This machine doesn’t do that.”  Silence.  ”Manager” again.  “Oh yes it does.  Let me take over your desktop now to check some things.”  He did.  He checked nothing.  Then he got angry at me and told me to QUIT PRANK CALLING THEM AND WASTING THEIR TIME.  When I asked to speak with his manager, he pretended to go get someone who sounded exactly like him (faker!) and connected me to the “complaint department” which I’m pretty sure was just the phone off the hook in his cubicle while he went to lunch.

Something inside me changed that day.  In my mind’s eye, I saw myself taking his stupid Britney Spears headset, wrapping the cord around his throat and jamming the ear and mouth thingies into his eyeballs so I could wiggle them around inside his skull.  I was so pissed, and nearly ruining my boss’s 2008 tax documents in this debacle was not helping.  I called another number at Hewlett-Packard and I got Charles.  Speaking with Charles was when I realized how vile I had become.

My ideal murder weapon of choice.

My ideal murder weapon.

Charles said they could send another document feeder but first I’d have to go through 17 steps with him and prove it wasn’t software-related.  When I refused this on the basis that him altering 1′s and 0′s and electrons in my laptop wasn’t going to fix the bent piece in the document feeder, he got upset.  (To be fair, I was already upset so he was just catching up.)

At this point, I became the a$$hole.  I became Ambitesh.  I told him that I was very active on Facebook, had my own blog, and that I was a Twitter celebrity.  I said I would bash HP from then until doomsday if I didn’t get another effin’ document feeder ASAP.  In truth, I hate FB, I love my blog but it’s new and we’re still building a platform of readers, and I’m nowhere near a Twitter celebrity.  I have no idea why I said it.  I was just so angry that lies and spittle were ushered forth from the darkest depths of my soul.  Charles, if you’re reading this, I’m very sorry that I lied to you.  You were a prick and your solutions made no sense whatsoever.  I didn’t appreciate the runaround, but that was no excuse for me to impersonate Ashton Kutcher or Laurie Ruettimann or genuine Twitter celebs of any variety.  My bad.  Also, when I told you I had just gotten off the phone with an a$$hole in India (most likely), that was Ambitesh, and if this makes it into his performance review, I won’t cry.  That part was accurate.

I feel even worse about my deceit, naturally, now that I realize I have upset the tiny version of Harry Potter.

I feel even worse about my deceit, naturally, now that I realize I have upset the tiny version of Harry Potter. Maybe I could convince him Ambitesh killed his parents.

I had to go have a drink cool off a while after this – remove myself from the situation.  I decided that if Hewlett-Packard wouldn’t help me, I’d go to the source and call Amazon.  Amazon doesn’t have a phone number that I could find specifically related to returns, so I called some other department and got Victoria.  Oh Victoria.  She was sent to me by Jesus or Buddha or my shrink or something.  I was on a metaphorical ledge at that point and she talked me back down.  First off, she located the order even though it was my boss’s account and I had none of the required info.  We pieced it together.  She worked some magic and sent an email on our behalf to the 3rd party seller who should be getting back to us any day now.  Actually they’re a little late, but I’m not worried because Amazon is everything that HP is not.  They are willing to listen.  They are willing to help.  They don’t accuse you of prank calling and wasting their time when your $700 brand new piece of equipment that your boss purchased on your recommendation instead of buying herself an iPad turns out to be broken!

keep-calm-and-love-victoria-40amazon-logo-10

I’ve calmed down now.  I no longer want to murder Ambitesh and I’m sorry that I had those thoughts, however fleeting, and possibly not serious.  But I do wonder just what lengths I could be pushed to under the right circumstances.  I don’t believe in the death penalty in most cases.  I think it’s swift justice for torturous crimes and it’s too good for people, mostly.  But also now because I wonder…were they on the phone with bad customer service when provoked beyond all limits of the human psyche?  Did they not have a Victoria to talk them down?  Hear me now world, if I’m on a jury, I will never convict anyone given those circumstances.

