This Recruiter’s Perspective on DeVos: A Series

Part II of III.

In the first part of this series, I outlined what the Secretary of Education actually does.

Now we turn to an analysis of the requirements of the position. 

The biggest challenge and the part that is both equally amusing and horrifying is that there are no actual qualifications for the position of Secretary of Education. I’ve searched the Department of Education’s website and can’t find anything definitive. I think there are more written qualifications for an Administrative Assistant in my company than there are for this position. Using basis reasoning and logic, in addition to reviewing the basic requirements of positions such as Teacher, Principal, School Superintendent and School Board Member, one might reasonably expect that the Secretary of Education hold the following minimum requirements.

  1. 4-year degree from accredited institution in either Education or Public Policy required. Master’s degree in related field preferred.
  2. Instruction experience in a public or private primary, secondary educational institution or institution of higher learning.
  3. Experience in an educational administration role such as district superintendent.
  4. Experience in educational public policy.
  5. Former or current state Board of Education member.
  6. Experience managing a large team of professional employees.
  7. Experience managing a large budget.

Indeed, here are samples of the minimum requirements for various Superintendent roles in Michigan, the home state of Mrs. DeVos.

Superintendent/Principal K-12 schools for the Fairview Area Schools. Requirements include:  Master’s Degree in Education or related field, experience in school administration/staff management, and a proven track history of budget preparation, adjustments, and successful implementation of approved budget.  Applicant must possess excellent verbal and written skills, a firm understanding of a small school environment, and a strong record of high moral, ethical, and professional standards.

To apply for the Superintendent position at Williamston Community Schools in Michigan, candidates must possess the following background:

  • Experience as a teacher, building administrator, and/or Central Office administrator;
  • Master’s Degree plus Administrative Certification with evidence of on-going leadership training;
  • Accomplishments which reflect ability to enhance educational programs and increase student achievement;
  • Experience with Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS);
  • Deep understanding of curriculum and teaching methodologies;

And one more, cause three is better than two. The Allendale Public School District in Michigan publishes a candidate profile complete with required professional background: Master’s plus administrative certificate , Teaching and Administrative experience, Possesses a strong background in K‐12   education, previous Superintendent/Central   Office experience preferred , An instructional leader with previous success   improving achievement for all students,  Successful experience implementing   instructional technology, and experience in school construction preferred. 

Tune in for the final part of this series where we will put Mrs. DeVos’s experience and background under a microscope and make our final recommendation.

This Recruiter’s Perspective on DeVos: A Series

Part I of III

By now, you have probably heard that Trump is POTUS and he has picked his cabinet nominees. Those nominees are now in various stages of confirmation hearings by the Senate. Shortly after the election, Trump nominated Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos for Secretary of Education. And all hell broke loose- see here.

To try to be as fair and balanced as possible, I decided to look at this nomination from a recruiter’s perspective and to answer this very fundamental question, does Mrs. DeVos meet the minimum requirements for the position of Secretary of Education?  In this three- part series, I’m going to explore 1) the essential functions of the role, 2) the minimum requirements of the position and 3)the candidate’s qualifications and my recommendation.

So, if I’m going to declare myself a recruiter and also use this post to determine the qualifications of others, it behooves me to outline my own competencies so that you know I’m speaking from a place of experience and not relying on alternative facts.

I have 13 years of HR experience, and of those, about 11 of those years have been dedicated in whole or in part to recruiting responsibilities. I have sourced and recruited for staffing agencies and private industry, from entry-level manufacturing employees to skilled professionals and technicians to C-Suite Executives. Each role required a custom-designed sourcing and recruiting strategy to find the best talent available that met the skills, knowledge, abilities, general competencies and soft skills required  for successful execution of that position. My hiring recommendations have always been based on a detailed analysis of the position, it’s responsibilities, the skills and knowledge required of the position and the skills, knowledge and abilities of the candidate based on thorough and deliberate vetting process.

The Essential Functions of the Secretary of Education

There is no publicly available job description for Secretary of Education. After reading the Overview of the U.S. Department of Education, I was able to make some educated (no pun intended) guesses.

