“Once any field includes “too many” women (usually when females become about a third of the whole), it is devalued, just as is the neighborhood into which “too many” families of the “wrong” race have moved, and for the same reason – exclusivity and bias…Whether in the United States or in the international economy, it’s a rule with few exceptions: Work is valued by the social value of the worker. A category of work is paid least when women do it, somewhat more when almost any variety of men do it, and much more when men of the “right” race or class do it. In a way, the ultimate proof of this rule is its reversability. When men enter a mostly female, “pink-collar” field, rare thought that might be, they tend to raise the status of the occupation and to be treated better than their counterpart females (including by those very counterparts), even though they may look odd for being there…Areas go up or down as the favored group enters or leaves.”
~ from Revaluing Economics, in Moving Beyond Words
I love this year! 2014 has been unbelievably amazing – being 40 rocks, let me tell you. With 41 just around the corner in January, it just keeps getting better. Not that there haven’t been some crazy ass moments and I get stressed about the things I cannot magically change overnight, but each day I am so grateful for where I am and the possibilities that exist for the future.
So with that peppiness, here’s my finds of the week, readers:
* This week we had one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world over for dinner and I wanted to go all out and create something special. As my longtime Winter Solstice party tradition – it lasted almost 15 years – has fizzled out after being out of the country last year and honestly, just being exhausted at the thought of entertaining this year, so when she asked I said this dinner, just the three of us, would be our Solstice “party”. Woo hoo! So I found this amazing Slow Cooker Butter Chicken recipe and it was a hit! It’s dairy-free and gluten-free as well. I modified it to use half-coconut and half-almond milks, and substituted Bob’s GF all-purpose flour (I don’t have 8 kinds of GF flour anymore, it just got too confusing in my pantry). Side note: here’s a recipe to make your own garam masala as well – a seriously awesome addition to your kitchen spices and cheaper than buying the mixture in the store!
* When discussing the Constitution, the unfortunate thing that we often see happen is the way it’s interpreted and what its writers intended for it. There is a certain camp that thinks it must be looked at literally, with possibility for multiple interpretation, no understanding that it was meant to evolve over the years to adapt to the country’s changing needs. The thing is, this document was written primarily by slaveholders, giving no acknowledgements of slaves as humans, leaving out all who didn’t own property, and omitting women altogether. While some amendments have come up to fix certain aspects that desperately needed it, there are so many things that still need to happen. The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced NINETY years ago and while Congress technically “passed it” FORTY years ago, it still has not been ratified by all 50 states, and missed the required 38 states to go into law. So yes, folks, in 2014 women are still not mentioned in the United States Constitution. What. The. Fuck. With a primarily Republican congress (WTF, voters? So glad Oregon wasn’t part of that!), it’s going to be even harder as they try to strip protections away from women, the environment, and much more.
* With everyone talking about the holidays here in blog-land, I thought I’d share what we’ve decided on for our little family this year! As from last week’s post, we did get a tree, which will be composted at the end of the season (gotta love Portland’s yard waste/compost weekly pickup who will take the trees as well, yay!), but beyond that no other decorations are up. We love going to see the houses who do the holiday lights, and plan on driving around on Christmas Eve to see some of them as it’s not the huge thing in Oz like it is here (our friends who are out of town for the holidays are letting us borrow their awesome Prius, wheeee!). After the crazy amount of food we made on Thanksgiving, our plans for Christmas dinner are easy – organic Chinese food at Seres Restaurant in the Pearl District. Or, as the Portland Mercury states, “Indulge in upscale Chinese cuisine and forget about your crappy family and all the damn holidays.” Heehee! As for gifts, while I was fine with skipping them as I usually do, husband wanted to do a few since it’s our first Christmas as a married couple, so we agreed to do stockings only, with homemade, repurposed or service-y type gifts instead of “stuff” – with the allowance for one “new” item inside. So, things we like are easily obtainable for this – like a cool old used book or a gift certificate for a spa service or building something out of scrap materials, etc.
