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Work Life: Age Limits

(Originally published on August 17,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

When you are young and free, your career possibilities are endless. Opportunities abound. You can experiment a bit and hopefully find a career that is best suited for you.

As you grow older, however, your choices begin to shape your career and you’ll find yourself in a set line of work. By the time you are in your late thirties, you’ve gained enough knowledge in your chosen field and you should ideally be moving upwards in your industry.

This is also the time when you would have already taken on more of life’s responsibilities. You may have gotten married and begun to have children. You may need to take care of ailing parents or other siblings. All of these are reasons why you want to work to provide well for your family.

But what if, all of a sudden, you find yourself longing for a change of career? Or what if life suddenly threw you a curveball and you find yourself out of work and in need of a new job?

You then open Manila Bulletin’s classified ads section. You look for job listings that are suitable for your knowledge and experience since you want to capitalize on what you’ve mastered in the last decade. You find a couple of job advertisements that suit you.

Good reputable company, check.

Good position, check.

Skills required, check.

Competitive compensation and benefits, check.

You’ve found your next job…but wait! It says in the job ad that the age requirement is from 25 to 35 years old. And you’ve just celebrated your 40th birthday. Bummer. You then look at other job ads and notice a similar pattern. There is an age limit specified in the job ads. You’re way above the age limit.  You then start wondering exactly what another reader questioned in this letter:

I’m an engineer by profession and I also finished EMBA. I currently work overseas for a power plant. The pay is good and knowledge advancement is great. However, I miss home and have been exploring the possibility of coming back for good. I’ve been looking at job advertisements, but I have noticed age limitations that are, well, limiting. We say that experience plays a big part in true learning, and you can acquire this through years of working as you also age. As I browsed job listings, I saw that I am qualified for most of the openings, but I always end up frustrated because of the age requirement. So I have a few questions regarding this issue: Is the age limit mandatory as a minimum requirement for all hiring companies? Does HR have an influence on this? Is this what we call “Equal Opportunity”? I hope you can enlighten me.—A Mature Engineer

My Response:

Before HR practitioners post job advertisements, they usually conduct a job analysis wherein they try to define the required skills, competencies and scope of work needed for the position. They also determine what age range and, sometimes, even the gender the manager in need of staffing prefers so that they will have a clear set of criteria for recruitment. As much as possible, HR confers with the manager on his or her preference since s/he will be the one working directly with the new hire.

Although age limitations and gender specification do not exactly reflect the ideals of  equal opportunity, which has been made into law by some first world countries, it is commonly practiced in our country for practical purposes.

From an employer’s point of view, younger employees are seen as less costly and tend to demand lower compensation because they do not have that many family obligations or medical health problems yet. They also have more years ahead, so investing in their training offers the chance for longer service time. On the other hand, some companies are also aware that older and veteran workers have more experience and knowledge. They have already been trained by their previous employers. They have first-hand practical experience and are usually more emotionally mature to handle work concerns and issues.

In the end, it really depends on the company’s culture, needs and financial capacity. Some companies have strict age requirements while others are more flexible. If they can afford to, they hire veterans for higher positions; if they cannot, they get consultants to help out and train their younger work force.

I understand how difficult it is for older people to find jobs. Usually, the older you become and the higher your position gets, the opportunities seem to get narrower. But older people still have a lot of options. You just have to go out of your comfort zone, think outside the box, and explore other ways to pursue your career.

Stay tuned for my next article to get ideas on how to conquer age limits. Meanwhile, you can read up on past articles at http://hrclubonline.blogspot.com/.

 

Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or http://www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

 

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Work Life: Ten Characteristics of Great Employers

(Originally published on August 14,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

In my last column, I wrote about “Ten Characteristics of Star Employees.”  This time, I’d like to explore the flip side and discuss what makes great employers.

See, your happiness and contentment in the workplace is directly affected by how the you work for company is run. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the salary that people look at when they choose employers. Money is not the end-all and be-all of job satisfaction. So if you want to be part of a great company, aspire to find or even help develop these 10 characteristics in your workplace:

1. They have a clear vision. Great employers have direction. Their leaders have a clear picture of what they want their company to stand for and where they want to go. We’re talking here about full enculturation of the company’s vision, mission and values that employees live by as guiding principles. It’s not just about putting a mission statement in a frame and hanging it on the wall. It’s about building a culture that employees are proud of and can easily identify with on a daily basis.

