The All-Too Human Condition of Hating a Candidate Due to the Referral Source...

Referrals - We love them in the talent world.

Ideally, referrals are made by employees/team members who understand the culture we've created at our company, and only refer the best in their network to us. That's generally true, and even if there's a few referral spammers in your company, we're better off with referrals than without them.

You know what types of referrals we hate and are suspicious of?

THE REFERRAL FROM SOMEONE IN OUR ORGANIZATION WE DON'T LIKE.

If you've got enough experience in the recruiting/team building game, you've been there before.  You've got an open spot on your team, and you're doing your normal recruiting game.  Then it happens.

Rick, a guy you detest, sends you a referral and vouches for the candidate.

Damn. That's the last thing you needed. But the intensity of your discomfort is directed by the following determination:

--The candidate isn't good. AH HAH!  Rick is clueless. Order has been restored to the universe.

--The candidate is really, really good.  Whoops!  Shit just got complicated.

Why does the candidate being good make it problematic? Well, you hate Rick. That means the following things are in play:

1--If you don't interview a great candidate, you're the problem, not Rick.  That's never been a part of the narrative you had related to your relationship with Rick.

2--If you interview the great referral from Rick and don't hire them, it gives Rick an avenue to criticize the selection you do make. 

3--If you interview the candidate and hire them, have you just hired someone sympathetic to Rick when he's kind of been your nemesis during your tenure at ACME.com.  That seems like it might be problematic.

All of these things go through our mind when we get a referral from someone in our organization we don't like. The blind spot is simply to ignore the referral, because you won't engage with a person you don't respect and trust. But if you do that, you're playing small. You're better than that.

The real talent magnets understand that quality internal referrals from sworn enemies or simply people you don't like are GIFTS.  You should absolutely interview them and hire them if they're the best person for the job.

Whether you simply interview or actually hire the quality referral from a known enemy inside your company, you're playing chess - not checkers - with your engagement with this type of candidate.

Mine the candidate for info about Rick. You may learn they don't know Rick as well as you thought they did.  But if they do, be sure and drop some details to Rick about your conversation.  It's fun to watch Rick be a little bit uncomfortable.

Can you hire this candidate?  That really depends how good you are at your job.  If you're great at your job, they're going to enjoy being part of your team and Rick's not a threat.  Rick may actually end up hating the fact that he gave you a great referral, which is a gift in itself.

Great referrals from sources you hate are an opportunity. Play chess, not checkers.


Chill Out: It Really Doesn't Matter Where Your Kids Go to College...

I've got a senior in High School, and you know what that means - time for admission envy, parental handwringing and everything that goes with along with that.

Sarah's going to Vanderbilt/Harvard/Stanford.  Man, I wish my kid would have worked harder...

I get it - we all want more for our kids. To the extent they've worked hard, we want them to go to the best school.  When that doesn't happen, we start worrying, because not being admitted to a top school is a classic 1st World problem. The volume gets amped up when your kid is a high performer and can't even get a sniff to a top school with a 4.4 GPA and a 32 ACT.  See this post (spend more time on the comments from parents who feel they've been wronged) for some crazy stories, accusations of unfairness and helicopter parents losing their minds.

It's easy to understand your paranoia.  If the school your kid is going to isn't up to par in your mind, or if you think he/she has been wronged by an admissions process, it's easy to rant and wish for more. C-siue

Until you figure out the following 2 things:

1--Comparison is the thief of joy, and more importantly;

2--By the time your kid has his second job and/or 5 years into the world of work, it's not going to matter where he/she went to school.

