Category Archives: HR

Culture Shock – The Local Edition

You have probably heard the story – . You are a project manager who is managing a large project with multi-national subproject managers under you. Many of your subproject managers are from countries other than your own. You hold a project management meeting and require all the subproject managers to attend. One of the team members from America, who is working in Turkey, seems to be despondent and depressed. You talk to him afterwards and come to the conclusion that he is suffering from Culture Shock; that is what occurs when a person is working in an unfamiliar environment and their experiences and the actions of others around them are not as they expect.  This often happens when people are sent outside of their home country.  The country, difference in languages, customs, religions can be disorienting to a fairly large degree.

But what about when a person is sent to a different region of the country they were raised in?  It happens more than you would think.  Take for example, someone going from a relatively conservative area, say, Virginia, to a cosmopolitan, multi-cultural city like Miami, Florida?  One might think that there should not be a shift, but there is.  The same applies to someone from Miami going to work in Virginia. There is a shift in tempo, in attitude and local customs that can be as disorienting as our proverbial American in Turkey, with the same results: depression, disorientation, insomnia, feelings of inadequacy, sometimes the inability to solve simple problems.

So what do you do?  First, be aware of it.  There is no place like home, is more than just a pop culture phrase – it is the honest truth.  Be open about it.  Keep a sense of humor and realize that while Virginia does not have Cuban Sandwiches, they do have excellent seafood.  Find a place where you feel comfortable and spend some time there.  Ask yourself, “What did I expect? Why? Was my expectation reasonable?”

You will eventually grow accustomed to the area and the tempo, just as you would when you are sent to another country.  But realize each region of the US is slightly different from the others in both good and other ways.  Learn from it.


The Resume: Spring Collection

edna_thumb.jpgThe time has come to face the facts. I came to a realization a couple of weekends ago watching CNN. Specifically, the conversation was about the job market and finding that “dream job” that everyone talks about but very few apparently have. And so the conversation boiled down to that old standby, the resume. Listening to these people going back and forth over what needs to be seen and what is a faux-pas of epic proportions, it hit me that really they were talking about fashion; that the resume is basically what one’s style is, not one’s substance. And I came to the conclusion: much like Anna Wintour at Vogue every now and then proclaims that Brown is the new Black, I am proclaiming the heresy of heresies: the resume is dead.

You read it here, folks. The resume is dead. Gone. Not ever to return. Not even a “long live the resume”. Finished. Ka-put, dahling.

Why, you may ask? Let’s looks at this in the cold light of day, shall we? If you look at all the “tips” you hear about writing the “perfect” resume, you’ll drive yourself over the cliff. From all the tips you hear, the perfect resume is tailored specifically to the exact position you are going for, so that it reflects the fact that you are the person for that position. It must be one page long, covers everything you ever did in twelve point type, has every keyword a recruiter will ever use and never, never looks too crowded or too sparse. Also there must be space for someone to take notes.

In addition, if you are changing professions, a functional resume is great as long as it is in chronological order. You also need to let any future employer know exactly what you have done, but since your work responsibilities always fit underneath that job title perfectly, mentioning what those responsibilities actually were is redundant and therefore should not be included. You need to boldly list your accomplishments, but do so in a way that does not look like you’re bragging.

This would be all well and good, except it really doesn’t matter anyway, because all those resumes that are handed out at job fairs and the like are basically thrown into the trash once they make it back to the HR office. Well, that is if someone even accepts them. “You’ll need to visit our website” is the latest catchphrase that basically means “Keep that filthy piece of paper out of my face”. And what does that website ask you to do? Put your resume in their format. So there you are, rewriting your resume yet again in a format that does not allow you to do any of the things the talking heads on CNN just told you to do.

I think I had come to this realization some time ago, when a recruiter basically took my resume and immediately asked where the keywords were? I replied that the systems I have used are at the top of the page. “No, no.” she said, “You need to list keywords for every single job you have on the resume, even if it seems redundant. Hiring managers are only looking at keywords these days.” I wanted to tell her that any hiring manager that makes decisions based on single words and not the substance should be looking a job themselves, but decided against it.  I glad that I held off, because after some research, she was right.

There is an interesting white paper from The Sierra Group, entitled “The Traditional Resume is Dead: The Technology Behind Recruiting”. In four pages, they point out that recruiting has become an assembly line process for most employers, and that the practice of resume blasting has increased the load of resumes greatly for companies. The result? You are never going to stand out no matter how good your resume is. Given this economy, the chances of them finding you through the noise of useless resumes are greatly reduced. Remember, Human Resource Managers are more interested in finding the best candidate or candidates, not just those who meet some minimum standard of a screening process.

So, with all these barriers to the traditional resume, how do you break through? Networking sites like LinkedIn are the main way that people are reaching each other. I have known people who basically do nothing but find out who the best recruiters are for their area, link to them and then cyber stalk them. Creepy for some, but, some folks are that desperate.

Other than that, the answer to the question of breaking through to get that job varies from person to person. One thing is certain. The old ways of job searching are long gone. Just like Brown is the new Black. At least for this season.