When thinking back to early career days, many people have restaurant or food service experience somewhere in their resume. And as some recent research shows, that’s not uncommon. In fact, about one in ten jobs is in the restaurant business.
As you can see in the infographic titled “An Industry of Opportunity,” restaurants provide a lot of opportunity for the young men and women of the workforce to get a start.
The key areas I want to look at today are two specific statistics from the graphic.
More than 9 out of 10 restaurant employees say the restaurant industry is a good place to get a first job.
When we talk about careers, many young individuals see themselves as office workers, engineers, or other “professional” staff. However, there are some incredible opportunities to learn and grow in the restaurant field, and I think the benefits are often overlooked.
For instance, having the opportunity to serve customers face to face helps to build confidence, teaches young workers some of the critical body language skills (eye contact, firm handshake, smiling, etc.) that can lead to success at all career levels.
Nearly 9 out of 10 workers say restaurants provide an opportunity for people who want to succeed based on their own hard work.
I’m a self-starter, and I am excited to see this statistic, because it means that those entering the restaurant profession looking for long-term career opportunities will also have room to learn and grow.
We’ve all worked in organizations that squash creativity or de-emphasize the importance of thinking ahead and trying to solve the problems of others. This field not only provides those benefits, but it does so in a fast-paced environment ripe with learning and development opportunities.
Recently I was speaking to a local SHRM chapter about the changing world of HR through the lens of social tools. This isn’t the “you should use Facebook!” session, and I’m not sure if I even mentioned that platform a single time in the conversation. No, it was all about how both vendors and corporations are leveraging social tools to improve their learning, recruiting, and talent management initiatives.
One of the questions from the audience at the end of the session was this:
We are using a discussion board/forum as a way to increase the community aspect of our learning initiatives. However, we’re having trouble getting people to share out there. If we ask them to specifically, they usually do, but otherwise they don’t post. How can we get our people to be more engaged?
I think there are a few ways to make this platform more active, especially if it has proven to be a useful tool and isn’t just a “flavor of the month” sort of project.
Inertia: start some momentum by researching some of the most common questions posted in the forum and post a “frequently asked questions” section answering those specific inquiries. If you want to make it even better, you can link the specific answers to specific users, allowing people to follow up for more detail on their individual situation. Then it’s more of a two-way, social communication channel.
Hey, Bob, how do you feel about being an expert? Expert directories are becoming a more common way of helping to assign responsibility in a social learning context. In this situation you’d tag specific people to be recognized experts with the responsibility to respond to questions in their lane. That helps to ensure questions not only get answered, but that they get a response from someone who is qualified to actually respond.
Performance: if all else fails, make interacting part of everyone’s performance goals. When I took distance learning classes in college, we had requirements to post one thought and respond to one other person’s post on a weekly basis. It took maybe fifteen minutes to complete, but it kept a steady stream of insightful commentary flowing through the discussion board. We were graded on our participation, and I see no reason why we couldn’t expect the same from our employees.
These aren’t the only answers, and they might not even be the best answers; however, it’s important to recognize the problem (lack of engagement in this case) and begin testing solutions to resolve the issue.
Have you run into this sort of issue in the past? How did you resolve the problem?
I have been thinking about interviewing lately. I was telling a group I spoke to earlier in the week about the importance of finding people that are “sold out” on the culture and the organization. It never ceases to amaze me that some people still fail to prepare adequately for their interviews. No, I’m not talking about knowing how to answer the canned”What’s your greatest weakness?” type questions. I’m talking about being excited, upbeat, and ready to talk about how you are the perfect fit for the job.
Here’s a good example. I can still vividly remember an interviewing process for a subcontracts administrator position. We interviewed more than half a dozen people in the first round. Three of those were lukewarm and honestly left me wondering if they really wanted a job at all. Two of those were both enthusiastic and qualified. One of those was both very enthusiastic and very overqualified. Those three people were the ones brought back for a second interview, and in fact I was able to pick the person that was ultimately chosen days before the “final” selection (though that is always the hiring manager’s call in the end). How did I know?
She made a great case for why the company would be better off with her specific experience.
She shared with us her interest in why she would specifically like to work at our company (not just a company like ours, but ours specifically!).
She was a great culture fit for us. Her previous actions and behavioral questions were closely aligned with our core values.
Honestly, I don’t care if you’re applying for jobs through Jobtonic, a job with my company, or something else. If you’re qualified for the position, and you can figure out how to do all three of those things, then you have a much greater chance of being selected than those who don’t. It’s not a magic bullet, but it’s a formula that I’ve seen play out on many occasions.
