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Job Doc chat with Pattie Hunt Sinacole

September 16, 2008
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About Our Guest
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is Principal of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm. Pattie works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience. She also contributes to the Job Doc column in The Boston Globe, and is a regular chatter on Boston.com. She chatted with Boston.com readers on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Thanks for having me again to chat with you all. I look forward to your questions.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Let's begin. Here is our first question.

Longevity: Hi Pattie. Here's my dilemma. I work in the marketing/advertising space. Have been with my firm for nearly 15 years. Make a very good living. But still, while I am required to attend key management meetings with only a handful of senior people from our whole company, and am considered by some to be part of senior management, I just don't feel like my role is taken seriously nor do I imagine they will ever make me a full fledged partner. I am in a critical role that is responsible for improving the health of the company. My compensation makes it tough to consider leaving. At the same time, not much ever changes around here! I am in my late 30s and am wondering what's next? Any suggestions? Should I give my company an ultimatum (they don't work do they?)? Look for a new opp? I am just afraid I need to be prepared to make signifcantly less than what I make now. Hmm. Any advice?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: A good question

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: It sounds like overall your role is a good one with some flaws (like all jobs really).

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Many of us in the HR, marketing, advertising, PR or finance organizations share your concerns since it is less of a "line" role.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Or in other words, we are more of a cost center than an area that drives profits.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: You are fortunate too that you are satisfied with your compensation.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: I don't think the ultimatem is a good idea. It sort of puts the company on the defensive -- as if they are doing something wrong. This may not be the case.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Lots of very successful employees can push their roles into new directions -- ones that are more exciting and challenging.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Think about the ways that you could make your role more valuable... can you reduce costs, streamline processes, develop a new system?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Many companies would welcome these type of improvements and innovations. This may reduce your feelings of stagnation.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Please check in with me during my next chat. I would love to hear about your progress. Thanks for your question.

sojotoby: Hi Pattie. I have a question on how to 'close the deal,' so to speak. I interviewed with an organization several times over the summer and they keep delaying the time frame for giving me an answer. I feel like the writing's on the wall but I don't want to burn any bridges either. What's the appropriate way to get myself out of perpetual limbo?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Ah yes, closing the deal.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: First, summer is a frustrating time on both sides of the job search process. It takes more time than usual to contact candidates, hear back from candidates, schedule candidates and then to finally make a decision. Especially when a company wants a candidate to meet with more than one manager or member of the team.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: I would ask openly and honestly when they expect a decision to be made. The known is better than the unknown.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Even if you are getting an offer, it is better to know that now than later. That way you can move on.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: And it may have nothing to do with your qualifications, experience or otherwise. Companies right now are a bit jittery about hiring.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Venture-backed companies are facing funding challenges. The unsteadiness in the stock market and financial services industries are also unsettling.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: This all translates into jobs being putting on hold for a short time or maybe even indefinitely. So...

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Be persistent in a positive and professional way. Ask for a timeframe. But also don't put all of your eggs into one basket. Keep exploring other options. Thanks for your question. Very timely.

maryd410: The law firm I work at is going under. Is it better to quit now or wait for the actual event. I feel they will file bankruptcy, the 401(k) plan has already been terminated. Would I be better off outright quitting or collecting unemployment benefits and paying COBRA? I am female and 51...

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: HI Mary -- I am sorry to hear of your situation.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: There are pros and cons to both options. If you quit, you will probably be denied unemployment benefits.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Regarding COBRA... if your employer continues their benefits plan, you may be eligible to continue with COBRA. However, if they discontinue their benefits plan altogether, then they may not offer you COBRA.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: COBRA and bankrupties are quite complicated. But in short, if they do away with the benefits plan altogether, they may not be required to offer you COBRA. If you have the option to pick up benefits through a spouse or domestic partner, you may want to begin exploring that now.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Your job loss would be considered a qualifying event and your spouse/DP's insurance would be a good option. The other option to consider is health insurance through Mass Health Connector.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Again, I am sorry to hear of your upcoming job lost. Thanks for your question.

daisy: Hi Pattie, I've been in the job market for 5 months. I have interviewed for several jobs and I am finding that the companies respond that they have more qualified candidates. Soon the job is reposted with an new title and some tweaks in the job description. Is this a trend? Also, is it worth re-applying to the new posting? Finally, a rhetroical question - what's with the practice of we'll be back in touch within xyz time frame - and there's no return call.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Hi Daisy -- a good question and I honestly have never been asked this question so let's talk about it.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Job posting has become a very electronic experience these days. Most of us used to post jobs on paper and now many of us only post online.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Tweaking is more common now too. You are correct. Partially because it is easier to do -- you just use your userid, password and go in to edit online.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Some tweaking is also because the management team may see the posting and say "hey, we don't need that skill" OR "why didn't we say Oracle was required?" -- and this will lead to a change in the online posting.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Another reason for some of the edits, it because the recruiter or person handling the posting was not clear about a specific fact. For example, I have a job posted now. I need to put an additional fact in the posting later today. I need to say that the employer will not provide relocation assistance.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Most of the jobs that I post don't offer relocation assistance but because of the level of this role, many are asking.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Lastly, sometimes the posting will be changed because of the responses -- all of the candidates are lacking a certain skill or requirement. So the company may ask to better describe the specific requirement or make it mandatory rather than a "nice to have." I think you can certainly re apply to the position as long as your skills fufill the requirements posted.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Oh... one more thing. Sometimes jobs are also reposted simply because the posting period has expired. And when they repost, the company will often take the time to edit and make it more complete. Good luck!

