Monday, December 27, 2010

Things to leave off your resume!

  • Links to your Facebook fan page, Twitter ID, blog (unless you manage a professional one for the business)

  • Quotes from references. Really! Your reference will be contacted at a later time and given sufficient time to talk about your candidature.

  • Your photograph. Take it off, unless you’re asked explicitly to add one to your resume.

  • Confidential information from current employer, such as, links to your work that you’ve placed on a personal site (I’ve come across such a resume!)

  • Personal information: about your spouse (where he/she works, company name, etc.), kids or neighbor’s dogs.

  • Leave the resume looking professional. Don’t jazz up the background or have a font that’s best used on a greeting card!

  • Weird email ID’s. Here’s why:

  • Redundant contact details. If you don’t want to be reached, then don’t send out the resume!

  • Abbreviations, acronyms and writing the entire resume in CAPS!

Monday, December 20, 2010

True Story: An act of generosity.

This story completely moved me….

A friend of my wife’s has come down to India to visit her ailing mother. Her mother has been diagnosed with cancer and fighting it for a while now. It’s really sad and painful to hear that her cancer is in the final stage. Our friend has been traveling to India quite frequently in the past year to be with her mother. The frequent traveling comes with its share of challenges. First, our friend has had to work across time-zones to complete her assignments on time. Second, she’s had to rely heavily on her colleagues to help her out.

But here’s the part which really struck a cord with me. The constant travel back and forth to India resulted in her using the accumulated vacation time (or whatever was left of it). For the current travel of three weeks, she had to apply for leave with loss-of-pay (LOP). While she was contemplating the next steps, she discussed the LOP option with her manager. She also had to keep her team/colleagues informed accordingly to ensure that work doesn’t get disrupted. Understanding her dilemma, her team took a collective decision to transfer their vacation time to her account! Really. It’s a really big deal; they gave her their vacation time!

It’s a gesture that’s very touching and she’s really grateful for being part of such a wonderful team.

The firm, manager and team she works with need to be commended. I know of many companies that might not allow for such a thing to happen. HR policies and legal issues are often cited as reasons for denying requests. Yet, in this case the manager has taken a stand. It's a rarity.

The bottom line, your current job may not be the best one out there. Your paycheck might not keep you happy. You may be traveling 25 miles one way to reach your office. And many more such reasons to look for the next job. But actions like this are rare and it’s one reason that’s worthy enough to stick around.

PS: Please keep her mother in your prayers today.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candidate Tip - Part 9

Few months back, I started the ‘Candidate Tip Series’ on this blog with an intention to answer recruitment related questions from readers. The series was introduced in an attempt to avoid redundancy in replies. I tweet these tips on my twitter account too, and use #candidatetip for the tips.

If you are a candidate, hope this helps. If not, you can help send this post to people searching for answers. I’ll continue to take questions and should you have one, you can send it to

Looking for the earlier posts on candidate tips? You can read them here

  1. It's not a good idea to get your spouse to answer the phone, when an interviewer calls at a scheduled time. It's awkward!

  2. If you're sharing your LinkedIn profile as a resume, don't include your personal Twitter/Blog Link.

  3. Think twice before you take a role that requires you to report to a friend.

  4. Why on earth would you want to put your sun-sign on your resume?! Beats me. Unless off course you're asked. That would be weird!

  5. There's no real benefit in adding a redundant/not-in-use LinkedIn link in your resume. Avoid it.

  6. Coming from a competitor definitely gives you an edge, but you still need to ace the interviews. Take nothing for granted!

  7. It's not a great idea to take another interview on phone, while you wait in the lobby for the present one to start!

  8. Try to not change your contact number(s) in the middle of an interview process. If you have to, keep the recruiter informed.

  9. Yes, your spouse might be a financial analyst/genius., but the job offer and its components will only be discussed with you!

  10. It's ok to ask the hiring manager a few questions on his/her style of management. You'll know if it works for you or not.

  11. Your colleague(s) might be leaving the team, but it isn't a reason for you to look for a job change! Unless the entire project/program is canned.

  12. It's not a good sign when you want re-negotiate after having already accepted the job offer. Think, ask questions and then say yes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spotted a tiger in the wild! Awesome.

Our safari in the Bandipur forest was turning out to be a damp squib. We were almost 50-60 kms into the forest and had spotted a few bisons, elephants, deer, stags and a few other animals that are rather common in this forest. It was almost 6:30pm on a cold October evening and the sun was setting real fast. The tracker and driver had given up hope of spotting a cat that late in the evening. Maybe, it was even fear that we were in their territory, that got us to start the return journey. The clouds were getting darker and rain looked imminent. Darn!

We had given up our search for the evening, and just then the forest went completely silent. Pin-drop silence. The birds stoppped chirping, the owl stopped hooting, the deer ran into the forest and the monkeys started making a weird noise. The tracker sat upright! And then, we all saw what we were hoping & waiting for; a bright orange colored animal saunter in front of us! We were within 10 meters of a TIGER! A REAL TIGER! In the wild! The look on our faces at that very moment was that of of anticipation, excitement, fear & awe. Definitely more of awe.

Surprisingly , the tiger wasn't that shy. It walked right on the trail for the next kilometer or so, until it decided that it was done posing around for us. It then headed off into the jungle and then... the rain came down.

The purpose of our safari was done and it was time for us to head back. And as we drove away chattering nineteen to a dozen about what we saw, what we experienced; it was about a millionth of what we could capture on the screen of our camera! To say it was awesome, would definitely be an understatement.
The safari was worth every minute of the 3 hrs spent traveling into the jungle and back. There was no better way to end the trip, than to spot a herd of elephants & its calves on the way back home. This will truly will be one journey that I won't forget any time soon.

PS: You might have noticed, this post has nothing related to HR. I'm not even inclined to draw an analogy from the safari. Except for the thought that there's life outside of work and it's worth exploring.

** Please note that the images of the tiger are the sole property of Praveen Siddannavar.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

High Salary + Wrong Job = Failed Offer

Truly, that’s one mathematical equation which never fails. It’s stood the test of time and has come out winning each time.

Often I get questions around whether one should take an offer which they aren’t convinced is good enough for them on the work front. But the compensation was so high that they were forced (by their own mind) to reconsider the offer. Only to realize that six months later, they’re stuck with a job which they were better off not taking up. What went wrong?

Should you even worry if you got paid an exorbitant amount of salary that was way above others in the market?

Well, anything in the extreme spectrum (too good or too bad) is often unbalanced. Maybe, just maybe, there a good chance that you were the best there is for the role. Really. It’s possible. However, an employer might tend to pay high since they couldn’t find anyone to join them for a particular role. They then met a person (you) who came closest to matching their requirements. They went all out to get you onboard. The high price definitely had its own pull.

Either that happened, or the role might not have enough meat in it to attract top-notch talent. And keep them motivated.

This might sound fascinating or even confusing for people reading this, how could one not be happy in a job that pays so well? To be honest, that’s really the short-term plan kicking-in. Ever wondered what would happen if you were to look for another job? First, your current compensation will be way above what other employers can pay for a similar skill. You could really just scare them away! Second, your resume will have a quick job change listed on it, possibly weakening it a bit.

So, what should one do if confronted with this situation?

You could ask to tweak the compensation structure, if possible/allowed. The structure could help you keep the salary just about competitive enough to beat the market. While the remaining part of the compensation can be used for other benefits, such as, bonuses, stock options, travel/book/car/fuel allowance or work from home benefits with necessary equipment for the home-office.

