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Spartan Insights: Featuring Raymond Bates, HR Business Partner at Boeing

This week’s Featured Spartan was Raymond Bates. Raymond agreed to answer questions about his industry, career background, and anything else he could help you learn to further your career. This discussion was open from 6/22/2015-07/06/2015.

Spartan Insights is a regularly scheduled LinkedIn discussion thread inside of the MSUALUMNI LinkedIn group. Each discussion is meant to give you the opportunity to ask questions regarding one Spartan’s experience within a specific company, industry, or occupation. Answers will be given at the convenience and discretion of the featured Spartan and will be answered from the Spartan’s own personal experiences and opinions which are not meant to be representative of his/her company’s official position. Questions regarding a person’s applicant status at the featured Spartan’s place of business will not be answered in this forum. Interested in being a helpful Spartan? Contact me at isbelld@msu.edu.

Ray BatesHi Spartans, appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences and feel free to call me Ray. Looking forward to engaging with you all!! This forum is a great opportunity to share and learn from each other, so let’s chat!

Dave IsbellHi Ray. Thanks for being here! I’ll kick off the conversation with the first question. What’s the average day of an HR Business Partner at Boeing look like?

Ray BatesThanks for the question, Dave. I think most people who are in generalist roles can appreciate what I’m about to say: there is no such thing as an average day. Compound that with the fact that I also deal with a lot of international happenings. As a result every day is an adventure. I will come into work with a list of 10 things I need to do…and by the end of the day I may get the first one actually accomplished. It’s such a dynamic environment and I’m always doing HR triage on what is urgent and what can wait until later. It also has a lot to do with the business in which you are supporting. For example when I was supporting manufacturing employees, who were unionized, on the factory floor my days were largely spent working with the union. Sat a lot of grievances, and spent a large portion of my time working together to generate solutions that were in the best interest for all stakeholders involved. In my current role I work with a lot of salaried employees both domestic and international. My current role I’m mostly an international integrator for our international business as they scale in prevalence. Based on contractual requirements I assist the business in understanding what the international laws are and how best to approach standing up the business (by means of either bringing in EXPATS or hiring international) within the scope of the local laws. For example some countries have a nationalization rate (meaning x% of those hired must be nationals who reside in their country)…or similarly some have ratios (say for every 1 person brought in we have to hire 5 nationals for specific types of work) it all varies. Understanding those requirements, however, enables us to put bid on contracts that the most relevant depending on location. Once we win the contract I then partner with other people to ensure it becomes staffed…and then folks are repatriated back to the U.S. as contracts wind down or their international assignment is up. On the domestic side I deal mostly with span of control oversight, management ratio’s, ensuring we have a healthy business from a people perspective. Like I said, each day is an adventure and rarely do I have similar days back-to-back.

To illustrate my previous post…I just spent quite a bit of time working with my business partner on a situation with one of his employees in another country. We have an individual who has gotten in quite a bit of trouble with the local police (in another country), and as a result has made things difficult for us in our relationship with their government and the existing contract. So now we are working with the International HR team, and global mobility on pulling him back into the U.S…sending over a replacement…and working the issue once he’s on U.S. soil. All the while being cognizant of their laws…and trying to balance doing what’s appropriate, ethical, and legal while at the same time ensuring we have the proper “boots on the ground” to satisfy contract requirements and maintain good relations with the foreign customer and government. It’s a huge deal with huge implications…so it’s critically important to help my business navigate those complexities.

Dave IsbellVery insightful, thanks for the “case study!” Similarly related, what should an HR person/hiring manager look for to determine whether an employee/job candidate for an expatriate assignment is a right fit for the role and for the country in which they will be serving? Can you talk a bit about how an HR person might be able to help expatriates and their families to prepare for an assignment prior to their relocation?

