Author Archives: Jessica Lau

My Internship – Part 2

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate Vancouver, BC

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate
Vancouver, BC

So I’m slowly approaching the end of my HR internship, it’s been more than ten weeks since I’ve been doing this. Though the drive between Whistler and Vancouver every weekend may be tiring but let me tell you, it’s really worth it. My experience so far has been very good and when you are so involved in what you are doing and learning along the way, time flies by very quickly. I can’t believe there’s only a few weeks left.

During these ten weeks, I have gotten the opportunity to take on HR project such as the Colleague Engagement Survey and initiated “Game of the Week.” Taking on the Colleague Engagement Survey, I was able to utilize my organization skills and persistent trait to execute the survey with 98% completion rate. I would have loved to help the hotel reach 100% completion rate but learned that a lot of factors play a big part in this big organization. In particular, with this location being a resort location so a lot of the colleagues are away during this time of year and a lot of them are casual. It was a very fun project!

To add some fun for the colleagues, I created “Game of the Week” to help the colleagues stay positive, engaged and involved during the slower season. Last week, I put up “Guess who?” for the colleagues. It was very fun to see the colleagues surrounding the game and trying to guess the person. Every day, I had colleagues coming in and emailing me with guesses. Though it is something very small, I really enjoy being able to create something to help the colleagues have fun while at work, which is what Whistler is about.

To help better understand the hospitality industry and the operations of this organization, I took on many opportunities to cross train in different departments. I cross trained from banquets, sales to front desk just to name a few. As I mentioned in my last blog article, the colleagues in this hotel have been helpful and great to work with. When I cross trained with them, they were very willing to help, teach and work with me.

During these ten weeks, I supported various HR professionals in different areas and now have an even better understanding and clarification in the area of HR I’m truly interested in.

I am very excited for the work I have planned for the next few weeks like preparing for the HR audit and job fair.

My Internship Journey – Part 1

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate

I have recently taken on my first HR job in Canada, an HR internship position with a luxury hotel and resorts. It is great timing to talk about my experience, especially following last month’s World Café topic “When entry-level positions demand that all applicants have work experience, how can recent grads and those seeking to enter the field land their first job” in which I suggested taking on internship as a way to overcome this issue.

It’s been five weeks since I started with this organization and it’s been an amazing experience. I don’t even know how to begin in explaining what makes this experience so amazing; there are so many different reasons. But in particular, the three that really sticks out are the organization itself, the culture, values and people and the ability to learn different aspects of human resources.

Let me begin by talking about the organization itself. This hotel and resorts is amazing, being one of Canada’s top employers. During my 5 weeks at the hotel, I’ve learned some of the reasons why the organization has been given this award. To begin, there are many opportunities given to the employees to grow and develop. The organization really cares about helping their employees grow professionally and gives their employees opportunities to cross-train and move within. This is speaking of not just about giving them opportunities to move within one location but throughout all their hotels and resorts around the world. I have met so many employees that have traveled and worked at various departments and locations within the organization. There are programs to recognize their staff, monthly award ceremonies to show appreciation for their staff’s hard work and social events to help bond their organization. I was even given the opportunity to plan a week of events to show appreciation and thank the employees. The week of events involved the executive teams rolling up their sleeves and serving their employees. I know a lot of organizations try to have recognition and appreciation programs but this organization actually make it a commitment and priority to do these things for their staff.

The second thing I really love about my experience so far is the culture, values and people. The values of the organization have built a very friendly culture where everyone works together as a team and respects each other. The values are also shown through the practices and through the people I’ve met. I almost feel like the organization has hired a team of people who actually breathe and live their values. It must be said that the HR and management team do a very good job in their recruitment and hiring process. When we spend so much time at work each day, it is so important to like and enjoy the culture and people we work with.

The last thing I really enjoy about my internship so far is the experience and the ability to learn about different aspects of HR. As the HR intern, I have been exposed to various aspects within this HR department where I have supported everyone from the HR coordinator, benefits coordinator, health and safety coordinator, recruitment manager, training manager to HR director. the HR team has been very open to teaching me their specific area and helping me learn as much as I can. It has been very exciting learning the various aspects of HR and getting a more hands on approach and experience to the HR department of a big organization. I have been given various supporting tasks, as well as different projects such as creating an employees appreciation week. From this project, I was exposed to and learned how this very big organization function. It was different than what I am used to but I was able to successfully learn, adapt and pulled off the week of events. During this internship so far, not only am I learning about the different aspects of HR but also learning a great deal about a big organization and a lot about myself. I cannot wait to see what is to come in the coming weeks.

