Fast. Cheap. Good.


handshake

Used to be that when you started a new job, you’d get training, advice, a “break-in” period of three, four, maybe even six months.

Not anymore. You’re expected to hit the ground running, and fast. Start producing. You’ll be expected to deliver something sooner than you might expect or have thought. So, remember this:Done is Better Than Perfect.”

Deliver. Something.

You’ll be afforded the opportunity to fix it and fix it you will. I’m not suggesting that you settle or lower your standards, but focus on what’s important to the company. Your new company may be a very agile and nimble organization. Speed may be more important than perfect. Get something out there and fix it later.

And remember Stephen Covey’s fifth habit of highly effective people when trying to determine where to focus your efforts. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen first and completely before responding. Listening may be the greatest skill you’ll use in your first weeks on the new job. This will help to focus so you can deliver.

I coached someone who started a new job. They were singularly focused on fast and needed to focus on best. They became successful when they focused on doing their best within the time parameters. As you figure out how and where to put in your best effort on the new job, remember this: Fast, Cheap, Good — pick any two. You can’t have all three.

Except pizza. Pizza is the only thing that is all three.pizza

Needle in a Haystack

haystack I keep hearing this radio ad for a recruiting service that compares staffing to looking for a needle in a haystack. Y’know, with a rake and a really strong magnet, that really isn’t so hard. You want to know what’s hard? Looking for a needle in a sewing store. That’s the challenge in staffing today. Imagine going into a sewing store (if such a thing even exists today) and looking for a needle. But not just any needle, just the right needle. The exact one you want and need. That’s staffing today.

Because when you post that job looking for a needle, you’re not going get applications from a lot of hay. You’re going to get applications from a lot of needles. Needles of different lengths, different thicknesses,  and different degrees of pointy-ness. Needles for hand-sewing and needles for machines. The choices are endless. That’s staffing today. You’re going to get hundreds of applicants, all needles. Unless you’ve taken the time before you posted that job to clearly define exactly what you need, you’ve just made your job a whole lot tougher.

Too many people complain about the difficulty in finding the right candidates. Especially now when the unemployment rate is low. Doing the hard job of defining your needs before you post that job is the key to cutting through all that hay to find the needle. Or marching into a sewing store and picking up just the right needle from all the ones inside.

Cause finding a needle in a haystack really isn’t that hard. See if you can find this one.

Needle haystack

Don’t Blame Indeed!

IndeedNow every applicant knows that when an organization posts a job online they include a title, position description, required skills and then some verbiage about being an equal opportunity employer and a few words about their compensation and benefits package.

What you don’t often see are the keywords the recruiter uses to make sure that the posting winds up in the right searches done by applicants and will be used as part of the connect the dots algorithms used by their applicant tracking system to determine which resumes actually get past the ATS and into the inbox of a real live recruiter who will then spend 20 to 30 seconds scanning each resume until people are selected to be interviewed.

Some of the people with whom I’ve worked are frustrated by the job boards because they seem so indiscriminate in which jobs wind up in the person’s search. “How on earth did this nursing supervisor job show up when I’m looking for an Asset Manager position in a bank? These job boards stink! They’ll just throw anything at you and hope you’ll apply. They’re a waste of my time!”

Job search

I understand the frustration, I really do, but it’s not always the job site’s fault. People choose the keywords that will be used to make a match between posting and applicant, and sometimes this is done in a very slipshod, scattershot manner.

Below is an example of one I just found. These are the keywords that a recruiter used to attract applicants for an entry-level position in the marketing department. As you can see the recruiter included just about everything short of “must have a pulse.” They did include “Executive Vice President” and “HS graduate.” I will grant you that most EVP’s have graduated high school, but this is the reason many of your search results are filled with inappropriate postings. It’s because some recruiters aren’t doing their jobs well enough to properly serve their organizations by developing a list of keywords truly reflective of the kind of person they seek. It’s easier to just slug in this all-inclusive “must be able to enter the building without getting trapped in revolving door” list they developed and possibly use for every job they post.