2 . They have a good recruitment process. Great employers know that top notch employees equal an excellent company. So they establish recruitment systems that are

designed to get the crème of the crop, not the bottom of the barrel. They seek out people who are skilled with the right attitude to fill in key positions in their company. They

are organized in their recruitment efforts and have done the necessary homework for finding competent employees.

3. They have adequate compensation and benefits programs. Once they’ve hired their employees, great employers are able to keep them longer because they provide not just competitive salaries, but also benefits and perks. These benefits may include essentials from healthcare and allowances for uniforms or food, to fun stuff like workshops and outings, to cool perks like transportation assistance and mobile phone loads.

4. They train their people. Great employers also ensure that each employee grows professionally by providing training to help enhance their capabilities. As soon as an employee is hired, they are given an orientation. Then as they settle into their jobs, they are provided on-the-job training. This is also followed up by seminars, workshops and learning materials that will help employees develop further.

5. They monitor their people’s performance. After all the training, great employers make sure that their employees are able to apply what they have learned. This is done by continuously monitoring performance. Managers and supervisors constantly look at how their subordinates are doing. They provide guidance and immediate feedback. Then this is followed up by regular performance evaluations that are documented by the company’s HR people.

6. They recognize and reward good performance. The reason why performance is monitored is so that the company can reward the good ones and correct those that need improvement. To encourage and motivate employees, great companies provide rewards and incentives. This could range from simple treats and tokens to elaborate programs like “employee of the month” recognitions and sales target bonuses with gifts like gadgets and trips abroad.

7. They equip their people with tools that help them work better and faster. If you want to double or triple your team’s performance, it is important to equip them with the right tools and equipment. Great employers understand this, s o they make sure that their people are given the best software and hardware. More importantly, they are trained to maximize them. They understand the tennet that, “When you give a man the tools and know-how, you can step back and see the ingenuity that may come after.”

8. They have safe and conducive work environments. Great employers understand that a person’s environment affects his or her moods. So they take care to provide a workplace that’s conducive and safe for work. You can easily determine if a company is great or not by how clean and well-maintained the place is. So gather those waste baskets and purge unimportant items, clear your desks and organize! A clean work station will improve your mood and make you work better for a great company.

9. They care about their people. Great employers are able to provide programs that ensure their employees are well-taken care of physically, emotionally and spiritually. The company has heart and they show it to their people with kind words, caring leaders, firm and constant guidance. They understand that “when you care for your people, your people will take care of the company.”

10. They develop leaders. Lastly, great employees develop leaders. They encourage initiative and innovation. They allow their employees to shine and provide opportunities for star performers to develop themselves as leaders. From the group of star performers, they choose and hone select people to lead the company to greater heights. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a perfect company. Great employers are simply built by the people who work for them. If you want to work for a great company, it is in your hands to make your company a great and happy place to work in.

If you are looking for a job, seek to find a company that has these qualities. If you are already employed, make your company a great place to work in. If you have influence in your company, seek to develop these characteristics to make your company great and reap the rewards of a happy and productive workplace!

Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or http://www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632) 687-4645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

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Work Life: Ten Characteristics of Star Employees

(Originally published on August 10,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

 

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

In the workplace, there will always be star employees who shine. These people are well-liked by their bosses. They reach their targets and accomplish notable achievements. They are star performers, which is why they get promoted faster than the rest of the staff. It’s pretty cool to be a star employee. So let’s all aspire to be one.

If you are currently employed, I’d like you to take a good look at yourself. From a scale of one to 10, 10 being the highest, how would you rate your general work performance? If you were your boss, would you point to yourself as a star employee?

If your answer is yes, then keep up the good work. Kudos to you! But if you are not quite there yet and would like to become one, let’s take a look at the qualities that separates star employees from the ordinary ones.

