Sunday, June 10, 2007

Time, Time, Time is on Your Side

Penelope Trunk of the Brazen Careerist blog recently posted on the ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) policy instituted by Best Buys that is changing the way some people think about work. In the ROWE environment, employees are given the autonomy to structure their work day as they see fit and flexible schedules and working from home are not the exceptions, but rather the norm. According to a recent article in HR Magazine (subscription required), instituting ROWE has paid off big time...Productivity has increased an average of 35 percent within six to nine months in Best Buy units implementing ROWE and voluntary turnover has dropped between 52 percent and 90 percent in the three divisions that were part of the turnover study.

So what does this mean to the job seeker? So many of my clients express a desire to work in a more flexible professional environment and they often ask me when is the appropriate time to discuss flexible work options with a prospective employer. My response is that the best way to create a flexible arrangement for yourself is to target the companies that tout themselves as companies that offer alternative work arrangements. Once an employment offer is made, should you chose to pursue a conversation around workplace flexibility, you will be more likely to get what you want because the company has positioned itself as a firm that embraces work/life balance.

Two other companies that are public about flexible work arrangements are Sun Microsystem and IBM. Sun's program, called Open Work, has a 40% participant rate and employees average a 34% productivity gain under this flexible arrangement. IBM has experienced similar gains and in a 2004 IBM work/life survey, flexible work options was rated as the top reason to stay at IBM.

Other great sources of information for learning about workplace flexibility include Working Mother's
100 Best Companies and Fortune Magazine's Best Companies to Work For.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Interviewing Authentically

A recent article in SHRM's HR Magazine (subscription required) suggests that some of today's job seekers have studied interview books so thoroughly that it is hard for the hiring manager to uncover authentic answers to their questions. Candidates are answering questions with what they believe is the "correct" answer as deemed by a book on interview strategy rather than speaking about their specific experiences.

Nothing kills a candidate's chances for a job faster than a perceived lack of authenticity. When I prepare candidates for interviews, I recommend forgetting about the interview books and concentrating on success stories. Write out your stories using the PAR system. Look at Problems faced on the job, the Actions you took to fix the problems, and the quantifiable Results of your actions. Look for trends within your stories and group your experiences into categories based on the story themes. Create groupings of stories that effectively demonstrate your competencies as a leader, decision maker, creative problem solver, collaborative business partner, or anything else that is an integral part of your professional brand.

By using this strategy, you eliminate the need to use stale responses to the hiring manager's questions. Regardless of the question asked, you will have an authentic story that demonstrates your competency within a given area. Good interviewing is all about building a relationship with a hiring authority. Offer responses that showcase your success and prove your value add. You will generate immediate credibility with the hiring authority and score big points in the interview game.