The upshot is then I hear from recruiters that they aren’t getting the right stream of candidates in their pipeline and it’s so hard to fill positions. This is probably one more reason that LinkedIn is becoming so much more popular as a source.

The final irony is that the list below came from a posting from a management consulting firm. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit back if you plan to read through the entire list. And please share your comments, frustrations or horror stories. We need to do something to halt this spreading epidemic of sloppy recruiting.
Only the best,
RonHiringhuman resources, recruiting, entry level assistant, marketing, sales, entry level marketing, marketing management, director of sales, director of sales promos, director of sales promotions, distribution sales manager, district sales manager, field rep, sales rep, marketing rep, field representative, field sales engineer, floor supervisor, independent consultant, inside sales, inside sales rep, inside sales representative, international sales account manager, internet sales manager, major, account exec, marketing and sales account executive, marketing account manager, major account rep, major, account representative, manufacturers rep, manufacturers sales representative, market research, marketing, medical sales, merchandize manager, national account manager, national sales manager, national sales rep, national sales representative, point of sale supervisor, product sales manager, quote clerk, regional sales manager, sales & marketing, sales & marketing admin, sales & marketing administrator. sales & marketing director, sales & marketing manager, sales account manager, sales administrator, sales analyst, sales and marketing, sales and marketing admin, entry level, sales, marketing, customer service, advertising, clients, sports, , sports marketing, full time, part time, internships, interns, college, sports, restaurant, hospitality, retail, cashier, server, promotional sales, public relations, client relations, clients, advertising, restaurant, mass communications, business administration, recruiter, internships, interns, college graduates, retail, sales, promotional sales, other. marketing, events, promotions, sales, customer service, public relations, retail restaurant, account executive, account exec, account representative, account rep, account manager, account management, sales rep, sales representative, sales exec, sales executive, field sales, ad sales, marketing sales, promotional sales, publishing sales, mortgage sales, loan sales, loan officer, inside sales, outside sales, direct sales, sales professional, sales associate, telemarketing, cold caller, cold calling, salesman, saleswoman, salesperson Marketing, Promotions, Sports, , Sales, Customer Service, Public Relations, Human Resources, Entry Level, Career Builder related words: Sales, Customer Service, Manager, Management, Manage, Marketing, Management, Administrative, Administrative Assistant, Human Resources, Receptionist, Entry Level, , Customer Service, Assistant, Advertising, Supervisor, Public Relations, Office, Payroll, Admin, Training, Human Resources, Operations, Office Manager, General, Executive, Vice President, Sales, Manager, All, Recruiter, Entrepreneur, PR, P.R., Advertising, C Marketing Management, Entry Level Management, Entry-Level Management, Entry Level Sales, Entry-Level Sales, Entry Level Marketing, Entry-Level Marketing, Entry Level College Grad, Entry-Level College Grad Training, General, Sales, Manager, All, Recruiter, Entrepreneur, PR, P.R., Advertising, Inventory, Internship, Entry-Level, College Graduate, College Grad, High School Graduate, High-School Graduate, High School Grad, Marketing Management, Entry Level Management, Entry-Level Management, Entry Level Sales, Entry-Level Sales, Entry Level Marketing, Entry-Level Marketing, Entry Level College Grad, Entry-Level College Graduate Sales techniques Leading, coaching & motivating Business administration Human resource management Public relations Finance Advertising Public speaking Restaurant, retail, hotel experience, retail management, hospitality degree, hospitality experience, resort, hotel, motel management, server, hostess, host, cook, front of the house, back of the house experience, waitress, waiter, serving customers, retail sales associate, retail account manager, retail manager, retail assistant manager, hotel manager, hotel assistant manager, restaurant supervisor, restaurant assistant manager, restaurant manager, food industry, wine representative, restaurant owner, part time retail, part time hotel, valet, valet supervisor, valet manager Entry level sales Entry level sales person Entry level sales rep Outside sales Entry level outside sales rep Outside sales rep Sales and marketing Team player Sales Entry level sales and mktg Sports-oriented Help wanted New grad Part-time Full-time business experience, business administration, small business administration, degree business administration, master business administration, management business administration, business administration bachelor, office business, small business, business restaurant, marketing business, international business, business sales development, management small business, global business, business sales marketing, marketing management business, marketing business opportunity, marketing business development, marketing advertising business, business in New Jersey, New Jersey businesses, business management skills, business manager, professional development, business to business management, business development manager career, business consulting manager, management, entrepreneur, entry level management, supervisor, coach, leader, consultant, consulting for businesses, management consulting, supervising businesses, business and communication management, Customer care, sales, entry level sales, customer relations, customer acquisition, customer conversion, customer response, customer renewal, customer retention, customer research, customer response, customer effectiveness, face to face service to customers, customer satisfaction, restaurant management, restaurant service, marketing and sales, services in hospitality, customer service evaluation, customer loyalty, customer service advisor, customer service analyst, customer service associate, customer service consultant, customer relationship advisor, customer relationship management, marketing research, marketing programs, promotional marketing, marketing management, businesspeople