What is your take on passion and enthusiasm in the interview process? Is it a discriminator or just noise interfering with the process?
Today we’re hosting a guest post from a long-time friend and fellow HR practitioner. Jane Jaxon is the rockstar HR Director for a tech company in Boston. Learn more about her in the bio below the article.
Zappos is my HR idol. I have posters on the wall, read articles about them in HR Beat, ask them to sign things – you know how these crushes go. I’m obsessed not because of their dreamy eyes or perfect coif, but because they are known world-wide for their happy employees (many of whom are in a call-center – no easy task!), clearly defined values (that they have the cojones to hire and fire by), and because they scaled culture without negatively impacting their bottom line (they still are the dominant player in their market).
I was lucky enough to tour their HQ in Las Vegas recently. They do Insights tours daily and quite literally open their doors on company culture. There were some obvious takeaways as to what makes them special – the perks, zany work environment, and tons of things they do to make work-life easier for employees – but I walked away thinking I finally get their special sauce. Hint: it isn’t what companies focus on poaching when trying to create a special culture, but it’s what they should focus on.
The Zappos secret
So what makes Zappos, Zappos? Employees really, truly feel comfortable being themselves. It’s not just a show they put on for the tour, it’s palpable. Zapponians dress in what makes them comfortable. Work stations are tailored entirely to their owner – be it a prim and proper organizational center or an ode the their favorite sports team or hobby. Work seems to be an extension of who each and every employee is as a person. Oh yeah, and their CEO is out there for everyone to run into, talk to, and approach with issues.
How can we, as HR professionals, allow and encourage employees to be themselves? It starts with the interview (maybe even before). Give candidates a chance to talk about what gets them excited outside of work … and genuinely care to hear the answer. It will let them know that they can be more than a contributor at your company – they can be a person. Boy does that make a difference!
It also comes from the top. Is the leadership team opening up and sharing a bit about who they are as people with your employees? Is your CEO accessible and open with employees? Do you celebrate your employees as people instead of just as contributors? The answers to all of the above should be a resounding yes.
Aspiring to be like Zappos is a challenge, but I’m convinced that there is a business reason to try. Recruiting gets easier through referrals and word of mouth. Happy, engaged employees will work harder, be invested in the company’s success and stick around much longer. And coming to work doesn’t feel like, well, work. Who wouldn’t want that?
About the author: Jane Jaxon is the HR Director of a high-growth tech company in Boston where she gets to focus on building a great workplace and scaling people operations. Jane’s favorite buzzwords of the trade are eNPS, talent density and (of course) people operations. She likes neither pina colada’s nor getting caught in the rain, but sure loves marathoning critically-acclaimed tv series, reading in the sun, plotting her fantasy football world domination and, lastly, keeping a stealthy social media presence. Find her on LinkedIn.
In a nutshell, DataNow pulls from almost-real-time data to give users the opportunity to find out what companies are doing in terms of talent acquisition, talent management, workforce management, HR, etc. Instead of pushing out data that is a year or more old, this will allow us to share our latest data from surveys almost immediately.
It’s been a great process watching the team build it, and personally I’m excited about how companies are going to use it. It has always been my thought that while we at Brandon Hall have ways we think companies and practitioners will use the data, we’ll be surprised at some of the ways people find to leverage the information to make their businesses better. That’s the fun of new, innovative products!
Here’s an example of how a company might use this tool. Imagine you’re developing a plan to implement a new talent management system. Currently you’ll probably have to rely on data that is anywhere from a few months up to a year or so old (at least if you’re working with Brandon Hall Group–I can’t speak for other research firms).
Now you’ll be able to access data shortly after a survey closes. Having the latest information at your fingertips will help you to make a more informed decision and potentially help you avoid issues that other organizations report as problematic.
This aligns with what I’ve been saying for a while: data isn’t about the collection, it’s about the application. I’ll have a blog post on that coming pretty soon, because with all the pushing of “big data” these days, I think it’s worth the reminder.
Last week I was talking with a friend who is the Director of HR for an eleven million dollar company. They are trying to find an applicant tracking system to replace their current solution, and he asked me for some advice on where to start his search. He spent several hours looking around the web, scouring Google, and checking in with friends (hence the call to me). After all of that searching, all he had was a headache from the various frustrations he met during his search. While the experiment is quite informal, I think it’s an interesting peek into the mind of your average customer.
