Monday, June 30, 2014

Discussing Work Life Balance in the Interview

This week a candidate asked me how best to approach this topic.  She had interviewed very well and was told the company was going to discuss putting together an offer.  She is career driven and very smart.  She also has a young child who goes to bed at 8pm.  It is important to her to be home to spend time with her child before bedtime.   The hiring manager for the role the candidate is interviewing for, made it sound like the hours might be long.   The candidate was uncertain about how to discuss during the interview.   

Experience indicates honesty and candidness are really important.  If you know what hours you are willing to work it is important to be candid DURING the interview process, prior to accepting an offer.  Discuss directly with the hiring manager. (Preferably right after you have convinced them you can do the work they need done.)  Our industry RARELY accommodates a 40 hour work week but if you are willing to work some flex hours from home I have seen employees who deliver results and get their work done be granted some flexibility with their schedules.  

If this candidate takes the job without mentioning that it is important to be home before 8 pm to spend some time with her child, and the corporate culture/hiring manager require regularly working until 7:30….everyone is in a no win situation.  If the hiring manager knows up front and they discuss ways that they can make this work then the offer can be extended and there won’t be any surprises.

Think about what you need to be happy for your work life balance.  Some people love working and are at a point where they are willing and able to put in whatever hours it takes.  Some people need to recharge spending time with friends, family, the pursuit of fitness, their passions and hobbies.  They are still skilled and wildly productive in their positions.  Be prepared to discuss the ideal balance for you. Then listen to what the hiring manager expects.  Many times agreement can be reached if it is discussed up front.   If common ground can’t be negotiated then it is likely the role is not a long term fit anyway. 

From a hiring manager perspective:  What do you need from the employee in the open position?  Are there days and times that are absolutely required?  Do you expect people to work the same hours you do? What flexibility can you offer without compromising the business if they need to accommodate a daycare schedule, family/social event, an ill family member etc?  

It is best to be clear and candid about this with candidates during the interview process.  Don’t paint a picture that is rosier than real life.  This will assure that the candidate you hire has a full understanding of what to expect from a work life balance perspective.  The odds of them staying on your team long term are much greater.   

Do you think our industry requires more hours than others?   Have you ever been required to work more than you felt was healthy for you?  As a manager what would/do you expect of your employees from a work schedule perspective?

Monday, June 16, 2014

No room for rude.

Consider every contact regarding a potential new role a part of the interview process.  Manners and courtesy will always work in your favor.   There is no contact that does not have a potential impact on whether you are hired.

1.       The first email from an agency like Apparel Resource or a Corporate Recruiter.  Even if you have no intention of leaving your current role a polite response saying you are happy in your role but appreciate the contact is the best way to have a great network should your situation change.

2.       The first call from an agency like Apparel Resource.  I have had candidates forget the scheduled call and then speak in a rude tones because they don’t have time for the call they forgot about.  I have had candidates act offended that I need to actually “interview” them because I am not the employer.  I have had candidates treat the initial interview very casually as an afterthought doing other things while talking with me.  Make no mistake, when you are speaking with an agency about potential job options they are pre-screening you for their clients. 

3.       The Coordinator or Administrator that contacts you to arrange your interview and travel if it is required.  These people are very often asked how the candidates interact with them.  Courteous, prompt responses and flexibility will be passed along as positive feedback.

4.        The Receptionist at the front desk.  A receptionist once at one of our business partners told me, “Candidates from Apparel Resource are always so polite.” She told me about one candidate (not through our agency) that was very rude about wearing a guest nametag that was required.  He was condescending and argued with the receptionist who was only doing her job. The candidate interviewed very well but the receptionist shared her experience with the candidate to the hiring team and they passed on him.

5.       The Coordinator who walks you from one interviewer to another.  Feedback is often informally solicited from these folks. 

6.       Tour Guides. We have a client that gives candidates a tour of their campus. This tour is often given by HR interns or administrative assistants.   The President of the hiring company often asked how the candidate treated the employee who gave the tour.  Negative feedback would prevent the candidate from moving forward.  He and I were visiting about this practice and he said to me.  "We have no room for rude here.  I want to know how prospective employees are going to treat others day to day."

7.       Realtors.  Some employers refer candidates to local realtors who will show candidates the area if relocation is involved.  Whether informally or formally their opinion of candidates can make it back to the company and have an impact on whether to hire or not. 

Have you ever seen a candidate change their behavior based on who they were with?  The golden rule always applies.  Treat others the way you would like to be treated.  That means everyone!
For information on what roles we are currently recruiting for contact me at

Monday, June 9, 2014

Leading a team

Being a leader can be hard work. Not only are you supposed to get the functional job done, but you are also supposed to inspire and be an example to your team. What does that mean? How do you inspire a team?

First, set a clear vision and goals for the team and each individual member. What does the group want to accomplish as a team? How does the team define success? What does each team member want for their career? What does s/he want to achieve for the short term vs long term? How are the goals aligned with the corporation and each other? Discuss goals with the team.

Once your team has goals & you know what motivates each team member, stay focused. How can you make sure the team has the work life balance while moving them forward in their careers? What are the obstacles you can clear out of their way so they can succeed?

Aside from leading a team, many leaders are tasked with their ‘own’ workload. There is a downstream effect of prioritizing your workload vs that of your team. Sometimes it is hard to lose sight of your role as a leader. How can you set the right example as a leader while delivering results?

What kind of leader do you want to be? How do you ensure you are the leader you want to be? Who can help guide you as a leader? What are some ways you inspire your team?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Job Opportunities - Where to post them and where to find them.

When you are a hiring manager with an open position how do you get the word out?  When you are a candidate where do you look?  Times have changed since placing an ad in the classifieds and waiting for resumes to be mailed in.    Here is a list but certainly not all inclusive of options.

1)      Your professional colleague network – don’t ever underestimate word of mouth
2)      Your company’s corporate website
3)      Your personal LinkedIn profile
4)      Your company’s corporate Facebook Page
5)      Your company’s corporate LinkedIn Page
6)      Yes…the newspaper in the local area the job is located
7)       Style Careers – specific to our industry
8) – Design talent
9) – Field Retail talent
10)   Womens Wear Daily career page career tab
11)   NRF SmartBrief =
12) SmartBrief =
13)   There is the option of a radio ad during commute hours
14)   Monster – all industries
15)   Careerbuilder – all industries
16)   Coroflot – predominately Design talent
17)   Alumni pages of Universities known for strong programs in our industry
18) Recruiting Agencies will always share the jobs they are working on with candidates who are looking for a new role.  If you have the budget for a fee as a hiring manager, they will also publish your opening to their network and make contacts specifically for your role.

The key is finding the channel that your target audience will be paying attention to.  What places have you been successful reaching talent or finding job openings?

You can see the job openings we are working on at .