Ray BatesTalent acquisition is such an important element in what we do in HR…on many, many different levels. From a domestic standpoint you’re always looking for organizational fit. If someone has passion for what they do, they are adept at forging and maintaining relationships, and they would be a fit for the organizational culture that we try to foster…that really is as important (if not more so) than functional capability. That’s not to say we aren’t looking for skilled talent. Clearly we’d never hire an engineer who never studied engineering, or worked as an engineer in their life…we still have products and services to produce. That said it doesn’t matter how functionally talented someone is if they don’t have those other intangibles, just discussed, they won’t be considered. Look at it like this: organizations that produce products and services are always looking to do so with first time quality. Why? Well, because first off, re-work is very expensive in regards to materials, labor, all things necessary to do the job over again. In addition, if a company produces a defective product there are impacts to the brand of the organization. In a worst case scenario, due to consumer injury or death….but even in a best case scenario (if you want to call it that) the impact to the goodwill/brand of an organization diminishes based on the quality of the product the consumer purchases. All of that is tied to a cost or an impact on margins for an organization. The same holds true with what we do in HR. The cost associated with excessive employment churn is massive. So if we hired someone who, on paper, had a Blue-Chip resume without regard to the other intangibles…and we lose employees, or there’s impact to productivity, etc. and we have to discharge the employee, there are extra costs now associated with that. We then have to use more resources to go out, hire someone, let them navigate the learning curve, and hope they start adding value after a few months. All of those activities are typically overhead related…and real tangible financial losses that could have been utilized in other ways to grow the organization. All of that is mitigated if we hire with first time quality.

Okay, so with that in mind, let’s look at it through an international lens…As with most things international, it has an even higher level of complexity associated with the process. Internationally it’s ALL the things mentioned but with even higher stakes.

When looking for someone to work on an international assignment, we look for many things. When on an international assignment we want people with an extreme amount of maturity and character. International experience helps, but if they exhibit a large amount of Emotional Intelligence we can work with the international experience part.

Functional capability is VERY important as often times they are the person expected to have the answers when things occur. We have people in far flung locations (think Afghanistan, Bangladesh, etc.) who are expected to perform at a very high level with large amounts of autonomy. When people work internationally they are stewards of the organization. For us, we do not want them to do ANYTHING that reflects poorly upon the organization. When the local or national governments become aware and/or involved in a situation that is a result of one of our employees…we take that VERY seriously and deal with it in very rapid fashion.

The ability to make relationships is every much as important as a domestic position…and I’d say even more so. Take Saudi Arabia, for example. Relationships is the KEY driver in how we obtain and execute business. It takes a VERY long time to develop…and a VERY short amount of time to completely destroy and ruin it. So for those positions it’s CRITICAL we have people in the Kingdom who understand that, and understand the nuances associated with conducting business there. Additionally, if it’s for a managerial position, their ability to inspire and motivate others is VERY important. Some of these locations we hire for are in regions that, shall we say, are EXTREMELY difficult. Those programs are hard enough to staff as it is…we don’t need to compound the matter with a manager who is anything less than an exceptionally effective leader. Notice I didn’t say effective functionally. I said a “leader” and that extends far, far, far beyond just functional ability. In short, they need to be BOTH. ESPECIALLY when it comes to international positions.

So I can speak to how we prepare future EXPATS and families for assignment, as every company has a different approach. We send all managers and employees to cultural awareness training. Additionally, we hire a company to work with them to set up compound housing, transportation of goods, schools, etc. The cost associated to an EXPAT is massive. Preparation for them to move is a very necessary and smart investment to make. We need to make sure their eyes are wide open to what is going to happen, and we want very little in the form of surprises. The more knowledge we can provide them upfront the more successful we are. I talked about the costs associated with domestic hires…well EXPATs cost quadruple that.

Benjamin: Good Afternoon Ray, I’m a young professional (currently in inside sales) who is looking to find my way into HR and all it entails. How did you find your way into HR and what motivated you to pursue it as a career? It seems that working in HR requires one to have an excess of knowledge and experience within a given industry. How does one begin working in HR?

