What a Difference a Year Makes

One year ago today I got some amazing news…..but let me start from the beginning.

At the end of April 2013, I was hospitalized and had an emergency surgery. My intestines had perforated and I was 2 hours from death, to use the doctors words. He had to put in a temporary colostomy. If you know me, you know I have incredibly sensitive skin. (Where the Indian, French and Mexican genes I am supposed to have are, I will never know.)

After 3 months of being miserable and in pain, trying over and over again to find good colostomy supplies, I was somewhat used to what was happening, but also had an end in sight. We picked July 24th as the day to reverse the colostomy and let me get back to a normal life. I was SO ready!! Fast forward to waking up from sedation and surgery and I feel the colostomy bag still attached. I wanted to cry. All I could think was something terrible happened and I would be stuck with it forever. (If you are, and have the skin I have, I really feel for you.)

The doctor comes in and I ask him what went wrong. Please keep in mind I am still incredibly groggy, was having oxygen and pain issues, etc so it all felt very dream like in the room. The doctor tells me he couldn’t do the surgery because I had an enlarged uterus. For those of you who don’t know, in Fall of 2012 we found some serious cells the dr called pre-cancer but close to turning and advised we do an ablation or a hysterectomy. I opted for the ablation as a more non-invasive choice knowing we could do a full surgery if needed. Needless to say, hearing my uterus was enlarged led me down the path of assuming it was a large tumor. I argued with the doctor for hours about what it was. Finally, they took me down for a scan. Little did I know/believe that what they were going to show me was a baby.

Next step, serious panic. I had never been blessed enough to carry a baby to term. I also had almost died in April and they were telling me I was already pregnant then, so the baby had been through two surgeries, poison in my system and lots, and I mean LOTS of pain meds and other drugs to save me. Between having had so many miscarriages and having been through all this, I knew there was no way this baby would survive, let alone be normal and healthy.

Then I make the call to his daddy. He lives out-of-town and if you think my shock was big, you should have heard his. You see, he had a vasectomy 9 years ago. How is this possible he wanted to know. (Clearly his doctor never told him they could reverse themselves)

Together we prepared for the worst. We scheduled genetic tests, scans to see the babies organs and body, etc. We did not share the news with anyone because we just knew this baby would not survive.

Fast forward to September. We finally have all the results back, all the scans have been done and we have amazing news…..the baby appears to be perfect. Being one not to question God, I just accepted it for what it was, but with the niggling in the back of my mind that January (the due date) was still very far away and anything could happen, as it always had in the past. We decided to go ahead and share the news with family and some friends. As we got further along we did decide to share the news publicly. Not that people couldn’t tell by taking one look at me. 🙂

January arrives….the end of the pregnancy was incredibly easy, other than our little one trying to come early, and I was almost sad it was about over. January 5th around 2pm my water breaks. I call my mom who wants to rush right to the hospital, but I was in the middle of laundry. I mean who doesn’t finish their laundry before going to the hospital in labor?!? We got to the hospital around 4 and they started Pitocin because I was not thinning and dilating. As we went through the day, things were not changing so they did some other things to try to help. Pitocin contractions for hours on end are not fun, but at least it was tolerable. They kept offering an epidural, but I kept declining. Finally at 9pm the next night (yes, 29 hours in labor on Pitocin is LOADS of fun) we decided to do a C-section. They were worried about infection because my water had broken so many hours before. Because I still had the colostomy, we had tried to avoid surgery at all costs, but here it was…happening. They called in the Doctor who handles colorectal cases. He brought a friend. I guess a woman having a baby is rare when a colostomy is present. Nothing like being a show horse when you are already opening up everything for everyone, to give birth.

The C-section couldn’t have gone better. The OB had a few problems with the placenta and the baby aspirated some fluids coming out, but other than that, perfection. That moment of seeing your baby for the first time is amazing. To see that he seemed to be perfectly normal and healthy was just icing on the cake. There are no words to describe it…ever.

Two days before he was born, I lost an amazing friend who was like a brother to me. It was very unexpected and my heart was broken. It was such a bittersweet week, losing him but getting this miracle baby. We suddenly decided we needed to add another middle name to our son, to honor this lost friend.

I now have such an amazing little miracle boy. He is so handsome and smart and I just know God has some big plans for this little guy. How could He not given what happened to get him here?

