Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still Happy

I just got off the phone with a incredible candidate I placed with a company about two years ago, who is as pleased today as he was then with his decision to join this growing Motorsports company. I asked Wayne why he was still happy - and his response was simple: I love what I do!

As Christmas rapidly approaches, I like to takes this time to reflect back on the impact my recruiting has had on my client companies, and the candidates I have had the great fortune of placing. And when I look at my own career, I have to echo Wayne's sentiments. Recruiting may be a rollercoaster, with highs and yes, some lows; but I still love coming into work on Monday morning and getting after it. I speak with new clients and candidates and each week presents new challenges.

2008 will be a year to remember! For me, I celebrated my first year with my wonderful wife Shannon, and we together brought into this world our son TJ in April. (For those who know me personnally, you know the health issues we fought to overcome that make this holiday even more special!) From a work perspective, a good year but still room to improve.

So as I prepare to take the next few days to celebrate Christmas with Shannon and TJ, I want to give a warm thought Merry Christmas to you all! We all have blessings to be thankful for this year and while the economy wasn't the most forgiving, I know 2009 has great things in store for us all.

(If for some reason you are not happy at work and want to explore a new opportunity in the new year - email me and let's make something happen! The sidelines have too many people waiting to see what will happen in the new year)


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Hunker Down and Wait" Mentality

While a good portion of the individuals I speak with weekly are passively open to hearing about new opportunities, many prospective candidates are employing the "hunker down and wait" philosophy. The current economic conditions certainly aren't making it easy, that's for sure.

A recent CNN.com article highlights this growing trend and I thought it noteworthy to share. As a recruiter, I can tell you there are companies out there growing. The Energy/Alternative Energy arena is certainly growing, and has significant long term projected growth. While it's not for everyone, Americans should feel confident that we will bounce back from this disaster and will be stronger because of it!

Workers saying no to new jobs
Fearful of more layoffs, employees 'hunker down' - but staying put may not be the safest choice.

By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Last Updated: December 17, 2008: 3:17 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Job hopping, a widely accepted way to get ahead, has gone by the wayside as workers fear making moves will make them more vulnerable to layoffs.

Under normal conditions, workers average more than 10 different jobs by age 42, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and use each move to build a career, network and skill set.

But in today's market, turnover is slowing to a standstill. For the past three months, the quits rate, which serves as a barometer of workers' ability to change jobs, has remained at 1.6%, a near four-year low. The rate, a measure of the number of quits during the month as a percent of total employment, declined significantly across industries, including manufacturing, retail and finance, the BLS said. Only the mining industry has seen the rate rise significantly.

"When times are bad, people don't quit," said Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics.

Not only are there fewer jobs available, but new hires may be at greater risk of being laid off.

"Often it's LIFO, or last in first out," Brusca said. "You don't want to be the recent hire so you stay where you are because you have seniority."

A bird in the hand...
As a result, many workers are staying put - even if they are unhappy.

About 62% of workers surveyed by TheLadders.com, a job search site, said they were not likely to achieve their career goals at their current company. A whopping 96% of them said they were likely to achieve their career goals at another company -- although nearly 37% said they would not relocate for another job opportunity.

"There's a 'hunker down mentality,'" explained Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of TheLadders.com.

Consulting firm Accenture found that 53% of the middle managers it recently surveyed said they are dissatisfied. But only 13% said they are actively looking for a new job.

Additionally, 66% of respondents said they would consider a new job but are not actively looking; 46% said taking a new job in the current economic environment is risky.

"Talent mobility is frozen in the market place," said David Smith, managing director of Accenture's Talent & Organization Performance practice in North America. And that's not because the opportunities aren't there but because workers are afraid to take them.

Workers are now "over conservative," he added. "They're creating their own frozen mobility....There are companies that are growing, but it's hard to find new talents."

For those willing to take the plunge, Bob Eubank, executive director of the Northeast Human Resources Association, recommends carefully researching any prospective companies to determine their stability, including checking attitudes among current or former employees and understanding why positions are open.

He also suggests asking thorough questions during the interview process. For example, find out if there is an initial probationary period so that there are no surprises after you start.

"Make sure you've done all that you can to determine this is a good fit for you, because if it is a good fit, then you're probably no more at risk than anyone else in terms of being cut," he said.

In fact, you may even be safer than more tenured employees, he added, because of your potential promise: "If you can really add value and be valuable, then you're going to stay."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Persistence OR Quit?

I recently signed up for Jeffrey Gitomer's Sales Caffeine newsletter and the first article was incredible. The article reflect's on Napoleon Hill's great classic Think and Grow Rich and the idea of persistence. THE REASON I found this article so timely is that in a downturn economy, such as we are, we need to persevere through the negativity and excuses and Make It Happen! This is especially true in recruiting - but can be applied to almost any profession.

Don't let the media beat you down with negative reports and growing unemployment figures, take your confidence and make something happen. I am.....

Special thanks to Jeffrey Gitomer for this great article, I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

Why do some persist and some quit? Because...

Is there a secret to follow-up? No.
Is there a best way to follow-up? No.
Why do people quit too soon? Big question.
Why do you quit too soon? Bigger question.
Have you ever read Think and Grow Rich? Biggest question.

Reason? Think and Grow Rich (written by Napoleon Hill 70 years ago) has an entire chapter on persistence that provides real insight as to the characteristics of what makes some stick at it until they win, while others stop either just after they start, or stop just before they are about to taste victory.

Rather than be so presumptuous as to paraphrase the great Napoleon Hill, I am going to give you the EXACT words of the master. Here are some excerpts (and insights) on persistence quoted exactly as they were written seven decades ago that are still applicable to your sales process today.

Persistence is a state of mind, therefore it can be cultivated. Like all states of mind, persistence is based upon definite causes, among them these:
a. Definiteness of purpose. Knowing what one wants is the first and, perhaps, the most important step toward the development of persistence. A strong motive forces one to surmount many difficulties.
b. Desire. It is comparatively easy to acquire and to maintain persistence in pursuing the object of intense desire.
c. Self-reliance. Belief in one's ability to carry out a plan encourages one to follow the plan through with persistence. (Self-reliance can be developed through the principle described in the chapter on autosuggestion).
d. Definiteness of plans. Organized plans, even though they may be weak and entirely impractical, encourage persistence.
e. Accurate knowledge. Knowing that one's plans are sound, based upon experience or observation, encourages persistence; "guessing" instead of "knowing" destroys persistence.
f. Cooperation. Sympathy, understanding, and harmonious cooperation with others tend to develop persistence.
g. Will-power. The habit of concentrating one's thoughts upon the building of plans for the attainment of a definiteness of purpose leads to persistence.
h. Habit. Persistence is the direct result of habit. The mind absorbs and becomes a part of the daily experience upon which it feeds. Fear, the worst of all enemies, can be effectively cured by forced repetition of acts of courage. Everyone who has seen active service in war knows this.

How to Develop Persistence.
There are four simple steps which lead to the habit of persistence. They call for no great amount of intelligence, no particular amount of education, and but little time or effort. The necessary steps are:
1. A definite purpose backed by burning desire for its fulfillment.
2. A definite plan, expressed in continuous action.
3. A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends and acquaintances.
4. A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.

These four steps are essential for success in all walks of life. The entire purpose of the principles of the (Think and Grow Rich) philosophy is to enable one to take these four steps as a matter of habit.

Now I will grant you that some people will have read this and spit the word "Hokey" at the end. Reason? It's too simple and does not have an immediate "how to" answer attached to it.

The secret of persistence is not an "answer," it's a "realization." And if you read the above and didn't "get it." You will get beat by someone who did.

The Napoleon Hill philosophy of persistence is strong, yet soft. The only omission from the strategy is that it leaves out "what" to persist with. Let me give you that answer in a word -- value. Something more than you calling to imply, "I'm calling about the money, is it ready yet? Can I come over and pick it up now?"

Want a few value ideas? Here are four. You may not like them. They require work.

Get your prospect a sales lead. Give your prospect an idea how to serve his customers better. Give your prospect ten things he can do to improve his morale, productivity, absenteeism, or profit. Get your prospect some free publicity or media exposure.

Get the idea? See the work? Now look past the work to the victory. If you can see clear to victory, then the secret of persistence is at last yours. And add to that the final wisdom of Hill: What you need to develop persistence is will-power and desire. In other words, how bad do you want it? And how far are you willing to go to get it? Unless the answer is all the way, you will not persist, you will give up.

Want more Napoleon Hill on persistence? His persistence inventory is an all time classic self-evaluation, and it's yours for the asking. Go to www.gitomer.com - register if you're a first time user, and enter the words HILL PERSIST in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Red Book of Selling and eight other business books on sales, customer loyalty, and personal development. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on sales, customer loyalty, and personal development at www.trainone.com. Jeffrey conducts more than 100 personalized, customized seminars and keynotes a year. To find out more, visit www.gitomer.com. Jeffrey can be reached at 704.333.1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com

Friday, November 14, 2008

Good Communicator

While I rarely use this forum to rant or rave about my personal experiences in recruiting, I feel it necessary today as an outlet for stress. Be forewarned....

