The Increasing Tinder (For Vendors) Vibe of LinkedIn...

When I accept your LinkedIn invite, I'm not swiping right.  I'm just doing something slightly less than giving you a business card.

I use LinkedIn a lot.  I don't put myself out there as a Lion, an open networker, etc, mainly because I'm not even sure what those Linkedin things mean.  But I do know that LinkedIn is traditionally a great tool to network and make sure you know who people are, read things they share, etc.

LinkedIn has always had a bit of a meat market feel to it.  I think that's to be expected based on the amount of career games/recruiting that goes on across the tool/solution.  You're connecting with people for a reason - mainly because you think there's a reciprocal benefit to that connection - they can help you at a later point or vice versa.

But I'm starting to notice a HUGE uptick in outright "I'm here to sell you my service/solution" behavior from vendors.  As with recruiting, the vendor element has always been around LinkedIn - but I'm not sure it's ever been as quick to the pitch as it is now.

Can you at least say hi and thank me for connecting before you drop your pants?

The increasingly aggressive pitch goes like this:

  1. You get an invite from someone who's a founder or biz dev professional at a company that sells something in your space.
  2. You accept the invite, because you're an open networker and hey, vendors are people too.
  3. 10 minutes after you accept that invite, you receive a note back from the new vendor contact with a not only an deeper explanation of who they are, but a call to action and a request for a meeting.
  4. You wonder why the hell you accepted that invite.

I'm OK with being connected to vendors, but wow - the percentage of vendors that do what I describe above used to be 10%, now it's 60-70%.  It makes it hard for me to accept these types of invites from vendors if I think the outlined behavior is what comes next. 

LinkedIn has always paid light lip service to telling you that you should only accept invites from people you know.  But let's be real, their network effect is only in play if you accept as many connections as possible.

The Trojan Horse of Corporate America was LinkedIn selling itself to companies and HR pros watching the flock as "professional networking".  Turns out, it was a resume database.  Gotcha!

Now, the Trojan Horse of white collar America is LinkedIn telling you as an individual that it is "professional networking".  Turns out, it's lead generation for bad business development people.  Or maybe good ones- depends on where you sit.

LinkedIn could stop the madness I describe above in a very simple way.  If you invite me and I accept, but you try to sell me your service in the first __ months of our connection (you tell me what's reasonable), the connection gets voided or you lose the ability to invite people to connect for __ months (again, you tell me what's reasonable).

But that will never happen because LinkedIn isn't professional networking.  I was cool with that when it was recruiting.  I'm less cool with it now that it has bit me in the ass and everyone wants to sell me something within 10 minutes of accepting their invitation to connect.

When I accept your LinkedIn invite, I'm not swiping right.  This is how people start deciding to stop using the tool on a daily basis.

UI Design: Do Amazon Echo and Google Home Have Anything to Teach Us About The Power of Being Nice?

I ordered a Google Home a few months ago.  It's an interesting if not life-changing first step into the intersection of AI and digital assistants.  I'm a big user of the Google suite of products, and I smiled when I found out that I had to say "OK Google" or "Hey Google" to activate the digital assistant.  Google has a nice way of making a lot of their products softer than they have to be.

That softness makes them less threatening when you realize Google has a lot of your information.  Like when I got into my car a few weeks ago to drive 2.5 hours to Atlanta, and Google told me what the traffic on my route would be - before I told it where I was going.


But back to that implied soft side - which makes Google products seem "nice".  Johna Paolino recently wrote a piece on Medium where she compared Google Home vs the Amazon Echo, specifically on how each drove a different type of vibe/interaction with her and her boyfriend:

"A year ago, my boyfriend got an Amazon Echo. I remember first using the product, dazzled at its ability to process requests from across the room. Alexa, play us some music. Home vs echo

As the year progressed, the wow factor faded quickly.

The product features continued working to their full effect, but I felt very unsettled. I found myself constantly agitated as I observed my boyfriend bark commands at this black cylinder.

Alexa, turn off the lights. Alexa, set my alarm for 8am.

This declarative speech was so incongruous with how he interacts with me, with how he interacts with any human.

