Book Review: Thrive by Arianna Huffington

I recently read the book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington. I had picked this book for two reasons: 1) It was an e-book that you can check out from your phone at the library and 2) It was written by one of the most successful women in media of all time.

If you haven’t tried borrowing books and title from your local library yet, I highly recommend it! For a person who reads a lot, the ability to download a book on my phone and start reading makes me extremely happy.

I’m not a professional book reviewer but I am an avid reader. I’ve read at least a few thousand books in my life. And I sincerely hope to read many more going forward (not just fiction). Feel free to recommend some great reads or books you’d like me to review in the comments section.

Summary

If I had to summarize the book in a few basic sentences.

Sleep more, put down your phone, meditate, give freely, and overall, be more mindful of living your life.

Mind you, that is a very simplistic way of capturing a 653-page book. But essentially, Huffington uses Thrive as a call to arms of how a person should be living their life. Not just as someone who is going through the motions of the day-to-day but thriving.

I enjoyed the book, it was a well-written, thoughtful and provocative and gave us insights into Huffington’s life and mindset from someone who is by our modern definitions “successful”. Her words carry weight because she’s spent time thinking about what she wanted to put into her book.

A lot of the criticism around her book is because people think of it as a self-help book. It’s not. It’s written in a memoir format which makes more sense. It’s a collection of stories that for her creates a good-life. And it’s her concept of what it means to “Thrive”.

Misconceptions

When I first read Thrive, I thought it would be a book to explain success, teach people how to get ahead. The usual ways of success: money, career, climbing the corporate ladder.

Imagine my surprise when in her preface, Huffington starts with a call to living a healthier, less stressful life.

Her preface is funny, and the story she tells about cell phone worship and the need to recharge strikes a chord with me because I recognize that stressed out and burnt out person. I think you will too.

Well-Being

One of the first chapters in the book, after Huffington, begins with a tale of how over-exhaustion lead to her wake up call, tells us how to look after our own well-being. She leads with a convincing depiction of our lives today and how stressed everyone is. Part of the problem, she acknowledges, is we’ve started using our extra hours at work as a badge of success. The more hours, the more work, the more success right?Wrong. Huffington uses convincing anecdotes of very successful leaders in every part of business and politics and tells of their wake up call stories.

More Sleep

I never get enough sleep. If I were to sleep naturally till I wake up, that time is usually about ten hours of sleep. Ten hours of sleep is not very efficient.

Huffington brings a lot of convincing facts about why we need to sleep more and get better sleep. She doesn’t however, give any tips on how we can cram all of the work we need to do, feed the kids, do the laundry, AND sleep. Although she acknowledges that it’s hard to get enough sleep, I think part of what she advocates is at least setting a goal/precedent of getting sleep.

Wisdom

Huffington brings a lot of stories including a few very personal ones about her life and what she’s learned from them.

In her wisdom chapter, she encourages every person to stop and listen to that “sixth sense” or the “gut feeling” we usually get. She gives Malcolm Gladwell’s example in Blink where art historians had a “gut feeling” that a piece of art was off.

Meditation

Thrive dedicates a large part of the first and second chapter extolling the benefits meditation. Using facts and figures, Huffington sets out to convince us that meditation is not a new age gimmick but a real way of handling stress.

I’m not a huge meditator, but I’ve read Dan Harris’s book 10% Happier about meditation and have tried to take some time to learn meditation. I take 5-10 minutes and just breathe and try to think about nothing. And it really helps!

Meditation is a way for me to calm down and to maintain my focus on the important things. It helps me take the provincial “step back” from a situation to figure out what is wrong.

Wonder

A lot of things in life happen by accident and Huffington encourages the reader to maintain wonder in our lives. Whether that means enjoying arts or the outdoors or reveling in the little “coinkydinks” that happen.

She shares delightful stories where coincidence makes life unpredictable and worth living. Her encouragement to detach from our cell phones and to refind wonder in the universe around us is a recurring theme throughout the book.

I commute every day to work via public transport and now there are days where I will sit quietly without my phone or take moments to remind myself to be completely in the moment which is very helpful. I find that by being “present” in my own life, I notice more and snap out of the autopilot setting so many other people are on.