How can job seekers get interviews when entry-level job postings demand previous work experience?

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “How can job seekers get interviews when entry-level job postings demand previous work experience?”

When entry-level positions demand that all applicants have work experience, how can recent grads and those seeking to enter the field land their first job?

What an interesting topic, as this is something I’ve been struggling with in the past few months. When I used to work in Hong Kong a few years ago, this was not as much of an issue. As an executive recruiter in Hong Kong, I was able to help candidates get into positions where they have not had the work experience in the field easily. The clients seem to understand and accept the fact that for entry positions, having the appropriate education such as a BBA degree for an HR administrative assistant is sufficient. Perhaps it has to do with the labour economy in Hong Kong at the time.

I honestly don’t have a definite solution to overcome this but I do have some ideas that may work.

One of the ways to overcome this may be going through an internship. An internship is an excellent way to enter and gain some experience in the field you are interested in. Even if there is no internship available, you may be able to find your own internship. Through internship, you can gain some work experience in the field you want.

Two is to go through contract jobs. Through contract jobs, you are able to gain a few months of work experience that most employers look for. This can be difficult at times because a lot of contract jobs do ask for individuals with some work experience.

Third is to work for the company in another role that you are eligible for. You know of a company or industry you are interested in, apply for a role that you are eligible for and through this, you can gain some experience in the company and learn the culture. While you are with the company, you may want to try to gain some cross-training and job shadowing someone in your ideal role.

The Role of HR and its Significance

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This month, I want to talk a little bit about the role of HR and its significance in an organization. I’m not going to go into a research type of writing with data, statistics as I know there are tons of those writings out there but I wanted to talk about the role of HR from what I’ve heard and my feelings towards these comments.

In the past couple of months, I’ve spoken with friends about HR and was I shocked about their views on HR. I mean, I wasn’t too shock as I know there’s still this perception of HR as the cost centre and the department that handles the paperwork. Some people have told me that HR is where “those people make you follow all these ridiculous rules and pointless procedures to get one simple thing done. They make up all these hoops, obstacles and roadblocks for you to jump and pass through before you can do anything.” True, HR puts in policies, procedures and what some may see as roadblocks for the organization but these are necessary. Can you imagine what may happen if there’s no policies regarding sexual harassment or procedures about dismissal? There would be many lawsuits and chaos out there and these are costly to an organization. So these roadblocks are actually ways in which HR is helping an organization protect itself from millions of dollars and negative reputation.

Other comments I’ve heard also include “HR is the people who give out freezies, offer hugs, spend time throwing little parties and making workshops.” Sure, HR may be the ones offering freezies on a hot, sunny day but there is a purpose and significance behind this tiny gesture. This tiny gesture is little sign of care and appreciation, which affects engagement and retention. The little parties thrown by HR may be part of a plan to help the employees build a sense of connection and mentality of teamwork. The workshops are ways to develop employees, make them feel motivated and engaged because not everyone is motivated by external motivator such as money, especially with the Gen Y, who are motivated and engaged by internal motivators such as the opportunity to grow and learn.[1] Overall, these initiatives help with lowering turnover and increasing retention, part of talent management and development.

So maybe the problem is not what HR is doing but the fact that what HR is doing is not being measured in quantitative data; employees are not seeing significance in what HR does. HR needs to be more of a strategic partner and shows that HR has the business mindset and knowledge to prove that their actions make an impact to the organization. There needs to be a sense of return on investment and employees need to be communicated about the impact and the significance HR plays in an organization. There may be a possibility that the employees are not seeing significance in what HR is doing due to a lack of understanding and communication between what the employees need and what the HR thinks the employees need. HR needs to have better communication with the employees to make sure it is providing the right products and services to its customers, the employees. HR can have the best product and service but if that is not what the employees need, it is worth nothing in the employees’ views.

What do you think HR can do to change or affect the management and employees’ views of HR? How can we demonstrate HR’s importance to people within our organization?


[1] Bacharach, Samuel. Gen-Y Employees: How to Motivate Them http://www.inc.com/sam-bacharach/how-to-motivate-your-gen-y-employees.html

Heathfield, Susan M. The New Roles of the Human Resources Professional. http://humanresources.about.com/od/hrbasicsfaq/a/hr_role.htm

Encourage your staff to maintain healthy lifestyles at work

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This blog post was written in response to the June 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “How can we maintain healthier lifestyles at work?”

