Friday, December 14, 2007

Becoming a Better Recruiter

Today's article is only fitting, as our office finished our Annual Reviews and Business Plans for 2008 yesterday. Lou Adler, CEO of the Adler Group, and have highlighted some areas for recruiters and hiring managers to focus on in the new year. While some of these mirror my own goals and objectives, I found the article to be overall very valuable, and therefore worth sharing with you. While I usually do not try to post multiple times in one day, I couldn't help myself. So enjoy the double dose...

The One Single Thing You Must Do to Become a Better Recruiter in 2008
Make the effort to hire top talent
12/14/2007 by Lou Adler
The Adler Group

This article describes the most important factor involved in individual-recruiter success. From my personal dealings with over 2,500 corporate and third-party recruiters in the last five years, it seems that only 10-15% of recruiters develop this to improve their overall performance. In the past year, I've written a number of articles about the importance of applicant control and understanding real job needs, and, while these are vitally important, they are far less effective without this third factor in place.

But first, a little background.

We're almost finished with our annual Recruiting and Hiring Challenges Survey for 2008. (There's still a short time for you to participate. Here's the link to take the survey.) While there were many problems highlighted, including handling too many requisitions, the lack of effective technology, and the declining effectiveness of job boards, five problems were ranked by nearly everyone as significant or of huge concern. Since more than 600 recruiters participated from corporations and independent recruiting firms, these results can be considered statistically relevant.

The one problem that stood out from everyone else was predictable: 96% of the respondents indicated that they were not seeing enough strong candidates for important positions, and 78% said that this was a growing problem of major concern or a huge current problem. Better sourcing will not solve the root cause problem; it will just mask it. The underlying challenge, and the most important factor involved in making more placements, is highlighted by the responses to four other questions. As you'll see, they all involved problems with hiring managers.
Survey participants were asked to rank each of the problems described below on a five-level degree-of-concern basis, from "Not a Problem" to "A Huge Problem."

Hiring managers are not willing to devote the time necessary to recruit top people. Eighty-two percent of the respondents indicated this was a significant problem, with 60% considering it a major growing problem or a huge current problem. Although recruiters can't convince hiring managers to spend more time here or to take time to recruit the best, this message is important to get across somehow.

Hiring managers are not strong at assessing candidate competency. It's hard enough finding good candidates, but when 85% of the respondents indicate that this is a major problem, and 60% indicate that it's growing or it's a huge problem now, recruiters are just spinning their wheels. This is the primary reason why new sourcing programs aren't the universal solutions to a company's hiring challenges.

Managers overvalue skills, experience, and academics before seeing candidates. Unfortunately, most managers refuse to consider great candidates who have comparable, but not identical, skills, or have achieved success in a different industry or field. Eighty-four percent of survey participants said that their managers were unwilling to bend their specifications despite major sourcing challenges, and that this problem was getting worse or it was already huge.

Managers are not strong at recruiting top people. For a variety of reasons, top people don't want to work for managers who aren't strong leaders and potential mentors, so this is a problem that isn't going to go away without some type of high-level intervention. An unbelievable 87% of those taking the survey considered this to be a problem they were currently facing, and while a few from this group indicated it was manageable, 63% indicated it was worsening or it was already affecting their ability to meet their recruiting targets.
Effectively coaching, developing, and guiding hiring managers in a declining-supply-and-growing-demand recruiting environment is essential if companies ever expect to meet their hiring needs for new talent. This is the single most important factor preventing companies from hiring more top talent. However, from what I can tell, HR and recruiting executives are afraid to tackle this problem head-on.

While training recruiters can help a bit, and developing a series of creative new sourcing programs can help a bit more, nothing will overcome the bottleneck imposed by hiring managers' attitudes and their inability to attract the best. With this in mind, here are some ideas you might want to ponder:

Build a team of great recruiters. Great recruiters can offset some of the deficiencies in hiring managers. If you're a recruiting manager, here's a unique 10-factor, self-evaluation scorecard you should have all your recruiters take. This will allow you to compare your team across 10 competencies we've found to be the most predictive of top recruiter performance. If you are a recruiter, you're invited to evaluate yourself, but reduce your final score by 20% for a true reading. (There's always grade inflation in any self-evaluation.)

Recruiters need to be partners, not vendors. Recruiters who become partners with their hiring-manager clients have the ability to minimize some of the hiring-manager recruiting weaknesses. One aspect of becoming a partner involves having real job knowledge beyond the job description. This is one of the reasons recruiters who have performed the job they're now recruiting for have more credibility with hiring managers and candidates alike. Preparing a performance profile with the hiring manager when the assignment is taken can help the recruiter better understand real job needs. You might need to talk with a strong person currently in the job to better understand what it takes to be a top performer before you discuss the job with your hiring-manager client. Hiring managers trust recruiters when they understand the real work required for on-the-job success.

Clarify performance expectations up-front. As far as I'm concerned, HR is remiss in not requiring hiring managers to prepare something like a performance profile to get a requisition approved. When managers know real job needs, they come across to candidates as more insightful and knowledgeable during the interview. All managers, even the weak ones, seem better when they can describe real job needs to candidates. Managers also are more likely to see a candidate who has achieved comparable results even if he or she is a little light on the qualifications. Clarifying expectations up-front has been shown to be the primary determinant of job satisfaction and improved on-the-job performance. The use of performance profiles also enables a company to integrate its hiring, on-boarding, and performance-management process into one common system.

Conduct more panel interviews. A well-conducted panel interview can help hiring managers who are weak interviewers more accurately assess competency. As long as the panelists don't stomp all over each other or overtly challenge the interviewee, most candidates find panel interviews appealing and appropriate. Panel interviews can also be used to mask some hiring manager deficiencies as long as there is another strong leader on the panel. This is a real aid in recruiting.

Train managers on how to recruit. Talking and selling don't constitute recruiting. Most managers don't know how to recruit, but sadly, many recruiters fall into this same boat. Regardless, managers need to learn how to use solution selling and needs analysis to position their open opportunities as far superior to any others the candidate is considering.
Use an evidence-based assessment process. In too many companies, the interview assessment is akin to a popularity contest based on an archaic yes-or-no voting system. The hiring decision should be based on a deliberative evidence-sharing process. This is particularly important when unskilled managers are given full voting rights or base their decisions on a narrow range of competencies. This change alone will prevent many good people from being excluded due to a weak assessment process.

Any new sourcing program that is implemented to meet the hiring demands of the future will be far less effective than possible unless the problems associated with hiring managers are addressed first. While recruiters can be of some assistance here, leadership at the HR-executive level is required to change the outdated and clumsy recruiting, interviewing, and assessment processes used by most companies.

Companies with great brands and compelling stories will always be able to attract the best. For everyone else, the solutions require creativity, leadership, and hard work. The effort is all worth it if hiring top talent is considered a major strategic objective.

Positions Update

With 2007 coming to a close in a few short weeks, our recruiting team is still working full throttle to identify and recruit top talent for a variety of positions. Current needs include:

- Regional Commercial Sales Manager
- Director of Merchandising
- Manager, Forecasting & Planning
- Merchandiser
- Director of Production Services
- General Manager
- Branch Manager
- Area Manager
- Director of Marketing
- Director of Product Development

Please give me a call if you would like to discuss any of the opportunities and do not hesitate to pass along my information, should you know of someone that would be a strong fit for one of these positions.

Have a great weekend -

Friday, December 7, 2007

Industry Experience vs. Lifetime Accomplishments

As this Friday afternoon comes to a close and I do my best to clean out my email inbox, I read this article from and Brian Mullins that I found to be insightful and thought-provoking. While some of you may disagree with his strategy, Brian Mullins believes in targeting and hiring individuals who have accomplished one or two amazing accomplishments over average industry professionals. While I like his line of thinking, I haven't come to a conclusion yet. Enjoy today's article and let me know what you think -

Hire People Who Accomplished Something Amazing
For sales and other jobs, look for winners, in any aspect of their lives
12/7/2007 by Brian Mullins

Let's say you are looking for a sales executive to fill a position in your software company. Candidate A has a lot of contacts in your industry and has three years of software sales experience. Candidate B set the school record for the 5,000-meter run at her college. Which one do you hire? Unless Candidate A can show me a six-figure W-2 from his previous employer, I'll take my chances with Candidate B every time.

In his famous 17th century text, A Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi discusses how to become a great swordsman. He emphasizes the discipline, sacrifice, and practice involved in mastering this art. After a student spends years practicing and eventually mastering every nuance of sword fighting, he is said to "know the way broadly." The author says, "If you know the way broadly you will see it in everything." Meaning, if someone can learn the discipline it takes to be very successful at one thing, he can apply this success formula to other pursuits in his life. The bottom line is: People who are very successful at one thing in their lives usually find a way to continue on this successful journey.

So, how do the ideas in this 400-year-old book about sword fighting help us hire better salespeople? Very easily: Always start by looking for the success factor in a sales candidate.