 

Focus on Ability

I can’t program. I can’t code. I’m impatient with bureaucracy and hypocrisy. I get bored doing the same thing all day everyday.

If a recruiter only looked at the things I don’t do well, I’d never get hired to do anything.

Fortunately I’ve had the good fortune to meet people who looked beyond what I couldn’t do to focus on what I could do (Thank you Pat Licata) and what I do well. EY is taking an innovative approach to filling jobs that are hard to fill by accessing a frequently overlooked group who are particularly well-suited for this function. As reported in Workforce magazine they’ve piloted the EY Neurodiversity Program in their Philadelphia office, hiring individuals with high functioning autism to fill jobs that require the ability to compile and analyze data. Focusing on a specific and possibly repetitive task would drive someone like me crazy but these individuals are particularly talented at crunching the numbers, recognizing patterns and paying close attention to detail.

By looking at what this group of talented individuals do well, they’re able to fill these jobs with employees more likely to stay in them than job hop and fill a need that others might find less fulfilling. More organizations need to follow EY’s lead and tap into a vastly underemployed  population of talented people with disabilities. The way to do this is to focus on what people can do and not what they can’t.

numbers

People make a difference

airline seatMore and more it seems that the more you pay the less you get. On a recent flight, if I wanted to pick my seat before I arrived at the airport on the day of the flight, there was an additional charge. I’m not talking about getting an upgrade or extra legroom; I’m just talking about picking a seat. Really? It sure seemed like coercion. “Oh, yes, you’re paying to get on our plane but without a few more dollars we get to decide where you’re going to sit. How about row 39, middle seat?” Now it all turned out okay and it was a lovely flight but not because of the airline. It was because of the people.

flight attendantsWhen you get right down to it, whether it’s Delta, American, United or any other airline, the plane is pretty much the same. What differentiates one airline from another is the people, the service you get on board and at the gate. That’s why so many people are fans of Southwest. Some Southwest patrons actually look forward to their flights!

Sam Walton famously said, “Treat your employees the way you’d like them to treat your best customers.” Okay, that may have been a long time ago and I know that Wal-Mart has made the news lately over the way their employees are treated at some locations. But let’s look at the underlying philosophy.

Employees look to their managers and leaders as role models for how to behave. What are you showing to your employees? We’re no longer in a manufacturing or agricultural economy. Everything today is about customer service and information. Bill Gates said, “Whoever has the best information, wins.” I believe that the best service wins, assuming that everything else, like which plane you’re on, is relatively equal. Every person in your organization must be a superior customer service representative of your company. I’ve heard people in some functions say, “I’m not customer facing.” Here are two things I know. One, if your employees aren’t serving the customer, they’re serving someone who is. Two, if employees are not giving good service to their customers, internal or external, then your external customers will go elsewhere to get the service they want.

Just about everyone has heard, at one time or other, some senior leader pontificate that, “People are our most important asset.” It’s been repeated so often it’s become a bitter punch line in some organizations. But people really are the key differentiator between you and your competition. The companies that find, retain and develop the best people are the ones who reap the greatest profitability per employee. Companies need to invest in developing their people rather than spending their resources on churning through staff. When I was a recruiting manager, I never complained about filling a position. I did get annoyed at having to fill it repeatedly because the manager had driven away another good employee.