1. They are always present. Star Employees are always present physically, mentally and emotionally. This means that they have good attendance records. They understand that quantity affects quality of time—that no matter how brilliant you are, if you’re not present for work, then you can’t really do a good job. So they come to their place of work, alert and ready to face the challenges the day brings. They leave their personal issues and problems at the door, which allows them to focus on the job at hand.

2. They are results-oriented. When Star Employees are busy, they really are. They do not spend time doing meaningless tasks just to look busy. They actually do tasks they deem instrumental in helping them reach their goals. These people look at the end results all the time. They measure their performance with targets and actual results. For example, star sales officers know their sales targets by heart. They find the best use of their time that will get them the desired results.

3. They are self-reliant. Star employees do not need to be micromanaged. They require very little supervision as they are capable of making sensible decisions. They are not too dependent on their bosses or co-workers. Unlike some people who ask their bosses to solve everything and decide on the littlest of things, they are well-capable of managing themselves and dealing with everyday work issues. They are also self-motivated.

4. They are reliable. Star employees carry a sense of dependability about them. They look and act responsible. Bosses feel at ease assigning them to important projects because they are diligent and consistent with the quality of their work. They are steadfast, which is why they don’t make their bosses worry too much about project completions.

5. They are progressive. For most employees, change is difficult to swallow. They like doing things that they are comfortable with. They like things to be the way they are. Star employees, on the other hand, adapt well to change. In fact, they initiate it. They constantly look at how their work, the procedures and systems in their office can be improved. In the process, they find innovative solutions that increase their company’s  profits or generate huge savings for the company which their employers appreciate.

6. They give updates and don’t need to be reminded about what to do. Star employees are on top of things. Bosses often get frustrated with constantly reminding their subordinates about things they need to do and they often waste a lot of time following up on projects. Meanwhile, star employees get there first. They regularly update their bosses and teammates on what’s happening. You don’t have to ask them what’s up with a certain account, because chances are, they’ve already told you before you even thought of asking.

7. They can communicate with ease. When star employees talk to people, they are not tense and uptight. They communicate in a comfortable and enthusiastic manner that makes the other person feel immediately at ease. They can talk to bosses, co-workers, suppliers and customer in a conversational manner. They are naturally personable, which draws people to them.

8. They are confident. Many people equate confidence as being extroverted and outspoken. But not all star employees are made that way. There are many star employees who are quiet and not so gregarious. Confidence is about knowing who you are and your selfworth. Star employees know their capabilities and limitations. They courageously face challenges and are not afraid to seek assistance if needed.

9. They go the extra mile. What sets star employees apart from regular folks is they go further than what is expected. If they are expected to know a specific product of their company, they go the extra mile in learning the whole product line, the competitor ’s product, pricing and promos. If they are expected to reach a sales quota, they don’t stop upon reaching the quota. They go for more.

10. They are grateful Most important of all, star employees are grateful. They are not brats who feel entitled to all the benefits, rewards and incentives given by their company. Instead, they sincerely appreciate what is given to them. The reason they perform better than the rest and why bosses like them is because they value their jobs, their employers and colleagues.

Given the 10 characteristics above, take a look at yourself: which of these traits do you have? Which ones do you lack? Are you a star employee? Aspire to be a star employee because it’s pretty cool to be recognized and appreciated by your bosses and colleagues—not to mention the perks and rewards attached to it. Everyone has the capacity to become a star employee; all you have to do is hone yourself and build on the ten characteristics of a star employee.

 

 

Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the  seminars and services that they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

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Convergys Celebrates Work-Life Balance

(Originally published on Wednesday, July 10, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

The top performing employees at Convergys’ San Lazaro facility were recently recognized by the company for their great work with an all-expenses paid provincial outing. The San Lazaro site is one of the global relationship management company’s 14 facilities across thePhilippines. Convergys recognized its top 100 agents at that facility  as part of its Best of the Best program, and treated the employees to a trip to Camayan Beach Resort inSubic.