* And while the baby-brain thing might be kicking my ass these days (we agreed to start in 2015 to coincide with my husband’s eligibility for family leave, vacation time, etc.), I won’t be the blogger that posts 24/7 baby stuff, just here and there. So my share for this week is A Minimalist Guide to Baby Essentials, stressing buying second-hand, items that can be repurposed for other things in the future, and waiting until you have the baby before buying a bunch of crap you might never need. As my mama friends have reminded me, everyone’s story is so different. Being minimalist folks already, it was a nice reassurance that my gut instincts are right in that we don’t need a ton of the “stuff” that some websites say you “can’t live without!”
* On a wholly different note, we were considering getting the Doggy Doolie to compost our pup’s poo, until learning we’d have to dig a 3-4′ hole in the ground, that still is not guaranteed to work (i.e., you might have a long tube of shit in your yard), and it only works if you pick up the poop daily instead of weekly. So, I found this site chock full of pet waste composting options that we’re considering for 2015.
* Finally, in an “I’m SOOOOO jealous of these attendees” moment, I’m enamored with the All About Women event in Sydney next year and would just love love love it if we could have something this rad here in Portland. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vanzant and Elizabeth Gilbert speak in their own events over the years, and attended the California Women’s Conference in Long Beach, but I am craving something again for 2015 that’s all about empowering my gender that takes place right here in Portland! Any ideas, PDX readers?
“Women are in league with each other, a secret conspiracy of hearts and pheromones.”
“Trouble results when the speed of growth exceeds the speed of nurturing human resources. To use the analogy of growth rings in a tree, when unusually rapid growth caused the rings to grow abnormally thick, the tree trunk weakens and is easily broken.“
~ Akio Toyoda
Welcome back! So far, I’ve shared wisdom from subject matter experts working in Sales and Marketing. Next up in my series highlighting specific professions, I am going back to my own roots, where I began 16 years ago myself – Human Resources.
Having worked on HR teams of all sizes – from being the “department of one” to a member of teams of 100+, in a variety of industries (both public and private), I’ve seen the hard work from both specialists and generalists, from the assistant level all the way up to the senior executive. I’ve seen Human Resources teams treated like a true strategic business partner, and I’ve seen them referred to condescendingly as “the admin team”. I’ve seen people promoted in this industry who haven’t done the work and expect it to be easy (because they don’t respect the profession that it is), and I’ve watched individuals gain the street cred, excel in their roles, and become true influencers in the profession as well as within their organizations.
Once again, I sent out five questions to longtime HR professionals whose advice is great for both those at the beginning of their careers, as well as those who are considering a career transition to this profession.
The contributors to this week’s post :
- Sandie Wilkes, HR Manager, Arthrex California Technology
- Ray Rose, Senior HR Manager, AT&T
- Sarah Stephenson, HR Manager, VersaLogic
- Mary Manning, Vice President of HR, Acumed
- Aimee Levens, Owner, Imprint PDX
Below is what they had to share with me (and a few tidbits from yours truly as well) about their work in the Human Resources field, what they’ve learned, and tips for those looking into a career in this profession. Enjoy!!!
1. What helped you the most in getting (and succeeding in) your current job?
Combined Business + HR Knowledge
“Prior experience in a variety of HR disciplines.”
“An understanding of organizational change, mergers and acquisitions and Organizational Development.”
“Knowing the business.”
“Keying in on explaining how HR can provide the data/support that what really matters to an employer – optimizing their employee performance/supporting its business objectives.”
“Direct experience as a business partner.”
My Interpersonal Skills
“Communication skills with all levels of corporate management.”
“The ability to know how and when to guide and encourage and when to lead.”
“Strong attention to detail, and an ability to think on the fly, debate with executives and make constructive suggestions for change.”
“Being open to constructive criticism.”
“I have been successful over the past 2 ½ years because I haven’t been afraid to evolve, trust my instincts and ultimately do what I know is right, both personally and professionally.”
A Strong Network
“Networking with other HR professionals.”
“I had a terrific coach who helped me with the emotional aspects of walking away from the kind of work I’d always done and encouraged me to find a creative way to use my strengths to find greater happiness.”
“LinkedIn and previous networking efforts helped me get into the organization.”