Finally, if salary is the ONLY deciding factor in an offer, you may want to think again. Keep your options open and you could get a well-balanced offer in your hands. Most importantly, you’ll need an offer that wouldn't jeopardize your long-term plans.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Guest Post: Remote management and telecommuting with a global team

Author: Balaji

Several years back when I first visited the US, I heard about the concept of remote management and telecommuting. Not to sound all cheesy, but the first picture I got, was from the movie - Johnny Mnemonic ( My initial reaction was, how can you work like that? You do not have any direct interaction with your team, you do not have someone breathing down your neck (literally) and yet, you’ve got to get work done while you’re seated at a remote location!

Well, several years forward, this is exactly what I'm doing. With several innovations in technology, that’s cheaper, faster, better internet and telecom access, with client locations all over the globe and with supervisors not interested in shelling out for "relocation"; telecommuting has become the new mantra for cost savings. Think about it, rather than having a manager for every location, have the team/s report to one manager, globally. Let the manager remote manage the teams and travel only when needed - for high level meetings, client interaction, quarterly/yearly all-hands meeting, etc. Daily discussions and updates can be done via teleconference calls and video conference calls. Give the manager an incentive to work from home (or typically known as telecommuting) and you have a winner.

Here is what the company gets in return:

No more wasted office property on one more person - this equates to a big number. Reason - electricity, infrastructure, cubicle (office space), parking (majority of companies share office spaces and have to pay for the parking), office space, coffee, snacks, transport.... you name it! All of which is additional expense, sometimes ranging in big bucks, is a pretty tempting lure to the office to tempt the office worker to work remotely!

I have personally seen instances where companies have offered monetary incentives to employee(s) who were not required to be present in the office, to work from home! And believe me when I say this - the office was a ghost town the next month and the company successfully released three floors from their office building, back to the owner. Talk about savings!

What’s in it for you?
  • Work @ your own pace - as long as you deliver to the deadlines!
  • The only person you have breathing over your neck is you!
  • It increases job satisfaction and reduces stress, since you get enough time to manage work-life balance.
  • You pollute less. No driving/riding to the office. Contribute to a greener environment.
  • Reduces commuting costs to and from work.
However, there is a flip side to this.
  • Identifying which program allows a person to telecommute is a big decision.
  • Setting up a home-office that’s equipped to handle your work assignments, might prove to be a challenge.
  • Telecommuting would mean that you work alone. So getting immediate help from team members might not be as easy as walking up to their cubicle. Dependency on call or mail could take away valuable work time.
  • There is a high risk of losing the edge on interpersonal communication.
  • Most often, telecommuters spend longer hours at work, since they are dependent mostly on calls and emails to get notifications/news from the office. It might prove to be stressful.
  • If you do not have the motivation to work remotely, you might end up needing a new wardrobe in the plus size!
  • Finally, you may never want to move back into an office!
Well, when it comes to telecommuting and managing teams, I’ve been there done that. I’ve been managing my team remotely for well over two years now. It’s possible, as long as we can clearly identify the circumstances which allow for telecommuting and when you really need to be at the office. Setting expectations with the manager and the management is just as critical.

For now, I’m ready to move back into an office, back into my cabin. Well, of course, like all addicts, quoting the withdrawal syndrome.

About the author:

Balaji is a seasoned manager with global experience in the IT industry, spanning multiple service & business lines. He has worked with several multinational companies and is currently working in the PMO office of a global equipment pooling organization.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to resign?

From a reader:

Do I have a one-on-one with the manager and then send the resignation letter or just send the resignation letter straight away? What the best way to manage the resignation process?

Typically, as much as we don’t like it, this a situation that can be best managed when it’s done in-person. I would suggest that you set up a time for the discussion, before sending the resignation letter. On the other hand, if you’re working remotely, ask your manager some time for a video-conference or Skype or even a telephonic discussion, to tell him about your decision. No manager wants to be surprised by finding a mail informing him about the resignation.

However, before you get there you need to decide if you’re a 100% sure that you want out. If you have any doubts, rethink about your decision and then start the process. Since the first question from the manager would start with a “Why?” You don’t necessarily need to give him a reason, but it would seem awkward if you aren’t sure. There’s a possibility that you’re manager might take it well or act like a jerk. If he takes it well, state the actual reason tactfully. You’ll need him as a reference for future jobs. More importantly, if he was a good manager, his guidance might be valuable throughout your career! Really. If he ends up acting like a jerk, you can stick to standard replies, “I’m moving since I’ve got an excellent opportunity.” or “I’m looking for newer challenges.” or “The next job gives me more responsibilities, coupled with a better pay package.”

You’ll need to serve out your notice period. For sure. A good manager or not, serving out your notice period will help strengthen your relationship your team members/manager. No one wants to be left high and dry, especially if a project is at a critical stage. It’s a small world out there and you both could end up either working with each other or even hiring each other for a future employer! Don’t burn bridges.

It’s not your obligation, but do try and help the employer find a suitable replacement for your role. If you can, be willing to help them out for a few days even after you’ve left.

Good luck!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Should I ask for a better pay package?

From a reader:

I recently stumbled upon your blog. You have an interesting and informative blog. Keep up the good work!

I want your opinion on a situation that my friend is currently in.

My friend has about 7 years of IT experience and has worked with the same services based MNC companies for this entire period. He is hard working and very good at his work. He has always been a good performer and has always got a great rating in his appraisals. The delayed hike has finally come through this month and his salary has undergone a change too.

He has recently cleared technical interviews in another services based MNC company, and during salary negotiation in the HR round, he quoted a percentage hike when asked for his comp expectations. The HR said it was too high for what he was already currently getting. They asked him what was it that would get him to join them. He quoted a percentage lesser than the initial comp expectation. They again asked him if he would not be ready to take up an offer lesser than this and he said no. They said if he was ready for an offer lesser than the already reduced expectation, they would call him on the phone and discuss the offer before issuing the offer letter. They also asked him if he had any other offers etc, and kind of kept on giving him the feeling that he was expecting too much.

Now, what should he do in a position like this? We feel that his expectations were only reasonable, while taking into account his years experience, as we know that the industry standards are clearly above this.

I work for a product company and clearly the salary levels in our company are way above.

So what are we missing here? Why do companies, try to close the deal because they get them cheap? Why is there no policy to bring them up to the industry standard band? Or is there one?

Please provide you inputs. Your time is much appreciated.

Interesting question! This question comes up ever so frequently in my interactions with friends. Here’s my take on this one.

First, compensation planning works almost similar to the market. Really. Hear me out on this one. In any industry/domain, there will be a significant set of players (Read: Employers) who will dictate the compensation guidelines, so as to not create an indifference in parity in the talent pool (and make it harder for themselves) nor make it an uneven playing field. That’s typically one of the reasons to conduct annual salary surveys among competitors. Now, those are guidelines and not necessary written in stone. Some companies choose to follow them and some just plain don’t. So, typically the industry standard is a variable. It’s becomes even more skewed when you have data from only a few people (or friends) with varied backgrounds. To maintain sanity, there's also the salary survey that maps competitors on an annual basis.

Second, it works differently at a product based company and for a services based firm. In a product based set-up, it’s a lot easier to link one’s skill-set, technology, experience, performance, etc. and their impact on a product that’s getting built and it’s earning potential in the market. This in turn helps companies to give a higher incentive to the best performing individual. Although, the top performer could have the same skill-set and years of experience, competency levels are a big differentiator.