When I was running a high-performing, multimillion-dollar sales team, I often relied on my managers to conduct the initial interviews with new sales executives. It would have been impossible for me to conduct every first interview and still help 30 sales executives close business. Unfortunately, I found myself in many unnecessary and time-wasting second interviews. When I questioned my sales managers on why they decided to ask these candidates back for second meetings, I received various responses: "She has a background in advertising sales," or "He said he has a ton of contacts," or "She really knows this industry very well," and so on.

I did a poor job communicating to my sales managers what I was looking for in a sales candidate: a history of success. I could train a motivated person with a winning personality on how to follow our proven sales process. We could teach somebody the buzzwords of a particular industry. We could provide a new hire with sales leads; old stale personal contacts are rarely a good thing. What I couldn't do is teach somebody with a track record of mediocrity how to magically become motivated, disciplined, and ultimately successful. Bob Baffert is one of the most famous racehorse trainers in the country, but even he couldn't train a donkey to win the Kentucky Derby. I was getting a lot of second interviews with donkeys.

The breakthrough in our hiring process came when I met with all of the managers and told them why I hired each one of them. I didn't need to go back and reference their resumes. I knew their accomplishments off the top of my head. They all had accomplished something extraordinary in their lives. "Steve, I hired you because you played four years of Division I football, and you successfully ran your own insurance agency. Tom, I hired you because you sold $1.5 million worth of computer hardware for XYZ company and made over $100,000 your first two years out of college. Bill, I hired you because you were a national debate champion in college."

They all got it. I explained to my managers that they were all hired because they had at least one (and usually two or three) amazing accomplishments on their resumes. They were very successful before they walked in the door, and that is why they were successful here. I then told them, "Before you ask a candidate to come in for a first interview, you need to identify at least one very successful experience in his or her life. Don't focus on activities or leadership positions. Look for amazing individual performance at something. Anything. Sports, arts, music, business." I explained that the best way to predict success in this job was to hire somebody who has already proven to be successful at something else.

So, we developed a routine. Anytime I was asked to conduct a second interview, I would ask the sales manager, "Why am I meeting this person?" To which the sales manager would reply, "Because she was successful at..."

This process revolutionized our success rate with new hires. And, the sales managers enjoyed the process more because there was less subjectivity in the screening method. They were able to objectively look at a resume and interview a candidate with one goal: identify if this person has been very successful at something. Yes = second interview. No = best of luck.

This doesn't always work. I hired my fair share of wrestling champions and concert cellists who were lousy salespeople. However, if you continuously look for candidates who "know the way broadly" and focus less time on recruiting mediocre performers with great industry experience, you will absolutely develop a higher-performing sales team.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Passive Candidates

I received an article not too long ago from Weddle"s Newsletter that I thought some of you hiring managers might find of particular interest. (You can subscribe to this newsletter by emailing Weddle's with the email address enclosed at the end of the article) Today's market is highly competitive and many of the best candidates are not searching for a new opportunity. As such, I wanted to share some information regarding passive candidates with you. Without further ramblings, enjoy today's posting!

Feature: Why Recruit Passives?

Put 100 recruiters in a room and ask them to identify the best talent in the workforce, and 99 will point to passive job seekers. The problem, of course, is that passive job seekers aren't job seekers at all. At best, they are prospects. They don't act like active job seekers, nor are they motivated in the same way. More often than not, they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into our recruiting processes. And then, they have to be persuaded and cajoled into even considering our openings. In short, they are a colossal pain in the neck to recruit. So, it's appropriate to ask why even bother with them? Why not focus on people who really do want to come to work for our employers?

While acknowledging just how difficult passive prospects can be, I think we must not only recruit them, we must make them our priority. Why? There are at least four reasons.

First, passive prospects represent the majority of talent in the workforce.
A recent survey sponsored by Yahoo! reached over 3,700 people aged 18-64. It found that just 17% of the population-fewer that one-out-of-five people-were actively seeking a job. This finding correlates well with an earlier study attributed to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It found that just 16% of the population were active job seekers. In other words, somewhere between 83% and 84% of American workers are passive prospects. There are four times as many of them as there are candidates proactively applying for our openings.

Second, passive prospects generally represent a higher caliber of talent.
Are active job seekers also qualified? Of course. But passive prospects are passive largely because they are already employed and, therefore, presumably making an acceptable or better contribution to their employers. Data collected by the Yahoo! survey tend to support this view. It found that the average experience level of passive prospects was 18.4 years, with over half reporting more than 20 years in the workplace. The average for active job seekers, in contrast, was 14.9 years of experience, with slightly more than a third reporting more than 20 years on-the-job. In addition, if pay is a measure of a person's perceived value to an enterprise, then passive job seekers are viewed as significantly greater contributors. The average annual salary for passive prospects is $66,100, while the average for active job seekers is over 10% lower at $54,583.

Third, passive prospects make more stable employees.
The attrition rate of passive prospects is lower than that of active job seekers. Said another way, active job seekers tend to be active more often than passive prospects. According to the Yahoo! survey, those who described themselves as "passive" changed jobs every 5-10 years, while those who self-identified as active job seekers were switching employers every 2-5 years. As a result, employers have longer to reap a meaningful return on their investment in the higher quality talent delivered by passive prospects.

Regardless of your measure of merit-availability, quality or loyalty-passive prospects are the better candidates, even if they are difficult to recruit. Which begs the question, what is the best way to turn them into active passive prospects? Since most passive prospects will elect to make a career enhancing move from time-to-time, the key is to mirror their behaviors when they do. Here again, the Yahoo! survey provides some interesting insights that run counter to some of today's conventional wisdom.

According to the passive prospects in the survey, when they do decide to look for a job, they will use the following resources or methods:
· Local newspaper (cited by 56%)
· National job board (cited by 41%)
· Local newspaper Web-site (cited by 37%)
· Phone or in-person networking (cited by 36%)
· Professional/industry Web-site/publication (cited by 26%)
· Corporate Web-site (cited by 25%)
· Search engine (cited by 25%)

This list of resources and methods is clearly imperfect. While there were other answers that respondents could pick, the total set was incomplete and unbalanced. It ignored, for example, niche job boards altogether, while it listed the local newspaper and the local newspaper's Web-site separately, but combined professional/industry Web-sites and publications into a single answer. Be that as it may, however, the findings do offer at least two interesting insights.

1. The mix of resources and methods selected by passive prospects is not the same as that identified by the active job seekers in the survey. In other words, passive prospects "shop" for employers in a very different way than do active job seekers. For example, almost three quarters of active job seekers (74%) would use a job board compared to 41% of the passive prospects who would. Does that mean, it's not worth using job boards for passive prospects? Of course not. If passives make up 83% of the workforce, then 41% of that population is still three times the size of the active job seekers group. The secret is in knowing which job boards passive are most likely to use and how to write a job posting that will overcome their inherent reluctance to move.

2. Contrary to what we may assume, the media choices among passive prospects cut across generational lines. For example, a startling 56% of Millennials said they intend to use their local newspaper when they decide to look for a new or better job. In fact, the local newspaper was their second most cited resource, trailing only job boards. No less important, at least some of the Millennials and many of the other passive prospects are also likely to use the media they selected for job search when they aren't looking for a job. That habit makes career portals (job boards that support career advancement as well as job search), newspapers, professional sites and publications and search engines effective platforms for brand as well as recruitment advertising. They are the perfect place to promote the value proposition of your organization as an employer so that when passive prospects decide to become active, it is already top of mind and pre-sold.

Passive prospects may be a pain in the neck, but they are also a powerful source of talent for your organization. If your tailor your sourcing strategy to their behavior when they do decide to look for a job, you'll likely reduce the pain and enhance the yield you recruit.
Thanks for reading,Peter

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P.S.S. Don't forget to send us your new e-mail address if you move. Lots of people are changing jobs these days, and we want to be sure you still have the information in WEDDLE's to help you perform at your peak. All you have to do to keep your WEDDLE's newsletter coming is send your change of address to

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Phone Interview

It's a crisp morning here in Charlotte and it dawned on me during my commute that I have neglected to keep you informed. Between traveling for Thanksgiving and all the planning my wife and I have been doing for our little man due in April, I have lost focus and I apologize.

Today's posting from Barbara Safani, courtesy of, highlights ten tips all candidates should consider when preparing for a phone interview. I like this article because the tips Barbara recommends are one's I suggest to candidates when prepping them for their interviews we have scheduled. While not comprehensive of everything one should consider, this provides a great foundation from which to plan you upcoming interview. Enjoy today's posting, and please let me know if you have any personal tips you have found helpful, as I will share them.

Ten Tips for Mastering the Phone Interview
By Barbara Safani

Phone interviews are becoming more and more common as companies gain greater access to candidates and as more recruiters and hiring managers work from virtual office locations. On the positive side, with a phone interview you don’t have to worry about having your suit pressed, and you can have your notes right in front of you. On the flip side, it’s much more difficult to establish rapport and get a read on the hiring manager during a phone conversation.