“Before I started my own business in 2012, I was experiencing severe burnout, working 80 hours a week on average and doing a lot of work dumped on me that I wasn’t being paid for. After 14 years in HR and Recruiting roles as part of teams big and small, in three states, and a ton of different industries, all of my history in the profession coalesced to inspire me to use the experience gained to help smaller companies without a dedicated resource for hiring talent. My network was key, and I reached out to the people who knew my accomplishments and knew of my reputation of not only helping small companies hire but in creating strong processes to empower their existing teams. I also had a damn good attorney.”
2. What is one of the most common misconceptions about working in HR?
It’s About Being “A People Person”
“That it is all about Employee Relations and being able to communicate well with people in a workplace coach/counselor role. HR has become an aggregate of technical disciplines requiring in-depth knowledge of a myriad of continuously changing regulations and laws. Application is well served by broad base analytical/business intelligence and detailed knowledge of policies, procedures, legal requirements and past practice supported by complex communication skills. HR supports the business vision providing guidance, leadership and talent development and management.”
“That if you like people you’ll do just fine. Like no other trait is needed – wrong!”
“A lot of people go into HR because they want to “help people”, assuming that it’s mostly employee relations, often perceived as a place for nurturing staff rather than managing performance. Ironically, HR is more about implementing business strategy and managing risk than directly helping the people working in the organization. You’ve got to understand employment law and financial constraints, be adept at navigating organizational politics, and have the ability to influence without technical authority in environments where you’re often treated as an optional support function. Recruiting in particular is often seen as simply asking the same questions over and over, finding ways to say “no” to piles of applications, and a sales-y role trying to convince anyone and everyone to apply. The truth of the matter is that the best recruiters are seen as business partners to both the hiring AND human resources teams, along with being the external partner to the community of candidates and hiring resources.”
We’re Not Business or Technically Savvy
“That we don’t know how to use calculators.”
“Like marketing, HR is often underestimated for its technical and cross-functional prowess.”
HR Is Inherently To Blame For Organizational Problems
“That we, under the guise of supporting employees, work against the objectives of the organization’s leadership and business goals.”
“That HR holds all of the power and authority in an organization. HR can and should play an integral part in the roll out of any personnel program but not only are they not the ones that make the decision to roll out a program (in most organizations), they shouldn’t be.”
3. What advice would you offer those wanting to get into this line of work?
Learn in Every Way Possible
“Attain academic knowledge and technical acumen in a specific discipline of HR to access entry-level positions.”
“Work in a continuous learning mode to gain experience, knowledge and understanding of other disciplines within the larger HR umbrella for career growth and flexibility.”
“Acquire certifications from respected sources.”
“Your degree and/or certificate in HR doesn’t instantly qualify you for midlevel HR work, so be humble and willing to learn from more experienced colleagues, and help in any/all areas. The stronger you are as a generalist, the better you will be as a specialist.”
“Go the extra mile – never say it’s not in my job description!””
Network in the HR Community
“Maximize networking opportunities with local HR organizations.”
“Interview HR professionals – what is their day like, what do they like or dislike. Call for an informational interview. Works beautifully.“
“Seek mentorship with professionals at all levels in their HR career and interview them thoroughly.”
Understand the Reality of Working in Human Resources
“If you want to be in HR primarily because you like to work with people, forget it; the most effective HR professionals should be all about top and bottom line. They need to know how to make the toughest people decisions with grace, tenacity and always with the upmost respect for others – and they can’t worry about being liked by the masses. The most effective HR professionals should see the HR function as a strong, essential business unit that performs off precise and relevant business metrics of the company.
“Don’t invest in the PHR unless you’re completely dedicated to an HR career.”
“One thing I hear a lot is “I want to help people” and while, distilled down, we do a lot of that in HR, there is also a heavy load of really tough work (i.e. benefits administration, rolling out compensation plans, navigating sticky employee investigations). To not only be happy in the field, but to be also be successful you should not have the idea that this line of work is all about being a good people-person, and helping others work through their problems.”