We all know the importance of living a healthy lifestyle but how many of us actually do it? Every few weeks, my friends and I would say that we are going to start eating healthier and living healthier lifestyle. We even go as far as talking about how we would do it but then it always fail because life gets busy and work gets hectic. We don’t have time to squeeze in that 30 minutes workout or have the energy to prep that healthy lunch and dinner after a long day at work. Yes, this may sound like an excuse (and it may be) but there lies some truth in this, as we spend more than half of our waking hours working or commuting to work.[1]

According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, in 2011, we spent on average of 36.4 hours/week at work.[2] That means on an average workweek, we spend about 7.5 hours/day, about a third of a day at work. It may not seem like a third of a day spent at work is a big deal but in fact, it is. This is why it is important for employers to help their employees in maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

As an employer, there are so many reasons to why they would want their employees to live a healthier lifestyle. Employers can’t control what employees do outside of the workplace but they can definitely affect how the employees are while they are at work so employers should try to incorporate programs to encourage healthier lifestyles at work. According to Healthy Families BC, not only are the benefits to healthy workplace beneficial to the financial bottom line by having more productive employees but it also helps with the organizational image by being corporate social responsible and also helps with the legal aspect through demonstrating due diligence with respect to employees and other stakeholders.

There are four ideas I think companies can do to help the employees in maintaining healthier lifestyles and some are very similar to those suggested at Healthy Families BC. One of the ideas is through providing a work environment that supports physical activity, such as providing an in-house shower facility and an in-house gym at the workplace. If in-house gym in not feasible, companies can try to liaise with a gym close-by and register the employees to have membership and access to the gym to workout.

Second idea is to incorporate healthier food options at vending machines. Yes, this is simple and everyone knows it but how many companies actually do it? How many companies can successfully encourage their employees to choose healthy, not so tasty snacks over those unhealthy but very delicious snacks ? Maybe companies need to consider charging less for the healthier snacks and charging more for the unhealthy snacks. Or even providing healthy snacks for free, after all, one of the benefits of healthy employees is greater productivity so the cost of snack is really insignificant in comparison to the benefit.

In addition, companies can try to liaise with healthy restaurants to provide discounts for employees to purchase lunch and dinner. As mentioned, a lot of us are too tired or have no energy to make something healthy after a long day at work. Therefore, by providing an option to purchase healthy food at a convenient location near our workplaces can help employees with maintaining a healthier lifestyle both during and after work.

The third idea is to incorporate activities that encourage employees to get active. This can be a fundraising activity involving the employees to participate in a certain run for cancer or bike for different causes. Or incorporate activities at the workplace that encourage healthy lifestyles such as making it mandatory for employees to take a 5 minute walk around the office every hour, providing employees with a balancing ball to sit on instead of a chair or ensuring employees live a work-life balance by encouraging them to not work more than a certain number of hours per week.

Fourth idea is to allow and encourage the employees to participate in committees at work to create programs that promote maintaining healthier lifestyles. Sometimes, employees just need that little push and to be held accountable for maintaining healthier lifestyles. Like Google, which allows the employees to spend a certain amount of time per week on their own projects. Companies can make it where employees are put into committees or teams and are given a few hours a month to create programs or ideas that encourage healthier lifestyles.

Companies may have health and wellness programs that encourage healthy lifestyles but it is very important to remember to communicate these programs to the employees. There is nothing worse that having great programs in place to encourage healthy lifestyles but gets wasted and not fully utilized.

My Struggle with Resume Writing

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

As I started to explore my career path and job search, like most other graduates are doing, I have encountered the struggle of creating the “great resume” despite my recruitment experience. It doesn’t matter if you hear about a job through your network or saw it online, you will need a great resume to showcase your experience, abilities and skills to your potential employers.

I began meeting HR professionals, attending different career planning workshops, reading recommended books and following different groups to gain some tips on job search and resume writing. This is where the interesting issue of “how to write a great and effective resume” began and a couple of questions came up. What is a great resume? What do HR professionals look for?

To begin, I have to say I really appreciate all the suggestions and tips given to me by people I’ve met and books I’ve read. I can’t begin to thank them enough for their time, advice and feedback. It’s just I’m really curious what is the general consent out there in regards to resume writing. I am pretty sure there are other job seekers encountering the same issue and struggling with creating a great resume.

Upon attending some workshops and readings, I learned that my resume needed a lot of revamping, which I was prepared for. I began my process of editing, which took weeks as I heard that my resume looked a bit like it was from a template. I was suggested to not use full sentences in my profile section of my resume, as recruiters and hiring individuals don’t have time to read sentences because they have to go through so many resumes. This makes sense. Instead, it was suggested to me to put key accomplishment statements in bullet forms under my profile section. All of my accomplishment statements need to identify the tasks along with answering the question “so what?” Ideally, if there are quantifiable figures, write them down. Sounds simple? Well, that is definitely not the case. As I also need to ensure each bullet statement to be as concise as possible; if it takes up more than two lines then it is too long but if it only takes up one line, it is likely missing something, possibly didn’t answer the “so what?”

