From the category archives:

Workplace Issues

Yesterday, the love of my life and my He Said, She Said partner, Todd Schnick, published an e-book he’s been working on for months. It’s a collection of stories and lessons learned from 40 of Todd’s friends and colleagues here in Atlanta, GA.

Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod

You can read mine on page 6 so I’m not going to bore you with that.

Some of my favorites are:

Erik Wolf “You’re going to feel like an idiot. Often.”

David Cohen “If you know it’s right, don’t wait to be authorized, take control, take initiative, take permission.”

Stephanie Frost “I didn’t like the sameness of a job. It was like the movie Groundhog Day in real life. Boring.”

Bert DuMars “Never let geography hinder your career.”

Willie Jackson “Make a habit of deferring your dreams, and you’ve made the first steps towards a life of wasted potential.”

Tom Royce “Expect to fight fear.”

View and/or download the FREE e-book HERE.

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Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod

Amendment One asks, “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?”

Some scintillating phrases in there…”economically competitive” and “reasonable competitive agreements” being amongst my favorites.

HA.

Any reasonable person is certainly going to want their home state to be more economically competitive, right? And certainly anyone in their right mind would want to uphold “reasonable” competitive agreements, right??

Hold the phone.

Let’s explore what all this legalese really means to you, your career, and your future. Jay Bookman, ajc.com writes, “Let’s look at what the amendment would actually do. The state constitution currently bars contracts “defeating or lessening competition.” Amendment One effectively strikes that free-enterprise language regarding one important area of law.

According to supporters, the change is needed to make it easier to use noncompete employment contracts. Once signed, such contracts bar workers who leave a job from immediately taking a position with a competing firm or starting a competitor of their own. Those who leave anyway must wait until the contract expires, often two years or longer.

From a company’s point of view, such contracts have several advantages. The most legitimate is that noncompete clauses keep critical employees from taking inside information and immediately using it against their previous employer.

Other impacts are less benign. Such contracts discourage the rise of new competitors within an industry, and they limit worker freedom. Workers know that if they quit or get fired, they won’t be able to work in their field until the noncompete contract expires.

Until now, our state constitution has made such agreements hard to enforce.”

He goes on to say, “Current state law — rendered void by its constitutional problems — at least gave some protection to workers who were fired for no fault of their own. That made sense: Getting fired or laid off is bad enough; getting laid off and told that by law you can’t get a new job in your career field for two or three years is really rubbing it in.

The new law contains no such safeguard.

The previous law also limited the geographic area in which a noncompete clause could be enforced, requiring employers to describe the area in writing. The new law contains no such restriction, meaning a noncompete contract could conceivably be enforced nationally.”

As I was writing this post I saw the following tweet appear in my Twitter stream:

@egrasing: Ironic:  if Amendment 1 passes, the only “jobs of tomorrow” you’ll be able to consider are going to be ones you don’t want.

My first thought?

“…and aren’t qualified for.”

For example.

If you have undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting, have been working as an accountant for the last XX years, are laid off, and because of your non-compete agreement are forbidden from seeeking employment in the accounting arena for the next two or three years, just what exactly are you going to do to earn a living? Is it really realistic to think that you could find employment at the same professional and compensation levels?

The chances are slim. VERY SLIM.

Unless you have simultaneously been pursuing an alternate career or hobby that can compensate you in the same fashion and provide you with similar benefits and standard-of-living…chances are, you’re screwed. And most people I know certainly do not fall in to that category.

Bookman goes on to present another element of this argument. “For some, those changes might be worthwhile if they bring jobs to Georgia. But research suggests the opposite.

The classic case study compares Massachusetts, which allows strict noncompete contracts, and California, which bars them. At one point, the two states boasted comparable high-tech industries, but California’s Silicon Valley quickly outgrew Boston’s Route 128.

Why? Well, California allowed workers to form new, more nimble companies, creating competition, while Massachusetts protected existing firms at the expense of innovation.

A 2009 study by the Harvard School of Business focused on Michigan, which in 1985 passed a law much like that now on the Georgia ballot. By tracking patents, the study found that job mobility for inventors in Michigan fell significantly once the law changed.

“States that continue to allow widespread use of such agreements as a way to protect established firms may instead be inadvertently creating a ‘brain drain’ of the very workers needed to create and build successful new firms,” the Harvard study warns.”

Please. Vote NO on Amendment One in Georgia.

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Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod

Recently a blog post on tlnt.com by the fabulous Laurie Ruettimann caught my attention, “Don’t Facebook Me: Why You Shouldn’t Google During the Recruiting Process.”

Laurie writes, “I don’t believe it is appropriate for Human Resources professionals to hop on Google, root around the Internet, and look for incriminating pictures and create reasons not to hire qualified people during America’s worst recession in decades.

Googling is a sloppy, lazy, and unseemly method to verify a candidate’s character. And who the heck is HR to put itself out there as a judge of character? I told the audience, “Some of us in the room are human and screw up on a daily basis. If you can’t use Facebook to post pictures, where is the joy in life?”

My first thought was, “But I am not looking for information to rule candidates out. I am looking for information to rule them in.”

When I am using Google or any other search tool as a part of my sourcing and recruiting efforts, I am seeking information about individuals’ professional experience and expertise. When working on a search, the goal is to find the most qualified candidate. Most of the searches that I work on are highly-specialized; clients hire me to find qualified individuals at a certain level within a small, very specific niche.

There is typically an extremely limited pool of these people that I am looking for. So, when I start researching someone’s professional background, I am hoping to find information telling me they are the right candidate for the job.

I WANT this person to be the right person for the job – so I can fill it and move on to the next one!