Below are 10 tips to get the most out of your phone interviews.

1. Schedule the meeting during a time when you won’t be distracted. A phone interview should be scheduled like any other interview. At the designated appointment time, be sure the dog is in the backyard and someone else is watching the kids. Don’t add additional hassle to an already stressful situation. If a recruiter or hiring manager calls you without advance notice and wants to interview you on the spot, use caution. If the interview "conditions" are not optimal at the time of the call, it’s best to tell the interviewer that you are very interested in the position, but need to schedule another time to have a conversation. That time can be as soon as ten minutes later if that works for you -- just make sure that you can take the call without being distracted.

2. Conduct interviews from a landline. Cell phones are a boon to modern communication, but the quality is still not the same as that from a land line. The last thing you want to do is frustrate the recruiter or hiring manager with a bad connection. Using a cell phone means you have a greater chance of getting distracted by multi-tasking when your attention should be completely focused on the interview. A landline forces you to stay in a relatively stationary locale. Plan your interview from a reliable phone line.

3. Create an office space. Dedicate an area as your office. This area could be as simple as a card table with a phone and your documents. Conduct your interviews from your "office". Being seated at a desk or table allows you to create an environment similar to an in-person interview.

4. Put a mirror in front of you. This helps you focus, and it anchors your conversation to the visual representation of a person. Monitoring your facial expressions helps you see if you are communicating your enthusiasm to the recruiter.

5. Have a glass of water nearby. If your throat is dry or you get a tickle you can take care of it before it turns into a cough and disrupts the flow of the interview.

6. Have your notes in front of you. A phone interview is like an open book test. You can have your research about the company and answers to potential interview questions right in front of you. Try organizing your key information on colored index cards by category so you’re not fumbling through papers in the middle of the interview.

7. Vary your voice. Since the other person can't see you, it’s critical that you vary the tone and cadence of your voice to communicate interest and develop rapport.

8. Use pauses effectively. Pauses in an interview situation are always difficult, and they can be especially awkward during a phone interview since you can’t judge what the interviewer is thinking by their body language. Rather than wondering what the person on the other end of the line is doing (or even if they’re still there!) use the silence to ask a question. For example, if the interviewer has just asked you about your strengths and your response is met with silence, make that an opportunity to ask a question like "What are the key strengths of your ideal candidate?" This tactic both takes care of the silence and allows you to learn more about the position.

9. Don't multi-task. We have grown so accustomed to multi-tasking; however, as mentioned in tip #2, it can be counterproductive during a phone interview. Don’t check your email or stick a casserole in the oven while you are engaged in a phone interview. Act the same way you would for an in-office interview, and maintain your focus.

10. Practice. Record some of your answers to prospective interview questions. Play them back and critique yourself. Are you easy to understand? Are you talking too fast? Is your presentation riddled with long pauses and "ums?" Do you communicate interest and enthusiasm? If necessary, rework your answers and your overall presentation.

Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, has over ten years of experience in career management, recruiting, executive coaching, and organizational development. She is a triple certified resume writer and frequent contributor to numerous career-related publications.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Online Branding

The Ghouls and Goblins have come and gone and we now find ourselves three weeks from Thanksgiving - it never ceases to amaze me how time flies when you love your career. However, not everyone loves their current situation. In fact, many of you perusing this blog may in fact be looking to make a career transition. With that in mind, today's article highlights six ways you can proactively promote one's self. I encourage you to try a few of their suggestions, as I have utilized a number of them and have found them to be extremely valuable.

I would like to thank, Kirsten Dixson and William Arruda for providing today's article.

By Kirsten Dixson and William Arruda

We’ve written many articles about how you will be Googled in your job search and how having your own blog or website gives you a great deal of control over your personal brand online.

But what if you’re not ready to have your own site and just want to build an online profile quickly? Or, perhaps you came up as "Digitally Dabbling" in our Career Distinction Online ID Calculator, and you want to increase your volume of relevant online entries? All is not lost! Just use our Six P’s to build your online brand.

Write articles or whitepapers, and get them published in online publications that your target audience reads. Your online profile will be even better if these publications are highly ranked in Google, Yahoo or MSN. You can also submit articles to article banks to have them syndicated.

If you’ve ever purchased a book from or, you can post a book review on these websites. It’s key to review books that are relevant to your area of expertise. Off-topic choices may confuse the perception of your online personal brand. Even if you love to cook, don’t review a cookbook if you don’t want to work in the food and beverage industry.

Posting comments on others’ blogs is a powerful way to build your brand - yet it’s probably the most overlooked online branding tool. Dan Schawbel is a marketing executive who has creatively used this technique to increase his visibility. In fact, this tool even garnered him a mention in Fast Company.

You can find relevant blogs on which to comment at or through Google’s blog search. Read a blog for a while before you comment to get a feel for the author’s style and whether you want this particular blog associated with your own brand. Remember, you can’t take back the comment once it’s posted, so ensure that it’s professional, well thought out, and error free.

If you’re hesitant about posting, go with your gut and sleep on it. Be sure to link the comment back to your own blog or website if you have one. You could also link it to your LinkedIn or Ziggs profile if you don’t have your own site.

Participating in online discussion forums also helps you to connect with and become more visible to others who share the same interests, though it’s not necessarily a part of your public online identity that will show up in a search. You can find forums through Google Groups or Yahoo Groups, and some by-invitation forums may be available to you through professional associations. Bernadette Martin, founder of Visibility Branding, says online forums can be a valuable way to formulate ideas and strategies before presenting them to the public on the internet.

Write press releases about your endeavors (solo business project successes, what you learned from attending a professional conference, noteworthy volunteer work, information about an upcoming speaking gig or article, etc.), and post them to free press release distribution sites like

You can find more sites like this by Googling "free press release services". If you need the press release to rank highly (maybe you have digital dirt that you are trying to sweep under the virtual rug?), consider purchasing the search engine optimization services available from many of these content distribution sites.

One of the most important elements of your brand environment is your professional network. Since your network can extend your brand for you by spreading the word about your unique value, it’s ideal to get others to write about you online. Cultivate relationships with journalists and bloggers. If you’re writing a blog that people read and enjoy, they’ll write about what you are saying and link back to you. It’s that simple!

Also, leverage social networking sites like LinkedIn, Ryze, ecademy and Facebook to connect with your network and keep them updated on your accomplishments. Aim for quality of contacts over quantity, and only add your real colleagues and clients to your online network.

Use services like Ziggs, LinkedIn, Naymz, and ZoomInfo to create a basic online profile and increase the volume of Google results for your name. If your professional information already appears online, you are likely to have a profile in Zoominfo.

Since they automatically create your profile and twenty percent of the Fortune 500 use ZoomInfo for recruiting, you’ll want to claim your profile and update it regularly. To get the most out of these sites, post content that is consistent across all of your profiles and that matches your resume.

William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson are the authors of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand and partners in Reach , a global leader in personal branding for career-minded executives and professionals.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Questions Every Hiring Manager Should Answer

Happy Tuesday!! Today's article, courtesy of and Dr. Michael Kannisto, highlights 40 questions an employer should be able to answer regarding their hiring process. As recruiters, these questions are great for probing clients on their particular needs and their timeline for hiring a qualified candidate. I found the article enjoyable, so I am sharing the wealth with you. Let me know if you come up with any additional questions you think are important or are missing and I will post them.

Enjoy your afternoon -

40 Questions You Should Be Able to Answer About Your Hiring Process
How many can you answer?
Tuesday, October 23, 2007 by Dr. Michael Kannisto
more from this author
Recent recruiting articles by Dr. Michael Kannisto:
Is Customer Still King (or Queen) in Your Business?: The fundamental characteristics all customers share
Developing a Written Talent Acquisition Strategy: Take part in recruiting conversations, even when you're not there
Three Questions to Ask Yourself About Millennials: Is your organization ready to identify and attract this unique generation of workers?
Manage Your Own Brand: What makes you unique?
view more...
recent popular articles

Before a job candidate becomes an employee, there are questions they should be asking you, their potential employer.

Some are questions they'd actually pose to you. Others, like #35, are rhetorical questions they'll ask themselves.

The more questions you can answer throughout this process, the more successful the employee will be.

The First 10 Questions

We begin with a set of very high-level questions one would ask when trying to decide whether they want to join a particular company:
  • Who are you?
  • What do you make/sell?
  • Why should I work there?
  • What is the corporate culture like?
  • What kinds of people work there?
  • What skills are necessary for success?
  • How competitive is your total compensation package?
  • What is your company's reputation, and are you an ethical company?
  • Where are you located?
  • What will having you on my resume mean for me in the future?

The Second Set

The next 10 represent questions one might ask if they're interested:

  • How can I learn more?
  • Where can I find your financial data?
  • Where are you located? Where can I find your open jobs?
  • How do I navigate your website?
  • Where can I hear from current employees?
  • What current corporate-wide initiatives are taking place?
  • Have you dealt with any major shake-ups, scandals, litigation, etc.?
  • How is your organization set up (reporting structure)?
  • What is this company most proud of? What is their heritage?
  • Who is your customer?