I am not sure how many resumes I review weekly, but it is probably enough to start a collection that would surmount my baseball card collection growing up. And while I find it interesting how many variations there are for resume structure, there is one underlying theme to binds almost all resumes together - the fact that candidates find it necessary to articulate that they are a "good communicator" or have "strong communication skills". I know, I know, this is trivial in the grand scheme of recruiting; however, when was the last time somone admitted in an interview that they had poor communication skills? I have yet to interview a candidate who made such an admission.

Ok, I am off my soapbox. I hope everyone has a great weekend and go forth and communicate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama vs. Unemployment

As President elect Obama prepares to take office in a few short months, one of the pressing issues he is going to face almost immediately will be the rising unemployment rate. CNN.com and Chris Isidore report that the October unemployment numbers are going to continue there negative trend. While disheartening, I would like to note there are industries that are thriving right now. Alternative energy and bio-tech are just two of the growth industries and the function of Supply Chain is in very high demand.

Don't let the doom and gloom get you down - this downturn might just be the catalyst you need to jumpstart your career in a new industry!

It Will be Hard to Create Jobs
Unemployment is likely to rise during the first year of Obama's term, no matter what steps he takes.
By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer
Last Updated: November 5, 2008: 2:49 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Here's the challenge facing President-elect Barack Obama as he weighs how to create more jobs: another half-million jobs likely will be lost between now and Inauguration Day.

That's not even counting the 200,000 jobs that economists believe employers trimmed last month, according to estimates from Briefing.com. The October jobs report will be released this Friday.

The unemployment rate is expected to climb to 6.3% from 6.1% and match the worst reading of the decade. And economists all seem to agree the worst is yet to come.

At some point next year the unemployment rate is forecast to pass 7%, a level not seen since 1993.

And monthly job losses of 200,000 or more are expected to become the norm, not the exception, as the full impact of the credit crisis is felt more keenly on Main Street.

Economists generally believe there's little Obama can do to stop more job losses in the short-term, even if he's able to get a new economic stimulus package passed by the lame-duck Congress and signed into law by President Bush.

"Superman couldn't change what's in store for the U.S. economy. It's going to be ugly," said Rich Yamarone, director of economic research at Argus Research.

Andrew Reina, a practice director for the staffing firm Ajilon Finance Solutions, said caution has become the watchword for companies making hiring decisions because of uncertainty about business conditions.

Even if they aren't cutting jobs, they're likely leaving more positions open this year and could push back hiring plans for 2009 until later in the year. Reina agrees that President-elect Obama won't be able to change that outlook in the near term.

"It's an uphill battle. He's going to have a lot of work on his hands early on," he said.
Big Three eyes help to save jobs

One of the immediate questions facing the Obama administration is what help, if any, to extend to the battered U.S. automakers, who may seek the same kind of financial help that banks and Wall Street firms have received recently. General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) issued a statement Wednesday suggesting it is looking forward to that kind of help from that the new administration.

"GM welcomes President-elect Obama's pledge to support our nation's domestic auto industry in its ongoing efforts to transform its business and develop new technologies," the company said. "This support will enable a competitive U.S. industry to contribute significantly to our nation's economic revival."

The Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan think tank, issued a study Wednesday that showed 2.5 million jobs could be lost in the next year if GM, Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) and Chrysler were forced by the downturn to shutdown half of their U.S. plants.

"To permit any of the Detroit Three manufacturers to collapse would scar the U.S. economy further at a time when it can ill afford another blow," said David Cole, CAR's chairman. "The likelihood of one or two of the Detroit Three manufacturers ending operations is very real."
But many of those plants could be lost even if government help is made available, especially if auto sales stay weak and credit to car buyers and dealers remain tight.

Along those lines, experts say that worries about the economy, not necessarily policy changes from Obama, will keep employers from adding staff. Even those who expect some kind of stimulus plan getting past Congress say more job losses are already certain.

"I think businesses are going to do what they're going to do, regardless of government policy, at least over the next six months," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Economy.com, who forecasts job losses between 150,000 and 200,000 a month over the next six months.
Recovery not likely until 2010

Another economist suggested that the positive effects from a stimulus package would not be felt until spring or early summer 2009 at the earliest and that there would be no significant job gains until 2010.

"Classically, employment is a lagging indicator that will decline well into the recovery period," Brian Bethune chief U.S. financial economist for research firm Global Insight. "Assuming the recession lasts until middle of 2009, it may be another six to eight beyond that before employment stabilizes."

This doesn't mean that Obama is powerless to help create jobs for the longer-term. And economists say things could be worse if the new administration makes the wrong decisions.
Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wachovia, said unemployment could rise as high as 8.5% in the first quarter of 2010 if Congress does approve help for state and local governments and move ahead on public works projects as part of a stimulus package.

Vitner also is worried that employers will pull back on hiring even more if they sense that an Obama administration will make it easier for unions to organize non-union companies.

But he doesn't believe either Obama or the congressional Democrats will actually push an anti-business agenda.

Much of the current job weakness stems from credit tightening, which makes it more difficult for large and small businesses to get the financing they need to expand and hire more workers.

But Vitner said there is relatively little that either Obama or the current Bush administration will be able to do to get banks and Wall Street firms lending again, despite talk about pushing financial institutions to use the $700 billion in federal help to start making loans.

"Banks will continue to tighten until we see an improvement in credit quality. That's 18 months to two years away," Vitner said. "The credit cycle has to play out. You can't legislate lending."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Interesting Comment...

I received an interesting comment yesterday regarding my posting on solar energy jobs. The comment posed:

I’m curious, do you think it possible or logical for people in a non- sunny climate people and sunny climate people to team up in small groups to produce solar energy?In other words, can you envision a scenario where a low income homeowner in Phoenix and an investor in Seattle could team up to produce an investment that would benefit both while using PV’s in Phoenix?

First, thank you to the anonymous individual for posting this question. In my opinion yes, this is entirely possible. In light of today's economic market, investors are evaluating creative investment opportunities that can yield returns as much or greater than the traditional stock market. (On a personal level, I can relate as I am entertaining such creative measures!) I am not sure how these two parties would get introduced to one another, but the benefit to both would be significant.

One plausible idea would be for the investor to outfit the low income homeowners residence with PV, allowing the homeowner to reap the benefit of the solar energy free of charge. Any additional energy yielded from the PV would be entitled to the investor, to disseminate or sell as they wish.

On an even larger scale, I could see an investor outfitting an entire apartment building or new home development with PV. The investor could then discount the energy costs to the residents and sell the remaining energy for a profit.

There are numerous ways this could play out, but I definitely think you are on to something!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Solar Energy - Our New Frontier

There is no denying that Solar Energy and Alternative Energy are going to be utilized to make our reliance on foreign oil diminish. Both Presidential candidates have articulated their desire to explore these avenues and I believe these arenas to have significant projected growth over the next 5-10 years. As such, our office is expanding its focus to include Solar Energy and Alternative Energy.

I have had the great pleasure of working with a solar manufacturer, as well as a biofuel/biomass manufacturer this year and have decided to shift focus desk focus to incorporate this growing business segment. The feedback I have received from a number of industry executives has indicated that substantial growth is on the horizon and a need exists for great individuals to help in this expansion. With this in mind, I wanted to share some job information with you, courtesy of www.greenjobs.com. This website is one of the most comprehensive websites I have found and I strongly encourage you to visit it.

Job Options in Solar

The Solar Electric Supply Chain

An understanding of the nature of the solar energy industry may help recognize the types opportunities that can become available.

At the core of the solar electric industry are the cell and module manufacturers – these are the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) of the industry. However other key manufacturers include those making everything else needed for a solar electric system – particularly inverters and controllers, normally referred to as balance of system (BOS) components. They are supplied by a plethora of other organizations, manufacturers of equipment, not only for production but everything needed for a manufacturing business; from fork lift trucks to paper clips
materials suppliers, including substrate (glass, plastic, steel etc.), chemicals, sealant etc. etc.
service suppliers: some OEMs have their own in-house accounting departments, while other contract it in. All use contract labor to some degree and examples include:
production line and assembly operators
office cleaning
legal support
and any other professional support which corporate management decides to outsource

This supply chain is an integral part of the solar industry and the jobs involved are dependent on its success. These and BOS manufacturers are normally classified as “indirect” jobs, as distinct from the “direct” jobs offered by the OEMs and their agents.

OEMs market their products in a variety of ways: basically they either sell direct to end customers or through distributors – many do both. In any particular geographical area, solar distributors may be the most visible face of the industry. They may stock solar electric modules from more than one manufacturer, install and maintain systems from a few to hundreds of kilowatts and work directly with consumers – whether commercial or residential, and they may also cover other renewable energy technologies in addition to solar electric. Many are very small businesses but increasingly the best are becoming significant as the industry expands. However, even the larger companies employ relatively few people since they have no real manufacturing capacity. However they do employ engineers and generalists in the design, assembly, installation and maintenance of systems.

