Most Important Thing I’ve Learned

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During this term, I was presented with topics which I was familiar with, and also many new ones.

I enjoyed reviewing facts about discrimination laws in employment and the many interview biases we may face as applicants. Consequently, I learned many new concepts such as the reliability of various selection methods and both the applicant and company perception of such methods. It further solidified my learning to apply these concepts to my final project.

                As I reflect upon the most important thing I’ve learned, it would be to recognize my self-value. Specifically, the IPIP Test in Week 7 and lectures in Week 9 module, changed my perspective. Initially, I did not consider my introversion and high conscientiousness as advantages. However, reflecting upon my results in a blog post encouraged me to consider what I can bring to a team, such as analytical, introspective thinking and high levels of self-achievement.

                Further, in Week 9 Module, I learned that it’s important to “Know Your Own Value.” Often as applicants, we are so excited to begin a new job, and forget about the leverage we have in an employment situation. For example, failing to negotiate a salary upon initial offer, can present a setback in your career further down the road. In my past passive nature, I feel that I am indebted to the employer and should be grateful to be working with them. In fact, applicants have the upper hand in this conversation and should determine their target and walk away numbers ahead of time. For example, in my most recent job offer, the hiring manager offered me the position, shared the salary, and very bluntly stated that he could not negotiate for any more increases due to budget. I understood this fact but should have asked for other benefits in lieu of compensation such as additional educational assistance or perks. I was so surprised to receive an offer, I hastily accepted and neglected to advocate for myself.                  

Lastly, the “Sell” chapter of Who made an impact on my vision of the type of company I’d want to work for. The fact that organizations take the time to not only consider a candidate’s fortune, but family and future as well, proves that they care about the individual as a person, not just a bottom-line figure. The persistence that an executive or hiring manager exudes to get the applicant onboard is telling that the candidate is truly an A Player. Thus, this motivated me to take a deeper dive when looking at my next organization to join. Additionally, it gave me insight on how to become highly sought after as an “A Player.”

I also recognize that plans change over time, and taking 15 minutes once a month to reflect on your goals is a small but impactful task for future success. I hope to take this practice into future consideration as I continue my schooling and career.


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What am I good at?

According to my IPIP test , I am highly conscientious, taking into consideration morals, self-discipline, and my own personal level of achievement. In a job setting this translates to following compliance and company policies/procedures. I am naturally an introvert and remain calm in highly escalated situations. When I give presentations, I have been told I am a good public speaker. According to my Play to Your Strengths feedback, my friends categorize me as an excellent listener.

What do I value?

I am motivated by working for an organization with integrity and strong moral compass integrated in their values. I also want to work for an organization with a product and mission I can believe it. It’s important that my teammates are knowledgeable, ethical, and reliable. I prefer working from the office versus working remotely and enjoy cross-departmental collaboration.

How did I get here?

It has always been my dream to pursue a graduate degree. Shortly after graduating with my HR undergrad, I began researching programs and applications. I found that at that time I was not ready to pursue an MBA as I had no work experience. I decided to wait until I did, and this ended up being the right decision. Now I can apply what I learn in my classes on the job and be a better asset to my company, while providing real world examples in my classes.

Where am I going?

In 1.5 years, I will be graduating. If I remain in my current role, it does not provide opportunities for career growth as I had hoped for. I will have been in the same position for 4 years without a promotion. In order to make myself more marketable upon graduation I need to either 1) apply for a position internally that may be vacated or 2) seek an external position. In addition, I typically fail to negotiate my salary in prior roles. I need to proactively work on this for my future career.  

IPIP Results & Reactions

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I decided to take the original version of The Big 5 Personality test. A summary of my results are below:


I scored low in extraversion, indicating I like quiet and solitude. My friend group is restricted to a small amount of close acquaintances and I am more reserved. I enjoy recharging my energy alone and avoid large social groups. My general level of excitement and cheerfulness rates low, while my activity level is average.


My level of agreeableness is average, indicating I have some concern with others’ needs, but unwilling to sacrifice myself for others. I scored the highest on morality (93) and cooperation (77) . Due to assuming most people are ill-intentioned and negatively perceiving their objectives, I scored low in trust.


I scored high in conscientiousness, indicating I am reliable and hard working, seeking to achieve the best for myself. Some of my highest scoring traits include cautiousness and dutifulness. Consequently, my self-discipline (getting things done timely) scored low.


My neuroticism score was average. Traits skewing the score towards the higher tail of the spectrum were anxiety and self-consciousness. I tend to be more nervous and anxious in situations.

Openness to Experience

I scored low in this area, due to my simple, conservative nature. I value routine over excitement and spontaneity. I prefer a stable, traditional environment.