Then I met other HR professionals who told me to leave some mystery in my accomplishment statements. At different occasions, I was told to leave out some information in my accomplishment statements so it attracts the recruiters and hiring individuals to wonder how those specific accomplishments were achieved. And I was told to write my profile like a brief biography to let recruiters and hiring individuals know who I am.

So now, a few months since I first began my resume editing, I am still in the process of creating a great resume. I guess what I learned through this process is that different HR professionals will look for and expect different things from a resume. There is no real “right” or “wrong” resume (well, to a certain extent); it really depends on the audience that’s reading your resume.

HR professionals and recruiters, do you have any tips for me and other job seekers on what you look for in a resume? What is your perspective of a great resume?

It Takes More than Money to Retain Your Best Talent

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This blog post was written in response to the May 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “What will it take to retain the best talent over the next 5 years?”

One of the biggest challenges faced by many business leaders is the struggle to find and retain the right talent with the right skills for their organizations. According to an article The ‘8 Great’ Challenges Every Business Faces (And How to Master Them All), there are no “magic answers.”  There is no “formula with recruiting and engaging the right talent,” which makes sense as everyone is different. This month’s Coffee Shop HR question, “what it will take to retain the best talent over the next five years,” is closely related to this business challenge and is very important for HR professionals and business leaders. Finding and retaining the right talent is challenging enough already, let along retaining the best talent.

I had a few ideas in mind in terms of retaining the best talent but I really wanted to see what others would say. Instead of immediately going out to look at what other business professionals have suggested, I  took this opportunity to speak with alumni friends individuals (to avoid group think) what it would take for their employers to retain them. What truly amazed me is the fact that there was quite a bit of commonality in what they said, what I found in research and what I actually thought.

I am writing this with the assumption that the company has implemented a successful recruitment strategy, which can attract and recruit the right people with the right skills and management have the ability to identify the best talent. Here are 4 ways to help retain your best talent:

Training, Development and Growth

One of the answers that everyone I spoke with was about development and growth. Everyone mentioned the importance of having an opportunity to develop new skills and grow within the company as something very important to them in regards to retention. The inability to develop and grow seems to be a “no-no” with everyone I spoke with. As Mike Myatt stated in the article 10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You, “if you place restrictions on a person’s ability to grow, they’ll leave you for someone who won’t.” So if you want their best talent to stay and grow with your company then you need to provide opportunities for them to develop and grow, perhaps having career planning or professional development initiatives. Show that you care about them and their development.

Challenge Your Best Talent

It is very important to challenge your best talent, allow them to get creative and pursue their passion. This may mean allowing them to explore different ways of doing their daily tasks, trying different strategies for their tasks or allowing to get creative in being innovative on new initiatives, this may add value to the company they work for. For example, Google set up “20 Percent Time” for their staff to work on their own projects they like; this encourages the Google staff to be innovative and have an opportunity to exercise their autonomy.

Allow Your Best Talent to Contribute to Meaningful Work

To retain your best talent, you need to incorporate your best talent in the overall strategic plan and contribute to meaningful work. If you want to retain your best talent, give them opportunities to contribute to meaningful work and make a difference and an impact in the company. Mike Myatt stated that it is very likely that your best talent are interested in improving, enhancing and adding value to the work they do and the company they work for. Failure to allow your best talent to contribute to meaningful work will push them to leave.

Recognition / Acknowledgement

As Dan Ariely stated in What makes us feel good about our work, fail to recognize and acknowledge someone’s work is almost as bad as ignoring someone’s work. If you want to retain your best talent, it is very important to recognize and acknowledge their work. If you fail to recognize their contribution, it is “just as good as asking them to leave,” according to Mike Myatt. Also, I believe that we are so accustom to the speed of technology and immediate feedback nowadays that recognition and acknowledgement need to be made quite immediate as well.

It is challenging to find the right talent with the right skills and even more difficult to find the best talent therefore once you find them, make sure to engage and retain them. Yes, it is important for you to provide competitive compensation but you must also provide opportunities to develop and grow them, challenge them, allow them to contribute to meaningful work and provide them with recognition and acknowledgement.

Related Pages

How to Keep the BEST Ones! by Carolyn Courage, CHRP

To Retain the Best Talent: Find the Right People, Gauge Engagement, and Consider Velvet Handcuffs by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Coffee Shop HR World Café : What will it take to retain the best talent over the next five years?