Kara: Hi Ray! Could you offer some interviewing tips for college graduates? As an HR professional, what would you define as some essential strengths employers are looking for in general? Thanks for sharing.

Ray BatesHi Benjamin, appreciate the question. When I exited the Marine Corps, I always knew I wanted to get into some form of management/business type of career. I started browsing majors at Michigan State and I came across HR. Quite honestly I had never heard of the field of HR until then. After I read the description, it really seemed to translate into what I did for all those years in the military. As a leader of Marines I spent a lot of time on: Training and Development, Performance Appraisals, Organizational Change and Effectiveness, Teaming, Recruiting, etc. etc. My first professor in Graduate School…Dr. Janice Malloy, always used to say Human Resources is about putting the RIGHT people in the RIGHT place, at the RIGHT time. I spent an entire military career doing just that. Leveraging the strengths of those who worked for me…looked for opportunities for improvement in them…and developed ways in which those opportunities were developed. I knew from first hand experience that an organization without its people is nothing. There is no organization. It’s a symbiotic relationship, really. Without an organization there’s no need for people…and without people there is no organization. It’s a 2-way street…and if all of the stakeholders have that mutual belief and ensure that they are holding up their end of the bargain, an organization thrives. The psychological contract (Google it, it’s a real thing) is so crucial in order for a fully functioning and highly efficient business. Once that contract is violated..it’s difficult to overcome. The better we, as a company, are at fulfilling our end of it…there tends to be an uptick in discretionary effort or outputs (that’s the REAL value add…discretionary effort is what elevates a company from doing good…to doing GREAT). That dynamic fascinates me. HR is not a discrete or binary type of function. There is a lot of interplay in the decisions that we make as HR Business Partners and its impacts to the overall business. It’s full of ambiguity (even in the most process orientated organization) and inherently it’s challenging…which to me is fun.

I tried to look at your LinkedIn profile to try and give you the most targeted and meaningful answer I could in how you personally could break into HR. For some reason I couldn’t see the profile so I’ll speak in generalities. You need a good education (which you will get at MSU). The graduate program the (School of Human Resources and Labor Relations) is a HEAVILY recruited program (a target school for A LOT of Fortune 500’s). I was recruited out of there to come work at Boeing. For one trying to break into the field that’s a solid way to do so. That’s not the ONLY way however. You can take on internships to gain experience. Ultimately you need to frame/target your resume in such a way that it demonstrates how your professional/life experiences have prepared you for a career in HR. It takes some leg-work on your part. Websites like O-Net (https://www.onetonline.org/) or the SHRM website are excellent resources to pull out core competencies and skills required for HR. Then use your resume as an avenue to tell them a story…to walk them down the path of how your life’s experiences correlate to success in the position they’ve posted and how you’ll add value that no one else, who has applied to that position, can. The next question asks about the interview and I’ll address that one tomorrow…but you first have to get the interview, and your resume is that vehicle that’s used. My next post will also address the last 2 sentences as they relate and will fold it into Kara’s response. Hope that helps…and feel free to add me as a connection and I can work more with you 1:1 if you’d like.

Kara, thanks for the question, and it’s one of the things I get asked most often…how to excel at an interview. There is no code to crack on these things, as each employer looks for different things in an interview. That said here are some good guidelines to consider:

Don’t let the position or company overwhelm you. Often times people let the situation overcome them and it REALLY shows. A little nervousness is completely ok…heck it’s expected. That said don’t let it completely paralyze you. Express your thanks for the opportunity to interview, etc. etc. but don’t let it get to the point where you don’t have yourself completely together and in the moment. More than once I have had people cry in the interview because they were that overcome with anxiety. Just relax…breathe…and know that we ALL woke up to an alarm clock this morning. It’ll be ok…just breathe. That said don’t let yourself get too fast and loose…keep it professional, show a little personality…but don’t get TOO conversational (using slang, etc). With that said I want to see the REAL you, even though it’s still an interview. Remember it needs to be a fit on both ends. We want organizational/skill alignment and fit with you…but additionally we want you to feel like we’re a business you’d like to work for. At the end of the day we are all stakeholders in this and fit is paramount.