The Third Set

These questions ask very specific questions about your company's interviewing process:

  • How do I bid on a job?
  • What kind of interviews do you conduct?
  • How do I get to the facility? Where do I stay?
  • How much detail can I find in your brochures/website?
  • How can I get more detail about the topics that interest me?
  • How much information do you require from me, and when do you want it?
  • Where can I find detailed benefits information?
  • How will you compensate me for leaving my current situation?
  • How competitive is your relocation package?
  • Who in your company knows I'm interviewing? Is this job search on the radar screen of senior leaders?

The Fourth Set

The remaining questions represent the hesitation so many job-seekers feel upon recalling past recruitment horror stories:

  • When will I hear back?
  • How many interviews will I have? How many return trips?
  • What will drive my compensation package? Will you be flexible or tell me "That's what it pays, take it or leave it"?
  • If this isn't a fit, will you respect me by telling me in person?
  • Will your background process treat me with dignity?
  • How long will it take to get my reimbursement?
  • Will you value my time?
  • Will you pressure me into a decision?
  • Did you only introduce me to people you thought I'd like?
  • Will I feel like you respected me at the end of the process?

Believe it or not, I've got 60 more questions (all 100 will be in your November Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership). Those 60 questions cover the onboarding process, how an employee can add value once hired, how they can prosper as leaders, how they can leave their mark on the organization, and how they can attract more great employees.

Answering the 40 questions above, however, should keep you plenty busy for the time being!


"Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly."

-Stephen R. Covey

Friday, October 19, 2007

As the friday afternoon wears on, I began thinking about the Red Sox game last night and that while they won, they still have two games left to win before the World Series. A difficult challenge; almost as difficult as identifying high caliber candidates in today's market.

Identifying and locating highly qualified candidates is almost as frequent as Big Foot sightings. These individuals are not banging down doors for interviews or even posting their resumes on the job boards, they are happy and content with their current position and would probably only entertain making a transition if someone brought the opportunity to their attention. So how does one go about locating these impact players?

Today's feature article, courtesy of and Krista Bradford, sheds some light on strategies that companies and recruiters can utilize to identify high caliber candidates. I like LinkedIn as a resource, as it allows you to tap into your network and identify individuals two or three degrees removed from you. Here is a link to my profile for those interested in exploring LinkedIn:

Enjoy today's posting and have a relaxing weekend!! Go Red Sox -

Candidate Spotting
The shortest path to the ideal candidate
10/19/2007 by Krista Bradford
The Good Search/Bradford Executive Research, LLC

There is no shortage of job applicants these days. Rather, what we have a shortage of is qualified applicants. And whenever there's a severe shortage, posting a job often makes it worse, not better. After all, when you post you waste precious time sifting through candidates who leave you wondering why they've bothered to apply as they have so little in common with the job requirements.

When you base your entire recruiting strategy on job postings to attract active candidates, you are giving up control. And that is a frightening concept. You're left hoping and wishing, if not praying, that a contender will somehow surf by your posting and be seized by the impulse to apply for your job over every other opportunity out there. It's wishful thinking he will send his resume off into the great unknown with no guarantee any human being will ever see it or respond.

Candidate spotting is all about control. It involves identifying, profiling, and filtering passive candidates to come up with a hotlist of the most viable prospects. Instead of targeting every potential candidate at every target company, you're going to target the passives most likely to convert to interested, qualified candidates.

To recruit passive candidates, it no longer is enough to simply ask, "who is working in similar roles at our competitors?" and then attempt to recruit those people. Because, my friends, you will waste an inordinate amount of time recruiting people who are wrong or who simply won't respond to your outreach.

The problem with targeting everyone is that you are targeting everyone. There simply isn't enough of you to go around. It makes no sense for you to call and email everyone, often multiple times, to transform a mountain of names into viable candidates. Who has that kind of time?

This is where most passive candidate efforts fail. Candidate spotting puts you in control and makes the recruiting of passives far more manageable because you turn that mountain of passive prospects into a molehill. You replace the shotgun approach with one more resembling a sniper.

Candidate spotting is about surveying the landscape and spotting candidates who will be more likely to be responsive and more likely to be just what you are seeking. So you start with the same list of target companies as you would with any typical sourcing project, but now you're going to filter that list down to a select few.

I want you to start thinking like an investor picking stocks using stock filters, only you are an investor of a different kind. You are investing your time as well as your company's money and resources to find the people your company needs to win in the marketplace.

So you take that same group of target companies out of which you plan to recruit (usually your competitors), and you filter that list down to a tight target company hotlist.

The number and kinds of filters you employ are limited only by your imagination. That's where the real art of candidate spotting really comes in.

Filter on duress. Companies that are under duress make ideal targets. Look for poor earnings reports, depressed stock prices, mergers and acquisitions, layoffs, and rumors of layoffs. We call these opportunities "swoop-ins." People working at companies under duress are far more likely to return your recruiting calls. So set up news alerts to track all target companies. The moment a target company experiences uncertainty, target their people. If you respond more quickly than recruiters at other companies, you'll have first mover advantage.

Filter on annual reviews. People often decide to leave after annual reviews. So set up alerts to follow up with candidates as those reviews are being completed. If you don't know, they often occur at the fiscal-year end, a fact you can easily look up on information services such as Hoovers.

Filter on cultural fit. Find out where most of your company's hires have come from and target those companies.

Filter on location. Target companies whose offices are closest to yours.

Candidate spotting also leverages candidate profiling. Names and titles are no longer enough when so much information can be had through the Internet. Taking a moment to check for available biographical information can help you prioritize hot candidates and eliminate candidates who fall short of your standards.

Filter out recent hires. Generally, unless a candidate has a compelling reason to leave, job-hoppers are frowned upon. So eliminate candidates who have been on the job less than two years. We mark those in our system "on the bench."

Filter out odd career trajectories. Prioritize candidates whose career trajectories make sense, preferably a steady path upwards with no gaps.

Filter out companies with high retention. Every industry has them. These are companies that are generally the market leader and who treat their employees very, very well. Unless your company is prepared to spend what it will take to lure those candidates away, don't waste your time.

Filter out anyone who lacks must-have requirements. It may seem obvious, but when you are working off a list of names and titles, it is impossible to tell who has requisite education or experience. That is why we profile candidates, aggregating available biographical information whenever possible. The moment or two it takes to quickly Google for additional information or to check LinkedIn can save you wasted effort recruiting the wrong people.

Filter in award-winners. Prioritize individuals who have achieved recognition in their respective fields. This also includes inventors of patents and other forms of recognition.

Filter in top school alumni. Prioritize individuals who have attended the best schools and with an above-average GPA. Like award-winners, attending a top school makes them stand out and more likely to get an offer over the competition.

Candidate spotting is an effective way to proactively target and recruit by finding the shortest path to the best candidates. The time to try it is when you're not finding the candidates you need using other methods.

If you run the filters as suggested, you can narrow your target candidate list down to a hot list of the 20 or 30 most viable prospects. The technique can be applied to executive search as well as recruiting at the non-executive level.

Use candidate spotting to address a single opening or a group of openings by building out research on pools of talent and then filtering on profiles according to circumstance and your own recruitment needs.

Candidate spotting can be outsourced or done by internal search teams. However, if it's the latter, consult with a human capital intelligence expert to uncover the subtle patterns and markers that separate the wheat from the chaff, the rock stars from the roadies, and the Prince Charmings from the toadies.

In the end, you shouldn't have to kiss every frog to find Prince Charming. You shouldn't have to turn over ever stone. The next time you feel as if you are, it is time to try candidate spotting.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And Here's The Pitch...

Before I lead into today's article, let me apologize for having not posted in over a week. I could blame it on the Red Sox losing lately, like many of my fellow Massachusetts counterparts, but I will instead take sole responsibility. Kevin Millar of the 2004 World Series Red Sox had a catch phrase, "Buck Up", and that is exactly what I am going to do.

Today's posting like many before, come from and Laura Allen. I know I make a ton of plugs for TheLadders, but the resources they provide are well worth the praise. And while I have not personally met Laura Allen, her article below is well worth similar praise.

Trying to describe our careers and what we do can often be difficult for individuals to summarize into a brief "elevator pitch." Most of my attempts result in a response of: "So you're a headhunter?" Laura, a pitch specialist, provides insight and advice as to how to create a personalized pitch that will work for you. For those of you preparing to make a career change, this article may be timely as your pitch could make or break whether you land that next dream job. As always, I encourage feedback and please let me know if there is specific material you would like to see included in the blog. Enjoy -

By Laura Allen

"So, what do you do?" It’s the often the first question you’re asked when networking and it’s certainly not easy to answer when you’re looking for a new job. Even if you’re currently employed, it can be difficult to explain what you do for a living. If you’re uncomfortable pitching yourself and your skills, you’re not alone!

Here are some tips to help you pitch your way into a new position!