The Secretary of Education is required to:

  1. Manage a department that has over 4,000 local and remote employees.
  2. Manage a budget of approximately $50-$60 billion dollars.
  3. Manage a department that has over 200 separate programs.
  4. Establish policy, administer and coordinate Federal assistance to primary and secondary schools totalling over 150,000 schools with 55 million + students.
  5. Establish policy, administer and coordinate Federal loan, grant and work study programs for millions of undergraduate students.
  6. To advise the President and Congress on matters of education policy, programs and activities.
  7. Oversees education research to analyze data for trends that will identify effective teaching techniques and education best practices.
  8. Enforces Federal statutes that prohibit discrimination and adverse impact in education and to ensure equal access to educational opportunity for every individual.
  9. Promotes public understanding of the department’s mission, goals and objectives.
  10. Refrain from establishing schools, refrain from establishing curricula and refrains from setting enrollment or graduation requirements.

Now that we have set the foundation for what the Secretary of Education’s charge really is, stay tuned for my next post detailing the minimum requirements we can probably all agree would be reasonable for successful execution of this role.

 

 

What HR Won’t Tell You

You’re right in your assumption that HR knows things. Sometimes HR folks know all of the things. Because they support the business, they are likely to be communicating with all departments, all managers and Senior Leadership and they know what’s up.

While I personally take the position of being as transparent and honest as possible with all of my managers and employees, there are just somethings I’m not going to tell you. Sometimes it’s because I can’t, sometimes it’s because I don’t want to lean into that shitty conversation, sometimes it’s because I don’t like you and sometimes it’s because I’m lazy.

  1. We won’t tell you if and when you are getting fired. But we do know when the dark mark has been put upon you.
  2. We won’t tell you if the company has plans to eliminate positions or is planning a downsizing. We may tell you the company has hit some hard times, and tough decisions are being made to turn the ship around. That’s code for reductions in force.
  3. We won’t tell you that you are the office douche-bag or the office narc and no one likes you. Though sometimes I really want to tell you. So you’ll just stop already.
  4. We won’t tell you about certain policies of the company because we really don’t want to advertise them. Usually it’s because we know the policy is stupid and we don’t want to answer the hundreds of questions we will get if we remind you. (See: inclement weather policy/office closures and dress code policies)
  5. We won’t tell you if your manager is monitoring your email. But if you are on a performance improvement plan or had a disciplinary warning, you should be hyper-aware that someone in the company is probably watching your email, network and web activity.
  6. We aren’t going to necessarily spell our your rights as workers. That’s what labor law posters are for. Read them and ask your HR person sometime about the FMLA or the FLSA . Know your own rights.
  7. We won’t tell you your manager dislikes you. Though we may want to warn you, we just won’t tell you.
  8. We won’t tell you your candidate referral bombed his or her interview and the interview team resoundingly gave a thumbs down to hiring him or her. We will simply say that another candidate was more qualified.
  9. We won’t tell you when your manager is about to be terminated.
  10. We may not tell you, that you may have the right to review your employee personnel file, depending on your State’s laws and/or company policies. We may not necessarily suggest that you ask your HR team to review your own file periodically (wink, wink).

Why We Can’t Disconnect.

France recently passed a Right to Disconnect bill providing employees the right to ignore work emails after hours without repercussions. Some have applauded the bill saying that it gives workers their personal lives back. Still others are skeptical that the law will really abolish a behavior that has become so conditioned in workers across the world.

Though benevolent in its motivation, the law won’t be successful. And even if it’s somehow successful in France, its D.O.A. in the United States. That’s because this law doesn’t address the real causes that lead to our inability to disconnect.

Only super humans set healthy boundaries. By many accounts, the current U.S. populace is one of the most debt-ridden, addicted, medicated and obese in history. This says a lot about our ability to say “no” and set healthy limits and boundaries for ourselves. That same underlying inability to set boundaries in our relationships with food, money, drugs and alcohol also prevents us from setting healthy boundaries with our work life.  If we can access work from our mobile device or laptop, we will answer that work email or take that work call.