This works almost the same in the services based firm. The only change is the fact that the services companies are dependent on the money they make from servicing their client’s needs. So, effectively they would pay for skills, based on the billable amount with the client and the availability of that skill in the talent pool. Net-net, their salary bands are effectively then dictated by the amount of money they make from their clients. So, if ‘Company A’ & ‘Company B’ are catering to the same client, it boils down to which company is ready to let go of their profit margins to hire talent. And then again, there are guidelines, so the difference in pay between them wouldn’t be drastically different. You get it?

Now, let’s get to your friend’s situation.

Though the company is unwilling to give him a hike that he’s asking, are there other benefits that could make up for low comp? Other benefits could be either onsite/client visits opportunities, flexible salary structure, benefits & perks, work from home options, etc. Understandably compensation does play a significant role; but it shouldn’t necessarily become the single-most important factor to determine a job offer.

Finally, when it comes to salary/comp, there are 2 types of companies: one that chooses to give a hike based on the current salary/compensation and the second type that chooses to give a compensation package based purely on competency and the way it fits within the existing group/organization. It’s ok to ask them for their stand. And obviously, your best bet would be to go with the second type.

As for the industry standard, I’m not really sure if this helps, but you can try this website to get a better understanding of the industry standards in salary. Hope it’s helpful. (Note: I’m not getting paid to promote the website. Though I wish I would get paid!)

Good luck to your friend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Prospective employer taking time to roll out job offer

From a reader:

I was interviewed for a middle management role with an MNC. Two rounds of management interviews went relatively fast, but the HR response came a bit slow. After couple of weeks, a junior HR rep called me with some queries and later asked me to fill up my details in an Employment Form. It’s been two weeks now and I have no confirmation/rejection reply from the company. I have been following up with the company and the responses are:

"It’s in the process of approval and is going positively"
"Our Head of Staffing will set up a call with you and then roll out the offer etc"

From your experience with HR, does it take so much of time (3 weeks) after I fill up the employment form before I get an offer or is something wrong here? I have couple of other offers but this is the most tempting one. So I was just wondering what to do as I am not getting any solid information from this company.


Well, I would relate back to my previous post for a couple of things.

First, there really isn’t a fixed time frame for a company to revert with an offer. Or even for that matter, to finish the interview process. It depends on the system that works best for them. I’ve known people who have got offers after four months of attending interviews! Really. It’s worked for them, since they weren’t really interested in a job change and had time on their hands. But, it doesn’t seem to be the same in your case, since you mention about a couple of other offers in your hands. About the time frame, yes, typically three weeks is considered a lot of time to make a decision. More so, if the role is of high criticality to their projects.

Another possibility could be that they are meeting other candidates before taking a final decision. Maybe the hiring manager wants to meet a few more candidates, before deciding on your candidature. Most hiring managers depend on data that indicates comparative degrees of competencies among candidates, to make a final decision.

About the responses, they could even be telling you the truth. Really. Most companies do have an approval process that involves people across various departments (business, HR, finance, etc.,) and geographies. This could be causing an unnecessary delay. But, their second response doesn’t seem right. If they indeed have the approvals and want to roll out the offer, they have a head of staffing who is really lazy and hasn’t sensed the urgency of the situation. It’s possible.

Here are a couple of things you could try now, to get more information:

1: You could check with the hiring manager directly. Most often, communication takes time to flow in the organization. The best way to get info is to go to the source of the information. Write him a mail asking for an update and also keep him informed about the discussion you’ve had with HR.

2: Did you get the other offers while you were interviewing with this MNC? If yes, have you told them that you already hold an offer? Not for anything, but to tell them you are really keen to work for them. In my experience, most companies expedite the offer process the moment they figure out the selected candidate has another offer. On the contrary, they’ll at least let you know that they need time. You can then make your decision.

Finally, I like to believe that you took up the other interviews since something about both those companies (role/compensation/benefits/perks/culture, etc.) interested you. Now, you need to answer for yourself, what is it about the MNC that makes the offer tempting? If there’s not much of a difference between them and the others, I would suggest you take up an offer in hand, rather than wait for an offer that might or might not happen.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Interviewed. Rejected. Called Again.

From a reader:

I had interviewed with a company a month back. According to my assessment, the interviews went fine and I was really keen to take up the role. After the interview, I was informed by the hiring manager that either he or the recruiter would schedule the final discussion. I didn't get any mail from either of them for a couple of weeks. However, at the beginning of the third week, I got a rejection mail from HR! It stated that they were keen to hire someone who fit the role better. I was really disappointed. I did not pursue the opportunity and planned to start interviewing with other companies.
It’s been a month now and I got a call from the same recruiter asking if I was still keen to take up further discussions. I asked about the rejection mail and he did not have an explanation for it. I’m still keen with the role, but a bit apprehensive.

What should I do? Do I go ahead with the discussion?


Well, it’s not common. Yet, it does happen. There could be a few things that might have happened after they met you.

First, maybe the hiring manager met a more qualified candidate after he had met with you. He then decided to go with that candidate and asked the recruiter to send a rejection mail to you. They might have extended an offer to the candidate and he took time to decide, but eventually declined. If this happened, it’s left the hiring manager in a quandary. He’ll have to start the hunt for a new candidate, all over again. You were the next best candidate that came closest to meeting their requirements. It might explain why you were called again for the same role. The recruiter might not have much to say in this situation, it’s the hiring manager’s call.

Second, there’s a possibility that the hiring manager had a re-think on your candidature. The interview feedback might not have looked good initially, but later the manager decided to give it another shot. He might want to re-evaluate specific skill-sets, that they couldn't assess in the earlier rounds. Again, if this is the case, the recruiter is really just following instructions.

Third, the recruiter might have screwed-up. Really. It’s possible. He could have got a negative feedback from one of the interviewers you had met and he acted real quick. Later, the hiring manager asked him to schedule you for further rounds of discussion. Now, he has to salvage the situation, by getting you back for the next round of interview.

None of these are examples of a robust hiring process. Yet, these do happen and also brings out the flaws or gaps in communication between the hiring managers and the recruiters. Noticeably, the hiring manager has informed you that he/recruiter will schedule the final discussion! I really doubt if the hiring manager is the one making the final decision on hiring you. Clearly, someone higher-up in the chain is the key decision-maker.

I would suggest that you take up the discussion with the hiring manager. Ask him candidly about the rejection mail. You may also want to ask them one more thing; what made them reconsider your candidature? Your only chance to find that out is to have a discussion. Get the answers and you can then decide whether you want to pursue the opportunity or not. I would also suggest that you keep your options open, getting recalled for an interview doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to offer you the role.

Good luck!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Does HR have a sense of humor?

A recent discussion with friends, led me to ask this question.

Does HR have a sense of humor?

My first reaction was, “Yes!”. Obvious choice? Not really. I really do believe that, since I’ve met HR people with a great sense of humor. However, many in the group disagreed. So I decided to ask this question to an open audience. One way to validate was to go out there and ask folks who have/are interacting with HR on a regular basis. Twitter provided that perfect platform to test the question and some of the replies I got are
here, here, here, here & finally here! Maybe my friends had a point, since it didn’t come as a surprise to them that most people think HR doesn’t have a sense of humor!

I’m not out to counter those replies, but I’m just as curious to know why folks feel the way they do about HR. One plausible answer could be, just maybe, most often than not, a company’s HR team is the first point of contact to people outside the company. It’s a huge responsibility to represent one’s firm/company in the right light. So that to some extent plays a part in taking away the funny side of HR. Another possibility could be that HR fears they won’t be taken seriously or considered to be professional in their approach towards work.