Giving

Huffington shares a loving story about her mother’s giving spirit that was extremely moving. One of my favorite quotes comes from this section of the book when she talks about how her mother gave a stranger who was admiring her necklace, the necklace off her neck. The stranger offered to give her something for it. And her mom said

It’s not a trade, darling, it’s an offering.

In a world where we have so much to give, this simple blessing or provision of being a giver is so touching.

Learning to Thrive

There’s a lot to be learned in the world from all different sources and many readers didn’t really like the book due to the intermingling of quotes and scientific facts. But, I believe that there’s a lot of good information to be learned from this book. Maybe we don’t meditate, and we take a minute next time we’re on public transportation ride to reflect. No, a lot of this information is not new or extremely exciting but the earnest delivery with a quick reminder to live life to the fullest isn’t a bad one either.

Advancing Your Career: Certifications, School, or Climb the Ladder

To certify or not certify, that is the question. Certifications, go back to school for Masters degree, work ungodly hours until I climb the ladder, there are so many choices and it’s difficult to tell if you’re making the right choice. It’s been weeks and weeks and I’m still suffering from the aftermath of trying to decide what to do.

Which Certifications Should I Take?

Do you even need certifications? There’s a certification for everything. In HR alone, there are 7-8 different certifications not counting the semi-borderline certifications which cover a specific branch of HR.

There’s the PHR, the SHRM-CP, the CEBS, the aPHR, the GPHR… you get the point. And that’s just HR, I haven’t mentioned APTD and CPLP which are offered by the Association for Talent Development Association (which can be great for HR professionals too).

I will have a separate post just on the certifications and a breakdown of what they are for. But the way I look at certificates is the same way I look at school now. What is the best ROI (return on investment)?

If I spend $1000 on a certification (prep, books, certifying) and another $250 every other year after to maintain the certification ($2500 over twenty years), then I better make sure I earn an extra $3500 over the next 20 years to pay for that certification!

And the more I can make using that certification, the more valuable that certification is to me.

Take the Certification that Pertains to You

If you’re an expert in HR, take a certification in HR. Certifications are great ways to break into an industry or transfer your experience from another profession into HR.

Sometimes a certification will establish your expertise in a particular field. Say you have 5 years of experience and a Bachelors degree in a different field from HR, it would be great for you to have a certification in your career path of choice to show your dedication.

Don’t Take Random Certifications

Don’t take every certification just to have every certification after your name. Take the ones that will really make a difference. Like the levels in a Super Mario game, certifications can be addicting to take. But you want to make sure that you’re not taking more and more certifications without getting some return on your investment.

Certifications cost money. And unless your certifications are going to really help you in your career, there’s no reason to waste money on something you don’t need.

The only exception to this rule is if you want to show off your certification like your latest consumer purchase. In which case, knock yourself out!

John Smith, MA, MPH, MBA, PsyD, Ph.D., etc…

There are a million different programs for higher education and a lot of reasons to continue studying. Higher education is a big decision. But deciding to go back to school for additional education just to earn more money is not always the correct way.

Don’t Go to College Without An End in Mind

I grew up in a family where going to college was a requirement. But the problem with being eighteen and going to college is you don’t know what you want to do with life. A lot of us were thrown into college with no end in mind and just majored in whatever was most interesting to us at the moment.

If you’re going to college, make sure you know why you’re going to school. Go to school for something that you are really interested in and that will pertain to what you’re doing in the future.

Calculate the Costs

Make sure to calculate the costs of an advanced degree. With people going millions into debt for a degree, make sure that you calculate the ROI on a degree. A certification might put you a few thousand dollars into debt, but an advanced degree could put you tens of thousands into debt.

Think carefully. If being a Professor in college teaching Philosophy is your lifelong dream, maybe a Ph.D. in Philosophy is the way to go. However, if your end goal is to be an HR Director in a SAAS Company, a Ph.D. in Philosophy may not be the best way to go.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Sometimes a certification or degree is not necessary to advance your career. It really depends. Maybe your career path is dependent on working on the extra hours and learning how to lead the extra projects. Or maybe your career is dependent on public speaking…

No Career is the Same

Every career path is different. Some career paths require extra certifications or education. Some really require for you to put the time at work, working the long hours.