Convergys is now the country’s largest private employer with about 25,000 employees across its sites, and it serves international companies in a number of industries.  With activities like Employee Appreciation and Family Day, Convergys seeks to develop a healthy and balanced work life for its employees. Convergys supports programs for personal growth and development, as well as fun and leisure activities, where it encourages the attendance of employees’ family and friends.

 

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Work Life: Effective Motivation

 The Nice Stuff Works Better

(Originally published on Wednesday, July 10, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By: Jhoanna O. Gan-So 

Bosses have different ways of motivating employees to improve their performance.

Smart ones use several methods of reward and punishment and adjust their approach according to circumstances.

In my experience, I have found that rewards and punishments are equally effective depending on the situation and the type of people you manage. But in general, people respond more to rewards, incentives, promotions, recognition and all the nice stuff. Occasionally, however, punishments or “threats” may be warranted; but using these can become counter-productive and dangerous, too. If you threaten and put people down often enough, they might get paralyzed by fear and begin to lose focus. Instead of finding ways to improve performance, they might get caught up with just fighting the perceived threat.

Such is the case of a reader of mine:

I’ve been connected for two years to a real estate company as an AVP in Marketing. My position gives me a basic living subsidy, over-ride commissions and the use of the company vehicle. In the previous year, I used to be no. 3 among the 15 Marketing Directors. At times, I would even be no. 1 and no. 2. But two months ago, my Marketing Directors were transferred to another group. Hence, I am now in survival mode and currently at no. 3 among four AVPs. My concern is that our EVP has been threatening to dissolve our group if we don’t increase sales. As a result, we have been under tremendous pressure for the past few months. Although I am determined to fight, the threats are becoming worse. What should I do?—Threatened Abe

My response:

From a relational perspective, it would be great if you can talk to your EVP and calmly explain to him that you understand how critical sales is for the company and that you are doing many things to increase sales. However, his approach (or “threat of dissolution”) is becoming counterproductive to your sales team’s morale. Point out gently that you would appreciate it very much if he tries a different approach. You need to do this in such a way that he won’t feel offended or alienated by you.

From an emotional perspective, it would be great if you can find some sort of stress release. I know Sales is highly stressful since you have quotas to reach. Two of our own company’s top sales people actually had a very difficult time getting the numbers the beginning of this year and it almost paralyzed them. To solve the problem, one of them opened up to management and sought support. The other one took a short retreat to reenergize herself. With the help of our Mancomm and some smart changes in their sales routine, things eventually improved and they are back on track.

From an HR perspective, I think it’s wise to revisit the Employment Contract you signed with the company, as well as the company policies for Termination as it pertains to Sales People. Much of your protection will come from what type of employment you have, the provisions in your contract, the HR policies and processes in your company and the Philippine Labor Laws. Since a sales job is highly quantitative, much will be based on your sales results. Normally, verbal warnings are the first steps for disciplinary action. Written warnings carry more weight and these are actually needed for an employer to terminate employees if due process is to be followed.

Meanwhile, I think it’s not too late yet. You still have your job. The real estate industry has been booming for the past few years. You can still focus and concentrate on generating more sales, despite the threat.

Motivating Employees

I wish I could talk to Mr. Abe’s boss and point out that his “threatening” approach is de-motivating his people. But since I do not really know him, allow me to use this column to reach out to similar bosses out there.

Fear is a potent tool. Its powers can motivate people to move, but it could just as easily demoralize people. I personally would only use it as a last resort.

The job of every boss is not just about pushing people to do what they want. Great bosses take the time to understand what drives their people and figure out what buttons to push to positively impact their subordinates. They also arm their people with the means and tools to let them achieve their goals. They push, encourage, guide and support others to be great at what they do.

Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, you may visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com orwww.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645. E-mail your comments and questions to: mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Taking Your Feelings to Work

(Originally published on June 29,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Anne Kreamer

When I graduated from college in 1977, the world was still neatly divided into two spheres: work and everything else. Work was supposed to be a hyper rational realm of logic, filled with timetables, organizational charts and returns on investment. It was only outside of work that emotions—so dangerously ill defined and unpredictable—were

supposed to emerge.