The problem arises when things pop up during this research that provide some doubt as to whether the individual may be the right fit for a client. The reason I am always writing on my blog about how it’s not a good idea to have drunken, naked, or otherwise unprofessional photos that are available to the general public is that we recruiters don’t want to find that stuff when we are doing our research! If we do, it might give us pause: ”Well, now, what if my client researches them and finds this and I didn’t tell them about it?”

Let me give you an example.

During a search I was working on several years ago I came across a potential candidate’s resume. He was a consultant for a Big 4 professional services firm, and his education and work experience were impressive.

The problem?

His resume was outlined on his MySpace page…right next to pictures of him, um, hugging the Porcelein God if you know what I mean. ;) 

There was also a lot of commentary about how he likes to drink and get drunk and there were pictures of naked woman all over his page.

My first thought was that if the partners of his firm saw this they would be mortified. And what if a client or potential client of theirs found it??

And then I thought the same thing about if the partners of the firm I was representing at the time saw that. They would be equally mortified. To have the name of the firm right there next to all of that…I still shudder at the thought.

Fortunately for me, it turned out his experience was not a direct match for what I was looking for so even if I had not seen all of that he would not have been a fit for that particular role. However, I just kept thinking…what if he had been? Then what am I supposed to do with that information once I have it?

Part of being a good fit for certain MOST roles is demonstration of good judgment. That, was not.

I think it’s perfectly fine to post your pictures on MySpace or Facebook or wherever. Naked or drunk or otherwise.

I think it’s also a really, really good idea to think long and hard about whom you want to see that stuff and whom you do not…and to USE PROTECTION THOSE PRIVACY CONTROLS THEY GIVE YOU.

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Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod

Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod

As I sit here I am contemplating some recent changes I’ve made in my life.

Some I chose willingly and even happily, and some I just chose because the alternatives available to me were no longer working for me.

I’m much, much happier about the first set of changes, although those did not transpire entirely without pain or consequence, either.

And the latter set of changes…well, while I wasn’t happy about the way things were, I’m not at all happy about the way things are now either.

Those are the choices that REALLY suck.

You want A but you have B and that’s not working for you. A is still not an option, so you choose C…and then you realize that C is even further away from A than B was.

UGH.

A long time ago, a good — and very wise — friend said to me:

People only make a change when it’s easier to make the change than it is to stay the same.”

Remember the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D.?

That book was a real eye-opener for me at a time when I really needed it.

I was working for a major U.S. life insurance company that was demutualizing in order to go public. The company was more than 150 years old and many, MANY of the corporate executives as well as agency managers, regional directors, and RVPs that I worked with had been with the company for 25 or 30 years or more.

Their entire careers.

They had started their careers there and they would end them there.

You want to talk about resistant to change??

As a twenty-something who made VP at a very early age and had a LOT riding on my shoulders during that time, it was a fabulous – though amazingly difficult – learning experience.

I mean, painful.

So much anxiety I had to see a therapist on a weekly basis just to DEAL.

The book helped me look around and see how people were either accepting change and moving forward successfully — or not.

It was a huge life lesson for me and something that is helping me process some things that I’m dealing with right now on a personal level.

Change happens.

And then more change happens.

And then more change happens after that.

Some of it we choose; some of it we like — and much of it we do not choose or like.

But we do choose how we react to it.

Lots of people have had lots of struggles over the past couple of years. Myself included.

I’ve seen so many people reach out and band together — to lend a hand to help others in whatever way they can…be it time, expertise, or money.

Some excellent examples in the recruiting and HR community are Mark Stelzner of JobAngels, and Robin Eads of JobShouts.

I’m a firm believer in the concept that a rising tide lifts all boats.

(Uh, I just realized. Kind of ironic to mention that on this day, Round 17 or whatever it is of #ATLflood…)

Anyway.

By now I am sure you are wondering what my point is and what all of this has to do with blogging.

When I first started this blog I was a prolific writer.

I was committed and I could not crank the blog posts out fast enough.

I averaged at least five a week and many times more than one in a day.

Over the past few months that deluge has dwindled to a mere trickle, and right now I would say that this blog is on life support.

I promised to bring it back and I am going to.

I promised all three of my readers – and more importantly (no offense), I promised myself.

In order to do that I’m going to have to make some changes in my life.

Some will be comfortable and others will not.

It will require re-dedication and a lot of time and thought – which will mean taking time and energy away from things I may otherwise do instead.

However, I know firsthand the benefits and rewards from being a dedicated blogger (we’ll cover that list another time!)

I know it’s only Step 2 of 12 and I have a long way to go…but I’m back, my friends.

I’m back.

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Then do something.

March 28, 2010

A friend of mine said something rather profound to me today. “Be angry over what you can control.” Which, once I started thinking about it all made me really mad, to be honest with you; because when I think about all that makes me angry…NONE of it is within my control. If I could control it I would change […]

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Think it’s a good idea to block your employees from social networks? Think again.

March 12, 2010

Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod Nearly a year ago I was a guest on the Gravity Free Radio Show with Erik Wolf + Stephanie Frost and was asked my thoughts on employers’ fears about their employees being active on social networking sites. I stumbled upon a fantastic article on Advertising Age yesterday that outlines all of the […]

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Lesson from trash day | Don’t do stupid sh*t

January 22, 2010

I just returned from a run, and as I ran down my street I noticed that everyone’s empty garbage cans were in the middle of their driveways. It’s trash day. This is a pet peeve of mine, particularly because I live on a very busy two-lane street where people do stupid sh*t like drive a […]

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My 2009 Person of the Year | FSU Football Coach Bobby Bowden

January 3, 2010

Welcome to 2010 folks. The only thing that makes me sad about leaving 2009 behind and starting this #glorious new year is that Bobby Bowden is no longer the football coach at my alma mater, Florida State University. I know FSU has sucked in football for quite a while now and a lot of people […]

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