Tag Archives: Christine Ramage

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Christine Ramage, CHRP

Christine Ramage, CHRP

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Is there a right way to quit your job?”

I’ve heard it said that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave Managers. I will agree that a strong relationship with a manager an employee likes and respects goes a long way to staying at a job, but there will be times- and job offers- that compete with a great boss any day. That being said, I think that the employment relationship is like any relationship in life: it takes two sides to make it happen and that respectful, open and honest communication is key. Performance reviews keep employees performing and on track and allow for dialogue about career development and accompanying plans.

If the job the employee is in isn’t satisfying their needs financially, or developmentally, chances are the employees will leave- either way, it shouldn’t be a secret or a surprise.

If your mind is made up, and you have begun interviewing and if you feel it’s fair and appropriate, give your manager a heads up that your worklife isn’t working for you anymore; if you go about this in the right way, perhaps some open dialogue can positively and constructively impact your current role enough that your boss can sway you to stay. If not, at least you’ve been honourable with your boss that things need to change for you. This is a tricky path to walk so again, some circumstances this approach is appropriate and in some it’s not and may very well get you walked out the door! This is also the time that if its appropriate you can ask your current manager to be a reference for your next job- this request is easier if the new opportunity is one that your current Manager cannot offer you. Also, don’t lie about where you have been if you have been out on an interview. Either take a vacation day (or half day) or schedule interviews around your current work schedule. Having 2 doctors appointments the week before you resign screams “I was lying about where I really was…”.

But, to my main point about ‘quitting your job’, do it face to face. Like a breakup, suck it up and be honest. Request an appointment with your manager and tell them that you’ve accepted another opportunity and that you are giving your notice. Make sure you give at least 2 weeks, 3 to 4 weeks if you are supervisory and above, and offer to help create a transition plan for your work and knowledge. Give it in writing to protect your butt and your employers, if you don’t they will likely ask for it down the road. If you want to be a rock star, offer to update your job description or posting (if appropriate) for posting for a replacement, and begin tracking and documenting your work so that whoever replaces you has reference notes.

Be sensitive, tell your co-workers next, then keep a lid on your news until your manager has the opportunity to announce it to the organization. And last but not least, leave on a positive note- continue to work hard, uphold your standards and work ethic and try to take a few days off in between leaving you old job and starting your new job so you are well rested!

Planning and Communication are the Keys to Retention

Christine Ramage, CHRP

Christine Ramage, CHRP

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?”

With the Baby Boomer generation beginning to retire over the past few years and continuing into the future, many senior roles and executive positions which have been filled by these soon to retire Baby Boomers will now become available; this is going to create a talent war, and the hiring market will boom.

When senior talent retires only two options exist to fill the position: internally through pre-planned succession efforts; or externally through external applicants or targeted headhunting.

A key effort to undertake early is your own corporate succession planning- have those conversations now, and by creating and communicating that plan to your planned successors today you can increase your chance of engaging them, and securing them for tomorrow.

Remember, if you are looking externally for talent, so are your competitors; those star employees you may have ear marked for future succession are vulnerable to being poached from you so it is important that they are aware of the existing and current opportunities within your company.

Inevitably you’ll have to look externally for talent, whether it be for these senior roles, or to backfill the vacancies created by internal promotions; when looking externally, you can still incorporate succession planning into these hires.

Hire external individuals into the company now, and being training and grooming them for the future opportunities- this will allow you to hire in at the ground level and ensure a cultural fit as well as a skills fit when the time come to fill senor vacancies.

To retain your current talent through the next 5 years keep your workforce engaged. Offer training and development that align with career pathing opportunities and ensure you are conducting performance reviews that have a development plan component- this will foster important conversations around your business needs as well as your current employees aspirations. Regardless of your company’s current processes, planning and communicating to your current employees with positively impact your retention over the next 5 years.