“Start in a support role – i.e., HR Assistant or Assistant to a VP of HR – so you can watch the specialists and benefits in action, support them on their projects, and get a true idea of what’s involved in the work rather than jumping into the deep end.”
4. How has the work changed since you entered the HR profession?
It’s More Complex
“Work is now more strategic, less clerical.”
“I entered the HR profession in 1984 when the work environment was far less controversial and litigious and being “good with people” was a key job requirement. HR back then was more general in nature and more dependent on common sense than technical knowledge. Today the field is far more professional requiring increased knowledge, skills and technical abilities within specific HR disciplines.”
“Computer literacy is a critical skill as well as speaking and influencing skills.”
“Academically, HR was one course in a business degree program (if it was even available as a college course). Most HR folks came to the field with bachelor’s degrees in areas like Sociology, Psychology, or Business. Now bachelor’s degree programs in HRM are much more common.”
It’s More Influential
“Struggling to make HR relevant has become easier over the years as other business functions are seeing how influential HR can be in driving organizational performance when they pay attention to who they have in what role doing what job.”
“In 1998, HR was still moving from the administrative-y “Personnel” to the more technical “Human Resources” perception, and everyone talked about ways to “get a seat at the table” at association meetings. Now in the 2014, there are a zillion names for HR (Human Capital being the most impersonal, People & Culture being the least strategic in tone, IMHO), HR is often an executive presence at mid to large-size companies.”
There’s Still More Work To Be Done
“Even with all the changes in bigger companies, I don’t see nearly as much advancement in smaller companies when it comes to the perception of Human Resources. Office managers and executive assistants with no HR experience are often asked to “do HR” because many still don’t see it as a skilled function beyond processing new hire and benefits paperwork. Those who are actually hired specifically for HR are often relegated to reporting under Finance (who have no experience in HR and often create a recipe for disaster because their function – not to mention, personality – is so different from that of the HR), instead of reporting directly to the CEO. “
5. Why do you do what you do for a living? Any other dreams out there you still want to pursue?
“I do what I do because I work for an organization that honestly cares for its employees. Pairing that with the respect I hold from the executives, management, and all individual contributors allows me influence within the organization. Other dreams? I’m a new mom so I haven’t thought about that in a while – I’d like to quite literally be able to have dreams again (get sleep!).”
“Write a book, start a recruiting business. I do what I do because I like to serve employees, make a positive difference and get paid!”
“I have the independence to do things the way I want to do them, the variety in my work that allows things to never be boring, and the awesomeness of the community I work in who make it fun and supportive, even when I’m experiencing frustrations of my industry and the occasional bouts of “bag lady syndrome” stemming from self-employment. But the best parts? I have a life outside of recruiting because I have created work for myself that allows for balance. I do a lot of career coaching, and have seen it grow to be nearly 25% of my business. I write, and am working on the final version of my book for jobseekers that will be published in 2015. I have time to volunteer with organizations close to my heart. I have time to work in my garden. I have time to spend with my awesome husband and our bull mastiff. Next up? We are getting our home ready to hopefully welcome a baby by the end of 2015!”
“I do what I do because I get paid well and feel respected doing my job. I would like to own a doggy day care someday!”
“I enjoy HR because I believe what I do makes a difference and HR has become a cutting edge industry for organizational change and development. My dream is to be able to continue working into retirement in organizational consulting roles that allow greater flexibility for travel, relaxation and fun while generating personal income. I believe today’s corporate environment depends on people communicating quickly and concisely with greater understanding and flexibility and I have the ability to influence that outcome.”
“Many drug programs were designed for male addicts. Our stereotype of an addict is male; we fear men who become destructive to pay for drugs more than women who become self-destructive as prostitutes to pay for them; and in a male-dominant culture even male suffering dominates. Yet, according to some urban surveys, at least half of addicts are women, and many are not only destroying themselves but giving birth to drug-addicted…babies besides. Moreover, if a female addict does recover, she probably ha a tougher time being accepted into society than her male counterpart, especially if she bears a double stigma as an ex-prostitute. I point out this example as one way that biased values underlying our social welfare budgets, both public and private, punish not only those directly involved but the rest of society too.”