The solar electric manufacturers form a very mixed group. The biggest are already mid-sized companies, with revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars, employing several hundred people, sometimes in many different countries. Others may have much lower sales but be more active in research and development. You can get an idea of the range of companies on the Solarbuzz website (http://www.solarbuzz.com/Cellmanufacturers.htm).

Distributors and Integrators may also employ service, material and equipment suppliers, though on a much smaller scale than the OEMs and BOS manufacturers. For those of you wishing to make a career in the solar electric industry, the important thing to remember is that there are jobs in every sector leading up to the End Users, although their nature earning capacity may differ markedly.

Let’s look at the cell and Module Manufacturers to get some idea of the number and types of jobs available. The figure below is based on a hypothetical company manufacturing and selling about 20MW of product. The total number of employees is 100, of whom 60% are in manufacturing. As calibration, consider the recently opened Sharp 20MW production plant in Memphis directly employs 67 people. Of the remainder, 10% are in technology, essential to new product development in such an industry, and the rest almost evenly divided between corporate management and sales. The proportion shown in management may seem high – indeed for many companies it probably is. However, in this example we have included Human Resources, Information Technology, Accounting and Finance, Marketing, Planning and Logistics in addition to the CEO. If we accept this distribution as reasonable we can then examine what kind of employment opportunities may be on offer.

Let’s start from the top – the CEO of many solar electric companies have been technical entrepreneurs with extensive management experience, a lifetime’s technical knowledge and a vision of the products they wanted to make. In a fledgling high technology industry, this is to be expected. However, as the successful companies grow, the industry matures and demands on CEOs change, not least because of the expectations of the market and anxious shareholders. Replacements for the original CEO, whose real forte may have been technical innovation, are increasingly likely to be individuals whose forte is leadership and business innovation. Obviously, such posts are relatively few and only become available on an occasional basis. Moreover, even when a company is looking for a new CEO it may not advertise the fact and may employ recruitment services to identify suitable candidates. If it is the kind of opportunity you want to pursue, you have two choices: either start your own company or consistently build your profile and reputation by excelling in each of your appointments, develop your management and leadership qualities in a variety of positions and make no secret of your intent.

Marketing is something sometimes done by the CEO, but in anything but a very small company, it is usually someone else ‘s responsibility. Sometimes it is combined with Sales although this does not always make sense. For example, if a company becomes international, it is likely to make sense to have Sales organizations on a regional basis while Marketing may stay a Head Office function. This could be because the function of Marketing is not just to promote its products but also to raise the profile of the company, when it fits with company strategy, and this must be accomplished in a consistent manner worldwide. The Marketer will have had previous experience, perhaps in Sales in the industry or even in Marketing in another industry and will have convinced his employer that he has an understanding of the company strategy, the image it wants to present for itself and its products and the skills to develop and implement a plan which achieves this. The original qualifications of the Marketer are often less relevant than his experience and he may be a graduate from any discipline.

Planning is a strategic activity in which the CEO normally plays a major part. However, in any sizeable company, he normally has at least one professional whom he trusts to help him and take responsibility for the maintenance of the plan. The individual is likely to have previous industry experience and is increasingly likely to hold some type of business qualification.

Human Resources, Accounting and Finance, and Information Technology have at least two things in common – they are usually filled with professionals with special qualifications and, unlike the roles discussed above, they may be outsourced. However, every company in the industry has need of these services whether outsourced or not and opportunities will regularly present themselves to suitably qualified candidates.

Logistics has been broken out here simply to highlight it, although it may in practice be included in the manufacturing organization. Those responsible for it must have the skills to procure everything required and make sure everything is where it needs to be when it is required. In order to do it well, those responsible must have the qualities required to develop and maintain good relationships with suppliers, negotiate sound contract terms and have very good organizational skills. It is a specialist role, which can be key in optimizing the efficiency of the company’s operations, and is normally not outsourced.

In very large companies, Technology, or Research and Development, can become regarded as a corporate overhead to be minimized. However, in the infancy of high technology industries, it is critical in giving companies products with which they can differentiate themselves – whether in cost, reliability, performance or durability – ideally all four! All cell and module manufacturers have in-house technology organizations staffed with individuals possessing a variety of skill sets and qualifications. These organizations are likely to offer opportunities for technologists of almost every description, including materials scientists, engineers of many descriptions, chemists and physicists. The Technology organization is likely to be led by someone who has grown “through the ranks”, either in the same company or in other companies or even other industries, and possesses the organizational and leadership skills to make what is often a disparate group of specialists perform well together.

The Manufacturing organization is likely to be led by an engineer – probably a very skilled but pragmatic engineer, since the success of such an operation depends on minimizing downtime and overcoming the problems which are a constant part of everyday life – breakdowns, late deliveries and accidents included! Obviously, the larger the operation, the more senior and experienced the person responsible is likely to be and should a company be seeking to find a new Manufacturing manager, they are very likely to consider external recruitment unless the company is large enough to have a pool of candidates who have the demonstrated competence. Reporting to this individual will be a core of engineers responsible for the manufacturing plant. The precise nature of their expertise will depend on the type of product and manufacturing operation. There may even be an occasional physicist, especially if the process involves lasers, and chemist, for example in the Quality Control Laboratory. However their roles will be a long way from R&D and very focused on the maintenance of the manufacturing process. The actual production line is likely to be staffed with operators and/or assemblers who may be trained on the job. At least a proportion of these are likely to be contracted in to manage swings in production volume.

Sales is very different from the foregoing in at least these respects – it has an almost completely external focus, it involves daily contact with the external world – particularly customers and prospective customers, and is normally the sole source of the company’s commercial income*. It is perhaps the ultimate key to a company’s success – unless it sells products at a profit the company by definition will always be loss-making. The person leading the Sales organization may have almost any kind of academic qualifications (or none) but is likely to have demonstrated his competence in previous sales positions. This competence will include the ability to cultivate potential customers – convincing them of the company’s product offering (when the price, quality, warranty etc has probably been determined by others), satisfy existing customers by ensuring that promises are kept – products are delivered on time, installations are completed and work from the start, and problems are addressed promptly. In larger organizations, his competence will also include demonstrated ability to plan, lead and motivate a sales group. While the leader may have no technical qualifications there are likely to be some in the sales force – particularly, but not exclusively engineers, especially if the company sells into high technology industries such as Telecommunication companies. If such a relationship is to be successful and long-standing, it probably must be founded on a sound understanding at a technical level and the lead sales person is likely to be technically competent to explain the detailed attributed of his products – not just the modules but the systems they are incorporated into. Also, should the company integrate and sell systems, it will employ engineers to design and build them and installers to put them into operation. Installation may be contracted out or done by in-house staff. It is worth recognizing however that installers are needed throughout the industry, that most are trained on the job (although there is now a certification process in the USA) and it is probably one of the easiest ways to break into the solar electric industry

Friday, October 24, 2008

Work/Life Balance

It's FRIDAY!! As another work week comes to a close, I wanted to share a recent ERE.net article by Kevin Wheeler that I thought was insightful. Today's workforce is changing and has different expectations than the workforce of 20 years ago. Having a work/life balance is paramount. And I'll be the first to raise their hand and say, Yes, this is important to me. As such, I wanted to share this article with you to get your thoughts....

So enjoy today's posting and let me know what you think!

Do you have a strategy for a good life? Can you offer prospective employees a path to develop their own strategy? Have you decided what part work plays in your life and what engages you?
I have been noodling for quite some time over the work/life balance movement. I call it a movement because it really was not even something anyone mentioned or thought about when I entered the workforce in the 1970s. It has come about over the past 15 years and has swept corporate America and the world.

I can’t think of any organization that has not had to change policies or at least address its employees on the issue of work/life balance. Perhaps it emerged because more Gen X employees moved into leadership positions and were more aware of the precariousness of employment and about how quickly corporate can swing from breakneck hiring to layoffs.

But whatever the causes, the issues involved are core to whether people accept offers, stay with an organization, or decide to work for themselves.

Over the past few weeks most recruiters have had to spend some time thinking about their own employment situation and assessing its relative security, engagement, and continuity. They have also had to deal with reluctant candidates, uncertain retirees, and fearful employees. How we think about work is fundamental to almost everything else we do.

The work/life balance movement is based on set of assumptions that aren’t questioned very often, yet are very strange from the perspective of a Baby Boomer such as myself or from that of anyone who has studied or thought about the history of work.

If I were to state the assumptions that underlie the work/life balance movement, they would go something like this: Work is something we do for money, is generally not very enjoyable, and interferes with more important things like family. Work, therefore, should be regulated and time with our families should be mandatory. The work/life balance cause assumes a more or less digital world: work is on or off, family is on or off.

Yet, for centuries work and life were co-joined. Men toiled in fields, small shops, bazaars, and at home without paychecks, labor laws, or a day off. Women and men often shared skills and children were almost always part of the working and life equation as soon as they were old enough.

Work might not have been fun in our modern sense, but it was a family activity and it was the fabric of life. Most people chose to do something they liked, or at least something that provided them food and shelter and employed members of their family. Even learning was a family activity and fathers and sons often co-invented things or passed their knowledge to each succeeding generation.