On second thoughts, a sense of humor is more a personality trait. It’s the hallmark of great salesmen or manager. Even good leadership relies on well-timed sense of humor to energize employees. So maybe it’s time to ask the serious-type HR folks to chill-out a bit. It’s possible. Heck! Even job-descriptions have sense-of-humor listed as a requirement for roles that have a client-facing function! I suppose we can categorize HR as a role that has client interactions too. No? Why then ask for something that one doesn’t follow? Beats me.

So here’s a message to all HR folks: Have fun! Spread some laughter. It acts as an ice-breaker.

Go break a leg! Figuratively, duh!

Candidate Tip - Part 8

Few months back, I started the ‘Candidate Tip Series’ on this blog with an intention to answer recruitment related questions from readers. The series was introduced in an attempt to avoid redundancy in replies. I tweet these tips on my twitter account too, and use #candidatetip for the tips.

If you are a candidate, hope this helps. If not, you can help send this post to people searching for answers. I’ll continue to take questions and should you have one, you can send it to

Looking for the earlier posts on candidate tips? You can read them here.

  1. Find a way to explain the difference between your 'needs' v/s 'wants'. Leaving it ambiguous, could result in interpretations.

  2. When you're invited for lunch in between interviews, eat just enough to keep you going. Please don't binge! Burping isn't likeable.

  3. If you're scheduled for an interview but decide against a job change, let the recruiter/manager know in advance. Saves everyone's time & effort.

  4. Collecting job offers from many firms = burning bridges with ones you'll reject. Think & apply. Do you need that 2nd offer?

  5. Speaking fast when you don't know the answer doesn't help your cause. Say, "I don't know" & ask for the answer.

  6. Coming from a direct competitor doesn't guarantee you a job. You'll still need to ace the interview.

  7. Interview slots are well planned (atleast at most firms), so if you choose to take a phone-call in between, make it quick.

  8. An 'open' offer is a great thing. Yet, I would suggest you have detailed discussions before saying 'yes' to the offer.

  9. Don't use your official email ID to communicate with a prospective employer!

  10. At interviews, use the white board (when available). Helps interviewers visualize your explanation. It works in your favor.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Started at the first job. Got a better second offer. What now?

From a reader:

I came across your blog while doing some research on Google.

I have a big dilemma and I wanted to hear what you would like to say.So I interviewed with a couple of companies around the same time for entry level positions. I got an offer from one and I accepted it. It is employment at will and the compensation package is decent. I tried negotiating the salary with the HR rep before accepting the offer, but it seemed like she wasn't willing to budge. I even questioned whether the package was competitive enough, but she insisted that it was and since I had no other outstanding offers, I decided to just accept the offer. I have begun work, but it’s only been about three days at the new position when another company calls me and gives me an offer.

Now, this new offer is MUCH more attractive, and MUCH more competitive. It is literally paying 50% MORE than the current position that I am in.

Now my question is: is it okay for me to call the HR from the first company that I am now working for, and quit since its employment at will? 2 weeks notice is unnecessary because I just started and it will just drag time, and waste man power. My opinion is that a 2 week notice will be detrimental to both me and the company since the company will have to waste 2 weeks of training me(since I am still at that 'training' stage), and I would basically be learning the functions of the team and the position for no reason. So that's my mentality of quitting without a 2 week notice. I know, I may be burning bridges here, but I know it is a dog eat dog world out there and my friends tell me, its all about survival of the fittest, and which position is clearly better for my career.

It is mostly about the money, because if I continue working at this company and reject the new offer, I would feel unmotivated and know that I am worth more than what I am currently being paid. I would not feel happy doing my job because I know I can do better for myself. Another thing is, I have been neglected at this new position for the most part. My team has been too busy to bother getting me acclimated and started at my post. I didn't like the culture since day 1, but I needed a job. Another thing I am complaining about is my desk space and my comfort level. The area that I am in is very uncomfortable, and I really don’t like my space, but I can’t do anything about that. But, if I decide to quit and go to the new job, I face a lot of 'what if" scenarios. Like what if, I don’t like it at all? What if I have no social life? But I can also answer it myself, and say that I am young and I have time to explore. I really want to quit and go to the new company to venture out and live without regrets. Because if I don’t go for it, another what if scenario is: what if I DID go for it? What could have become of it?

There is also a question of ethics, but I feel like I should push that aside, and be shallow for myself because it’s very important to me where I begin my career. I am almost certain that I want to quit and go to the new company, but I would like to know from your perspective, what is the best/most professional way to go about doing it, without causing too much damage to the original company? Can you describe it from both sides of HR? (first company and the second company).

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thanks a lot!

Well, to start with, you’ve captured most of the situations that could crop up from this move. I’ll just go with a candid outlook of the way that it would look from either side.

Thoughts from the first company:

Yes, you got it right. It would burn bridges. Period. It would seem unethical to back out from a job you started just three days back. If your area of work is niche, there’s a good chance that people from the first company could end up working with you or even end up as hiring managers at a firm you might apply later on. Then there’s the bit about networking. People network. When they network, they share information and they aren’t going to say good things about your move.

Assuming you took the second offer, it would be a breach of commitment with the first company. Based on your commitment managers would have spent a lot of time and effort to plan things for your role. Again, the past three days might not be sufficient time to assume otherwise. Now, you would be gone just when they were about to settle down. They’ll need to invest the same amount of time and effort to find another candidate for the job. Most of whom, would have a got a ‘rejection’ email by now, based on you accepting the role. Also, to be honest, three days is an extremely short duration of time to judge the work culture of a company.

Here’s the deal, you might not be allotted work during the two weeks of notice. But generally HR would ask you to serve out the two weeks, with fear of setting a precedent among people in a similar role. You really can’t walk-in and walk-out of a job that easily. By not serving the two weeks notice, you run the chance of getting yourself on the wrong list. HR wouldn’t necessarily be giving you the best reference. Stick to the exit process and leave after completing the formalities. There’s a high possibility that they are ready to relieve you faster.

Would the HR go out of their way in tracking your next move? Not really. Unless the second employer comes asking for some background. Unlikely.

Thoughts from the second company:

Their reaction depends on the couple of things. First, if you choose to not tell them about the previous job. Nothing changes. They’ll go about the normal offer process and on-boarding activity. Second, if you choose to tell them about the previous job, then their reaction might vary. It would be along the lines of, “Great! We’ve got him with us. For now.” You’re wondering why just for now? They’ll watch your every move. Really. If it was mostly about the money that got you in, then it takes only that much more from a competitor to get you out of there. The move can be justified only if the second company is offering you a role that you were searching. HR’s feedback to the manager would be to treat you as a high risk employee. It’s a feeling that won’t go away quickly.

Would they do a background check? Yes, they would do it for information that you’ve provided on your resume or ‘candidate application form’. Is there a chance that they might stumble upon your first job? Maybe, yes.

What can you do now?

Well, I would start with talking to the current manager. Explain the situation and let him/her know that you weren’t expecting the second offer to come your way. That the offer is good and you would like to take it up. Follow the exit process and offer your help to find a replacement (with references) during the two weeks notice period. It’s not an obligation, but it does leave a good impression. Nobody wants to be left high and dry.

Apart from the money, I hope you’ve evaluated other factors of the second offer. If you don’t like the role, the money will soon cease to be of great interest. You wouldn’t want too many job changes early on in your career.

Good luck with your new job!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Candidate Tip - Part 7

Few months back, I started the ‘Candidate Tip Series’ on this blog with an intention to answer recruitment related questions from readers. The series was introduced in an attempt to avoid redundancy in replies. I tweet these tips on my twitter account too, and #candidatetip for the tips.

If you are a candidate, hope this helps. If not, you can help send this post to people searching for answers. I’ll continue to take questions and should you have one, you can send it to

Looking for the earlier posts on candidate tips? You can read them here.