~ from “Revaluing Economics” in Steinem’s book, Moving Beyond Words
Happy December!! With the continually odd weather we’ve been having, I can’t say it exactly feels like winter is on its way – right now it’s 53 degrees which is very mild for PDX just 9 days before the solstice, and last night’s 70 mph windstorm that knocked out power to our neighborhood for almost 12 hours was interesting to say the least (nothing grosser than the house overwhelmed with the scent of cheap scented emergency candles from the store down the street since I only had two beeswax tapers on hand!). But hey, the year is coming to a close and all in all, life’s pretty dang sweet for us, so no complaints!
Here are some new discoveries I thought I’d share this week…
* I’ve never had a tree topper, so my husband & I are thinking this weekend we’ll make something similar to this star twig topper – definitely easy with the jute twine we have on hand and all the fallen branches in the neighborhood from last night’s windstorm! We are agnostic in beliefs, so angels don’t really do it for us, and would rather focus on the natural elements when celebrating the season :)
* Digging this article reviewing “eco” baby books. I have noticed there are a zillion around and just wanted one that went beyond what I already know about the environmental risks to people out there that are magnified for kids. So I’ve got a few of these on my PaperbackSwap wish list and we’ll see what one comes up first!
* Tis the season for my socks to start getting holey it appears, so I totally relish the ideas in Top 58 Ways to Reuse Socks! I love the one for using my knee high socks for dusting !
* Found out that this sustainable coffee company, Three Avocados, was following me on Twitter, and immediately enamored at their nonprofit business model and social responsibility efforts!
* A longtime fan of Dr. Christiane Northrup (Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom should be on every woman’s bookshelf), I was super interested reading her article on iodine and thyroid health.
* The always thought-provoking Yes! Magazine talks about the urban comeback of cities and what folks in towns like mine are doing to combat the problems of the world.
* And finally, here’s a large corporation making genuine, significant efforts towards environmental cradle-to-cradle type of thinking: check out what Bridgestone Tires is doing and why they’re being honored this year.
“ The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.”
“Make a customer, not a sale.”
~ Katherine Barchetti
I’m back this week continuing my series highlighting specific professions. Last week, I shared conversations with Marketing professionals who represented a wide variety of industries, from companies of all sizes.
This week, I’m focusing on a career path that often is highly stereotyped, and so because of that I decided to feature five participants who all work in the same industry – technology – but bring very unique personalities, success stories, and other aspects of their lives into who they are.
As a recruiter, I’ve collaborated with Sales in a variety of ways. I’ve hired them, I’ve coached them, I’ve worked with them on recruitments for their teams, and I’ve even partnered with them during my early recruiting days when I moved from an HR career into my first technical recruiting job.
Once again, I sent out five questions to longtime sales professionals whose advice is great for both those at the beginning of their careers, as well as those who are considering a career transition to this profession.
The contributors to this week’s post :
- Scott Ransmeier, Monsoon Commerce – he has traveled to Southeast Asia and is an amazing photographer!
- Claudia Knauer, Compucom – she is also singer for 18-piece big band, The Pranksters (and sang Otis Redding a capella at my wedding dinner!).
- Jeff Burcham, Jama Software – not only is he working at an incredibly fast growing company, he is all about being on the mountain!
- Roger Cummings, Adecco – he and his wife are serious wine connoisseurs, having owned a wine company for 8 years!
Below is what they had to share with me about their work in the Sales field, what they’ve learned, and tips for those looking into a career in this profession. Enjoy!!!
1. What helped you the most in getting (and succeeding in) your current job?
“My network got me my current job. I was recruited by an ex-colleague. In fact, the last two positions I have held have been through people I worked with in the past.”
“My father gave me my first job in IT as a Receptionist at his IT Staffing company. I wouldn’t have hired me – I was a loose cannon! I owe my father a great deal and thank him all the time.”
“I had a dynamite recruiting introduction from a fantastic lady named Aimee Levens!”