Though I will not kill him, if I do ever meet Ambitesh anywhere in this life, I will trip him.  In front of his kids.  And I will laugh and laugh.

Oh yes, that little bastard will be shamed in front of his spawn!

Oh yes, that little bastard will be shamed in front of his spawn!

BONUS Fun Friday – Fighting with the Scanner

As I cursed a brand new printer/scanner/copier this afternoon, along with all aspects of God and man…I was reminded of these.  When I later discovered that I had the scanner plugged in incorrectly, I knew I had to share my hubris and shame with all of you.

If I live a million years, these will never stop being funny and they will never stop being true.

Jimmy Fallon as Nick Burns: Your Company’s Computer Guy

nick-burns-computer-guy

http://vimeo.com/24762526 (guest Jennifer Aniston)

http://www.hulu.com/#!watch/276508 (guest Billy Bob Thornton)

http://vimeo.com/24762642 (guest Jackie Chan)

http://www.wannafork.com/humor_video_play.php?ID=312 (guest Jamie Foxx)

Enjoy!

-HRGF

Teaching Tuesday – A Review of 2 PHR Exam Prep Apps for iPhone

Hello All  -

For today’s lesson, rather than a guest instructor, I’m going to show you 2 of the tools I’m using to look at some PHR type questions and find the areas in which I’m particularly weak.

The first app is from the HR Certification Institute.  It’s called HRCI PHR Exam Prep for Human Resources Professionals by Upward Mobility and costs $3.99 in the iTunes app store.  In my opinion, this app is not worth that price.  There are 4 features in this app: Study mode, Test Mode, Review Test Performance and Resume Last Test.

features

In Test Mode, you can choose how many questions you want to answer up to 140 and how much time you want, up to 280 minutes.  Those 140 questions, though, never change.  Assuming you need to take a break, that’s when you’d use the Resume Last Test function.  You take the test, multiple choice or True/False, and get your score.  Pretty basic.

test modequestiontest results

When you use the Review Test Performance mode, it will show you all the questions and confirm which were correct and which were not.  You can then click on each for a brief explanation.

Study mode is basically the same as the Review Test, only you don’t get a correct or incorrect designation beforehand.  You click on a question, look at the answer, read the explanation and then mark it as reviewed and understood (if you want).

study modebefore takeawaytakeaway

This app is pretty basic and overall I’m glad I got it.  I do think it’s a little expensive considering it only has 140 questions and with my great memory, going through this a few times, I almost have them all memorized.  I question if I learned anything though, or just knew what to anticipate.

The second app I’ve been using is called PHR Exam Review from Flashcard Brain Apps Education.  It was $2.99 in the iTunes app store.  It lacks the fancy graphs and charts of the first app, but it is so much more useful!  For starters, it breaks up the studying into categories:  Strategic Management, Planning, HR Development, Compensation & Benefits, Risk Management, Practice and Vocabulary.  The little dot for comments is so you can create and save your own flash cards.

categories

I like this because it breaks it up into specific areas of practice and isn’t just scattershot like the previous app.  There is no test mode, no timed element, and no scoring.  It’s just flashcards, but there are so many more of them that this app is just not even comparable to the other.

questions answer

See?  Just index cards.  No keeping score, no timed element.  Just questions and answers.

The great thing, though, is that this has so many more questions and answers.  Each category has between 75 and 120 questions.  The vocabulary section has 800+ definitions!

practice benefitsvocab

This app has about 10x the information that the first one has, and it’s cheaper.  I think that’s a benefit.  I also feel like with this one, I’m learning more and not memorizing.  But if you like to measure things and keep score to track your improvement…that’d be tough with this particular app.  They are both good and I’m glad to have them both.  But if you can only get one and can’t decide if keeping score vs. more info is better…go with the 2nd one.

