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May 2012

VIDEO: How To Use Humor in a Job Interview...

OK - I don't know most of you personally, so I can't tell you how to use humor in a job interview.  What I can tell you is that humor in a job interview is dangerous - it's kind of like lighting a BBQ grill with traditional coals and lighter fluid.  You have the lighter fluid and a matches.  There's a safe way to do it, then there's the Fire Marshall Bill way..

If you use the whole can of lighter fluid and stick your face over the coals, you're probably going to get hurt.  

If you go too deep with humor in an interview, you're going to hurt your chances of getting the job.  Here's what to do and not to do when using humor:

1.  Make fun of something that's universally funny and everyone understands.  "See the deal with Lindsey Lohan over the weekend?  She's got some issues."  Safe.

2.  Don't talk too long about it.  "See the deal with LL over the weekend?  The last time I did that many jello shots, I".... oops.  Problem.

3.  Don't make a personal connection with humor and the interviewer's life.  Even if you think you can, you never know when someone's going to take offense.  "See the deal with Lindsey Lohan over the weekend?  You probably recognize that from a couple of your college girlfriends.  It's good that you guys didn't have kids, right?"  Whoops.  Too far.

When using humor, get in and get out.  Show you're topical, don't go near the zip code that is the interviewer's life and don't take risks.

See the example below from the HBO show Girls.  The interview was going great before this clip, then the candidate reaches with a joke about the crime rate going down after the interviewer left his college town.

Funny to some.  Maybe your friends.  Too risky for the interview.  Your job is to survive and advance to the next round. 

Play on, player.  Enjoy the clip, it's a gem (email subscribers may need to click through for the video)

Hire People Who Have a Chip On Their Shoulder...

Short post today.  

Hire people who have a chip on their shoulder.  Those who might be from the wrong side of the tracks (wrong side only in the "I <and my parents> don't belong to a country club" sense), but have done all the right things, are smart and have a history of getting things done.

I don't care what school you went to.  Community college before you picked up the degree from a non-descript state school?  Perfect.  Worked retail during school and after you got your degree because the market was tight?  Nice.

As long as you can show me you've got a track history of getting things done, are quick on the uptake and hungry, it actually works to your advantage.  You're not from the wrong side of the tracks.  You're practical and not part of a big ponzi scheme outlined here by Mark Cuban (you should read the post at that link - for real)

You don't have to have gone to an SEC school if I'm recruiting in the Southeast.  Kennesaw State, Troy University and UAB work just fine - as long as the other things are there.

Can I ask you how much debt you have if you went to a private school I've never heard of?  Probably not, and it's in bad taste.  But I'm thinking whether your parents just dropped 200K on a school that I've rarely heard of or if you already have the equivalent of a big home mortgage for a degree that simply allows you to interview for entry-level, white-collar jobs.

If you went to a public school that isn't a A-lister, don't apologize.  Tell me why the fancy degree doesn't mean anything.  Show me what you've done that the rich kids haven't.  

HIre a bootstrapper.  If all the intangibles are there, it's a pretty smart thing to do.

Is Your Onboarding Program Real? Or Just Real Bad?

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Allied Van Lines, proud sponsor of the “2012 Workforce Mobility Survey”, designed to capture the voice of HR on topics related to workforce mobility. Allied has more than 75 years of experience in corporate, household and international relocation.)

First up, let's be clear.  I'm no onboarding expert.  I'm a HR leader who's a generalist by nature, trades in common sense and has some pretty strong opinions about what matters, what doesn't and what is complete BS. Durden likes

Example - Onboarding.

We all know that it makes sense.  Find a better way to bring people into the organization, connect them with the mission and give them a start at your company that maximizes their chances for success.

But just because you say you do onboarding - doesn't mean you really do onboarding.

Brad Pitt (aka Tyler Durden) once remarked in Fight Club:

"You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your #@$#@#$ khakis.”

HR?  You're not your ability to say you do onboarding.  It really comes down to the quality of the program you call onboarding.  You start all the new hires together on a Monday and run through the handbook, maybe throw up a couple of slides about the culture?  That's not onboarding.  Onboarding really isn't a one or two day event.  That's part of getting someone started, but the real value of an onboarding program is what happens once your two-day bootcamp is over.

Why's this on my mind?  Thanks to the Workforce Mobility Survey (click here) sponsored by Allied, we've got some actual data about the state of onboarding rather than comments from my cynical, jaded soul.

Check out this great chart from the #AlliledHRIQ survey:

AlliedHRIQ - onboarding

Translation of the chart - everyone does a little song and dance via a "orientation".  But orientiation isn't true onboarding, is it?  Take a look at the items I've highlighted - I'd present those as the keys to really strong onboarding:

1.  Management participation in the program - only 1/3 of companies have this.  Wow.  Seems entry level - but apparently not.  #disconnect

2.  Under half of the companies responding to the survey match the new talent up with a vet in a coaching or mentoring relationship.  I'm shocked it's that high.

