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Friday, December 30, 2011

Hiring for Entry-level HR Position

I'm guessing you landed here because you were looking for an entry-level HR role.  Unfortunately I don't have one to offer at this time.

However I do have some advice, being an HR grad not so long ago... and one that is tired of hearing complaints and seeing postings on LinkedIn about how hard it is to find an entry-level HR role.

The truth is, your degree/diploma doesn't mean much to anyone outside of you, your family, and maybe some of your friends... honestly.

Yes, not having these credentials would limit opportunities even more... but what value is added by having one?

Every spring, recent HR grads (not to mention the other business majors) walk across a similar stage that you did and get their diploma... Thousands of 'em.

You don't need to be an economics major to see the supply and demand picture that is being painted here.

Depressed yet?

Don't be.  If you are reading this and are still in school - then I am the ghost of employment past to show you the error of grads that came before you.  If you did graduate already, give me a sec.

If your school offers a co-op/internship program that aligns with your program take it!  Yes it might add a year to the time that you are in school; see this as an investment in time and not a setback. 

If your school doesn't have this - get one your damn self!  The college I went to had a co-op program, but the co-op department was having trouble finding organizations that would hire (yes, $ not free) students from the HR program... it wasn't even a recession at the time.

So in between classes I applied/emailed/called (yes, I picked up the phone and called) organizations saying what I was looking for in terms of a 4 month co-op placement to get some hands-on experience.

Eventually I found a great non-profit that said they would take me on - but could not afford to pay me.  Some of my colleagues said not to take this, but I said  'Yes!'

I have volunteered before, I will do it again, and plus I had the opportunity to assist with recruitment, learn an HRIS system, network (non-profits are great for this), and update a variety of employee and operational manuals.

Some of my colleagues got paid roles... where they enhanced their knowledge of the alphabet by filing for 8 hours a day... WHo the hell wants to do that? Big picture: this will not enhance your resume.

The same non-profit hired me part-time for a semester while in University, and for a 1 year contract when the HR Manager went on Mat-leave... in hindsight that 4 months of unpaid experience kind of seems worth it, eh?

In summary - be ambitious - don't let your future be written for you.  If you want something go out and get it - now!  Don't wait until graduation to develop a strategy... the job market will never get asier, so the competition starts now.

To those of you that have graduated... what can I say? 

Probably what I say to most business gaduates - don't worry about getting something in your chosen field immediately.  Employers want experience, and if you can't bring it to the table finding something may prove challenging.

Challenging, not impossible.

Leave no stone unturned.  Your Facebook status should say what you're looking for, you should be joining discussions on LinkedIn, you should attend networking events.

Overall, stop blaming the job market.  It is tough, but your attitude has to be tougher.  Your high GPA is great, but without a little grit and determination - you are just one of the thousands of recent HR grads looking for an entry-level position.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Persuasion: A Book Review

So a couple weeks ago I reviewed Kevin O'Leary's book Cold Hard Truth.

Since then, I have been reading the book of another Dragon - Arlene Dickinson.

The first big difference between the 2 is obviously the personalities.  Perhaps because Kevin has a bit more public profile, being on Shark Tank in the US, on the Lang & O'Leary Exchange on the CBC, and that new show Redemption Inc.

You want to know about Kevin O'Leary? He's a capitalist.  His words were 'he speaks on behalf of money'.  Making money is what he does, this is his story.

You want to know about Arlene Dickinson? Good - she has quite a story to tell.

I think like most people, I see Arlene as one of the quieter Dragons.  I assumed that she probably went to a major business school, majored in marketing or communications, worked her way up the corporate ladder and managed to find herself on Dragons' Den.

I was completely wrong.

Arlene's story is extremely motivational and more about the soft skills in life.  Arlene was born in South Africa and came to Canada when she was very young. 

All she ever really wanted was a family, and that is exactly what she got - pretty much right out of high school.

She says what made her the business mogul she is today, was her drive to provide for her family. 

Through out the book there were many statements she made that I loved:

Yes, you need to have some core competencies and an appetite for hard work and for learning, but the main qualities you need are tenacity, perseverance, and faith in yourself.  It's that complex and that simple.

Last impressions are almost as important as first impressions.  Remember, you are playing a long game, and the real thing that's at stake is not a particular job or piece of work but your reputation.  Your reputation is your strongest currency in business.

As everyone finds out sooner or later, persuasion does come with a cost.  Accountability.  Once you've convinced people to give you what you want, you'd better be sure you deliver.

There are tons of quotable sections, but these are 3 I particularly liked.  Now the title of the book is called Persuasion but in no means a 'how-to-guide' or anything like that.

It is full of personal anecdotes and reflections on different experiences from her life journey so far.  So if you're looking for a guide teaching you how to persuade people, this isn't it.

If you're looking to learn a little bit more about 'the quiet dragon' and how she came to her success and persuaded some of the right people along the way - then check it out!

I think most of the other Dragons' books are going to have some personal examples and some great stories.

Have you read any of the other books from the dragons? Any recommendations for my next pick?