The modern separation mindset is new and is a result of the physical isolation of work in factories and offices. It is the result of physical and mental separation from family. It is the result of over specialization to the point where your spouse cannot understand what work you do.
Yet I see that the Gen Y folks, the Millennials, seem to have an intuitive understanding that you should seek out work you care about. They are rejecting the work/life notions, much to the chagrin of their elder Gen X colleagues. Gen Y tends to look for work they are passionate about and then they tend to work in ways foreign to Gen X. They take any sense of balance away and may work for days without a stop or not work much at all for some time. They try to choose meaningful and interesting work and embrace it with a passion only seen once in a while with Gen X or Baby Boomers.

In order to most effectively deal with the questions this economic turmoil raises, be able to answer these questions:

Question #1: If I am able to make an adequate living doing whatever I am now doing, what does your organization offer me beyond that?

You should have a clear understanding of the contributions employees can make to society or to fulfilling an employee’s long term career goals. Every recruiter should encourage the organization to commit to funding and supporting social and environmental improvements and activities. Google, for example, allows employees paid time to work for charitable organizations on a regular basis.

Question #2: Can you accommodate my preferred work style?

Many younger employees and also many Gen X and Baby Boomer workers are asking for flexible working schedules and telecommuting opportunities. These will be core benefits offered by successful organizations over the next decade. Without these you will find it very hard to hire and retain your most productive and valuable people. As soon as any competitor offers them an opportunity for these, they will leave you.

Question #3: What opportunities are there for me to fulfill my life ambitions here?

Work is no longer all about the employee doing things only for the organization. It is also about what the organization is doing for the individual. Some corporations offer employees college programs in areas that have nothing to do with work. For example, some pay for things like nursing school or law school while the employee is doing some totally different type of work.
Others offer cross-functional movement and provide the training and coaching needed to make the person successful. And they make this a significant part of the employment experience, not just a perk for the privileged few.

This is the out-of-the-box stuff that will keep the best people, at least for awhile, and improve the productivity and engagement of everyone.

I am not the only one predicting that it will be increasingly difficult to convince younger people to work for large corporations unless they have more input to the type of work and the conditions they work under. As work returns slowly to individuals, entrepreneurs, small shops, and small organizations, we will see more and more integration between work and life. More spouses will work together and more children will be part of that work. The days of specialization, physical separation, and mental isolation are ending, I think and hope. We have traversed across a century of change to return to where we started.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brief Interview Tips


1. In order to have a successful interview, you must find out what people want and then show them how to get it. Uncover the employer’s wants, needs, desires, goals, and priorities.

2. Listen well to the interviewer. Be attentive – show him/her that you understand the needs of the firm.

3. Establish rapport. Switch the situation from “you against me” to “you and me against the problem.”

4. Be yourself - let your natural strengths come through.

5. Be truthful. If you don’t know how to answer a question, say so – ask for clarifications if necessary.

6. Demonstrate integrity – never divulge confidential information about your previous employers.

7. Never be negative about anything - including former bosses, companies, or employees.

8. Never get into an argument with the interviewer.

9. Always show loyalty to former employers.

10. Be on your toes at all times and with every person you meet: secretary, company employees you pass in the hallway, etc. If invited to lunch or dinner, remember that’s part of the interview as well. Remember – job interview behavior is different from normal work behavior, just as interview dress is different from normal job dress.

11. If you wish, take notes – but ask first.

12. Finally, don’t ask the employer about salary until you’re offered the position. To get into a salary discussion too early will handicap your negotiating ability. Be sure the employer wants to hire you first, then you will negotiate from strength.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Interview Strategy

Your objective is to obtain a job offer by outshining the competition. You have already done it with your work history, now you need to do it with your appearance and interviewing strategy.

¨ Shake hands firmly while establishing direct eye contact
¨ Be gracious and enthusiastic in your greeting
¨ Address interviewer as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
¨ Offer interviewer a copy of your resumé
¨ Always look at the interviewer – maintain eye contact
¨ Maintain high energy level
¨ Sit Up
¨ Back Straight
¨ No Drinks – to spill
¨ No Smoking
¨ Avoid nervous habits – showing anxiety through your legs, feet, and hands
¨ LISTEN to questions
¨ Never talk while your interviewer is reading
¨ Respond formally – “Yes, Ma’am / Sir” – be sure not to say Yeah/Yep
¨ Eliminate such phrases as “you know,” “uh,” and other fillers
¨ Never be negative about anything
¨ Never bring up the subject of money
¨ Never chew gum
¨ Do not take portable phones or beepers into the interview
¨ Be prepared for a group interview

NOTE: Be yourself. Poise, confidence and self-respect are of great importance. Conduct yourself with confidence and determination - don’t play coy. Sell yourself. This is your first meeting and the position, as well as future promotions, may depend on your presentation. Are you going to sell your prospective employer on the idea of hiring you, or will the interviewer sell you on the idea that this job is not for you? You must present a positive attitude to the prospective employer. You must not appear to be disinterested or appear to be job shopping.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Father and Son on their First Adventure to the Pumpkin Patch

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

MRI Corporate Announces New Leadership

As of today, Michael Jalbert will no longer be leading MRI Corporate. As he "steps down" to pursue outside ventures, an announcement has been made that Tony McKinnon, CEO of Vacation.com, will be assuming this challenging role. A few other organizational changes have transpired and can be reviewed in the announcement below.

I personally liked Michael Jalbert and the direction he was taking MRI Corporate, so I wish him all the best in his new endeavors. Tony has some BIG shoes to fill, so stay tuned....

"Tony" McKinnon, a former Chairman & CEO of Vacation.com and President & CEO of Amadeus North America, will succeed Michael Jalbert as President of Management Recruiters International on October 15, 2008. Tony is an executive with deep marketing/sales experience and a solid background in leading organizations comprised of independently-owned businesses and I am excited to welcome him to MRINetwork.

Michael and I have been discussing opportunities that would allow him to return to his entrepreneurial roots and he will be pursuing opportunities outside of MRINetwork. I want to thank Michael for his contributions.

As Michael’s successor, Tony’s focus will be on continued development in a number of areas including: Training, to ensure every office has the tools to effectively find, hire and train talented producers; the Field Service Management Team, to ensure that offices have access to solid operational support as owners and managers strive to grow through every phase of their business lifecycle; and, the Contract Staffing model to improve the overall enterprise value of participating MRINetwork offices. He will work closely with your Representative Council so that the needs of MRINetwork owners and managers are understood and that the Home Office team is aligned with those needs and organized to effectively deliver solutions. He is also committed to harnessing technology in support of profitable MRINetwork revenue growth.

Additionally, I would like to announce the following organizational changes that will allow us to better focus on delivering the guidance and services that MRINetwork offices need to drive through the current economic turmoil:

Richard Kusmer is leaving his role as Chief Operating Officer in order to pursue other outside interests. I want to thank him for his efforts and contributions to the Network.

Evan Davis has been promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer. While performing his financial role as Chief Financial Officer, Evan has gained a solid understanding of office operating dynamics, the placement process, and the performance metrics that create a successful office business model. He will continue to work out of the Philadelphia office and will report directly to Tony.

Jeremy Jordan will assume leadership responsibility for the MRINetwork Finance organization. In his eight years with CDI, he held a number of corporate financial positions before being promoted to the role of Chief Financial Officer for the IT Solutions division in 2006.

As MRINetwork CFO, Jeremy will manage the overall MRINetwork corporate financial organization while helping individual Network office owners understand the metrics that are essential to driving profitable office performance. He will continue to be responsible for the ITS Finance organization, will work out of the Philadelphia offices and will report directly to Mark Kerschner (CDI CFO), with dotted line responsibilities to both Tony and Andy Cvitanov (President, ITS).

While these transactions mark a change in leadership, they do not mark a change in direction. Tony shares the same core values and commitment to strengthening the training and operations environment on a worldwide basis that Michael has established. With the new members of the leadership team, as well as with the support of all of the Home Office professionals, Tony will make the transition without skipping a beat.

With your support, Tony and his team will lead an even stronger MRINetwork as we not only react to the current economic climate but as we proactively build the Network into the world’s most powerful talent organization. So please join me in wishing Michael and Rich well in their new endeavors, in congratulating Evan and Jeremy on their new roles, and in welcoming Tony to the MRINetwork family.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Employment Statistics

Our office owner and manager recently shared some employment statistics that I thought worth passing along.....

The national unemployment rate in October remained at 6.1 percent, though total nonfarm U.S. unemployment continued to fall by another 159,000 positions. The professional unemployment rate also remained at 2.8 percent, up from 1.8 percent a year ago. However, unemployment of the most educated workers, those having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, edged down to 2.5 percent from 2.7 in September, the first time this number has fallen this year. Natural resources extraction and health services remained the strongest sectors, both posting payroll gains in October.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What is a Human Resource?

A colleague recently shared with me this assessment and I thought I would share it with you.

What is a human resource?

Does your organization struggle with the problem of properly fitting people to jobs?

Here is a handy hint for ensuring success in job placement.

Take the prospective employees you are trying to place and put them in a room with only a table and two chairs.

Leave them alone for two hours, without any instruction.