3.  Only 13% of companies responding to the survey do proactive stay interviews.  How are we doing?  What are you thinking?  How likely are you to leave?  Everyone likes to be asked.

Let's face it - onboarding beyond orientation is hard to do.  But, if you really care, you'll give it a shot beyond running through the handbook and bringing in some sandwiches.

You're not your HRMS.  You're not your ability to say you do onboarding.  Your ability to truly onboard is directly related to the number of touch points you have after someone finishes your orientation.  

It shows you give a S#@*.  

If you would like to learn more about Allied Van Lines, please check out their website or blog. And if you would like to get more information from the Workforce Mobility Survey, you can click here. It’s definitely worth checking out.

DOWNLOAD: The Bootstrapper's Guide to Employee Engagement (Office Space Edition)

Ah, yes. Employee engagement - the well-known buzzword that has a plethora of technical definitions, depending on the think-tank you follow. I've got my own definition of employee engagement, and it doesn't involve a task force, measuring happiness or a shiny new company-wide newsletter. 

It involves the classic workplace film "Office Space" and your managers.  Bootstrapper

Intrigued? Good! 

I did a whitepaper last week over at my company (Kinetix) called "It's Not You, It's Me: The Bootstrapper's Guide to Employee Engagement".  Here's what you get when you download:

1.  The simplest definition of employee engagement you've ever seen. Designed to make the complex simple, our definition is built to remove the glossy look you see in your management team's eyes when you say "employee engagement". They'll automatically get it (and like it!) when you lay my definition on them. 

2. The five biggest myths about employee engagement as told by an award winning expert (we're connected like that), Bob Kelleher. Our favorite? "Employee engagement is just another trend." Sure it is, just like Facebook and the Internet. Right Brontosaurus?

3. Our bootstrapper's guide on how to build employee engagement through your first-level managers. You don't need a big budget to drive engagement - it all comes down to the performance of your first line managers. We'll give you five things to focus on with your people managers to get real, lasting engagement from your workforce. 

Bonus: We've also packed this engagement paper full of Office Space references to make it readable and sharable, and we've even included Digital Bonus Clips for our auditory and visual learners. Because we care. And because everyone can relate to Peter Gibbons and TPS reports.

You'll never have a case of the Mondays or need to count flare again.  

If you want to read more, go get the whitepaper here (registration required).  Not a sales pitch, just interesting reading and a great way to help your managers/company out.  I wrote it, so if you like what you get here, you'll like the whitepaper...

If you find registration for content personally appalling, I don't even know who you are anymore.... Just kidding, just email me or hit me in the comments if you're hiding from the authorities and are naturally suspicious, and I'll send you the PDF...


Notes From My Commencement Speech: "You're Dumb" (actually Aaron Sorkin)

OK, it's not mine.

From Aaron Sorkin’s commencement address at Syracuse University (via kottke.org and h/t to @alexgoetz)

"Make no mistake about it, you are dumb. You’re a group of incredibly well-educated dumb people. I was there. We all were there. You’re barely functional. There are some screw-ups headed your way. I wish I could tell you that there was a trick to avoiding the screw-ups, but the screw-ups, they’re a-coming for ya. It’s a combination of life being unpredictable, and you being super dumb."

Book it!  That's money.  See the whole thing here...

Performance vs. Potential: Van Halen (David Lee, Sammy and... Gary)

Performance vs. Potential – it’s the only way to look at who’s a star and who’s a scrub in your organization.  You can also use it for lots of other purposes, namely comparing the relative merits of Brat Pack movies starring Molly Ringwald.  OR - which version of Van Halen was better - David Lee or Sammy?

You’re not following me?  I was up a couple of weeks ago at the bswift Annual Conference in Chicago, where I spoke about The 9 Faces of HR – a primer on how to morph the performance/potential grid to evaluate HR teams and HR candidates you’re thinking about hiring.

Here’s one of my slides – Using Performance vs Potential to evaluate the 3 different versions of Van Halen.  Breakdown after the slide (click the slide for a bigger version):

Performance and potential - Van Halen

The breakdown is pretty simple.  Van Halen under David Lee Roth?  Good if not great performance (record sales), but wow - what potential.

Van Halen with Sammy Hagar?  Great performance, sold a bunch of CD's - but not as much depth with the potential as with David Lee.  Which is deeper with the potential to change the way a kid views playing the guitar?  "Unchained", or "Love Comes Walking in"?   I rest my case.

Sadly, most of you don't know that Van Halen tried a third lead single after Sammy pissed everyone in the band off - the lead singer of Extreme - a dude named Gary Cherone.  Low performance, low potential.  Code For: "Retire" and get ready for the David Lee Roth reunion tour.  Where's my spandex pants with tassles?