Why he’s changing platforms
He has been really happy with the applicant tracking system his company is using, but they have slowly started “premiumizing” the basic features he has come to rely on to get his daily work done. Bit by bit it was an acceptable nuisance because the basic price fit his budget and it was a tool the company had used for three years successfully.
We all know the truth, though. Businesses change. Products change. That’s part of life.
However, the new pricing model is built not on how much the system is used from a recruiting standpoint (number of applicants, job postings, recruiters, etc.), but on how many employees the company has. My friend is having trouble making sense of why that is the driving factor of the price when it isn’t relevant to the duties of a recruiter.
To be blunt, he feels slighted by the company that he has put his credibility on the line for, because he now has to request additional funds to purchase another system, train hiring managers to use it, and find out how to import legacy data into the platform.
I’m certain the new prices are going to fit some customers well, but it isn’t something that he can fit into his budget, so he’s on the hunt.
Lack of pricing information
Like pretty much every business decision, one of the initial hurdles is budget-based. In other words, can we afford it? However, even a simple question like that is virtually impossible to answer in a cursory review of some of the applicant tracking websites out there. Here are some of the questions that surfaced:
So how is this pricing model determined again?
How much will it actually cost? Is there a setup fee? What’s the annual cost? Is there a discount?
The website says “free trial,” but I have to give them a credit card number to test it out—I don’t know if I trust them enough to give them that information just yet.
Lack of feature description
The next priority is feature set. Will this do what we need it to do?
The website doesn’t have any screenshots. I need to see the user interface to see if it’s going to be intuitive for the recruiting team, hiring managers, and candidates.
It lists a key feature I need, but it doesn’t tell me what tiers the feature is available for.
I’d really like to see a demo or video tutorial, but all of that stuff is locked behind a sales rep. I don’t want to get on someone’s telemarketing list—I just want to look at the application.
Do your potential customers a favor
Have someone who is unfamiliar with your product visit your site and the sites of two or three of your competitors. They need to be looking for standard information: pricing, features, etc.
Without prompting or leading them, allow them to try and see how quickly they can find the information they are seeking and track how long it takes to do that.
If they have trouble finding the information, then a change might be necessary. Don’t do it for me–do it for your customers.
This morning the social media team and I went to a presentation on social media “hazards” presented at the TNSHRM conference. I had high hopes for the session covering some of the important concepts to understand. as an HR professional. Unfortunately, the speaker took approximately 99% of the time talking about how social media is a dangerous thing for HR and recruiting professionals.
In the presentation that the social media team and I are doing, we plan to mention that yes, there are potential pitfalls; however, there are also great gains to be had by participating in social media. I think it says a lot about your leadership practices by what you do or don’t allow employees to say.
More importantly, if your company is terrified of what people are going to be saying on social networking sites, then that’s a bigger problem than just social media. Here are two short videos from others on the team discussing their thoughts on this topic and what companies should do instead of following the standard lawyer advice of “stay away at all costs.”
My good friend Lyn Hoyt talked about this topic a while back in relation to another edition of the TNSHRM state conference.
But, the lawyer’s presentation did not start out as well as it ended. The round table began with the pitch. It was a power point talking about the ‘why you should have a social media policy.’ It was based in fear as the motivator to take action and illustrated with a sewer pipe. Yep. You heard right. A sewer pipe photo illustrating that the information flowing through social media is nothing more than $%*#. And then a picture of a manure spreader popped up illustrating how this sewer of information spreads. To me it illustrated the uphill perception battle that there is nothing of value being published through social media. They see it as a pure social, entertainment and marketing tool. It is a waist of time, not a business tool. Big mistake.
After the lawyer finished, many of the questions revolved around Labor Board and protected conversation. Then I introduced myself as the Social Media Outreach VP at Middle Tennessee SHRM. I immediately told him I did not share his view that all social media was a sewer pipe. He was a bit embarrassed. I asked if he tweeted or was on Facebook. He did not. So I respectfully asked that I hoped he or someone in his office would be involved in social media as a way to best advise their clients. Because policy should not only address negative outcomes but educate on positive practices. I specifically addresses a point in their policy that tells management not to friend employees on Facebook. I asked why? And told him managers should be trained to engage employees at all levels in order to foster communication. source
And finally, one of the things I have said for five years is this: if you are afraid to use social media, don’t do it. But just know that if I’m in the same industry, my company will eat your lunch, because we are not afraid to find the good candidates, engage our employees, and build our brand using social tools.
Look for more great content coming from the TNSHRM state conference this week!