Was it how he was asking?

Was it that she was female?

Was I jealous?

Paolino goes on to describe her reaction is driven by two factors - the name of the Amazon product and conversational triggers.  The echo is driven by a female name, and Paolino was taken aback by hearing her boyfriend bark orders at a female voice.  Commenters on her post rightfully let her know that you can change the trigger to the name Amazon or Echo.  That problem can be solved. 

But the use of conversational triggers is interesting to me.  Using "OK" and "Hey" as softening factors is meaningful. It means that people are going to approach communication with Google Home in a softer fashion than they will with the Echo, and that's an important factor when the technology is far from perfect.

That same conversation tone transitions to the messaging we use in HR.  If you're an HR leader and have allowed your teams to use the default messaging that was provided with your ATS and/or Performance Management system, you've missed an opportunity to sound human.  We're rolling out a system right now and the stock messages sound like a mix between Mussolini and the worst HR Manager you've every encountered wrote the default messaging.

If Google Home tells us anything, it's that it's pretty easy to put a human side on your brand.  If you're not perfect, it probably matters more than you think that people like you in HR and are willing to cut you some slack when you mess up. 

Try making HR communications sound like normal people talk.  


How Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder Manages Remote Teams With Video...

I'm back.  How was your holiday?  Mine was great - caught up on some reading, spent time with the nuclear family (spousal unit +1.8 kid FTEs), decided I now don't care about football, had a life changing experience related to the value of Patagonia in cold weather, etc.


Oh yeah, another thing I did was watch parts of Tropic Thunder on HBO.  As a recruiter/HR pro/Talent Agent, I'm obviously partial to Ari Gold of Entourage as the classic agent to emulate (the good parts, not the bad parts), but there's an alternative...

That alternative is Les Grossman, the super-agent played by Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder

The walking contradiction of Les Grossman is that he does so many things wrong - while doing so many things right.

Take managing remote teams via video, for example.  The video embed below is a scene where Les patches in from Hollywood to manage a remote team shooting a SE Asia war movie on site.  Take a look at the video below (email subscribers click through for video) and BE WARNED THAT THIS IS TOTALLY NSFW AND NOT RECOMMENDED IF YOU'RE SENSITIVE:

Amazing, right? The movie was released in 2008, so Less was way ahead of his time.  Here's what Less did right in managing remote teams via video, even while he was doing so much wrong:

  1. He had big tech that made it seem like he was there.  Big screen.  He didn't go halfway with him having the need to talk to 25 or more people in the same room.  Broadband pipe was obviously large to get screen image quality up - that's worth paying for.
  2. He had people on the ground to connect him with the larger group in the room.  The guy in the pink button up is his lackey from LA who went to be onsite.  Whether you send someone or not, when you patch in via video as a leader, someone in the room you're connecting to needs to be in charge of making sure your connection is good and dealing with agenda issues and conversations that need to happen locally while the call is going on.
  3. People had assigned roles for what needed to happen.  You need a report on the Finkelstein account.  Less needed his key grip to be ready to punch someone in the face. Tomato/Tomoto.
  4. He thanked people for their work, even when he wasn't sure of who they were. He didn't know who the author of the book was when he spoke.  He didn't miss a beat and thanked him for his service. Of course, he then cursed at him, which you should avoid, right?

If you aren't afraid of language and inappropriate behavior, this clip works for you.  If not, you shouldn't have gone through the warnings.

But you could do worse than the 4 key elements of doing a video call with remote teams displayed by Les Grossman above.

Make 2017 a year of connection.  That's a successories poster right there.

The Decline of Social Snooping On Candidates and the Rise of the High School LinkedIn Profile...

At one point, my advice for HR pros who were wondering about the ethics and legal exposure of digging around on candidate's social profiles was simple.

"Just ask what your CEO wants you to do in order to have the best line of sight on a candidate.  She probably expects you to do everything possible to fully vet and get the best candidate possible."

Translation: Don't be lazy, and don't be weak.  Social snooping is a reasonable background activity, and anyone who tells you otherwise probably isn't as connected to business results as they need to be.