Strengths

Every person who climbs the career ladder will advance for different reasons. A good rule of thumb is to figure out what is missing at your Company. How do you make the Company more money or save the Company more money?

Maybe you can make a process more efficient. Or you can cut down on expenses by obtaining supplies more efficiently. Perhaps you can make the most sales of the year.

How About None of These?

That’s a choice that’s been made many times before too. If you are happy where you are in your career and don’t want to have more responsibilities, it’s not always necessary to get a degree, a certification, or try to climb.

However, keep in mind that as AI takes over more and more jobs, a critical part of advancing or keeping a job is being willing to change with the times. In 1975, Apple donated computers to schools. Now, it’s pretty much mandatory for most positions to know how to use some sort of technology.

Technology will keep changing and advancing, in some fields, the methods and advancement will change faster than other industries. However, in order to continue to be a valuable employee or asset to the Company, it’s mandatory that you continue to change with the times.

But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

Moving Beyond Discouraging Comments

I didn’t post on Friday because I had someone tell me that “I didn’t have enough experience to be a leader”. And if you’ve read my bio, that’s not the first discouraging remark I have received in my career.

People have told me, “You’re not good enough to do this”, “You shouldn’t be in HR”, and of course my favorite, “You’re just the HR girl”

How Do You Respond?

Although you would think that in a professional world, we wouldn’t have to deal with discouraging remarks, that’s obviously not the case.

No matter how high up you get in your career there will be people who want to tear you down and tell you that you can’t do it.

The worst thing to do would be to believe the remarks and internalize them.

One my favorite quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt,

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

And how true is that?

We can choose how we respond to the critiques or comments of our peers and managers.

What Do You Do?

Feeling hurt is fine, but at some point, you have to take a step back and think about the comments.

  1. Does the hurtful comment or remark have any basis?
  2. Was the criticism an opinion of someone who you respect or care about?
  3. Is the remark coming from a good place and simply worded hastily?

Stepping Back

I think the hardest thing to learn for me was taking a step back from an emotionally charged situation. I get upset easily and I have this unfortunate side effect of bursting into tears when I’m worked up. (Not something I want to do in the workplace.)

The first thing I do when I realize that I’m upset or frustrated, I acknowledge how upset, frustrated, angry, or hurt I am. It sounds a little silly but for people who are always rushing to go through the day, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Sometimes you’re so emotionally charged, it’s hard to know what you’re feeling.

I pause. And I try to frame what I’m feeling into a coherent sentence.

The logical thinking that this requires often is the jumping off point for critical thinking and reduces the emotional rush (and consequently, the bursting into tears).

Some examples I’ve had:

“I’m so pissed because this guy just had the gall to tell me that I can’t lead.”

“I’m annoyed and angry because my stupid coworker just did something wrong and blamed it on me.”

I’m angry because I’m frustrated and I can’t express it. But I’m also hurt that Sandra didn’t hear my opinion out.”

As you can tell from these examples, it helps to put into context what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. This is actually a great tool when you’re communicating with a significant other or god-forbid, arguing with a family member.

That brief pause to acknowledge the feeling helps feed into the next part, analyzing the comment.

Now What?

I take into context the opinion of the person. For example, the person who told me I wasn’t meant to be a leader. He’s a manager, he’s interviewing me, and I get the feeling he’s trying to push my buttons to see how I would react.

If the person was a peer, my best friend, my mother, my response would be very different.

Think about the person who made the comment, was this person in a place of authority. Could their experience in life or what their job entails provide them with more information than what you might have?

For example, when my CEO says something to me, I realize that he has a great overview of the entire Company that I may not have. There’s more context that he can provide for a comment or decision.

But for the person who’s interviewing me, I didn’t think the comment was from someone who really cared about my experience. I think he was trying to get a rise out of me, or he was being a jerk.

Reacting.

Afer doing all of the above analysis, I try to take a second to judge the intentions of the person who made the comment. In this case, since I felt like he was trying to get a rise out of me or to point out my lack of experience, I responded with the following:

“I don’t have a 7-10 years of experience and know everything there is to know about HR. Any HR professional who tells you they know everything there is to know about HR is lying to you. But I can tell you that in the last year at the company…[list of things that have happened]…and those things ended up on my desk. Because I don’t know everything there is to know, but I will figure it out.”