In March I was lucky enough to finally have the surgery that removed the colostomy and thankfully that went incredibly well. What was not going well was that I was still having some issue with having had the baby. I went back to the dr and heard the news, “Jean, you have a large mass in your uterus.” I was shocked. This is what I expected to hear last July, not now. So here we are again, seeing doctors and having tests. The decision has been made and the surgery has been scheduled, I will be having a hysterectomy in a few weeks. I think a lot of women struggle with this and are devastated. Given my history and the last year and a half of my life, I could care less. Take it all….I already have the most amazing miracle gift ever!

My Gift from God

My Gift from God

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Yep, been off of here for a while now. For those of you asking where I have been, I fell quite ill and was in the hospital for a while. I have to go back in at the end of July, so unfortunately, I will be on hiatus again until probably September. Don’t give up on me though! 

If anyone is interested in guest blogging, please let me know!

Be well!

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Interviewing and Transferable Skills

I’m back! Ok, cheesy intro, but if you know me you know I have had an odd start to 2013. It is time to get back to the old me and how better to do that then a post on interviewing. I know, I know….again you ask, but there is never enough space to cover all the important things about a job interview.

Last night I was watching a TV show called The Middle. The mom had just finished trade school and was out interviewing for jobs. She comes home very frustrated because she said everyone wanted to know “who she was.” She had no idea who she was. She was a mom. She was a wife. What she didn’t realize until the end was that she had a lot of transferable skills to offer.

Unfortunately, recruiters do not always pick up on these things or think about how one skill can translate into another. That means it is your job to sell yourself and sell those skills.

Organization is the perfect example. I asked a candidate once about organizational skills. She said she was a stay at home mom and didn’t really have any. The more we talked, the more she realized that her phone and calendar were absolutely organization devices and not only that, she was keeping a family of 6 organized.

What skills can you think of that are transferable? Before you go out on your next interview, talk over the required skills for the job with someone. Maybe they will help you see that you have more to offer then you even realize!

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Since I have been skipping out on this blogging thing, I figure I should at least do a quick, “catch up” post.

2012 was VERY interesting in my world personally and professionally. On a personal note I went through some “cancer” stuff yet again. Luckily all turned out well and after a small procedure my world is right again. I have another follow up in 2 months, but expect that to turn out perfectly.

On a professional front things have been interesting for sure. As a lot of you who know me already know, we sold our company. Being the HR person who was in the know for several months, it was tough working on all of it while keeping things from employees. Even though I was, and still am, very excited about the sale, it was a challenge having so many closed door meetings when I am always out and open with our employees. It is exciting now that it is all official and I am super excited about our new company.

I think that 2013 is going to be an interesting year for me, on both fronts. Personally I am gonna kick butt on all this health stuff. I am excited to get back to the 2009 – 2010 Jean.

Professionally I am super excited to see what changes happen with our new company. I am looking forward to exploring new policies, processes and procedures and even learning how we can help them be a better company.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?


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Are You Asking the Correct Questions During an Interview?

You landed the interview! Great job! Now, how can you be successful in the interview and ask the right questions?

People ask me all the time about ways to nail a job interview. It seems that “questions,” whether from the candidate or company, are always a sticking point. There are any number of sources out there to give you “good” interview questions. These tips are just my $.02 worth!

First of all, and most importantly, make sure you have questions prepared ahead of time. How you ask? Always do your homework. Check out the company’s website and learn about them. Stalk them on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Get a good feel for what they do and what the job is and ask questions that will help you figure out if the company, and their culture, is the right fit for you.

On to the important part…what are these question that will help you figure this all out you ask? Well, here are my top interview questions.

1. Ask for details on job responsibilities. You won’t know if this is the job, or company, for you without knowing if the job duties fit your skills.

2. Is there potential for growth in the position? This may only apply if that is the type of role you are looking for.

3. What are the challenges to the job? This is a great way to figure out if it is something you can handle.

4. What makes a person successful here? You can succeed if you don’t know what the expectations are.

5. What are the next steps? Will they get back to you? Do you need to follow-up with them?  (Always send a thank you note!)

6. Why is the job open? You want to make sure it is a position that does not have a lot of turnover.

7. Is there travel involved in the position? This may or may not be relevant depending on how you feel about travel.

8. What are the company culture values and/or work environment? Is this the kind of place you can thrive or will it stifle you and hold you back? Does everyone, from the top down, have integrity?

9. Is the company growing? For some companies, status quo is fine, but if you want to grow, than typically you want a company that is also growing.

10. How long have you been here? I love when people ask me this question. I am always happy to be open and honest about my time here.

11. What do you like/dislike about it? Again, I love my company and I think that shows through during interviews. I am happy to discuss the things that are pros and cons for me.