At the end of that time, go back and see what they are doing.

If they have taken the table apart in that time, put them in Engineering.

If they are counting the butts in the ashtray, assign them to Finance.

If they are screaming and waving their arms, send them off to Manufacturing.

If they are talking to the chairs, Personnel is a good spot for them.

If they are sleeping, they are Management material.

If they don't even look up when you enter the room, assign them to Security.

And if they've left early, put them in Sales.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dilbert on Reference Checking

Person A: Hi. I’m calling to check the references of your ex-employee named Ted.

Old employer: We have a company policy against giving references but I’d be happy to discuss the weather with you.

Person A. Okay.

Old employer: The clouds are moving lazily across the sky. And everyone thinks they’re stupid.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Job Cuts Galore

A recent CNN.com article highlights that the bottom is still a ways off, as more companies continue cutting jobs.

On a side note: I hate all this doom and gloom about the economy and job losses, but I think you as readers probably want to remain abreast of this information. If I am wrong, let me know!!
Happy Wednesday -

More job cuts loom as economy slows
Tech and and auto industries lead the number of planned layoffs according to a monthly surv
By Kenneth Musante, CNNMoney.com staff writer
October 1, 2008: 7:36 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of job cuts announced in September rose as the economy slowed, according to a report released Wednesday.

Positions on the cutting board rose 7.2% to 95,094 from 88,736 the previous month, and were 33% higher than the same month last year, when 71,739 cuts were announced, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

September brought the announced layoff total for the third quarter to 287,142 - the largest number since 2005, according to the report.

The computer industry was the hardest hit, with 25,715 positions on the line after PC maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500) announced the largest workforce reduction of the year, the report said.

HP said it would cut 24,600 jobs worldwide as a result of its acquisition of Electronic Data Systems Corp. But since those cuts were a result of the deal and not a consequence of the ailing economy, the report noted, HP's workforce could gain many of those jobs back.

The struggling auto industry came in second place, with plans to drop 14,595 jobs, while the apparel industry came in third place, announcing 8,350 cuts, according to the report.

Surprisingly, planned job cuts were relatively modest in the financial sector, the report said, despite the turmoil that plagued the nation's financial institutions during the month.

Banks wait for bailout

The data showed that finance industry had announced 8,244 job cuts in September, compared with a spike of 27,169 during the same month last year as the credit crunch began to unfold. But they did jump from 2,182 in August.

September saw a major reshaping of the financial landscape as institutions such as Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500), AIG (AIG, Fortune 500), Wachovia (WB, Fortune 500) and Washington Mutual were acquired, bailed out, or went bankrupt.

"While all of these scenarios are being played out, the fate of the workers remains in limbo," John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a statement.
Financial institutions are waiting to see if Congress passes the Bush administration's $700 billion rescue plan that would allow the government to buy up tainted assets in order to keep their businesses from failing.

Whether the bailout plan is approved by Congress - and what form it takes - will affect the number of layoffs that may eventually be announced, according to Challenger.

"One of the big questions is: Are there going to be more runs on banks and financial institutions?'" he told CNNMoney.com.

If there is no bailout plan, financial job cuts will likely increase, according to Challenger. On the other hand, if all banks take advantage of the government's offer, the number of layoffs could be limited, since no one institution is singled out.

But if a bailout plan passes and is only embraced by a few institutions, that would emphasize the weakness of those companies, and we might see more job cuts, he added

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Job Application - How would you respond?

A colleague recently forwarded me an email of a fast food application, which I am going to assume is fake based on the below responses. However, I laughed out loud at my desk as I read this and felt obligated to share with all of you.

If anyone has better responses to these questions, please share them with me as I would love to hear them.

NAME: Greg Bulmash

DESIRED POSITION: Reclining. HA But seriously, whatever's available. If I was in a position to be picky, I wouldn't be applying here in the first place.

DESIRED SALARY: $185,000 a year plus stock options and a Michael Ovitz style severance package. Ifthat's not possible make an offer and we can haggle.


LAST POSITION HELD: Target for middle management hostility.

SALARY: Less than I'm worth.

MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: My incredible collection of stolen pens and post-it notes.



PREFERRED HOURS: 1:30-3:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS?: Yes, but they're better suited to a more intimate environment.

MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER?: If I had one, would I be here?


DO YOU HAVE A CAR?: I think the more appropriate question here would be "Do you have a car that runs?"

HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION?: I may already be a winner of thePublishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

DO YOU SMOKE?: Only when set on fire.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS?: Living in the Bahamas with a fabulously wealthysuper model who thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, I'd like to be doing that now.


SIGN HERE: Scorpio with Libra rising.

Wall Street Woes and Your Job

A recent article on CNN.com, by staff write Jessica Dickler, highlights how the economic woes on Wall Street may affect your job.

What about my job?
A near meltdown of the nation's financial system will affect jobs well beyond Wall Street.
By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Last Updated: September 24, 2008

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The credit crisis is taking its toll on financial firms, leaving many people on Wall Street out of work and many more uncertain about whether they will lose their jobs in the coming months.

But the market meltdown is likely to have an even wider effect on the entire job market, which was weakening even before the historic meltdown of the past few weeks.

More than 600,000 jobs have already been lost this year, according to the government. And there are currently over 9.4 million people looking for work in the U.S.

Given the recent events roiling the economy, the prospects for job seekers are looking dimmer every day.

"Everybody is at risk," according to John Challenger, chief executive of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Frozen financial markets mean that banks are putting the brakes on lending. With businesses finding it harder to get financing, that could hinder their growth and lead to more layoffs.

That, in turn, compels consumers to curtail their spending, slowing economic activity even more...which leads to more layoffs, Challenger explained. It's a "negative spiral," he said.
Job hunters share their stories

Alicia Zajaceskowski, 40, was laid off from her job as a loan officer at a San Diego, Calif. bank in July, and says her search is getting tougher.

Zajaceskowski, who has also worked at JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), spends each day looking for jobs, and says she's running into more competition than ever.

"It's hard to get an interview," she said. And if she does, it's even harder to stand out. "I have been to interviews were there were 37 people."

Richard Paris, president of Marcum & Kliegman Executive Search in New York, agrees that things are getting tougher for job hunters across the board. "In the last month, [hiring] has slowed down dramatically," he said.

Hayden Grant, 31, lost his administrative job at Bear Stearns four months ago. Since then, Grant has applied for countless jobs, but has yet to land another full-time position.

"I have been on interviews, I've had some call backs, but there's a lot of competition out there," he said.

Grant recently started a temporary job at a PR agency in New York, which involves a lot of data entry, he said.

"I'm making about 70% of what I was making at Bear. I haven't been able to find anything comparable to what I had."

Still, Grant says he's just happy to have a paycheck. "I'm not looking for anything at the moment," he said. "There's not going to be a lot of hiring going on."

Employers cut back
Rising food and gas prices along with a distressed housing market have been taking a toll on the economy for months. So the financial industry's current crisis is adding stress to a job market that was already in trouble.

"Companies are already operating carefully," according to Bob Eubank executive director of the Northeast Human Resources Association. "Events that have happened in the last week have made companies even more cautious."

Beyond the finance industry, many companies have already started cutting back in order to cut costs, Eubank said.

Since May, General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) laid off 19,000 hourly workers, Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) cut 12,000 jobs and American Airlines (AMR, Fortune 500) announced it was cutting 7,000 jobs, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Other companies have instilled temporary hiring freezes or put their hiring plans on hold altogether. "Employment expectations are down substantially," according to John Dooney, manager of strategic research for The Society for Human Resource Management.

Meanwhile, the employers that are hiring are moving slower and being more selective. Instead of three rounds of interviews, there might be twice as many, Paris said.

With the unemployment rate now at a five-year high, according to the latest figures from the Labor Department, experts say it may be a while before an economic turnaround takes hold.
According to Challenger, "the economy is going to be very slow through 2009."

Paris was only slightly more optimistic, "I would hope that the next three to six months things will start to change around," he said. "A lot of people are just waiting, holding their breath."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How Would You Address This Situation? Any Advice?

Good afternoon. Kevin Wheeler recently posted an article, presenting a hypothetical situation a hiring managing was struggling to navigate. The situation, which could be real for some in hiring positions, presents the difficulty in identifying and onboarding highly specialized individuals. I post this article because I am interested in your thoughts and how you might address the situation.

As an FYI, Kevin will be posting a subsequent article through ERE.net, highlighting some responses. Enjoy!

It was the beginning of autumn in New England, and the leaves were turning orange, yellow, and red. It was a glorious afternoon, but Paul scarcely noticed. He was stuck.

His company, ABC, needed some very specialized people and he couldn’t find them. For over two years, Paul had tried to fill some very specialized and always open positions by using Internet search and revamping the career site. He had even put his reputation on the line a few months back when he insisted that a central sourcing team would solve the perpetual lack of qualified candidates.

He had just finished a tough meeting with his sourcing team trying to figure out why there were no candidates in their talent pool. He had been certain that there would be several potential people from that pool; when the hiring managers had told him about their openings, he had assured them it wouldn’t take very long.