Strong words… maybe not the best thing to say in an interview. But I had already decided I didn’t want to take the position.

It was professional. Not as polished as I would have liked. But, it was straightforward, direct and to the point.

And that’s why I feel like I did pretty well.

 

But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

 

Tell me about times that you’ve had someone said something discouraging below or e-mail me.

I’d love to hear other stories about things you’ve faced!

Filling Out the I-9 – Back to Basics: HR-101

Where does the I-9 form fit in the HR Generalist responsibilities spectrum?

With visas being revoked by the Trump administration, it seems like a fitting time to talk about one of the most responsibilities an HR Generalist may have.

Every HR person has to start from somewhere so I will be writing a series on HR basics for people who are just getting into HR. Stay tuned for the rest of the series!

There’s been a lot of uproar over I-9s lately. AB-450 in California prevented employers from allowing ICE to enter workplace premises without a warrant.

California, in an effort to protect immigrants from being deported, enacted additional laws to protect immigrants.

The state of California is now being sued by Trump’s Justice Department for three sanctuary laws.

What is an I-9 and what does it have to do with HR?

An I-9 is a basic employment form that all employees have to fill out within 3 days of being hired at Company. HR is often the responbile department that has to complete the form.

For example, if an employee gets hired on Tuesday, then they have to have an I-9 filled out by Friday.

What if the employee is hired on Thursday?

If your employee is hired on Thursday and your business days are Monday through Friday, then you should have a form filled out by Tuesday.

Who requires the I-9?

The I-9 is a federal form that is required by the Department of Homeland Security.

My Managers Fill Out the I-9

That’s fine. But as part of the HR department, it’s your job to train your managers on how to fill out the I-9. I will be following with a post and screenshots on different items to look out for.

In the meantime, make sure that you’ve been completely trained so you know what to look out for.

Starting in a New HR Role

If you’re just starting in a new HR role, a good place to start is auditing your current I-9s that are already pre-existing.

When is an I-9 Audit Necessary?

An audit of I-9s is customarily required especially when you are entering a new role.

By doing an audit, you’re making sure one of most basic areas of HR is covered.

Fines for I-9 violations start at $375 and can go up to several thousands of dollars.

Although you can’t change how the I-9 forms were filled out before you arrived, you can show good faith that your company is trying to remain compliant

Things to Remember

If you have only 100 people or less, it is a good idea to do a full audit.

However, if you have more than 100 people, and you don’t have the manpower to do a full audit, it’s a good idea to do a spot check.

If you are doing a random audit, make sure that how you are doing the audit is truly random and not discriminatory.

An easy way to ensure randomness is to pull I-9s by random patterned number of employees (ex: every 12th employee). Do not just do an audit by name.

Where do you start?

Start by making sure that you have a separate pile of terminated employees and employees who are currently active.

  1. Focus on the active employees first. Since I had less than a hundred employees and my employees were already separated between active and non-active, I went through the binder with Post-its.
  2. Look at section 1 and make sure that it’s all filled out. If not, have the employee fill out the section they missed, sign and date their change.
  3. Look at section 2, if any changes in this section need to be made, cross out the incorrect portion and fix it. Make sure to initial and date your change.

What if Section 2 is Completely Blank?

Don’t panic, grab a current I-9, notify the employee and re-certify.

Let the employee know that you’re very sorry that the information was missed and proceed to fill in the new form.

Attach the new form to the old form and a note indicating why a new form was completed.

E-verify: Is it the Same as the I-9 Form?

E-verify is not a replacement for the I-9 form. Instead, it’s a separate system that verified directly with the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to make sure the data entered is correct.

E-verify has additional requirements and their own training program on their processes.

 

An I-9 audit can save you a lot of grief in the long run. And the sooner you start, the better!

 

But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

5 Ways to Deal When Work is Tiring

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Daylight Savings has wreaked havoc on my life, Monday was not an easy day so this post for the first time ever will be short and sweet.