“The VP of Sales liked that I had a logistics background – he felt some of the best salespeople in the e-commerce space had come from that space. Having a software tools background, I was able to engage the VP of Engineering about their applications – the development languages, lifecycle and methodologies used and evolution of the system.”
“My skillset, history of success, and personal brand.”
My Personality & Work Ethic
“What sealed the deal for this position was relating to the hiring team. I felt relaxed and in my element with the hiring committee – the vibe and the office environment were a good match with my personality and I think that came through in the interviews.”
“Being genuine, open and honest.”
“Succeeding usually results from hard work and working efficiently. Recognizing, understanding, and acting upon opportunities in the marketplace.”
“While I still am (a loose cannon) to a certain degree, my staunch individualism and spirit has kept my clarity and integrity strong even with the prime directive of generating revenue. Revenue generation, when taken without honor and care, can be destructive, but with heart, compassion and a genuine need to help others succeed, is part of a cycle that helps people in turn help business in turn help more people.”
2. What is one of the most common misconceptions about working in Sales?
That We’re Only In It For The Money
“That greed rules all.”
“Some think that we don’t care about our reputations.”
“They think that we are in it for ourselves and will sell at our clients/customers expense.”
That We Don’t Care About Customers
“A great many successful salespeople have had careers that span decades have flourished because they truly care about their clients success – the proverbial “Win – Win”, excellence, integrity, respect for the individual, and not just their own commission.”
“Most view sales as a role where you are always trying to talk or convince someone into doing or buying something they might not necessary want. The reality is that selling is really communicating a message to an appropriate audience.”
That It Doesn’t Require Real Skills
“Some think that there’s a finish line – i.e., that you can know it all.”
“I do not think most people realize how much planning, research, and time management sales people have to do to be successful.”
“People don’t always understand that it’s a craft.”
3. What advice would you offer those wanting to get into this line of work?
Focus on Your Customers
“Approach sales from a place of service. It’s a small world – your reputation counts like crazy. Always put the client first. If your product or service isn’t a good fit – say so and refer them. Even to your competition. Your stock will rise exponentially.”
“Be honest with yourself and your clients about what you do, along with what your product does and the value it brings.”
“Take the long view.”
Do What Excites You
“Always represent a company, product or service you believe in and can stand behind.”
“Find an industry or a company that you feel passionate about (or that you can come to care about).”
“Love it or don’t do it!! Whatever you do it should make you want to get up in the morning and GO DO IT with JOY and FUN and PASSION!”
Understand What’s Needed to be Successful
“You will need a high tolerance for pressure/stress.”
“Choose an industry that is growing and vibrant.”
4. How has the work changed since you entered the Sales profession?
The Technology Difference
“The competition is now a click away.”
“The internet has opened the door to global competition.”
“The pace of work has changed with the Internet, social media, increased competition and industry consolidation.”
Relationships Still Matter
“Know-how and service make the difference.”
“Relationships still matter enough of the time and they certainly drive my passion, and that at the core, has not changed and has continued to provide me with business and tremendous satisfaction and passion to help improve the lives of the people I work with.”
Product Perception Has Evolved
“Consumers are more educated than ever.”
“Sales has shifted focus from commodities and capabilities to value. What problem do you solve and how does that benefit your client?”
“Many products, even software are now commodities.”
5. Why do you do what you do for a living? Any other dreams out there you still want to pursue?
“I have 2 kids in college! There’s a world to see and photograph. I’m trying to do a little bit of good and leave the ship a better place than when I showed up.”
“I love solving problems and working with people. The income also is disproportionate to education, experience etc. You get paid what you are worth. There are always dreams to pursue – work enables me to do so.”
“To help people while at the same time it provides a lifestyle that allows me to live an incredible, passionate, FUN life! TONS!! And I am pursuing them!!!”
“Obviously income is a big factor but I do enjoy good work/life balance. I do really enjoy discovering and learning about companies (prospects and clients) in this market and about what they do, how they impact the local economy and the people that they employ. I like building relationships and working with people I like & respect. In this field, there are always opportunities to be discovered and hopefully captured. There are many things I still want to pursue – some are personal that have nothing to do with work, others are entrepreneurial and community service activities.”