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Category Archives: Human Resources

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Human Resources Generalist and SHRM-CP

General Life/Work, Human Resources, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, KAIP Academy, Learning, Managing/Leadership, Onboarding, Sacramento, SHRM, Small Business

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you an update on the professional journey of Melissa McManus, Ed.D. When we last spoke, Melissa was KAI Partners’ Research Analyst and is now our Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Certified Professional.

 KAI Partners, Inc.: Melissa, tell us about the transition from Research Analyst to Human Resources Generalist and SHRM-CP.

Melissa McManus: As the Research Analyst, I was doing multiple work tasks, including human resources. Since I was already doing bits and pieces of HR, you could say that I grew into my current role as HR Generalist and SHRM-CP. It was the logical next step and a seamless transition.

KAIP: What is your favorite thing about being in HR?

MM: The variety is absolutely one of my favorite things about being in HR. There is always something different and new, and that is exciting to me. Most people are afraid of change or afraid of doing different things; on the other hand, I enjoy it and I am more afraid of monotony—doing the exact same thing day in and day out.

My new position allows for this constant change and variety. While the tasks may be the same or similar they are also new and different. Some examples of this are getting to work with different people and personalities and the constantly-changing HR and employment laws. This guarantees that I stay a life-long learner because I need to stay current on all laws and what is happening in HR. In that same vein, my HR certification will also keep me current in all things HR as I have professional development credits I must earn each year to keep my SHRM-CP current.

KAIP: From your recent blog post on career development and your self-appointed title of Lifelong Learner, we know these things are important to you. How does getting the SHRM-CP highlight that?

MM: Getting my SHRM-CP was important to me not only for my career development but also personally, as well. I take great pride in being a knowledge-seeker and staying current in my profession. I think that it says a lot about the type of person I am and it also communicates that I want to be the best at my job and how far I am willing to go to do that.

KAIP: We also know you love research. Have you found an opportunity to get back to your roots as a Research Analyst?

MM: I still get to do research as part of my work. Research is part of the territory for me and inhabits all areas of my life! In my current role, there are many instances where I get to put my research guru hat on. While my focus is in the daily tasks surrounding human resource management, this includes a variety of tasks, even research.

Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your journey! How have you made transitions in your career? Share your story with us in the comments!

About Melissa: Dr. Melissa McManus is a human resources professional and research guru. One of her greatest strengths is her resolute ability to soak in new information and her never-ending thirst for knowledge. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer. She is passionate about life and describes herself as an avid bookworm. In her free time, when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.

Quick Q&A with Melissa:
Daily, must-visit website: SHRM.org
Preferred genre of music to listen to at work: Country, always!
Best professional advice received: Never stop learning and don’t let anyone tell you what you are worth—only you can make that determination!
Top productivity hack: Changing up location/scenery. Because I work from home, every now and again I need a different view, which helps to recharge. Also, making sure to take breaks or walk around is a good alternative if you work in an office or specific location.
Book you can read over and over again: If I have to pick just one…Pride and Prejudice and the entire Harry Potter series. There are so many more, but these are the ones came to mind.
Most-recent binge-watched show: Tiny House Hunters

How to Plan Your Career Development

Corporate Training, Employee Engagement, Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Onboarding, Training

By Dr. Melissa McManus, SHRM-CP

Career development is the ability for you to manage your career. It involves goal-setting, awareness, and a willingness to learn. It is an ongoing process throughout the course of your career and sometimes, it can involve a bit of risk (don’t worry, I’ll come back to that later!).

You may have noticed in those first few sentences, I say ‘you’ or ‘your.’ There is a reason for this! Career development is driven by the individual—not by your employer, but by YOU.

While it is not uncommon for a company or organization to facilitate career development—many organizations these days offer employees certification training or tuition reimbursement—it is ultimately up to you to take the reins of your own career development.

Companies typically want to see their employees grow and improve, not only in their current position, but also so they can take on more elevated positions in the future. The better you are at your job, the better off the company is—it’s a win-win situation for all involved.

If you want a promotion, a position in a different department, or to simply be the best at what you do, then you must continue to develop your skills and knowledge.

And, you must be willing to take risks.

Anything worth doing involves some risk. While fear of the unknown and the ‘what-if’ part of your brain can keep you from doing certain things, when it comes to your career development, you should try to ignore that nagging voice. With great risk comes great reward.