  1. Don't act surprised when you get a 'scheduled' call from an interviewer. You were asked for a good time to be reached. No?
  2. If you're sending your LinkedIn profile for a role, then take out your wedding picture on your profile! Doesn’t look professional.
  3. Please wait for the interviewer to finish the question. Else, u might miss out on answering the actual question in its entirety.
  4. It's critical for your new employer to know your start date. Don’t commit to a start date without thinking. Keep some buffer.
  5. Interview questions are NOT always about 'Yes/No'. Some are asked to understand your approach in getting to the solution.
  6. Use interviews to ask as many questions. Really. You don't get rejected for asking questions. If you do get rejected for that, you don’t want to work there.
  7. Show discretion when you want to disagree with an interviewer.
  8. It's ok to have an exploratory talk before you dive into interviews. But once you decide, stick to it. Reneges aren't liked!
  9. Ask for a 'job description' before you take up an interview. It'll give you some context to the role & future discussions.
  10. Keep in touch with your references. Sending them a mail one fine day doesn't work at all times. Result: Job offer's on hold!
  11. Don't be the one to end an interview. Let the interviewer end it. You can end it you aren't keen on the role. Saves time.
  12. Use the word 'expert' in your resume, with utmost discretion. Any 'expert' claim will get validated with more rigor.
  13. If you're talking to the hiring manager, ask for an email ID. Might be of help later (interview feedback, thank you note, etc)

Friday, May 14, 2010

I don't know.

I don’t know, are the three words that I would like to hear from interviewees, when then don’t have an answer to an interview question. It's much better than rambling on with answers that absolutely make no sense. Really.

Beware! Show some discretion (Read: common sense) in using them for questions for which you really don’t have an answer. Those questions don’t include, “Why are you looking for a change?”, “Why do you want to work here?” or something along the same lines.

Fear of getting rejected at interviews or even getting judged, puts undue pressure on some candidates to come up with answers that absolutely make no sense. While on the contrary, the very reason to reject that person would have been the answers. A good interviewer isn’t expecting you to know answers to every question. They only try and check your approach towards a solution for a certain problem (or question). The way you approach a problem will tell a lot more than the actual solution itself.

Now that you have told, “I don’t know”, what’s next? There is a couple of ways that might help you gain the interviewer’s confidence.

First, ask for the answer. In my experience, I’ve noticed that candidates tend to go on the back-foot or get defensive or go into a shell, when they don’t know an answer. It’s that awkward minute between an unanswered question to the next question that you should grab with both hands. Ask for the answer. Yes, it’s that simple. You could say, “I don’t know, but I’d like to know the answer to the question. It will help me understand the topic.” You’ll be surprised that a trained interviewer actually looks for such traits in candidates.
Second, don’t use the clichéd, “I don’t know the answer, but I’m a quick learner.” It means zilch to a person trying to determine your approach. In case you are uncomfortable asking for the answer during the interview, it’s ok. Make a note of that question. Get back home. Dig for answers, either through books, blogs, online, whatever it takes to get the answer. Mail it to the interviewer with mention of the sources you used to get to the answer. This is an approach that very few candidates take and it could help you stand out in a crowd. Your efforts will definitely be recognized by good interviewers.

Saying “I don’t know” is one of the easiest answers for a question that one doesn’t know the answer to. It’s what you do about the don’t-know-part that counts.

Good luck!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Post: Stopping yourself when you react to others pushing your buttons

Author: Carolyn Matheson
Twitter: @capcoach

We all know what it feels like to have our buttons pushed. Something happens, that seems to take us over, every muscle in our body tightens up and we turn into somebody no one wants to be around.

Steve was in a rush to get to the store but someone else took the parking space he had his eye on. His button had been pushed. He was going to let the other driver know how mad he made him and that he couldn't get away with taking his car park space. Leaping out of the car he started waving his fists and swearing at the other driver who was taken aback in shock.
In his anger, it didn't occur to Steve that the other driver did not have a personal vendetta against him. He had just been told his department at work was about to be re-organized making him angry and fearful even before he reached the store. The final straw was the other driver and Steve allowed him to push a button which was ready to be triggered by almost anything. Steve's reaction was an immediate and emotional response, with little thought to the consequences.

As he got back in the car his stomach was tied up in knots, his heart racing, he put his head in his clammy and sweaty hands. A thought popped into his head, 'what was that all about, I am so ashamed of my behaviour'.

The more you know about what is likely to push your buttons, the more you can anticipate your reaction and be ready with simple tactics. Often something has happened just before you started to become defensive. It is easy to blame others - the boss, family, colleagues, the economy, debts; anyone but ourselves.

Warning signs that you might be susceptible to button pushing:
  • Extreme tiredness, inability to relax, difficulty in sleeping, overactive mind, feeling very disconnected from yourself and others.

  • Waking up in the morning and wanting to go straight back to sleep.

  • Worried about health, money or work.

  • Easily distracted and having difficulty concentrating. What are your warning signs?

Suggestions to stop you reacting to other people

  • Say No! Don't take on more than you can handle

  • No one pushes our buttons like our children. If you recognise that you are about to react, keep your lips firmly sealed. Step away from the situation for a while and think through your options. Go for a walk. Just a 15 minutes’ walk is enough to unfreeze your brain so you gain a different perspective.

  • Put yourself first. I have noticed that when I am calm and relaxed it is much easier to deal with anything that life throws at me.

  • Discover the power of laughter. If you get tense, the negative energy will increase. You can't laugh and be angry at the same time. It's impossible!

About the author:

Carolyn Matheson is a Master Certified Coach, and works with executives and their teams across the world. She is one of the world’s leading executive coaches whose world turned upside down 5 years ago when diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Entrepreneurial instincts

Here’s a question that I’d recently asked on Twitter.

Does HR value people with entrepreneurial instincts ? Or do we try and fit square pegs in round holes?

Surprisingly, I got consistent replies from across geographies. The answer was – No, HR doesn’t value entrepreneurial instincts. We try and fit square pegs in round holes. There are multiple answers to this question. Some may work, others might not. Some have the required flexibility, while others deal with rigidity.

As clichéd as it sounds, entrepreneurs are a rare breed. They come with characteristics and traits that differ a lot from most people. Traits include (but not limited to): high competency, high levels of risk taking, high self confidence and very competitive, creative bent of mind, innovative spirit, proactive behavior and need for freedom at workplace.

Given that we know certain traits of an entrepreneur it brings me to ask a couple of questions:

What can HR do to value entrepreneurial instincts?

  • To start with, it can improve the talent management system in the organization that gives flexibility to entrepreneurs to choose their career paths.
  • Map the entrepreneurial traits identified and create performance management systems that include innovation at the center of the review. Look towards the results achieved rather than the approach.
  • Encourage and train managers to accept or have for a higher tolerance for failure. Not all entrepreneurial ideas will take off.
  • Get the recruiters to hire right. If the Company doesn’t have a culture that supports entrepreneurship, then it doesn’t make sense to get someone who will eventually leave you just as quickly. It’s critical to identify what’s needed for the role.
  • Work closely with managers to indentify what percentage of their workforce needs to be entrepreneurs. Not everyone needs to be an entrepreneur.
  • Have a robust feedback system. Entrepreneurs need to be given feedback on a regular basis.
  • Bring in transparency into the performance review system. Employees need to know the parameters that define the role of an entrepreneur. However, there’s a catch to this approach. You cannot have performance review processes that make it mandatory for innovation! It’ll back-fire big time, since this approach will ask employees to take up roles that they aren’t comfortable with.
  • Promote the jobs internally within the organization and then share it with the outside world. Employees must be encouraged, based on their competencies, to take up roles that require innovation. And they’ll appreciate the role was shared with them first.
  • Money matters. Even to that entrepreneur who tells you that he wants freedom for innovation above all else. Really. Pay structures need to be flexible depending on the role that one play’s in the Company. Entrepreneurs should have a high incentive plan, that’s directly linked to their performance. Better performance means more money.