The first question I ALWAYS ask is: “Describe any training, education, or work experience that has prepared you for this position.” This is the money question asked up front. This is the time where you wow me, sell yourself, and demonstrate your passion for the position and how you’re going to come in and add value. A common pitfall I typically see is when the person simply rehashes their resume. Bluntly speaking…I can read the resume…the resume is what got you the interview. I don’t need it read back to me. Instead focus on verbalizing the line of sight that connects your resume and experiences to how it will enable you to perform for the particular position your interviewing for. Keep it relevant and keep it focused. You’ll need to do some research on the position, company, industry, etc. Always tie it back to how it will enable you to be successful at the position you’re applying for. If you’re able to effectively do that, you’ll be off to a great start for the interview.

For situational based questions (name a time when…give us an example of…etc) always use the STAR-L method. Situation, Task, Action, Result…and what you Learned (good or bad). I want to see not only how you handled those situations but I want to see your ability to self reflect and understand opportunities to make improvements for future situations.

If you’re ever asked why you want to work in (name function…HR, Management, any type of people/customer facing roles) never…EVER..say “Because I like people.” That’s a given…or supposed to be a given. If you didn’t like people the assumption is that you wouldn’t want that type of role. Liking people is one of those answers that leaves us saying “seriously?” Have more depth to the answer…be honest….but still make sure it has some depth to it.

Plan in advance for situational based questions. Have examples centered around a time when you worked with someone different such as yourself, when you had a teammate that wasn’t pulling their weight, a time when you had to step outside of your comfort zone….have 3-4 scenarios planned out (not memorized or rehearsed), just have them identified in case you find yourself trying to scramble for an answer. It’s also ok to have more than 1 example for a particular question so long as they both fully address the question…but don’t use the same example 5 times for 5 different questions. Also identify in advance your biggest source of strength and your biggest opportunity for improvement.

Be in- be brief – be out. Keep your answers crisp, focused, and concise. Clearly lay out the details and (I keep saying this) tell them the story and walk them down the path. Don’t veer off the path…don’t add in a lot of items that really don’t lend itself to adding value. That said don’t be TOO concise as to not fully address the question. If I have to probe more then a couple of times to get the full story that’s a signal for you to connect all of the dots for the next answer.

Dress well and be well groomed. I’ll leave it at that.

When it’s time for you to ask questions at the end of the interview…have some questions. Research the company, the culture, the position, the industry, the business environment, customers…just come prepared and ask some questions that keep us on our toes. Asking about the pay or hours…this is not the time. Completely fine to ask about next steps…even better if you ask some questions that make us think “wow…this person came prepared.” This is, if nothing else, a great learning opportunity. Even if you don’t get this particular position make the best use of time you possibly can and ask some questions that you can walk away from and feel good in the fact that you got some great interviewing experience and learned some things to take with you in the future.

Be aware of the time. If you were booked for an hour interview…when it’s your turn to ask questions have enough awareness to know how much time you have to work with. If you know you’re over the time and you ask 5 questions…then tell us you know it’s been more than an hour but you have another question… and then ask 3 more questions, you’ve lost us.

I can’t stress this enough….be yourself and be original. Being an original is always worth more than a copy. I want to see the real you. You owe it to yourself to remain true to who you are. If you aren’t you won’t be happy in any position you work in.

Okay, so now for the second portion of the answer…these may relate to one another so just bear with me as some of these answers may address one of the other questions too.

“It seems that working in HR requires one to have an excess of knowledge and experience within a given industry.”

