As I move through the end of another calendar year, I am floored to realize that I am entering the 11th month as head of Human Resources for my company. Homestar Financial Corporation is a home mortgage lender, with about 600 employees in 80 locations across 12 states. We’ve almost doubled in size in the past 23 months, and have the usual challenges that type of growth brings!
I learned quickly that for all the low-hanging fruit I “fixed,” there were dozens of other, more complex and time-consuming needs to be addressed. Conflict resolution is more engrained in the HR team culture, and New Hires are better prepared for their first weeks than when I started. We have taken positive steps as an HR team to be proactive instead of being the administrative, reactive department of prior years. But more can be done to help this company better reflect the character of its Founder, and become a place people want to be for a career.  In 2017, progress will be made.
So, in the coming year, I am focusing on three areas – HRIS, employee training, and improving our interviewing process. Of course, each of those areas includes dozens and dozens of small steps to accomplish, but that list is for another time.
If you are starting in a new role, or plan to do so in 2017, I encourage you to develop your 90-day plan (as I did), and be prepared to CHUCK IT! Having a focus when you take on a new role is important, but it’s not necessarily how things will unfold as you learn more about the day-to-day needs of executives and employees. I found much deeper problems that took far longer to resolve (some are still being worked on 11 months later…) than I originally could see from outside the organization.
Plan on spending the first couple of months just listening – perhaps a small survey of stakeholder’s expectations for your HR team could be useful, too. And develop your Year-One plan as you gain more insights into exactly what your company needs from an HR leader.
Good luck, and I hope you have a great 2017. Steve Lovig


Richard Castellini, VP at said “Hiring Managers often spend less than one minute reviewing a candidate’s resume.” I have heard from some recruiters they spend as little as 6 seconds per resume! So – make your resume GET NOTICED:

Put your job title in ALL-CAPS and BOLD. It’s the job title that’s important; more so than WHERE you worked (company name).

Remove “month” out of your dates; just use the years. Using months can tend to look like “clutter.”  Remove the period (“.”) from the end of bulleted lines; they are not really sentences.

Remove the period (“.”) from the end of bulleted lines; they are not really sentences.

Overall, you want to do much more than just list your job duties. You want to show how you did something SPECIAL, that someone else in that same role, would not, or could not do. Did you SAVE the department money, or time, or personnel, etc.? Did you create a report that provided better information in a timelier manner, etc.? If so, ensure they STAND OUT in your “accomplishments” list.


You need a resume that gets results, and I can help you! As a Human Resources professional, and Adjunct Professor, I have helped hundreds of people develop winning resumes. Send me your 1st draft; I will provide a FREE review to help improve your One True Marketing Tool, and make your resume the One That Gets Noticed!

For a free review, email

Watch out – your BEST Employees are planning to leave you



Almost half of U.S. professionals have thought about quitting their jobs in the past year because of “stifling frustrations at work.”

The survey from The Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University, also found that younger professionals, those who make less than $50,000 annually, and those who think their job is at a standstill are among the most likely to say goodbye to their boss.

About 30% of the employees said they are underappreciated, and overworked.


As caring employers, we can boost a positive workplace culture through clearer pathways to career advancement, and by offering leadership skills development to employees.

In our ‘business leader’ role, we can also do a better job of recognizing those small wins – thank an employee who turns in a fabulous report or presentation – IMMEDIATELY, and in front of others!


Do you have 5-minute “How are we Doing” conversations with your employees? At least one a week? It is simple, and effective. Just ask: 1) what they are working on; 2) how it is going; 3) and how you can help?

Your employees want genuine feedback, but it doesn’t have to be a BIG deal. A simple, but authentic “thank you” can make an otherwise burned-out employee feel great about their workplace environment. Really; they will go home and tell their spouse and friends!


Certainly there are many, many more ways to help ensure your A-Players continue to be happy and productive members of your talent team. But a cost-free way to jump start a more ‘results and rewards-driven’ culture can begin by simply recognizing your employees as “people” who like to be told “Nice Job.”


I help organizations answer their People concerns, before they become BIG, EXPENSIVE DEALS. Call 404-791-7454 or email for a FREE appraisal.




Use your resume to “MARKET” yourself to hiring managers.

