It’s a Matter of Trust

Trust at work is important.  You want to feel like your colleagues, your manager and frankly, your organization has your back.

One of the biggest chasms that Covid exposed was trust.  When we all moved to home offices, we applauded our IT and HR services for setting up the infrastructure so quickly for us to work and be effective.  And those are groups that we might not have expected to step up in such an important fashion. That was a good trust building outcome.

Where things fell down was managers who only trusted what they could see.  If you were not on screen, were you really working?  We heard stories about organizations that required employees to be on screen for every working hour.  Wow.

There were cultures that embraced working anywhere and then there were others who mandated full time return to office for no reason other than the senior leadership team only knew how to work that way.  They could not/would not adapt to working meeting on video or providing an approval that did not require a pen.

The lack of trust is a big contributor to the number of people who are  looking at new opportunities.  Three years ago, they were loyal employees who planned to stay until they got the gold watch.  Now, they are actively interviewing and one of the intangibles they are trying to evaluate is trust.

But how do you do that effectively?

When you are meeting with a potential manager, you want to ask questions to reveal ego, flexibility, and humility. 

Why has he/she been successful in the organization?

What does he/she see as next steps for themselves?

Where did they work through covid and how was it?

What’s the best thing about the team today?

When you meet with HR, you want to hear about employee experience and business alignment.

What challenges does the organization have recruiting people?

From and HR perspective, what does the company do better than their competitors?

What are the highlights of the onboarding program?

LinkedIn and Glass Door provide data about organizations, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. Generally speaking, people only put the time into comments on those sites if they have had an exceptionally good or exceptionally bad experience.  It rarely represents a typical employee’s feeling.

The key to evaluating corporate trust is to ask questions that offer the interviewer the chance to share real insights and for the interviewee to listen carefully to their answers.  Like any other job factors, compare and contract with your current situation and make a healthy decision.

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One Step at a Time

It seems like every time I look at LinkedIn. I see another connection
announcing their new job. They thank their soon-to-be-former colleagues for
their support and leap into their next adventure.

The national media supports this. Unemployment numbers are at all-time lows,
and companies are struggling to find the talent they need to grow in the new
world of hybrid work. One article says that candidates are being offered
significantly more money for similar jobs. On the next page, there is a story
about tech companies putting the brakes on hiring and rescinding job offers.diving

I have been recruiting for a long time, and I have never seen such a
confluence of factors impacting the candidate community.

It is stressful to interview for another job at the best of times. Today,
there are so many different risks to evaluate that it can be hard to sort out
what makes sense for your career. That does not mean you should not look around.
It just means you need to take it one step at a time.

Don’t be tempted to apply for jobs with abandon. Turn a critical eye to the
job posting. What will you get to learn, do and become? Is the company stable?
Hybrid or on-site? Do you know anyone who works there?

When you apply, follow the instructions. That gives you the best shot at
having your resume reviewed. If the application process is too cumbersome,
maybe it’s not the right place for you.

Keep an eye on your personal mail if you are applying for jobs. We are so
used to texts now that we don’t always look at our Gmail accounts. Many hiring
teams still use email. You don’t want to miss an interview invitation.

When you interview, be clear about your goals and ambitions. Remember that
you are sizing up the organization just as much as they are sizing up you.

Bring questions to each interview. Ask about the company’s three and five-year
plans. What kind of learning and development resources will be available? Are people
in the office? Should you be in the office?

Take a careful look at the job offer. How long is probation? When can you
take a vacation? When do the different benefits plans kick in? Have a friend or
lawyer or a friend who is a lawyer take a look at the offer. A fresh set of
eyes is always good.

Take it one step at a time when dealing with a frenzied process. It is the best way to avoid a bad outcome.


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How to Take a Vacation without Going Away

This is the time when many of us would be looking forward to a vacation – some time in the sun in a place that does not require dress shirst and where flip flops are the order of the day.

But not this year. This year many of us are staying home. Again. Air travel is still fraught with delays and conflicting guidelines and don’t get me started on the cost of gas. It’s alternatively sad, frustrating and exhausting. Not feeling comfortable going anywhere is hard for introverts and extroverts. Its a universal pain in the neck.

Here are some things you can do to help deal with the vacation situation.

Plan a trip anyway — get on your favourite travel site and plan a trip for next year. You don’t have to actually buy anything. Just scroll though the hotels, islands, museums and restaurants in the area. Everyone has a list of places they would like to go – just starting building itineraries for each one.

Hop on Youtube and find walking tours of an nice tropical or historic area. With a large screen and some headphones, this can feel quite immersive and refreshing. There are also tours of many museums and galleries on Youtube. You can do this with fancy VR googles for a really far out experience.