But from the first day of my first real job, as an administrative assistant at the Park Avenue headquarters of a commercial bank that is now defunct, I realized that emotions were simmering everywhere in the workplace.

My desk, on the hushed, deep pile-carpeted executive floor, was a few feet opposite the restroom doors. (Clearly, I was lowest in the pecking order.) Every few days, one of the three executive women on my half of the floor would rush into the restroom and, after a little too long, re-emerge with the remnants of a good cry still visible on her splotchy face. I also watched men dash into the men’s room and leave a few minutes later, tight-lipped and ashen.

Even as a 21-year-old workplace neophyte, I realized that emotion is a force that underlies all of our behavior. For my book, “It’s Always Personal: Emotion in the

New Workplace,” I spent two years exploring Americans’ attitudes toward e my findings suggest this amended version of Descartes’s famous line: I think and feel, therefore I am.

In the old days—pre-Internet, pre-cellphones—it was a lot easier to believe “work equals rational” and “home equals emotional.” But now that work and home life constantly

bleed into each other, that distinction has become anachronistic and probably self-defeating. People text and e-mail their friends and family members throughout the workday, and they receive messages from colleagues and clients on nights and

weekends and during vacations.

The membranes between private life and work, especially office work, have always been porous, but today employers and employees expect accessibility and accountability pretty much round-the-clock. And whereas old-school office memos and business letters generally weren’t expected to be friendly or candid—that is, human—business e-mails

most definitely are.

Conversely, what used to be considered private behavior can instantly reverberate at work through social networking. People fire off e-mails late at night, only to regret

their tone and intent in the cold light of day. Facebook friends from work can stumble upon wild and crazy pictures from a bachelorette party. Tweets and anonymous mobile video uploads can instantly broadcast unflattering emotional displays by surly customer service employees or misbehaving C.E.O.’s.

The conventional wisdom used to be that we brought home the emotions we couldn’t express at work—snapping (or worse) at blameless partners and children. That is still true, but what’s new is that home life, with all its messy, complicated emotional currents, has become inextricably and undeniably woven into the workplace.

The rulebook for modern office etiquette has yet to be codified. How do we avoid hurting one another’s feelings if everything is supposed to be rational, yet also transparent

and accessible? How can others understand the emotion behind what we’re trying to say in an e-mail if no one takes the time to read beyond the subject line and the first sentence?

And the more we relegate communication to the electronic realm, the greater our longing for face-to-face contact. Our new “flat” organizational structures at work might seem to promote a more hang loose level of emotional expression. But, if anything, flatter organizations tend to require even higher levels of emotional competency and effort

in order to navigate amorphous command structures.

No one is sure where the lines are anymore. Should we high-five an underling? Is it cool to make jokes with the boss? What if we overhear the man in the next cubicle crying?

Clear rules for this new working world simply don’t exist. But one thing is certain. The Millennials, a generation raised with the 24/7 naked emotional transparency of texting and social networking, is now entering the work force by the millions each year. As they replace old-schoolers born in the 1940s and ’50s, there is no turning back to a compartmentalized world.

I like to imagine that if men and women were to express more emotion routinely and easily at work—jokes, warmth, sadness, anger, tears, joy, all of it—then as a people we might not feel so chronically anxious and overwhelmed. By denying the range

of emotional expressiveness intrinsic and appropriate to the workplace, we find ourselves at a loss for how to handle this brave new boundaryless world.

Overtly acknowledging how and in what measure anger, anxiety, fear and pleasure color and shape our working lives can help us manage those emotions and use them to our

benefit, both at work and at home.

 

E-mail: preoccupations@nytimes.com.

A version of this article appeared in print on June 12, 2011, on page BU8 of the New York edition with the headline: Taking Your Feelings to Work.

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Best Careers in Human Resources Part 1

Published on Wednesday, June 2, 2010

By Jhoanna Gan-So

There are two types of jobseekers: Those who know exactly what they want, and those who have no clue as to what career to pursue, even after years of studying.

If you belong to the first group, good for you!  All you have to do is follow the direction that your heart takes you in, and you’ll be on your way to finding the career that you desire.

But for those who are not sure, those who have not yet zeroed in on a particular career, and those who are still searching, don’t worry.

