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RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS PODCAST
Karen Swyszcz 0:02
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of The Bacon Bits ‘n’ Bytes Podcast and today with me I have Stefani Blazevic. Stephanie left the corporate world to pursue running her own business as a certified HR consultant helping small to midsize businesses with recruitment, branding and HR. She’s hoping to change the HR landscape in a technology-driven era. And she’s currently writing a thesis for her master’s program focused on employer branding. Welcome to the show, Stefani.
Stefani Blazevic 1:00
Hi, how are you?
Karen Swyszcz 1:01
Good, thanks. How are you?
Stefani Blazevic 1:03
I’m doing well. I’m doing well.
Karen Swyszcz 1:05
Awesome. So I’m always curious to hear about why people chose their certain fields that they’re in. So how did you decide to focus on HR?
Stefani Blazevic 1:15
Yeah, of course. Okay. Well, I somewhat landed here to be quite honest with you, um, I had gone to university for environmental management, although it was very difficult to find a role in that field. And I had a very small gig that I actually was a team lead for recruiting for a team with Mosaic. And since I had that word recruitment on my resume, it was actually picked up by somebody, a recruiter on Indeed. And then from there, it kind of just catapulted and I think the intrinsic rewards of being able to give somebody a position or help them find a career that they’re passionate about, really, you know, at the end of the day, it makes them worth it for me.
Karen Swyszcz 2:02
What made you transition from working in corporate to doing HR consulting?
Stefani Blazevic 2:09
Yeah, of course. So I mean, it’s always been my goal. I had started on the agency side in recruitment. And upon leaving, I told my boss, you know what, I’m going to get corporate experience. And then after that, I’m going to start up my own firm. I got the corporate experience. I stayed there for a little while, because it was a ton of fun, and I was doing really great things. But then at the end of the day, I mean, I think I need to do what’s best for me. And everything just aligned for me to finally open this up on a full-time basis. And then, you know, for the past year or so, I’ve been pursuing my Masters which has also guided me along this track. So I’m really excited to be where I am right now.
Karen Swyszcz 2:52
So I’m curious to know what made you decide to pursue your Masters because I am I had bounced between the idea of pursuing my master’s. I have a degree in science and I had thought about pursuing like a master’s in kin or in food microbiology or food tech.
Stefani Blazevic 3:09
Karen Swyszcz 3:10
But for some reason, I don’t know, for me personally, if it was like, because I had been working for quite some time, but the idea of working and going back to school, it does not fly with me.
Stefani Blazevic 3:23
Yeah, so I think for me, I mean, I had taken a little bit of a hiatus and I thought, you know, what, what’s a better way to integrate myself? And to learn more about all the HR processes that I hadn’t really learned about during my corporate time or agency time.
So I thought, you know what, let’s apply. I applied. I got in. And I mean, I went to a few sessions to learn what it was all about. And I mean, to be honest with you, everyone thinks, you know, Masters, it’s going to be so much time and energy. But I mean, for me, it was literally one day a month. It was very part-time. It was manageable, and I absolutely loved it. And I think the relationships that you make while you’re completing your Masters, I honestly don’t think that you can find that elsewhere. And all the expertise that comes along from your professors that even once you know, I graduate, I know that if I reach out to them for assistance for an HR consulting issue that I’m having, I know that they would be more than willing to help. Not to mention all of my peers as well.
Karen Swyszcz 4:29
So since this podcast is about business, and technology, I thought we’d talk a little bit about tech because, in our previous convo, you had mentioned that you know, you’ve found yourself to always be a techie type person. So what is it about tech that you enjoy learning?
Stefani Blazevic 4:47
Yeah, of course, I think for tech, I mean, I think as we’re entering this digital space and time period where almost along I don’t say almost everything but a lot of things can be automated and you don’t actually need to physically be there doing them, which will alleviate time, give you back time at the end of the day to you know, create relationships, whether that be with candidates or with your co-workers or colleagues or clients. I mean, I just think it gives you back time overall.