Stay tuned for Fun Friday later this week.  Next Tuesday, a lesson on ERISA from an attorney buddy!

Everyone have a great week! – HRGF

8 Lessons I Learned about Life & HR from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – (Part One)

logo 1

The summer of 2011 was uncomfortable.  I ruptured 2 discs in my neck, had a double spinal fusion, and spent 4 weeks out of town, at home with my family, recovering.  Louisiana from mid-July to mid-August is NEVER pleasant, but the summer of 2011 was particularly bad.  The temp gauge on the car routinely said 115 degrees and I was wearing a neck brace 24/7.  To get an accurate picture of this, imagine that someone has just cracked a dozen baseball bats over the back of your shoulders.  Then put on your tightest, warmest, itchiest scarf and crawl into a sauna.  Stay there for 4 weeks.  It was unpleasant.  Thank heavens for Netflix and Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Imagine this, with less cool pajamas, plus a neck brace...for a month.

Imagine this, with less cool pajamas, plus a neck brace…for a month.

During the 4 weeks I was home and largely stoned on Lortab and Valium, I watched all 7 seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on Netflix and I’ve been hooked ever since.  On Buffy, not the Lortab or Valium.  It was in this Buffy-drug haze that I decided to go back to school and finally finish my degree.  I had long been thinking that payroll and HR was something to do…until.  Until what?  I did not know, but I definitely wasn’t going to do this forever.  I was meant for much more important and interesting things.

Then Buffy showed me that HR could be every bit as badass and entertaining as any other profession.  I didn’t choose HR…I fell into it, and now I’m kind of glad.  I had to tweak my perception and my attitude a little, but once I did, the decision to stay in HR has felt totally right.

buffy axe

The Badass Herself

Here’s what I learned:

1. In life and HR, you absolutely never know what is going to walk through the door.

It was called “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” but she fought way more than just vampires.  There were lots of other types of demons, gods, robots, evil humans and she even went to war against the concept of evil itself.  The show got pretty deep sometimes.  Hell, for the first four seasons, Buffy was an only child.  Then at the beginning of season 5, up popped a 14-year-old little sis that everyone knew and who’d been around the whole time. (There is an explanation but I won’t spoil it.)  Buffy got pretty good at expecting the unexpected.

chaos demon

A Chaos Demon. They actually aren’t that mean, but they WILL steal your demon girlfriend.

This is the sister.  She's a brat.

This is the sister. She’s a brat.

I once had a guy come into my office after being terminated and ask to speak to my boss.  He’d called a few times and I assumed he’d apologize and beg for his job back and she’d turn him down and we’d move on.  Nope.  When the boss came out to talk to him, he said “I know you have an opening because my cousin _______ was just determinated from here.  Can I have his job?”  He looked us straight in the face and pretended to be his own cousin.  Are you kidding me with this?

At another job a long time ago where I was working as a cashier, I handed a lady back her change and she went completely white.  (She was black to begin with, by the way.)  She got goosebumps all up and down her arms and refused to let go of my hand.  She leaned in very close and told me she’d had a dream about me the night before and that God wanted me to follow the white rope.  She’d been sent to put me on my path.  She was absolutely serious and I was absolutely stunned.  What on earth can you say to that except “Go away, you’re making me uncomfortable.”?!  I didn’t say that but I absolutely thought it.

2a. Everyone makes mistakes.  Admit it.  Correct it.  Learn from it. 

Shame on You

Shame on You

2b. THEN MOVE ON AND DON’T LOOK BACK.

In the Buffy pilot, Buffy is new to her school and befriends a group of three students: Willow, Xander and Jesse (played by Eric Balfour).  Presumably these 3 have been friends a good long while.  Jesse is turned into a vampire and Willow and Xander are very upset about it.  Then his vampire self is killed, they immediately get over it and HE IS NEVER MENTIONED ON THE SHOW AGAIN.  It’s become kind of a joke among Buffy fans that one of their best friends dies and they barely give a damn.  But, clearly someone decided that Eric Balfour was right up there with Keanu Reeves in terms of annoyance and they fixed that mistake but quick.  And they did not look back even once.

jesse

Bye Bye, Eric! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Sorry, not sorry.