I have never met an employee (including myself) who wants to go to work every day. There will always be days that are incredibly unproductive because let’s face it, there are times when people just don’t want to work.

How do you deal with the days that drag on forever?

  1. Work on something easier – I always have a giant pile of paperwork to file. If it’s been a hard day and you just can’t think anymore, work on something easy to handle where mistakes are less easily made
  2. Take a quick stroll – When the numbers start blurring together on payroll (something that has a deadline), walking away can help. After all, paying something for 80 hours vs 60 hours could be a huge difference. On items I have to work on, I’ll grab a coffee from my office or take a quick stroll around the block. The mental break ensures that I keep my concentration on the task at hand.
  3. Follow a guided meditation – great apps like Ringly and Fitbit all have guided meditations for breathing exercises. Or take 10 minutes out and do a guided breathing exercise on YouTube. This will reset your focus and help calm a runaway mind bringing the focus back to finish what you need to do.
  4. Snack – sometimes your body just literally needs energy. Nuts or yogurt raisins are great snacks that can boost brain power when you get the afternoon exhaustion. Using your brain to think deeply uses a lot of energy
  5. Talk to someone – if you’ve been stuck on the same problem or task for a while, poking a neighboring co-worker for a second look can help. The second pair of eyes will help you with fresh ideas or confirm that you’re doing everything correctly.

As always there are days when we won’t want to work or go to work. Whoever said, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” was definitely lying. After all, it’s still work!

But, there are definitely things you can do until you are motivated again!

But what do I know? I’m…

~ Just the Exhausted HR Girl

5 Signs Your Boss is Crazy, Not You

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Happy Monday! Dreading going into work this morning! Thinking about quitting? Had it with your job?

Maybe it’s not you, maybe it’s your boss.

I’m hoping the banana gave you some comfort at least.

Tons of people decide to quit for reasons that have nothing to do with a Devil Wears Prada-esque boss. However, in some cases where your boss is the source of significant conflict over time, it’s a sign to move on. How can you tell if your stress is a sign it is time to move on?

It is never easy to move on. Adapting to change is difficult and people are programmed to crave stability. There is comfort in the familiar. So, how do you know when you need to make a break for it?

Before we point fingers, let’s take an internal look at ourselves as employees.

  1. Are you meeting the expectations of your job?
  2. Are you putting in the effort to try and do well, going above and beyond just what your job description requires of you?
  3. Before automatically blaming your boss for everything, as tempting as that may be, take a good solid look at your own performance and work ethic. —

You’re the best employee in the world, move mountains, work extra long hours, and make your boss look great?

Good. Let’s talk about your boss and point those fingers

It’s time to move on when:

1. Your boss does not respect boundaries.

When we talk about respecting boundaries, we are talking the whole gamut of boundaries.

This could mean sexual harassment for example if your boss is touching your boobs, that is not okay!  If your boss is asking you as an employee to do illegal things and you go along with it you could become an accomplice. Call your HR dept and/or a lawyer right away.

Or this could mean calls every weekend to finish the last minute project. An occasional project on the weekend is normal. But if they are calling you every Holiday/family vacation, having you pick up their dry-cleaning, go grocery shopping for them and wash their dog (and you are not a personal assistant) then you might have boundary issues.

A great working relationship is built on trust and setting boundaries. If your boss is having trouble with boundaries repeatedly, you must address the issue openly and firmly.

Once that’s been done and nothing has changed then it is time to move on.

2. Your boss is unreasonable.

Okay, so your boss maybe doesn’t agree with some of the things you believe are important. That’s part of being an adult employee, you won’t always agree with your boss. However, if your boss is clearly displaying an unreasonable attitude time and time again and can’t be persuaded to take any other view. You might have a problem.

An example of this would be someone who has always used paper to do accounting or prefers paper/binders to using any type of cloud storage. As an employee, I would start by understanding your boss’s point of view. Maybe there’s a precedent of why they do things that way.

If even after reasoning and logically pointing out the better method, then it’s time to move on. Try another way of explaining, come up with a better plan, or compromising (half paper and half cloud?). If after trying all that, and your boss still disagrees, it’s possible that they may never be persuaded by reason.

