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!