Couple of things to offer up. First, consider this study that estimates the economic return of attending an elite college, a summary of which appears below:

Stacy Dale, a mathematician, and Alan Krueger, an economist, collaborated in two large-scale research studies (Dale & Kruger, 2002 & 2014) in which they effectively controlled for the background characteristics of students attending colleges that varied in selectivity (based on average SAT scores of the entering class). The first study was of students entering college in 1976, and the second was of those entering in 1989. Essentially, their question in both studies was this: If people are matched in socioeconomic background and pre-existing indices of their academic ability and motivation, will those who go to an elite college make more money later in life than those who go to a less elite one? The overall result was that the college attended made no difference. Other things being equal, attending an elite school resulted in no income advantage over attending a less elite school, neither in the short term nor in the long term. 

The key, of course, is students matched in socioeconomic background, academic ability and motivation.  Match kids up by those factors, and there's no outcome difference in attending Kennesaw State vs Georgia Tech (Atlanta example, plug your own in for your area of the US).

And when it comes to the factors considered, give me motivation over the other factors once a decent level of academic ability is present.  The average GPA of millionaires is said to be 2.9 - I'll be back with more on that later this week.

I see it all the time as a recruiter - people from elite universities with average careers, and people from schools I've never heard of killing it and running the world.

I was blessed to have my first son do the minimum at a really good high school to get a 3.7 GPA and mail in a high 20's GPA.  So my expectations are managed, that's easy when your kid knows not to apply to elite schools.  But he was an absolute grinder in other things in his HS years, so I know he has a shot via transferred motivation to do great things and outperform a 34 or higher ACT.

I'm a recruiter by trade. If you're still recovering from your son or daughter going to the state school, chill out. He or she has a 50/50 shot to outperform the kid of the mom who stuck the Stanford admission in your face.  But only if they grind and the motivation is greater than their peer group.

BONUS - Video below shows a kid wanting Ivy and coming to the realization it's University of Illinois (from Risky Business, click through if you don't see the video player).


Google For Jobs: Is Indeed Dead Yet?

We've talked a lot about Google For Jobs and it's potential impact on your future recruitment marketing spend.  As a quick reset, Google for Jobs was launched in October of 2017 and was thought to be a significant blow to Indeed for 2 reasons:

1--Indeed was not listed as a partner that would automatically have its jobs included/indexed in the Google for Jobs product, and

2--The presence of the Google for Jobs interface on search results for jobs pushes the once dominant SEO power of Indeed way below the fold, which means the ROI of Indeed spend should go down over time.  Translation - the first thing candidates see won't be Indeed, which is like Uber customers losing access to its app.  In fact, they'll have to scroll a loooooong way down.

Nobody discounts the power of Google.  But the erosion of Indeed has been slower than many predicted.

HR Wins, a site run by George LaRocque who has more than 25 years in the HCM industry, recently published an article entitled, "Everything on the Internet starts with Google. Sure, but what about online job search?"

His article provides a bit more proof that the erosion of Indeed via the Google for Jobs threat isn't final, and many job seekers still use the Indeed interface to start their job search.  Check out the following graph from HR Wins (email subscribers click through to the site for the graphic), click on the article link above and subscribe for more goodness like this:

HRwinsChart

The disclaimer to this data, of course, is that candidates at times are notoriously bad at self reported data (my favorite is the over-reporting of "I heard about this job from the company's career site", which is rarely true).  

But beyond the candidate self-reporting issue, the directional info seems true with what I've seen. Indeed isn't dead yet.  The info about LinkedIn being secondary to candidate job search is a nugget you won't find elsewhere.

Three certainties in life - Death, Taxes and Google.  But Indeed's not dead yet.  Keep your eyes on your spend, and hit the George/HR Wins article for more great results from this candidate survey.  Make sure you subscribe while you are there.

 


Netflix for HR: The Fyre Festival Documentary & Your Employment Brand...

From time to time, I like to be your HR commentator related to your Netflix queue.  

With that in mind, I have a must watch for you - Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

This documentary is a primer on two things:

1--How to market and get buzz - which has implications for your employment and cultural brand at your company.

2--The peril of overpromising and underdelivering related to what's possible at your company.

Let's start with the following description of the Fyre Festival from WikiPedia:

The Fyre Festival was a music festival scheduled to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma over two weekends in April and May 2017.