Why doesn’t HR value entrepreneurship instincts in employees?

  • The challenge is not in accepting the need for entrepreneurship within the Company. It’s the lack awareness on how to make the fit happen. The need to look for a way to fit in innovation, risks and costs involved, are a bigger challenge. There’s already a team in place and business has defined its goals and objectives. Challenging status quo in a process oriented Company might not work in the best interest of the Company.
  • Company culture plays an important role for hiring/retaining entrepreneurs. If the culture doesn’t support the system to fit in entrepreneurs, then it’s a disservice to both the candidate and the Company to come together to work.
  • HR might not have been given the authority to take the call on hiring entrepreneurs. It means that HR/recruiter will eventually fall back on the hiring manager who’ll make the decision.
  • Lack of transparency might make it really hard to determine if the Company really needs an entrepreneur. If not, not amount of talking/incentives/promises will keep them back.
  • It could also be a result of of not identifying the candidate's entrepreneurial instinct at the hiring stage.

What’s your take? Your replies will give some food-for-thought to HR readers of this blog.

An inspiring speech!

Found this video clip of Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. It's an inspiring speech and worth the 15 mins spent listening to it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dealing with career change

From a reader:

Why is it so difficult to change the sectors and profiles one is working in? I have worked in an industry for 3 years, beyond which I would like to try out something new, a different industry. But somehow one doesn't get calls for these kinds of roles or opportunity. For example, someone who has worked as a fresher in the IT industry, as a Business Analyst, does not get calls for sales in FMCG or marketing in a non IT company despite the appropriate educational background. What can one do to pursue such kind of a change?


Good question! Yes, I agree it’s difficult to change careers after spending three years in an industry, but it not impossible. Yes, your competition changes significantly when you want to carve out your career in a different field. Yet, there are ways to get calls from the desired industry. That’s not going to happen if you’re trying to squeeze in time while holding the current job. You’ll have to go the extra mile.

Here are some tips to get you into a career in the industry of your choice:

Understand the industry landscape: While there’s an intention to change your career, you may want to take that step forward with enough information at hand. There’s a ton of information available online, on blogs, networking sites, white papers, webinars, etc. Try and get yourself educated with enough info from the industry. You’ll know whether you have the required info when you are able to answer the question: What does it take to get into the new role?

Map overlapping skills: After you’ve gathered enough info to understand the required skills for the new role, map them to the skills that you possess. It will help you analyze the gaps in certain skills required for the role and work on it.

Start networking: It’s obvious, isn’t it? Your best source for info/jobs in the industry, must and will, come from people working in that field. Get on to those networking sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) Just a word of caution, networking is a 2-way street. You’ll have to invest time and effort in discussions and interactions. People will show interest only if you show potential and are aware of the know-how of the industry.

Be flexible: Three years work experience needn’t necessarily mean anything to a recruiter or hiring manager from a completely different industry. They’ll be ready to give you an opportunity, only if you show some flexibility. And flexibility could be around: role, work status (full time v/s contract), salary, benefits, perks, etc. Show them you’re willing to put in extra to learn the ropes. Chances of getting hired on potential are very high!

Get yourself a mentor: This could be the single most important thing for anyone looking for a career change. Invest time in locating the key people in the desired industry and identify a mentor for yourself. Go get yourself a mentor who will guide, train, prepare, provide expertise and share contacts with you, from the field. It will help you improve your learning curve. The mentor wouldn’t do your job for you, but will help you get on the right track to achieve your goals.

Informational Interviews: Well, you done your part of understanding the landscape, networked like never before, identified a mentor. What next? Ask for
informational interviews from experts in the field. If need be, go out of your way to accommodate yourself to their schedule. Remember, you want this more than them. Informational interviews are an excellent opportunity to get you aligned with the needs of the industry. They also act as an opportunity for you to showcase your potential. For all you know, the person taking the interview might actually end up hiring up! You can never rule out possibilities. No?

Shadow-work with professionals: Another area where networking will pay off big time. Try and locate experts/professionals from the desired industry and check if you can shadow-work with them. It’s a great opportunity to learn on the job. If possible, share your views with them. It helps refine your approach to the task at hand. Yes, you don’t get paid. Maybe, you don’t want to get paid, since you have a contract with the current employer.

Patience: Your career change isn’t going to happen overnight. You’ll have to spend loads of time and do the right things to get to where you want to be. Patience plays a big role in your decision. The more you have it, the better it get for you. It might even include lifestyle adjustments (including financial decisions) that need to be made.

Resume that captures your preparation: This is the crucial point in any career change. Do you have a resume that speaks of your effort that has gone into preparing and learning for the role?

Career changes are possible. Really. I’ve seen people make it happen. But there really isn’t any shortcut to reach your goal. Atleast, not one that I know of.

Good luck!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Candidate Tip - Part 6

Few months back, I started the ‘Candidate Tip Series’ on this blog with an intention to answer recruitment related questions from readers. The series was introduced in an attempt to avoid redundancy in replies. I tweet these tips on my twitter account too, and #candidatetip for the tips.

If you are a candidate, hope this helps. If not, you can help send this post to people searching for answers. I’ll continue to take questions and should you have one, you can send it to

Looking for the earlier posts on candidate tips? You can read them here.

  1. You don't need to put your photograph on the resume, unless you're asked to put it. Looks very tacky and needless to say a good recruiter/hiring manager isn’t going to hire you for the looks, unless the role demands it.

  2. It's ok to mail the recruiter/hiring manager, asking for an interview feedback. Moderation is the key. Don’t flood them with calls/mails every waking hour.

  3. It’s fine that you are the kind who laughs a lot, but please answer the question. Laughing is not an answer. Yes or No, are the only two choices.

  4. It's a phone interview. Didn't you know you shouldn’t talk when you have food in your mouth? Basic manners. Well, it’s a scheduled interview. You either eat or you talk.

  5. If you reject a job offer, then I assume you've given it enough thought before deciding. Asking to reconsider might not always work.

  6. You don’t need to put on a 'fake' accent in an interview! Why would you want to? Beats me. Talk slow. Listen well. Be precise.

  7. Telling an interviewer that you got delayed because you went shopping before an interview, doesn’t really going down well. Retail therapy before an interview? Seriously!

  8. I know music is soothing, but please switch off that radio in the b/ground. It's an interview! Not a music-fest.

  9. On Skype video-discussion, make sure you keep your pet away from the screen. Yes, I understand he’s excited too, but this is an interview!

  10. If you've given a secondary contact number, then please keep the owner of that number informed. An interview isn’t a spam call!

  11. Attending an HR interview doesn’t mean you'll get an offer! Its part of the interview process and your callous attitude could cost you the job. It’s never over, until it’s over. Remember?

  12. If you want to take the interview in a different language, then let the recruiter know your preference while scheduling the call. They either come prepared or send someone who understands the language or use an interpreter.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


From a reader:

I am a litigating lawyer and have been with my current firm for almost 4 years (I joined them straight after college). About 3 years back I got married and took a transfer to a different location. I have really learnt a lot with the current firm and have been given a lot of opportunities. But I'm really bored here now. I feel like I'm being taken for granted and am not getting the full recognition from my bosses (my immediate boss and the one above him) though my clients now specifically ask for me to handle their matters (which is a big big deal when I'm barely 4 years into the profession and get to handle matters involving a ton of money). I can handle work pressure but the stress created by my boss is tough to handle. For instance, I have a junior who is supposed to be exclusively working with me but my boss gives him independent work and keeps him busy, which means I’m effectively on my own.

