Saturday, October 17, 2009

More than Just Money: Helping Charities

In the current economy, charities encounter a double-bind: increased need coupled with lower donations. You may want to support a favorite cause but have fewer financial resources. Good news: contributions of time and professional expertise are also valued. My top suggestions:

Program Services: Staff the hot line, counsel youth, build houses.

Administration: Wearing multiple hats, nonprofit staff are stretched thin but many donors shy away from financial support of overhead and administration. It still needs to get done, of course. Do you know how to get a mailing out? Manage an event? Archive, organize or file? Answer the phone? Edit a newsletter? Solicit donations? Come on in!

Technology: Regrettably nonprofit hardware, software, social media strategies, and technology budgets may lag years behind the corporate world. This slows organizational and mission effectiveness. If you are technologically adept, nonprofits will gratefully welcome your help with every aspect of managing and furthering technology.

Training and development: A charity's professional development budgets may be a fraction of that in the for-profit sector. If you love to teach, share your expertise in team-building, wellness, leadership, reading financial statements, employment law, emerging technologies, etc. HR professionals, help a charity update their employee handbook or improve their performance management system.

Supporting charities doesn’t solely mean writing checks or ladling lunch at a soup kitchen--as appreciated as both of those actions are. Your professional skills go a long way toward supporting the necessary infrastructure to do good in the world. And if you are between jobs, why not lend a hand to a good cause while also preparing for that later interview question, "So, how have you been spending your time?"

To find volunteer opportunities, try Idealist or Volunteer Match. Good luck and have fun!

photo by moonjazz

Stand Out...In a Good Way

On Thursday, DC’s Hot 99.5 radio host Kane mentioned a product marketed as helpful for hot dates and job interviews: bra inserts giving women the appearance of being—how shall I say this?—highly enthusiastic. Talk about making your interview outfit POP!

Is this really a good thing, Kane asked doubtfully? Will it help land the job?

A former recruiter called in and assured him it was a bad idea. She also mentioned she's not shy and would probably suggest band aids to an interviewee arriving in that state.

Most interviewers won't give you such blunt feedback on your appearance, but skimpy interview attire can absolutely cost you the job. Obviously there are a few jobs in niche industries paying women to flaunt their wares. If that’s the case, dress accordingly. But most of us are applying for a regular job in a regular setting. You can be a woman* but show your sexuality in an understated way appropriate to a business environment. Your attire should be not too short, too tight, too low-cut; and certainly, not all three or you only compound things.

Focus on showcasing your talents, degree, successes, references. To be taken seriously, flaunt your brains, not what’s in your blouse.

photo by fabiogis50, flickr

*I am focusing on women since I’ve never had a man come to an interview provocatively dressed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Romance Your Employees

I’m often struck by parallels between love and work. Interviewing mirrors dating; accepting a job is like moving in; and resigning or being asked fired is so reminiscent of breaking up!

Recently, Roberta Chinsky Matuson and others warn many employees plan to leave as soon as the market rebounds.

A lover with an inflated sense of security sometimes becomes complacent or lazy, only to be left when least expected. Maybe HR professionals and managers should not get too comfortable, either. Maybe we need to continually wow our employees as we might woo a romantic partner.

Sometimes managers are impatient when employees aren’t perfect on Day Three. They expect a high level of performance with little investment. That is just not reality; it is not how relationships work. Neither our partners nor our employees can read our minds; we cannot assume they share our expectations or goals, much less anything else.

If you quickly and without discussion leave lovers for small differences and imperfections, you will go through a whole lot of partners. Ditto employees. Even the best, most perfect and self-directed employee needs direction, attention, and tools to produce rock star work

Reality will hit soon enough, so let's not let the economy seduce us into thinking employees are easily replaceable. The market is not an excuse to take employees for granted. Short-sighted shortcuts are likely to lead to being dumped as soon as the grass is greener on the other side of the employment fence.

Go woo, romance, and remind them why they fell in love with you.

photo by jacknet, flickr