Training managers in how to treat their people is one of the best investments an organization can make. The organization will save on staffing and training because your managers won’t just be managers.  As they model the behavior they want staff to demonstrate, they’ll also be trainers developing their people. And that’s where it all begins and ends.

They Replaced Horses

That was the lead in this column by Eduardo Porter in the New York Times. Thirty-five years ago people debated whether machines, technology, would ever replace humans in the workforce. Many respected economists dismissed the idea until the great economist Wassily Leontief made his analogy regarding equines.

The rest of the very interesting column discussed universal income and other aspects of the economy. I kept thinking about jobs.

work-horsesBecause horses were replaced. Their jobs went away. And they never came back. Oh sure, there are a few horses still in use today. Under two million, down from over 20 million at the time when the automobile and the tractor pretty much put them out to pasture. Over 90% of their jobs went away in the span of just a few decades.

Sound familiar?

What we need to learn from our hard-working, four-legged co-workers is that when jobs go away, whether it’s because technology has automated the work or the demand for a product shrinks, those jobs aren’t coming back. So you have a choice. You can hang on dearly hoping that somehow you won’t be affected (you will be), you can mourn the fact that your job no longer exists (you won’t bring it back) or you can adapt.

You’ve really no choice but to adapt. Figure out what you will do next. Because as certain jobs exit, others come along and replace them. There are no SEO specialists with 20 years experience. Ten years ago no one had a job monitoring tweets. The skills, the people required for those jobs were found in other industries and were adapted to the needs of these new functions. The people who filled these newly created jobs were the ones willing to adapt rather than mourn what was lost. And they’ll have the last laugh.

laughing horse-head

 

My Journey to the Top

Mt EverestI saw a blogpost recently titled, “Your Career Path Isn’t a Straight Line – So Stop Getting Upset When Things Don’t Go as Planned.”  In the post it said that, “Careers these days aren’t so much about climbing the ladder, but about bouncing around a jungle gym.” I like the image and another idea in the post stating that it’s okay that the path isn’t straight or even always appearing to be headed in the right direction. Often it’s when we veer off the obvious path that we learn new things, experience obstacles and develop the GRIT to overcome them.

I spent my twenties working at a non-profit arts organization, making very little money but gaining incredible managerial experience. When I shifted into human resources and started my career in Corporate America, lots of those lessons were both applicable and helpful.

When I was promoted during my first year on the Corporate job, of course the first thing I did was call my wife to tell her the good news. And the first thing she did was call her mother to prove that marrying me hadn’t been a colossal mistake. Her mother’s response was, “If only he hadn’t wasted all those years in non-profit just think of where he could be today.” My quick-thinking and brilliant wife replied, “If he hadn’t spent all those years in non-profit getting valuable experience he never would have gotten this opportunity in the first place.” I’m a very lucky man.

The takeaway is that there is no wasted experience. Take the opportunity that’s in front of you. See where is leads. Be prepared to meander, just remember what your ultimate goal is and where you think you want to be someday.  There are 18 named routes to the top of Mount Everest and several others that are as yet unnamed and unclimbed. Maybe you’ll forge your own path. Maybe you’ll follow in the well-worn footsteps of others. Either way, my advice is to take some chances and enjoy the journey.

 

Employees with GRIT

sandpaperI saw a piece in CLO magazine about grit. That companies want people with grit. People who’ve been able to make it through tough times. The article defined grit as passion and perseverance with long-term goals. Now that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue for me. I like acronyms. So here’s what grit means to me.

Goals, Resilience, Insistence, Tenacity.

Goals: you have to know what you’re working toward. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t have a goal, how will you know when you’ve arrived?” It’s pretty tough working toward an ambiguous, amorphous goal. You have to define, and if you’re a manager define for others, what it is you’re working towards.

Resilience: this, in my opinion, is the key difference between success and failure. You will have setbacks. It’s how you deal with them that sets you apart and will make you successful. Sheila Wellington said it best. “It’s not how far you fall, it’s how high you bounce.”