Skip the "Kitchen Sink" Pitch
Many job seekers make the mistake of using what I call the "kitchen sink" pitch. They tell you their entire life history and exactly what they can do right now. They’ll tell you they’re experts in everything from advertising to marketing to financial planning and they could even answer phones or wait tables if they had to.

The trouble with this approach is that no one wants to hire a generalist. They want to hire an expert who can fill the specific position they have open. So, focus on your expertise and the skills needed for the job that you really want.

Focus Your Energy
When job seeking, you’re faced with the paradox of choice: there are a lot of great jobs out there that might be good for you. So, like many job seekers, you might float from one great-sounding job description to the next. But the key is to figure out that one thing that you absolutely need in your next position and build that into your pitch.

Holly, a client I recently worked with, was certain of two things: that she wanted to move back to Japan and needed a high level, challenging position to support this move. So, she told everyone she met, "I am going to Japan" -- yes, phrased in the present tense. Then, every conversation she had was focused on Japan and she was able to easily mention how her excellent interpersonal skills would be the perfect fit for a company in Japan. She landed a job as a fundraiser for a major university with a campus in Japan.

Sam, on the other hand, had already found his perfect $100k+ job posted online, though the company name wasn’t listed. After a little industry research, Sam discovered the hiring company, and most importantly he found out his former Sunday school teacher was employed there. Sam landed the job by telling his teacher why he’d be a great candidate for the specific position. She agreed and immediately made an introduction for him. He was invited to come in for an interview the next day and joined the company as its CFO within 30 days of seeing the ad posted online.

You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself in the virtual or real world, so be sure you have your pitch ready.

Answer the "Top Four Questions"
By answering these four questions, you’ll be able to create an elevator pitch you can deliver in just 15 seconds. After all, every second counts when you see that perfect job advertised online or you hear about it at a networking event.

Remember, pitching yourself is all about putting your best foot forward and letting your audience know why you make a remarkable candidate.

1. Who are you?Introduce yourself using your first and last name. This simple step is the most important. When you’re asked "So, what do you do?" at a networking event, you want to be sure that they remember your name!

2. What do you do?Be as specific as possible. Don’t try to be too clever in your answer because it can be confusing. Instead, keep your explanation simple, while at the same time covering all of the necessary details. If people don’t know or can’t explain exactly what you do, they can never refer job leads to you or recommend you to others. For example, instead of saying that you’re a photographer, you could say, "I’m a professional photographer with 20 years of experience who specializes in high end fashion."

3. What makes you the best at what you do?You only get one chance to make that first impression, so be bold! Stand out in a positive way. Let them know what makes you better than all of the other candidates out there. To continue with our photographer example, you could say something like, "My clients include Versace and Kenneth Cole" (assuming, of course, that’s true!).

4. What’s your call to action?What is your ideal next step after this meeting? Most job seekers have a very vague call to action. They end their conversation with something like "let me know if you hear of anything." That’s not so compelling. You’re much better off saying something like, "I’d like to invite you out to lunch to learn more about how you got into this industry." Though it might sound a little clich?, the "let’s do lunch" concept still works.

Test Drive Your Pitch
You might not love this idea, but you need to take your new 15 second pitch out for a test drive. Practice makes perfect. So, go to as many networking events as you can. I like the "speed networking events" because they’re fast-paced and you meet a lot of different people. They also force you to be very concise about who you are and what you do. When you’re delivering your pitch to people, take note of what seems to get people excited, but also where they get confused. These are the areas that you’ll need to refine until they are perfect.

Laura Allen is a co-founder of and has been written about in Adweek, The Financial Times, Crain’s New York Business, and The Wall Street Journal. In addition to teaching 15SecondPitchTM workshops and speaking in various business venues, Laura assists private clients. Her 15SecondPitchTM is here.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Kevin Wheeler: Recruiting Trends 2007

Kevin Wheeler and recently presented a survey, Recruiting Trends 2007. As was expected, the survey highlighted the dramatic talent shortage employers and recruiters are facing. This shortage will only get worse in the coming years and while some employers are hesitant to utilize third party recruiters, I am of the opinion that a shift will occur where more employers will tap into a recruiter's network/pool to identify highly qualifed impact players for their critical hiring needs. Now that you have my prediction, here is today's feature article; and as always, thank you to Kevin Wheeler and for providing insightful articles on a regular basis.

Recruiting Trends 2007
Annual survey points to the talent shortage in a dramatic way
by Kevin Wheeler
Global Learning Resources, Inc.
email bio

Several weeks ago, many ERE readers along with other recruiting and HR practitioners completed our annual survey on the trends and issues they are facing. The entire report is available at

We asked respondents to rate the importance of 14 different issues that could impact them in the coming year. The issue rated most important was that of broadening the sources of hire. The issue rated least important was moving all or part of their recruiting to a third party. They rated 11 of the 14 as "important" or "very important," clearly underlining the many critical issues facing the recruiting community.

As one might expect, the results illuminate the talent shortage in a dramatic way. Almost every person who responded to the survey indicated they are broadening the number and types of channels they use to find potential candidates.

When this many people are in sync, it is clear that finding the right people is getting tougher and tougher. Recruiters are trying to use more channels to find candidates.

While I counsel my clients to focus on a few channels that have proven successful and deepen and improve their access to those channels, it is tempting to feel that the grass is greener in some other place.

Many ERE writers have been encouraging recruiters to develop better communication with candidates. Gen Y, those folks approximately 27 and younger, expect authentic, personalized communication. They expect a clear indication of whether they are qualified for a job. They expect to be able to connect with someone, either by phone or email. Unfortunately, most recruiters feel this is a burden and not a core part of their job.

The survey, however, indicates that this may be changing. At least it's on the radar screen and more respondents than ever indicate it is something they are concerned about.

Recruiters are seeking the right type of messages for candidates and are slowly building processes and technology that allows them to more efficiently communicate with candidates. With the clear emphasis on sourcing, recruiters must find new ways not only to identify, but also to communicate and build relationships with target candidates. Recruiters are searching for the right motivating messages, sent at just the right time, with just enough personal touch.

This ability to communicate and track candidates using technology was also a key finding in our survey. Recruiting professionals were most passionate in their response to this question. The issue actually received more, "Very important," responses from respondents than any of the other 13 issues queried and over 88% of respondents rated, "Improve candidate communications," either, "Very important" or "Important" for them in the coming 12 months.
Developing talent communities was also seen as important to success, rating "Develop talent community" the fourth most-important issue for their organizations this year.

On the other hand, I was surprised by the responses to our question on the importance of Recruitment Process Outsourcing, the practice of having a third party do all or a significant segment of your recruiting. This practice has expanded rapidly over the past decade and is healthy, solid, and growing.

Yet the survey results indicate that RPO is not considered very important by the majority of respondents. Even staffing leadership told us that it is not important, more emphatically, in fact, than the overall survey sample of 440.

I am a bit stumped as to why this is the case, but perhaps it is because we perceive recruiting as strategic and because we feel it should be kept in house.

More and more organizations seem to be focusing on moving part of their operations to some global location such as India or China and global issues seem to pervade the popular literature. Yet as the graph below shows, there was a wide variation in perception on the importance of spreading the brand globally as well as on the need to include global candidates in the sourcing pool.

This most likely reflects the fact that many respondents were from domestic organizations with no global operations or that respondents were not aware of the value of casting a global recruiting net.

Overall, this year's survey reflects the issues we read about on ERE all the time. Sourcing is the challenge and everyone is focused on improving how they find candidates. For global organizations, global branding is important, but for domestic firms it obviously is not.

For the first time, we are seeing significant awareness of the need to better communicate with candidates and to build more robust talent pools. Maybe CRM is finally gaining the visibility it deserves.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Multitasking is Key

Marketing call, candidate interview de-brief, salary negotiation, marketing call, reference check, phone screen...the process is never ending. There is always someone I can be calling or emailing. But the draw and love for recruiting comes from this constant change in state. Today will not be like tomorrow, and tomorrow will certainly not be like yesterday. Each day is a new adventure and presents new challenges. This organized chaos is what brings me to work every day, and I LOVE IT!!!

Recruiting is Multitasking. There are so many intricate facets to this career path that there is no wonder the turnover rate and attrition are so high (well over 60% of new recruiters do not make it through the first year). Today's posting, courtesy of Kevin Wheeler and, highlights how multitasking plays a critical role in a recruiter's success. Because I love what I do, I wanted to share this article with you. I hope you enjoy it -

Multitasking: The Key to Success
Challenges that only the agile recruiter will be able to conquer
by Kevin Wheeler
Global Learning Resources, Inc.

Sally's day at the office: "I get in early before anyone else, grab a latte, and write a quick post for our recruiting blog. At the same time, I check email and notice that three new candidates have sent in resumes. I also notice that two managers have opened new jobs, and I need to discuss those with them.

By 10, I have set up appointments with both managers for the end of the day. I have also scanned the resumes and have decided to telephone-screen one of them. I called and left a message.