peanut: I'm am currently in a Sales position and I'm not happy. I would love to find a position in Human Resources what is the best way to get an entry level Human Generalist poistion with a pay about 40K?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Hello -- good question!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: First, I would check online -- Monster/BostonWorks would be my first stop.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Also, if you are a college grad, check to see if your alumni assoc has a job posting/career services dept that could be helpful.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Professional associations are good too. The one that comes to mind is NEHRA. Their website has positions posted all the time. You can scroll through all the postings or you can also search for specific roles within your area of interest. Good luck.

pr_joe: Hi Pattie, I am in a tight spot I am currently an intern at a pr agency and do a lot of account coordinator work. I am getting paid hourly and not very much. I have been here about 4 months and graduated this past May. My school loans are creeping up on me and its becoming hard to survive on the current pay. I have been applying for jobs and such but as you stated earlier its a hard time for right now for employement. Any tips?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Hello

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: I have some questions to ask you that should help you make your decision.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: School loans are alot of pressure so I can understand your concerns.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Are there opportunities at your current employer to move into a more long term role?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: PR, advertising firms often will move interns into longer term roles if the intern has proven themselves.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: If there is opportunity there, I would explore internal opportunities first. I would ask your supervisor if they don't post jobs internally. I would also be checking Boston.com/Monster too on a regular basis.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: People often forget about their alumni association/college career centers. Learn how to check their job postings too -- most are online now.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: In short, I would in a professional and positive manner, approach your supervisor first. If they give you feedback similar to "sorry, we don't expect any positions for your skill set any time soon.." then you know that you should explore opportunities outside of your current place of work. But many employees are reluctant to do so and they leave....

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: But they never ask and then the employer feels like "why didn't they ask?"

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Good luck and thanks for your question.

JohnSmith: My job is being terminated at year end. I am staying to receive the severance package and a lucrative bonus. When should I start my search? Is it too early? And how do I respond to, "I can't start until 1/1/09"?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Hi John -- Great question and one worth talking about for sure.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: The good news is that you know of your upcoming termination and can sort of process it in your mind. Time is on your side.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: First, I should tell you my advice (that you didn't even ask for!) -- be a professional for the next several months. Do your current job well. Be positive. Try to avoid some of the negative energy around you. (Easier said than done).

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: That being said, I am thrilled that your company has offered you severance and a bonus as year-end. It says to me that you are valuable to them.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Now, to your question. Start now on building your resume. Jan will be here before you know it.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Take the time to craft a strong resume. If your company offered outplacement, take advantage of it! It is a worthwhile service.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: You may even want to develop a timeline for yourself. Sept may be the build the resume month. Oct have a few trusted colleagues, friends review the resume and listen to their feedback. In Oct you may also want to begin networking more actively.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Set yourself networking goals -- 2-5 contacts per week might be reasonable. Connect with former colleagues for coffee. (BTW -- if you ask someone for coffee for their input on your resume or contacts, pay for the coffee!!)

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Start checking the online job boards to get a current sense of the market, compensation, hot areas that might work for your skill set. Time is a gift.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Good luck with your search. And remember to remain a strong, productive employee in your current role!

john_2: Many years of experience in the business world, have applied to some of the major employers in the area via their website but am never contacted. Any idea why? Thank You

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: John -- thanks for your question.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Lots of companies will post jobs on their websites -- it is a cost effective source for recruiting.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Often times, the company though will get buried in replies. Some of them way off the mark.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Often times too, you will get employment agencies hounding you to see their candidates or post the job on their "NEVER FAIL" posting board.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Companies have limited resources and it is often one person who reviews all the responses and tries to keep ahead of the pipeline. Some companies have an automated response system.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Truthfully, many small companies don't have the infrastructure or resources to keep up with the screening. But that doesn't mean that they are not looking at them or reviewing them. It is difficult for a smaller organization to reply to each and every inquiry.

Need_Job: I will turn 55 this week. I have done customer service and receptionist works my whole working career. My focus was on my family, so I did a lot of temp work to accommodate my duties as a mother. I have a bachelor?s degree in sociology; companies weren?t interested in liberal arts degrees. Recently I applied for a permanent full time receptionist position but didn?t get it despite excellent references, one from the CFO of a company I recently temped for on a 3-month receptionist assignment.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Hi Need Job -- our last question. Can't believe it is almost 1pm!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: With a receptionist job, there are many candidates with similar qualification and most could do the job and do the job well.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: I have had this same situation occur several times. There are often 3-4 final candidates and the company is lucky to be able to choose the best although any of the 3-4 could do the job.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: I would encourage you to continue applying for similar roles. Temping is also a good option. Sometimes a temp roles turns into a longer term permanent role (although as I always say, "is anything really permanent?"

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: A temp role is also a good way to better understand what you truly like and dislike. In one company, they may have you ordering supplies. In another company, they may have you assembling boxes or packages. You may have a preference over one of these tasks. Knowing what you enjoy and are skilled at is helpful because it ultimately leads to great job satisfaction. Thanks for your question.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Thanks chatters for another enjoyable chat. Chat with you all soon. Look for THE BIG HELP!

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