What You Really Want: How to Test-Drive Your Passion

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When I was growing up, the world wasn’t as rife with career advice as it is today. Back then, it really amounted to this: Get a job! So I did.

Actually, I got two jobs. If making some money was good, making more was better, right?

In the past few decades, we have been hit with an avalanche of career how-tos. It’s an exciting development, but it can be difficult to sift through all the information and advice.

For a good while, “follow your passion” was the prevailing wisdom. Now, of course, the backlash is starting. See, for example, a recent New York Times article which calls the concept “terrible advice.” According to the article, the problem with “follow your passion” is that many assume doing so will make life free and easy. At the very least, your passion is where your natural abilities lie, right?

Not always. Even if something fascinates you (and can support you financially — a double win), you rarely nail it on the first attempt. Or second. Or even the third. This isn’t the tired “fail better” routine, but a way to bring perspective to the pursuit of happiness.

It all comes down to this: So much of your life is spent working, so how can you make your work enjoyable? How can you balance learning new things with the satisfaction of solid execution based on skills you’ve already mastered?

Lord knows I spend most of my time working, but I enjoy pitching and developing innovative tools to make the world at least a little better than how I found it. The more I think about how passion connects with work, the more I see the relevance of advice from Innovators Anonymous: Seven Steps to Get Your Product Off the Ground, a book I coauthored with my business partner about the process of innovation.

Here’s some of the advice we offer in the book — and how it applies to your career:

1. ‘If You Feel a Bit Knocked Off Your Feet During This Process, You Are Doing It Right’

In other words, finding your passion isn’t necessarily going to be all fun and games. Some parts of the experience might really throw you off guard. That doesn’t mean you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Sure, you might want to give yourself a time limit for just how long you’re willing to struggle before you try something else, but don’t take the mere existence of struggle itself as a bad sign.

2. ‘Chances Are You’ll Get It Wrong in the Beginning, But You’ll Be on the Path to Getting It Right Later On’

You might think one field of study is your passion, only to find out that your passion actually lies somewhere else entirely. For me, when I was running a party rental shop in the Hamptons to pay for college, I realized I was adept at leading teams, handling logistics, and keeping clients happy. This was a great precursor to my current career in digital innovation, where I interface with developers, user experience designers, clients, shareholders, creatives, and the board.

3. ‘Minimize Investment, Maximize Learnings’

If you think your passion is Ancient Greek, you don’t need to enroll in a PhD program to find out that it isn’t. Instead, try studying the subject on your own. Same goes for teaching. So many people head straight for a degree program, but not all institutions require a teaching degree. Find a place where you can jump right into the classroom to see if it’s an environment you enjoy, or shadow someone who is already doing what you think you want to do.

4. ‘Learn: Listen to Your Data’

As you continue exploring what fascinates you and improving your skills in that area, take stock of where you’re excelling and where you could use some support. Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own! Use your network and line up informational interviews to see what’s possible. What’s the worst that could happen? You could find out that what you thought you were passionate about doesn’t interest you at all. Is that so bad? It’s actually a really valuable insight. So many spend their careers dreaming about what else they could be doing, but they never learn whether the grass is actually greener.

5. ‘Act: Make Your Move’

If you find that Ancient Greek is really your thing, it’s time to start researching degree programs. What’s so good about having first taken the time to learn is that you can go into your PhD program with more motivation and clarity. (Believe me, you will need both!) Same goes for teaching, programming, or whatever field interests you.

If all you’re left with is the knowledge that no, Greek is not for you, start this process again with a new hypothesis. What else might you be passionate about? Find out if you’re right.

Jeannette McClennan is founder and president of The McClennan Group.

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Back-Office Jobs Are Disappearing Fast — But What Will Replace Them?

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest-disappearing office jobs in the US include typists (projected to decline by 33.1 percent by 2026), computer operators (22.8 percent), and data-entry keyers (21.2 percent).

As automation takes over many common office functions, demand for jobs like administrative assistants, office machine operators, and mail sorters is also expected to decline sharply.

The skills people will need to remain competitive in the job market are currently undergoing dramatic shifts. As the demands for certain skills erode, the demands for others are skyrocketing like never before. It will be in every worker’s best interest to retrain themselves so that they can remain gainfully employed over the next few years and decades.

What Skills Does the Future Workplace Demand?

The World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs” report identifies 10 skills that will be in high demand in 2020, compared to the high-demand skills of 2015:

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The two lists look largely similar, except for a few key differences:

– Creativity jumped from 10th place to third place.
– Critical thinking is even more important than before.
– Emotional intelligence replaced active listening.
– Cognitive flexibility made the list.
– Quality control has fallen off the list entirely.

If we compare the World Economic Forum’s list to LinkedIn’s analysis of the soft and hard skills companies are after in 2019, we can see some patterns begin to emerge:

Figure 2

Increasingly, the most in-demand skills seem to focus on two key areas: right-brain functions like creativity and left-brain functions like analytical thinking. Rather than leaning to one side or the other, companies are looking for both kinds of aptitudes in equal measure. Highly technical hard skills are necessary to work with the complex machines and processes that arise as technology evolves, yet soft skills like creativity and empathy also grow in value because, regardless of how advanced our tech is, it cannot master these competencies to the extent that humans can.