Organized by Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule as a luxury music festival to promote the Fyre music booking app, the event was promoted on Instagram by "social media influencers" including socialite and model Kendall Jenner, model Bella Hadid, model and actress Emily Ratajkowski, and other media personalities, many of whom did not initially disclose they had been paid to do so. During the Fyre Festival's inaugural weekend, the event experienced problems related to security, food, accommodations and artist relations. Eventually, the festival was indefinitely postponed after some attendees had arrived, finding tents and prepackaged sandwiches, instead of the luxury villas and gourmet meals they had been promised when they paid thousands of dollars for admission.

As a result, the organizers are the subject of at least eight lawsuits, several seeking class action status, and one seeking more than $100 million in damages. The cases accuse the organizers of defrauding ticket buyers. On June 30, 2017, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged McFarland with one count of wire fraud. In March 2018, he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud to defraud investors and a second count to defraud a ticket vendor. On October 11, 2018, McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to forfeit US $26 million for wire fraud.

Two documentaries about the events of the festival were released in 2019. Hulu released an original documentary, Fyre Fraud, on January 14, 2019. On January 18, Netflix released Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

More of my readers have Netflix than Hulu, so I'm focused on the Netflix Documentary covering Fyre.  Here's the trailer (email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below):

The Netflix documentary is worth 90 minutes of your time.  It's world class seminar on how to use video, imagery and social to create buzz and demand.  One of the things you'll find as you watch is that the organizers of Fyre created demand from thin air by paying influencers (models) to come to the Bahamas for a long weekend and shoot hours of video.  Once they had that raw footage in the bag, they created the promo video below (again, click through to site if you don't see the video below).

Once they had the video, the 20+ influencers in the campaign all posted an orange tile on Instagram with a link to the festival registration page. The festival sold out in 10 hours, and the rest of the show is how it all went to hell.

I like this Netflix special for my HR and recruiting flock for the following reasons:

1--Most of you aren't doing enough to showcase the positives to your employment brand.

2--There's some best practices you can learn from the Fyre Festival.  The imagery gets you thinking...

3--It's clear that Fyre overpromised and dramatically underdelivered.

4--Most of you will treat that as a cautionary tale to keep doing nothing when it comes to being a promoter or marketer of your employment brand.  That would be a mistake.

Have fun watching the Netflix joint on the Fyre Festival. Be in awe of how wrong everything went.  

Then get off your butt and start figuring out a way to market your company better.  Learn from some masters without becoming ethically challenged - or in jail.

BONUS - name 1 Ja Rule song without looking it up and I'll give you a mention on this blog and Fistful of Talent.


You Think You Have Problems? Try Retention in the Missile Technology Industry...

Short post today, but a timely one given what's going on in the world.

You have retention problems. You've got pay issues, leadership issues and Sally said something nasty to Jeff.  It's a hard-knock life.

Then, there's the missile technology industry.  

As luck would have it, I found myself on the phone on Friday with a HR manager type embedded in a division of a government contractor that produces missile technology.

Her biggest issue? Trying to convince young talent that it's OK (forget cool) to develop missile technology that is bleeding edge - and ultimately used to kill people on a weekly (if not daily) basis across the world.

As it turns out, we can all rattle the battle shields to our heart's content - this post isn't about politics. But at the end of the day, someone still has to produce the technology and innovation that keeps us a step ahead in the modern world of warfare.

According to my HR manager friend on the front lines of the missile technology industry, it's getting harder to find young technical talent that wants to work on missile technology.  Once they're in the door, it's even harder to keep them. Seems as if the drone strikes have a draining effect on this section of the talent industry, as their innovation and work contributes to a lot of death.

I'm more of a hawk than a pacifist, but in listening to her talk, it's pretty jarring to remember that there are thousands of people inside that industry that have to live with the fact that their work contributes to a lot of pain around the world. It's one thing to arm a soldier with the tools they need - you can spin that defensively as well as offensively, right?