Karen Swyszcz 5:17
Yeah, for sure. I’m a huge believer in I think, given the fact that when you’re running your own business, you feel it’s one of those things where you have control of your time, you can design your time, but at the same time, that also can, you know, lead to taking on too many things and feeling like you don’t have enough time. So then that can also eventually lead to you know, looking for ways to reduce time. So just talking about for example, I’m not sure if anybody uses the scheduling app, but I love Acuity.
Stefani Blazevic 5:50
Karen Swyszcz 5:50
Because you can schedule appointments and it gives you automatic reminders, and then the people who you’re meeting with It also gives them reminders as well. So there’s not a lot of like back and forth having and they can also like automatically schedule if you give them the link and access to your calendar. Yes. So with respect to your particular industry, HR, do you consider it to be an industry that is somewhat resistant to adapt to technology?
Stefani Blazevic 6:10
Yes. And I find, especially when I was on the agency side, I mean, at that time, I don’t know things have changed. I hope they have, but I wasn’t even allowed to go on LinkedIn during my working hours,
Karen Swyszcz 6:33
Stefani Blazevic 6:33
Because it was almost deemed as like a Facebook. Um, so I would go home and I would be, you know, scraping LinkedIn, you know, connecting with others really trying to get my name out there. And obviously to meet clients as well as you know, down the line to get a corporate role, which I did land, so it did pay off. But not only that, even, you know, with Loblaws, for example, they were and I used a scheduling tool like you had mentioned called Calendly. Security at Loblaws Head Office did not allow it just because it was, you know, intertwining with the Outlook email support. So IT on-site said no to using this. Although for me and for you know many other recruiters, I mean, it’s a complete time saver instead of going back and forth with a candidate, calling them leaving messages, trying to set up a time.
And then later on when I joined another organization, they were also picking up the phone and dialling numbers. So I said, why not use Calendly? And they definitely took to it. I think they’re still using it to this day. So I’m very happy about that. And I mean, that was one of the many tech tools that I introduced during my time working and I mean, even now I’m all about the different tools that we’re able to use.
Karen Swyszcz 7:52
Mm hmm. So speaking of tools, what are some of your favorite tools that you know, you can’t live without are such huge time savers?
Stefani Blazevic 7:59
Yes. So for me, I switched from Outlook over to Gmail, because Gmail has a ton of add-ons that you can actually add to your email. So for example, let’s say we had a conversation last week, but you never got back to me, it will send me a little nudge saying, Oh, you haven’t heard back? Do you want to send a follow-up email and it actually creates a follow-up email for you and you just, you know, hit a few buttons. So I find that’s amazing. As well, as you know, for some marketing tactics, I mean, I use Canva. I mean, I’m using like the Photoshop suite as well. Even for job descriptions, you can put your job description as I’m creating a ton for clients these days. You can put it through genderdecoder, to check whether job description has any like subtle linguistic gender coding effect, or even joblint which is another tech tool, which tests the job description for issues that can come across for, you know, sexism, culture expectations or any recruiter fails that may have been missed. So those are just some of the few that I’m using right now.
Karen Swyszcz 9:10
Oh, that’s awesome. Honestly, I had no idea those types of tools existed with respect to creating job descriptions.
Stefani Blazevic 9:16
Yeah, yeah, there’s a ton out there. And I mean, just for, like productivity, sorry, on a day to day basis. I’m using Calendly. The Google Chrome extensions, I mean, there are a ton. I probably have, like 30 on my computer. So a lot to go through. But everything is just, I mean, it’s tech and it just makes your life easier. So for example, and I’m writing an email and as you know, when you write an email in Gmail or Outlook, sometimes it doesn’t spell check for you. So I’ve set up Grammarly, which checks your spelling and your grammar which is vetted everywhere. For whatever you write on the web, you have to be using Google Chrome extension but it’s pretty great, I would say.