Let’s examine why both right- and left-brain areas matter and how they come into play in business in three major ways:

1. Working With Data and AI Requires Complex Cognitive Thinking

Since the 1960s, machines have been computing at much faster rates and with higher accuracy than humans can muster. However, in today’s world, computing is simply the most basic function of a computer. Crunching large volumes of data is the fuel that drives more powerful functions like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

McKinsey’s “The Age of Analytics” report stresses that data is one of the most valuable assets for companies today, with the volume of data doubling every three years while costs continue to decrease and storage capacities increase. Consumers use products daily that don’t cost a thing, like social media and smartphone apps. The reason these services remain free is that the companies behind them can mine their users for monetizable data. Data drives enormous profitability for companies like Facebook, which benefits from 2.27 billion monthly active users.

If knowledge is power, having data on nearly a third of the world’s inhabitants definitely makes your company a leader. However, this data needs to be analyzed and interpreted by people who are capable of complex cognitive thinking. Otherwise, the data is useless at best and dangerous at worst.

According to Glassdoor, the highest-paying jobs in America include software architects and engineers who can build systems that produce and process data, as well as data architects and data scientists who can set up and understand complex data architecture. Cloud engineers, responsible for operating the cloud where data is increasingly stored, are also on the list.

2. Creativity and Adaptability Are Necessary for Breakthroughs and Advancements

Leonard Mlodinow, the author of Elastic, states that flexible thinking will be crucial for the future. That’s because one of the side effects of rapid technological advancement is the rapid pace of change in our everyday lives. Processing the large amount of information we consume every day from the media and adapting to big social changes like fighting climate change require all of us to be more elastic in our thinking.

For companies, a failure to adapt and innovate means going out of business, as the ironic example of Kodak demonstrates. In 2012, the company filed for bankruptcy after it failed to debut the world’s first digital camera for fear of disrupting its own leading position in the film market. It had missed out on the digital revolution despite its initial innovation.

According to CareerBuilder, creative jobs like graphic designers, art directors, and film producers are growing. The creative sector is a major competitive advantage for cities like New York, outranking even powerhouses like the financial and technical sectors.

Figure 3

3. Robots Won’t Be Capable of Empathy or Emotional Intelligence Anytime Soon

Eleven of the 20 fastest-growing jobs in the US are in the healthcare or services sector. It’s easy to see why: As much as these jobs may require specialized knowledge or training, they also demand soft skills like empathy, patience, and understanding. These are some of the most difficult traits to program in an AI.

Currently, our technology can only imitate human emotions in a way that is immediately noticeable as inauthentic. Even for people who don’t work in occupations that require high levels of emotional intelligence, traits like empathy will be extremely important for the future, as these skills cannot be replaced by machines just yet. Leaders with great people management abilities will be more likely to succeed in the world of the future, where humans are aided by technology which performs the more logical, analytical functions of their jobs for them.

Automation will replace many jobs that can be somewhat repetitive or don’t require a lot of complex thinking, creativity, or emotional intelligence. The jobs that do require these skills are the jobs that will remain in high demand moving forward. As we shift from wage-based jobs — which don’t value people for the work they do but rather for the hours they work — to meaningful work that makes the most of innately human capacities, the future may unleash even more of our potential for creativity and innovation.

Ashish Deshpande, PhD, is founder and CEO at frevvo Inc.

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Connecting People: Why Coworking Spaces Appeal to Modern Workers

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The days of cubicles are numbered. They’re quickly being replaced by a more modern floor plan — the coworking space.

You’ve probably heard about the rise of coworking spaces. Perhaps you harbor a fondness for them. Those of you who think coworking spaces are nothing more than a flashy, overrated fad, think again. These open work environments have benefits that transcend their perceived cool factor.

Why Coworking Spaces Attract Talent

There’s no denying that coworking spaces are trendy, especially among 20- and 30-somethings. Coworking spaces are appearing more and more frequently in pop culture, especially TV shows and movies about young professionals. With up to 39 percent of young adults choosing their careers based on TV inspiration, it’s no wonder so many millennials and Gen. Z-ers have a soft spot for coworking spaces.

However, the real reason why coworking spaces capture candidates’ attention is much deeper. A research team at the University of Michigan’s Steven M. Ross School of Business has spent years studying the psychology of coworking spaces. According to the team’s research, the appeal of coworking spaces can be boiled down to three key factors: flexibility, autonomy, and connection to a meaningful community.

These conditions are often missing in traditional work spaces, in which workers have to abide by the limitations of rigid corporate cultures. Coworking spaces, on the other hand, offer workers more options for how and where they’d like to work. This allows employees to operate in environments most conducive to their productivity.

While critics may see coworking spaces as little more than a way for powerful companies to cut costs further, the fact is many workers have thoroughly embraced these alternative work arrangements. At this point, coworking spaces are positively mainstream. Consider the numbers, according to Allwork.Space:

  1. There are roughly 35,000 flexible workspaces in the world, totaling 521 million square feet of coworking space.
  2. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of coworking spaces expanded by 205 percent.
  3. In 2018, flexible workspaces accounted for more than 66 percent of US office market occupancy gains.

