Random thoughts

Yesterday I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying on different shirts, some of them multiple times.  My closet looked like it had thrown up. I still couldn’t find an outfit that I felt comfortable leaving the house in.

Eventually I settled on something and left.

Now imagine me trying to come up with ideas and the words behind an idea for a blog post. I’m in the same place. Without the throw up.

Hang in there.  I know I am.

I do want to send a shout out to the company that recently interviewed my daughter for a part-time position.  They called when they said they would, they explained every step clearly, they scheduled things at reasonable times…and although she didn’t get the position, she had a good experience.  That is way more than I can say about most of the other employers/managers/hr out there that she has dealt with.

You think you know, but you don’t…

My husband has a friend who is the same age as us…*cough*…in his 40s…*cough*, but whose life has very little resemblance to ours.  He is single, a party-er, a spender, and has a dog.

Absolutely no judgement on his lifestyle.  Well, that’s not true.  I pretty much judge everyone, but what I meant was that it’s his life – he can live it the way he wants if that’s what makes him happy.  Except that I don’t believe he is happy.  Or at least he’s lonely.

I’ve listened to him talk about the kind of life he would like to have, the kind of woman he would like to be in a relationship and have a family with, and what kind of person he would then be.

The problem, as I see, it is that his current lifestyle is not reflective of what he wants his future lifestyle to be.  And my argument to him is that his ideal woman/future mother of his children is not likely hanging out at the bars and pubs he frequents…and if she happens to be there one night, she is not likely going to be attracted to a stumbling, cursing, loud-mouth guy hanging with the boys.

I suggested that maybe he needs to start doing the kind of things he wants to be doing NOW, instead of waiting until he has met Miss Right.  Seriously – if you want to attract a stable with minimal baggage partner who is interested in the same type of relationship that you are, then you need to start acting the part.

And I see this at work, particularly during interviews for internal competitions.  Employees will sit there and tell us how they want to take all these courses, get an MBA, work on challenging projects, learn the business, build their network…if they get that next level job.

What?!

Are you are telling me that you know what you need to do and how to do it, but unless there is a real possibility that you are going to be promoted, you aren’t going to make the extra effort?

Do you realize that if you were to start taking those part-time classes or asking your manager to get involved with that project or talking to people in other departments about what it is they do…if you were to do these things BEFORE a job opportunity comes up…yes BEFORE…then you would actually be in a better position to actually get the job.

  • Initiative: check
  • Self-directed: check
  • Project experience: check
  • Business knowledge: check
  • Good a building relations: check

Damn, that looks pretty damn impressive.  I’m thinking less about how much of a risk and the length of ramp up time with someone who takes responsibility for their career development.

But unfortunately some people need to have their feet to the fire to motivate them to change.  I’ll slow down on the partying when I meet the woman of my dreams, I’ll quit smoking if she wants me to, I’ll act like a mature adult only when I have to…

…and really, you don’t have to.

But let me warn you that your decision to maintain status quo until you HAVE to change doesn’t demonstrate adaptability (as you like to think it does), it tell me that you are just waiting for things to happen to you instead of making them happen for you.

And quite honestly, any woman (or job opportunity) worth waiting for is not interested in that kind of attitude.

Celebrating life and art

I debated on how to approach this post because it is of a personal nature and I always wonder, just how much should I share. When it’s about me and my experiences, that’s one thing, but when it’s about someone else (an actual person), then I want to be careful.  This post is about my daughter and while she’s an open book in so many ways, that doesn’t mean I need to take advantage of that. However, I simply could not go without writing about her today.

It’s her birthday.  She’s seventeen.

Do you remember seventeen?

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I do and that is why I am excited for her, but terrified as a parent.

Fortunately for us she is ridiculously mature and, as I’ve come to suspect, born in the wrong century.  She longs for the simpler times of pre-FB / texts/computers when people talked face-to-face.  She is frustrated with the world’s focus on consumerism and doesn’t understand why people are judged by the way they dress to an interview.

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She is focused on what she believes she wants to do with her life and while the ultimate goal may change, we are pleased that this means that she is working hard in school, seeking volunteer opportunities and doing research FOR FUN.

