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December 2016

MONGO LIKE CANDY: The Psychology of Submitting Candidates To Hiring Managers...

It's not show friends, it's show business."

--Bob Sugar in Jerry McGuire

There's an art to submitting candidates to hiring managers. You're an honest sort, and that can and will be held against you in the court of workplace psychology and momentum.

Let's get the obvious on the table. You could be submitting the Lebron James of whatever your search is, Mongo but the reality is this - one candidate is not going to be enough for most hiring managers. First, they aren't as good at evaluating talent for specific needs as you are in most cases.  Second, why Lebron? Are we sure that Michael Jordan isn't out there?  And wouldn't his durability be a better fit for us if we found him and got him interested in the job?

Sadly, that's the spirit of the questions you'll receive. So you need to put your marketing/influence hat on, people.

Here's some thoughts from the desk of KD after 15-20 years of hearing "we need Lebron" when they can only afford Craig Ehlo:

1. Never make your first submittal a single candidate without other candidates to contrast to. You're basically asking for it if you do that.

2. Initial submittal batches are best served in groups of three - the candidate you love, a fallback candidate or two - and of course, a dog with fleas designed to make the targeted candidate look like Jordan.  Go to 5 if you must.

3. Ballers use words to compare and contrast the candidates they submit. Forwarding from your ATS without a submittal writeup is the equivalent of a caveman grunt. Mongo like candidate. Mongo want you to talk to candidate.

4. Once you get the submittal pack out, your job is to make the interviews happen in as close of proximity to each other as possible, giving you the best path to a call to action and offer possible.

5. Once you do your initial submittal of 3-5 candidates, you can submit other candidates one at a time.  Caution - don't rush to do this before the hiring manager gives you feedback on your first round of submittals. You're just gumming up the works if you do that.

Be more of a marketer with submittals, and you'll get better results.  Yes, this puts pressure on you to find at least 3 submittals in a reasonable timeframe.  That's what the money is for. Or you can keep being a caveman/mongo and submitting one at a time. How's that working out for you?

TODAY'S JOB MARKET: Peak Economic Cycle Edition

If the chart below were an investment chart, you'd be looking to start scaling back tech stocks in your portfolio right now.

Take a look and let's talk about this visual after the jump (email subscribers click through for image):


What this chart tells us is that over 50% of businesses are reporting they have few or no qualified applicants for job openings today.  Look at the chart closely, and you'll also see that percentage is higher than at any point between the 01 and 08 recessions (gulp). You'll also see that the latest spike has us reaching recruiting difficulty at its highest level in 20+ years.

That seems like a picture that tells us we are at what I like to call "peak economic cycle" right now.  Here's what that means for your recruiting/people/talent function:

--It's going to be harder to find people. You'll need to spend more on recruiting than you traditionally have to acquire talent in 2017.

--At times, you're going to have to buy candidates with expensive offers to get the talent you need in key positions.

--If you have compensation issues, now's the time to be aggressive to do equity increases in key roles that are under-comped vs the market.  Make those adjustments and you can buy yourself another year.  Refuse to do it in key roles, and there's a great chance you'll lose experience AND pay more for the talent you ultimately recruit to replace the great people who leave.

Peak economic cycle = Turd Sandwich for the companies who don't like to spend much on recruiting and have a "trail" strategy related to compensation in key roles.

That's right - "turd sandwich".  You won't see that in the reports from economists, but that's what it is for a lot of you.

Take this chart to your CEO/Ops lead and get some more money.  You're going to need a bigger boat until this thing cools off.


Uber: The Right HR Leader Depends On Your Company's Maturity...

This post previously appeared at my other site - Fistful of Talent.  I thought it was important enough to share here as well.