Another example would be if you discovered how you were doing things was against the law. Bring this to your boss’s attention. If they refuse to start doing it the right way, don’t just sweep it under the rug. It may be time to bring it to your boss’s boss.

Great bosses will usually be willing to take at least some inkling of feedback from their employees. If you consistently find yourself in a position where your boss is unwilling to listen, it could be time reevaluate your position.

3. Your boss is abusive (verbally, physically, emotionally).

People get very shocked when they find out it is possible to have a verbally, physically or emotionally abusive relationship with your boss.

Physical abuse is easy to detect. At your place of employment, you should never expect any form of corporal punishment including but not limited to scratching, hitting, kicking, or have things thrown at you. Any type of this behavior should immediately be reported to HR.

Emotional and verbal abuse is a lot harder to detect and prove. However, if your boss tells you that you’re not performing up to expectations, this is not verbal abuse. If they are constantly belittling you, speaking down to you in a nonconstructive manner, yelling or screaming at you, you could be in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship.

What do you do if your boss screams at you? Don’t overreact or antagonize your boss, stay calm and say “If you cannot discuss this in a professional matter right now, perhaps we can address it later?”

If this is a constant problem, it is time to report the bad manager to HR. HR not doing the trick, try going to your boss’s boss.

4. Your boss is not mentoring you anymore.

A good boss should serve as a guide and mentor, they should teach and help you do your job better and provide you with the resources to get better. Although not having a boss who is a mentor is not a reason to quit immediately. It’s possible especially in a young career that not having a guiding hand could impact what you do in your next job or role.

If your boss isn’t capable or is unwilling, see if they would be open to introducing you to people who can and will. Or see if you are able to seek a mentor outside of your work to help guide you.

The following scenarios may be scenarios where you may start to think about switching jobs to gain the mentorship you need:

  • Your boss shows extreme favoritism impeding your career.
  • Your boss consistently steals credit for your work.
  • Your boss will not allow you to take on different projects.
  • Your boss is checked out and doesn’t show any interest in what you are doing.

Not having a mentor at work is definitely not the worst thing on this list but the long-term effects could be critical. You need a boss who will help guide you to learn more and improve while keeping you from making the big mistakes. You don’t always have to like your boss (who does?) or even agree with them all the time, but you do have to respect them and learn from them.

5. You are consistently having disagreements with your boss.

Having disagreements with your boss about how things are done is normal but ultimately what they decide goes. If you are consistently having arguments with your boss about different things then maybe there’s a fundamental difference in how you approach your work. After a time, this type of conflict can become draining and exhausting and it may be a good time to start thinking about moving on.

One disagreement or two that can be solved in a constructive way is normal. Having constant disagreements week after week could be a problem.

So, what now?

If you are experiencing all of the above symptoms, you’ve been diagnosed with a crazy boss but that’s not the end of the world. If you think you can deal with a little crazy try some of the techniques mentioned here.

However, if you see a repeat of some or all of these behaviors it’s definitely time to think about your own sanity and move on.

But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

 

International Women’s Day

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It’s International Women’s Day and I’m definitely hearing about it. It’s all over Twitter, McDonald’s flipped their logo upside down, and the #MeToo #TimesUp movement continues to take over news feeds.

My first encounter with the Woman’s Movement began in Community College with Professor Cynthia Lee Katona (one of the best professors I ever had), who taught a Woman in Literature class. Although she failed me in her English 101 class in my first semester of college, I was fascinated by her stance on women empowerment. She traveled extensively and established the Women’s Studies program at my school.

She taught me originally that the first women’s movement actually began as women trying to fight for equal voting rights, a right to have a voice. However, she also criticized that the newer generations of self-declared feminists have gone too extreme and lost sight of what the original movement meant.

I’m not going to comment on what I believe, what I believe is a half-conceptualized idea that tells me that I don’t know enough to create an opinion yet. But, I do believe in women’s rights and celebrating how far we’ve come. I can hold a job, vote, and I am much further along than my ancestors were.

And slowly but surely there’s a continued renewal of dialogue about women’s rights, about women’s choices, and just about women in general. I think that’s an amazing accomplishment and that it should be celebrated!