After all, the team had known about the competencies these positions required for months. Now it looked bleak.

What had gone wrong?
When he took his current position, he was aware that finding the highly specialized robotic engineers and technicians the firm needed was his number-one challenge.

Even though the organization was located in the heart of the academic world, with major research schools and labs everywhere, these robotics people remained a scare commodity and the few that he did find were happier remaining in academia.

He had worked with compensation to sweeten the incentives and he had spent time with a big-name advertising agency honing the recruiting messages and redoing the career site. They had won awards and been written about in ERE and in recruiting blogs. Paul had been given several awards. But he was failing.

The company was quite unique. It developed robots that mimicked the human hand. These mechanical hands were incredible. They could pick up an egg without breaking it and yet they could slice through a piece of steel like scissors through paper. They could manipulate, sew, pick up tiny parts, and insert them into circuit boards and they could perform some types of surgery, with assistance from a human doctor.

The demand was growing rapidly, yet the supply of people to design, improve, and manufacture them remained small. Not many schools turned out robotics engineers and not many students choose that as a career.

The engineering team had also placed tight competency requirements on candidates. Every candidate had to have degrees in at least two related disciplines, such as mechanical and electrical engineering, or computer science and mechanical engineering. Or, they had to have 5 or more years of experience and a single degree.

Hiring managers wanted prior experience in robotics, if possible, or experience in manufacturing or designing miniature components or nanotechnology. They wanted engineers capable of demonstrating these products to a global customer base. And each robot had to be installed and “tuned” for each customer, which frequently required foreign travel for a long period of time.

Even though Paul had pushed back on these tough requirements, he had not been able to change their opinions. And his sourcing team couldn’t find the right people.

So here he sat on a lovely afternoon, befuddled and at a loss. Should he quit? Did he admit defeat? Was there a way out? What strategies or tactics could he apply to this situation that might rescue him, and the organization?

I am hoping you can help Paul. What are your ideas and suggestions? I will summarize them and add my thoughts in a future column.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lou Adler's Commentary on Bad Hiring Decisions

As Friday afternoon wears on, I thought it appropriate to close with an incredible article regarding bad hiring decisions. Lou Adler hits the mark with his 10 ways to dissuade great candidates from an opportunity. While sarcasm permeates the article (which I personally like), I think you will quickly see the truth behind Lou's message. I hope you enjoy today's article as usual and have a great weekend!

(Thanks to Lou Adler and ERE for today's article)

10 Great Ways to Make Bad Hiring Decisions
by Lou AdlerSep 12, 2008, 7:07 am ET

I wrote a rather controversial article last week comparing Obama vs. McCain using our 10-factor evidence-based assessment system. The stated purpose of the article was to propose that Presidential candidates should be vetted just as rigorously as any candidate for any job.

The underlying purpose was to demonstrate the point that many important decisions, especially hiring decisions, are based on invalid assumptions, false impressions, personal beliefs, and lack of objective data. (Join this Ning Recruiters Roundtable network to submit your views.)

With this article as a starting point, let me offer some expert advice on how to make really bad hiring decisions:

Make emotional decisions and justify them with facts.
Most interviewers make quick judgments about a candidate based on the four “A’s” – how attractive, articulate, assertive, and affable the candidate is. Candidates who pass the test are asked easier questions, with the interviewer looking for information to justify the positive impression. Contradictory and negative information is ignored. Candidates who don’t meet the appropriate first impression standard are assumed incompetent, with the interviewer asking tougher questions and seeking only information to prove their initial emotional judgment. Why waste your valuable time? Instead, just conduct a five-minute interview and forget collecting any facts. It won’t make any difference in your final decision, anyway.

Do not seek out objective data if it contradicts your beliefs or ignore it if you find some.
I remember meeting a very attractive and seemingly quite competent candidate for a VP HR spot, who gave a superficial answer to an HR strategy question. I had to fight with myself about whether to ask a challenging follow-up question which would prove she was unqualified on this important job criteria. After some soul searching, I asked the question, which she flubbed, and she was not presented. The point of this is that it’s very tough to eliminate a candidate you like, and even tougher to seek out positive information for candidates you don’t initially think would fit. So rather than get to the truth, go the easy route, and trust your gut feelings and first impressions.

Make sure no one knows the real job.
The purpose of the interview is to determine competency and motivation to do the actual work required. If you don’t know what work the candidate is actually going to be doing it’s impossible to assess motivation. Compentency, on the other hand, is pretty easy to figure out with just a rough understanding of job needs. Unfortunately, when you look at the underperformers in your company, you’ll discover most of them are quite competent to do the work, they just don’t find the work they’re doing very satisfying. These are the people that need to be over-managed and pushed to achieve average results. So to make sure you hire more of these people, go out of your way to not tell the person you’re hiring anything about the job until the day she starts. What a surprise that will be.

Use skills-based job descriptions to find, screen, and assess candidates.
The best candidates tend to have a track record of achievement, comparable (but not identical) skills, and are quick-learners. This is how the best talent is promoted within an organization. Yet, when hiring from outside we use a criteria that eliminates these top performers from consideration, seeking only those candidates who have exactly the right skills doing exactly the same work. The only people who fit this criteria are average candidates. So keep up the average work. While you won’t get promoted, you will get hired.

Make sure your ads are hard to find.
When top people begin the job-hunting process they tend to seek out former associates, Google for jobs (e.g., “software sales jobs Dallas”), use social networking sites, or conduct some top-down industry research looking for the best industries and companies that meet their needs. If your jobs can’t be easily found by candidates using these techniques, you’ll never see the best people. To continue not seeing any good people make sure you continue to post your ads on the major boards, where the best people look last.

Write boring ads that start with the req number.
If your ads are found, make sure they’re so boring that they preclude a good person from even applying. You can do this by leading off with the req number, a dumb title, telling the person whether the job is full-time or not, and if you’ll pay for relocation. Then go into a boring description of the job. Then make sure you clearly state that the candidate must not apply unless the person possess a laundry list of skills and experiences that was lifted from some job description written a few years ago.

Make sure that interviewers are untrained and can ask any questions they want.
Hiring mistakes are no big deal, so why not let anyone interview the candidate, ask any questions they want, and then ask them whether you should hire the person using whatever criteria they think appropriate. To make matters worse, only let untrained interviewers meet your candidates. This will certainly impress those top candidates you see regarding your company’s level of professionalism.

Add up the yes and no votes.
Here’s a sure-fire way to get the hiring decision wrong…let each untrained, biased, emotional, and superficial interviewer have a full yes/no vote on who should get hired. Then to even out these errors, give a no vote more power than a yes vote, give unprepared interviewers the same voting rights as prepared interviewers, and then add up the votes. To make sure this process works as described, do not challenge anyone’s assessment, just in case the person might get offended. This is more important than the right answer.

Force candidates to formally apply before you can even chat with them.
Top people, when they just enter into the job-hunting process, have lots of questions and are comparing different companies and situations. One good way to prevent seeing or hiring any of these people is to not let them just talk with a recruiter or hiring manager unless they formally apply first. Most won’t, but if you have some persistent person who still decides to apply anyway, make sure you have him complete a rigorous application process, submit a resume and a statement that everything stated is true. Of course, to make sure a good person doesn’t sneak through this bureaucratic blockade, be sure not to contact the person for a least a week. Collectively, this will show the person you mean business.

Focus on compensation and skills rather than career opportunities.
Since the best people are more concerned with career growth, the opportunity to make an impact and want to know the broad details about the job before getting serious, we don’t want to give them any of this information. Who knows, somebody good might actually be interested in and qualified for one of our open jobs. Instead, to prevent this from happening, don’t discuss the job at all, first screen candidates only on their skills and then tell them what your comp range is. If there isn’t a fit here, don’t waste your time, just go on to another candidate. You certainly wouldn’t want to ask candidates about some of their major achievements first and see if any of your other openings better match their needs. They actually might be interested in one of these jobs, despite the comp range. Wouldn’t that mess things up?

You can see why these are my favorites rules for not hiring good people. What amazes me is that so many companies follow them and expect different results.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Strategies for the Second Interview

A good friend of mine in the recruiting world recently published an article for TheLadders.com, entitled "Round Two Interview - The Difference Maker". Dean Tracy, a professional recruiter and Career Coach out on the West Coast, advises his candidates to capitalize on this second opportunity to close the deal with a potential employer. This involves understanding the organization's business model and demonstrating what immediate benefit you could provide to the problems and pain your potential employer is feeling. I know you will find the article insightful and beneficial, especially for the next time you are out interviewing!

Enjoy today's posting and thanks again to Dean for sharing his knowledge and insight.

Round Two Interview - "The Difference Maker"
Dean Tracy 09/10/08

As I coach candidates on job search and interview tactics globally, I admit that there is a bit of a science to nailing the second round interview. If you have the proper formula, you may be the only candidate to make a lasting impression that the company will not soon forget!

Chances are good that if you’re being invited back for a second round of interviews, then you’ve made a good initial impression and have something that they want. That said, besides charisma and all of the right answers to their questions, what will you bring to the interview that will impress them enough to use your interview as the standard against which to grade all other candidates?