If there's one thing that's true in HR, it's that today's HR leader right for a company may not be right for the same company 3 years from now.  Things change. New leaders come in, new strategies are developed and deployed. And if you're really lucky, your company experiences exponential growth that causes you to need a different type of HR leader. Uber fits that example, and they just had a trade out - an early CHRO has left, and a new one - dramatically different - has entered.  Here's the rundown of the changeout I ran across on the web:

Uber is bringing in Liane Hornsey, a longtime VP at Google and current operating partner at SoftBank, to be its new Chief HR Officer.

The move gives Uber a seasoned executive with public company experience to help manage the $66 billion ride-hailing service's rapidly swelling ranks and to guide it through the various challenges facing startups as they evolve into giant businesses.

Travis Kalanick announced the hiring in an email to Uber employees on Friday, calling her "one of the most sought-after 'people people' in the world," according to a source inside the ride-hailing company.

Uber confirmed Hornsey's hire to Business Insider, but declined further comment. SoftBank and Hornsey didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The opening at Uber, one of the fastest-growing companies in tech, became available in July when its former head of HR Renee Atwood left to join Twitter. Atwood had been at the company from when it was 605 employees to more than 5,000. 

Hornsey's LinkedIn shows she had spent nine years at Google as its Vice President of Global People Operations before she moved to being a VP on the sales side, reporting to Nikesh Arora. 

She followed Arora to SoftBank International in September 2015 to be its Chief Administrative Officer and operating partner, helping other startups with their HR needs. Arora left his position in June 2016, and now Hornsey's departure follows nearly six months after. Hornsey will start at Uber in January.

Couple of things come to mind here from an HR leadership perspective:

  1. If you go look at the profile of Renee Atwood (former CHRO at Uber, now at Twitter), you'll see a pretty good background.  Now go look at the background of Liane Hornsey.  They're different.  Neither one is right or wrong - they are just different. One's growth and the other one is more mature from a career perspective, focused on things that a 5,000 person company focuses on.
  2. Atwood joined Uber when it had 500 employees and left at the time it had grown to 5,000 (both FTE numbers do not count driving contractors).  Anyone in HR would tell you that those are two dramatically different companies as evidenced by the size and the fact that it's Uber only adds an exponential factor to that difference.
  3. Uber's a unicorn and increased market cap from $13B to $70B during Atwood's tenure.  Atwood chose to leave for a cool company in Twitter, albeit one that doesn't have a clear path moving forward.

I think Atwood's background is very strong.  Former client group leader at Citi and Google, got a great opportunity at Uber - I really like that progression. But Uber's issues today are dramatically different today than they were in 2014.  The fact they changed out the CHRO - a seemingly voluntary move by Atwood - is evidence pointing to the fact that the HR pro you have today may not be right for you tomorrow.

If you're a CEO out there, looking at your HR leader (and determining whether you still have a fit as you grow) should be as important as looking at your CFO fit for the stage your company is in.

Jim Harbaugh Upgrades His Professional White Guy Slacks in 2016

I'm the Marlon Perkins of how white guys dress. Look it up Millennials.

In August 2016, I followed up my classic take on the use of the Blue Blazer by white guys everywhere with a tome on the professional slacks choices of the male caucasian in the field. Here's a taste of that when it came to "fit":

--Fit - You've got loose fit (also known as classic), modern fit and skinny fit.  Generally speaking, the older the white dude the looser the slacks.  If you're Brontosaurus Rex and you're trying to adapt after the slacks asteroid hit the earth, do yourself a favor and go to modern fit.  Your wife, your family and your nation are going to snicker if you try to go to skinny.  And for you skinny fit guys - I see you - and yes, you are living the metrosexual dream. And there's nothing wrong with that. 

--A little bit more about Pleats - I know, white guy dad. You went no pleats and it's a great thing.  But you're still kicking about in the Jos A Bank loose fit dress slacks.  No pleats and loose dress slacks?  I'd rather you be you - and just kick it with the pleats and cuffs.  Somebody's got to be in charge around here.

I'm here today to point out a high profile example from pleats to no-pleats/modern fit in the American workplace.  

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh has transitioned from pants he was buying at Wal-Mart to something much more modern.  