Companies of all sizes are adopting coworking spaces for reasons far beyond cost-cutting. These spaces bring real, people-focused benefits, which in turn help to attract and retain high-performing talent. See for yourself:

1. Collaboration

The employees of companies that operate in coworking spaces rub shoulders with each other. This creates opportunities for companies with complementary skills, products, and services to network and collaborate with one another. The shared environment also creates greater brand awareness, not only among other companies in the space, but also among the clients of those companies who may need your organization’s services.

2. Community

Remote workers often struggle to feel connected to their in-office counterparts. However, if the company puts remote workers in coworking spaces, these telecommuters will feel less isolated. They’ll have access to a community of fellow workers, and they’ll also appreciate the way their employer considers and caters to their needs.

3. Professionalism

For fully distributed companies, the lack of a dedicated office space may lead to a loss of credibility in the eyes of potential clients. The best option for these companies may be to book meeting rooms in coworking spaces for important conversations and strategy sync-ups. A coworking space provides a physical location for clients to visit, bolstering the brand’s image and giving clients reason to trust the company’s professionalism.

4. Better Health and Wellness

Social interaction is a necessary component of good health, both physically and mentally. In coworking spaces, socializing with various types of people is the norm. Many coworking spaces also offer additional wellness amenities, such as on-site yoga studios, fresh fruit and healthy snacks, and more. This allows a company to support its employees’ health and well-being without breaking the bank.

5. Flexibility

Many talented workers don’t have the resources or circumstances to work in dedicated office spaces on a regular basis. With a coworking space, these workers can have slip in and out as needed. There is always a place for them if needed, and some coworking space operators even offer no-commitment plans. That way, the organization only needs to pay for the amount of time the employee actually uses the space.

Whether by choice or through the pressure of market forces, there’s a strong likelihood your organization will someday need to leverage coworking spaces in some way. Embrace that reality — many of your employees certainly will.

In fact, instead of waiting until you are forced to adapt to coworking, try experimenting with it now. You may just find it is the secret to capturing the hearts and minds of modern employees.

Kara Tee is a communication outreach specialist for The Professional Centre.

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8 Self-Improvement Books to Devour This Summer

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Article by Megan Nicole O’Neal

As you’ve likely noticed, thanks to the recent increase in bathing suit ads and “Wanna Get Away?” emails from airlines, summer is upon us. While many of us longingly daydream about the obligation-free days of the summer breaks of our youths, summer as an adult doesn’t have to be a complete wash. We have more daylight hours to play with, and contrary to popular belief, attaining a summer bod is not the only way to improve yourself this season.

At the pleasant risk of sounding a lot like Oprah, I can’t imagine the person I would have become if I didn’t have books in my life. Reading others’ stories, and writing my own, has transported me into the shoes of people who are often wiser, kinder, smarter, and funnier than I am. I’ve found that occupying those shoes, even for just a little while, has a curious way of inspiring you to rise to the occasion.

When it comes to personal development, there’s no better season than the summer.

To supplement your staycations and poolside lounging, below is a collection of self-improvement books to help you put your best foot, or sandal, forward:

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama gets incredibly honest about everything from not knowing where your passions lie to taking a chance on love (even when the whole world is watching) and standing firm in your determination to make the world a better place. She inspires readers to be the best versions of themselves by leading with vulnerability.

Favorite quote: “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”

Who will enjoy this: Anyone who has only brothers, or who always wanted an older sister, or who has an older sister but wishes that older sister were Michelle Obama.

Wholehearted2. Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up by Koshin Paley Ellison

With a refreshing and surprisingly relatable style, considering Koshin Paley Ellison is in fact a monk (monks, they’re just like us!), this book teaches you how to expand outward. Ellison uses a blend of the 16 teachings of Buddhism, Western psychology, and his personal life experiences to help readers break down the walls we build around ourselves and wake up to the world.

Favorite quote: “People are afraid of — and paradoxically long for — honest, loving, and ordinary conversation.”

This book feels like: A warm cup of hot cocoa, with extra marshmallows, and a fire crackling in the background.

Stop-Doing-That-Sht3. Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back by Gary John Bishop

You may think you don’t self-sabotage, but Bishop breaks down how even small excuses like “I’ll go to the gym … tomorrow” affect your success in the long run. This book offers a short, intense jolt to your way of thinking. Bishop tells it straight, because our futures don’t have time for sugarcoating. He also helps readers access their individual psychological machinery to nip negative thoughts and behaviors in the bud and build new thinking patterns to cut through all the sh*t and find success.

Favorite quote: “On one hand you talk about wanting to be an author or a business owner or going back to school, while at the same time you’ve reduced your life’s potential to the lofty aim of getting up at the first alarm buzz or fighting the meaningless battle of prizing yourself away from your cellphone a little more often. … You just can’t keep responding in ordinary ways if you are truly out to live an extraordinary life.”

This book is akin to: Your no-bullsh*t older brother having a heart-to-heart with you over a scotch at midnight. You’ll laugh, you may cry, but at the end of the night, you’ll be better for it.

4. The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives by Katie Couric

What began as a collection of thoughts for a commencement speech turned into a thoughtful curation of advice from some of today’s most successful people. Couric interviews people in politics, entertainment, sports, philanthropy, the arts, and business, sharing their insights on how to take chances, follow your passions, cope with criticism, and commit to something greater than yourself. Plus, all of the proceeds from this book go to Scholarship America, which helps ambitious students graduate from college and realize their full potential.