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In many ways my daughter is my opposite and she challenges me on a daily basis.  She CANNOT get to the point, she HAS to talk at all times, she argues against basic principles and laws of nature, she has a really, really hard time making a decision, and she frequently steps in as Acting-Mother…even when I’m right there.

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However, she has made me stop and reflect on a lot of my short-comings: my impatience, my tendency to overlook the details, my lack of creativity, and my appreciation for the now.  In so many ways I am in awe of her ability to comfort and relate to people of all ages, her determination and certainty to move towards her drive, and her willingness to let go when it’s time.

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We are yin and yang in many ways, but we are learning a lot too.  She has helped me  embrace my girly-ness and I am helping understand the concept of comfortable silence.  She is completely, 100% comfortable in her own skin – an issue that I have struggled with all my life, but have become much more forgiving of myself.  I am explaining that money is not the root of all evil and why she needs to understand financial issues.  She’s finally coming around on this.

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We have had numerous talks about joining the work world, the challenges she has, my experiences, and the contrast between what we wish would happen and what really happens.  She often gets riled about the deception and game playing, but I’ve tried to tell her to learn her social lessons in high school and keep them in the back of her mind…she will refer to them often in the upcoming years.

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And recently, with all the blah blah of generations in the workplace and their needs and wants, I am much more aware of what she is going to be facing in the upcoming years and how we can be ready for kids like her (and how they need to be ready for us).  As for career advice, I don’t tell her crap like if you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life…or make your passion your career…I tell her you will  work places that you don’t like the job, or your boss, or your co-workers.  I tell that’s okay, because you will  also have jobs that are great.  And above all else, I tell her she is not entitled to anything (beyond the minimum requirements), but she does have choices.  We always do.

So, I have decided to celebrate her  birthday by showcasing some of her recent art pieces – which I personally think are great.  Despite the obvious talent, she is not interested in making her passion her career – she wants it to remain her escape and outlet.

Definitely a good attitude to have now and in the upcoming years.

Happy Birthday Audrey!

History repeating itself

Anyone who is relatively new to a position has likely heard the dreaded words “oh we tried that before and it didn’t work”.

 Far be it from me to question such a strong and convincing argument, but indulge me a few questions:

  •  Why didn’t it work?
  • Who said it didn’t work?
  • What did you do to try to make it work when you realized it wasn’t going to?

My new comment in the face of this reasoning is – “yes, but I wasn’t here last time you tried – let me have a crack at it”.

You see, a lot has changed since the last time you tried: new management, new employees and we now use computers instead of typewriters (and so help me, do not comment if you do not know what a typewriter is).

Are my ideas and methods better, am I more knowledgeable, do I have better skills than those that came before me – maybe, maybe not.   The point is that you can’t give up on a initiative (costs aside) just because it doesn’t work the first time.

You pick it up, dust it off and take a good long hard look at what might have gone wrong the first time …then you tweak, review, talk to people, review some more, and try again.

 And if it doesn’t quite work as expected – take ownership for it and try to find out why. Don’t just pack it away as a valiant attempt and leave it for the next generation to unearth, like some sort of time capsule.

Tales from the other side of the interview table

And speaking of recruiting, we HR love to share horror stories about candidates in interviews, but what about the interviewers.  We may be the one asking the questions and holding the candidate’s life in our hands (so some think), but are we without flaws?

I know I’m not.  I haven’t done anything legally or ethically wrong while interviewing, but at times my behaviour (unintentional) has not been role model behaviour.

Off the top of my head, here are some of the things that I have done as an interviewer:

  • Developed a case of the uncontrollable giggles which prevented me from looking at my co-interviewer
  • Forgotten to bring kleenex with me and sniffled my way through half the interview
  • Had my pen run out and tried to inconspicuous gouge my answers into the paper
  • Drawn a complete blank on the candidate’s name when introducing them to the interview panel
  • Brought an earlier version of a questionnaire that did follow everyone elses
  • Forgotten that I had already interviewed the candidate for another position
  • Drank too much coffee and water before the interview and spent most of the meeting mentally willing the fire alarm to ring so I could dash to the bathroom
  • Zoning out in a post-lunch interview
  • And of course clothing malfunction – I had a front-close bra snap during an interview which required me to keep my arms crossed over my chest area – I probably looked like such a nasty HR person

None of these are horrible, I know, but they aren’t professional and not cool.  In almost all cases, I learned my lesson and haven’t made the same mistake again, but I realize there is a vast number of other ways I can screw up.