From the high potential, good performance David Lee era:

"You say, I cannot get there from here, baby
Then I don't care where I'm goin'
Here's to your thin red line
Mmm, I'm stepping over...

Thought you'd never miss me till I got a fat city address
Non-stop talker, what a rocker
Blue-eyed murder in a size five dress

Change, nothin' stays the same
Unchained, and ya hit the ground runnin'
Change, ain't nothin' stays the same
Unchained, yeah ya hit the ground runnin"

Have a great weekend.  One of my favorites below, email subscribers click through for the video.

WEBCAST: 5 Ways to Use Video in Your HR Practice - and Look Great Doing It...

Short version: I'm doing a webinar next week (Wednesday, May 23rd - 1pm EST) on using video in your HR practice - sign up here. You'll be glad you did.

Long version: This just in: The use of internet video is exploding.  People are reading less on the web and "watching" more." You knew that. Video chart

More importantly, have you thought about how the trends in online video impacts how you build your HR practice?  That's the key right?  Here are a couple of stats to help you know how important it is that you consider how to use video as an HR pro:

--Americans streamed 43.5 billion videos in December 2011, up 44% since December 2010, according to comScore’s 2012 US Digital Future In Focus report released a couple of months ago.  The study also showed that 105.1 million Americans now watch videos online each day, up 43% from 73.7 million in 2010.

--The average video view length is up from 5 minutes to 5.8 minutes, showing an increasing willingness to watch longer form content.

--The average viewer watches 239 videos per month!  239 at an average of 6 minutes per = 24 hours per month.

Wow.  The experts say that media companies have to take notice and consider how they can create video content to engage this growing audience and promote their traditional offerings.

I say that you and I as HR pros better get in front of this video trend as well.  Guess who is a part of that trend of dramatically increased video usage?  Employees and Candidates...

That's why the good folks at Fistful of Talent and the HR Capitalist are doing a webinar next week called The Future of Talent: 5 Ways to Use Video to Raise Your HR and Recruiting Game. Join us for this KD and FOT webinar webinar, and we’ll give you the 411 for how to think about video within your HR or recruiting practice and a road map to get started in the following areas:

  • Employment Branding – If you believe video is on the rise, then your text-based descriptions of your company culture aren’t going to cut it anymore.  We’ll give you examples of what companies like yours are doing to use video to build transparency around what a day in the life of your employees looks like.
  • Recruiting – We’ll break down how today’s video technology transcends the old cliché “video conference” system used for remote video and actually creates a higher quality of interview, allowing you and your hiring managers to control the questions you want answered, across all early stage candidates.
  • Role Play for Managers – Your managers need better skills related to how they manage people.  We’ll show you what smart companies are doing to weave role-play scenarios into all their managerial training, and how they’re using video to conduct skill practice and provide feedback related to the skill that managers use on a daily basis.
  • Training Shorts Delivered via Mobile – Video makes training less of an event and more of a product delivered “just in time”.  We’ll discuss how innovative companies are breaking down training into bite size morsels delivered via mobile video.
  • A “How To” Guide to Get Started with Video in Your HR/Recruiting Organization.  We’ll talk about how companies are building light infrastructure to deliver on the potential of video in the above areas – without breaking the bank.

Join me and the FOT crew as we break down the video scene and brainstorm about the best way to build video chops in your HR or recruiting practice.  Sign up here. You'll be glad you did.

A Test To See If You Really Care About Your Employee's Career...

Can you say this?

"You know, our job (in addition to getting the work done) is to give you a bunch of experiences that you couldn't get elsewhere that are going to make you more valuable.  I hope you're here a long time, but if the time comes where you need to cash in on those experiences by moving to another company, that's OK.  I hope we can give you the career path, but if not, we'll be better for having you on the team for a couple of years.  Maybe you'd even come back when our growth catches up to your career"...

Can you say that?

No?  You're not thinking about growing your talent enough.  Scared?  The other way just gives you false hope.  At least with the talent you really want.

Yes?  Congrats - they're less likely to leave you than that statement sounds like if you deliver on what you're promising.

Linchpin RIP: Adam Yauch

On the road today and there's only one thing in my earphones:  The Beastie Boys.

Why?  One of the Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch (aka MCA) is dead of cancer at 47.  More from Rolling Stone:

"Adam Yauch, one-third of the pioneering hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died at the age of Adam-Yauch_400 47, Rolling Stone has learned. Yauch, also known as MCA, had been in treatment for cancer since 2009. The rapper was diagnosed in 2009 after discovering a tumor in his salivary gland.