The normal 8-5 factory of office job is no longer as the world has transitioned from the Traditional Economy to the Knowledge-Based economy. The boundaries that were once defined for us- punching a time clock  and using our hands to make a widget on a factory line- are the way of the dinosaur, extinct. Because most work can be done anytime and anywhere, individuals must rely on themselves to set their own boundaries. Which, as mentioned above, we aren’t good at.

We have been conditioned to be connected. Humans fear disconnection. In Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brené Brown writes “Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The power that connection holds in our lives was confirmed when the main concern about connection emerged as the fear of disconnection; the fear that something we have done or failed to do, something about who we are or where we come from, has made us unlovable and unworthy of connection.” Constant connection to work means knowing the latest and greatest, it means coming to work on Monday with no surprises, it means being one step ahead of your colleagues and in many workplaces being connected all of the time is recognized as an admirable trait worthy of public praise and maybe even some additional compensation. Why, with all of this positive reinforcement, would we not want to be connected?

 

 

How To Ask For More Money. Part I.

Feeling overworked and underpaid? Join the crowd. In a March 2016 article from Fortune, only a little more than 1/3rd of Americans feel they are paid fairly. As an HR Representative counseling employees, I often hear a multitude of reasons why people are unhappy to some degree with their salary. From the perception to being “on-call” all of the time, to doing more than what their manager realizes to just plain feeling undervalued, employees are starting to wonder how to take steps to ask for more money.

Before you barge into your manager’s office demanding more money with little to know argument to back up your request, which never works out well for anyone, I strongly urge you to do the following.

Do your recon.

First, you need to do a little reconnaissance. Schedule a meeting with your Human Resources department and tell them you want to discuss your compensation. You need to find out if the company has a compensation philosophy,  does the organization tend to pay above market, do they pay to meet market averages or do they lag the market? A lot of companies right now are opting to pay median salaries, giving raises each year that just beat cost-of-living inflation, while awarding performance with discretionary bonuses. This is a less riskier option for companies than awarding high salaries in a ever-changing economy that can render a business obsolete in 6 months. Ask HR how the company recognizes performance. You also have to consider how your company is doing overall and where your company is in its life-cycle. If your company is in start-up or decline mode, they likely do not have the capital to be throwing around on employee raises. As the old saying goes, you can’t get blood out of a turnip. Other questions that are helpful to ask are if your company assigns salary ranges to each position and where your position lies on a career track (junior, mid-level, senior-level). Also ask your friendly HR professional for his or her recommendation on how to approach a salary review or request inside of your organization. Any HR practitioner worth their salt, will be able to give you an honest response. If your HR rep is squeamish about your questions, that may be a red flag that your company has an old-school mentality around compensation transparency which still isn’t all that unusual to encounter these days. Yet, it’s good to know this about your company.

External Research.

Next, you also need to do some external market research. You need to hit the internet and find out what data is available on salary ranges for your position, think payscale.com, glassdoor.com and onetonline.org. But heed caution here and build in a margin of error. These websites usually cite self-reported data and individuals usually inflate their salaries when asked. Additionally, these sites do not take into account certain nuances that make an apples-t0-apples comparison very difficult- different geographical regions, international versus regional organizations, successful versus declining companies, and booming industries versus dying industries. You may also want to reach out to recruiters in your area or network and ask them what they see is the going rate for your position. But, proceed with caution for the same reasons stated above. Also, don’t forget the monetary value of your benefits. The company probably pays for a portion of your health insurance and matches your 401(k), even though this isn’t money deposited in the bank every 2 weeks, doesn’t mean it isn’t compensation. You need to figure out the value of your benefits as part of your total compensation to understand what you are truly being paid to do your job. Now, with this information, you can create an acceptable range of what you think your position is worth.

 

 

Once you have done all of this stuff, you are ready to put your plan into play. Tune in on Thursday for How To Ask For More Money, Part II.

 

Kill The Resume

Why do we even use resumes? Are they meant to signal the candidate’s interest in a particular position with a company? We know that past behavior is not an accurate predictor of current or future behavior, so no matter how the resume is formatted or what information is on it, why do companies require this as the entry point to employment with the organization?