Here’s another Career Guide that can help open your mind to more options and opportunities. For this month, I will focus on Best Careers in Human Resources. (If you are interested in other career options, check out past issues archived in my blog http://worklifenow.blogspot.com)

A CAREER IN HUMAN RESOURCES

Contrary to popular belief, HR is not just about paperwork and payroll processing. There are many facets to this exciting career, stimulating issues to challenge your mind, great rewards, and benefits.

First, let’s discuss what the requirements are if you want a career as an HR professional.

In terms of educational requirements, most four-year college degree-holders are sought for HR entry level positions. There is a preference for psychology, behavioral science, organizational communication, industrial relations, sociology, and humanities, but many companies are quite open to other general courses as well, since there’s really no “College of HR.”

In terms of attitude and skills, companies look for people who are good with people—meaning, good communication and interpersonal skills are must-haves if you want to pursue a career in HR.  Other wanted skills are organizational skills, records management, and leadership.

Many HR practitioners start out as HR assistants and administration officers, learning the ropes along the way and gaining knowledge as they work in this field. They are usually sent by their employers to HR seminars to arm them with the knowledge and skills necessary for the job. Many are trained on different HR functions such as recruitment and interviews, training and development, compensation and benefits, labor law, and employee discipline.

So if you are a new graduate or if you are thinking of shifting careers, HR is a field that’s quite easy to get into as the requirements for entry level positions are general. HR can be learned on the job; it will also help if you acquire additional knowledge through HR seminars and books (for more information about courses you can take, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com).

HR GENERALISTS & SPECIALISTS

As an HR practitioner, you can either be a generalist or a specialist. There are companies, usually SMEs, who look for generalists—HR people who can do all the functions of HR, sort of like jacks-of-all-trades. But there are also companies, usually those with big and compartmentalized departments, who look for specialists—HR positions where the job entails only a single but specialized function (ex. recruitment officer, training officer, payroll officer).

Being a generalist or a specialist has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you are just starting in the field of HR, you may want to experience the different functions of HR to get a feel for the field, to find out where you are best suited and what you like the most.

My suggestion is to learn as much as you can about human resources. Get as much experience as you can with the different functions, then carve out a good stable career for yourself.

HR CAREER PATH

Like all careers, many HR practitioners start off as HR or administrative assistants. These entry-level positions usually come with entry-level (or a little above it) salaries.

As you gain experience, your salary and responsibilities rise. After a few years on the job, you may be promoted to HR supervisor or executive. You may have a generalist or specialist function, depending on the size of your company.

When you’ve got about 5 to 10 years experience, you may become a manager.  That’s where you gain more influence in your company, create programs that affect all employees, and get to work strategically with top management. Salaries at middle to top management levels are usually pretty good, as you are climbing the corporate ladder. Once you’ve proven yourself, gained extensive experience, and have stayed with your company long enough, you may reach AVP-VP levels.

BENEFITS OF THE JOB

A career in HR can be very rewarding. The financial rewards are usually commensurate to the work that you do, your knowledge and expertise, and your position level in the company. But aside from this, there are other perks to being part of HR.  Let me share some of them:

Influence with People Matters. As an HR practitioner, you will be in a position to advocate programs that will fill the needs and benefits of all employees in your company. You can directly make a difference in everyone’s lives and work relationships.

In the Know. Since you are the one hiring, processing the payroll, and recommending promotions, you will be privy to confidential information. This knowledge will allow you to benchmark your own position against those of others and you can negotiate well for yourself.

Being in the Loop. You will know what’s happening in the company, whether it be events, employee movements and management policies. You may even be tasked to lead most of these matters.

Last Ones to Go. During retrenchments, HR people are usually the last ones who will be let go. This is due to the practical reason that they are needed for the actual retrenchment process.

These are just some of the perks of being in HR. It’s an exciting field because you get to touch people’s lives directly. (To be continued on Sunday, June 13. For Part 2, I will discuss the different positions you can try or apply for in the field of human resources.)

