For this edition of Women at NetMotion, we had the privilege of speaking with Nicole Tong, who is a part of our mighty Human Resources team.
We probably all have a fairly accurate impression of what a human resources team does, but like many roles, the job description only tells part of the story. As Nicole puts it, there are the “big ticket” items, including recruiting, onboarding, offboarding, benefits and payroll. Underneath all of that, however, there are so many other tasks carried out by the HR team that most people don’t even notice.
A big part of HR’s role at NetMotion involves making sure that the NetMotion ‘machine’ is well oiled, that it’s running on time without anything breaking, and that there aren’t any fires to put out. It also means keeping a finger on the pulse of everything happening internally, making sure that employees are happy, engaged and that they have the tools they need to perform well.
“A lot of things just happen quietly behind the scenes. It’s okay that people don’t notice because it means that everything is running smoothly.”Nicole Tong, HR Generalist, NetMotion
Some examples include creating an affirmative action plan, managing a 401k audit, or new to 2020 – creating a return to office plan. These things certainly aren’t as commonly known, but they’re still critical aspects of the culture and business that need to get done.
Nicole jokes that her day can go from dealing with health care, to doing a phone screening, getting notifications about window washers and building security, to helping an employee figure out their paid time off or why their parking pass isn’t working.
Employee morale is a big focus for Nicole. She mentions that people may not see everything that goes on behind the scenes, especially now that most of NetMotion’s employees are working remote. Dealing with a work-from-home environment isn’t new, but managing it on a company-wide scale while ensuring that everything still functions during a pandemic is something that HR teams just weren’t trained for. But that kind of thing comes with the territory.
Nicole’s Path to NetMotion
Nicole started her career at NetMotion a little over five years ago. She actually studied communications and came to NetMotion just two weeks after graduating from college. In fact, she says that, “My phone started buzzing as I was walking across the stage at my graduation. When I checked the missed call, it was NetMotion’s HR manager with a job offer. I jumped at it.”
Ever since her first part-time job, Nicole says that her friends or co-workers seemed to turn to her for advice, whether it be a scheduling issue or having to discuss something with the manager. That’s when she realized that she enjoyed being the person that people could turn to for help. When she looked at careers where that would be a natural fit, she kept landing on a career in HR. So even though her major was not directly related to HR, those experiences are what made her see human resources as a good fit.
At the time, Nicole hadn’t thought too much about the type of company she wanted to work for, but after talking to NetMotion’s HR manager at the time, she felt that the culture was exactly what she had been looking for.
“My goal has always been in Human Resources.”
One thing she realized through her interview process was that you can decide what you want, but you can also narrow down your job search by deciding what you don’t want. In her case, that was a fun working environment that didn’t feel stuffy with strict rules about things like business attire.
What makes NetMotion special?
The people at NetMotion are definitely a big draw for Nicole.
“The people are very genuine at NetMotion. My role gives me touchpoints with everyone in the company, and that openness makes it easy to work with everyone and strike up a conversation.”
There’s really never a dull moment. As NetMotion has continued to grow and expand into new territories internationally, Nicole enjoys watching the direction is taking from an important behind-the-scenes vantage point.
The whole HR team is very accustomed to quick pivots. At times, there may be people asking for help with a question or an issue. They can be in the middle of typing an email when they have to stop and refocus on something else. Being at home, with everyone in the company using the chat feature of Teams so much, it has made people even more accessible. That means you can start the day thinking you have your to-do list and a good idea of what you need to accomplish, but as the day progresses things can rapidly change.
Many employees at NetMotion probably remember speaking with Nicole for their initial phone screening. Just like any important relationship, this step is a hugely important part of the interview and hiring process.
Although conversations during phone screenings are typically fairly casual, Nicole (and the others in the HR team) are looking for certain things. For starters, even the best resumes are just teasers. The phone screening is the first genuine opportunity to get to know someone’s personality and how they think. Nicole says it’s a good way to find out why a potential employee may have moved around between companies, and what made previous employers either a good or not-so-good fit, and why.
Naturally, the phone screening gives both sides a chance to present what they’re looking for, and to make sure that their values are aligned.
One thing that Nicole especially likes is when a candidate actively asks questions. This not only shows that they’ve spent time doing some research into NetMotion, but also that they’re interested in what the company does and what the culture is like.
The questions can be as simple as “What do you like most about working for NetMotion?” or “What does growth look like at NetMotion?” and “What are the benefits?” They can also be more detailed, such as “Is the company facing any challenges?” Regardless, Nicole says that it’s always good to have a few specific questions prepared in advance.
Tips of the trade
According to Nicole, having a solid cover letter really helps candidates get noticed. She’s proud to say that the HR team always reads cover letters, so understanding how powerful they can be is very important.
“Tailor your cover letter and make sure it’s not just a copy and paste from another job application.”
Nicole laughs that she occasionally comes across cover letters that include the wrong company name or other details that are a clear give-away. But there are other things that can make the cover letter genuine and well thought-out. In general, a person who’s caught a recruiter’s attention through the cover letter already has an advantage over other candidates.
Nicole’s other advice is to just be yourself and have a good understanding of what you are really looking for. During tough economic times it can be tempting to jump at any job opportunity, but Nicole cautions that jobseekers should not settle. She follows that statement by clarifying that it’s important to have realistic expectations, but also to know what your deal breakers may be. Wages and benefits are important, naturally, but other less tangible things like working environment can be just as important and fulfilling.
When she’s not working, Nicole says that she’s rather boring (not true!) and that she can usually be found getting out some stress by doing kickboxing, restaurant hunting, or curating an incredible Instagram account for her pooch, Peanut. If you’re interested, feel free to catch all of Peanut’s adventures at: @thepeanutcorgi