  • Make your statements ACTIVE
  • Show how you STAND OUT
  • Tell the story of YOUR WORTH

As I have said in the past, resumes are marketing documents. They are not a career retrospective of what you have done or a boring list of your work history, education, and professional information. Your resume is a SALES tool; you are selling you. So, tell the reader what you bring to the role that puts you at the top of the pile. Really good resumes convey power and display confidence.

While a strong resume won’t get you a job, it will position you as a highly qualified and competitive candidate and provide a compelling introduction to get you to the next step – The Interview for your #DreamJob!

Remember what recruiters are looking for:

  • 77% look for relevant experience
  • 48% frequently consider a candidate’s ability to demonstrate specific accomplishments
  • 41% consider whether the resume is customized to the open position and to the Company


You need a resume that gets results, and I can help you! As a Human Resources professional, and Adjunct Professor, I have helped hundreds of people develop winning resumes. Send me your 1st draft; I will provide a FREE review to help improve your One True Marketing Tool, and make your resume the One That Gets Noticed!

For a free review, email

To go to work sick, or NOT to go to work sick….that is the question.


Deciding to go into work when you are not feeling well may depend on your income. Those worried about not being paid for a day off may go into the office and spread their sickness to co-workers. If company policy rewards those with “perfect attendance,” it might be sending a message that an employee is EXPECTED to be at work, regardless of personal issues. I encourage my clients to stay away from that policy, unless there is a provision to allow 3-4 days off per year as exceptions. (FMLA will also impact those policies.)

If you find yourself in the office and feeling sick, try to think about your coworkers:  Watch how you sneeze, and where you blow that snotty nose. Wash your hands frequently, cough into the crook of your elbow, and go to the restroom to blow your nose.

So, you’re OK, but you are surrounded by sick coworkers? When possible, the CDC tells us to “Stay at least 6 feet away from sick people when possible.” Think about avoiding closed-door meetings or large events with groups of people. Consider other ways to participate in office happenings; conference calls, video chats, and even perhaps postponing events.

Find some great thoughts on Office-Sickies from Kayleen Schaefer, Bloomberg Businessweek.

Should I get a Flu Shot? If your company offers free Flu Shots, take advantage of them. If the company doesn’t, talk with Human Resources about making that offer. Put up posters around the office to help employees recognize the symptoms – a fever, chills, or sweats means it is advisable to stay home.


So, as an employee, pay attention to your own health. As a leader, tell your employees to stay home when they are sick. As an organization, let people know they are hurting themselves, their coworkers, and costing the company when they cough, sneeze, and spread germs in the office.


I help organizations answer their People concerns before they become BIG, EXPENSIVE DEALS. Call 404-791-7454 or email for a FREE appraisal.

Firing someone? Incorporate Dignity, Grace, and Respect

Today is “Black Monday”; the day many NFL coaches will be publicly fired. We will hear about the head coaches with household names. However, behind the scenes, we do not hear about all the assistants, strength coaches, personnel community, nutritional experts, etc.

Whether in a pro football organization, or a small business, a termination is painful for each party involved. (If it is not painful, then perhaps something else is going on…). As leaders, we must be sure to treat each termination with empathy, and respect for that other human being. People who suffer job loss go through some predictable emotional stages, including lowered self-esteem, despair, shame, anger, and feelings of rejection. While you may have plenty of legally relevant reasons for the termination, you are still severing a large part of that human being’s life.

To find a new role, the person may have to uproot their family, deplete their savings, and in some situations, seek assistance just to feed their children and themselves.

When a termination is not handled in a dignified manner, business people ought to realize the other employees are seeing a very clear message: “We don’t care about you or anyone else.” When the company does not care about employees, the employees do not care about the business. Customers feel the attitude, too, and it leads to performance, product, and balance sheets suffering.

Not every employer can provide a healthy severance package. But even small concessions can go a long way toward helping the employee, as well as those employees left behind.

HR can review their resume and LinkedIn profile, help them understand their Unemployment Insurance and COBRA rights, and an executive can introduce them to an outside resource. I am sure you can think of some additional ways to assist, too. Please leave your suggestions below.

Here’s to a great 2016, where we all find joy and fulfillment in our roles, as well as happiness with our lives outside the business community.

For more ways to ensure legally compliant and morally respectful termination decisions, contact me at 


Steve Lovig, is known as a “Different Kind of HR Leader,” a Human Resources Executive with expertise in Human Capital Management, Employee Relations, Retention, Training, Recruiting, and Cultural Improvements.

Contact via or 404-791-7454.