Translation - his wife and sponsor (Nike) staged an intervention.  Let's look at the before and after... (email subs enable images or click through to see the before and after)


Harbaugh before

AFTER (from 2016 Ohio State Game)

Harbaugh After

Double pleats to Khaki's that look like jeans. 

That's a full upgrade, and it probably took an intervention similar to what happens with crystal meth users.  White guys don't give up pleats easily, my non-white guy friends.





The Netflix Approach to Movies: Notes for HR

Do you watch Netflix?  Have you ever been frustrated that the movie selection, for a lack of a better word to describe it - sucks?

Of course you have. If you're a business focused individual, you might think this fact is a canary in the coal mine - meaning it's a signal that Netflix won't be in a dominant position 2-5 years from now.  That would be a reasonable assumption - after all, if the product's not right, decreased viewership and profitability is sure to follow, right?

Wrong. As it turns out, Netflix has figured out that its customers don't really care much about what's available on the movie side of the business. I think there are some HR parallels you can learn from with this.  First the notes on Netflix from Business Insider, then we'll talk after the jump about the similarities with HR:

"No matter what movies Netflix has on its service, subscribers spend about a third of their time watching films on Netflix, according to the Best-movies-on-netflix
company's content boss Ted Sarandos.

On Monday at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference in New York, Sarandos was asked about the perceived sparseness of Netflix's movie offerings. "No matter what, we end up with about 1/3 of our watching being movies," he responded.

Sarandos cited two contrasting examples: the US and Canada. In Canada, Netflix has five major movie studio output deals, while in the US, it basically has none, with the exception of the just-starting Disney one. And yet in both places, Netflix sees about 1/3 of its viewing being movies.

Research earlier this year showed that Netflix's selection of IMDb's 200 highest-rated movies had gone down in the past two years by a substantial amount, as had its total catalog of movies. And given what Sarandos revealed Monday about the viewing habits of Netflix subscribers, that decision makes total sense. Why would you pay a bunch of money for blockbuster movie deals if it's not going to make people watch more Netflix?"

When I think about how my generation treats Netflix (as well as my teenage son), we're much more likely to binge watch a series that we are select a movie from the streaming service. There's just something about binge watching a series together that is good for relationships.  Also, if you're watching alone, binge watching provides a chance to become emotional connected with the characters, etc.

But just as importantly, I think there are some similarities to how movies are treated by consumers of Netflix with our HR practices.  

Employees act in a certain way within our companies.  There are several employee/candidate behaviors that aren't going to change much year to year, and with that in mind, there's no reason to spend more on these behaviors than you have to.  Examples include the following:

  1. Job Boards - You've got a spend. You get candidate flow and hires out of that spend, but at some point there's a diminishing point of return on additional investment in job boards.  You need to find the optimum spend, then never go over that - instead pushing additional spend to new sources that are rapidly gaining candidate attention.
  2. Employee Referrals - You've likely got a program, right? You may or may not monetize it, but spending more on referrals is not a guarantee that you'll get more flow.  At some point, you're paying more for the same number of hires, and you've just experienced what I'll call the "netflix movie effect".
  3. Employee Development - Complex one here. There's a lot of spend you can make to try and make your employees more than they are, but a lot of your employee base just wants to do some work, go smoke and leave at 4:58pm. You can spend to try and make them more, but they're not going to give you more performance given your additional spend on them. 

Netflix has learned that additional spend on movies doesn't equate to better results/profits.  We can learn a lot in HR from that Netflix lesson.

You've got a limited budget in HR.  Never feel guilty about not spending money (or more money) on things that don't produce results.

Apple Pie, Chevrolet and Glassdoor's "Pledge To Thrive" Badge...

Glassdoor - you have to hand it to them - they know how to market their solution.  Just announced at Glassdoor - a "Pledge to Thrive" badge.  Here's the rundown from the Glassdoor blog:

"Now, Glassdoor is partnering with Thrive Global—Arianna Huffington’s new and groundbreaking venture to lower stress and burnout, and enhance well-being and productivity—to showcase employers who prioritize a thriving workplace.

