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TGIF from (sunny, spectacular) Seattle





Happy Friday from sunny, beautiful Seattle. To me, this epitomizes Spring:


This is the first open blossom on the spectacular Mt. Fuji Cherry tree in our front yard. It’s a beautiful old specimen, and I eagerly await it’s blossoming every Spring. Given a few sunny days–which we are having right now, fortunately–it will explode into a stunning display of color. I’ll update with a photo of it in full bloom.

It’s supposed to reach 70 degrees here this weekend! Out like a lamb with March, indeed. I can hardly believe that a week ago I was posting photos of snow.  Time for me to do serious yardwork (borrowing a neighbor’s truck and spreading mulch) and, if I’m not too sore on Sunday, wash at least two of the cars. Then perhaps a bike ride and dinner with our (awesome) neighbors.

What else is going on, hivemind?

-Pro blogger, HR thought leader, and all around smart woman Laurie Ruettimann wrote a great post on her blog The Cynical Girl this week: “Recruiting is the Hardest Part of HR“.  I think Laurie and I are of like mind that most Recruiters who have made a career of recruiting don’t want to jump the fence over to the HR side. Conversely, most HR generalists don’t want to work in the recruiting space (although I think in smaller teams, everyone should be cross-functional; all of our HR managers can operate as recruiters if needed).  Laurie’s blog is easily one of the best on the ‘net; I highly recommend subscribing. I do think some of the things HR generalists/managers do are way more difficult than what I do (reductions in force, for instance).

-I’m WAY behind the punditosphere on this, but I want to add my $0.02 on the Big Dongle story of last week.  In short: Two devs at PyCon were having a discussion that included a joke about ‘big dongles’ (you know, like the thing you plug into your laptop so you can use a wireless mouse). A ‘developer evangelist’ for SendGrid, Adria Richards, overheard and was apparently offended. She posts a photo and complaint to Twitter. Dude gets ejected from the conference, then fired. Down the line, Anonymous (allegedly) gets involved, demanding SendGrid fire the dev evangelist and (allegedly) initiates a DDOS attack against SendGrid. SendGrid fires said dev evangelist. This all happened in the blink of an eye.

My analysis:

  • The dev should have known better than to make juvenile and sexually suggestive comments in a professional environment.
  • Richards handled this situation 100% wrong. Richards’ is paid to use her social networking profiles to engage the dev community on behalf of her employer. Instead of turning around and saying, “Hey guys, I couldn’t help but overhear…and I gotta say your convo is making me a bit uncomfortable”, she posts a photo of them to Twitter and complains to her nearly 15,000 followers. While her action resulted in an immediate reaction (dev being removed from conference session), it also launched a firestorm of events resulting in her employer being attacked and her being fired. I can’t speak to the reasons, but it’s clear that when your actions have set in motion a course of events that result in an anonymous hacker collective (allegedly) attacking your employer, you can no longer represent said employer with the dev community.

This highlights how significant reputational risk can be in the world of social media–both to an individual and to their  If you build a social media audience–through actions personal or professional–you must be constantly aware of how you use it. Everything you post, repost, or respond to is irrevocable (even if you delete that tweet, it’s still out there) and if it’s controversial enough, it will spread like wildfire.


What are you the best at?

Last night, my other half and I went to see the Cirque de Soleil show Amaluna. I admit, I’m usually not the most enthusiastic about these kinds of shows  (although I have seen “O” in Las Vegas and was transfixed by it). But a relative had given us a gift card for Christmas and the show ends this weekend–so it was now or never.

I shouldn’t have been so hesitant. It was an astonishing performance. In between being spellbound by the frequently astonishing feats of the performers, I thought about how much time, skill development, extraordinary dedication, and focus it must take to achieve the level of mastery demonstrated by the acrobatic talent onstage. It also made me realize that to reach that level of extraordinary ability, there must be a lot of failure involved–that would be painful (even when working with a net or padded mat, which for most of the show they do not).

It makes me wonder: How many of us, in what we do every day, could honestly say we are as good as one of those performers in even one thing we do? That we apply the same level of dedication, learning, and incredibly hard work each and every day toward that one activity?

How much better would you be at your chosen profession (or hobby) if you did?

Here’s another question: If you’re not, what’s holding you back?

Do you know what Google says about you?

Many of us have engaged in the practice of Egosurfing from time to time. It’s interesting–and, yes, I suppose a potential ego boost–to find out what the Internet has to say about us.

But how many of us have applied the job search lens to what Google might say about us?

I am against the practice of Googling a candidate. Much like looking them up on Facebook, it has the potential to expose information that is irrelevant (and potentially not allowed by law) into the selection process. However, it cannot be assumed that it will never happen. Therefore, a few pointers:

Make sure you know what a Google search returns on your name. If its unique enough, you should be the top result; if not, you might get confused with another Joe Smith-and that might be a bad thing.

  • Control what results are populated from sites like Facebook by managing your security permissions-what people can see outside your network, who can tag you and post photos of you, how searchable you are, etc. You want to control what personal information is visible and searchable.
  • Actively manage what results people see by creating a unique LinkedIn URL, building out your LinkedIn profile completely, and adding yourself to professional networks like Spoke, ZoomInfo, And Naymz. Create a Twitter account for professional use and populate it with content. Participate on professional sites for your industry (ERE and RecruitingBlogs are two examples in mine) through engaging in discussions with other professionals.
  • Keep these sites current with new content. This serves two purposes. One, it increases your SEO ranking-the more content you create, and more recently you create that content, the more likely you will be ranked higher in search results. Two, it demonstrates your subject matter expertise and passion; you don’t just do this as a day job, you are interested in learning and sharing your knowledge with your professional peers.
  • Protect your online reputation. Again, the best way to manage your online reputation is to be very careful about what people can post about you through sites like Facebook.  Consider making yourself not publicly searchable on Facebook. If you find something that you want removed, consider using an online reputation management service like Reputation  (note: I have no affiliation with Reputation and have not used their services).