Meanwhile, my boss has called a short meeting for 11:30 a.m., and then I have a lunch meeting with an agency vendor who is doing a critical search for us. There are still a bunch of open positions that need to get posted, and I need to find the time to do a search for potential candidates, as well. Maybe I can squeeze that in later on today. I have candidate interviews from 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m., and then I have to update the ATS with my notes. At 4:00 p.m., I have to meet one of the hiring managers to discuss the new positions, and then on to meet with the next one at 4:30 p.m. Maybe by 5:00 p.m. I'll have a minute for investigating a potential vendor. I'd like to call a few references and search the Web about them. Maybe the reference calls will have to be tomorrow.

My husband calls at 5:00 p.m. to see when I'm getting home. Right now, it looks like not before 7:00 p.m. because I have to write back to a few candidates about their status and clean up a dozen little odds and ends. I may also have to take a call from China regarding a position I am filling there. And first thing tomorrow morning, I have to post those new positions that both look like bears to fill!"

I am often asked what the most useful skill is for a recruiter. I have been thinking a lot about that for a while and certainly salesmanship, technical skills, market knowledge, and communication are at the top of the list. But, first has to be the ability to multitask.

All of the best recruiters I know, like Sally above, this is what makes them successful and differentiates them from those recruiters who seems to move serially through tasks and get flustered when asked to do more than one thing at a time. Multitasking, in my definition, means the ability to do many different things simultaneously with ease, to "go with the flow," and accept the inevitable forces of change.

Here are some challenges that only the agile will be able to effectively conquer.

Sourcing is a Bear
Despite the economy or because of it, it is more difficult to find people with the skills we want than it was a few years ago. There is a mismatch between the skills hiring managers and recruiters feel are (or should be) available in the marketplace and what they actually find when they start to look. And, even though job boards teem with candidates and firms are inundated with resumes, not many get hired. Candidates report increasing frustration with the level of customer service they receive and wonder what kind of super-person actually got the job that sounded so perfect for their own skills and experience.

The recruiter's ability to source quickly and well, communicate openly with candidates, and provide impeccable customer service will be a hallmark of the best.

Value Propositions and Branding are Essential
We are a brand-conscious society, and many candidates are attracted to the organizations with high public visibility. Firms with positive reputations and strong name recognition seldom have much trouble selling themselves to candidates. Look at Microsoft, Starbucks, or Google. They may have trouble finding great candidates, but they have much less trouble convincing them to accept an offer.

Unfortunately, only 50 or so organizations fall into the positive-reputation, strong name- recognition category on a national basis. The rest of us have to get better and better at building niche brands and determining what our value proposition is to candidates. Then, we have to tell our story in a convincing and fun way.

Being able to know and sell the value propositions of various positions seamlessly to candidates, as well as to keep both the hiring authority and the candidate in the loop and informed, are key skills that require both flexibility and multitasking skill.

Free Agency is a Fact
Whether forced upon a person or voluntarily entered into, free agency (contracting, consulting, working part-time, and "temping") is a growing factor for recruiters to deal with. Many people simply don't want 40-hour-per-week jobs as regular employees, especially highly skilled Baby Boomers and lesser skilled Gen Ys. Many have decided that job security is an illusion, and the only way to be really secure is to work for themselves.

Many will enter and leave the workforce many times during their careers and will serve in many ways. The agile recruiter firm will find that a mix of regular, temporary, and contractual employees will serve them better and offer them the flexibility they need to deal with good and bad economic situations.

A great employment department will lead this agility movement.

International Recruiting
I get calls all the time from organizations that are "going global." The recruiting group is asked to start ramping up hiring in China or India or New Zealand or Germany. And, most recruiting departments haven't got a clue how to start.

Time is wasted as they struggle to figure out an approach and get things underway. Management may often see this slowness to respond as incompetence or a lack of motivation. So, it is as important to figure out how to take on a new challenge as it is to manage the perception of your function within the organization.

Agile recruiters will deal across time zones with ease, be culturally competent, and manage the communication process with skill.

I could go on, but I think we all can see that the ability to multitask, be adaptable, and carry a positive attitude are critical success factors for any recruiter.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Free Time = Creative Time

We all have free spots during the course of the day. Fifteen minutes between conference calls, half an hour between meetings; and while we use this time for email and returning voicemails, these periods can be extremely valuable in brainstorming innovative ways you can contribute to your company. I will use myself as an example - I have used these periods for this blog and reaching out to you through a different venue. Each of us can has this opportunity and thanks to Vince Thompson and, today's post provides some direction for those interested in implementing this concept into their business day. So enjoy today's article and let me know if you come up with any creative ideas!!

Every manager has white space in his or her day. The key to being a great manager is knowing the right way to spend this time. Successful managers take advantage of their white space and use it as a time to brainstorm new ideas or work on things outside their normal job scope.
Defining Your White Space

What exactly is "white space"? White space is those gaps in your calendar in between meetings and other planned activities. Many managers fill that time by replying to e-mail or making phone calls. And while keeping in communication with people is certainly important, it’s not always the best way to use your time. The managers who are truly successful use their white space to connect their personal passions with their professional goals.

For example, consider the story of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers. When Jobs was in college, he took a class in calligraphy and developed a passion for the artistic style of writing. Years later, when he was helping to design the first Apple computer, he questioned why users had only one font choice, especially considering that calligraphy and other font styles were so powerful for expressing ideas. As a result, Apple computers were the first to have multiple font choices, which accelerated font availability in DOS-based computers.

But not all white space activity has to connect to your passions or hobbies. Sometimes simply using your white space to think about things differently is enough to give your company the competitive edge it needs.

To create new opportunities for your company with this extra time, consider the following suggestions:

1. Study the business of your passion.
No matter what your hobby or passion, there’s an entire industry devoted to that one thing. So study the business of your passion and look for parallels that you can bring into your company.
For example, suppose you work for a computer company, and your passion is NASCAR. If you were to study the business of NASCAR, you’d learn that NASCAR is able to take category exclusive sponsorships and cut them down to a granular level. Intrigued by that idea, you may start thinking how your company could duplicate this idea. Perhaps you come up with the idea to sell category exclusive sponsorships to computer software, utilities, and peripherals companies, where they get advertising space on your computer boxes. Not only does this idea help your company form relationships with other vendors, but it also helps increase the company’s revenue.

The goal is to take aspects of your passion or hobby and see if you can apply it to your company in any way. Use your passions to "connect the dots" at work by uncovering new solutions to challenges and unique opportunities for growth. If you’re going to use this white space time to pursue some open-ended projects, why not focus on projects where you have some kind of a passion? The things you love and know are ultimately going to give you ideas you can act upon, and in the end it won’t seem like "work" at all!

2. Network outside of your industry.
Another option is to spend your white space time talking to your peers in other industries. Go to their events, trade shows, and conferences to get a feel for how the industry works and solves problems. Doing so enables you to get a completely different perspective on how to address challenges your company is facing.

Develop relationships with people who are at a similar level as you are or who have a similar scope of responsibility as you do, but who work in completely different industries. If you’re an accountant in a software company, for example, talk to accountants in manufacturing or professional services companies. Your standards and practices may be very different, but your peers have likely come up with some ideas and solutions that you can apply to your company.

3. Be your competitor for a day.
Use your white space time to write your competitor’s sales pitch. This will help you understand what your competitors are saying about themselves and what the opportunities are for your company.

For example, if you worked at Dell and had to write a sales pitch for Compaq, you would ask yourself what you could say about Compaq that only applied to them. Then you’d realize the true differences between your two companies and start thinking about how to capitalize on those differences.

A variation on this idea is to use your white space time to think like your customer. If you were looking for the products or services your company offers, what would be important to you? Write out a list of the top ten things you would look for in a product or service provider. Then you can assess how well your company really meets the needs of your ideal prospect.

Make the Minutes Matter
We all have parts of our job that are not completely defined. We all also have time in our day that’s unaccounted for -- white space in our daily calendar that’s prime for opportunity. Really look at what you’re charged to do, and then assess how much leeway for creativity and unconventional thinking you have.

There are wonderful things you can do for your company, outside of your core responsibilities, which can capitalize on who you are and what skills you have. In fact, many business success stories are of people who drew on their past and/or interests and brought that into the business.
Don’t be afraid to explore your passions! Look at the business behind your passions. Keep an eye on the business landscape, talk to other people in various industries, and be open to different perspectives. When you have time to explore non-traditional work, carve out some time to do that in the white space of your week. You may only have a couple of hours to devote, but those few hours can make a world of difference.

Vince Thompson is a Manager. Over the course of his career he has spent 15 years leading teams in a variety of hotbeds for learning: First in restaurants, then in television stations then for seven years as Regional Vice President of Sales for America Online. He is the author of Ignited: Managers, Light up Your Career for More Power, More Purpose, and More Success.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Good Morning -

I received an email this morning from our office owner and manager Joe Woerner in regards to corporate accountability and what it means to be truly accountable. While we all claim to be accountable, I believe that a good many things fall between the cracks and we pass them off as not our responsibility. Wrong!!