Karen Swyszcz 10:01
So why do you think certain industries are resistant to adapt to technology, whereas others are, you know, quick to jump on board?
Stefani Blazevic 10:09
I honestly think it comes down to the security. And I feel like with tech, as you know, you know, some companies that you’re working with, you don’t truly know if they’re protected. Let alone you know, what will it be like if we integrate this and we use this as a corporation, for example. So I think, you know, there needs to be more done from a security perspective, to alleviate any, you know, drawbacks that a potential client like myself may have and using these tech tools.
I mean, anything that’s going through Google Chrome, I would suspect it’s not gonna hurt any of my data. But I mean, even you know, let’s think about Facebook. Zuckerberg is pretty open about how he’s pretty much you know, documenting a lot of what we’re saying what we’re doing on there. And you know, we went through that whole fiasco last year. But we’re still using Facebook. And I think we’re going to be entering a time where everything that we’re doing, you’re saying is going to be documented either way. So, you know, do you want to save time at the end of the day? Or do you want to take the long road? So that’s just my personal perspective.
Karen Swyszcz 11:21
Mm hmm. And with respect to time-saving and technology, what are your goals with respect to you know, changing that within the HR landscape?
Stefani Blazevic 11:31
Yeah, of course, I think if I can use it within my business and then teach it out to my clients, I’m small things even like using Wave which is an online invoicing service. I actually taught that out to one of my most recent clients and even Canva because they had no idea that these programs even existed. So I think I’m able to teach it out to them and change you know, one client and team at a time. I think I’ll be more than happy.
Karen Swyszcz 12:01
Yeah, it’s interesting because you don’t know what you don’t know. And I feel if you’re in the space, you’re very well like versed and you’re familiar with Oh, yeah, I know about Candly. I’ve heard of, or sorry, I meant to say Canva. But Calendly came out.
Stefani Blazevic 12:17
Both are similar.
Karen Swyszcz 12:19
Canva and all these tools Acuity. And a lot of people know about that. But however, if you don’t use it, or if you’re kind of not within that mindset to use tools to help save you on, like time and be more productive, you’re not aware. And yeah, what I did initially, like find out about them, I felt it was very game-changing. I was like, Oh my gosh, like, why didn’t I know about this sooner, but I’m glad that I know about it now, so I can implement it into my workflow.
Stefani Blazevic 12:48
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I mean, even from, let’s say, I have a candidate that you know, is going to be relocating or travelling for a client. I mean, back in my day in the corporate world, I would be doing all this research, you know, what’s around the area? Or where you know they’re worshiping is that in the relative area to where they’re going to be working.
So now I’ve come across a few different tools. One is Numbeo which is actually the world’s largest database of data about different countries and cities worldwide, providing information about living conditions, as well as the cost of living housing indicators, health care, even talked about like traffic, crime in the area and pollution, and then even relocate, which is it just helps the job relocation, mainly protect jobs, verifying relocation packages, as well as you know, can somebody travel with a visa or without a visa based on arrival and work in that specific city or country. So I just think there’s so much out there and I think that we need to start using it to just give us back some time, right?
Karen Swyszcz 14:03
Definitely. Yeah, these are a lot of really great resources. So I’ll be sure to include them in the show notes for our listeners.
Stefani Blazevic 14:10
Yeah, for sure.
Karen Swyszcz 14:11
So I wanted to circle back into LinkedIn, because, you know, you have quite the following on LinkedIn, and you had written in a very popular article on LinkedIn, talking about how your profile landed you your most recent job offers and probably agree with me, and I used to be one of those people who underutilized LinkedIn, like I always considered it back in the day to be just a place where you slap on your resume and then you know, hope that you know, people would find you and give you a job, but clearly, it’s so much more than that and people really need to, you know, amp up their profile. So yes, can you talk about that?