Take a day off. Plan ahead and actually book it in your work calendar. Sure, you might glance at your email but no meetings and nothing due. The act of looking forward to the day is, in itself, a little bit uplifting. What you do with the day is up to you. I took Monday off and spent the morning on the couch with coffee and magazines. It was quite delightful.

Change your routine. It can be something small like having breakfast for dinner or something major like rearranging your furniture or something really big like getting a new pet.

In the end, just the act of doing something new will open your eyes and cause you to see things a little differently as you take that short commute to your home office or that longer commute to your corporate office.

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The Final Question – Make it Good

Picture this:  you are in a job interview and it is going really well.  You feel like the conversation has flowed nicely and your answers have been thorough and thoughtful.  The hiring manager has provided a great outline of the job and the expectations.  Then she says, “Do you have any questions for me?”

The answer to this question should always be yes.  This is a chance to continue the conversation and to get some more candid answers from the hiring manager.

It also demonstrates that you are an interesting person who likes to go beyond the typical answers.  A good question has the potential to get you a few extra checkmarks.

You can ask questions about the manager.

  • What do you like about this firm?
  • How was transition when you joined the company?
  • What are you most proud of?

Or you can ask questions about the organization.

  • Where do you think this company is headed?
  • What does the competition look like?
  • How does this organization innovate?

You want to be mindful of the person’s time.  You won’t have the chance to ask all of the questions so try to pick the best one.

A good interview with comprehensive questions should answer most of your questions about the day to day details of the job. You can finish strong with some juicy questions of your own.

Mic drop.

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How to Help New Grads

It is graduation season.  Lots and lots of new grads will be looking for their first full time jobs.  You will be contacted by nieces, nephews, neighbours kids and who knows who else.

You have two choices: make a few minutes to talk with them and answer their questions or ignore and procrastinate until they go away.

Take the first option.

grad hat

Not just for karma, although that’s important.  Do it because every successful person can point to one or two conversations that were pivotal in making decisions about their early career.

Wouldn’t you like to be at least partially responsible for someone’s meteoric rise?

College and universities are not preparing people for the process of looking for a job.  They are not talking about LinkedIn or networking or how to polish their resume.  As far as I know, only MBA programs offer this sort of preparation.  Most kids are graduating without any idea how to get anything but a job at the mall.

So be helpful.  Talk about how people get hired at your company.  Talk about companies you know that are hiring or have new grad programs.

Point them to the Jobs page on LinkedIn, Indeed and Talent Egg.  Offer to connect with them on LinkedIn.   Ask them about their introduction/elevator pitch and help them refine it so that it’s smooth and interesting.

These may seem like little things but they could be enormously helpful to someone looking for their first job.  Plus it could come in handy if you discover in ten years that they are your new boss.

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Spring is Here – Time to Cultivate your References

References have been one of the final steps of the hiring process for years. Managers are looking for verification that the person they want to hire is as good as they think they are.

And who better to hear from than other managers?

Problems started to arise when managers were a bit loose with the material they shared such as inadvertently giving confidential information about the business or inappropriate details about the candidate.

Also, if a candidate did not get a role because of a bad reference, disputes arose and lawyers got involved. It was ugly.

At that point, HR departments in many companies created policies that prevented managers from providing references. Only HR could. And because HR did not always know the person, they would only verify title and employment dates.

Not helpful.

As always, a workaround developed. Candidates would provide the contact info for a former manager who was no longer at the company and therefore, not bound by reference policies.

Smart, career minded people stay in touch with corporate friends and allies for this reason.

Be nice to people when they leave the organization, regardless of the reason for their departure. Set up at least one coffee date per month with a former manager or colleague. You never know when you are going to need someone who can authentically vouch for your performance at work and verify the stuff that’s on your resume.

There can be an unexpected bonus in all this networking: coffee dates often lead to opportunities in the form of introductions and job leads.

Smile and bring on the double double!

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Time to Marie Kondo Your Network

May is around the corner so hypothetically, spring has arrived but I can still see my breath in the mornings so it’s not here yet.

Spring is when we think about cleaning, decluttering and generally freshening things up.  This should include not  just your living room, fridge or stinky, salt stained car but also your network.

Yes, I said network.

I am not saying you should unfriend people in droves however, once in a while, you need to take a look at your network to see if it reflects your needs and brings you joy. Your network is a bit like insurance.  You really only learn about the consequences of choosing the cheap plan when you get into an accident and realize what is not covered.

You don’t want to figure out that your network is made up of mostly peers from the same company or industry when there is a downturn in that business.  You will all be moping at the same time.  Not helpful.

Here is what really drove this home for me:  Justin Bieber.  Seriously.  We re-watched his roast on Comedy Central this week.  It was hilarious (on many levels) but what struck me was the diversity of the people willing to go on tv to roast the kid.

You might expect comics like Kevin Hart and musicians like Ludacris.  They are his natural, industry network.  They probably go to the same parties and award shows and have  a lot in common.