Answer: Your 60/90-Day Strategic Plan.
During your first interview, you probably heard all about the pain-points that are driving the hiring manager crazy. This includes project deadlines, technology initiatives, budgets, client visits (if you’re in Sales), revenue goals and so on. Additionally, you may have noticed that they never seem to have enough people on staff!

If you’ve asked the right questions in your first round of interviews, and you are truly excited about this potential opportunity, then you should have a pretty good idea as to what you will do to be successful in this role. You should be able to identify at least a 60/90-day strategic plan, based upon your knowledge of the role as it is today.

If used carefully and properly, your strategic plan can be “The Difference Maker” for you in your second round of the interview process.

Three of the primary factors that demonstrate your value proposition, and will drive your success in this new potential role are as follows: having a vision / overview for the job, establishing trust with clients and colleagues, and being able to identify and set goals and objectives. Let’s go into each of these in depth.

Vision / Overview
Based upon what you have heard in the interview, you should know the vision / overview of the department or company. What impact will you make within your first 60/90 days that can be tied back to the company reaching its goals?

Consider the following when drafting your plan:
Know the ProductEstablish a working knowledge of products or services to create long-term value in your employment.

Be Credible Become a leader among your peers by spearheading initiatives, collaborating with the leadership team, or presenting to your department.

Establishing Trust with Clients and Colleagues
Establishing trust is essential for success in any role. What will you do to establish a high degree of trust within your piece of the company or amongst your peers?

Consider the following when drafting your plan:
Make IntroductionsMeet with key stakeholders in the company or department. This is beneficial on all fronts. It offers an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills, but also allows you to get their perspectives on the company and projects.

Share Expectations Understand the leadership team's expectations. This is paramount to your success. Investigate revenue objectives, if possible, to set your personal goals. Think about setting “best practices” that may be beneficial to the company and your role. This will include understanding client needs and identifying what may have been learned from any mistakes along the way.

Create Buy-In and Set Priorities Identify how you will partner with the leadership team to create attainable goals for success. Fully understand the company mission statement and be able to share it with others. This represents a degree of commitment and clarity on the corporate goals.

Goals and Objectives
Setting goals and objectives is simply good business practice. You need to fully understand your new role in order to be successful, and you must approach it as a business. In doing so, it’s critical that you identify your personal goals and objectives for success in this new capacity.

Consider the following when drafting your plan:
Determine the Objectives Educate yourself daily on a new aspect of the company, the expectations or the job. Establish product expertise within the first 30 days of employment. Build cross-departmental relationships with departments that are responsible for supporting your success.

Shape a Methodology Identify the steps that you will take to accomplish your objectives. For every objective that is listed, you should have a supporting methodology for the accomplishment.

Reflect on Success Identify how you will evaluate or measure the success of your contributions.

Setting yourself apart from the rest of the candidates is mission critical to having a lasting impact on the person or team that is interviewing you.No doubt, you’ve heard the phrase “raise the bar.”

My perspective is that the candidate before and after you can raise the bar all they want. By entering into the second round interview prepared with a 60/90-Day Strategic Plan, you are sure to launch yourself over any bar that is set before you!

Dean Tracy is a Professional Recruiter, Public Speaker and Career Coach based in Northern California with an emphasis on placing and coaching professionals at a national level. He also serves on the Leadership Team for Job Connections, which is recognized as one of Northern California's largest and most reputable Professional Networking Groups.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Frequent Fliers Beware

A recent article on CNN.com highlighted that those frequent flier miles you have accumulated may not be as valuable as you once thought. As is typical with airlines these days, they will not only charge you for luggage, but now there is a fee to use your frequent flier miles. Details below....

Frequent fliers: No more free ride
As fuel prices shoot up, more airlines are adding fees to cash in your miles.

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Last Updated: September 8, 2008: 5:33 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The old adage - Nothing is life is free - is the new reality for frequent fliers.

As a struggling airline industry looks for new ways to alleviate high fuel costs, it is becoming increasingly difficult for passengers to cash in miles and expect them to cover the cost of a ticket.

On Sept. 15, Northwest Airlines (NWA, Fortune 500) is set to impose fuel surcharges on its WorldPerks frequent flier program, including fees of $25 within North America, $50 for trans-Atlantic flights, $100 for trans-Pacific, $75 for flights within Asia and the South Pacific, and $50 for "all other itineraries."

Delta Air Lines (DAL, Fortune 500), the carrier that's in the process of acquiring Northwest, has already added fuel surcharges for frequent fliers. On Aug. 15, Delta imposed $25 fuel surcharges for its SkyMiles frequent flier program within the U.S. and Canada, and a $50 surcharge for international travel beyond Canada.

When Northwest announced the impending fees back in July, Chief Executive Doug Steenland said in a press release that it was "a temporary service fee to partially offset our fuel costs. As fuel comes down we will re-visit this decision."

That was two days before oil prices hit their record high of $147.27 a barrel. Fuel prices have dropped significantly since then, with oil trading at about $106 a barrel on Friday.

Tim Winship, editor of the travel advice site SmarterTravel.com, said that as fuel prices continue to fall "any new fuel surcharge is likely to be met with skepticism and anger by travelers.
Presumably the airlines know that."

But the industry group Air Transport Authority still expects the airlines' fuel costs to total $61.2 billion this year, up nearly 50% from $41.2 billion in 2007.

"It's just another way that airlines are trying to recoup their increased fuel costs," said Raymond Neidl, airline analyst for Calyon Securities. "I'm expecting that other airlines will follow suit."

Who's next?
Travel gurus point to UAL Corp.'s (UAUA, Fortune 500) United Airlines. "United is next most likely, simply because they're always ready to follow other carriers' lead in such matters," said Winship.

Rick Seaney, chief executive of the air travel information site Farecompare.com, agreed that United is next in line "because at the moment they don't have a fuel surcharge or redemption fee other than [for] last-minute [fees] and they have not been bashful firing out airfare hikes this year."

Other fees for frequent fliers
Other airlines have added processing fees, which are paid when frequent flier redeem miles, with larger fees for reclaiming miles after canceling a flight. US Airways (LCC, Fortune 500) has added a processing fee of up to $50 for its frequent fliers, as well as fees for reissuing or redepositing miles of $150 for domestic flights and $250 for international.

"Re-deposit and change fees are there to try to dissuade members from switching their itineraries," said US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder. "When this happens, the ability of other members to obtain an award seat is negatively impacted."

Continental Airlines (CAL, Fortune 500) also charges $150 to frequent fliers who re-deposit miles from canceled flights. AMR Corp.'s (AMR, Fortune 500) American Airlines also has processing fees for its frequent fliers and has added upgrade fees of $30 minimum.

These are similar to the fees applied for changing flights. Delta charges fees of $75 to $150 to changes within 20 days of departure for frequent fliers, with the highest fees paid for changes made within three days. Northwest charges a $50 fee for frequent fliers who change or cancel their reservations. American Airlines also charges a $50 fee for changing reservations within 20 days, or $100 for within six days.

Seaney of Farecompare.com said that as time goes on and the fees pile up, frequent flier programs are bound to become less popular, but he's not predicting their demise.

"I don't believe that frequent flier miles will go extinct," he said in an email to CNNMoney.com. "I do, however, believe that loyal frequent fliers will continue to realize that frenzied
accumulation of miles isn't worth the effort."

First Published: September 8, 2008: 5:26 AM EDT

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More Job Losses

While perusing CNN.com today, I saw this article on job losses and thought it valuable to share with you. As a recruiter, we have definitely seen this trend over the last few months; but here is some concrete data to support it.
Companies hack away at jobs
Businesses announce 88,736 job cuts in August, 14% below July, but cuts from May though August hit highest level in 6 years.

By Kenneth Musante, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Last Updated: September 3, 2008: 8:14 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of summer job cut anouncements reached its highest level since 2002, according to a report released Wednesday.

From May through August, employers said they would cut 377,325 jobs, according to employment consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. That's nearly 30% more than during the first four months of the year.

The number of job cut announcements usually dips during those particular months as business slows down over the summer, Jim Pedderson, a Challenger spokesman, said.

During the summer of 2002, in the wake of the 2001 recession, companies said they would cut 378,777 positions, according to the report.

Businesses tried to cut jobs this summer as they were hit by "the double whammy of limited access to credit and the high price of oil," said chief executive John Challenger.

Downsizing relief
Despite the summer climb, plans to reduce labor forces tapered off last month from July as oil prices fell from their highs.

The number of announced job cuts fell to 88,736 in August compared with 103,312 in July, but remained more than 12% higher than the same period last year, the report said.

Planned job cuts in the financial sector, which has been suffering from mortgage and credit market losses, also declined.

The number of announced layoffs in the financial sector fell to their lowest level since July 2007, totaling 2,182, down from 14,396 job cuts averaged over the previous seven months, according to the report.

"It might suggest that [credit] conditions are beginning to relent," John Challenger noted. But don't look for significant relief anytime soon, he said.

