I wish I’d known that before I took the job – 5 tips to make sure you make the right decision!

I confess! I “stole” that title from one of Dr. Jane Horan’s book, “I Wish I’d Known That Earlier in My Career: The Power of Positive Workplace Politics”. For those who haven’t read that book, it’s a must read! If only I’ve read it earlier in my career. J

So, why the title? Been in the recruitment for most of my career, we often come across stories from our candidates that never fails to fascinate and amaze me in many different ways. Some of things that they’ve gone through could make for a good reality TV program.

I also promise to give Ajay a shout out if and when I come around to writing this article. Ajay, this one is for you! And while we’re at it, here’s to all the folks that’s shared your grievances with me, Steve, Isabel, Constantine, and a couple others. Although I can’t find all of you new jobs, but I’m sure things will sort itself out.

Of course, other than Jane and my name in this article, I’ve taken the safety precautions to change all the other names. You know, just in case. Things have a funny way of going around.

Numerous surveys shown that employees don’t just quit their jobs, they quit their managers. If you’ve had a candid conversation with employees who had quitted their managers, you would come to a common finding that this is due to the level of toxicity in the workplace that their managers created, making it unbearable to continue.

In many cases, the answer to such attrition would be to backfill the role, and there lies a revolving door in which you would end up with continuous changes to the organization.

No, life and work are not a bed of roses. Don’t for one moment feel that there is utopia in any workplace. There are the usual challenges and things that will not go your way.

This article is written for those job seekers whose about to make the decision. Having helped many candidates take a decision on their career transition, I believe the best you can do is to assess the job offer carefully consider the different angle and make a sound decision. At least you’re going in with your eyes wide open.

And if the article’s making anyone uncomfortable, get help! While I agree that management is not a popularity contest, but if no one wants to work for you/ or with you, I think it’s a good idea to speak with a management coach. More often than now, it might be just one or two small things to take note of, and you would find yourself becoming a more desirable person to work with.

Tip number 1 – Check out Glassdoor

This is of the site that many in house HR folks have a love/hate relationship with. It’s one of the sites that allows employees to leave a review on the company and believe it or not the company cannot have it removed. However, you may also find some rather “angry” comments there as well. You can say that there’s no smoke without fire, but I would recommend using a bit of discretion and judgement to form an impression of the company that you’re considering joining.

Tip number 2 – Understanding the reason for the vacancy

If this question wasn’t covered during the interview process, it’s always a good idea to get an understanding of why the company needed to hire for this role. Most companies would have a good and well thought out reason to why this is open, but you would be able to piece a pretty good picture of what had happened from talking to the various interviewers. Take the chance to validate some of the points that’s raised by earlier interviewers to form your own opinion. You can always circle back to the hiring manager, or your point of contact if you’ve uncovered some “surprises” and wanted additional clarification. Sometimes, by observing how these questions are address can give you a pretty insightful understanding on how “things are handled” in the organization.

Tip number 3 – Talk to the incumbent

Many candidates that I worked with would have the impression that this is “taboo”, but you’ll be surprised that this is a rather common practice. In fact, in one of the roles that I took on, I had the chance to spend a couple of days with the outgoing incumbent. The result was amazing. I went on to build one of the best team and surpassed expectations during my first performance review 6 months into the job. Talking to the outgoing person may also uncover some of the things that would be useful for your decision and navigation of the new role. What if that option is not “open”? I’m sure there are ways that you can get creative on that front!

Tip number 4 – Research the “attrition”

This one is a little tricky to do. It requires a bit of nosing around and a bit of “detective” work. Or you could just ask the question point blank and hope to get an honest answer. Here’s what you can try.

  • Do a search on Linkedin for people working in the company
  • Select “All Filters” to bring up all the options you can filter this by
  • Narrow it down to the region/ department
  • Uncheck the company from “Current company” and check the company under “Past Company”

You should have a sense of who left the company/ department and get an idea of how “good or bad” the situation is.

Some that I spoke to recently told me that he terminated the interview process after talking to the incumbent who’s left the organization, and on checking the “attrition numbers” found out that the department have had massive turnover. In his words, “I would be committing career suicide if I’d joined them”!

Tip number 5 – Take references and additional data points

While it’s common that as candidates, we provide our professional references to companies. I feel that it is ok to ask the same from your future manager to be. I once had the pleasure of working with a very forward-looking HR thought leader and who offered to provide me with references on her leadership style. We were on the topic of leadership and I was very impressed with the direct and transparent offer. (Am not listing her name here, yet – as I don’t have her permission at time of writing this article. May come back and add that on if she gives the nod!)