So what about you?

Please don’t make me feel like I’m the only one who has messed up in interviews…

Online dating – recruiting for singles

Last week I had an interesting conversation with a friend who has recently joined the world of online dating.  She had me shaking my head and laughing with many of her tales and when I got home that night I gave my husband an extra long hug and thanked him for not only being with me, but from saving me from the circus that is single-hood.

Oh come on – don’t get your knickers in a bunch.  I honestly don’t believe there is anything wrong with being single. Honestly.  I just don’t envy those that decide to actively pursue a relationship and have to go through a lot of cringe-worthy emails, encounters and dates.

Interestingly, afterwards when I was replaying the conversation – her experiences in finding Mr. Right Now are really, really, and I mean really similar to my experiences in recruiting.

Listening to her talk about screening through tons of emails, only to discover that maybe 10% are really worth considering.  Making quick judgement based on profile picture, lifestyle choices, and bios that read like they were written while drunk and surrounded by a bunch of buddies. (okay, I don’t have the profile picture too often, but I will add that stupid email addresses that include the words “sexy” or “horny” don’t bode well).

Then the initial contact.  Despite the fact that she was clear and upfront about who she is and what she’s looking for, there’s always the dud who responds with “you look hot – want to hook up”.  Clearly they didn’t read her bio or completely disregarded it.

Of course, the next step is the first meeting or interview.  This can go well, because everyone is one their best behaviour and wanting to make a good impression, but a follow-up date may reveal a new and unexpected side to the person…the fact that they now feel perfectly comfortable in calling you “Baby” or the infamous over-sharing (yes, TMI).

She also mentioned that she had started  to see the same people over and over – they repeatedly send contact emails, as if they hadn’t reached out already.  (My recruiting term – serial applicants).

And then we have the issue to the SWF (or SWM) syndrome.  Someone who just can’t take a hint and needs to have feedback on why, oh why, is this not going to move forward.

Seeking relationships, whether they are personal or working, may have become “easier” with technology and the Internet, but the reality is that there is no easy when it comes to people.  We are complex beings, even the simple ones, and no ATS, phone screen or interview can do us justice.

Stay calm and blog about it

Hello there.  It’s been a while.

What’s new?  What have you been up to?

Same.

Awhile back it would have really started to freak  me out if I hadn’t blogged in a set amount of time.  I would worry that I was going to lose momentum.  I would also worry about what others may think.  Would they give up on me, get bored with the fact that I didn’t have a new update?

I won’t go as far as saying that I don’t think about these things, but I don’t let them get to me too much.

However, someone has decided to test me on this because it has been a week of people questioning me and testing my resolve.

This past weekend, at a session filled with smart, professional women, I  had someone question my sanity because of the length of my commute to work (one hour), by stating that I was losing two hours a day…just to get to and from work.  That I was losing two hours of MY time that could be better spent doing physical activity.  And as another person chimed in…it was two hours that I wasn’t seeing my kids.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

Thank you for pointing out the obvious.  Thank you for reminding me that I am wasting my life.  Thank you for implying that I am slowing rotting my body.  Thank you for pointing out that my kids are likely going to require extensive therapy.

All because of my decision to go to work.

In the past this would have made my head spin and have me feeling like a bit of an idiot.  But we are in the present, so I got up and walked away.  Oh, and then decided to blog about it.

And to further question my character, I was chatting with another parent this evening and mentioned I had to go to a meeting…well actually not a meeting, but rather a book club.  The parent sighed deeply and said that they used to read books before he had kids and hoped that some day he would be able to have the luxury to do so [Side note -his kids are roughly the same age as mine, both teenagers], but really, how can he when there isn’t enough time to get everything done as it is.  He can’t imagine sitting around just reading.

So….apparently parents who read for pleasure are selfish people.

I almost asked him if he realized that he had said that out loud.  To my face.

Again, this comment would have really made me sensitive to whether or not I was making the right choices.  But today, the only thing I’m deciding is what I’m going to read next.  Oh.  And blog about it.

So, to borrow and bastardize a motto that’s been everywhere these days.  My new philosophy can be summed up as “Stay Calm and Blog About It”.