Remember: Everything that is put out on the internet isn’t done so in virtual pencil; its in indelible ink. Just because you delete that photo on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s not stored in an archive somewhere else (or many such archives). Think carefully about that before you hit ‘post’.

TGIF! And a lesson about the Puget Sound Convergence Zone

Happy Friday!

Today, a quick lesson about the wacky weather patterns of the Puget Sound area, brought to you by our friend the Puget Sound Convergence Zone.

What is the Convergence Zone, you ask? Well, in short, the Puget Sound region is fascinating topographically. Not only do we have a big body of salt water (Puget Sound) snaking East and South through the region for about 80 miles, but we also are flanked by two mountain ranges: The Olympics to the West, and the Cascades to the East. (Metro areas in yellow on the map below)

puget sound topographic

The Olympics play a major role in the Convergence Zone. Winds coming from the NW are split by the Olympic mountains, forced to go North and South. Part of the airstream flows East down the Strait of Juan de Fuca (big body of water North of the Olympics in the map above) and the other half travels around the bottom of the Olympic range. When the Northern flow hits the I-5 corridor (where most of us live) and the Cascade mountains, it is forced South. The same happens to the Southerly flow, but it is forced Northward. And then this happens:


The split weather patterns normally converge (get it?) somewhere North of Seattle (between 8 and 16 miles), and when they meet convection occurs–which normally causes storm cloud development.

Combine that with changes in altitude (lots of people live East, in the Cascade foothills), big bodies of salt water (which remain at a fairly consistent temperature year-round and create a local microclimate for downtown Seattle), and you get wacky weather. Today is a great example thereof. Here I sit at my office, which is nearly at sea level in downtown Seattle. Looks like just another gray day, right?

Downtown 22Fri13

And yet, here is a street scene from the town of  Edmonds, ~12 miles North (and definitely in the Convergence Zone today!):

111022_snowy_day_10 (1)

This is the first snowfall of the 2012-13 Winter–ironically hitting us in the first 3 days of Spring.

So the next time you hear someone say, “Ugh, I could never live in Seattle–it’s just gray and rainy all the time”, you’ll know there’s far more to it than that! (And/or you stopped reading long ago and will simply agree with them.)

UPDATE–5:00PM: It’s now beautifully clear, sunny, and 51 degrees outside. I drove back to work from a meeting with my sunroof open. That’s Seattle in Springtime for you!

Seattle sun

Phone Interviews: Do’s and Don’ts

As a recruiter, a large part of my daily schedule is spent interviewing candidates by phone. Phone screens are generally 30 minutes and are used to  collect specific baseline information from candidates (What’s your work authorization status? Is there anything that might be returned in a criminal background check that could prevent you from being considered?), understand their apply motivators (Were you referred by a current employee? What’s going on at your current job?), and dive into their relevant career experience.

Three possible outcomes: Move the candidate forward to next step (usually present to hiring manager); Hold to see if there are stronger candidates; Decline due to poor phone screen/red flag presented.

Today, nearly all of these conversations are being done with candidates who are on mobile phones. As in my prior post about communicating via email with recruiters/hiring managers on your mobile device, I have a few tips on phone screens:

  • Ensure you block out enough time. I’ll give you available times at least 24 hours in advance, and I will usually give you two available windows of time. When you choose one, make sure you actually block off at least 45 minutes–not just 30. Why? You need time to get away from your desk to somewhere you can talk; to mentally shift gears and review the job description and your notes/questions; and to leave overrun time if the phone screen goes a bit long.
  • Have a quiet, distraction-free location selected before the call begins. It’s not uncommon for people to have barking dogs, crying/nagging children, loud environmental noise (street noise, construction, people) or other such distractions in the background. If I’m struggling to understand you, or you’re asking me to repeat my questions? It’s not going to be a productive conversation and I may ask to reschedule.
  • Make 125% sure you are in a location with strong cell signal. If not? Have a Plan B. A major annoyance is when a phone screen gets disconnected 2-3 times during a 30 minute conversation. And it happens more often than you might think.  Test your phone in that stairwell/hallway/etc; if it doesn’t have 4/4 bars, book a conference room or empty office.
  • Prepare to answer the typical questions: Some examples: Where did you hear about the position? Why are you looking for a new role now? What compensation are you seeking? When would you be available to start? Walk me through your relevant work history and share with me the key experience, skills, projects, etc that make you highly qualified for our role?
  • Have a question or two to ask the interviewer about the company, products, team, or position specifics. This demonstrates your level of interest through your preparation.
  • However, DO NOT ask questions like…“What benefits would I get–and when would they start?  When do I start accruing vacation? How much would this pay?” or, “What’s a typical day like in this role?” The last one, in particular, drives recruiters nuts. They don’t do this job. And honestly, in many professional positions where the employee is expected to work in a self-directed manner, YOU decide what a ‘typical day’ looks like.

Remember: The recruiter is both the gatekeeper to the next step in the process as well as a potential advocate for you in getting to that next step. Ensuring you have a disruption-free space, sufficient time, and thoughtful planning for a phone screen can lead to a recruiter becoming your advocate by the end of the call.

March 2013
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