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Executive Suite: Christel Colón, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Christel Colon, a human resources business partner at

Christel Colon, a human resources business partner at Brookhaven National Lab, is also the president of the Long Island chapter of the Society For Human Resource Management. This photo was taken on July 21, 2015, in her Upton office. Credit: David L. Pokress

The human resources field is changing at the speed of technology.

If you're interviewing for a job at Brookhaven National Laboratory, for example, you may have to first present yourself well during an hourlong video interview, before you ever meet anyone face to face, said Christel Colón, HR business partner at BNL. "We might then screen the highest performers on that interview to come on-site."

This year, Colón, 52, became president of the Society for Human Resource Management's Long Island (SHRM-LI) chapter. The organization has a mission to keep its 1,500 members abreast of the latest laws and trends that might impact their organizations. Last year, SHRM-LI was honored for teaching workforce readiness to more than 500 high school students.

What's your advice to candidates doing video interviews?

Remember it's an interview, so you have to treat it the way you would at someone's office. You want to put your best foot forward and you want it to have shoes on. Make sure that your background is perhaps as blank as it can be -- a blank wall or a curtain, as opposed to a wall that has posters on it that might be offensive to the people who are interviewing you. You don't want Miss January hanging out behind you.

What should video interviewers keep in mind?

To remain consistent in the approach and questioning of all applicants, but be flexible for the nervousness that an applicant is experiencing, whether it's an on-site interview or off-site interview. And understand that this is only one part of a screening process.

Why is video interviewing becoming so important?

So much is done these days virtually that people have to feel comfortable using equipment and interacting . . . like that. Here at BNL, we have scientists that collaborate with other scientists all over the world. But they're not constantly flying all over the world. A lot of it is done remotely.

What's your advice on scoring a job interview?

Networking is still the best way to get any interview.

What are your tips for landing a job?

The biggest thing right now is social media. If you want to post promiscuous photographs or photographs of you partying and drinking and drugging or discriminatory or hateful language or vulgarities, then create a very private and highly controlled account. There is no such thing as delete in cyberspace. One survey said that 48 percent of employers who looked [at a candidate's social media profile] online reconsidered an offer afterward. And don't be afraid to tell the hiring manager you want that job, because it may very well be the tiebreaker between two otherwise equally qualified candidates.

What's an "influence letter"?

It's an alternative to a thank-you note when you go for an interview, so the hiring manager remembers you for more than your resume. You might say something like, you may recall when we were talking about X, I forgot to tell you that in addition to having increased revenue by 35 percent, I also decreased discretionary spending by 10 percent.

What are some current best practices for HR professionals?

Make sure you are contemporary in your craft. The changes in the human resources space are so fast and furious -- from Obamacare to same-sex marriage to medical marijuana to rising minimum wages, to the rising cost of health care benefits. And one law could impact two or three other laws. If you're not somebody who stays on top of all of these changes, your organization is at a severe disadvantage, and possibly even vulnerable on a legal level.

What effect might raising the minimum wage have?

In some cases, it might be a ripple; in some cases, it might be a tsunami. And in some cases, it might drive employers to say, "Gee, well, I can't even do interns at this point." But in other environments, where people are paying well above that minimum, it still impacts them because it kind of changes their position in their compensation philosophy. If the basement was $8.25 and you paid $15, then you led the market. But if now the basement is $11, well, you may not be so much of a leader anymore.

How do you stand out during the online application process?

Make sure that you use the same vernacular that you see in the job posting.

What's a little known fact about SHRM?

How generous the members are to each other with insight and information.

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