Starting today, employers may sign on to the Pledge to Thrive to show they’re taking steps to prioritize well-being in their workplace. Any employer who has signed on to the Pledge to Thrive may promote their commitment to candidates and recruits as part of their employer brand on their company’s Glassdoor profile. In 2017, Glassdoor and Thrive Global will release a co-branded Thrive Index based on employees’ assessments of how their employer incorporates meaningful “thrive” practices into their workplaces and culture.

Set your company apart by letting your candidates and employees know you prioritize their well-being and understand the connection between thriving employees and a thriving business."  

Pledge to Thrive?  Hell yeah... Who could be against that?  It's up there with Apple Pie, Chevrolet and Mom as being All-American.

Nobody does Pledge to Thrive better than my company. How do you know?  Because I added the badge to our Glassdoor profile, dummy. It's right there - THRIVING.

Now, to be fair, we've got a lot of good stuff going on at Kinetix.  We've got wellness stuff, yoga (which I hear is related to wellness) and other things, all related to well-being. So it's real.

It's just that I didn't have to answer a lot of questions to get the badge added to our site - I actually had to answer none.  Did I want to answer questions?  No. I did not.  But it seems like some questions might be in order to get me to respond in the affirmative to prove the whole thrive thing.

For example, I recently wrote about a recent suicide attempt at Amazon in Seattle over at Fistful of Talent.  A guy sent an email saying he was disappointed in being put on a PIP and then jumped out of a window.

Could Amazon get the Pledge To Thrive badge showing their commitment to well-being?  It seems like they could, since my experience was clicking a checkbox and then "boom", we are a Pledge To Thrive employer.

But then I go on Amazon's Glassdoor profile and this is the first review I see:

Amazon glassdoor

"Exciting work, abusive culture". Hmm.  My gut tells me that's pretty accurate based on what I have read. If you're a baller in your profession, you can go to work at Amazon and work on amazing things - maybe wear a helmet, because it's a contact sport.  But abusive culture? That seems a little bit counter to the whole Pledge to Thrive thing.  But if Amazon wants that employer badge, it's there.  My gut tells me they are waaaaaay smarter than that.

But this example isn't to pick on Amazon.  It's just to show that adding badges with little certification of what they mean or what's required to get them shows the duality of Glassdoor.

What's the duality of Glassdoor? Their model is built on company reputation and reviews, but they sell to employers.  That's a conflict that's hard to resolve at times.

I'm hoping you Thrive in the rest of your week, people.  

Your Fitbit is Lonely From Lack of Use - Here's a LifeHack to Put It to Good Use...

Fitbit - made some of you click through for that alone.

There's a problem with Fitbit - it's called adoption. Do the people who need it most actually use it once you run a wellness initiative and subsidize some of the cost to put it on their wrist?  Most HR leaders are starting to think the answer is no.  Here's what one FitbitFortune 500 leader told me in 2015:

"Well, Kris - I'll tell you the deal we learned about Fitbit.  We've got over 10K employees.  We've got 1K of those who are actively trying to use a Fitbit.  Here's the problem - about 965 of those were people who were already into fitness - they're already working to stay in shape, etc.  So I got 35 people to change their lifestyle?  That's great, but there's no impact to the bottom line of my healthcare cost."

That means the more you try and force use of the FitBit to the 90% of your employee base least likely to exercise, the more disappointed you're likely to be.

That's why I'm here today with a Fitbit life-hack - one that doesn't include exercise. From a recent Sports Illustrated article on Sam Hinkie, the former GM of the NBA 76ers now in sabbatical after resigning:

So Hinkie thinks big picture while ­setting small, realistic goals, and he’s embraced an arsenal of life hacks. Every hour between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., his Fitbit watch vibrates. Not to remind him to exercise; as Hinkie says, “I do not feel compelled to impress it.” Rather, it’s a cue to consider the previous hour. Was he productive? Did he achieve his goals? He then spends the following 60 seconds considering the hour to come. Once properly centered, Hinkie proceeds with his day.