Reactions to Results

My initial reaction to the test results is that they are fairly accurate and describe my personality. As mentioned in our lecture, 50% of our personality is determined at birth (DNA) and the other 50% is determined by your upbringing. This reflects accurately in my results as I was an only child in a traditional, conservative upbringing. I was often labelled as shy but just enjoyed my own company and got along with very few other friends my age. Thus I gravitated towards more intellectually stimulating activities such as piano, dance, art, or reading, rather than athletics or group activities that would indicate extraversion.

A potential employer would find strengths in my conscientiousness, dedication to my morals, and hard work ethic. This trait has the most positive relationship to job performance. In addition, they would be pleased with my desire to improve upon myself. Working in HR, it is tightly bound by rules, which is essential in the trait “dutifulness.” I like routines and planning ahead, so this is a positive attribute for project management and compliance.

In terms of weaknesses, my low extraversion, friendliness, and cheerfulness may be perceived as being socially distant or stuck up. In fact, a manager once told me that others perceived me to be more approachable after I gave a presentation at work, because they thought I was very reserved. I also rate highly on anxiety and mis-trust, possibly due to experiences I’ve had with past friendships or coworkers. This could be perceived negatively but it’s good to know where I stand, so I know how I can improve my demeanor towards others.

Overall, I think personally tests are a good indicator of someone’s strengths and weaknesses, but employers should take caution in using them for hiring or promotion decisions.

Typical vs. Maximal Performance

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In assessing the competency of two applicants: one with maximal (Avery) and another with typical (Jaime) performance, there are various performance criterion needed to be considered. Ideally, a balance of both applicants would be preferred. However, that is not the case in most hiring situations.

As a business owner, it would be my first choice to hire Jaime. Though their performance ceiling is not nearly as high as their contender, they produce consistent results. This means they show up to work, do their job, and leave for the day. With the right levels of motivation, they may be able to achieve more. Being in a customer facing role, it is crucial to have someone who gives reliable customer service. In a small business environment where resources are scarce, stability is key.

I would hire Avery for a role of a salesperson. There are downtimes and upticks in sales, and we would really need him at 100% to close tougher deals. Innate talent for salespeople includes natural charisma, good public speaking, and ability to grow a network. Business development may have seasonality to it that would appeal to a candidate like Avery. Though he may only get a few sales, they would be sufficient to sustain earnings for the year if they were high impact.

Jaime would be ideal in a retail or fast-food environment. As mentioned above, consistency is crucial when scheduling employees. As a line lead or shift manager, I would need to step in if an employee like Avery called off for the day. But with Jaime’s reliability I could ensure proper coverage. Also, exceptional customer service is a plus, but not required. However, a negative customer service experience can tarnish the reputation of the business.

Critiquing a Recruitment Ad

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Defining My Personal Brand

“Whether she is taking classes towards her MBA, or mentoring a young HR professional, Alina strives to better herself every day, both personally and professionally. With 8+ years’ experience in Human Resources, her goal is to improve employees’ understanding of their total benefits package. Her focus is on the employees’ overall health and wellbeing: physically, financially, and emotionally. Her personable, yet professional approach encourages and uplifts every colleague she has the pleasure of working with.”

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of my biggest strengths is my ability to coach and mentor others on the job. I truly enjoy explaining policies to employees and educating managers on federal and state regulations.

A weakness I have is that I don’t always assert myself. For example, I should advocate for my accomplishments and projects. Many times, I allow these successes to go unnoticed since managers are often too busy to recognize their subordinates.

What Makes Me Unique?

I adapt my communication style to my audience, whether they are an hourly employee or a higher-level Executive. I am a long-time Toastmaster’s Club member, so I understand the power of effective communication. The goal is to simplify policies in such a way that colleagues can understand and retain the information for the future.

My Situation Wanted Ad

Living in the digital age, our attention spans are limited. Thus, I would present my situation wanted ad in 1–2-minute video taped elevator speech walking the viewer through my personal brand. The content would include my general KSAOs, but also short testimonials from others who have worked with me. I would recruit former colleagues, professors, and others in my network. The production would be professional and upbeat to capture the viewer’s attention. I would also include some humor. HR is not always an exciting career to talk about, so examples of my previous projects would be ideal. The most recent example I have of this is a feature length training video I recorded walking employees through online new hire orientation.

To present my ad I would hand out a business card with my contact info and QR code for a potential employer to scan and watch. This way, the viewer could immediately get in contact with me while viewing my video resume on their smart phone. The goal of this situation wanted ad is to stand out among a sea of applicants and present my brand in a unique way.

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Job Descriptions

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The job description I’m choosing to discuss is my Sr. Benefits Coordinator role.

