Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy New Year

Sorry about the lack of updates but just wanted to write to say L'Shana Tova, a Happy New Year, to those who are celebrating...

What I’m Hearing…Plastic Surgery to Get the Job

Last night I watched CSI: Miami. During the show, a tease came on for the 11 PM news. One of their lead stories was people getting plastic surgery or other cosmetic procedures to make themselves more viable in this new job market. Of course I had to stay up for this story – I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!

According to the piece, people who go this route most often opt for Botox or other filler type procedures, followed by surgery. The two women profiled in the story said that using Botox would make them a more viable candidate in the job market because they appear younger.

This got me thinking. It’s undeniable that there is a quiet appearance bias in America. However, I find it hard to believe that a small wrinkle near the corner of someone’s mouth would prevent him or her from getting a job. What happened to the strength of one’s résumé and experience? Given the choice between a great looking candidate and one who has the knowledge and experiences I need for the position, I’m opting for the latter.

After all, laugh lines often come along with wisdom and experience.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Executive Compensation

I was watching the ABC World News last night, and of course the upcoming Presidential election was one of the main stories. The candidates’ stands on Executive Compensation were a primary focus for the evening. It appears that the American public has had enough of golden parachute and other severance provisions that in many cases reward failure rather than success. The concept of “Say on Pay,” or shareholders’ opportunities to vote on executives’ pay, was also mentioned.

Presidential election notwithstanding, it is time for Americans to look more closely at executive compensation, and to make sure that pay is truly for performance – positive performance. While the average American may think they can’t control what happens at a Fortune 500 company, it’s time to think again. The power of consumers is great. Vote with your spending and dollars, and see how quickly changes and accountability come to organizations that previously seemed untouchable.

'Overpaid' Circuit City CEO joins 'overpaid' ex-employees on bread line

From CNET News:



Monday, September 22, 2008

HR Associations Around the Globe


Lehman Bonus Fury

Here's where Wall St. and Main St. differ quite a bit... click here

Friday, September 19, 2008

Could Pre-Employment Tests Have Saved Lehman and Merrill?

This American Chronicle article caught my attention with this sub headline: CORPORATE CULTURES OF CIRCULAR FIRING SQUADS: click here

NY Unemployment

NY unemployment rises to 5.8 percent but remains below the national average

153 words
04:57 pm, 09/18/2008
Associated Press Newswires
(c) 2008. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.8 percent in August from 5.2 percent in July, even as private-sector employers added 3,000 jobs.

The state Labor Department says it was the largest month-to-month increase in the unemployment rate since January 1991.

New York City's unemployment rate rose even more sharply, coming in at 5.8 percent in August compared with 5 percent in July. That was the largest monthly increase since 1976.

At the same time, the national unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent from 5.7 percent.

Over the past year, the Labor Department says the state added a total of 39,700 jobs, with education, health care tourism and government posting the biggest gains, and the manufacturing, finance and construction industries shedding jobs.


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Thursday, September 18, 2008

What I’m Hearing…What You’re Thinking

On today's Q104.3 morning program, show hosts Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein discussed an article in Men’s Health magazine regarding women’s dress and the signals such clothing may send to members of the opposite sex. Reactions in the workplace were of particular interest. According to the author of the magazine, clothing with plunging necklines or a soft hand sends subtle messages of a romantic nature to male co-workers.

Kerr and Sonstein then opened the discussion to members of the listening audience. The listeners' takes on wearing a plunging neckline in the workplace were much rawer, eliciting comments that wearing such clothes tells men that women are thinking “do me in the copy room now” and “do me on my desk.” I’m not making these comments up – the male callers actually said them, and thought they were amusing, too.

The question of the propriety of a plunging neckline in the workplace aside, is this what people are truly thinking? I’m shocked to think that this could be happening! As HR professionals, we must be sure to address such thoughts and attitudes to ensure a non-hostile environment for everyone. While of course everyone is entitled to their private thoughts, work-related thoughts should be the primary focus of 9-5, not extracurricular activities.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Financial World and the Job Market

It'll be interesting to see the fallout in the job market from the current financial crisis, but some effects are already seen...

