Spotlight on HR series:
A Conversation With Elizabeth Fewell
We’re putting together a series of articles with innovative and interesting human resource professionals. This is an opportunity to learn from other HR managers and exchange best practices, advice, and general experience. If you’d like to participate in this series and gain exposure to relevant networks, we’d love to hear from you! Send an email to email@example.com.
Tell us about your work experience in HR.
I’ve been in full-scope Human Resources for a long time now – we’ll leave it at 18+ years. I stumbled into HR and recruiting by accident. I was working in leasing, property management, and wasn’t very good at it if I’m being honest – the sales aspect of it anyway. What was I good at? Selecting, hiring and training new team members that did much better than me in leasing. I found my niche. A few years later, there was a position that had benefits and union employees/CBA responsibilities. No one seemed interested so I volunteered. I was well on my way to building a solid and diverse foundation in HR. I’ve since earned my PHR and SHRM-CP. I’ve worked in private industry, government contracting and state education. I’ve built relationships with colleagues that have turned into long-lasting friendships. I have always been interested in people and curious about how things can work for the better. I truly enjoy the multi-facets of HR and am honored to be a part of the profession.
What are the unique talents you bring to the field?
I’m pretty frank and believe in transparency. I’m comfortable in the ambiguity that is a part of HR as well as in the area of having difficult conversations whether it’s telling a candidate they’ve not been selected for the role or in a termination meeting. I believe it is important to not be patronizing, to be clear, professional and kind. I’m politely tenacious when working to find solutions that benefit the organization and its employees.
Share your biggest success story in HR so far.
Moving from a generalist role into a director role has been a rewarding one. In my first couple of years as a director, I supported my team members in achieving various HR certifications – that was exciting to see. Each person achieved the certification s/he wanted on their first testing and evaluation. Delivering training and professional development and seeing positive results from it and open discussions and collaborations that occur through it – all very rewarding and fulfilling.
What is the best advice you’ve received during your career path, and from whom?
“Don’t be afraid to fall on your own sword.” – from a COO I worked with and greatly admired. She saw value in accountability and ownership to move to the other side of an obstacle or negative situation.
What’s your favorite HR tech tool?
LinkedIn is great for building a network for referrals as much as it is for finding candidates. Grammarly is key to double-checking emails, messaging and letters.
I believe that personal interaction is still the best tool. Where an ATS can turn sourcing into a word/skill matching game, a human eye review of a resume can pick up potential and drive that an ATS will miss. Tone and chemistry may be missed in a string of emails and chat boxes; a phone call will help the recruiter and the candidate build a rapport.
As an HR professional, how do you handle recruiting to achieve the best results?
Clear, consistent communication is key. Explain the process and timeline to the candidate. If that timeline changes, send an update. Don’t ghost candidates. Bottom line, it’s rude. I think it’s easy to forget that a job search, interviewing, etc. is taxing. We don’t have insight into a candidate’s full story or circumstances. The least we can do is value his/her time as much as our own and be courteous. It’s never been easier to send a quick message, be it an update or a “no thank you”.
What do you hope to achieve in 2020?
I want to build strong and supportive relationships, learn as many new things as I can, and contribute in a positive and meaningful way.
To get in touch with Elizabeth visit her Linkedin page.
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