Related Pages:

What Will it Take to Retain the Best Talent Over the Next Five Years? by Gareth Cartman

The Magic Bullet by Nicole Davidson

It Takes More than Money to Retain Your Best Talent by Jessica Lau

Phone Screens – They can Help or Hinder Your Job Search – How to Rock a Phone Screen in 7 Steps

Christine Ramage, CHRP

Christine Ramage, CHRP

As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan you plan to fail; here are some ideas on planning and preparing before a telephone interview:

1) Before the call, as part of your homework, review your resume, ensure you are familiar with the job description and ensure you have a ‘success story’ in your back pocket for all the notable requirements of the job. You will be asked for examples so have them ready.

2) During the interview listen to the questions being asked, and answer them. Sounds simple, but an interviewer is looking for you to be able to demonstrate specific skills and abilities in an applicable way. Before you answer the question identify what base skill or competency the interviewer is trying to see if you have, then craft your answer to respond to the question showcasing you in a specific example. Questions are most often behaviourally based meaning the recruiter will ask you to ‘tell me about a time…. Respond by showcasing yourself through a specific instance; don’t be vague.

3)  If you’re asked a question you can’t answer, or don’t have experience relating to don’t be afraid to address it head on by stating you may not have had direct experience in the past – but make sure to state transferrable skills or experiences you do have in its place and how you can stretch or grow into that competency.

4) Keep it light and brief. Usually, unless you are speaking with the actually hiring manager recruiters tend not to have a lot of long term, strategic information on the role so save the heavy hitting questions for actual hiring manager during a face to face interview. Good questions to ask the recruiter are:  why the position is vacant?  How long it has been vacant for? What the next steps would be, and the timeline for the hiring decision. You can also ask about the reporting relationships, and the focus of the role or what key projects and initiatives will be key during the ramp up- don’t ask anything that is already stated in the job posting- it can make it look like you didn’t do your homework. Do your home work- research the role, the department, the history of the role, the major accomplishments by the company and anything of note in the recent news… be prepared to explain why you want to work for that specific employer and why you are a good fit for the role as well as the culture.

5) You may be asked for salary expectation and it’s a good idea to have a ballpark figure you feel comfortable sharing- if you are unsure of how to price yourself there are salary surveys and ranges available online to research, but remember these sometime reflect total compensation and may roll in benefits and variable salaries in them options. You can also say what your current salary is and that your comfortable staying in that range (if its true) and it’s a similar role.

6) Remember that the person on the other end needs to like you and also needs to take good notes so be conversational, friendly but don’t speed talk their ear off because they may miss some important info and be hung up by all the filler conversation.

7) Last but not least, embody the role; you need to sell that YOU can DO the role… Own it, be confident, and be prepared. Being prepared also includes being physically ready to take the call; ensure you have cell service and a charged battery, have water available and have your resume, and job description open in front of you in addition to any notes you may want to reference. Remember, you only have once chance to make a first impression- good luck with your career search!

Related Pages:

Cold Calls: Why Are They So Scary? by Michelle Yao

Agony and Elation: Searching for Work in a Turbulent Market by Nicole Davidson

Convince me That I Want to see you Again; Let your Personality Shine in Every Interview by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

It’s a Big World Out There, New Grad!

Christine Ramage, CHRP

Christine Ramage, CHRP

As a new grad, I had difficulty finding work right out of school. As much as I had the education, I didn’t have the work experience and this is what I found to be a tricky loop: not having any experience is what kept me from obtain any experience. And we all know that as a new grad, your first focus is always finding work (unless you go travel, and that is also very cool).

My first piece of advice to new grads is to be creative with how to put experience on their resume- no, I don’t mean take creative license with embellishment, I mean creative with obtaining it. Find a volunteer role, or an unpaid (or better yet, low-paying) internship. This is a great way to apply your learned skills and even help make industry connections in the mean time. Another way to put experience on your resume is to change from a chronologically organized resume to a skills based resume. This will allow you to highlight what you can do, and can give examples from extra-curricular activities, volunteer activities or transferable skills from your life before graduating from school.