So for all of the strong women out there, please celebrate your differences, support each other and continue speaking up. I believe that to have this dialogue and being open will make the world a better place for my daughters and granddaughters in the future.

Fun Fact: Did you know that women are born with all the eggs they will ever need? What this means ladies, is that when your mother was a fetus, one of the eggs that was developed, while your grandmother was pregnant, is you!

Take the challenge, make the world a better place and rise up from the failures of yesteryear. I think twenty years from now, there will be a better world for everyone.

But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

Imposter Syndrome at Work – Overcoming Fear

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In psychology, there’s a syndrome called Imposter Syndrome and it’s characterized by fear and self-doubt. Lately, I have been having a very personal relationship with feeling like a fraud and a lot of it comes from being afraid that I don’t know what I don’t know. And it’s a fear that is shared by many job seekers or career focused individuals.

At any given moment, HR has multiple laws that affect the practice and business. It starts at the Federal level where major laws are passed (these change rarely but every time there’s a change, it takes years to interpret the change), then you can California, the most “special” HR state laws, and just to make life more complicated, at the City-level we have San Francisco ordinances. Keeping up with the changes that are consistently coming out is like going to school for 4 years for computer science only to graduate to realize what you learned in school is obsolete.

That fear, prevents employees from achieving their full potential, from speaking up in a meeting, and from being willing to admit there are just things that they know.

How it Affects Blogging

When I first started this blog, I treated it as something that needed articles that needed the most accurate information every moment. Am I able to deliver on that promise? Probably not… I’m still early on in my career, about 7 years in. There will always and forever be things that I don’t know. And I think that’s the beauty of being where I am, I can finally admit that I don’t know something. So instead of fearing that there’s something I don’t know, I can finally admit that I don’t know it and go looking for answers.

One of the most powerful things I’ve learned this past year, starting a new position is there are a million things I don’t know. Which HR person of seven years knows straight off the bat, all the IRS definitions of fringe benefits? Nobody (and please don’t tell me if you do, it will just make me feel bad). IRS and taxes are primarily a Finance issue with a little bit of crossover into HR. In small companies though, there is definitely overlap especially if you are wearing multiple hats.

Feeling Like an Imposter Too?

So, what do you do if you feel like you are dealing with imposter syndrome?

The first step is to identify if there are areas of weakness where you are not completely informed.

For example, if you’re working in HR and you feel like you don’t know all of the 2018 laws that were passed, do a quick scan of online blogs and resources to see if any of the information sounds familiar. And if you identify that there’s an area you’re weak in, go to a conference, take a class, read a book on the subject, or seek guidance from a professional.

After identifying the weakness, seek more information, there is a wealth of information out there that is available for HR professionals.

Feel like you’re missing some crucial information about benefits? Ask a fellow HR professional, attend a conference/workshop, or consult an insurance broker.

Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and say, “I don’t know this, but I will figure it out”

Pitfalls to Avoid

Guessing the Answer – One of the things I’ve learned early on (especially working in insurance), is if you don’t know something, don’t pretend you have the answer. Say you don’t know, and then go look for the answer. Giving your boss the wrong information could be worse than saying “I don’t know, let me go find out.” And if you give someone the wrong information, it reflects badly on you as a professional and it weakens their trust that you’ll provide the correct answer next time.

It Wasn’t Me Syndrome – Made a mistake, be like the Robinsons and “Keep Moving Foward” because everyone makes a mistake. Own your mistake and take steps to rectify the situation, then make sure that the same mistake never happens again. A lot of new professionals are scared to make mistakes. Don’t be! Make the mistake but learn from it.

Never Asking for Help/Feedback – Sometimes the project is too large in scope. Get feedback on it. Sometimes people who are viewing it from a different perspective will be able to provide a different view of why things should be done a certain way. For example, if you’re implementing a leave policy, why not talk to someone who’s gone on leave to see what information they felt was lacking. Incorporate that feedback will make your leave policies that much more helpful for the employee.

My Mistake

I’ve been captivated by a million things every day of what I could do, should do, and how a blog should be written. I think it’s time to put that aside and actually start writing and I’m hoping that all of you (my dear readers) will help educate me on my mistakes along the way. Here’s to overcoming imposter syndrome!