Yes and No. My personal belief is that in order to be an effective HR Business Partner you need to be able to speak 2 different languages. First one is that you need to be able to speak the language of business. Secondly you need to be able to speak the language of THE business in which you are supporting. What I mean by that is in order to REALLY be strategic as a business partner it’s really essential to be able to navigate through financial statements, understand the concept of margins (and the different types of margins), etc. Every one (HR talent are overhead costs, for an example) and everything we do is tied to a cost. Rarely…really nothing…is ever free. It all costs money. Labor, materials, fixed capital costs, inventory…all tied to a cost. So it is incumbent as an HR professional you recognize that fact…and those costs…and you have an acute understanding of how your decisions positively or negatively impact the bottom line of your organization. It’s all cause and effect and how doing A will lead to B (costs) which will result in C (final results). HR sometimes has the reputation of being the group of people who can throw one hell of a company picnic and do all these fluffy initiatives that do nothing but cost money. First off that’s NOT the usually the case. Second it’s a stigma that, as a function, we debunk daily. Third employee engagement initiatives have a REAL positive impact on discretionary effort and morale…and there are actual quantitative research that backs it up…so show them. Most importantly, a good HR Business Partner can really be a force multiplier for an organization especially if they have the ability to show the financial impacts to an organization as a result of thoughtful HR decisions (span of control analysis, management ratio’s, employee engagement, talent development and selection, etc.). Bottom line: understand the financial impacts you are making as a result of every HR decision you make. If you have that ability you have a lot of value.

The second part…being able to speak the language of THE business in which you support. It’s incredibly difficult for some to gain that proverbial “seat at the table.” If you are able to speak THEIR language, in THEIR terms…and have an acute understanding of the business that you are supporting, you gain credibility pretty rapidly. That does not happen overnight. It’s very important, though. You have to be able to understand the business environment in which your company is currently in, know the products, know the competitors (also know what they are doing), know your markets that you operate in. It’s very important to know those things. It can sometimes take a little while to get that seat as a trusted business partner…but it takes very little time to lose it. So while at the table ensure you are adding value to the discussion as appropriate and know your stuff in order to support your position. So how do you get there? Do your basic research and once in the company ask A LOT of questions. If someone throws out a term you don’t know, ask what it means or write it down and research it later. Walk around and ask people what they are doing and have a discussion on their normal tasks. Most people I met have a deep connection to their jobs and their co-workers…and oftentimes they enjoy it when someone takes an interest in what they are doing. I’ve never had anyone say “go away” when I seem interested in their scope of work and how it lends itself to the success of the business. Be a sponge, and constantly have your eyes and ears open. You’ll learn the ins and outs of the business and industry…and the more you learn the more value you can bring.

“As an HR professional, what would you define as some essential strengths employers are looking for in general?”

In general we look for fit first and foremost. We talked about understanding the basic concepts of business principles. I always like to assess the 4 C’s in people. Courage, Competence, Compassion, and Character.

1. Courage: Choosing the hard right over the easy wrong. Have the ability to have candid discussions and speak up if you have an alternative view or opinion. Have the courage to have healthy push back and examine things through as many lenses, in as many angles, as you can. Be ethically grounded.

2. Competence: Being tactically and technically proficient while also realizing that it’s not always how much you accomplish…it’s how in the manner it was accomplished that’s just as important. Also realize that functional proficiency does not necessarily automatically equate to being an effective leader. There are a lot of bad leaders out there who know the technical aspects of their job VERY well. There’s a difference between being a boss and being a leader…there’s a balance in competence between knowing the functional aspects and being competent as a leader. If you always get the job done and you completely scorch the earth in the process…that’s counterproductive for the organization.

3. Compassion: Humans and Labor is NOT a commodity. Employees are fully living, breathing, functioning human beings…first and foremost. We are not machines…we are not robots. Fundamentally, at the end of the day, we are PEOPLE first and foremost. Recognizing that aspect and understanding that everyone has a story to tell…a family…interests…many layers BEYOND the work space. People make mistakes (I make many daily), no one is perfect. Give people the benefit of the doubt, until they have done something to longer deserve it…and recognize that we all have bad days.