Insistence: everyone else says it can’t be done and you keep going. A belief and a willingness to go in the direction you believe in spite of the naysayers. A saying attributed to George Bernard Shaw says, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” People with grit get things done.

Tenacity: stick with it. If resilience is bouncing back from adversity, then tenacity is the toughness to keep slogging along because you believe in your goal. Oprah Winfrey said, “Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.” I promise it won’t always be easy, but people with grit keep going.

So I’ll agree with the author, I like employees with GRIT, especially resilience. Because if you’ve never come up against any resistance, you’ll never know exactly how much you can achieve,

Ignoring Sadie will cost your company money

Today is February 29th, Leap Day! There’s all sorts of superstitions, traditions and myths around February 29th and one anachronism hanging around from (take your pick) the 5th, 12th, 19th or early 20th century is a phenomenon that’s come to be known as Sadie Hawkins Day.

For those of you unfamiliar with Sadie, she was alleged to be the homeliest girl in the lilabnerfictional town of Dogpatch but it was determined that on one day of the year (here’s where the legends and myths collide) she was allowed to propose to an eligible bachelor and he couldn’t refuse. It was so successful for Sadie that it was decided that this would become a regular event for all single women in Dogpatch. And I guess to protect the single gents that day was set as February 29th so it would only occur once every four years.

So what’s all this got to do with HR? Well, the way the men in Dogpatch treated Sadie  reminds me of how many eligible corporations today treat candidates. Sadie had a lovely personality, was strong and fast and although she was over a certain age (the ugly word “spinster” was tossed around) she was, I presume, absolutely capable of fulfilling all the necessary requirements of a spouse. Think of all the candidates who have lots of business knowledge, pleasant personalities, loads of experience and are ignored by companies because of their age or some other reason that has nothing to do with the work to be done. And yes, this happens more to women over a certain age than men.

Ageism and sexism run rampant in today’s workplace despite decades of legislation. Too many companies seem to want the newer, younger models. Well, that’s fine if you insist on that. Just be prepared to pay more and fight harder to get and keep them. The Millennials are the largest generation since the Boomers to enter the workforce, but they can’t make up for the number of boomers leaving the workforce and the fact that Gen X fell far short in terms of the number of people in the workforce.

Graying boomers (and soon X’ers) will be staying in the workforce a lot longer by choice or need. Companies ignore them at their peril.

Happy Sadie Hawkins Day.

Updates are available

I got a reminder to update my phone last week. Wouldn’t it be great if we all updated our updates imageresumes as often as we update our phones? Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app to remind us to do this every couple of months, or whenever we complete a new project that warrants inclusion?

We’re all tied to our mobile devices. The need to run the most up-to-date software or version is obvious. So why don’t we make the same effort to keep our resumes in the most up-to-date version. Usually it’s because we don’t think about updating our resume until we need it. It’s the same with our networks. Most of us don’t invest the time into keeping our network of contacts fresh and current until we need them.

And then it’s often too late.

Now I’ve been known to say, “It’s never too late to start doing better.” and that’s the good news. You can start doing a better job at both these critical tasks. The truth is that you always need an updated resume because you never know when you’re going to be the one invited into the conference room or your manager’s office and told that your employment status with the organization has changed, the organization’s going in a different direction, there’s been a restructuring of the internal workforce and we’re going to be eliminating redundancies. However they put it, now you know it’s time to dust off the old resume and start networking.

If you go to your laptop, open the most recent copy of your resume and get a message that it’s in an older version of your word processing software, that’s the first sign that you’ve overlooked keeping the resume up to date. The longer you wait, the harder it is to update the resume. It’s easy to forget projects you’ve completed and the quantifiable results you produced.

Updating your resume is something many people have on their To Do lists and it’s usually the one that falls to the bottom of the queue or right off the page. Here’s your reminder. Update your resume before the end of next weekend. Make a call or two to a network contact you haven’t spoken with in the past month (or six!). Keep your network and your resume current. You never know when you’re going to need them.