Anyway, I want to make a move to a company where the work & ambience will be very different from a litigation firm. I don't want to move to another firm because there is just too much stress and I really need a break. But I am scared to take the plunge - what if I can't adjust in a company since I am so used to a firm? As in I do a lot of my work independently and my bosses don't really interfere with the calls I make on my matters. I will have a strict hierarchy & reporting structure in a company.

I'm confused. Please help.

Well, I’m going to take your question in parts and answer them to the point.

First, at the current firm, you’re getting to do your own thing which means that the boss trusts your decisions completely. Now, that could also translate to the fact that he doesn’t have to spend time reviewing your work. It then brings us to the fact that your boredom isn’t really due to the lack of opportunities. It’s stemming from the fact that while you need to be given space to do your own thing, you are also asking for recognition for it. That may not be the way that your manager sees the situation. He might feel that the best recognition has been given in the form of letting you do your own thing! No? It’s going to be a matter of perspectives, until you sit down with your manager and share your views.

Getting opportunities of the kind that you’ve described are rare to come by at an early stage in one’s career. It looks very likely that the hidden reason for a job change is the working relationship with your manager. You may want to address that quickly. It could also be that your manager’s seeing the appreciation from clients and doesn’t really want to make changes in working styles that could backfire.

Stress which you feel is created by the manager (like giving work to your direct report) could be sorted out too. Talk it out to your manager. He needs to know that you aren’t comfortable with his approach and that you are responsible for the performance of your direct report. For all practical purposes, he might feel that your direct report is under utilized or the job allotted doesn’t fall under your activities. It’ll stay that way if you ignore the issue and wish it to go away! Start with having a discussion. Try and be candid.

Here’s a tip though, most often there’s a tendency to bring up an issue when it happens. For example, you may want to bring it up the next time you see your boss assigning work to your direct report. That could be plain bad timing! Since there could be urgency around getting that specific work done and you could look like delaying it. On the contrary, have the discussion once your direct report finishes the work and hands it over to your boss. You can then explain your stand when things are calm. Start with explaining that when works gets allotted without your knowledge, it becomes hard for you to plan your deliverables. It could also put the direct report under dilemma to prioritize his work, leading to delay in completion of projects. Your boss needs to know that his approach is hampering your work. The way I see it now is that you are delaying having that discussion with him sand you’re taking on the work that your direct report would have otherwise completed for you. Obviously, leading to a lot of frustration! Speak up.

If you like what you are doing and see a lot of opportunities, why would you choose to change jobs? Beats me. Often, the very idea for a job change crops up when the reason for the change could have been addressed in the first place. Makes sense? To be honest, you might get the same opportunities in a Company, but the number of people in there is going to be tough competition to beat. Not due to lack of competency. Not due to lack of knowledge. It’s a number game in a bigger Company and that’s going to take a while to beat. Also, there will be processes and procedures to follow. That might prove to be a challenge for someone who is used to working independently. It will work, provided you have the patience to ace the system.

The bottom line is that you have chance to sort out differences with your manager at the current firm. It might lead you to give up things that you would have liked if it was done your way. You’ll get things that you didn’t expect would come your way. That’s the way these discussions go. Once you are done having that discussion, you can then decide if it’s worth sticking with the firm. Your decision will then have more objective reasoning.

Good luck!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Can I record my job interview?

I’m looking for a job change and have been interviewing with select employers. I’ve noticed that most interview processes start with a phone-interview. The interviewer is either the hiring manager or a person from the technical panel. I want to know if I can record phone interviews. I’m interested in working on the questions asked in the interviews, since it will help me prepare for future interviews.


Well, must say, this is an interesting question. While you’ve got a valid reason to record phone interviews, to start with, you will need the consent of the interviewer.

Getting consent is very tricky since there are dependencies attached to it. First, the Company/interviewer will need to address the legalities involved in giving consent. Read: Potential lawsuits. Second, far too many interviewers aren’t trained at taking interviews and might end up saying or committing to things that aren’t in their control. They might fear you’ll hold them responsible for it at a later stage.

Let’s assume you do get consent, I suspect there’s a high possibility that the interviewer might show restraint in sharing information around confidential data, career growth, details around compensation, etc. On the other hand, nothing stops you from pressing the record button on the phone, as long as you are using it ONLY for your own purpose and you don’t hold the Company/interviewer responsible for anything committed in the discussion. I would suggest you don’t do that and instead take notes.

That prompts me to ask: What is stopping you from taking notes during an interview?

If you do take notes, you can write back to the interviewer, sharing your understanding of the role and responsibilities required for the job. If there really is a technical question that you need help with getting answers, here’s an approach that might work in your favor. Write down the question during the interview. Once you’re done with the interview, search for answers (online, books, peers, friends, etc.). Mail the interviewer with answers to the question that you weren’t to answer in the interview. In my experience, good interviewers for mighty impressed with candidates that follow this approach. It tells them three things. One, you are keen about the role. Two, you've demostrated your keenness by getting back to them with solutions. Three, you are receptive to feedback. It's a combination that interviewers look for and will help you stand out among many applicants.

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Post: Perceptions of HR

Author: Monika Manchanda

Thanks for the honor of asking me to write a guest post. It’s a great feeling and whatever else I wanted to say here…Prateek stole it from me! I am telling you guys it’s like he read my thoughts and then put them in the introduction to this post. Just kidding…

Let me get down to the business of writing the post.

When I started to write a guest post for an HR blog my first thought of was does the term HR mean to a person in any organization. If you run a poll in an organization, 80% of them consider staffing or recruitment as the HR’s primary function. This isn’t what I think. I personally think staffing or recruitment should only be a part of HR.

Off course, every working person’s bible - Wiki has to say about HR:

Human resources is a term used to refer to how employees are managed by organizations”

What role does HR play during an employee’s tenure with his/ her organization? I think the real HR work begins after a person is hired. Day to day activities like helping them settle down on the first day, legal formalities taken care of and introductions to the team made are things that a newly inducted employee looks forward too. They say first impressions count! The HR team must be able to handle the non technical trainings and most importantly handle the all important ‘Career Development’ aspect of an employee’s future in the company. According to me, the HR person must be able to gauge and understand a new employee’s goals’ and aspirations. They must be able to seamless integrate the candidate’s plans and the company’s plans. Over time a manager will have a clearer view of a person’s capability and determine their future goals within the organization but, the hope must be kick-started by a staffing expert.

Unfortunately, in reality a person sees the HR twice – the day we join a company and during the appraisal period. It always helps having a friend in the HR department! Or so it seems.

In most of the organizations I have worked in a career spanning over 9 years, I have noticed that all of them have only taken the hiring aspect of HR seriously. This creates a negative attitude towards HR in most of the employee’s minds; which is not necessarily true. However, one of my previous employers did a brilliant job in segregating and defining the various functions of HR. To say that it was helpful would be an understatement.

So, I will conclude this post with a simple expectation. I believe HR is the only section in an organization which has the capability of being transparent and communicable to an employee even before joining, to the day we leave a company. They are the face of a company.

About the Author:

Monika is a technology professional with over 9 years of work experience in the software industry. She has currently taken a break from corporate life and is enjoying time with her son, gardening, traveling and writing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Avant Garde Bloggies Award

Thanks to @prateekgupta for nominating my blog for the ‘Avant Garde Bloggies Award’.