What a great opportunity – a solid role with plenty of room to use my background and experience, as well as to stretch and to grow professionally. Ninety candidates applied, just twelve resumes ultimately considered, and I was one of only four people invited in for a face-to-face interview.

So, pretty good odds, right – 25% chance of landing a wonderful new HR leadership gig, after years of searching. Great organization, 15 minutes from my home, a long-tenured COO, and a group of moral, honest employees. What a wonderful place to be a part of…but, you guessed it.


I was not the chosen candidate.

Intellectually, I know the COO hired a capable HR professional, who will do a fine job. However, in my heart, I KNOW I am the better choice; the candidate who would have done amazing work, helping the COO and each one of the employees be better and happier at their jobs.

I also understand I am not the only person who lost out on a great new job opportunity. You may know someone, or you may BE that someone. Where does one go from here? For me, it is allowing a day of self-pity, but only one day! Tomorrow, I once again call people who I might be able to help, and who, perhaps, might connect me with someone needing my level of HR expertise.

I ensure my LinkedIn profile, along with other professional job boards, are updated with recent accomplishments. I reach out to a few more Executive Recruiters, and find new opportunities to volunteer my time. I reconnect with former colleagues, and probably even enjoy catching up with them (while I recognize internally, I am calling to see if they know anyone who needs an HR guy).

I will take my dog for a long walk – I find dogs are great listeners.

And for me, one of the hardest things – I will tell my family and close friends I am “still” looking for a job. Don’t forget to include them in your search; you never know who they might know.

Some small words of encouragement – I KNOW I will succeed, and if I can, so can you!


I would love to hear your comments. Email or call 404-791-7454.






Checklist for Recruiting and Interviewing

Especially if you have an “HR Department of 1” and are perhaps new to HR and Recruiting, I’ve developed this simple checklist to keep you on-track as you start the candidate search process.

Pre-Candidate (Recruiting) Stage

(for Organizations with Internal Recruiters)

  1. Hiring Manager receives approval to fill / backfill position
  2. Hiring Manager and Recruiter partner to ensure Job Description is revised as needed
  3. Recruiter confirms appropriate Salary Range equity (internal and external)
  4. Recruiter posts Job Opening (remember your Employee Referral Program)
    • Perhaps “Post” on Company Bulletin Board?
  5. Recruiter and Hiring Manager both post Job Opening on her/his LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other posting options (niche sites; University job boards; etc.)
  6. Recruiter posts on various external sites (both Free and Fee-based), per Job- or Industry-specific needs
    • Typically, start with your Company’s site.
    • You can find dozens of free sites available, including each State’s DOL, SimplyHired, Indeed, ResumeBucket, Goggle+, etc.
  7. When Internal and/or Free Recruiting is slow or ineffective, your Recruiter should connect with Job- or Industry-specific Headhunters
    • Also post on “paid” job boards
  8. Recruiting receives and reviews resumes
  9. Recruiting sends “initially-approved” resumes to Hiring Manager for review. S/he gives OK for Initial candidate list
  10. Recruiting starts Initial Phone Screen interviews

Candidate Stage    

  1. Based on results of Phone screen interviews, Recruiting and Hiring Manager develop final slate of Candidates
  2. Recruiting is responsible for setup of on-site Interviews, including ensuring each Interviewer has Interview Guide materials
  3. Hiring Manager, and others interviews in person; if good job fit, candidate continues process
  4. Recapping with all Interviewers, Recruiting leads Discussion and Decision Process
  5. Recruiting to call each Candidate not chosen to move forward in the Interviewing process, thanks them for their interest in Company, and wishes them well (do this within 3 business days)
  6. Note that your Recruiter should be providing Hiring Managers weekly progress reports

Human Resources SWOT Analysis

Goal – identify Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) in Human Capital practices. An HR SWOT analysis involves identifying issues and finding solutions before they become unmanageable. View the SWOT analysis as an assessment of what the organization is doing right, how things might be done differently, more efficiently, or at reduced costs, and what must be addressed immediately.

S: HR strengths include strategy and functionality, building a top-tier workforce, being an employer of choice.

W: Weaknesses may stem from budget constraints, employee morale, high turnover.

O: Opportunities could come from workforce growth, demand for products and services, translating to higher wages, growth for surrounding communities, longer tenure.

T: Offering better working conditions, higher wages, more desirable benefits by others, cause difficulty recruiting best-qualified people.