Yauch co-founded the Beastie Boys with Mike "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz in 1979. The band started off as a hardcore punk group, but soon began experimenting with hip-hop. The band broke huge with their first proper album, Licensed to Ill, in 1986; it was the biggest-selling rap album of the decade and the first to reach Number One on the Billboard chart. Further albums Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head and Ill Communication cemented the Beasties as a true superstar act.

In addition to his career with the Beastie Boys, Yauch was heavily involved in the movement to free Tibet. A founder of the Milarepa Fund, Yauch was instrumental in the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park 1996, which drew 100,000 people – the largest U.S. benefit concert since 1985's Live Aid. After 9/11, Yauch and the Beastie Boys organized New Yorkers Against Violence, a concert benefit for some of the victims least likely to receive help from elsewhere.  Yauch also directed many of the Beastie Boys' music videos under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower. In 2002, he launched the film production company Oscilloscope Laboratories."

For the casual observer, pausing to write a post on a member of the Beastie Boys might seem a little light.  But the Beasties have always refused to let what they did previously define them - a sign of a true high performer is that they continually redefine themselves.  Wouldn't it have been easy to just try and milk "You Gotta Fight For Your Right to Party" for 20 years?  Of course it would have been easier.

But - the Beasties always changed their game, and Yauch was a huge part of that with the video side of the Beasties.  They went away from hardcore punk early and did rock rap.  Paul's Boutique is largely cited as an opus of sampling before legalities rendered that path unobtainable.  Then they went back to rock with cuts like Sabatoge, playing their own instruments, etc.  They toured with acts as diverse as Run-DMC, Madonna and Rage Against the Machine - a sure sign of broad influence.  They became political with their last CD - To The Five Boroughs - making even a moderate GOP member like me listen to a call to shift to the left.  I could say more, look it up if you are interested.  Adam Yauch was a Linchpin that transcended rap.  You couldn't stereotype him.

My birthday was this weekend.  MCA was a few years older than me and he's dead.  No drugs, no Hollywood crash and burn.  Cancer.  Damn.  

Get busy living or get busy dying.

RIP Adam Yauch.

Performance vs. Potential: Brat Pack Movies and bswift

Performance vs. Potential – it’s the only way to look at who’s a star and who’s a scrub in your organization.  You can also use it for lots of other purposes, namely comparing the relative merits of Brat Pack movies starring Molly Ringwald.  With a little James Spader thrown in for good measure.

You’re not following me?  I was up yesterday at the bswift Annual Conference in Chicago, where I spoke about The 9 Faces of HR – a primer on how to morph the performance/potential grid to evaluate HR teams and HR candidates you’re thinking about hiring.

Here’s one of my slides – Using Performance vs Potential to evaluate Brat Pack movies:

Brat Pack

Breakfast Club – c’mon.  Performance is measured by box office and critical acclaim, potential measured by whether you want to watch it with your kids when they get old enough.  Breakfast Club wins that hands down.  I’ll let you rant in the comments whether I’ve got Pretty in Pink and 16 Candles in the wrong spot.  But St. Elmo’s Fire?  That was one hyped up movie, but let’s face it – no one is waiting until their son or daughter turns 16 so they can watch that piece of crap with them and bond.

But I digress – had the time to take in most of the bSwift conference (check them out, pretty cool brand and some great people) and it was a unique opportunity to get back into what’s going on with Healthcare, Wellness, etc.  Top line of what I learned:

  • Like the guy in Jaws, “You’re going to need a bigger boat”:  If ObamaCare goes through, you better have someone to help you figure it out.  Period.
  • We've got some OPTIMISTIC people related to the GOP winning back everything in November.
  • People are still actively trying to find ways to make their workforce healthier.  Wellness is very much in play.
  • Companies aren’t afraid to go to the “stick” instead of the “carrot” when it comes to you finding your motivation to get with the program.
  • A $25 per month penalty for not getting your screenings complete is interesting – seems like I could buy a lot of behavioral action (if not change) for that amount – itemized on your paystub, of course.
  • If Financial worries are one of the biggest causes of stress among your workforce, why not include a financial education/counseling play in your wellness program?

And the biggest thing I learned: I won’t do another speaking gig without mandating that I come out to the theme from St. Elmo’s Fire.  It just seems like the over-the-top, "we’re going to rule this planet once we figure out who we are", totally Gen-X thing to do.

That’s right Gen Y – we once thought we were special too.  Keep thinking that, it's cute.  Here's some lyrics from the song your GenX boss is humming today after she reads this post:

"Growin' up
You don't see the writin' on the wall
Passin' by
Movin' straight ahead you knew it all
But maybe sometime if you feel the pain
You'll find you're all alone
Everything has changed

Play the game
You know you can't quit until it's won
Soldier on
Only you can do what must be done
You know in some way
You're a lot like me
You're just a prisoner
And you're tryin' to break free..."

Wow.  Really?