Guess who else was on the stage?  Shaquille O’Neil, Snoop Dog and, wait for it, Martha Stewart.

No matter that they were only there to make fun of him.  That’s not the point.  The point is that they were willing to expose themselves by telling jokes about him to a live audience.

That is a powerful network.  With that kind of diversity, Justin should be able to steer clear of all kinds of career obstacles.  He should be able to use them to evaluate opportunities and get doors opened for new ideas.

So, who would speak at your roast?  Can you pull together people from difference industries and backgrounds?  Do they know enough about you to tell some great stories?

Forget cleaning the fridge.  Spruce up your network instead.

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Duelling Offers

Having two job offers at the same time can be really great for your confidence but really lousy on your nerves.  I have talked to many candidates who lay awake at night trying to decide what to do about something they never thought would happen.

It’s best to start with some kind of framework. You can lay out a pro and con list or you could also lay out your considerations and assign points to each choice.

Company – does the mission match your own?  Will you be proud to say you work there?

Manager – did you click right away?  Is it someone who be a good coach and mentor?  Or the kind who will leave you alone to do your job?

Team – do they seem like the sort who would have your back? Do you already have some things in common?

Office – yes, this is still a factor.  You may need to go to an office from time to time. What will that look like?  I had to go to my office this week. I forgot what it’s like to tack an hour of commmuting time to each end of the day. 

Compensation – are you comfortable with the package? Does it have short and long term growth opportunity? 

Once you assign points to each of these factors for each job, you will come out with a “winner”.  But that may not be the final decision.   You still have to consult your heart to see if it agrees.  Sometimes the risky role is still more appealing.

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Proximity or Performance – The Case for Internal Networking

There is a lot of talk right now about how work will work as we come out of the pandemic and settle into the new ordinary.  Will we all be together? Will we continue to be remote?  Will we have an office or a communal space?

Most companies are still in the planning stages which means they likely have more questions than answers.  It is stressful for sure.

I have read several articles about companies that are committing to a hybrid model.  Some are going to have employees commit to a permanent schedule of in and out of office days. Others will leave it flexible.

Several companies are going back to the office – everybody, all the time.  One rationale is that remote workers may get passed over for promotions or miss development opportunities because they are not physically present. 

That sounds like a cop out to me.  I just don’t buy it.  It’s no different than people in the old days who worked in branch offices or people who worked late or people who went for smoke breaks together.  Those situations and relationships provided the exposure to people outside their regular circle which can often act as a catalyst for a new opportunity. 

There are other ways to get facetime with managers and colleagues outside your immediate group or team.  Working remotely means you aren’t going to bump into someone at the coffee machine or in the elevator.  (You might bump into your spouse at the coffee machine but that’s not likely to lead to a promotion).   You need to cultivate new connections. 

This could mean volunteering for a new project or program.  Many companies are asking for volunteers for diversity initiatives – that would be a great way to connect with new people. 

You want to find a common connection and then reach out for a conversation.  Maybe you are working on the same account but in different regions.  Maybe you are both super users of some software.  Maybe you liked a post that they shared on LinkedIn.  Don’t just punch the “like’” button.  Pick up the phone and give them a call.

This might sound like networking 101.  It is.  Whether you are working in the office or not, you need to connect with new people and nurture your relationships if you want to keep the opportunities coming. 

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If Career Counselling was done by a Help Desk

Hello.  This is the Helpdesk.  What can I do for you?

I am not getting satisfaction from my job.  Also, I think I am not making enough money.

Hmm.  Well, when was the last time you were satisfied?  Can you remember what you were doing at the time?

Sure, I was on vacation.  That was satisfying.

Okay.  How about before that?

Oh yeah.  I was working on a special project.  We were doing a corporate fundraiser.  I got to work with different people and we managed to reach our goal.  It was super fun. 

That sounds highly functional.  Could you recreate that situation?

No.  It’s an annual thing. Sigh.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

You mentioned that the money was not working any more either.  Do you know when that crashed?

No, it just seems to have come to a halt.  Nothing has really changed. 

Maybe it’s time to do some upgrades.  When was the last time you changed your operating system or did a system update?

Oh gee.  I don’t know.  I think it’s been a while.

It sounds to me like that’s what we need to do.  I’ll need to take a look at your education, the jobs you have done and of course, your network.  Could you get all that ready, say, by Tuesday?

If that does not work, we may have to do a cold reset and that could be expensive.  I’d like to troubleshoot one part at a time.

So, let’s set up that appointment and I’ll jump on your resume for a quick look around.

 Okay.  I won’t lose any of my stuff, will I?

No, we should be able to preserve everything.  We’ll just tighten it up, do the latest updates and get it ready to handle some real career action.

Wow.  That sounds great.  Can you take a look at my iphone? It has not been the same since I threw it at the wall.

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