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10 Things You Should Know About HR That They’ll Never Admit

10 Things You Should Know About HR That They’ll Never Admit

The Human Resources (HR) department is ubiquitous to all companies. It is uniquely positioned, to interact face-to-face with everyone who works in the company. Here are things to keep in mind about HR that they’ll never admit openly.

1. Tough Empathy

An employee who approaches HR with his or her problem, is met with a “friendly-face.” HR staff are trained to provide a sympathetic ear to employee problems. But when resolving problems, HR will follow company policies. Due to policies which are structured behind closed doors, problems get suppressed under bureaucracy, and resolutions may never see the light of day. Tough empathy frustrates the employee and HR staff in equal measure.

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2. Risk Aversion

In most companies, HR are not people who are independent thinkers or who stand up as a moral compass, nor is HR the top choice for smart and ambitious graduates out of college. Moreover, executives who move to HR are usually corporate exiles – people who fared poorly in meatier roles. As a result, people manning the HR department are averse to risk, and prefer taking the safer approach to any problem. This does not always augur well for the employee, as the HR steadfastly stands behind the best interests of the organization, instead of standing up for the rights of the employee.

3. Customer Satisfaction

Performance appraisals from HR staff is linked to the satisfaction of the managers. As an employee, if you have concerns or issues regarding management, this implicit bias comes in the way. Just as you never bite the hand that feeds you, similarly, HR hesitates to confront the managers on issues raised by employees.

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4. Equal Treatment

HR professionals are required to retain the top talent within an organization. These “top performers,” get preferential treatment by the HR department. HR focuses specifically to cultivate and challenge employees who make a difference in the workplace. It is futile to fight against such preferential treatment. But the unfairness can be leveraged in your favor provided you are considered valuable by the HR department.

5. Workplace Mediation

Dispute resolution in the workplace is an important HR function. When going into a mediation, know that the burden of proof lies with the accuser. If the accusations are not backed by sufficient evidence, the mediations quickly turn into talk-fests. Moreover, HR mediates to protect the company’s interest. If your interest is not aligned with the company’s interest, then you should think again before going to HR.

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6. HR Metrics

HR has details related to the attrition or vacancy rates in the company. But, if someone asks, why is a position not filled, then in defense HR does not have a “time to fill” metric to argue with a non-HR person that its record in filling up positions is above average. Better data fosters increased credibility within an organization. Until companies adopt Big Data approach to analytics, HR will not have the tools necessary to influence non-HR people.

7. Budget Cuts and Recession

The ongoing recession and budget cuts have forced companies to trim down HR departments. These cuts hurt HR departments as much as the other departments. The next time you grudge HR for laying off staff within your team, do spare a thought for HR staff themselves. They are under a tremendous struggle to reinvent themselves and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering services in the context of a shrinking workplace.

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8. HR Matters!

HR is responsible for annual performance appraisals, as well as employee welfare and management. Their opinion on you, as an employee, does matter. One should have a positive relationship with HR. After all, you do not want HR to overlook you the next time there is a possibility of a promotion, or a pay hike.

9. Beware

Beware of what you discuss and share with HR. The HR department is not obligated to keep your information confidential. These days, HR is part of our digital social networks and news feeds. Be careful of what you share in these places. However, if HR finds any activity that is illegal or against the interest of the company, then they will be forced to take action against you.

10. Background Checks and Workplace Monitoring

Routinely, HR runs a detailed background check on employees. Most HR departments have access to online monitoring platforms that dig a lot deeper than you imagine. Once hired, your activities are monitored in the workplace. One need not be paranoid, but HR knows much more about you than you think they do. All of this information can be used against you when it suits the company’s interest.

Featured photo credit: Mathew Dent via flickr.com

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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