For example, I recently obtained a SHRM-CP Human Resources certification through the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). This certification provides me with more authority in my area, allowing me to advance not only my career, but within my organization as well. The SHRM-CP provides me with knowledge and skills in my chosen career, and ensures that I continue to be a life-long learner in my area through recertification activities.

While I didn’t start my career with a focus on HR, it was taking risks along the way that allowed me to follow a different path towards becoming SHRM-CP certified. If you don’t try new things, you could miss out on great opportunities—in your career, missing out can lead to stagnation and monotony, a situation I’m sure most would rather avoid.

At this point you might be saying, YES, I want to be in control of my career development! But where do I start, what do I do, and how do I do it?

The best way you can manage your career development is with a solid plan. Here are four areas you should take inventory of when planning your career development:

  1. Self-Assessment – this is something you should do on a periodic basis. This can be every six months, every year, or at an interval appropriate to you and your goals. You should assess where you are currently to help you plan for where you want to go.
  2. Career Awareness – this is understanding not only your current position, but other positions that are available to you based on your education, skills, and experience. This can include an awareness of careers that you want to have in the future, as well.
  3. Goal Setting – set goals, both long-term (5+ years) and short-term (1-2 years), as well as some immediate goals. These should include what you want to accomplish, how, and why. Keep it simple at first—you can always expand and make changes. Plus, changes will likely happen organically as you progress through your career.
  4. Skill Development – develop the skills that will assist you in meeting your goals and keep you informed in your career area. You can accomplish this though reading, seminars, trainings, conferences, etc.

Seems simple enough, right? The easiest way to get started with your career development is to start anywhere you feel comfortable. Famed sales coach Zig Ziglar said it well, “It is not what happens to you that determines how far you go in life; it is what you do with what happens to you.”

How do you incorporate career development planning in your life?

About the Author: Melissa McManus is a Human Resources Generalist and research guru and loves every minute of it. One of her greatest strengths is her resolute ability to soak in new information and her never-ending thirst for knowledge. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer. She is passionate about life and describes herself as an avid bookworm. In her free time, when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, CrossFit, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.

3 Things You Need to Know About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Communications, Diversity & Inclusion, Employee Engagement, Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Onboarding, Team Building, Training

By Danielle Cortijo

Much like the snowflake, we are all unique. There is no one else in this world who is exactly like you. Awesome, right? Yes ma’am and sir!

In the workplace, you may find the same is true. Any number of differences are present and create the diverse environment you call your day-to-day professional experience.

There are so many ways we differ from one another—cultural/ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, sense of identities, lived experiences, and much more. Navigating these many varied differences is not always easy. Many of us have been known to slip up or trip over ourselves a time or two—or even downright get things all wrong.

But, fear no more! Today I share three things to remember when maneuvering through the workplace to help you do your best to recognize, embrace, and celebrate the diverse and inclusive environment we should all strive to be a part of!

  1. You get a bias… You get a bias… YOU GET A BIAS! (insert talk show host voice here)

I know it isn’t easy walking into a new and unfamiliar space. We’ve all experienced the subtle tensing of the stomach on our first day at a new office or work setting. Among the desk supplies, skillsets, and expectations we bring along with us, we also show up with an invisible bag of bias that we do our best to keep tucked away.

Bias is that thought in your mind, good or bad, that creeps into your head space and allows you to immediately form opinions about the people you meet at work—often at first glance.

While bias can sometimes feel like an ugly word, the truth is, it’s simply something we either knowingly or unknowingly bring to the table every day.

From infancy into adulthood, we venture through life encountering and experiencing so many different things; it can be understandable that we create beliefs about the things and people we have met. It is the onset of these moments that shape how we view the world and those within it—hence, biases.

In our professional lives, we encounter different walks of life and sometimes the biases we have can manifest snap judgments in our minds of who those people are, without even officially meeting them. It’s important that each person we work with or meet in our business environments are met without prejudice or bias. It can be counterproductive to make any sort of assumptions in a first introduction or otherwise.

We all have different life experiences that have helped to shape who we are today. It is critical to “meet people where they are.” Allow them to present their truth to you. There is no need to assume on your own who or what they are. Just as you would hope to be received without assumptions and respected for who are, so does everyone else—try to remain as assumption-free as possible. Which brings me to…

  1. Be Open!

I know all too well how difficult it can be to meet new people sometimes, especially at work. Each and every person has something a little different to offer and it is important to remain open so you do not miss the opportunity to find out what those things might be.