But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

12 Must Do Items When You Start a New Job

It’s been a stressful month as you all know but I do have news! I have switched jobs and am now working as an HR Manager at a new job. Although I have changed in jobs and industries, a lot of the past HR knowledge that I’ve brought with me still applies. Thank you for all of your support, without my loyal readers, I wouldn’t be gaining all this additional knowledge.

So what should you do when starting a new job?

  1. Bring all your forms and official paperwork your first day including any documentation establishing your identity. Or a voided check to start your direct deposit.
  2. E-mail your HR person or your manager with any questions about your first day. There may be some new paperwork.
  3. Read your Employee Handbook! (Yes, I know it’s a billion pages, but trust me, handbooks are written for a reason.) The handbook will have all the rules including behavior, codes of conduct, dress code, leave (including bereavement, disability, and pregnancy leave).
  4. Do the commute, and figure how much time it takes to get there. It would be the worst impression to be late your first day.
  5. In addition to number 4, start creating a sleep schedule that matches your new job especially if you have to commute further.
  6. During the first 2 weeks, of any job, the best thing any employee can do is learn as much about the business as possible. Learn how the industry works, learn how different processes work, and learn who does what. Luckily, it’s the first 2 weeks, so any questions that you ask can be attributed to your learning process.
  7. Bring a notebook with you and meet with different people within your organization. Take notes so that you remember names and any advice they may have.
  8. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to something and don’t pretend you do. Instead ‘fess up that you don’t know and say you’ll find out.
  9. Practice power moves before any major meeting or any meeting. According to social psychology Amy Cuddy, posture can make a huge difference in how you feel in terms of confidence.
  10. Start putting processes in place to organize everything. If there’s a process in place for how to organize your e-mail, for example, then later on when you take on more tasks, you’ll naturally be more efficient. Create rules for where mail should automatically go. Set up signatures in Outlook of repeat e-mails you send.
  11. Disclose any pre-planned family vacations, especially if you haven’t done so already.
  12. Relax! Be yourself, your new employers saw something they liked about you in the interview and if you pretend to be something you’re not the first week, it will be harder to pretend as time goes on.

So, there are my tips to be highly successful at any new job. Good luck everyone!

But, again, what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

How to Get Your Resume Noticed in an Increasingly Competitive World

It’s a tough market to find a job, the competition is fierce and the college degree is simply not worth what it used to.  According to a study done by the Young Invincibles Organization, “Millennial net wealth is half as much as Baby Boomers when they were young adults; wages have also declined 20 percent for today’s young workers.” This means that millennials may never have the financial success that their parents have. Click here to read more on other findings by the same study.  And it’s only getting tougher.

Although young Americans today are increasingly well-educated, the same group of young Americans who have a Bachelor’s degrees are earning just slightly more on average than young Americans who had no college degree in 1989. Take into account that the average 2016 college graduate “has $37,172 in student loan debt” and rising, these become very troubling statistics.

So what is a modern jobseeker to do?

Watch the video of how executives and other hiring managers view resumes today:

And here’s the thing, every HR person who has been bombarded by hundreds of resume from multiple sources (LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, Simplyhired, ZipRecruiter, company website, recruiters, etc…) can attest to, there’s no time to read every resume. At most, your resume would get a 5-10 second glance, if you’re lucky.

So how do you get an overwhelmed, overworked HR manager to spend the extra 10 seconds on your resume and pull it out of the pile?

If you can get your resume past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) implemented by most companies today, make sure your resume matches the job description. When we scan resumes for an Accounting role, we’re looking for someone who has done most of the job responsibilities before. When you write your resume, do not just write what you did. Stocking inventory is not applicable to an accounting position, unless you’re applying for a position that specifically mentions stocking inventory. For more information, I would highly suggest checking out Modern Career Advice’s free video on resumes and conversion rates. Video 4 of 7

So what happens if you’ve bounce from Marketing to Sales, and are now working in HR?

That’s not an issue! But as an applicant, you must decide what you plan on doing next.

Skip the objective, it’s wasting valuable real estate on your resume. Instead, focus on writing bullet points that are pertain to the new position that you’re looking for.

But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl