Month: July 2013

On The Minds of Your Employees: Rising Education Costs and Student Loans

I don’t have kids yet and I feel like I’m already behind in saving for their college education.  If its on my mind — I KNOW its on the mind of my employees and colleagues with kids. I was a scholarship kid and going to college would have been difficult for me without it.  I finished undergrad debt free — but can’t say the same for my graduate studies.  I mentor high school kids and I know that the process has changed. Not only is it more competitive to get into school, but its hard to find the money to fund it (hard but not impossible).  Scholarships are harder to come by and the financial aide process continues to evolve with complexities each year.

Okay – so I haven’t told you anything that you don’t know yet. But this is something that you DO need to pay attention to. On July 25, 2013, the US Senate Senate approved a student loan deal:

The bipartisan proposal would link interest rates on federal student loans to the financial markets, providing lower interest rates right away but higher ones later if the economy improves as expected.

Undergraduates this fall would borrow at a 3.9 percent interest rate. Graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent, and parents would borrow at 6.4 percent. The rates would be locked in for that year’s loan, but each year’s loan could be more expensive than the last. Rates would rise as the economy picks up and it becomes more expensive for the government to borrow money.

via Senate Approves Student Loan Deal : NPR.

Rates as high as 6.4% for parents who could undoubtedly get larger loans than their students who could borrow at 3.9%.

If you were saving for a child’s education you might have to sock away a bit more.

There are TONS of strategies for funding a child’s education – I hope that we can explore some of them on this blog — but your big call to action is to look at your plan. If you don’t have a plan, you need to get one (yes I’m even talking to those of you like me who would like kids, but don’t have them yet). But don’t go it alone — involve your student. You pick the age, but I will say that at a very young age I understood the connection between my academics and my opportunities to go to college. I don’t exaggerate when I tell you that I was thinking about this at 7 (which totally explains why two words that never describe me are “laid back” – I’ve always been a little “intense”). Maybe its not 7 for you and your family but, IMHO, 17 is probably too late.

Don’t forget to consider your retirement plan and emergency funds in the mix. You’ve got to take care of yourself too. I’m not a financial planner, just calling out some of the big pieces that you want to consider and evaluate.

Don’t freak — take a breath, get some information,  and get a plan.

Making the HR Connection, yours,

New Grads and Young Professionals- Build a Good Career Base

I came across this article on Forbes, describing the 9 job mistakes that could stall your entire career.

I have a resounding “YES” when I read this article! The career decisions you make in your 20s DO impact your career decisions in your 30s and beyond. Sorry — not to stress you out 🙂 — but those career you start in early on builds a solid foundation for you to build your career on. Don’t just think “industry” or “specialty” — THINK SKILLS! What skills do you need to take you to the next phase of your career. SKILLS TRANSFER AND TRANSCEND INDUSTRY, FUNCTION, and REGION. Do you have the right skills?

I think about where I am now in my career and I can see logical alignments between things that I gained when I first started out. Those early years out of college as an HR person were rough! I am that HR person who ‘accidentally’ got into HR . So I had to rely on other skills to compensate, but looking back, I’m SO glad that I did. Those experiences coupled with skills helped me take to career steps along the way. I’ve also had some great managers and mentors to help keep me on track and help me with leverage things that I’m good at (and things that I’m not so good at).

Okay –now that I’ve got you really freaked out — let me talk you off the ledge — check out the article and see if you’re made some of the 9 job mistakes that could stall your entire career.  If so — no biggie! Once you are aware, you can take steps to make changes. Next check out the TED Talk: 30 is not the new 20, stressing the importance of that crucial time period post-college, especially when it comes to your career. And if you’re still needing some more convincing, try a read: The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—and How to Make the Most of Them Now

Don’t freak! Get information and take action. You’re gonna be okay! 🙂 —

Making the HR Connection, yours,






I Just Might be Tootsie! Should I Care?

I’ve come across this video a few times in my news-feed this week and finally got the chance to watch it.  I posted a blog – years ago- about the beauty premium and I thought about that as I finished up the video clip.

I’ve listened to the end about 5 times and the line “…that was never a comedy for me” just really sticks with me.

Ladies — do you feel it? A pressure to be “attractive” or more attractive than you are or at least as attractive as you can be?

Do you feel like you are treated differently depending on how “attractive you are?”

Yesterday,  I would have said, “I’m a lady who doesn’t care about looks and I’d be silly to care.  What you see is what you get. I want to be judged on my mind and personality, not on what I look like.” I rarely wear makeup, except mascara and lip gloss/chapstick. I often wear my hair in a ponytail or bun to work. I wear t shirts and flip flops to the office (yup still can’t shake those flip flops). My sense of fashion has been questioned on more than one occasion (I call it “power clashing” or “the messy professor”). I get dolled up for special occasions. People do a double take when they see photos of my from when I’m outside of work and I have my hair done and makeup on and they ask, “is that you?!?!”

But today, after watching the video and giving it some thought — Am I a Tootsie?  Do I wear the badge of ugly duckling proudly because I’ve given in and been brainwashed too. “Hey I don’t measure up to society’s thoughts of attractiveness, but look at my big brain and incredibly quick wit?” Or am I just proudly waving my freak flag and keeping it weird? Its Saturday morning and I’m confused. 🙂

Confusion is a good thing because that leads to discussion! I want to delve a bit deeper into the role of attractiveness and how we perceive ourselves and others? Is there really a difference? And let’s reprise the topic of the “beauty premium.”