Probably not what he had in mind when he bought a FitBit. But I like the call to set an alarm to consider the last hour of your life. There's nothing better to spark a productive hour of work or life than realizing you sucked for the last 60 minutes.

Of course, you can set your alarm with your phone.  Alas, another hit to user adoption on the FitBit.

Here's Your Authority-Building Quote To Use as a HR or Recruiting Leader...

Damn, I'm just going to say it. You're the HR/Recruiting leader, and from time to time you need to remind everyone around you that you're the expert. Not them - YOU.

It's OK for people to have takes on the best way to do HR or recruiting.  But do they know as much as you?  NO. And you ought to find subtle reminders to make sure they get that reality.

That's why I'm here today to give you a quote you can put in your email signature. It's a remake of a classic standard:

"HR is like church. Many attend but few understand."

OR - 

"Recruiting is like church. Many attend but few understand."

The great thing about these quotes? They don't necessarily offend anyone. Most people who read it will consume it and think you're talking about someone else - not them.

They get it - wink/wink - but the others don't.

Whatever. As long as the quote reinforces that you're the expert and helps them believe and acknowledge that, they can come along for the ride. 

Many attend but few understand. Truer words have never been spoken.

Great Careers Live At The Intersection of Niche and Grind...

I remember being in High School and somehow ending up at the VFW where my dad liked to knock back a Seagram's VO or two.

On the night in question, my dad was at the bar with a guy who he introduced me to and said the guy had some great advice for me, as I was interested in communications at the time.  The advice went like this:

"Don't major in journalism or communications.  Find another major and minor in journalism or communications." WOJ

His point was simple. People who were subject matter experts in a specific field had a much better chance of great careers in writing than those who were generalists - because they had depth and knowledge that gave them authority others didn't have.

The year was 1986. That dude looks like Nostradamus these days.

Like most HR leaders, I didn't come out of college looking for a job in HR.  I kind of slopped into it and then found out it was a good match for me.

I'm asked for career advice a lot by friends, family and people I don't know as part of this blog and my career in HR.  I've never forgotten that Seagrams-influenced advice given by a journalist passing through a town of 2,000 in the middle of Northeast Missouri.

These days, my version of that advice is the following:

Find a niche you're interested in that has enough action to pay well, then fully invest yourself in becoming that absolute ####ing expert of that niche.  Then make sure people can find you, which means you're going to have to self promote a bit. 

The world has enough generalists.  There's nothing to say you can't do both.  You can be a generalist by being a financial analyst early in your career, but at some point you need to find a niche that's going to be in demand by someone who wants to pay you more in the future.

So you're a Financial Analyst.  Why not dig deep and make yourself the expert in metrics that help evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of a sales function?  I guarantee you there's a CFO who will double your salary for that focus.

Generalists are the ones that get laid off in the next economic downturn.  Specialists who have a unique skill who can also do the generalist work?  Protected.

Find a niche and grind at it for best career results.  I leave you with the case study of Adrian Wjonarowski, pictured in a snapshot below from my smartphone this summer.  

He goes by the handle of "WOJ".  Woj is the guy that breaks 80% of the news in the NBA, and the NBA hates him, as evidenced by the picture below that shows him interviewing people outside a ladies bathroom in Las Vegas.  That's where the NBA put him, because he's got more power than they'd like and they're trying to knock him down.

Too late.  Woj didn't even blink an eye on this day, he just powered through the insult and solidified his power base for future rumors/news by interviewing 20 people he didn't have to.  If you're into Game of Thornes, he's Varys.

Woj found a niche and grinded his way to domination.  Whatever your field, you can do the same.

But only if you... 1) find a niche, and...2) grind like hell. #noshortcuts

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