‘The HR Store’ has managed to find a place among the finalists for the ‘Best Professional Blogger Award’.

You can go here and vote for me. Thanks!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What to do with a second job offer?

What should a person do if he gets an offer or an interview within a short time like 1-2 month of joining in a new job?

Would it look inappropriate on the CV to have worked for a month in an organization?


Did you go in search of another offer after you joined the current firm? Or did ‘Firm B’ call you with an offer after you joined ‘Firm A’. The answer lies in these questions.

If it’s the former case, that’s you went looking for an offer then the answer is, “Yes, take up the offer from Firm B”. I would say yes, because there must be something about your current offer that’s not working out for you. It could be any of the following reasons or more: compensation, role & responsibility, travel, benefits, perks, bad manager, work culture, etc. The lack of NOT having a component that you wanted most in an offer must have triggered your search for a better one. You should still bring it up with the current manager and see if you can work things out. I’m pretty sure they’ll value the time and effort gone into selecting you for the role.

Well, there’s not guarantee that the second offer will be any better. You can only hope that it’s better.

Now, let’s take the latter situation. That’ Firm B came with an offer after you joined your current firm, my answer would be, “No, let it go”. Even if it’s a tad better than the current one. Here’s why. You’ve already spent a month on the job and that would mean your team/manager has spent enough time & effort to get you to speed. You don’t want to screw them over by leaving them now. You’re sure going to burn bridges and might have long term implication. If you are in a niche market, it gets tougher; either the manager/team member will know someone in the other firm. Or at a later time period, you could interview with a Company that they might have joined. Rest assured; they aren’t going to pick you after your past act.

When you accept an offer, it’s a commitment you make. You don’t break that unless you have a very strong or valid reason. Further there’s no stopping Firm B from questioning your commitment. They’ll wonder if you’ll leave them just as easily for a better offer in a few months. Long term implications. Remember?

There’s even a remote possibility that Firm A will be ok with your exit. You can make only one mistake like this. Is the offer Firm B’s offer worth that move now?

If you still choose to go ahead with the second offer, I would suggest you don’t need to show the one month work period in your resume. It might be perceived as indecisive and that you might have taken a hasty or immature decision. Leave it off the resume.

Good luck!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Remote HR. Possible?

From my discussion with a reader:

Scenario: An employee works for a firm that doesn’t have an in-house HR team. Most of the HR related work (staffing, employee relations, performance reviews, general HR activities etc.,) are managed from a remote location. Email and phone are the best available options for communication. The HR person does visit remote locations once in a while to spend time with the employees.

Now, the employee is planning to quit, citing better career opportunities. Manager has initiated the exit process and asks HR to complete their part in the exit process. HR calls in from headquarters to conduct the exit interview. Asks employee the reason for deciding to quit and even tries their best to retain the employee. The HR has had very limited discussions in the past and have only stepped in when there’s a crisis. The employee isn’t comfortable answering most of the questions, because the HR person conducting the interview hasn’t even met/seen the employee.

I was informed it’s the same with other HR related activities too.

Leads me to ask: Does managing HR remotely work?

Well, if we consider the above scenario, the answer is a ‘No’. Managing HR from a remote location would mean that you still don’t get to feel the pulse of the organization. You really can’t expect employees to open up in a discussion with a HR person they’ve never met before. When it happens in an exit interview, you can be rest assured that it’s not going to be taken well.

Might have worked differently if it was a couple of employees working remotely and HR steps in to cater to their needs. It’s then a given, that HR will communicate only via phone/mail. It wouldn’t be possible to fly out to go meet just the two employees working remotely. Cost is a major deterrent. This is exactly the reason why managers are hesitant to let employees work remotely. In-person communication always has an advantage over remote discussions. Period. Agreed that there’s enough high-end technology that might help HR manage employees working in remote locations, yet, it doesn’t substitute for an in-person discussion.

Among various HR activities, employee relations top the list of HR activities that requires face-to-face interaction. Though emails/phone calls can answer the queries, it doesn’t allow one get a feel for non-verbal communication. That’s about 70% of every discussion! An exit interview provides a great chance to understand the reason for an employee’s exit. It could maybe even help with getting enough data for rehiring the employee in future. That would only be possible if you showed up in-person at the remote location.

There are a couple of repercussions that I can see stemming from having a remote HR team. First, managing cultural differences across locations can prove to be a challenge for a remote HR team. Second, future hiring can take a hit if either current/exiting employees voice their opinion on not having a local HR team to cater to their needs.

I’m not discounting the fact that there could possibly be a ton of advantages (cost, infrastructure, time, headcount, etc.,) which prompts HR team to work remotely. These costs will become negligible, when compared to the cost of losing great talent. Especially when you’re dealing with people who are helping you grow revenue, talking on behalf of your Company or bringing in good talent through referrals.

Choose wisely.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Should I quit?

Dear HR Store,

I have a query. Is it time to quit a company when an employee is depressed and stressed out? With end results sometimes leading to an employee in tears.

The problem can be attributed to a horrible manager and repeated escalations aren't helping as well.


Well, with the limited information that you have provided, my answer is ‘yes’. You should look for another job.

I really can’t think of a good reason to ask you to stay back in a job that’s only going to make it worse for you. That’s assuming you’ve done your part of having discussions/ tried sorting out any issues/ taken & given feedback, with your manager. It might not have worked out in your favor, but that effort is required to find out the real cause of the problem. Might just help you deal with similar situations in future.

You mention that you escalated the situation. Whom did you escalate it to? Was it his boss? Or HR? I’m keen to know.

Did you escalate the issues after having a candid discussion with the manager? Or did you escalate it to the next level without having a discussion with the manager? If it’s the former situation, then it’s fair since you went through the reporting hierarchy. If it the latter (by-passing reporting structure) that’s not a comfortable situation for your manager to be in and that could have worsened the situation. The second line manager will have only your version of the issue and he’ll then approach your manager for getting his version. You can bet your last penny, that if this happens, your manager isn’t going to be very happy with it.

Now, I’ll assume you must have spoken to your manager’s boss (second line manager), rather than with the HR. If that hasn’t worked either, I’ll have to assume that the second line manager has backed your manager’s work and stands by your manager. Their working styles could be functioning just fine for each other. In that case, I don’t think you stand a chance to counter argue or escalate. It will go eventually go against you. You could even try and get help from HR (employee relations). It might bring a fresh perspective to the issue.

Your references for future jobs might be dependent on the manager. Therefore, keeping HR informed might work in your favor, should the next employer try and reach them for your reference.

I do have one more question, are you the only person affected by your manager’s behavior? Or are the other members on the team equally affected? The answer should tell you the something about the manager’s way of dealing with things and you could then either align yourself to his way of working or leave. That’s a call you can take with some objectivity and which could also lead to some very truthful answers. It would be futile to try and change the way your manager approached things at work, unless he is the ready to sit down and have that one candid discussion. Better yet, be open to receive feedback. In your case, the situation seems to have gone too far for trying that approach.

Get your resume updated. Start applying for a new job. Get an offer in hand. And then quit.

Good luck!

Previous posts that might be helpful:

Are you hit by 'Hurricane Micro-Manager'?

Abusive Managers: Confront or Walk-out?

PS: I got these wonderful tips on Twitter from @preethe, who read this post. She suggests a couple of things that might work too. Thanks!
  1. Explore the option of changing projects within the same Company. That could lead to working with a different manager.
  2. Taking the issue to HR and then talking to the resourcing manager for a new project might solve the issue.