So, that used to be my advice, and I guess it still is, but my approach has softened a bit for a very specific reason.  The-who-the-kids-are-alright

Candidates are more aware than ever of the risks their social accounts provide, and the younger the candidate, the less likely he/she is going to have accounts that are open to the public.

Two words: Instagram and Snapchat.

Facebook, in case you were wondering, is for the olds.  Not only are candidates more cautious than ever, but the younger candidates aren't active on Facebook nearly as much, which was the platform that created the most risk.

They are on Instagram and Snapchat, and they're increasingly protecting their accounts to the fullest extent possible.  That means you might be able to find them, but once you land at the account, it's protected. You have to request to be their friend/contact/hombre to see what they're posting.

I think social snooping has become less important for this reason.

In addition, the youngest of users are attempting to play our need to social snoop by giving us accounts that put them in the best light possible, which is smart if they have college admission or work-related goals.  LinkedIn is seeing a surge in profiles among High School students wishing to indulge admission office's need to snoop.  More from the New York Times:

"Applying for admission to many American colleges already has high school students jumping through hoops.

School transcript? Check. Recommendations? Check. Personal statement? Standardized test scores? List of accomplishments? Check. Check. Check.

Now some social media experts are advising high school seniors to go even further. They are coaching students to take control of their online personas — by creating elaborate profiles on LinkedIn, the professional network, and bringing them to the attention of college admissions officers.

“They are going to click on your profile,” says Alan Katzman, the chief executive of Social Assurity, a company that offers courses for high school students on how to shape their online images.

Last year, for instance, Mr. Katzman’s company advised a high school senior in the Washington area to create a detailed LinkedIn profile and include a link on his application to Harvard. (His mother asked that the student’s name be withheld for privacy reasons.) Soon after, LinkedIn notified the student that someone from Harvard had checked out his profile."

What's that? You're worried about the digital divide and how this plays to the have and have-nots?  Good instincts, grasshopper:

“Kids from privileged families tend to do more of those things both offline and online — joining school clubs, writing for their school newspaper, getting tutoring so their grades go up, doing SAT preparation,” says Vicky Rideout, a researcher who studies how teenagers use technology. Using LinkedIn on college applications, she says, “is yet another way for there to be a disparity between the haves and the have-nots.”

For high school students, LinkedIn is partly a defense mechanism against college admissions officers who snoop on applicants’ public Facebook and Twitter activities — without disclosing how that may affect an applicant’s chance of acceptance.

A recent study from Kaplan Test Prep of about 400 college admissions officers reported that 40 percent said they had visited applicants’ social media pages, a fourfold increase since 2008."

Social snooping feels dead to me. It was only a matter of time before high school students started playing admission offices as well as employers by giving the people what they want.

The kids, as it turns out, are alright

HR Technology Conference Preview: How Many Silos of HR Tech Exist? Too D**n Many...

I'm running a panel at the HR Technology Conference in Chicago in October.  As I've said before, this is my favorite conference in our industry - the perfect mix of HR and Talent topics with solutions and conversation enabled by technology. Click here to get the early bird discount, which ends on 7/27/16.

The shows runs from October 4th through the 7th.  Here's a description of the panel I'll be moderating:

Mega Session: Two Decades, Four Tech Revolutions and Billions of Dollars Later — Why Is Hiring Still So Hard?

Great HR leaders understand the best talent wins. With that in mind, investments in advanced technologies to “solve” recruiting — or at least to make it easier, faster, more efficient and cheaper — have been a hallmark of the HR and HR technology landscape for over two decades. Starting with the first major online job boards, to the emergence of enterprise ATS solutions and the rise of LinkedIn, to more recent developments like video interviewing and mobile capability, there's been no shortage of technology designed to make finding, engaging and hiring candidates easier. But despite significant investments in recruiting technologies, organizations still report that hiring has never been more difficult, with the average time to fill an open position reaching historic levels. You'll learn about the modern recruiting challenge, how technology has evolved to help meet that challenge, and how to best leverage your investments in recruiting technology to achieve better outcomes.