If you are too caught up in the fact that someone may have a culture or religion you are not accustomed to or comfortable with, you could miss out entirely due to your own hang-ups. What if you decide not to engage the new Business Analyst who is a guru at their line of work because you know they are a part of or identify with the LGBT community? The chance to network with this individual would be lost because of the inability to remain open to people who are different from you. Missed chances to engage with incredible people, regardless of their differences from you, is truly the biggest loss.

  1. Inclusion matters!

I cannot think of a time when someone did not want to be genuinely considered and included when it mattered. Including others in work settings assists staff members in feeling valued and a part of the organization as a whole. We all want to contribute or make our mark, right? When we fail to involve others, the ripples of exclusion can be a morale-crusher or could even result in turnover.

At some point in our careers, we all want to be included when it counts. Allow diversity to be a growing and supportive tool, not a hindrance, in your professional environment. There is so much we can learn from each other, largely due to the beneficial professional experiences we can share with others.

Let’s do our best not to alienate one another. Communicate thoroughly and share as often as possible. Be a proponent of inclusion and watch the beautiful diverse nature of your team and organization carry you all to new heights!

About the Author: With a Bachelor’s in Communications and actively pursuing her Master’s in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Dani has an extensive professional background in the public and private sectors focused in Contracts, Human Resources, QA, and Process. Currently the Procurement Specialist on the amazing Administrative team for KAI Partners, she is working diligently to assist in the successful acquisition of procurements for the company. When her world slows down a bit, she loves scouring for an incredible deal on retro sneakers with her partner in crime, listening to music 24/7, and laughing as much as humanly possible.

14 Job-Seeking Tips Straight from Human Resources

Best Practices, Employee Engagement, Hiring, Human Resources, Onboarding, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company

Photo Courtesy of EDD

By Angela Darchuk and Melissa McManus

We were lucky to recently attend the State of California Employment Development Department’s Honor A Hero, Hire A Vet event in San Francisco. We love meeting potential employees and seeing where they may fit within our organization. Attending job fairs also gives us the opportunity to meet people with a broad range of skill sets and experience. The world of IT is ever-changing and making sure we retain top talent is key!

When we’re not out and about at job fairs or career events, we run our two-person HR department for KAI Partners, a growing company. In this capacity, we interact with a lot of job applicants each day. Over the years, we’ve seen the best of the best…and the not so best. We thought we’d share with you our best practices when job-seeking—these tips may just put you above and beyond the competition in your next job search!

Resume Dos and Don’ts

Resume writing best practices change often (has there ever been consensus on the one-page resume rule?). Here are some tips straight from someone who reviews resumes day in and day out:

  1. Avoid spelling errors by always proofreading your resume—even more, ask someone else to look it over for you
  2. Include your name contact information—at least an email address and phone number (yes, we’ve received resumes with no contact information!)
  3. Say what you need to in as few words as possible—a concise and to-the-point resume speaks volumes
  4. Be targeted—include only those skills and experiences that best speak to the position you are applying for
  5. Use a customized resume for every position you apply for—generic, cookie cutter resumes can come off as lazy to the reviewer
  6. Avoid narratives unless specifically asked for—bulleted lists are the best way to present your information in a way that is clean, easy to read, and pleasing to the eye
  7. Keep your resume up to date—if there are gaps in employment, be prepared to explain or discuss why
  8. Eliminate all fluff from your resume—it should be a few pages as possible
  9. If you are submitting your resume electronically, it is best to save the file in rich text format (.rtf) to help ensure that your formatting stays the same and does not become lost in translation—you want the reviewer to see what you see!

Job Fair Best Practices

If you find yourself at a job fair—or even on a phone or first interview—make sure you employ these tips to stand out above the rest!

  1. Do research—if possible, look up the companies that will be in attendance so that you can be prepared to dazzle them with your knowledge…and to be able to explain why you would be a good fit
  2. Ask questions about the company—use your research to form questions and let the company you are truly interested
  3. Be ready to list some highlights about your experiences—you only have a few minutes to make yourself stand out!
  4. Have your resume printed and ready to hand out
  5. Dress professionally—think of a job fair as a series of quick interviews and be dressed to make a good first impression

These are just a few tips to assist you in applying for jobs that could help you get to the next step of the hiring process. Is there another HR topic you’d like us to cover? Let us know in the comments and we’ll tackle it in a future blog post!

