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Elevator Speech

You have 10 seconds to impress a business owner, can you do it? What’s your Elevator Speech?

You are at a networking event, and the owner of a large well-known company in the city walks up to you, shakes your hand and asks what you do. You have a brief window to impress and not bore them, what’s your next step?

The following goes through your head in a matter of seconds: You realize that this individual is extremely influential in the community; they are business minded and only have so much time. You only have a few moments to speak with the business owner and you have to be concise and get your point across.

What you don’t want to do is sound like you have rehearsed your elevator speech and are on replay:

“My name is Rachel.”
“I am a professional recruiter.”
“I work in the employee relations department.”
“I answer all employee questions and respond to any concerns they may have.”

With this response you aren’t really engaging the business owner, or piquing their interest. What you want to say is something like this:

“I support people and help them make well-informed decisions to better themselves and their careers”

In turn the business owner might say “Tell me how you do that exactly”. This is your opportunity to then explain your role in more detail and express your commitment and passion to your job and your profession. This also allows the business owner to see that you are truly invested in the conversation and not just repeating a few catch phrases in answer to his questions.

The best thing that can happen is the business owner may engage you in a longer conversation or they may even ask to meet with you outside the networking event to learn more about what you do. The worst thing that can happen is they leave you with their business card and move on. Either way, you’ve had some face time with a decision maker and made a connection that you may be able to utilize in the future.

In today’s competitive job market, the more you can do to stand out the better!

Vanessa Burns, B.A., CPC is a Recruitment Partner with Lucas Professional Search Group, located in Windsor, Ontario.  You can learn more at

Interview Etiquette 5 Golden Rules to Success

It’s a competition out there! Especially for recent graduates who are looking to launch their careers. Landing that big job is like fishing. You put yourself out there and you hope that someone will bite your bait. So after all of your perseverance, patience and many attempts you finally get a nibble… So now what? My suggestion is go through the motions but keep in mind that there is something called interview etiquette. Recruiting is about finding the right candidate for the job and that means that your integrity and character is being compared to that of someone else who is equally as qualified for the job.

Surprisingly what may seem like common sense to some is not so obvious to others. In my recruiting experience I have seen many interview no no’s. Make sure you understand these 5 Golden Rules of interview etiquette and you are well on your way.

  1. Never ask the interviewer what the dress code is. Even if the interview falls on a casual Friday, make sure you dress to impress.
  2. Never show up late. And if you are going to be late due to unforeseen circumstances, whenever possible make sure you call at least 10-minutes ahead of time to let the Interviewer know your situation. Try your best to avoid calling one minute before the scheduled interview or after you are already one-minute late.
  3. Don’t just rely on an email to reschedule an interview especially if you are sending it the day of. Typically a hiring manager could have over 15 unread messages in their inbox and chances are they won’t get to your email right away. If you don’t show up for your scheduled interview and your email wasn’t received ahead of time you may have just completely interfered with the hiring managers busy day. That time they devoted to you could have been scheduled for something else. Sometimes it is best to leave a voice message and send an email if they don’t answer their business line when you call. Or ask the receptionist if they can pass on your message and follow-up with an email. It shows that your respect the hiring manager’s time and that you are still eager to reschedule an interview.
  4. Never show up more than 15-minutes early. It’s good to be punctual it shows that you are eager and care about the interview but if you’re more then 15-minutes early find a coffee shop or a lobby and do something like review your interview notes there. If you show up an hour early or even 20-minutes early you could end up putting undue pressure on yourself if you happen to cross paths with the candidate being interviewed before you. Or you could have just imposed a sense of urgency on the interviewer to accommodate your punctuality when they have other pressing matters to attend to during that time.
  5. Send a thank you email within 48-hours of the interview. Make sure you have no grammatical or spelling errors in your thank you email. It is important to reinforce your interest in the position and stand out. Remember you are still being judged and your written communication skills can be a deciding factor especially when the position requires excellent written communication.

Michelle Hennick is an active member of the Human Resource Professional Association (HRPA) and has a BA in Psychology. She currently works as an HR Administrator for a software development company. Michelle’s tenacity motivates her to strive for excellence and support her organization’s continued success by improving efficiencies through process enhancements. Michelle has had exposure to various HR functions, which include: creating and implementing policies, recruitment, performance management, training, onboarding, and health and safety. 

HR Lessons from Wolf of Wall Street

The award-winning film, The Wolf of Wall Street tells the fascinating true story of stock broker Jordan Belfort, his rise to unbelievable wealth, and his eventual fall through crime and corruption.

Belfort’s moral compass was completely out of whack, as demonstrated not only through his criminal activities in the workplace but in his personal life, with his addiction to hookers and blow wreaking havoc on his family.