We all have a responsibility to one another and ourselves. So take a moment and evaulate what matters to you and be accountable. And in doing so, share this article with others - as I know a great many people could benefit from it's message.

All The Best -


Accountability, accountability, accountability. Everywhere in corporate America, people are talking about accountability, but talking about it like it is cheap change. My experience is that significant numbers of executives and senior leaders have no clue what it really means. So why I am considering it as one of the leadership Laws of Attraction?

A few years back, we conducted a large engagement with a Fortune 100 company. We distributed a workbook to the participating executives. The front cover asked them to write down their name, position, title, job description and accountability . You have no idea how many of them approached us on the break and asked, “What do you mean by accountability?” It was approximately 50%! There is no question in my mind why corporate America is melting. (Do you have any?)

Let’s first define accountability. There are so many conventional definitions. I do not mean any of them. If you actually break the word down, it comes to Account and Ability. Simply said, accountability means to have the ability to account for something. A leader can’t hold anyone to account unless they have the ability to hold themselves to account first, period. For extraordinary leaders it is not a game, it is a way of life.

There is nothing significant about accountability whatsoever. Great leaders realize that, and they embrace it. It shifts them from being spectators of life to prime players in their own game. (After all, they invented it!) Most people want to be accountable, they just do not know how to. Effective leaders have a way to create opportunities for people to take it on.

What to consider when creating an opportunity for accountability:

You can’t make people accountable; it is a choice. It can’t be put on people. The only thing you can do is to enroll them into the game and let them create their own stake in it with their declaration of commitment. Without choice, there is not accountability, only obligation. It is not for leaders to demand, only to ask, and it is ultimately for people to choose. Accountability is a choice, not an obligation!

Accountability is a way for people to contribute to you, the leader. Letting people take on accountability makes them a contributor to the fulfillment of the future. It makes them proud stakeholders, and you need to treat them as such. It dignifies their existence. Accountability is not another tool for punishment and control!

Accountability “shows up” on the court, not in the stands. It is a way of being, not a state of mind. It is what you bring to the game when it is crunch time; it is who you are being in the face of success or failure, when things turn out and when they do not. Accountability lives in practice, not in theory!

Accountability is an opportunity to participate in life. Accountability is a unique opportunity for a leader to invite people to participate in their own lives. It is part of the endless enrollment process leaders go through in the accomplishment of an impossible future. The point is, you enrolled them, and you are ultimately accountable for everyone’s accountabilities. You are never, and I mean never, ever off the hook!

Accountability is not yours to give, just to accept or decline. Just because people want it does not mean you have to accept it. The acceptance of a declaration of accountability is yours. That is your accountability as a leader. Lose the attachment to their choice – it will free you up. Accountability can be exercised only when it comes with specific conditions of satisfaction. Otherwise, how do we know that it is working? Remember, accountability can be revoked or suspended; it comes with an expiration date!

Accountability is an ability – a muscle that needs to be developed over time. If you stop developing it, you lose its flexibility and mobility. Make sure that people use it, exercise it, maintain it and nourish it. The more accountability the better, for it makes you (your future or vision) stronger!

Leaders knows that people want to be held to account, to be noticed, to matter to someone, to belong, to be part of a future in the making. People do want to account for something worth living for, they just do not know how. Although we struggle with being accountable, we feel good when we accomplish something extraordinary that makes a difference.

Without accountability, without “at stakeness”, there is no chance for breakthroughs. At best there can be peak feelings. Leaders know accountability is in their blood, that it is part of their DNA.

What makes it a Law of Attraction? It brings people out of the shadows into the light of truly living, not just of being alive. If that is not attractive, I do not know what is!

What are you Account – Able for? (That is up to you!)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reliable References

Today's posting comes from Alesia Benedict, an expert in resume writing, who shares some tips on developing reliable references. I must also give credit, once again, to This incredible resource provides insightful and informative articles that any job seeker would find valuable. But focusing on Alesia's article, I found it to be dead-on and one that active and passive job seekers alike should keep in mind. So I hope you enjoy today's topic and I have included a blurb about Alesia at the end of the article in case you want to find out more about Alesia and her resume writing services.

By Alesia Benedict

Every job seeker knows that when applying for a new job, great references are almost as important as a stellar resume. It’s generally the first thing a hiring manager will ask for in an interview, so you’ll have to be prepared.

What’s the best way to develop your references? Can you just write down a few names and contact information of people who’ll say you’re a good employee who won’t run off with the office supplies? Not exactly.

Developing great, usable references does require some work, but it’s not impossible! Here are a few tips to help you create an all-star list of references.

1. Who Makes the Cut?
When compiling your reference sheet, the first question you should ask yourself is the most logical one: who’s on the list? Your first instinct might be to choose someone in your company with an executive job title or strong name recognition to people outside of the organization. But, the last thing you want is for a recruiter or hiring manager to make a phone call to this higher-up and hear a response like "Joe who?" For this reason, director supervisors and others who have day-to-day knowledge of your work performance make the best references.

2. Are They Competition?
While your references should be someone you’ve worked closely with, they shouldn’t be someone who could end up being your competition. They need to have strong knowledge of your work performance, but, for this competitive reason, they should be in a different functional line of work.

3. Ask Permission
You’ve done your investigative work and have your VIP list of strong, knowledgeable references. But, do they want to be on that list? Maybe not. It’s vital that you get the permission of each and every one of your references before handing their contact information to a recruiter or hiring manager. Once they’ve accepted your request, you’ll need to double check their contact information and find out how they’d like to be contacted - via phone or email. Make sure to also ask when they prefer to be contacted, so they aren’t caught off guard when a recruiter calls.

4. Find References’ References
Recruiters and hiring managers know that anyone you reference is going to say good things about you. Of course, right? You certainly wouldn’t list a reference who would speak poorly of you. This is why hiring professionals often ask most references: "Who, other than you, has direct knowledge of Joe’s work performance? Can you give me their number or email?"
So, be sure to ask each of your references the same question "Who would you recommend as a reference for me?" If they name someone who might not give you a glowing report, take the opportunity to steer them away and suggest an alternate person.

5. Get it in Writing
What’s even better than email or phone references? Letters of recommendation. Written references will save you the time and energy that organizing phone references requires. Save yourself even more time by saving every "pat on the back" you get from your supervisor or colleagues throughout the years. When it’s time to job search, these saved accolades will prove invaluable.

6. Proper Presentation
References should only be provided during the interview. Never include them in your resume or send them in with job applications. When you’re called in for an interview, however, it’s best to have the prepared document to present to the hiring manager.

7. Keep it Professional
Your references should be strictly professional - choose colleagues or peers who have direct knowledge of your work performance. The "character reference" from an executive’s friend or family member generally isn’t very helpful for the hiring manager, so including one is unnecessary.

After you’ve landed your new job, it’s always a great idea to send each reference a thank you note to show that you appreciate their help in getting you there.

Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC, is the Executive Director of She’s also been cited by Jist Publications as one of the "best resume writers in North America," quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and is published in 20+ career books. Alesia’s services come with a guarantee -- interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gary Stauble Article

I received an e-newsletter this morning from Gary Stauble that I could not post fast enough. For those of you who have asked why recruiting, today's article will give you the answer. Not too many people wake-up and love what they do - but I do!! Recruiting is an incredible career and when you work for an office like mine, your resume collects dust because you never dream of leaving. So I hope you enjoy today's article -

Gary Stauble is the principal consultant for The Recruiting Lab, a coaching company that assists Firm Owners and Solo Recruiters in generating more profit in less time.

Article: Follow Your Bliss

In my work as a coach and business consultant I’ve noticed a consistent theme with high performers is that they love what they do. Meaning they follow their bliss. They love their niche. They love their clients. They love the process of recruiting.

Consider this quote from Joseph Campbell:

"If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a track that has been there all the while, waiting for you. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls."

When I started in the business I worked in Los Angeles for a firm that did contingency IT recruiting. I noticed that when I went on client meetings, I’d often find myself yawning uncontrollably when my clients talked about various aspects of their Information Technology goals and needs. It was boring.

Then by accident, I began doing some searches for large law firms. I found that when I went to meet with department heads within law firms, my ears perked up and I was very interested in learning about their business. To this day, I’m not really sure what the attraction is, I just know that I enjoy working with them.

So after several years of being bored by IT searches, I decided to take a bold stand and declare my firm a firm that only works with law firms, and on a retained basis. This seemed like a bold move at the time but it was where my passion was leading me and I felt excited by the challenge. My billings and enjoyment of the business skyrocketed when I finally decided to follow my bliss and work the way I wanted to and with the clients I wanted to.

How to apply this to your desk or office:

1. Follow your bliss when selecting the clients you'll work for.

2. Follow your bliss when deciding what niche or sub niche to focus on.

3. Follow your bliss when it comes to the parts of the recruiting process to focus on vs. the parts you'll outsource to others.