Favorite quote: “Very few of us get through this life unscathed. Scratch beneath a stranger’s surface and you’re likely to uncover professional setbacks, broken hearts, unspeakable loss, unfulfilled dreams, or worse. Everyone seems to keep going but, God knows, navigating through it all isn’t easy.”

This book is similar to: Chicken Soup for the Soul, but business casual.

Work-Wife5. Work Wife by Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur

These pages are brimming with girl power. Cerulo and Mazur speak with work wives who’ve created thriving businesses across a myriad of fields and demonstrate how empowered female friendships can run the business world. The book dives into a range of topics vital to successful partnerships, such as being co-bosses, tackling disagreements, dealing with money, and accommodating motherhood, offering readers a roadmap to fruitful work-wife relationships.

Favorite quote: “The unfortunate fact of the matter is that, as women, we have a rougher go of it in the workplace — whether on a Hollywood set or in a cubicle — and for all of the camaraderie and mind-melding benefits, being part of a pair also serves as a defense mechanism. Being able to turn to someone and say ‘Am I crazy?’ is a boon because women are made to question their own sanity all the time.”

Best time to read this book: With a bottle of Merlot and your best gal pals on FaceTime.

Unlearn6. Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life by Humble the Poet

This book is centered on the idea that we gain more from letting go, and as someone who recently moved cities and purged all of the extra crap I’d managed to hide in the corners of my closet, I can personally attest to this notion. Humble the Poet breaks down some of life’s most complex emotions into simple, bite-sized truths. Change can be overwhelming, but not when you’re focused on making moves one step at a time. The lessons are short and relatable, reminding you that not everything in life has to be so complicated, Avril.

Favorite quote: “Get out there. Be uncomfortable. Make mistakes. Get embarrassed. We’ll all be dead soon, it’s not a big deal.”

Who will benefit most: hoarders (emotional baggage counts, too).

7. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay

Dr. Meg Jay explains over the course of 239 pages why the 30-is-the-new-20 culture is complete rubbish and how you can use your 20s to propel your future in a direction you’re passionate about. Jay weaves the latest science with stories from 20-somethings and provides actionable steps to create identity capital and make the most of your “defining decade.” This should be required reading for every 20-something.

Favorite quote: Jay’s entire TED Talk on the topic.

Guaranteed to: make every 20-something think twice before swiping right.

8. Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom

This memoir chronicles a series of weekly visits Albom made to his former sociology professor Morrie Schwartz, as Schwartz gradually loses his life to ALS. Their bond is beautifully honest and reminds readers that human connection is at the core of a fulfilled life. In his final weeks, Morrie unloads some hard-won nuggets of wisdom about what happiness is and how to ensure your life is one worth living.

Favorite quote: “As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed as ignorant as you were at 22, you’d always be 22. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.”

Some friendly advice: If you’re a crier, have tissues nearby.

A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

Megan Nicole O’Neal is a UCLA alum and public relations specialist with a passion for storytelling and a firm belief that only the right photo is worth 1,000 words. An avid adventurist, she has traveled to five different continents, all on an endless quest to find the world’s greatest cup of coffee. Megan currently works at in the PR department for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in Los Angeles. Connect with Megan on Twitter at @megan_n_oneal or on her website, mnoneal.com.

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The Repercussions of Not Outsourcing Workplace Investigations: Two Case Studies

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As misconduct scandals involving high-profile persons within blue-chip organizations continue to proliferate, companies are scrambling to keep up with the rapidly changing ideas around how to handle workplace misconduct.

Whereas misconduct investigations were once the work of low- or mid-level HR generalists, they now demand much higher degrees of attention, care, and independence. Current best practices dictate these investigations be conducted by neutral third-parties unaffiliated with the organization.

Below are two real-life case studies in which organizations mistakenly attempted to conduct workplace investigations internally. The highly damaging consequences resulting from this decision in each case should give any organization considering an internal investigation reason to reconsider.

Case Study No. 1: A Prominent Face of the #MeToo Movement Comes Under Fire

On March 11, 2019, Politico reported that, in the summer of 2018, a female aide resigned from the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand — an outspoken supporter of the #MeToo movement — in protest over how Gillibrand’s staff had handled her sexual harassment complaint.

The aide alleged that Gillibrand’s personal driver had repeatedly made unwelcome sexual advances toward her and had made inappropriate remarks about other female staffers. The aide claimed that when she complained to her supervisor about the behavior, a sham of an internal investigation was conducted by members of Gillibrand’s own staff. The investigation resulted in a demotion for the driver, which the aide felt did not adequately address her concerns.

Additionally, the aide who complained of the behavior had recommended that former female staffers who had also been sexually harassed by the driver be interviewed as part of the investigation. However, Gillibrand’s staff never spoke to these women. Moreover, the relationship between Gillibrand and the driver accused of harassment was a close one, which created concerns among some of Gillibrand’s staff members as to whether the investigation was truly fair and impartial.

The aide resigned soon after the investigation was concluded, and she sent a sharp and pointed letter to Gillibrand herself, excoriating her for publicly presenting herself as a defender of women while allowing harassment to exist within her own workplace.