In addition to my session, there's lots of good stuff that's on the agenda.  Here's one highlight I plan on attending:

More from John Sumser at HR Examiner:

A presentation that describes the universe of HR Tech and the most effective paths through the conference itself. Here’s the session description:

CS1: HR Tech: An Orientation to the Conference and All Its Possibilities
Wednesday 05 October
11:00 AM to 12:00PM
If you’ve never attended the HR Technology Conference, this is where to begin your adventure. John Sumser, who has been orienting people to the industry for two decades, will help you maximize your time and your return on investment. He’ll cover all of the elements of HR technology and how they fit together. Plus, give you an overview of the HR technology landscape to help you determine which areas of HR tech you are most interested in learning more about so you can design your ideal conference experience. You’ll know which sessions to attend and which exhibitors not to miss. As a bonus, each person attending the session will get a copy of Sumser’s groundbreaking report, “Optimal HR Tech Stack.”

As I looked around, it became clear that no one has produced an interesting map of the entire HR Technology terrain recently. So, I figured I’d make a stab at it.

So far, my outline has 70 distinct silos. For each element, there is more than one vendor offering a standalone tool to solve the problem. I’ve placed the current version at the bottom of this piece.

Starting next week, I’m going to try to build the following elements for each silo:

  • A short narrative describing the silo
  • A list of vendors who offer best in breed solutions
  • A list of vendors who offer the element in their suite
  • A few of the current trends in the area
  • A sketch of the future for the area.

Wish me luck.

What's crazy about this is John is saying he's ID'd 70 distinct silos that each have at least one vendor offering a standalone product/service to meet the need in question.

That's crazy - I've got to see that session.

Hope you can join me at the HR Technology Conference in Chicago this October. Click here to register and get the deepest discount

Entrepreneurial Life in the USA is Complicated - Here's a Snapshot of Why....

I've got a saying that goes something like this:

"The best thing about America is that anyone with a good idea can start a company. The worst thing about America is a lot of them do..."

Let me explain that comment a bit.  You have entrepreneurial people in your company and your life.  Some of you best people think Silicon valleythey are destined to start their own business, even if their Behavioral profiles tell them (and you) that would result in the life equivalent of a dumpster fire.

Not everyone is cut out to do their own thing.  In fact, most aren't.

Combine that reality with the fact that entrepreneurial life in American is uber-competitive, and you've got the prospect of wrecked lives and retirement accounts.

How competitive is it in America?  Consider the study Ongig released a couple of weeks ago – The Top 70 Applicant Tracking Systems of 2016. I found this study via the aptly-named Tim Sackett Project and here's what Tim had to say to set up the study:

This study is based on around 3300 employers around the world, most in the U.S.  To put that into perspective, there are over 200,000 employers in the U.S. alone with over 100 employees.

I use 100 employees, because once you get to that magic 100 employee number, usually at that point we see companies begin to purchase their first real HR technology – HR System of Record and an ATS. So, it’s a pretty limited sample, but better than anything else you’ll find, plus, it’s a good list of a possible 70 ATSs to take a look at. Also, realize, and I don’t have an exact number, but I would be there are well over 500 ATS systems on the market right now.

A lot of your best employees think they need to go start a company.  This study shows the freak show of competition that exists in America.  Here's the market share of the top companies that represent the tip of the spear when it comes to 500+ ATS providers:

ATS 2015 Share
Taleo 36.43%
Homegrown 11.10%
Jobvite 8.58%
Kenexa – Brassring 7.56%
iCims 6.39%
ADP 4.79%
SAP-SuccessFactors 3.72%
PeopleFluent (Formerly PeopleClick) 2.52%
Silkroad 2.27%
iRecruitment/PeopleSoft 1.74%
Ultipro 1.67%
Greenhouse 1.67%
HRDepartment 1.28%
Newton Software 0.78%
Jobscore 0.50%
Lumesse 0.50%
WorkDay 0.46%
Lever 0.46%
PeopleAnswers 0.46%
Kronos 0.39% 0.39%
HRSmart 0.39%
MyStaffingPro 0.35%
ContactHR 0.32%
Ceridian 0.32%
HireBridge 0.28% 0.28% 0.25%
HealthCareResource 0.25%
ApplicantPro 0.21%
ATS OnDemand 0.21%
ApplicantStack 0.21%
HRMDirect 0.21%
eRecruiting 0.18%
Cornertone OnDemand 0.18%
Smartrecruiter 0.18%
CATS ATS 0.14%
SmartSearch 0.14%
Luceo 0.14%
Pereless 0.14%
Bird Dog 0.11%
GlobalSuccessor 0.11%
Hiredesk 0.11%
iApplicants 0.11%
TrueBlue 0.11%
Hyrell 0.11%
Bullhorn 0.11%
JobScience 0.11%
Vitae 0.11%
ResumeWare 0.11%
Navicus 0.07%
RecruiterBox 0.07%
Workable 0.07% 0.07%
Snaphire 0.07%
Tribepad 0.07%
ClearCompany 0.04%
Jobstreet 0.04%
Konetic 0.04%
Njoyn 0.04%
Selctrak 0.04%
SpeediARMS 0.04%
HireRabbit 0.04%
JJ Keller 0.04%
netMedia 0.04%
NovaHire 0.04%
PracticeMatch 0.04%
TeamWorkOnline 0.04%
PeopleAdmin 0.04%

The point here is that unless your employees have a truly novel idea which they can combine with access to capital, they basically have a very limited shot at being successful in starting a business.  True, this is one snapshot, but capital flows to areas of existing and potential need via the efficiency of the marketplace.  Most segments any high potential employee is looking at to start a business will look like this.

If the segment doesn't look like this, you have to question whether theres' a market for the product/service in question.

So let's do some math.  Let's say you're HireRabbit with .04% market share.  Most of the players downstream in this market are going to be SasS companies with limited barriers for customers to get started.  Let's be generous and say HireRabbit is going to get 5K in revenue per customer.  Do the math based on Tim's numbers (200,000 companies) X .04% and you get a customer list of 800 clients.  Do the math and that's annual revenue of $4M.

Then remember this is a company that is well into the top quartile of 500 ATS companies.  Your employee has a great idea to start an ATS - a better way to do applicant tracking.  Is the dream this level?  Probably not.  What's market share look like in quartile 2?  Quartile 3?

Most other ideas enter into similar markets related to competition.  They have to, or the idea is generally not viable.

If you're coaching your star on the math related to starting their own company, you might want to share this.

Of course, it's America.  They can do their own thing.   #AmericaHeckYeah

FRIDAY TEST: Pick the 3 People In Your Company That Don't Matter If You're Doing A Push To Analytics...

I'm in Atlanta today speaking at the Human Capital Institute's (HCI) Workforce Planning and Analytics Conference.  My topic is bootstrapping an analytics program at your company, and in a move that will surprise some, my slides are more about people/behavior than numbers.

The theory - you can have a great plan for metrics/analytics, but unless you're willing to jump in the middle of some blocking activity in your company, numbers and analytics are DOA.

Most of you aren't in the ATL with me today, but have no fear...You can still play along.

Appearing below are 6 people/groups of people in your company that will have a role in any analytics rollout. Your mission, should you choose to take it, is to pick out the three people/groups of people WHO DON'T MATTER when you do your rollout.

Hit me in the comments with the three people that can be ignored. I'll throw in a reply late on Friday if anyone wants to play my game show...

(Subscribers click through if you can't see the images and click through to the site to participate)

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Which Talent Metric Are You Routinely Hung Out to Dry For?

Ah yes - metrics. HR needs to be more metrics driven, right?

But a funny thing happens on your way to being numbers-driven as an HR pro. You give the people what they want, and the people try to hang you with the numbers you're reporting.

So answer this question:

"Which talent metric are you routinely hung out to dry for?"

If you're like most HR pros, the numbers you report that are most likely to get you jacked up on are as follows:

Time to Fill

Organizational Turnover

We report on those things because they're the standard we know, and because they're the standard we know, they're the numbers automated by most HR Tech systems.