13. Is relocation provided? Again, this question is not relevant in all scenarios.

I hope some of these questions help you. I would love feedback from HR people about what  questions they like to be asked during interviews.

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The Bee’s Knees of HR Tech 2012 – Guest Post

Please welcome back Kyle Lagunas, HR Analyst with Software Advice!

HR Executive’s annual HR Technology Conference is a great opportunity for vendors to exhibit their latest offerings. As ever, Conference Chair Bill Kutik did a great job of bringing together the cream of the crop.

I thought my readers at Software Advice would be most interested in technologies that are making life easier for HR practitioners, recruiters, and managers. Based on lunch table conversations, as well as my own observations from the expo floor, I picked a few of the most innovative and useful products from HR Tech this year—and featured them in the second annual Bee’s Knees of #HRTechConf.

SilkRoad Point – Social Talent Management Done Right!

From my very first peek under the hood last year, I have been very impressed with the SilkRoad Point’s ability to fuse various processes in talent management with social technology.

More than that, they’ve added a new dimension to this function: the importance of employee influence and expertise. By rewarding activity, connection, and sharing with something tangible (and meaningful to both managers and employees), Point is doing something wholly new here. I’m very excited to see more!

Entelo – Powerful Analytics for Serious Sourcing

Entelo’s application of social analytics in sourcing was impressive, and secured a place in the Bee’s Knees. Not only does Entelo give recruiters the ability to find talent with a simple keyword search, its search engine algorithm searches professional networking communities to find a candidate’s clout and ability.

I was also impressed with Entelo’s ability to monitor key indicators of prime passive candidates, like tenure, profile updates, and jumps in activity.

Mumur – Easy Surveys, Actionable Engagement Insights

Mumur captures data to identify what drives employee engagement and turnover in an organization. There were a few things that Murmur is doing especially well. From a UI standpoint, its focus on being quick and easy for employees is balanced by its excellent data delivery for managers.

Organizations large and small can capture a high-level snapshot of engagement in their organization, or dig deep into specific demographics to identify what’s driving turnover.

For my full write-up of these innovative products, as well as write-ups on others, check out The Bee’s Knees of #HRTechConf 2012 here.

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Are You Ready for #KSSHRM12

That is right! #KSSHRM12 is almost here. It is taking place in Topeka, KS this year from September 12 – 14th. It is being held at the Capitol Plaza Hotel again this year. I have been chatting quite a bit with Dustin Haverkamp, the KS SHRM Social Media Director and he had some very exciting things to share.

I am really excited to see our KS conference taking it to the next level this year with regards to Social Media. We will have the Drive Thru HR show at the conference Sept. 12 & 13 and they will broadcast two regular shows and two Kansas SHRM specific shows. Conducting DTHR will be Bryan Wempen and Cathleen Carlos of PeopleClues.

We will also be offering a Twitter 101 presentation. Bryan Wempen and Dustin will be conducting the presentation and Cathleen Carlos and myself will be doing the Q&A in the audience.

We will have a social media area called the “Social Media Orb” in the Exhibit Hall. This will be an area where attendees can charge up mobile devices, view live tweets, network, sign-up and learn more about social media. If you attended #SHRM12 this year in Atlanta, you will recognize this as similar to The Hive we had there. Several people will be volunteering their time in the Social Media Orb to help people with questions regarding SM platforms. A few names you may recognize are, @bryanwempen, @gethiredbycat, @dustinhaverkamp @ShaneReif, @SaraKepley, @leaderdev, @NaeNae55 and myself @jeangleason

Also, if you are one of the first 50 people who come to the Orb each day, you will receive a wristband with the #KSSHRM12 hashtag on them. I

Somewhere close to the Orb we will have a large copy of the HR Kansas Connects magazine cover for attendees to take their picture in front of. If you have been to National SHRM conferences, this will sound familiar to you.

We will also be having a Facebook photo contest and Twitter contest. The best photos/tweets each day will win a prize from one of the keynote speakers (Steve Gilliland or Jeff Havens). To be eligible to win, attendees must post their conference photos on the Kansas SHRM Facebook  wall and/or tweet using #KSSHRM12 hashtag. On each contest information sheet there will be a QR code directing you to the correct place. There will also be different times we have random contest drawings for other prizes.

Here are some other helpful links!

Many of our speakers and expo exhibitors have Twitter handles which you can see by clicking on the links below:

A special shout out to Dustin for all his great work this year and for helping with this post!

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