Publications like the Washington Post labeled Gillibrand a hypocrite and questioned her commitment to the #MeToo movement. All told, this case study is a high-stakes example of the damage that can result from not outsourcing employee misconduct investigations.

Case Study No. 2: Decades of Student Abuse at Ohio State University

On May 17, 2019, Ohio State University (OSU) announced the results of an independent investigation conducted after a former OSU student athlete alleged that former university doctor Richard Strauss had sexually abused him and other athletes while they were students at the school. To date, more than 170 former students have come forward to make similar allegations against Strauss.

The independent investigation, conducted by an outside law firm, spent a great deal of time analyzing a prior investigation conducted in 1994 by OSU’s director of sports medicine into sexual abuse allegations against Strauss at that time. The 1994 investigation concluded the allegations were unfounded, although the evidence is now irrefutable that Strauss had been abusing young men at the school for at least a decade by that point. The person who conducted the 1994 investigation was a colleague of Strauss’s. The two had worked together for many years.

Whether due to a lack of investigative expertise or the workings of internal campus politics, the 1994 investigation was erroneous and hugely damaging. The incorrect conclusion drawn from that investigation allowed Strauss to continue his disturbing and abusive behavior for years afterward.

These real-life case studies should show the danger of not outsourcing employee investigations. Internally conducted investigations can fail for a wide range of reasons, from lack of know-how to the influence of personal relationships between investigators and the accused.

Mishandled investigations not only allow for misconduct to persist, but they can also erode employees’ trust in organizational leaders. This, in turn, damages employee morale and increases turnover rates, as more employees will begin to search for healthier workplace environments.

Additionally, poorly handled investigations can open organizations up to significant legal liabilities. For the safety of both the organization and its employees, it is best to let misconduct investigations be handled by independent third-party investigators.

KiaRoberts, JD, is the founder and principal of Triangle Investigations.

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To Find the Perfect Candidate, Ask These 12 Questions in Every Interview

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Hiring the most suitable person for a role can be tricky, to say the least. Crafting a perfect job post to attract qualified talent is only the beginning. From there, you still have to market the role in the right channels, sift through endless resumes, and identify top contenders.

But perhaps the most crucial component of the whole recruiting process is the interview. This is your chance to really get to know each candidate, to really evaluate their potential for success in the role. However, you can only get the information you need if you ask the right interview questions. Remember: Your time with the candidate is limited. You have to make the most of it.

Generic questions simply won’t cut it. If you want to elicit thoughtful, authentic responses from candidates, you need to put the same amount of effort into your queries. You have to dig deep to get a sense of the candidate’s true character.

So, put aside the tired questions like “What is your greatest weakness?” Instead, get a little more probing with these creative interview questions, courtesy of Fundera:

X-Interview-Questions-to-Find-the-Perfect-Candidate (1)

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The Miracle-Minded Manager: Whatever Happened to Face-to-Face Recruiting and Real-Time Hiring?

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Miracle-Minded Manager: A Modern Day Parable About How to Apply A Course in Miracles in Business, by “zentrepreneur” and mindful leadership expert John J. Murphy, traces the story of Jack MacDonald in order to teach readers how to get out of their own way by shifting their thinking to see life — and themselves — very differently.

Jack, president of a major business unit at TYPCO (Typical Company), was promoted to this position after successfully leading a much-needed culture change at a TYPCO division. Jack is now experiencing a great deal of stress in his life at work and at home, so he reaches out to Jordan McKay, an insightful business consultant and executive coach. Jordan teaches Jack to eliminate stress rather than try to manage it.

To add to Jack’s very full plate, his son Kevin is graduating from college and struggling with a career decision. After four years of university training in business, Kevin wants to work at a brewery. In the following excerpt from the book, Jack decides to visit his son on campus, and in doing so, uncovers a win-win recruiting opportunity with Kevin’s friend Larry.

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When I arrive on campus to visit Kevin, I feel an energy and an exuberance I seem to have forgotten. There is excitement in the air. Students are hustling about, connecting with one another, learning, growing, exploring, and expressing themselves. This is what I want more of at TYPCO. We’re making progress, and I’m happy about that. Now, it’s time to hit the accelerator. Maybe I can pick up a few more tips while I’m here.

I decided to visit Kevin in person rather than talk by phone. Jordan encouraged it. My primary interest is to learn more about his career intentions and offer any help I can. I also want to check out this brewery he’s talking about. Time for some more Gemba.

While Kevin is still in class, I decide to walk around the campus and get some fresh air. This is another new habit of mine. I am walking more, combining it with my meditations and contemplations. I find they go well together.

Kevin asked me to meet him in the lobby of the business school. I get to the building a little early, so I take a few minutes to walk the halls and glance at some of the posters and postings on the wall. The place is flooded with information. Companies are coming from all over the country to interview and recruit students. Strangely, I do not see TYPCO listed anywhere, even though we have several openings, including one in accounting. I will have to ask Georgia about this. I just hope we’re not falling into the same trap a lot of other companies are, relying solely on technology and social media to hire top talent. That seems to take forever, and half our new hires leave within two years. Whatever happened to face-to-face recruiting and real-time hiring?