But the mistake we make is allowing people to assume that HR is 99% responsible for the performance of those numbers.

Time to Fill is high?  What is Recruiting/HR doing?  Turnover is up?  What is HR doing about that?  They own the culture, right?

Wrong. The performance of these numbers is always indicative of blended responsibility.  Operations. Line Management. And yes, HR.  But blended.

So I'm here today to give you some thoughts about how to change the perception of ownership related to these numbers.  You can still report Time to Fill and Organizational Turnover, but you need to create some scoreboards that place pressure on your client groups to perform better than they are.

Case in point - organizational turnover.  The next time you report turnover, create a supplemental slide that shows what I call Hiring Manager Batting Average (HMBA).  HMBA simply shows the percentage of people hired by a manager who are still around after one year.  You can roll this up to the departmental level to make it less personal, but its impact is simple - some departments are better at hiring than others.  The ones who are bad have the biggest negative impact to your turnover issues.  Find out more about this by viewing these slides.

Time to Fill? Well, all positions aren't created equal, which is why I would encourage you to follow up any Time to Fill reporting with some recruiting funnel data - what I'll call the "Show/Interview/Hire' statement.  This statement simply evaluates how many candidates a department is shown on average (per open position), then how many they interview out of that to get one hire.

Some departments are pickier than others. Some for good reasons, others... not so much so.  Find out more about this type of reporting by clicking here.

You get hung out to dry for some of the widely accepted metrics that are out there.  Stop playing defense, and start playing offense.

VIDEO: What's Wrong with the Assessment Platform You're Using Today?

I had the chance to appear on the HireVue “Weird Science” Series as week, with Fistful's Tim Sackett pinging me on assessments and the data/insight they give you around hiring the right candidate for your company.

Listen to Tim and I talk about the science behind assessments and how to implement them with your team to get the greatest return on your investment (email subscribers click through for video that appears below)..

My takes in the conversation:

--Assessments that take over 25 minutes to complete kill the candidate experience.

--If you give a hiring manager a 10-page report, you'll guarentee they read none of it.

--If you want real ROI with assessments, do something with them once a candidate is onboarded into your company...

Enjoy!  I'm especially proud of the freeze fame picture they gave me below as a placeholder to the video....

We Continue to Miss the Texting Opportunity In HR...

HR’s never been accused of being on the bleeding edge, and any type of social media or communications usually finds HR pros trailing the pack.

Take social media as an example.  Lots of potholes.  Full of traps.  No wonder you didn’t try harder to get in the game and use it for communications, engagement, recruiting and more.  Of course, all the challenges can be overcome by using a smart approach to social media, but I’ll give you a pass.

So what’s your excuse for not looking to incorporate texting into you HR practice?  What’s everyone’s excuse?  After all, you’ve probably sent more texts today than you have emails.

And that’s the thing – more people are immediately accessible using text today than email, and certainly the phone.  In addition, use of texting in new applications not only draws people in, but they’re less likely to leave once you get them using your thing – HR – via text.  More from Flurry via Business Insider:

Facebook dropped $19 billion on WhatsApp, Snapchat is valued at $15 billion, and even the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak, despite being a little over a year old, is already valued between $300 million and $400 million. Messaging apps are big business, and here’s why.

Based on new data from mobile analytics firm Flurry charted for us by BI Intelligence, messaging apps retained nearly six times as many users they attracted in their first months compared to the average user retention across all applications. The average retention rate for all apps was 32% in the first month, and fell to 11% by the 12th month. In contrast, messaging apps held onto 68% of their new users after the first month, and slipped just a little bit, down to 62%, by the 12th month.

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You have to fish where the fish are.  I’m willing to bet you could go into a conference room today and brainstorm 5 unbelievable opportunities for people to engage with the business of HR via text, and you could bootstrap a lot of the solutions as well internally – you don’t have have to wait on the vendors to do something.

Text provides immediacy, and per the Flurry report, people don’t leave apps once they start using them via text.  That’s called adoption – you want people to try and then incorporate the new app into their day to day lives - then never leave.

The new app you’re introducing?  It’s called HR. 

Get with it.