4. Character: You either have it or you don’t. The IRS can come and take away all of your money (please pay your taxes)…fires can destroy your home and your possessions. No one can EVER take away your character and your integrity. It’s up to you to hang on to it…NEVER lose it.

Personal Brand: We all have an identity and a personal brand associated that people associate ourselves with. 3 of the more dangerous words you could ever say are “Not My Job.” At the end of the day it’s EVERYONE’S job to do whatever we can to make the organization successful. THAT’S our job. We all get hired to specialize in an aspect, based on the value we bring…but in reality we are all hired to do what we can do to ethically and responsibly make the company money…and enhance shareholder (for public companies) value. Don’t be the one who says “Not My Job.” We all get paid to “can” not to “can’t” or “won’t.” In today’s more for less business environment the more you can do to add value the more likely you’ll be to have a nice long successful career in whatever you decide to do. I encourage all of you to gain as much exposure as you can to the various aspects of the business in your company…and to gain as much breadth and depth as possible in your professional career.

Now this is with HR professionals in mind…but it could certainly apply to many other professions:

To be successful in HR you need to be able to understand that we are in the relationship business. It’s all about relationships and how we develop positive and productive relationships and foster and grow them. Supporting unionized employees as an HRG and working with the union…it’s ALL about trust. Management…relationships. Colleagues…trust. People remember…and they’ll remember you either positively or negatively. It’s all about relationships. Never lose sight of that.

Remember People -> Process -> Product

For an organization it must have quality people, following quality processes, that produce quality (and useful) products. All 3 need to be there. Without one of them…you’ll fail as a business.

Have a mantra, or set of operating principles that you go by. Right them down. Tape it to a wall…put it somewhere so everyday you see it. Use it as a reminder about what you want to do and become as an HR professional. I have 7 of them, personally…they are:

– If you’re going to make the news…be the good news story

– Business Acumen -> Have it.

– Product and Service Delivery -> On time. On target.

– Never sacrifice ethics

– Solutions without actions are dreams

– Provide solutions for partner’s genuine needs…not solutions in search of a need.

– Our people: We don’t exist without it; but that’s part of the equation. Don’t lose sight on the rest of equation.

Remember…value is something that we create, and in such a way that our business can capture and leverage it. Be an entrepreneur…spot opportunities, work with the business to see if there’s a business need present because of it…and create solutions. Meaningful, impacting solutions that satisfy a genuine need for the business and our partners. Don’t create products when there’s not a genuine need..and spend months on end trying to convince people it solves a need that no one else sees…. you’re just wasting time. Idea generation is a volume business. Assess the environment, generate business cases…you’ll get a lot of “no” for a response…but when you get that “yes” you pounce and you better deliver.

And lastly to wrap up the answers to the questions… prioritize your life. Remember what’s important and what you value. Never lose sight of the big picture. You have 1 life. Make it awesome. And pardon my typos…please. So what other questions does anyone have?

Kara: I cannot thank you enough for such a thorough response. This discussion is something I will refer back to before preparing for every future interview! I know I have been guilty of getting caught up with the anxiety of an interview which really took away from me showcasing who I really was. You’ve given me lots of great information to think about and some new goals to work on. A very sincere thank you, Ray!

Darryl: Good morning Ray, I first would just like to thank you for the information you have given! What is your advice for someone who is interested in transitioning HR in a nonprofit setting to HR in a corporate setting? Do you believe that the certifications will make these individual more marketable to corporation?