  1. Talent Management
  2. Performance management / Disciplinary issues
  3. Recruiting / Talent Acquisition
  4. Compensation
  5. Personnel Policies
  6. HRIS practices
  7. Payroll System / Time-keeping
  8. Employee Benefits
  9. New-employee orientation
  10. Training and Development
  11. Compliance
  12. Government Contractor conformity


  1. Talent Management
    1. Ensure thorough understanding of company strategies, objectives
    2. Review competitive landscape, current, and potential business challenges
    3. A-Player vs. D-Player talent; ensure rankings in-line with business model
    4. 360-feedback
    5. Cultural realities
  1. Performance management
    1. Disciplinary issues; what, handling of
    2. Performance Reviews
    3. Terminations; policies and actions
    4. Employee Relations
    5. Employee Satisfaction
    6. Legal charges, complaints, resolutions
    7. Conflict Resolution
    8. Handling of Absences, Tardiness
  1. Recruiting / Talent Acquisition procedures
    1. Interviewing process
    2. Interview training
    3. Job Descriptions
    4. Background screening, Pre-Employment assessments
    5. Hiring processes; Forms & Tools
    6. Online / Social presence
    7. Recruiters vs. Agencies
    8. ATS system
  1. Compensation
    1. Salary adjustments; frequency, reasoning, fairness
    2. Base-pay increases
    3. Short-term incentives
    4. Discretionary awards, spot bonuses
    5. Long-term incentives
    6. Commissions
    7. Benchmarking
    8. 401(k) / other Retirement options
  1. Personnel Policies
    1. Performance and Discipline
    2. PTO, Holidays
    3. Absence without notice; Tardiness and call-in
    4. IT usage / Social 
  1. HRIS (must have data to make decisions)
    1. Current vs. needed
    2. Existing reports, Reports required
      1. Headcount
      2. Retention / Turnover
        1. Staffing needs, future pipelines
        2. Recruiting timelines / Time to fill
        3. Open Positions / # unfilled and why
        4. Effectiveness of Source
        5. Promotions / Internal moves
        6. Terminations / Reasons
        7. Absences, tardiness
        8. Age, Zip code, other Demographic breakouts
        9. Employee Survey input and follow-up
  1. Payroll System / Time-keeping practices
    1. Automation vs. manual
    2. Rounding up
    3. Corrections
    4. Dates
  1. Employee Benefits
    1. Medical
    2. Dental, Vision, STD, LTD, Life
    3. Fringe benefits per employee feedback
    4. Costs vs./ Value
  1. New-employee orientation forms
    1. Offer letter
    2. First day
    3. First 90 days; Expectations / Goals
    4. Provide feedback quickly
    5. Recognize achievements early
    6. Day-180, Day-365
  1. Training and Development
    1. Safety / Security / Workplace Violence
    2. Non-Harassment / Non-Discrimination
    3. Certified Interviewer
    4. Tracking and Reporting
  1. Compliance
    1. FLSA Classifications; Contract Employees
    2. Healthcare Reform (ACA), tracking, 2015 reports
    3. FMLA, ADAA, and other Leave requirements
    4. Employee Handbook
    5. EEOC requests for information
    6. Personnel files
    7. HIPPA
    8. I-9 & E-Verify
    9. Inspection and evaluation of physical facilities
    10. Workers’’ Compensation policies and practices
    11. Posters
  1. Government Contractor Compliance
    1. Affirmative Action Plan
    2. EEO-1
    3. EEOC Classifications
    4. Minimum wages

“Use-it-or-lose-it” vacation policies

The Colorado Department of Labor (CDOL) announced that “use-it-or-lose-it” vacation policies would no longer be permitted. However, they then admitted materials on the subject were “Not clear.” Now they’ve released an FAQ, which continues the confusion. Here are some takeaways:

  • If you have a use-it-or-lose-it policy, it must clearly explain vacation earnings and accruals
  • Definition of when vacation is earned is critical
  • Value of vacation earned when an employee leaves must be paid
  • If you want to change your policy, it cannot be retroactive

You could put a cap on how much vacation is earned, require employees to use accumulated vacation before additional time could be earned, and have a policy clearly stating vacation pay is not earned until employees work the specified amount of time. But until further clarification, it looks like the employee must be paid for all earned and unused vacation time.

Thanks for the overview from Fisher & Phillips, found here: