Category Archives: Reviews

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.

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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.

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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!

HR Blogs and Articles That I’m Reading

I’ve read a few articles lately that could easily each merit their own blog post but I’m a busy gal, so I’ll just share a couple and give my quick 2 cents.  Perhaps you guys can take up the mantle and discuss in the comments!

Can My Credit History Impact My Job Search?

This article, from the ResumeBear blog, really pissed me off.  So much so that I ended up doing a blog post about my own financial troubles the other day.  ResumeBear didn’t piss me off, but the idea that employers would penalize someone for being behind on their bills during this economy is maddening.  Credit can be destroyed by a divorce, a failed business venture, bad investments, etc.  None of those make you a bad person and in fact may make you a better one with more knowledge.  It doesn’t mean the employee would steal, that they’re a crack whore, that they have a chronic medical condition or that they’re lazy and don’t want to pay their bills.  I wanted to pay my bills and it killed me when I couldn’t.  That doesn’t make me a bad employee.  And the thing is, even with legislation preventing this type of discrimination, it’s so insidious that you could almost never prove it.  So it will continue.  I stayed in the zombie job much longer than I should have because I was afraid of applying to other places and having my credit score ruin my chances.  It’s crippling and it’s awful.  Employers need to stop this discrimination.

March Madness – HR Blogger Style!

I can’t remember…did I tell you guys I was involved in this #hrmadness tournament from Sparcin.com?  I lost in the first round, which I knew would happen, but I was incredibly honored to have been included here with 15 people that I read regularly and consider my HR idols, pretty much.  Plus there was some fun smack talking.  If you don’t have them yet, you should add all these blogs to your RSS feed.  The tourney is over now.  A winner has been crowned.  And that winner is:

The Tim Sackett Project – HR Madness Champion!

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The above link takes you to Sparcin which has several of his posts up there.  There is a whole post about dongles which is my new fave “sex scandal” since pubes on Coke cans.  I’ve included a link for the wee little ones who don’t remember 1991.

But here’s why I love Tim Sackett, in particular:

THIS IS WHY YOU’RE AFRAID TO MAKE HR SIMPLE

This is so true that I may now start The Cult of Sackett.  People who work 60+ hours a week are not to be commended.  They need an assistant or to be replaced with someone more capable.  Now obviously, brand new employees, doctors and maybe lawyers and such are different.  Fine.  I understand not everyone has a job where they can get their work done and then go home, regardless of how long it takes.  If CVS says it’s open 24 hours then someone has to be there 24 hours a day. I get that.  But if you ARE in a position where you can come in, get your job done, and then go home…do it.  Do your work well, do it accurately, do it without screwing around in the middle, and finish it.  If you’re done early, ask others if you can be of help to them.  If they say yes, help.  Congrats, you’ve added value today.  If they say no, believe them — and leave.  Go!  Turn off the lights in your office, turn off the computer, fix the thermostat appropriately if you can — save your company some electricity and get the heck out of there.  Escape your office prison.  Enjoy the outside world.  Run your errands.  See your children, see your parents, see your bookie…whatever.  Come back tomorrow and repeat.

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This is true for people who work remotely as well.  Do your work when you need to do it.  Meet your deadlines, check for accuracy, and — if you have extra time, offer to help others as much as you can.  Then get on with your life.  There will be days that are 12-14 hours long that you didn’t plan for…websites crash, payroll won’t post or other fires need putting out.  If you’re willing to stay late when the universe hands you that crap, you should be willing to go when the universe hands you an hour or two of free time.  Now go away!

Have you guys read anything noteworthy lately?

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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