My second piece of advice falls under networking, but it also related to building a support network of peers and experienced resources. These are going to be you ‘go-to’ people once you are out in the workforce. These people will be those who will share industry knowledge with you, be able to share historical patterns with you and may even help you land your first job through being a reference or a referral for you. Build your network and keep it- leverage things like LinkedIn, professional associations, your school’s Alumni associations and friends and family.

My third piece of advice for new grads would be to keep up your education. I know once you graduate the last thing on your mind is more school, but make the effort to keep current with your profession’s industry standards. A part of career growth is knowledge based, but part of it is personal and a way to combine both is through professional development, leadership development and mentorship. I think everyone should play a part in a mentoring relationship- whether it be being a mentor to a new student, or even a new grad just a year behind you in addition having a person senior to you mentor you. Mentorship combines both personal and professional development in such a satisfying way.

I welcome your comments and suggestions on other development activities you may suggest. Best of luck class of 2013!

Related Pages:

1. Coffee Shop HR World Café

2. Coffee Shop HR World Café: What Three Pieces of Advice Should Post- Secondary Grads Take to Heart?

3. To Award or Reward?

To Inherit or Not to Inherit – That is the Question

I myself am a huge proponent of finding new ways to work smarter. In today’s world, we are continuously looking for ways to improve current processes, or to create new ways for work to be done with more efficiency and higher effectiveness.

When a process feels overly complex, repetitive, or redundant, it usually is- trust your HR instincts!  Processes like these are prime candidates for reinvention. Often when I ask someone the ‘why’ behind what they are doing, their answer is along the lines of “I’m not too sure, that’s how it was done before me”. These are what I like to refer to as ‘inherited processes’. When we first inherit a task, whether it is as a result of starting a new job or you are expanding your work responsibilities, we are much more analytical and curious about our work. Once we zoom in on our day to day work we stop questioning the why and focus more on the how and what, loosing that fresh perspective. Try your best to keep this viewpoint well after the honeymoon is over!

Tools can be created that are effective but not efficient, managing to measure or assist the process they were designed to help with but at a cost of time or money greater than the original process- that’s not a good tool! Perhaps the tool is overly complex, tedious, or is simply seen as a make-work activity. It’s like the old adages ‘It’s only a good deal if you need it’ referring to purchasing items on sale for the sake of getting a deal, or, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. These little sayings can be applied to many situations in life, including making processes at work better.

I’m sure we all have been the victim of inheriting a common problem that many small HR shops have: multiple spreadsheets to track very similar metrics- needing to update one sheet, taking that information and entering it into another sheet and so on… This process is common yet leaves ample room for human error, often feels repetitive and is easily solved. For example, the change or elimination of some of these redundant spreadsheets would save a world of time and error but nobody thought to change the process…it was inherited, learned and acted upon- no questions asked.

I challenge you to not shy away from an opportunity to revamp a process you inherited, or comment below and share an experience of your own. Try to look outside the box for alternative methods and to challenge the ‘why’ behind some of the processes you encounter that strike you as improvable. Remember, the fresh perspective you have when you enter a company fades quickly, and when we don’t ask questions or make suggestions right away we often loose these opportunities to improve. Don’t be afraid to think big picture even with the smallest of tasks; value your time and take in to account the opportunity cost not being as efficient and effective as you could!

Welcome Christine Ramage to Coffee Shop HR

Coffee Shop HR is happy to welcome Christine Ramage to our team of ContributorsChristine joins us from Vancouver, BC and her first post will be online on Monday Dec 3rd.

She will also be contributing to our December Coffee Shop HR World Cafe on the following topic:

Whose responsibility is it to ensure that employees are engaged in their work?

If you are interested in Contributing to Coffee Shop HR, feel free to contact us at coffeeshophr@yahoo.com