Kevin greets me with a hug in the lobby, introduces me to one of his classmates, and we head to Maximum’s Brewery. Kevin’s buddy, Larry, turns out to be an accounting major, and Kevin tells me he is a real whiz kid. On our walk to the pub, which is in the neighborhood, I get a chance to learn more about Larry and his aspirations. Like me, he wants a steady job with a large company where he can pursue his CPA and MBA. Ultimately, he wants to be a senior executive like his father.

Miracle Minded ManagerAs I listen to his story, I can’t help but wonder why we aren’t hiring this kid. I don’t need keywords and filters and piles of applications to sort out what I’m looking for. I want this kid.

“Have you decided where you’re going to work when you graduate, Larry?” I ask curiously.

“Not yet, Mr. MacDonald,” he replies. “I’m still interviewing and sorting things out.”

“Do you have any offers?” I probe.

“I have one,” he says. “And I have second interviews scheduled next week with two other companies. Hopefully, I can lock something in by the end of the month.”

“What about TYPCO?” I quip, trying to restrain myself. “Have you considered coming to work for us?”

He looks at Kevin and appears to want to avoid the question.

“Go ahead,” my son says, poking him in the arm. “My dad should probably hear this.” Evidently, Kevin has informed Larry of my role at TYPCO.

I look curiously at Larry. “Go ahead, Larry. Talk to me.”

He shrugs his shoulders. “I put an application in about six weeks ago, and I haven’t heard back yet.”

I immediately feel my blood pressure rising. Breathe slow and deep, Jack. Relax. This is just one more opportunity in disguise. Let the situation teach you.

“And he’s followed up twice, Dad,” Kevin adds, throwing a little fuel on the fire. “Still no response. And it’s for a position in your business unit.”

I can only think of one thing to say. “Larry, I don’t know if Kevin has shared this with you, but we’re shaking things up at TYPCO. And what you just described is unacceptable to me. I apologize on behalf of the company.”

“It’s okay, Mr. MacDonald,” he sighs. “It’s not that unusual. Some companies never respond.”

I am about to declare war on our HR department when I suddenly stop. That’s just another form of blame and finger-pointing. It doesn’t solve anything. What would a miracle-minded manager do, especially one in my position?

“I’ll tell you what, Larry. If you’re still interested in coming to TYPCO and you have the guts and motivation to help change things, I’ll schedule you right now for a first and second and third interview all in the same day. Furthermore, I’ll commit to giving you an answer one way or the other by the end of that same day, assuming you can provide good references.”

“Wow,” Larry gasps. “That’s decisive.”

“That’s my dad,” Kevin says with a smile. “And he means it.”

“I’m sure he does,” Larry says with admiration. “I’m in, Mr. MacDonald. Let’s do it! I’ll take the interviews.”

“And by the way, Dad,” Kevin adds. “Larry has impeccable references. TYPCO would be missing out big time on a guy like this.”

Excerpted from Miracle-Minded Manager: A Modern Day Parable About How to Apply A Course in Miracles in Business [Beyond Words, October 22, 2019], by “zentrepreneur” and mindful leadership expert John J. Murphy.

John J. Murphy is a global business consultant, speaker, spiritual mystic, and award-winning author. He is founder and CEO of Venture Management Consultants, Inc.

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How to Keep Your Job If You Have to You Go to Rehab: Understanding the FMLA

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Contrary to the common stereotype of the strung-out addict living under a highway overpass, drug and alcohol addiction more often than not afflict full-time members of America’s workforce. In fact, most adults with substance use disorders in this country are employed full-time, according to a 2014 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The more accurate profile of addiction in this country, then, is that of someone who is gainfully employed and working to pay their bills: the barista who serves your daily latte, the mechanic who fixes your car, the postal worker who delivers your mail, or the financial advisor who helps you plan for retirement.

An Untreated Drug or Alcohol Problem Can Cost You Your Job

This reality should not obscure the fact that a drug or alcohol problem can make it very difficult to hold down a job. In fact, the same 2014 SAMHSA report found that unemployed Americans were more likely to report a substance abuse problem in the previous year, one implication being that an untreated addiction led to their unemployment.

Depending on the job, an employee’s drug or alcohol problem may jeopardize other lives aside from their own. Consider employees in the transportation industries, for example. The pilot who binge drinks between transatlantic flights or the school bus driver who abuses prescription drugs puts many lives at risk.

Such dangers should be plenty of incentive for anyone with an addiction to go to rehab, yet only 10 percent of people with addiction actually get treatment. One reason why — and it seems ironic, considering what we just learned — is the fear of losing a job. What follows is some information that can allay that fear and help you protect your job if you have to go to rehab.

Advice for Employees With FMLA Benefits

Whenever we speak about this issue, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal law that can protect one’s job in certain circumstances where a leave of absence is required, invariably comes up. What I’ve found is that employees often misunderstand their rights under the FMLA.

One common misunderstanding, for example, revolves around the intermittent use of FMLA to address chronic illnesses and the medical appointments that accompany them. In such cases, a physician’s note is required, and your employer must approve the circumstance. A flat tire in the morning does not qualify as appropriate use, and like other forms of FMLA misuse, it may be disciplined.