It's a whole other thing to work on technology that's delivered in a pretty automated way and may cause civilian casualties on a routine basis based on the way targets use civilian populations as shields.

What would you tell this HR Manager?  I told her the only idea I had is to look at the recruits with low sensitivity as the best cases for retention.  Low sensitivity means low empathy, with is probably a requirement if you're going to be in the missile technology industry given everything that's going on in the world these days.

So the next time you feel grumpy about retention, just remember your peers in the missile technology industry.  


Why Don't We Headhunt People With Crappy Commutes More Than We Do?

When it comes to hard to fill positions in tough segments and industries, why don't we headhunt people with sh**ty commutes more than we do?

We all know that a bad commute can ruin someone's work life balance.  Or, attempting to live close to where you work can be cost prohibitive. Take a look at the "apartment" below in San Francisco, then read the description from TechCrunch:

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 12.48.24 PM

This windowless, kitchenless, 170-square-foot apartment for $1,200

Only in SF. Check out this teeny, tiny apartment for vampires and those who don’t require sunlight ever for $1,200 per month. Note the fine accordion doors to wall yourself off when going to the bathroom.

But even this shoebox is a hot commodity in the city. Someone likely rented the 170-square-foot space already as the Craigslist ad is now gone.

Hit the link to the article above to see 10 other living spaces that are similar. It's true that San Francisco has the biggest issues of all related to affordable housing.  But other markets have their own set of issues.

Take Atlanta. Below is an embed of a recent Instagram post I posted at 10am on a normal weekday:

That's right - no less that 7-8 wrecks in my way.  I've done a good bit of research about the ATL, and recent work that I did showed the Perimeter area (intersection of 285 and 400, top of 285 loop) as being the spot in the ATL that the highest percentage of metro residents consider a "reasonable commute".  At least until they run into the traffic I did on the day in question above.

All of this begs the question for really tough spots in metros areas with harsh traffic - why wouldn't we go the extra mile as recruiters and out of 5-10 candidates that look to have to ability to do the job, research where they currently live and work?  Once that work is done, the smart target becomes someone you can offer up a reduction of 30 minutes of one-way commute time - effectively giving them back an hour each day to live their lives.

Does it mean you still won't have to pay?  Absolutely not, but you're already going to have to pay to rip someone away from their current job in a competitive industry. 

Always be closing.


Your Leadership Team Wants Hires Only From Elite Schools - They're Wrong...

It's a dance as old as time itself. Your leadership team has opinions on talent - which is good.  They're interested.  That's a positive.

But one of the calls a lot of leadership teams make is this:

"In order to be the best, we've got to recruit from the best. We should really focus on elite schools for our key hires - Ivy and maybe a few other schools"

There are a couple of problems with that stance.  Let's list them:

  1. Your company may not be an attractive destination to graduates of elite college and university programs. Back to school
  2. The graduates of those elite programs may not be equipped or motivated to do the jobs you would place them in.
  3. Other talent, just as capable for the positions you have open, is available for reduced cost, lower retention risk and will perform as well - if not outperform the elite group.

If your leadership team has a focus on recruiting from elite schools and you have concerns, here's some help from a name your leadership team will probably recognize - McKinsey. The July 2016 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly has an article entitled "People Analytics Reveals 3 Things HR May Be Getting Wrong".  

It's a good read.  Here's what the article has to say about elite hiring at one of their clients:

"A bank in Asia had a well-worn plan for hiring: recruit the best and the brightest from the highest-regarded universities. The process was one of many put to the test when the company, which employed more than 8,000 people across 30 branches, began a major organizational restructuring. As part of the effort, the bank turned to data analytics to identify high-potential employees, map new roles, and gain greater insight into key indicators of performance.