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Work Life: Different Types of Interviews

(Originally published on May 19, 2010)

By JHOANNA O. GAN-SO

Find out what they are so you can prepare for them

Most of us have experienced one-on-one interviews where the recruitment officer asks questions and we answer them as best we can. But did you know that, depending on the position you are applying for and your entry level, you might encounter other forms of interviews? Let me share with you some of the most popular types of interviews so that you can come to any interview prepared, and you won’t get shocked if all of a sudden, you are asked to do something else other than just answer questions.

ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEWS

The most common type of job interview, this is usually the format you will encounter during first contact meetings. A recruitment officer will conduct testing and interview you as a first step. Once you pass this, you will then be called in for a second interview which is usually conducted by the supervisor or manager you will be working under. Depending on the hiring policy and procedure of the company, you may then be asked to return for a third interview. Otherwise, if your qualifications are suitable and the supervisor or manager gives the go-signal for hiring, you will meet the recruitment officer and receive a job offer.

This differs from company to company. Some companies have two to three series of interviews with different formats, but there have been cases where applicants are hired on the spot by smaller companies where you deal directly with the boss.

PHONE INTERVIEWS

Increasingly becoming popular, phone interviews are done as a screening method before an actual face to face interview. Some recruitment officers prefer to ask questions during the first phone call so that they can see if you are applying for the appropriate job and if your circumstances suit you for the job. This saves them time and effort. When they see that the basics are covered, they will then schedule a face-to-face interview for you in that same call.

Meanwhile, other recruitment officers also use this type of interview, particularly if they are mass-hiring for back-end types of jobs (general documentation, billing, accounts, etc.). It is supposed to eliminate biases as they won’t immediately see your appearance and mannerisms.

Phone interviews are also best for long-distance interviews. Before asking you to travel and spend money to go to their main office, recruitment officers will do phone interviews first for your mutual benefit.

JOB/CAREER FAIR INTERVIEW

Most career fairs are used by companies to collect resumes. However, there are some instances wherein you will be given a chance to undergo a screening interview wherein the HR representative will allot 2-5 minutes for you. If you do well, you may be called in for a more in-depth interview. Since time is limited, you will have to take care to make a good first impression. So be sure to dress properly for job fairs; you never know when you might just get a quick interview right there and then.

When you are interviewed, be sure to smile. Listen attentively and give concise but informative answers. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and before you go, tell the interviewer that you would be available for a more in-depth interview anytime and that you are really interested in their company. Do this confidently and not desperately.

GROUP INTERVIEWS

There are cases when you will be interviewed and tested with two or more other candidates who are all vying for the same position.  There could be two reasons for this. Either there’s only one job opening and the interviewer wants to see candidates prove themselves or there could be several job openings for the same position and the interviewer wants to see how well you can collaborate with other people. Testing your competence for collaboration is usually done in technology industries where employees work in teams to find solutions.

PANEL INTERVIEW

There are also instances wherein you will have to face three or more members of the organization. These may be the management committee or representatives of different departments that you will be closely working with.

This type of interview is usually done in academic institutions or for senior level positions. It is somewhat similar to your college thesis defense. It can be a bit nerve-wracking, so you will need to trust in yourself and believe that you can do it. The reason why this is done is because it saves time and effort for everyone, but more importantly, it also tests your ability to face a group of people, how well you can address their concerns, and perform with grace under pressure.

AUDITION INTERVIEW

For careers that require public speaking such as event hosting and training, or on-cam jobs like acting, singing, or entertainment performance, you will most likely have to undergo an audition or screen test. You will be given a series of public-speaking exercises, reading lines, and impromptu tests. This is to see how well you are able to communicate with an audience, whether you are prepared or not. You will also be asked questions and it may feel like an interrogation, but it is a necessary part of an audition. Remember, when you are faced with this type of interview, just have fun, enjoy it, and bring out the star in you. You are being asked questions because they are interested in how you communicate with an audience or in front of a camera.

These are just some of the types of interviews that we normally use as HR practitioners. In fact, in our recruitment seminar, we further examine interview styles and questionnaires so that we find the best person for the job. As a job seeker, it is important for you to know what to expect and take time to mentally prepare for these types of interviews since some companies use several of these formats in their recruitment process. I hope this helps you job seekers prepare for and enjoy your interview! Good luck!