The FMLA allows certain US employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for a number of specified reasons, one of which is medical leave because of a serious health condition such as a substance use disorder. When I educate employees about the FMLA, I tend to rely on what I call “the rule of 12s”: An employee has to have worked for a public or private employer for at least 12 months to qualify for FMLA benefits. Upon approval from their employer, they are allowed to take 12 unpaid weeks in a 12-month period, or will have worked at least 1,250 hours in that 12 months.

Here are some other important things to know about job protection under the FMLA:

  1. Qualified military families are protected for up to 26 weeks when an injury occurs during the course of service.
  2. Changes made to the FMLA in 2015 now allow same-sex partners to enjoy the same established benefit.
  3. An employee’s use of FMLA leave cannot be counted against them under a “no-fault” attendance policy.
  4. Employers must continue to provide group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave under the same terms and conditions as those before the leave.
  5. Upon your return, you are guaranteed the same pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment, but you may or may not be able to move back into the exact same job position.

Advice for Employees Without FMLA Benefits

Employees without FMLA benefits must take alternative measures to protect their jobs when they go to rehab.

Begin with an attitude of confidence that you, your health, and your life are more important than your job. While it will require courage, a frank conversation with your employer about your condition may be in order.

One reason I encourage employees without benefits to go this route is that many employers that do not meet the requirements of the FMLA still practice — whether formally or informally — compassion for employees seeking care. By being appropriately open and vulnerable about your condition and couching your decision to seek treatment in terms of how rehab will help you become a better employee, you can invite your employer to view your request with empathy.

Excellent communication from the treatment facility where you go for rehab is also key. The facility may be able to send along paperwork that, in compliance with HIPAA privacy laws, can help an employer understand that substance use disorders are treatable conditions and should be treated as such. Such measures can go a long way in helping you keep your job when you go to rehab.

Janet B. Gerhard is director of public affairs for FHE Health.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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You Can’t Afford to Be Boring: 3 Best Practices for Bridging Engagement and Compliance

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With unemployment rates at historic lows and employees willing to quit their jobs for better opportunities, it’s no wonder employee engagement has become a major talking point for executives. While engagement is at its highest level since Gallup started tracking it in 2000, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Employee engagement is heavily influenced by both specific perks like flex time and intangible factors like positive relationships with coworkers and bosses. However, few people realize that engagement can also be affected by those workplace processes often considered rote and uninteresting, such as compliance training.

At first glance, it’s hard to see how compliance and engagement line up. Traditionally, companies have simply used compliance training to cover themselves against lawsuits and operational interruptions. For example, federally regulated airlines can have their planes grounded unless everyone — from mechanics to forklift operators — has the proper certifications. Because compliance is seen as little more than a legal necessity, compliance training is often delivered via sessions full of dull, jargon-filled content. It’s no wonder PwC’s “2018 State of Compliance” study found that just 17 percent of risk and compliance executives were “very satisfied” with their compliance programs.

It doesn’t have to be this way. These days, interactivity and microlearning can transform compliance training from something akin to a dentist visit into an eagerly anticipated, engagement-driving activity. You don’t want to risk losing your top employees simply because your compliance training was too boring.

3 Ways to Engaging Employees Through Compliance

When it comes to compliance, organizations can do so much more than just check off a box. It’s time to start viewing compliance training as a prime opportunity to support the growth, development, and engagement of your employees. Here are some good places to start:

1. Assess Your Baseline and Adjust as Needed

What are you doing today for compliance and employee engagement? Answering this questions starts with a full assessment of your current practices. The aforementioned PwC study found that 50 percent of companies use technology to monitor compliance, and 56 percent say they have gained insight from using it. If you don’t already have a similar system in place, consider implementing one.

Assessing your baseline should help you understand two things about your current compliance efforts: whether your training methods are working, and whether you are effectively tracking expiring certifications.

In terms of training methods, it is important to understand that using varied training formats can be a powerful way to engage employees in the compliance process. For example, PwC notes that Science Applications International Corporation uses shorter, more frequent trainings to make content more digestible, while another organization uses brief TED talk-style videos to deliver messages to employees in an engaging way.

As for whether you are effectively tracking expiring certifications: If you are doing this process manually, you could be missing out on important information about your employees’ compliance statuses. Any missed compliance is a problem, which is all the more reason to invest in a system to assist with compliance tracking.

On a final note, setting a baseline and tracking it also allows you to watch trends in your compliance process over time. You can see whether it has improved, whether breakdowns have occurred, and where you may need to intervene.

2. Train for the Present and the Future

Don’t simply focus on getting employees the certifications they need for their current roles; also pay attention to the new skills your employees want to learn and the roles they hope to attain in the future.

A Randstad Workmonitor survey found that employees want to upskill, and they believe employers should help them do so by providing them with relevant training. Furthermore, studies repeatedly show that organizational support of career development is a strong driver of job satisfaction.

In light of this information, compliance training offers a great opportunity to support employee development and promote engagement. For example, an IT technician needs to become certified in Microsoft Azure in order to work with sensitive data, but they might also want to move to a more senior IT role. The organization can fit the certification in as part of the employee’s personal development plan, blending what is required for the employee’s current role with the skills the employee will need to get where they want to go.