Ray BatesHi Daryl, and thanks for the question. I just looked at your profile, and I have to say…you’ve got some REALLY interesting experiences. I’m going to answer your question backwards. Yes, in my view (and at least in the view of the company I work for) certifications can be valuable. There’s a caveat to that, though…ONLY if you can convey your expertise in which you’ve been certified in. If someone has certifications, that certainly is a bonus for those reviewing your resume. SPHR, PHR, SHRP-CP, Green Belt, compensation certs, recruiting certs, certs in international type areas…they don’t hurt. It may be the difference on whether you get the interview or not. Example: there was 1 interview slot (humor me here)…and BOTH people had really robust experiences on paper, solid education, all things pretty similar…but one has certifications… it definitely helps. That said if in the interview you really have a bad day and can’t convey yourself in a manner that demonstrates you potentially can’t leverage that knowledge and provide the value that one should be able to with their certs…you can have a whole pile of certifications and it won’t help. Certifications should be able to reflect that 1) You’re signaling that you have appropriate knowledge in a certain domain and 2) You have many tools at your disposal in which you can use to come in, and add meaningful value that benefits all of the stakeholders. They are a VERY powerful signaling mechanism that demonstrates proficiency…but if you can’t leverage them they don’t mean a whole lot. That said it’s pretty important to get your HRCI or SHRM certification. I know I’m taking my SPHR exam in a couple of weeks. Why? To properly signal my functional domain knowledge. Certifications, experience, and education may HELP in getting you the job…but it’s ultimately up to you to be successful. So while they may help get you the job…it’s up to you to KEEP your job, if that makes sense. Also, if your company values them…it’s always a pretty good idea to get them even if you don’t see the need. Remember value is what others perceive to be valuable…and sometimes it’s not always aligned to your personal ideas of what’s valuable.

Now let’s specifically talk about you and your experiences. Based on what I am seeing you have the potential to REALLY make an impactful resume and based on what I see you’d have A LOT of value. In a non-profit people typically have to be a jack-of-all trades…and run as LEAN as possible. The fact that you’ve got that experience can potentially demonstrate the breadth of experiences you have…you’d potentially make a GREAT generalist. I’m saying this without actually knowing you, per se…but on paper? A solid candidate. Leverage your faith-based education and experience… in not exactly using it as a platform to speak on religious terms to interviewers..but certainly frame it and use it to signal your ethically rooted principles. Ethics are a huge huge deal in most corporations. Back to the non-profit piece of the question…you REALLY (I can’t stress this enough) need to demonstrate that not only were you a jack-of-all trades…but you were able to allow them to run as LEAN as possible because of your x, y, and z talents. Try and quantify it…quantitative results are a POWERFUL thing. Because of you being proficient in x, y, and z…the company was able to save ABC amount of dollars as a result of you enabling them to do more for less money… and in turn use that money to invest in other value add aspects of the business. Non-profits still have to be financially viable to continue to live…and that takes money. For-profit organizations value a lot of the same principles…they don’t just want to break even, though. Come in show your entrepreneurial experience, true Generalist abilities, coaching skills (looking off your profile Admissions Counselor…use this), business acumen (credit analyst, non-profit work). Leverage ALL of the goodness in your profile. It boils down to you demonstrating how that great experience can add value. One thing I will caution you on…non-profit employees (on average) make much less than their counterparts in the corporate world. There’s a fine line between overestimating your financial value…but certainly don’t underestimate it. Make sure you research what the market rate for the position is that your applying for…don’t just peg it off what you’ve made in the past. Clearly money isn’t everything…but you want to be compensated fairly based on your skill set, what the market rate allows, and what peers make. One other thing, while altruism exists in for-profit settings…depending on your organization’s policies or organizational culture…it may or may not be to the extent you’re used too when working in a non-profit where a good chunk of employees all have a common-goal, vision, and mission. Make sure there’s a fit. No matter what someone is paying you…if there’s isn’t an alignment to your core principles you’ll be miserable. That’s true for everyone…in all backgrounds. Just want to emphasize the point.

Darryl: Thanks Ray for your insight and the thoroughness of your answers. I have been trying to get someone to help me to understand the steps I need to take in order to transition from the nonprofit sector to the corporate sector! Do you mentor?

Ray BatesAbsolutely. I always have time for a fellow Spartan, Darryl.

Dave IsbellThanks Ray for sharing your insights! This discussion was originally featured on the MSU Alumni Association’s LinkedIn Group. Check there every week for new discussions!


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