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Jhoanna O. Gan-So. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Work Life – Befriending HR

(Originally published on Sunday, April 18, 2010)

by JHOANNA GAN-SO

Before I got involved with the fascinating world of human resource development, I used to think of HR as simply a department that monitored my attendance, processed some paperwork, handed out my pay slip, and organized the once-a-year sports fest.

But after learning the ins and outs of HR in the process of professionalizing our company structure some years back, I witnessed firsthand its critical impact on companies and people. I got a glimpse of how good HR practices can significantly make employees happier and how it can give harmony to the workplace. This prompted me to seek out other HR practitioners and learn with them. It made me appreciate what HR is all about.

You see, HR is a major part of everyone’s work life. Whether you are job seeking, employed, moving up the ranks, or moving on, you will encounter and need the assistance of the Human Resource Department.

For many jobseekers, the HR professional or recruitment officer is the gateway to getting employed in a company. In a way, we hold the power to getting you through the door as we are the ones who filter resumes, set interviews, and process hiring. We also orient you and help you get settled in as soon as you get hired.

Once employed, the HR department oversees many other functions. Yes, we monitor your attendance in order to process your pay slip. We do the paperwork and documentation needed by the company, and we organize employee events and team-building activities.

But that’s not all that we do. HR also plans, seeks approval for, and organizes training development programs. We propose and manage benefits and everyone’s favorite: leaves. We monitor performance so that deserving employees get promoted. We even pick out uniforms to make you look cool and chic (or otherwise, depending on our taste). We make sure that policies are followed so that the workplace can run smoother. We also have to do the difficult task of disciplining and apprehending violators of company policies and carry out the emotionally-driven episodes of resignations and terminations. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

With all the HR tasks at hand, one would think that HR professionals have superhuman abilities to make all of these happen. But to be honest, we are more like supermoms—normal people who have to juggle tasks and work very hard to make the people we are caring for happy and satisfied.

And like supermoms, things can get overwhelming since many HR departments have minimal staff. Yet HR people work very hard to do all of these things because we know that it will help the company and employees. We know that we have to take care of these necessities for you, so that you can go out there, face the world, and focus on your work. And at the end of the day, you will feel secure knowing that your benefits are processed so that you can take care of your families back home.

After doing all of these things though, many HR practitioners feel unappreciated and unrecognized. During HR Club Philippines’ regular meet-ups and the HR seminars that we conduct at Businessmaker Academy, participants often share issues and difficulties in getting support for their initiatives from both management and even employees.

For instance, after going through hundreds of resumes, conducting interviews, and finally hiring and orienting a new employee for a certain position, their hearts break when after just a few months, the employee decides to leave.

Or after toiling for hours to prepare a performance appraisal form, they get frustrated because some managers take forever to answer and submit these.

Or after going through hoops to get management to approve and provide budget for training, there are some employees who act lazy and unenthusiastic about the training.

These are just some of the many heartaches of HR practitioners and that is the reason why we established HR Club Philippines. Aside from providing HR education, we wanted to provide a support group for HR practitioners. As one member dramatically pointed out, “Araw-araw, kailangan natin alagaan ang mga empleyado natin, pero paano naman kami, sino ang mag-aalaga sa amin? (Everyday, we need to take care of our employees, but what about us? Who will take care of us?)”

And so I am writing some insights about our “dakilang (dedicated) HR people.  I’m here to tell jobseekers, employees, and employers that the HR people we rely on to make our work lives happier and more rewarding need a boost too. Just like everyone, HR people need to feel inspired to continue doing what they do.  They need to feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work.

The best way to do this is very simple. All that’s needed are words of encouragement or some deed that says, “Thank you.”

Since HR people pretty much assist and have an influence in getting you hired, getting you acquainted with the company, developing your talents, managing your compensation and benefits, and overseeing your career growth, it would be great to show HR that you care too, and that you appreciate them. So befriend your HR staff; it’s the wise and right thing to do.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C.F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

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