3. Align Employee Aspirations With Certifications

Compliance doesn’t always have to be about hard skills, nor does it have to even be focused on the organization’s internal needs.

For example, after conducting its “Workforce Preparedness Study” in 2018, McDonald’s found that teamwork, customer service, and responsibility are in high demand but low supply. As a result, the restaurant chain launched its “Where You Want to Be” campaign to help employees connect job skills with greater career goals. The campaign aims to show employees how the skills they learn at McDonald’s will propel them forward in their careers, regardless of whether or not they stay with the company.

Over the years, your employees might have learned to moan and groan when the subject of compliance training comes up. In a market like this, you can’t afford to take compliance for granted. If you want your employees to feel enthusiasm instead of dread at the prospect of compliance training, you need to use it as a chance to help employees strive for their own goals. If you treat compliance training as an opportunity instead of an obstacle, so will they.

Linda Ginac is the chairman, president, and CEO of TalentGuard.

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HR Jobs Are Changing – and So Are Their Salaries

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Due to the increased integration of and reliance on technology, every part of a business is changing, and that includes HR.

Indeed, HR has evolved immensely over the past decade. Technological advancement has spurred a wave of new HR jobs, such as the “chief people officer” and the emergence of “people” teams. Rebranded and refreshed, these jobs do not represent mere title changes, but changes in responsibility, qualifications, and even salary.

We investigated some of the positions in the burgeoning people function and compared them with their old HR counterparts. If it’s true that people vote with their wallets — and companies with their  budgets — then the increased salaries of people operations professionals may be indicative of how much more highly valued these new pros are compared to their old HR predecessors.

Here’s what we found:

‘New HR’ vs. ‘Old HR’ Salaries

1. Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) vs. Chief People Officer (CPO)

Average CHRO salary: $117,762

Average CPO salary: $147,228

CPOs and CHROs are the top executives of their HR teams. While both positions are high earners compared to other HR pros, the average CPO significantly outearns the average CHRO.

2. HR Director vs. Vice President of People Operations

Average HR director salary: $95,866

Average VP of people operations salary: $111,894

While both are responsible for overseeing their teams, HR directors and VPs of people operations do have some differences between their respective responsibilities. Occupying a more strategic and people-focused position, the VP of people operations is more highly compensated than the HR director.

3. HR Manager vs. Manager of People Operations

Average HR manager salary: $72,626

Average manager of people operations salary: $82,326

Despite the similarity of their titles, the HR manager and the manager of people operations earn quite different salaries, with the newer manager of people operations earning almost $10,000 dollars more per year.

4. HR Coordinator vs. People Operations Coordinator

Average HR coordinator salary: $43,850

Average people operations coordinator salary: $53,474

Typically occupying more administrative, entry-level roles, both HR coordinators and people operations coordinators are among the lower earners of their respective teams. However, the trend does continue here, with the people operations coordinator significantly outearning the HR coordinator.

Fig 1

How Significant Are the Salary Differences?

From the data above, it is easy to see that newer people operations jobs are earning more than traditional HR roles, but how significant are the differences really? The graph below provides a more concrete visualization of the people -vs.-HR salary gap by tracing both the raw differences in salary and the percentage-wise differences:

Fig. 2

In terms of raw salary, the most significant disparity is the $29,466 difference between the top executives’ salaries. The smallest raw salary difference is between the operational positions, which have a gap of $9,624.

In terms of percentages, the greatest difference again exists between executives, with the CPO earning 22.24 percent more on average than the CHRO. The salaries of those in middle management positions have the lowest percentage differences at 12.52 percent. Despite having the smallest raw salary difference, those in operational positions have the second highest percentage difference, with people operations coordinators earning 19.78 percent more on average than HR coordinators.

Overall, the new HR jobs are earning 17.5 percent more than their older counterparts. As we’ve seen in the graphs above, this can translate to many thousands of dollars per year.

Why Such a Wide Salary Gap?

It seems crazy that a title change alone could warrant such varying levels of compensation — but we’re not just talking about title changes. Rather, the key drivers of the salary gap are the new responsibilities and skill sets associated with people operations roles.

As technology has become more fully integrated into all aspects of the organization, business functions have changed radically — especially HR. Previously associated with the enforcement of rules and regulations and administrative duties such as payroll and benefits, HR is becoming in the age of technology a more strategic department. Today’s HR pros rely more on data and analytics to meet employee needs and drive progress toward key business goals.

We can more clearly see the differences between old and new HR when we compare job posts for a CPO and a CHRO. For the CHRO, the main responsibilities include ensuring compliance with company policy, overseeing sourcing and candidate evaluation, and coordinating training and development programs. On the other hand, the CPO’s responsibilities focus on aligning people strategies with business objectives, developing company culture, and driving employee engagement. The CPO job post also calls for candidates who are analytical and business savvy, while the CHRO job post emphasizes project management skills as a key qualification.

For anyone involved in HR, the differences in both responsibility and salary between old and new HR roles warrant sustained attention. Having a better understanding of how HR is evolving could give you a leg up and ultimately help you earn more.

Data for this post was aggregated from LinkedIn and GlassdoorA version of this article originally appeared on the SelectSoftware blog.

Phil Strazzulla is the founder of SelectSoftware.

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