Thirty data points aligned with five categories—demographics, branch information, performance, professional history, and tenure—were collected for each employee, using existing sources. Analytics were then applied to identify commonalities among high (and low) performers. This information, in turn, helped create profiles for employees with a higher likelihood of succeeding in particular roles.

Whereas the bank had always thought top talent came from top academic programs, for example, hard analysis revealed that the most effective employees came from a wider variety of institutions, including five specific universities and an additional three certification programs. An observable correlation was evident between certain employees who were regarded as “top performers” and those who had worked in previous roles, indicating that specific positions could serve as feeders for future highfliers. Both of these findings have since been applied in how the bank recruits, measures performance, and matches people to roles.

The results: a 26 percent increase in branch productivity (as measured by the number of full-time employees needed to support revenue) and a rate of conversion of new recruits 80 percent higher than before the changes were put in place. During the same period, net income also rose by 14 percent."

That tells you multiple things - that elite programs generally don't outperform what I'll call "the field", feeder groups into key positions are more important than we realize, and by the way, you're always going to do better recruiting the field (conversion rate) than you'll do at elite schools.

I would have loved to see the relative retention rate of the elite schools vs the field as well, but I'll take what they gave us.

Use this article to help calm down any leaders you have who only want to recruit from elite schools.  As it turns out, a lot of gold comes from schools like Kennesaw State or Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

 


The Art of Timing Submission of Your Best Candidate to Difficult Hiring Managers...

And they ask you about the game you claim you got
Drop science now, why not?
You start to sweat and fret, it gets hot
How'd you get into this spot?
You played yourself...
Yo, yo, you played yourself...
 
--Ice-T

You know where I'm going with this if you clicked through, right?

Difficult hiring managers.  Not to be confused with those who suck.  Or maybe that's the same thing - I'll let you decide that...

There's an art to dealing with difficult hiring managers that pride themselves on only agreeing to interview candidates who are a direct match to the 15 things they gave you in the intake meeting.  You know how this goes, you work hard, have a decent slate of 3-5 candidates that represents what the market is in the first 7 days - then the difficult hiring manager won't talk to any of them.

That's why you might need to change your strategy with any hiring manager who fits this profile.

Instead of giving them the full slate, hold your best candidate back from your first set of submissions.

The hiring manager who rejects everything but the perfect candidate early usually becomes more flexible later.  Once the opening moves in the 30-60 day age range, pressure to get the position filled mounts.  The same candidates that were rejected at face value early suddenly become what I'll call "possibly viable" late (also know as grudgingly viable).

If you know specific hiring managers are going to hate everyone early, don't give them everyone.  Hold your best back.

Let them cycle through the superiority complex, including the following gems:

--"This is a great job - I need a great candidate"

--"This is a unique opportunity"

--"I think we can find someone who has X, Y, K and Z.  But I really need U, N, Q and E also.  Let's keep looking"

--"I need someone in the 60K range who has all those things. These people want 75k?  Let's keep looking"

If this feels nasty, I get that. But you''re working hard as the HR pro/recruiter on the case.  Your work is good. Don't allow it to be thrown in the trashcan if you know someone is going to do that 9 of 10 times with your first round of submissions.

Let the clock tick. Let the pressure mount. Manage the expectations of the candidate you're holding like the card that gives you the full house.

Then at the right moment, put the candidate/card down.

#winning

 

 


Asking for Salary Info: Your Latest Rundown of Which States/Cities Have Bans

Ok, kids - we're up to 10 states and 8 municipalities that have outlawed/banned asking candidates questions about pay history.

That's a lot.  Kind of sneaks up on you.

The laws are aimed at ending the cycle of pay discrimination and some go further than merely banning pay history questions. A few also prohibit an employer from relying on an applicant's pay history to set compensation if discovered or volunteered; others prohibit an employer from taking disciplinary action against employees who discuss pay with coworkers.

The best running updated list is found here - at HRdive.  Go check it out.

h/t to Jason Cimno at Kinetix for sharing the resource!