Social Media Oversharing #makingthehrconnection

I read this recently article from Time.Com, Social Media: Sex, Alcohol and Oversharing and on this Friday morning, as we look forward to the weekend, I wonder how many of us are “oversharing.” Hopefully those of you who are job seekers understand the line between what is appropriate for social media and what is not. People ARE looking — when I’m hiring, I’m not sure that I’m necessarily looking at people’s facebook account — although I’m for sure looking at people’s LinkedIn. But… just because I’m not looking doesn’t mean that others on the interview panel or other co-workers aren’t. Same is true anyone really — be mindful of what you share, who you tag (“where you tag” if you’re using locations), and who you share it with.

On a personal note re: oversharing — IF I know YOU as a real person outside of social media — then I really don’t mind. Likely its something that you would have told me in person anyways – and I’m probably already used to the “TMI” affect — we’re friends and we’ve already established that relationship. I know a person who gave a very detailed account of the birth of her child (DETAILED!) — but she doesn’t do it very often and it was in the spirit of information sharing for other expecting mothers or those who were thinking about it. I think of it as a way of connecting with others and trying to share a common experience.. and to show a sign of trust.

Ask yourself: Is your online persona an accurate reflection of you from the POV of a close friend? a total stranger? What does your social media profile SAY about YOU? Friends AND strangers DO make a judgement call about who you are once they look at your social media outlets — once it out there, its out there.

What do you think of Social Media Oversharing? TMI or just people being authentic?

Making the HR connection, yours, the girl in HR (TGIF!)

There it is. On your Facebook feed: a picture of a tall, clear glass full of what looks like a red smoothie. “That looks good,” you think. And then you read the caption: “Mommy’s First Placenta Shake. It tastes like heaven. I put lots of pineapple, orange and mango sorbet. Yummmm!”

Congratulations: you’re a victim of an extreme social-media overshare. Maybe your annoying neighbor told everyone about his appendectomy. Or perhaps you sister posted too much about her attempt to conceive Baby No. 3. Either way, you’re surrounded by people who blab their business online — and it’s happening more and more

via Social Media: Sex, Alcohol and Oversharing |

Its Not News Its a Distraction — NEW Pearl Jam Album Coming

I LOVE Music! I Love Eddie Vedder! I Love Pearl Jam — and I’m excited about this new album — not sure that I’m going to pre-order it, but you can bet what I’ll be listening to at work all day on October 15!

… and what I’ll be listening to the rest of the evening — Hear “Mind Your Manners”, the first single from Pearl Jam’s tenth studio album, Lightning Bolt

Making of the album clip and official audio of “Mind Your Manners” below!

Rawking on (as I make the HR Connection), yours, thegirlinhr

Federal Marriage Benefits? Not for Everyone – ABC News

Like other married couples, same-sex couples are about to learn that federal benefits for being married might not be all they’re cracked up to be.

Social Security benefits for spouses can be generous, but only for couples with big disparities in their incomes. Taxes are a decidedly mixed bag, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions for the Internal Revenue Service.

Many middle-income couples should get welcome tax breaks now that they can change their filing status from “single” to “married filing jointly.” The biggest benefits will go to couples in which one spouse makes more money than the other.

via Federal Marriage Benefits? Not for Everyone – ABC News.

The Girl in HR Explains It — What is DOMA and What Does the Reversal Mean

Maybe you’ve heard some of the talk about DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and not exactly sure what it is or what it means in relationship to your company. I had a lot of people asking questions about it this weekend so I thought that I’d do a quick recap. As a disclaimer, I know that topics like DOMA can be a bit controversial. This is not meant to discuss any personal beliefs (I’m all about opinions, but  let’s keep it friendly), rather let’s lay out the facts and what’s important for you to know as an HR person for your company and your employees.

What Is It?

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a US  federal law that says that individual states to can refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states. Until the reversal, DOMA, basically had prevented same-sex married couples from being recognized as “spouses” for purposes of federal laws, or receiving federal marriage benefits.

What Happened?

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday by a 5-4 vote that DOMA was unconstitutional. “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

What Does It Mean?

In simplest terms the reversal of DOMA means that same-sex couples are now eligible for spousal benefits that they had been denied in the past. Its estimated that “1,138 federal benefits provided on the basis of marital status. All of those benefits will now be available to same-sex married couples who reside in the 12 states where same-sex marriage is legal.”   What benefits are we talking about? Not just the opportunity for healthcare benefits offered to opposite- sex couples, but also things such as immigration, FMLA (to take care a spouse or family member) and numerous tax benefits.

Here is a quick video that discusses DOMA and the recent reversal in a bit more detail

What Does This Mean To You As An HR Pro?

  • This is on the mind of some of your employees and some of your leaders, so do the research and be able to talk intelligently about it.
  • Understand the impacts to your current benefit programs — do you need to do some communication or sessions to help people with their benefit selections if they elect to make some changes to their benefits — make yourself (or your team) available to answer questions and to help make any needed changes in your systems or with providers.
  • Understand what your policies look like — do you need to update or review them — do you already have a policy in place for domestic partners of same or opposite sex? — do you need to change the wording of your policies?
  • Talk about it with your employees and leaders — do you have a GLBTA ERG (whoa that’s an acro — Gay, Lesbian, Bi Sexual, Transgendered, and Allies Employee Resource Group)?  If so chat with them and partner with them.

Arm yourself with the knowledge and do the research — know your stuff and be a guide — its your responsibility as an HR pro.  I’m just here to help get ya started.

Making the HR connection, yours, the Girl in HR!