4. Follow your bliss when it comes to the new projects, strategic alliances or business relationships to take on.

5. Follow your bliss when deciding what terms you'll accept.

6. Follow your bliss when setting goals and deciding how large or small your business should ought to be.

7. Follow your bliss in regards to work/life balance and time off.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Make an Impression

I read an article last night in one of the many business magazines I receive and it talked about how emails dominate our lives and we need to set boundaries so we do not become email "junkies". The article really hit home since my wife and I are passionate about our careers and check email frequently at night and on the weekends. So I told myself I would come into work this morning and try my best to delete/respond/file half the emails I have in my Inbox. (This is a huge undertaking, just so you know.) During my efforts, I read an article by Dr. Michael Kannisto from that I thought appropriate to share with you all. I hope it leaves a good impression!

How to Make a Good First Impression:
A lesson in candidate management from the world of psychology
9/18/2007 by Dr. Michael Kannisto
Dr. Michael Kannisto
Global Staffing Director
Bausch & Lomb

This is a true story. Years ago, I interviewed for a job with a well-known, multi-billion-dollar global company. I was flown in the night before, and interviewed with the hiring manager, the hiring manager's boss, and the hiring manager's HR partner.

The interviews ended at noon, so around 1 p.m., the agency managing the search called me to ask how it went.

"How did it go?" I answered. "I honestly have no idea!"

The interview with the hiring manager had gone well, and she even suggested that we get together at the end of the day for an unscheduled debrief, so I was feeling good about the job. At the end of the last interview, though, the HR manager abruptly walked me to the elevator without asking me if I had any questions. I was sent on my way without so much as a "thanks for visiting."

I probably looked ridiculous standing there on the sidewalk in my suit, staring back at the building with my little file folder of extra resumes in my hand! As I recovered, I realized that no one had discussed next steps with me, let alone given me a timeline. I hadn't even received a company brochure! Mama mia, what had I done wrong?

It's so difficult to do everything right when you're working with a candidate. Not a week goes by that you don't read about the shortage of talent, so there's just no room for mistakes in managing the "candidate experience."

In addition, finding talent is now quite complex, and best-in-class companies and recruiters are doing more proactive sourcing, so the process is likely to include more steps. This means potentially dozens, even hundreds, of emails, phone calls, discussions, and interviews before a hire occurs.

The point is, with so many distinct interactions with candidates, simple statistics make it unlikely that you'll be able to ensure every single step comes off flawlessly. Instead of trying to be perfect, I recommend you concentrate on making the first and last interactions count the most.

In studies going back to the 1920s, scientists noticed a peculiar pair of phenomena now known as the Primacy Effect and the Recency Effects. These effects were noted when experimental subjects were asked to look at lists, then recall as many items as they could. It was observed that people tend to recall items from the end of the list first, and when attempting to recall earlier items, they recall the first few items best.

Subsequent research led to many fascinating insights about how our memory works, and most psychologists and sociologists acknowledge that the phenomena probably result from the processes our brains use to store information.

Primacy occurs because as we begin filling our short-term memory with items, there are fewer items to remember, allowing them to make a stronger impression on the memory center. Earlier items are also more likely to end up in our long-term memories.

Recency is probably just due to the fact that the items memorized last are freshest in our mind, and are stored in our "working memories."

As I recall my visit to that company years ago, these two phenomena are definitely at work. The first memories that come to mind are the call I received when I was first told about the job, and the odd sensation associated with being unceremoniously escorted from the building after I thought things were going so well.

Can you recall a similar experience from a past interview experience? If you're like many people, you'll remember things that happened at the end of the process, and then things that happened right at the beginning.

From First Impressions...

Whether you run an agency, perform contract recruiting, or work for a large company, it's important to make sure all your candidate interactions are awesome. However, the old adage about making a good first impression is more that just a piece of quaint advice. In fact, it is a scientific fact that your first impression is one that will stay with your clients.

Here are four ways you can ensure people have a great "first impression" when you contact them:

Do some research before you contact people. This one is so easy now that there's simply no excuse for not doing it. A quick Internet search can reveal information about where someone has worked, how long they've been with their current employer, and even information about hobbies and interests. Identifying patterns in people's behavior can also help you understand their motivation when it comes to what they want out of a potential employer. For example, someone who has spent their entire career in the IT world and also runs a website devoted to technology will need to be approached in a particular way depending upon what job opportunities you plan to discuss with them

Ensure your message is powerful, consistent, and memorable. Another way the Internet has changed how people look for jobs is the way it allows complete and total access to the "real truth" about your company. Calling one person and telling them your company is all about teams and teamwork, then calling someone else and describing your company as being all about the individual contributor, is very likely to come back and bite you. Try spending the next week listening to people talk about job opportunities. You'll likely hear things like "I've heard it's really hard to get resources there," or "I understand that you can only get to a certain level unless you've been with that company a long time." Establishing a clear and compelling recruitment brand will help you understand what's idiosyncratically unique about your company. Keep that unique brand message strong and positive whenever you interact with people.

Know your outcome. I remember a call I received when I first started recruiting. The caller left a message on my voicemail telling me he had a "great employment opportunity" that he wanted to discuss. I called him back, only to discover the "great opportunity" was merely the chance to hire one of his clients! His outcome was to get me to call him back promptly (which I did). Of course, I never called him again. Make sure your outcome is something like "I want to discuss a particular job with this person but establish a long-term relationship with them even if the job isn't a fit."

Anticipate obstacles. If you recruit for a company, have you ever "lived" the candidate experience you ask your job-seekers to live? Have you ever tried to catch a cab at your local airport after 11:00 p.m.? Have you tried to bid on a job through your own website? Are your hiring teams trained to ask relevant, legal questions? Optimizing a candidate's first look at your company is critical, so get your team together every six months to review the message you're sending. Some teams I know turn the process into a type of game, and brainstorm all the ways that the candidate experience could possibly go wrong. They then go back and build mechanisms into their process to prevent the mishaps.

How important is it to manage your company's first impression? Consider your candidate database and determine how many names are in it right now. Thousands?

Even if you're the busiest recruiter in the world, most of your candidates will not get a job with your company. However, every one of them will remember their first interaction with you, even if it's only a visit to your website.

To Last Impressions...

Leaving people with a great impression is also important, and I believe this is the area of greatest opportunity for most of us.

Here are four suggestions for leaving candidates feeling good:

Always leave people with a clear idea of next steps, timeline, deliverables from them, and deliverables from you. Even when you are in a strictly "sourcing" mode, and end up talking only briefly with someone who is not a match at all for a particular job, you should end the call by discussing next steps. "I don't see you as a match for this job, so I don't plan to forward your resume on. However, I do anticipate some hires in your functional area in 2008. Let's stay in touch." Similarly, if you can't move to next steps until you receive a piece of documentation from a candidate, or until a background check is started, let them know.

If you've had success, circle back with your client after a few weeks to relive the experience together. The best recruiters I know make this a priority. Say you place someone in a great job. Circling back and talking through the experience with the hiring manager accomplishes several things: (1) it allows you to make the client aware of all the things you or your organization did to make them successful, and (2) it allows you to "package" their final impression of you. In the chaos of switching jobs, it's amazing how quickly people forget how hard you worked to increase their sign-on bonus, re-negotiate a start date, or extract some obscure piece of benefits information for them. Linking all these positive memories together and associating them with your efforts is a great way to leave a good impression.

A thoughtful, tasteful gift can go a long way. Some companies give every candidate who interviews with them a small gift related to the company's business. Other companies give college interns a small gift like a USB flash drive or a pen. The value of the gift is irrelevant. The important thing is to leave the client with a gift that reminds them of the good experience they had with you. I once commemorated the conclusion of an extraordinarily difficult search for a pension fund manager by presenting the hiring manger with an old civil war era widow's pension certificate I found on eBay. The gift cost virtually nothing, but the manager loved it, and whenever he looks at it hanging on his wall it reminds him of our successful search together.

Ask job-seekers what they thought about their experience. Best-in-class companies survey their candidates to ensure they had the information they needed, that they understood the hiring process, and that there were no unpleasant surprises along the way. On-line survey tools are cheap (or free!), and easy to use. What better way to find out what kind of a "final impression" you're leaving your clients with than to simply ask them: "On a scale from 1 to 10, how positive an impression did the company leave you with?"

In today's recruitment market, no one can get away with randomly interacting with job seekers and simply hoping for the best. While an unbroken chain of perfect interactions is the goal we should all be shooting for, making the first and last interactions the best interactions is the next best thing.

By the way, in case you're wondering how my adventure in the big city turned out all those years ago, you're not alone. Believe it or not, I never heard back from the hiring manager, nor did I ever hear from the agency with whom I was working.

Every once in a while I run into a colleague who works for that company, and she always promises to find out "what ever happened with that job." She needn't trouble herself, though. Whether I like it or not, my brain has already stored some very powerful memories about my experience!