Stefani Blazevic 14:56
Yeah, of course on so I absolutely love LinkedIn and so I’ve been on there I think like early University days, we were actually asked to create a profile, it kind of sat there for a while, and then I started using it. And I kind of used it as more of, you know, a brand ambassador for whichever company I was working for at that time. So if we had you know, Ice Cream Fridays or went out for lunch, I would just post a photo or something showing you this is a day in the life of working for this company or that company. I would comment on things and then I slowly started to build, I guess my brand or reputation on there, not to mention being a recruiter. I mean, it’s kind of easy to get a lot of connections on there and build that up.
But I started connecting with all the HR individuals within the Mississauga Etobicoke space, which is where I currently reside and started up conversations with them. And once I did that, I started you know, building up my own little network, and then the job opportunities just came to me. So my last three job opportunities have all been through LinkedIn. I’ve gotten several more than I have declined that I always pass on to my peers or individuals that I do know are looking. So I always try to get back. And I always while I was working, I responded to every single message I would receive. It would take time. It was quite draining. But I did it and I had a reason to do it. So.
Karen Swyszcz 16:27
If someone wants to connect with somebody on LinkedIn and build a relationship, even though they haven’t met yet, in person or online, and they want to connect with them, what advice would you give like are some handy tips with respect to networking on LinkedIn?
Stefani Blazevic 16:43
Yeah, of course. I think when it comes to networking on LinkedIn, I mean, my personal pet peeve is when somebody adds me and they say, Hi, I want a job. I’m interested in this. And it’s just it’s so like, it’s like in your face. It’s like, okay, I am a human being. I’m not like a bot. You know. Why don’t you ask me how my current job is going? Or? Oh, wow, you just recently left your organization. What are you doing next? I think asking a particular question because everybody loves to talk about themselves, right? So I think asking a question about whoever you’re reaching out to, like, oh, if you went to school here, or you worked at this company, or you’re doing this right now, and look at their, like most recent activity, and what they liked or commented on, you can kind of gain some introspection in regards to their likes and what they’re interested in.
And you can even I mean, this is kind of next level, but you can even go on Pinterest, and search their name. There’s actually textual that you can search up their email and it will directly show you their Pinterest account, to see their true likes and what they’re interested in. And you can even spike up a conversation that way as well. Instead of just asking for a job right away, or you know, trying to sell something I mean, I think I think we’re in the time where we need to start getting to know one another before we just deep dive into I want this.
Karen Swyszcz 18:07
Yeah, that’s actually really interesting. I never thought of using you know, Pinterest and LinkedIn together. They seem so different, right?
Stefani Blazevic 18:14
I know they are, but I’m sure like, it’s like, you know, searched you up on Pinterest, I would find that, you know, you’re either vegan or this or that. And I’d be like, hey, like I’m vegan too or like, I spike up a conversation. And then we would create that connection. And I think that’s what you need in order to build a lasting business relationship with somebody. And then maybe, you know, in a few weeks if you see, you know, an opportunity out there organization, then possibly ask, but I would highly recommend candidates to stop just sending, you know, messages, like, you know, I’m interested in this job or, you know, whatever it is because it just, you know, it doesn’t come off the right way I don’t think.
Karen Swyszcz 18:57
Yeah, I agree. With my Pinterest account, I don’t have a personal one. It’s the business one makinthebacon however, though, but I do what you might call it like, I do appreciate the fact that if people do send me messages and emails, if they happen to mention, like a particular post that I’m guessing that they may most likely have seen it through Pinterest because it’s considered to be like a really great search engine.
Stefani Blazevic 19:25
Yes, it is. And I feel like it’s not optimized as much as it should be, or leveraged, especially by small businesses. And I mean, the amount of individuals that are on there on a daily basis. I mean, there’s, I feel like there’s a piece of the pie for everybody, especially on these, you know, large engines that not a lot of people are utilizing. I feel like if they were to leverage them, they’d be pleasantly surprised.