References can come in different forms. Other than checking with ex-colleagues and staffs on how it’s like working for an individual, I would also encourage candidates to ask for a conversation or additional examples of some of the promises that made during the interview/ offer process.

A good example would be the promise of “Job rotation as part of a development”. Get a little more clarity of what that meant. Is that a hypothetical comment or is that real? In the above example, I’ve had a hiring manager offered a candidate additional contact points to employees that’s gone through job rotation in his organization as an optional conversation for the candidate to consider should that becomes an area of interest in considering the offer. The candidate was blown away!

While it’s exciting and flattering to had gotten that offer, I would always recommend due diligence and care when you’re considering the offer. Take time and communicate clearly what you need to come to a firm decision. Any good organization will allow you that space to deliberate the offer.

For those who are reading this article as preparation to taking that offer, I would like to congratulate you and wish you the best. For those who are in the process of interviewing for a new role, take the chance to collecting all the data that you need, and I’m sure when it comes to the offer stage, you would be well informed to making that decision.

Do share your thoughts and comments below.

Happy Monday and have a fantastic week ahead.

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

“HR”! Finding the Human Relevance!

Many of the folks that’s spoken with me recently would know that in the last couple months, my life’s been revolving around the word “Relevance”. Yes, I’m searching high and low for search relevance engineers, and for those of you who knows about this very interesting space, it is darn hard finding good candidates.

So, how did the word “Relevance” become the topic of my blog today?

This is all thanks to a group of very interesting individuals. A table full of thought-provoking HR leaders, coming together for lunch and a rather futuristic topic of what tomorrow’s HR would look like. I must say, it was a hugely entertaining conversation, a little depressing, but mostly forward looking.

As we looked at the role of HR in the organizations of today, there was a rather clear definition of what business partnering versus transaction work looked like. So, I guess the whole idea of a Business Partnering (BP)/ Center of Excellence (COE)/ Operations and Transaction model is pretty much the standard in many organizations today.

We took a deeper dive into what does HR really stand for in today’s context and how does technology such as automation, AI and everything that we have yet to comprehend changes that. While there is a strong agreement that at the most basic level, the personnel administration part of HR would still remain, we all agree that the advancement of automation, and AI will drastically change the way employees engages with HR for such transactions.

“Self-service” is definitely becoming a norm, with some organizations moving to the use of chatbots to automate some of their frontend engagements, providing for faster service turnaround, which also in turn reduces the load and need for human intervention.

One may argue that this would lack the personal touch, but with improving technologies in AI and chatbots, that is soon becoming a thing of the past.

So, if the transactional piece of HR can be replaced by technology, surely as HR practitioners, we would need to find relevance in what we do in at a more strategic level and not compete with the robots for transaction work.

Surely, the human brains would be irreplaceable when it comes to decision making, or is that also now threaten by the rise of robots?

One of my favorite phases that I picked up last Friday was, “There is data and there is human. The result is a permutation of which human sees what data!”.

When we look at the emerging trends around big data, and how we’re able to analyze and present data in a way that enables us to predict and make sensible decisions. It becomes increasingly clear that the role of HR from here on is no longer in crunching that data and advising our business leaders on the multiple different outcomes.

The business leaders have a dashboard and a fancy tool for that these days. So, if as business partners, we are advising, and not making those decisions, how fast do you think that function can be replaced by AI?

If we look at the methodologies that we adopt and bring to our business, these are not complicated principals to grasp. Someone commented that “9 boxes are not that complicated, I’ve worked with a business leader that ran an entire exercise on his own!”.

I know of 2 camps of HR practitioners. On one camp, the forward-looking ones that are trying to work themselves out of a job. On the other, the anxious one that fear the day when there’s no longer any value they can bring to table.

I have to be honest. There was a point where I started to get a little depressed with how HR today’s turning out. For me, HR needs to move beyond finding relevance in everyday transactions and understand what drives the business forward.

It will not be with one lunch conversation, we would change the definition of HR and what it stands for. However, for me, it serves as a reminder that the very world of HR that I’ve built my entire career on is changing, and fast.

I read in an article that with industrial revolution, humans are merely the interim solution to what technology couldn’t achieve decades ago. While that’s a depressing thought, and perhaps it will be some time before “Skynet” takes over, we do live in the present and still have a job to do.

If you ask me what is the role of HR tomorrow? My answer is simple. The fundamental role of HR hasn’t changed. It is to integrate the “human” resources as a part of the organization. The thing that’s changed is the world around us, mindset of the new generation, technology, business environment, etc. It’s like making a cake, the cake is still the cake, we just have fancier tools and new ingredients to work with!

What’s your take on the “Role of HR tomorrow?”, do share them in the comments below and have a wonderful week ahead!

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.