The first article is from the New Jersey Law Journal and probably won't work for most of you...but the important part is just to read the title and then find a way to get your hands on the article: Pru Appeals in Suit Charging it Paid Off Plaintiffs' Lawyers: click here

Next, an interesting lesson from Yahoo! News via the AP on what can happen with mergers/takeovers and job layoffs as HP surprises Wall Street in this article: click here

(H/T to Wendy for those)

The Wall Street Journal (with a nice, new look) continues with an article sure to cause a little head scratching to most of America...the Executive job market is still healthy: click here and a video here

Next from the Journal is a very interesting article about trying to get Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's employees to stay as the mortgage giants go through some difficult times: click here

Going quickly to the Boston Globe's, Boston.com Monster.com HiringHub HR Center HR Blog, word that this isn't your father's job fairs--something new is in the air: click here

Lastly, in an article form the Journal, we learn that GMAT scores are being canceled...a lesson to employers that sometimes test scores aren't really all that reliable: click here

We've also added a great new feed from the WSJ on our right: click here

Friday, September 12, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Chutes and Ladders

The August 2008 issue of Continental magazine featured an article called “Chutes and Ladders.” The author, Dayton Fandray, asserts that employees no longer only move up and down an organizational hierarchy. Rather, lateral moves, growth experiences, and other “non-traditional” career moves are becoming the norm.

Mr. Fandray’s assertions are right on the money. In today’s work environment, we have to recognize that not all employees are looking for that traditional climb up the corporate ladder. Sure, some people are, but that’s not everyone. To attract, retain, and motivate the talent necessary for success, we have to customize career opportunities to meet the needs of our organization and our employees. This means adopting a flexible total rewards mentality. Thinking differently about career moves will be beneficial for all parties involved. So if that means we’re playing Twister instead of Chutes and Ladders, all the better.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Small Packages Doesn't Always Equal Good Things

Some say that good things come in small packages...but not all small packages are good things...

Take for example this beer from Heartland Brewery from last night where Jennifer--author of the very popular "What I'm Hearing" series on this blog--and I had dinner (with the salt and pepper shakers in the background as perspective)


If you're looking for the HR tie-in, keep looking; this was off of the regular HR path...well...why not?

"Small business feel" is one way people often describe companies, especially in job descriptions, but while good things can come from small business (like Astron!), sometimes small business doesn't equate into good things (trust me, I've been there).

What I’m Hearing…Twittering

Yesterday I Twittered for the first time. Actually, five times.

No, it’s not as risqué as it sounds.

For those unfamiliar with the process, Twitter.com is a site that takes blogging a step further. You post instant microburst updates on your latest happenings and thoughts on your own Twitter site.

Since it’s relatively new, people primarily use Twitter for social networking purposes. However, the site holds many possibilities for management in general and HR in particular. Looking to keep a project team up to date on the latest happenings? Want to inform your employees of exciting new things coming? Twitter can help you achieve them, in an easy to use manner. The Gen Y employees in your organization most likely either use Twitter already, or follow someone on the site. Why not communicate with these employees using a method they’re comfortable with?

(Warning – shameless promotion ahead) Astron needs followers on Twitter! If you like our blog, you will enjoy this peek into our daily activities at Astron HQ. Visit our site at https://twitter.com/astronsolutions, sign up, and become one of our followers! We’d love to have you as part of our Twitter family.