"It is too early to say that the decline in financial job cuts last month marks the start of a turnaround for the industry," he remarked in a press release. "Many firms are still experiencing major losses in earnings and could make more workforce reductions as 2008 comes to a close."
First Published: September 3, 2008: 7:30 AM EDT

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mileage Reimbursement Increase

IRS Announces Increased Standard Mileage Rates Effective July 1, 2008

In response to increased fuel costs, on June 23, 2008, the IRS announced that it is increasing the optional standard mileage rates used for computing deductible automobile costs for business and other purposes, including moving.The announcement took affect on July 1, 2008, with the new rates being 58.5 cents per mile for business use (up from 50.5 cents) and 27 cents per mile for moving expenses (up from 19 cents). The IRS ordinarily adjusts the mileage rates once per year, but opted to do so in mid-year because the costs of fuel have escalated dramatically in recent months.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Working with the Hiring Manager

As a recruiter, one of the most important conversations I have is with the Hiring Manager regarding their open position. However, many Hiring Managers would prefer to give you a job description and have you run along to identify viable candidates from this rather incomplete profile. In order to successfully identify, recruit, sell, and onboard a potential candidate for a new opportunity requires a partnership, between the Hiring Manager, HR, and the Recruiter.

Today's posting comes from ERE.net and Ronald Katz. Mr. Katz identifies commonly heard objections Hiring Managers provide for being inactive during the search process, and provides guidance as to how to handle these situations. I deal in this world each and every week, and I believe Mr. Katz provides an insightful perspective and one that everyone could walk away with some value. I hope you enjoy today's article and I look forward to hearing some of your thoughts.

Jul 14, 2008, 4:27 pm ET

How many times have you heard a manager complain, “I don’t have time to interview people! I’m swamped and understaffed and have to spend every minute and then some just to get my real work done!”

This is the one of the classic responses we get when we try to partner with managers to fill their positions. Filling jobs is HR’s job. “Can’t you just find me someone?” the manager will say. “And better ones than you found last time? The last one didn’t stick around very long. I don’t think he even lasted a year. Left after eight or nine months.” Sound familiar?

To effectively fill jobs today, we can’t just keep “throwing spaghetti at the wall” hoping that it will stick. We need to establish a partnership and a process for working with the managers we support to insure that we are finding the people with the correct skills mix who will be successful in our organization’s environment.

Many organizations have clear, well-defined processes for both recruiters and hiring managers to use when staffing. Whether it means using a sophisticated applicant tracking system or some homegrown system using e-mails and online requisitions, the process involved in getting new staff on board is usually well defined. All too often, the hard part is getting our managers to work with us to achieve the mutual goal.

Too many managers are unwilling or unable to actively participate in the hiring process, thereby dooming it to fail. Hiring new staff is too important a task to leave to human resources. This is not to demean HR. But to really make sure we are bringing in the staff with the skills and talent we need, who will be able to get the job done in our organization, we need the involvement, the support, and the active participation of the hiring managers. The first thing to do is to try to figure out why the manager is reluctant to commit their energy to partnering with the recruiter in this crucial process.

Why don’t managers get involved in hiring? How much time have you got? The reasons I’ve heard are as numerous as the excuses terminated staff give for why they were fired. But the majority seem to fall into five categories.

• The insecure manager who is unsure how to hire (”I don’t know how.”)
• Managers who have been burnt in their hiring efforts before (”I’m not good at this.”)
• Managers who are constantly fighting the clock (”I don’t have time.”)
• Managers who think its HR’s responsibility (”It’s not my job.”)
• Managers who are unfamiliar with the software (”I don’t know your system and don’t have time to learn it.”)

Each of these require us to take a different approach to resolve the problem, reassure, and engage the manager, and find a way to make the hiring manager our partner.

“I don’t know how.”

When dealing with the insecure manager we need to draw him out to find out why he feels that this is a skill he can’t master. One of the first things to do is reassure him. Use lots of questions to get him to open up.

• What will the new hire be expected to accomplish?
• Why does this need to get done? Why is it important?
• What are the skills that the new person must have?
• What circumstances exist under which they will be expected to work? Lots of deadlines? Little clear direction? What’s the workplace like?

Use this line of questioning to help the insecure manager better understand what it is that he’s looking for and what results he’s going to get from hiring someone. Lots of people are promoted to manager for their technical or business-related skills. Now he has to learn how to do the more challenging part of the manager’s job: selecting and managing people.

This is where a lot of the insecurity comes from. When faced with the challenge of interviewing and hiring someone new, very often it may seem easier to just do it yourself rather than learn how to select new staff. Our job is to remind him that he got promoted to manager because he did a good job but also because he’s smart enough to do this. Interviewing and hiring staff is a skill, just like any other. It’s not intuitive and it can be learned. We need to help the insecure manager to relax and work more openly with us. Give him a roadmap to follow when hiring and he’ll be able to find the right person.

“I’m not good at this.”

Sometimes a greater challenge is reassuring managers who have been burnt in their hiring efforts before. When working with this manager, you will again ask lots of questions, but in a different direction.

• What went wrong last time?
• How can we prevent it this time?
• What’s the same and can’t be changed?
• What can be changed?
• How should it be changed?

The key is to get the manager over her fear of making another bad hire. Is she concerned about her reputation? Is she afraid to upset the chemistry of her current department? Everyone agrees that they are overworked, and that bringing in some reinforcements would alleviate some of the workload. But the manager sees a cohesive well-functioning team and she’s afraid of the impact that introducing someone new may have. Further, if the last new hire left in a messy termination, this could make the manager gun-shy to bring on anyone new. We all know how time-consuming and ugly (if not downright painful) some terminations can be. Find out if this manager is laboring under the “What if I have to fire this person someday?” cloud. If you’re worrying about firing someone someday, it’s practically impossible to hire anyone.

“I don’t have time.”

One of the most difficult managers to pin down is the manager who is working under unrealistic time constraints. Your approach will be a little different this time. You’ll still use questions, but the manager may not think he even has time to answer your questions, much less interview anyone. A few ways for you to find out what you need to know to find the right candidates are:

• Go to him on his schedule, whenever you can; don’t expect him to make time for you.
• If he won’t give you the time to work out the specs of the job, shadow him, or his staff, to learn about the job.
• Can he delegate the first interview to a senior staff person?

To make it clear that you understand the kind of environment in this group, the intense time pressure under which they work, be sure to make “working under extreme time constraints” one of the strategic skills you’ll seek in candidates for the job. This will make it clear to the manager that you do understand what he’s going through and will increase his confidence in your ability to work with him. Further, if he feels that you really do understand, he’ll be more likely to cooperate with you to insure that you get the right person. Another way to gain the manager’s confidence is to speak his language. Link strategic hiring to performance management. This is a bottom-line, results-focused manager. Show him that you can operate the same way.

“It’s not my job.”

Some managers will still tell you that hiring people is HR’s job. The bottom line is, HR can’t do it alone. We have to convince this manager that filling jobs effectively is a collaborative effort.

• We need her input if we are going to find and hire the best person for the job.
• Without it we’ll just keep churning and churning.
• We can fill jobs quickly, but we’d rather fill them only once.
• Our goal and her need is to be effective, not simply efficient.
• Speed is not the answer, quality is.

If you are questioned or challenged by this manager (”Can’t you do your job? Why do I have to hire people?”) your response must be that “Yes, I certainly can hire someone. But I want to hire the right someone, not just anyone.” Again, find out what is at the root of this manager’s reluctance to collaborate. Is there really an insecure manager under the surface or someone who’s been burned before? Remind this manager that she deserves the best person out there.
Working in partnership with you in the planning phase is the best way to insure that she’ll get that person.

“I don’t know your system and don’t have time to learn it.”

The manager who claims to be unfamiliar with the applicant software is becoming more and more rare, but there are still a few out there who hide behind this excuse. I have found that usually this is just a mask for the real issue, and part of working with this manager is getting to the bottom of his reluctance. In a nice way we need to make it clear that the technology is here to stay and technological advances in human resources are no different than advances in any other line of business. We simply aren’t going back to paper applications and snail-mail resumes.
The business and the market won’t let us. Approaches to take with this manager are:

• Explain that hiding away from the software is no excuse in today’s environment.
• Tell them it’s easier than they think.• Work with the manager to get to the real issue.
• Offer to go through the software again to familiarize the manager with the system, but do not let it become standard operating procedure. You have your job to do, and using the software is part of the manager’s job.

Bluntly put, blaming it on the software is probably the lamest excuse out there. It usually means that the manager is challenged on time, past history, or lack of experience. Our job is to find out what’s really going on so we can use the right tools or the right line of questioning to get to the right solution.

The key to creating a partnership with our managers is not to demand that they accommodate our requests. We need to sell them on the benefits of working with us and the value of their input. We really are trying to find them the best person out there, but we can’t do it alone. Jobs keep changing and the needs of the organization keep evolving. To be effective in meeting the needs of our managers, keep the lines of communication open so we know what they need and can anticipate when they’ll need it. The better we get at predicting what we can do to help their business run smoothly, the more they will see us as the partners we strive to be. Then we won’t have to go chasing after them; they’ll be soliciting our input because they fully understand the value and benefit to them of working more closely with us.