I’ve been accused of throwing myself under the bus sometimes.  Not wanting to blame others and appear petty, I take the blame myself.  Or if something goes wrong I just assume it was my fault because I was doing something new, etc.  Or I keep thinking about mistakes I’ve made long after everyone else is over it.  I’m going to stop doing that.  That’s self-centered and gives no one any grief but me.  I don’t flip out and stay angry when others make mistakes at work; why would I assume they’d do so about me?

3. No one knows everything.  Be prepared to research.  Though Buffy had a Watcher named Giles (sort of a mentor) who had been trained his entire life to be a Watcher, they came up against a surprising amount of demons they couldn’t identify.  They positively LIVED in the library, then the magic shop, with their heads buried in books to find info on the latest meanie who’d burst into town.  Research is good.

This is Giles, Buffy's mentor.  He's British, he's brilliant, he's sexy in kind of an adorable dorky way and he can totally kick your ass.

This is Giles, Buffy’s mentor. He’s British, he’s brilliant, he’s sexy in kind of an adorable dorky way and he can totally kick your ass.

buffy library

The gang in the library.

I used to think that I wasn’t qualified enough to do HR because I’m not an expert on FMLA, ERISA, COBRA, PPOs, HRAs, FLSA, ADA, EEOC, blah blah, acronym acronym.  You know what?  No one else is either.  Everyone has their fave topics of study and areas of knowledge, of course.  But things come up that are outside the purview of everyone’s expertise from time to time.  Laws change constantly.  Research is required all the time.  Even the experts consult experts.

IT IS NEVER AS IMPORTANT TO HAVE ALL THE KNOWLEDGE AS IT IS TO KNOW WHERE TO GET THE KNOWLEDGE, WHEN YOU NEED IT.

images

4. You can never have enough weapons in your arsenal.

One of the best things about Buffy, in my opinion, was that she didn’t rely on guns.  She relied on her own physical strength, fighting skills, and hand-to-hand weaponry like stakes, axes, swords and a baseball bat with a hook on the back of it that I never really understood.  Bet it would stink getting beaten with it though, so yeah…good weapon.  She also had friends who were witches, used “good” vampires to help her fight, and sometimes hung out at the local demon bar for info.  She relied on these old standards usually, but when the situation called for it…my girl whipped out a rocket-launcher or a homemade volcano.  Also one time a magic necklace, but…yeah, a rocket-launcher!

BuffyRocketLauncher

I’ve learned in life AND HR to use all the tools available to me when I need them.  Research, friends, family members, mentors, etc…all make great resources for different situations.  For example, I needed to de-clutter my apartment and though I can absolutely help others with such tasks (and do, pretty frequently), when it came to my own apartment, I’d get overwhelmed and need a nap just from thinking about it.  I created a Facebook event and invited my most OCD buddies over and we de-cluttered the hell out of this place.  For the cost of some vodka and a few snacks, I got hours of free labor from people who LOVED getting rid of my junk!

Just yesterday, a graphic artist from Starkville, MS followed me on Twitter.  I asked for some help tweaking my logo cause the one I designed online myself using a cheesy website was a little static and unpolished.  You know what?  He wrote me back and fixed my logo!  (He even changed it to LSU colors even though he lives in Starkville!  SEC Rivals!)  I had a need.  A new weapon became available to me and I used it…with fabulous results!

Get ready for new logo later this weekend & stay tuned for Part 2 on Saturday, containing lessons 5, 6, 7 and 8!  In the meantime, go watch some Buffy on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon.  The Jesse thing isn’t a big spoiler, I promise!

to be continued

All image credits to Joss Whedon and Warner Brothers Studios.