Has HR or any organization ever challenged the reason why the resume is the thing that a candidate has to send in? It seems to me that this is just assumed. All people have resumes and all companies request them. But the majority of resumes suck, they do not provide valuable information, they most certainly do not provide valid and reliable data.

I say kill the resume. Let’s take a hard look at what we as an organization require from a candidate and hack a better way.

What about a video profile? Job incumbents can easily use their computer or mobile device to make a short elevator pitch describing what they can offer to the company and why he or she deserves to be considered further. Through video, recruiters and hiring managers get a better idea of how well the candidate prepared for his or her video submission and how effectively the individual advocates for himself or herself to advance for further consideration of employment.

How about using a test or an essay submission that is specifically designed to draw out required competencies of the position? Humans are used to writing essays or taking a test to be considered for things like college, a grant, a scholarship etc… why not use these tools in lieu of a resume? Individuals that truly want to work for your organization and have a vested interest in earning consideration for a particular role in your company, will have no problem accepting the challenge of an essay or test.

Why waste our time on resumes when we can cut right to the chase of assessing one’s skills and competencies from his or her very first interaction with the company? It’s time to get innovative with the application process.

2017 HR Trends

‘Tis the time of year when you read all of the lists, the Top 10 of this, the Worst of that, the Best of whatever. You have probably also seen more than your fair share of trends for 2017; tech trends, political trends, etc… Following suit, here are my thoughts on the 2017 trends for the HR profession.

  1. HR Practitioners particularly of the Business Partner or Generalist variety must strive to demonstrate both their business acumen and also their HR and employment law knowledge. In 2017, HR Practitioners should stop asking whether certification is required to practice HR (it is not, but) and start getting certified. The profession as a whole needs to own our sphere of knowledge. If any professional thinks they also can be HR-savvy and we in no way differentiate ourselves, the farther our occupation fall towards obsolescence. Further, certified HR practitioners needs to broaden their business acumen by pursuing an MBA or pursuing industry-designations.
  2. HR Professionals should begin to learn the basics of programming, data analytics and become social media experts. These skills are no longer the future of the job, they are are the present and current needs of HR practitioners. As more and more of our profession can be automated combined with the rise of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, bots will be able to do  the tactical stuff we do now as well as interface with employees directly. Additionally, HR should stay abreast of all technology trends and how they may apply to disrupt the HR profession.
  3. Heightened emphasis on the Employee Experience. For several year now, we have been in an employee-driven marketplace. As I do not see this changing in 2017, companies will be challenged to compete for talent based on the employee experience and HR has to take the lead on this. From the time a candidate enters our company vortex to the time they terminate and even beyond, HR needs to review all of its processes, policies, physical space and operations and ask themselves how it positively contributes to the employee experience at their company.
  4. HR will have to take the lead or involve themselves closely as we continue to see the rise of and evolution of the Digital Workplace. HR has to step up and consider how the Digital Workplace challenges traditional notions of management, organizational structure, communication and how we understand the basic concept of work. These ideas should be generating out of HR, we have to become the innovators of the workplace.
  5. Federal deregulation is likely under the Trump Administration so HR will see a lot of change (as usual), and will have to respond accordingly to the repeal and possible replacement of the ACA and how that impacts benefits offerings and health insurance plans. While the Federal government is deregulating business, be prepared to see a lot of activity impacting the business world and workplace at the State-level particularly with respect to the minimum wage, requirements around eligibility for overtime, parental leave laws, deregulation and/or legalization of recreational marijuana, sick leave laws, and more activity around protected classes specifically sexual identity, national original, criminal history and compensation history.
  6. Strategic talent acquisition. Each new role within a company deserves a very specific and strategic recruiting plan, not a one-size-fits-all post and wait for them to come strategy. Employee referral programs and social media recruiting should be maximized to find the right candidates.
  7. Personal Time as a right and not a privilege. The right of the employee to disconnect without adverse employment actions. Recently France passed a Right to Disconnect law, giving employees the legal right to ignore work email when they are off the clock. As wellbeing research shifts to understanding the negative impact to employees of being “on” all of the time, there will be more and more social pressure on companies to enact policies setting boundaries around work time and non-work time.