Finance Getting Hit, Too

Many lament that financial industry salaries continue to grow at abnormal rates through bad economic cycles, but loyal reader Wendy sends in this article from Institutional Investor Magazine which says that fixed-income buy-side analysts are beginning to see the effects of this downturn...at least a little bit: click here

Update 11:50 AM: Missed it, but thanks for pointing out...sell-side also has information: click here

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Millenials and Word from the Journal

We start off on this Tuesday (an Astronology Tuesday) with a blog entry from the Boston Globe Monster.com HR Center HR Blog about Millenials: click here

Next, from the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal, advice on how to get better pay after years of a lower salary: click here

Also from the Journal, word that the same old technologies that worked in the past are proving successful today for productivity (see chart on right): click here

Lastly, as a special to the Journal a Q&A that addresses the ways to get out of negative thinking at work: click here

What I’m Hearing…Office Space

Before I dive into today’s blog post, I apologize to the readers of my column. August was quite the month – I was on the road for most of it due to vacation (aah!) and business travels (yea!). When I wasn’t on the road, I was working here in the office training our newest team members (also yea!), and mourning the loss of a few other favorite restaurants of mine. Now that I’m back in the swing of things, let the posts continue!

Yesterday evening I overheard a conversation between three healthcare professionals. They were discussing how they have to fight for office space in order to conduct their work. It appears that the space they were fighting for wasn’t particularly glamorous either. Tiny, dark, and without doors would best describe it.

One of the women mentioned her techniques for making her small space the envy of her colleagues. She added plants, a fountain, and a curtain against a wall that makes it look like the wall opens up onto a beach. Pretty clever!

Those of us who work in offices may often take for granted the importance of space and privacy for being effective members of an organization. While we can’t always guarantee a private office for each employee – buildings do have space constraints – we should do our best to make each person’s space feel as warm and inviting as possible. A small investment in some décor – living or faux – will help to make employees feel welcomed and appreciated. With those feelings should come greater organizational loyalty. With the cost of turnover as high as it is, purchasing a few plants or pictures seems relatively inexpensive in comparison.

Friday, September 05, 2008


New data just released...click here

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Equal Pay and Palin

Ryan Johnson's WorldAtWork blog says that equal pay will get even more play now with the Sarah Palin nomination as VP: click here

And indeed, Barack Obama's first shot at Palin came about because of this: click here

This is not the only issue for Human Resources that's at stake here...

Questions are floating around about whether she was picked because she was a woman and where she should be at this point in her life considering her special needs toddler and her pregnant teenage daughter. Whether you fall on one side of the issue or the other, these are legitimate questions to ponder...and to relate to as a Human Resource professional.

Are there double standards here? Would a male in the same position be examined in the same spotlight? Do you/others do this at your company? And how far do you think the Democrats can go in pursuing this line of thinking? Sexism has been a hot topic of the presidential race from Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin and the issue is far from going away. This may be a good time to think about if it exists in your own company and how to combat that. And while politics don't always reflect real life, it'll be interesting to hear all the stories that come out in support or against Palin based on personal experiences people have had with this in the workplace.

UPDATE 10:45 AM EST: Politico has caught on and is saying the Senate Democrats are going to force McCain to vote on the issue of equal pay: click here

15,000 and counting

Thanks for continuing to make our blog popular! 15,000 visitors and counting...

We start off with the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal with an article about finding a position as a mature job hunter (and conversely, HR professionals should think about how to seek out these candidates): click here

Also from the Journal we have an article on a consultant beefing up his resume (click here ) and a CEO's recipe for fresh ideas: click here

Lastly, GM is offering employees early retirement to cut salaried jobs by 15% as told by the Baltimore Sun: click here

(another post coming up a bit later...)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The HR Executive and the Election

We start off on this Wednesday smack in the middle of the convention cycle and with an article from Human Resource Executive Online saying to brace yourselves for whoever is elected president: click here

Human Resource Executive Online also wants to talk about where HR stands today and who Human Resources Executives want as president and why: click here

Next, the Business Ledger tells HR professionals how sloppy Human Resources adds to employers' benefit costs: click here

Human Resource Management Solutions by People Wise then asks when does a small business need an Employee Handbook: click here

The Courier Post Online follows up by saying that you should take time to think if job is lost: click here

The Hartford Courant ends our post with an article that tells us that sometimes, following your heart works: click here

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