 For those of you in the Sacramento, CA region, check out our current list of job openings here!

 About the Authors: Angela has a background in book-keeping and office management. She worked for Dept. of Child Support, EDD, and the State Treasurer’s office before making the jump back to private sector where she feels more at home to voice her opinion and help grow a company. Angela is currently the Administrative Services Manager for KAI Partners.

 Melissa McManus is a Human Resources Specialist and Researcher by profession and loves every minute of it. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer.

5 Tips to Separate Work and Home When You Work from Home

Best Practices, General Life/Work, Human Resources, Small Business, Startup Company

By Angela Darchuk

In many peoples’ eyes, working from home is the greatest thing ever. It can be a wonderful opportunity to be around for our families, save on commuting time, and maybe even help with our sanity. Believe it or not, you may actually get more work done from home than working in a typical office. But, working from home has its draw backs too.

Almost four years ago, I started my journey of being a virtual employee. I left a state job to help build a small company. I was very excited about being able to get more laundry done, dishes cleaned, and even take my kids to school on a daily basis, which I felt was a good opportunity to be around for my kids as they entered the teenage years. Little did I know that there were drawbacks working from home.

After I started this new journey, I quickly realized I needed to create boundaries for myself to separate work from home. This proved difficult when work and home were in the same place. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that may help you in your work from home situation:

1. Create a separate space

Creating a space that was just for work encouraged me (and my mess) to stay in one place of the house. For those who think working from the kitchen table is a great place to work, you may be wrong. This creates a larger mess—adding to your typical family mess—and more work, as you have to move your piles from one table to another while trying to get dinner on the table.

I was lucky enough to be able to set up an office in my house, but not all of us are so lucky. Try just having a desk, chair, and small file cabinet. This will help keep all your work supplies in one “work” location, and help you keep the rest of your house as your “home” space.

2. Set a work schedule with your supervisor

It’s important to work out a schedule with your supervisor—preferably in writing— that says you will start and end work at a certain time each day. Remember, this includes lunch and break time (but more on this later). By setting your schedule, you make sure there are no additional expectations of when you should be answering emails, taking phone calls, or producing material just because your office is 20 feet away.

3. Make sure you take breaks and lunches

Did you know that in California, if you are an hourly employee, you are required to take a minimum of a 30-minute lunch and two 10-minute breaks if you work eight hours? It may be state law, but it’s important to take regular breaks when working from home. Get away from your desk; go outside for a small walk, play with your animals, or just get up and move (preferably not to do housework!) And don’t take your phone with you.

I find that getting away from my computer and phone for this break time makes you a better employee. You become less resentful of the pressures of work when you have gotten a little fresh air.

4. Don’t answer work emails or phone calls off hours

While this is easier said than done, you should make a conscious effort to not work weekends unless already previously planned. Even though answering questions over the weekend may sound like it’s not a big deal, we all know this leads us to thinking about work—answering one question can turn into two or three hours of work.

Try to remember that your kids and family can see you are working and can start to get resentful of you working all time. So that intention of being around for your kids can turn out to back fire if you’re not careful about how you manage your time.

5. Take your vacation time

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t need a break to get away. Whether it’s paid or unpaid, make a point to put vacation time on the schedule. And remember, a working vacation doesn’t count. While it’s great to be able to work from anywhere, you’re still working. Leave the computer at home and put your ‘out of office’ message on your email.

While implementing these five things into your life may be difficult at first, it’s important to strive for them. Even after four years working from home, I still have issues with work boundaries, mainly because helping to build a business is different than the typical 8 to 5, Monday through Friday job. But for your own sanity, if you do these five things, you and your family will be happier and you will be a better employee.

About the Author: Angela has a background in book-keeping and office management. She worked for several small businesses in the Sacramento area before taking a job with the State of California. She worked for Dept. of Child Support, EDD, and the State Treasurer’s office before making the jump back to private sector where she feels more at home to voice her opinion and help grow a company. Angela is currently the Administrative Services Manager for KAI Partners. In her spare time Angela loves to read, dance, and go to Disneyland. When she goes to Disneyland, her favorite ride is It’s a Small World. She has been married for 17 years and has two boys, ages 18 and 13 (who hate It’s a Small World).

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