The situation was unique in that my manager was fond of my work ethic, and told me if I worked hard enough, she would hire me to be her assistant. Therefore, there wasn’t an interview process, and the JD was more of a formality since the job had been “created” with me in mind. The position was new to the organization thus there were no incumbents or job analysis performed. My manager drafted the position with the roles and responsibilities she wanted her assistant to perform (in essence the roles she did not want to perform as a manager). Thus, it was very specific, and I knew the tasks that were expected of me. It had the structure of a traditional job description: general purpose, essential functions, education, training, skills, scope, supervisory responsibilities, and physical demands. The JD ended with the company’s mission statement.

Looking back, I remember how much I enjoyed helping and learning from my boss. The description matched quite well with the tasks of the job. It allowed me to grow into the position I’m in today. In retrospect I could have been more assertive in asking what career prospects the role would offer me in the future and what next steps were in the organization.

As job applicants, we are often seeking validation from the employer, especially if the role is our “dream job.” What we must realize is that both the applicant and employer have leverage, and the job description gives a fair amount of insight of what you can expect as an employee at that organization. Therefore, we must be more critical when looking at the specifics within the job description, in order to assess whether the role is a proper fit for us.

Experiences with Discrimination

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When being asked if I would continue supporting my favorite company or brand after a widespread discrimination allegation, my initial reaction is to say no. However, after further consideration, I would need to understand the complete picture. In today’s highly polarized atmosphere it’s easy to become emotional and react negatively, but it’s important for companies to take the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them.

Working as an HR professional, we are often met with accusations of discrimination, retaliation, and unfair practices. The burden of proof is on the employer to prove whether the claims are true or false. As we learned in the lecture this week, a company has two paths when it comes to discrimination claims: 1) do nothing and be reactive or 2) respond and be proactive. If a company quietly settles the lawsuit, it’s possible that discrimination occurred and they’re appeasing the impacted group. If the company takes this as a learning opportunity and institutes diversity training or issues a PR statement regarding their transgressions, I would be more likely to support them again.  

It would also depend upon the type of discrimination at play. Is it intentional disparate treatment or unintentional adverse impact? What measures are being put in places to reduce the impact?

Finally, I would consider the maturity of the company. Is it a small employer versus a large corporate brand with resources to train and educate their employees? The most recent example which comes to mind is the Philadelphia Starbucks which called the police for trespassing on two minority gentlemen sitting at their café. Starbucks recognized their lapse of judgment in this situation, closed their stores for a day, and required anti-bias training for employees.

The Case for Recruitment & Selection

It is hard to imagine a company that does not see Recruiting and Selection as a critical component of their businesses’ success. Unfortunately, far too many companies do not have the financial wherewithal to put resources into HR, let along the recruiting function. Many small, family-owned companies struggle to survive on a limited budget. Their focus is to pay their workers, provide benefits (maybe), pay rent, and limit operational costs. Furthermore, these small companies often outsource HR to a third party or consulting firm to do the hiring and HR compliance for them. Their resources are stretched thin, such that they can only focus on breaking even each month. A surplus in the budget allocated to a marketing campaign, for example, may make a drastic difference on the balance sheet, and thus reflect positively on their month-end reports.

Conversely, in a high-volume production environment, where there may be a high-profile customer involved, the focus is to get applicants hired quickly without much thought to their experience or skillset. This is especially true in a tight labor market. I worked for a manufacturer that didn’t even complete background screens on new hires; they just hired them and waited for the results to come in weeks later. If the applicant didn’t pass, they were let go. The focus was to get warm bodies in the door, and product out the door and HR had to follow management’s request.  

When assessing the risk, the company is willing to forgo proper hiring practices in order to meet production demands. As a result, turnover in this industry is high and employees often leave jobs to work for $1 more elsewhere. Consequently, the company is spending more money on filling the open position, versus having done their due diligence in the first place.


Job Application Experiences

My most recent job application resulted in the position I’m currently in. I was fortunate in that I knew my hiring manager from a previous employer, and we had good rapport. I reached out to him months prior the job opening, stating I had reached a plateau in my current position and was looking for a change. He said he wasn’t hiring currently, but we kept in touch. Months later a position on his team became available. He reached out to me and we began the conversation.

Even though my future boss had a good idea of my work ethic, the interview process was still integral to assessing whether I was the right “fit” for the company and position. As mentioned in our reading, making hiring mistakes is not only costly, but also a waste of time for both the candidate and organization.

The process started with a phone screen. Next, I was invited to an onsite interview. My future boss asked me a series of question related to my work experience, project management skills, and situational scenarios, particularly in the “STAR” format (Situation, Task, Actions, Results). The in-person interview was also an opportunity for me to learn about his team and the organization’s structure. My boss has always been a visual person. At one point in the interview, he made an org chart on the white board. I really appreciated this!

The interview process was highly organized and efficient. Reflecting on this today, this reflects positively on how the company runs. It was also very expeditious. From the time I was asked to do a phone screen and then offered a position, it was only 2 weeks. I’ve had experiences where the process takes months. You are invited back and forth for interviews only to find out the position was “cancelled” due to shift in company’s priorities.