Despite Belfort’s criminal background and questionable judgement, there’s no doubt he was smart. Fraudulent activities alone would not have led him to reach his goals, make a huge pile of dough, and allow him to bring other colleagues and employees along on the wildly successful ride with him.
As HR Professionals, we are smart enough to set aside Belfort’s notoriously bad behaviour while extracting some key HR lessons from his career. Here are 5 lessons for success we can learn from “Wolfie” (Belfort):

1. Your team is the most important thing

Belfort put together a loyal team with diverse competencies at Stratton Oakmont. His senior management team was primarily comprised of his closest friends, who admired and respected him. As well, they all had different backgrounds, skills, and strengths which allowed them to fill one another’s gaps and lead the organization as a strong, united team.

Employees were hired less for their skills and experience and more for their drive for success and willingness to learn fast and work hard. Belfort preferred hiring individuals desperate to earn big money and encouraged them to paint themselves into a corner financially to ensure their focus was on working hard to earn big. The diversity of the team as well as the opportunities and rewards they were provided created an extremely loyal and committed employee base at the firm.

2. Reward your team and keep them happy

At Stratton Oakmont, employees were expected to work hard but were rewarded extremely well for their efforts. “A rookie stock broker was expected to make $250,000 his first year. Anything less and he was suspect. By year two, you were making $500,000 or you were considered weak and worthless. And by year three, you’d better be making a million or more or you were a complete f***ing laughingstock” – Jordan Belfort

Employees were paid far above the going rate for stock brokers and Belfort occasionally selected top performers to be mentored by them in starting their own brokerage firms.

Belfort encouraged employees to solve all their problems by becoming rich and overcomers were held up as positive examples of this. At Stratton Oakmont, money solved all problems, although it eventually created many problems for Belfort and others.

Employees at the firm were regularly rewarded with parties where celebrations included drugs, alcohol, and plenty of debauchery. Fun, be it harmless or not, was the name of the game and partying hard was expected. Through all these incentives, Belfort drove commitment and focus on hard work.

3. Create an enticing company culture

Belfort created a company culture where seizing opportunities and achieving wealth was everyone’s goal. He encouraged employees to make as much money as possible and to compete with colleagues to spend more money and live crazy, luxurious lifestyles. Belfort did this by leading by example, and living an over-the-top lifestyle of luxury items and partying, and encouraging employees to join him on his wild adventures.

Reinforcing the company’s goals was something Belfort did regularly. There are several scenes in the film where Belfort gives loud, outrageous, motivational speeches to his employees. He reminds them of their mission, where they’re going, what’s in it for them, what works and what doesn’t. A few individuals are humiliated along the way but make good examples for the others to learn from.

“Let me tell you something…I’ve been a poor man, and I’ve been a rich man. And I choose rich every f***ing time…This is the greatest company in the world!” – Jordan Belfort

Through the culture and in reinforcing it regularly, Belfort created a focused, loyal, and adoring workforce at Stratton Oakmont.

4. Training is a necessity

Belfort ensured everyone in his organization could sell and continuously provided training to ensure they were successful. It was critical for him to come up with a way to teach and transform young, uneducated people into stock broking professionals.

Training was through watching, learning, role-playing and doing, using the simple formula of basic instructions and scripts. He reinforced that the pitch was always more important than the product itself, and never to take “no” for an answer. Employees who practiced the sales techniques from the training would find success and job applicants began appearing in droves.

“And as word of this little secret began to spread…that there was this wild office…where all you had to do was show up, follow orders, swear your undying loyalty to the owner, and he would make you rich – young kids started showing up at the boardroom unannounced.” – Jordan Belfort

5. Act the part

Hungry for success, Belfort and his team led with confidence, even when they started out from nothing. They dressed well and had a calm, successful, and somewhat cocky demeanor that enabled them to land sale after sale.

Every Stratton Oakmont employee was reminded incessantly to act “as if”, and to dress well and look the part. As well, Belfort even hired a tailor to make suits for the up-and-coming employees of his firm. This reinforced their confidence and selling abilities.

While Jordan Belfort doesn’t model the kind of values we should practice as HR Professionals, we can find inspiration and motivation from his seize-the-day attitude.

“The only thing standing between you and your dream is the bullsh!t story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort

Elaine Cruise Smith takes an irreverent and (sometime brutally) honest approach to authenticity in the workplace. She blogs about it at “Get Real: People, Passion, Profit$, where she explores how getting real with people (colleagues, employees, the boss, and customers) frees us to be extraordinary and to achieve extraordinary results. Elaine also blogs about living large without breaking the bank at “Champagne Taste …on a beer budget”. Follow her journey and musings at and and connect with Elaine on LinkedIn.