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April 17, 2014

Panel of HR professionals share tips of the trade

By Emily Scharf


On Wednesday, April 9, students trickled on to the second floor of the Monte Ahuja College of Business at Cleveland State University where an informational fair was being held for students to stop and talk with Human Resources professionals.

Dozens of students stopped by, introducing themselves to the professionals, asking questions in reference to internships and job opportunities in an informal setting.

The fair took place from 5-7 p.m., and students then moved into a conference room for a panelist discussion.

The panel consisted of six women and three men, several of whom are Cleveland State alumni, all from various HR backgrounds who discussed an array of topics including interview tips and the importance of internships.

Host Anna Gibson, president of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) student chapter at Cleveland State, asked the professionals to introduce themselves and share their favorite part of the work day as it related to their field.

Adam Giffi, recruitment specialist for Alexander Mann Solutions, said there is a certain satisfaction that comes when finding the right person for the right job.

“It is genuinely a great feeling to know that you matched somebody with the right position,” Giffi said.

Katie Stack, executive recruiter for PNC bank and ‘95 graduate of Cleveland State said the best part of her day is giving offers.

“It’s that magic moment when you’ve been looking and looking for the right person and then they fit and you’re like ‘Yes,’” Stack said.

Magan Torres, HR and recruitment manager for Millennia Housing Management, said the best part of her day comes after the offer, when the candidate passes pre-employment and is ready to join the company.

Lindsay Raduka, HR director for TTI Floor Care, said she loves interacting with the business leadership team at her company.

Mike Barni, an HR consultant at Paychex, said his favorite part of the day is waking up and knowing that he is going to make a difference in a business.

“It’s one of the most satisfying things I do,” Barni said.

Terry Atkins, ‘92 graduate of Cleveland State and HR manager for Saint-Gobain NorPro, said he enjoys working with employees on their development plans and conflict resolution.

Caytie Cola, Human Resources manager at Swiger Coil Systems, received her Master’s degree at Cleveland State and said she had a great experience.

Cola said the best days at her job are when she can help an employee resolve an issue and they say “Thank you.”

After introduction, the panelists discussed important aspects of their college careers and gave advice to the audience.

Raduka said her HR degree is invaluable.

“You learn a lot in the workplace that you don’t learn in the curriculum, but having that foundation and having the principles that you learn through the different HR disciplines is very helpful."

Stack added it is important to be able to understand the business aspect of human resources.

“You have to be able to sell your ideas and constantly market yourself and the services you provide to the organization,” she said.

All of the panelists agreed that internships are an important and valuable tool for success, and Stack suggested students get informational interviews with people in their network.

“Try to put yourself in their shoes and see if it is going to fit your personality,” Stack encouraged.

Giffi added that the best thing prospective employees can do in an interview is to make the recruiter’s life easy by being thorough and providing examples of situations as they relate to the field of work, adding that passion is extremely important when applying for a job.

Stack agreed, noting that PNC
has rejected thousands of people because they did not express their passion for the job and the company.

The panelists also shared the significance of networking.

Stack suggested getting to know HR employees on a personal level by taking them to lunch or coffee.

The panelists represented several different disciplines in HR, such as employee relations, consulting, recruitment and business leadership.

Raduka said it is pivotal to understand what the business objectives are and to build strategies that will help give back to the business.

Barni added that employee relations is central to what he does, stressing that it is critical to make his employees feel like they are assets, not expenses.

“Influencing without authority is really critical in employee relations,” he said. “We have to let the employees know that we are advocates for them.”

Following the panelist discussion, students were encouraged to stay after to chat with the panelists, network and ask further questions.

The Cleveland State SHRM student chapter is an affiliate of the national organization of SHRM, and its goal is to provide students with information regarding Human Resources Management. The Cleveland State SHRM student chapter office is located in the Monte Ahuja College of Business Room B012. For more information, contact csuohio_shrm@yahoo.com.