Karen Swyszcz 19:52
Yeah, definitely. So I wanted to circle back to another part of you is with respect to writing your thesis. It’s focused on employer branding. So I’m very curious to know like, how is that going? How is the research behind that?
Stefani Blazevic 20:06
Yeah, so I actually just started it. So I mean, there’s a ton of research and I’m hoping to complete it within six months. But the main thing that I’m focusing on is, as there’s not a lot of scholarly research out there, pertaining to employer branding and Canada. There’s a lot and you know in the UK, United States a lot in India as well. But there’s just not a lot going on here in Canada, which is, you know, our hometown.
So I feel like I’d love to find out what is employer branding in Canada? What does it mean to individuals on that’s kind of one area and then also what I’m thinking of doing is creating a survey and asking, you know, different individuals. I’m going to create three different companies company ABC. They’re obviously going to be fake and really superficial, and providing different opportunities that each organization offers pertaining to the brand itself and, you know, different benefits, things like that and see where the candidates are steering towards, like is the ping pong table really necessary? And if so, is it actually attracting candidates? Or is it just a nice to have or, you know, at the end of the day, does having beer on Fridays really matter? Or would they be happier with, you know, being able to work from home 50% of the time?
So I’m going to create these, you know, fictitious companies and then survey, you know, between 20 to 50 individuals find, you know, collect data from that, analyze it with my professor. And then another idea is to interview practitioners working within the employer branding space in Canada, to find out what employer branding means to them and what are they currently doing within their organization to attract and retain candidates.
Karen Swyszcz 22:01
That’s interesting that you mentioned that because for me actually ping pong does sound really attractive because it’s fun. Like, who doesn’t love ping pong? But yeah, I think for me personally, at the end of the day, it’s more about flexibility. So like, yeah, being able to work from home with my, one of my previous jobs, I had that. And for me, it was a game-changer. Like I didn’t have to commute to Toronto, and it was just so nice to kind of get my time back because I was, it would be about like, one hour each way. And by the time I got home, I felt so exhausted. So yes. To work from home is really something but I know also to that it takes a certain person to be able to do that because yes, my husband said he couldn’t he could never do that. Like he wouldn’t have the discipline. But yeah, like for me, I absolutely love it. And I love being able to, you know, go to the grocery store at 2 pm on a weekday not having to worry about the weekend rush. Yeah, I’d be very curious to see what kind of results you end up getting.
Stefani Blazevic 23:07
Yeah, yeah, I’m really excited about it. Because I mean, there’s also so many theories that add to this as well, like, you know, organizational citizenship behaviour, or even social identity theory as well. Where candidates have this, you know, identity that’s attached to the corporation or company that they’re working for. So it’s going to be interesting to see what comes out of it. And then I mean, ultimately, it really comes down to what is employer branding, because a lot of organizations number one don’t really know and they’re doing something, but it’s not based on any type of research. It’s just, you know, possibly what the marketing department thought of. And then that’s a whole another issue as well because there’s no synergies between marketing and HR where employer branding is normally happening. Which kind of creates a rift sometimes between the two departments, because at the end of the day employer branding is not, you know, a sales pitch. It’s so much more than that. So I think yeah, that’s what I’m trying to uncover.
Karen Swyszcz 24:13
Exciting. So thank you so much for being on the show today and for sharing all these awesome tools.
Stefani Blazevic 24:18
Yeah, no problem. So happy to be here and thank you for inviting me.
Karen Swyszcz 24:22
Oh, no problem. So if people wanted to get in touch with you say on social media, where can they find you?
Stefani Blazevic 24:27
Yeah, of course, so they can definitely find me on LinkedIn. So that’s Stephanie with an F no e at the end. Blazevic or Instagram in flo, i-n-f-l-o-h-r, or they can you can connect with me on Facebook as well.
Karen Swyszcz 24:44
Awesome. Thanks again, everyone for tuning in. And stay tuned for more episodes.