Getting Away From Unicorns in Job Descriptions

I was reading a really interesting article in Forbes by Lou Adler, who I happen to think is very smart, about a time he helped a client recognize what he was looking to get done, as opposed to looking for a unicorn who could do everything. This is something we encounter a great deal in our work in talent acquisition. A big part of it, is defining what the person you hire is supposed to accomplish. It got me to thinking….

I’ve never been a huge fan of business/ self-help books – I’m pretty sure someone a one minute manager hit a tipping point and moved your cheese into your chicken soup, because. That said, I also know a good idea when I hear one (or, when I refuse to acknowledge it, fail catastrophically, and then say “Oh, what a good idea, I’m glad I recognized it…”). One of them is from the 7 Habits. It’s very appropriate when it comes to writing job descriptions, and I’ve told many a client this: begin with the end in mind.

What do you want this role to achieve? From there, pull back. How can that be achieved – by what actions? Then, work back, and find people who have demonstrated they can take those types of actions, successfully. Even if the ends they were achieving were not the exact same as the client was looking for, the abilities inherent in their ability to take those tactical actions are transferable quite often. It usually comes down to a base level knowledge of the industry, smarts, the ability to think around corners, creativity, and communication skills.

Once you have that lined up, it’s pretty likely your client (internal or external) is going to have the same “that’s what I meant to say” reaction – and that’s a good thing. It means your lined up, and you can define your search a whoooole lot better.

It’s not magical, really, but it gets people on-point, and away from getting lost in bullet after bullet of “requirements”. I mean, everyone loves a unicorn – especially the Scots, oddly enough – but… nobody likes hunting them.

And this picture… this is simply what the Internet’s given us…
unicorn

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Farewell, Mobiquity

About a year and a half ago, a good friend & colleague in the talent acquisition field connected me with Susan Miele, one of the top human resources pros in the world (as a side-note, if you ever have the chance to work with Susan, jump at it). We hit it off, to say the least. After several hours over coffee, swapping stories, approaches, ideas and ideals, she asked me to come chat with the executive team at a company she had recently joined: Mobiquity.

What sold me (beyond the chance to be mentored by an A+ level boss) was the opportunity to fix a pretty broken talent acquisition department. Over our tenure together, Susan and I have built a team that is second-to-none in terms of quality, camaraderie, and results (also, this team – if you have the chance to work with, for, or hire any of them, don’t lose that opportunity). We get things done, and we do it with a sense of humor. To paraphrase Joel Spolsky, we looked for people who were “Smart, Can Tell a Good Joke, and Get Things Done”. We succeeded beyond our expectations, and the team was able to play a key role in scaling Mobiquity from around 100 employees to close to 450, a small handful of offices in the northeast of the US to 12 offices on 4 continents. Personally, I’ve had the unique opportunity to spend time overseas, working on M&A from an HR perspective, along with traveling domestically helping open offices in key cities across the US.

It’s been a blast. And, now, it’s coming to an end – for me, at least.

I’m not going to say much, yet, about where I’m going, beyond saying that an opportunity arose that became too interesting for me not to pursue. When I was discussing it with a trusted colleague, in a Hamletesque moment of indecision they said: “If you don’t pursue this, I’m going to tell Susan to fire you so you can. You have to do this.”

So… I did. I’m beyond excited for my next step, while, like Janus, looking back with a pretty ridiculous smile at what my team hath wrought.

Here are (a few) of the people I had the absolute pleasure of working with – the Talent Acquisition team: Jeff Newman, Alex Bowler, Michael Fabiano, Melissa Adamo, Becky Bajan. I thank each and every one of them, and I can’t wait to work with them again.

More to come, soon – I promise….

bigyam

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How We Harm Our Daughters’ Futures

Not to soapbox (I have Facebook status updates for that), but this is something that struck a chord with me. For the past few years, I’ve been involved formally as well as informally, in efforts to encourage more women to get involved with technology.

It’s not because I’m heroic – it’s because I’m selfish and lazy. The more women there are who get involved in technology, the easier my work as in talent acquisition becomes. Not simply because there are more tech candidates (since, I’m not always a tech-focused talent acquisition person), but at a more meta level: the more people there are working in tech, the more rapidly we advance. New tools for talent acquisition, Better medications and technology to help us live longer.

We get to build NASA’s warp ship sooner.

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Ahem – sorry… I get a little excited when I think about how WE’RE TALKING ABOUT BUILDING A WARP SHIP THAT CAN GET TO ALPHA CENTAURI IN JUST A FEW WEEKS.

2562405-6086807432-Happe

S0. Right. Important real-world stuff time.

Do the math: over 50% of the populace in the US is female. The majority of college students are women. And yet: only 18% of college engineering majors are female. That not only makes zero sense, it’s also a major blow to us COLONIZING PLANETS IN ALPHA CENTAURI.

Google just released their internal study about diversity within the organization – and, it’s depressing. Admirably, they admit as much, and are committing to correcting the issue. (The race issue is another, and I suspect driven by similar social behaviors, issue that should trouble you greatly – we are wasting talent in so many directions…)

google-technology-employees-by-gender-race-percentage-of-employees_chartbuilder-3

Here’s the thing: it’s blow-by-blow, the way we limit our development as a species. By constantly trying to make our girls more “girly”, we are killing them. Limiting their chances at success, while also limiting our society. There’s a terrific video out by Verizon that illustrates this much better than I can – I’m embedding it below. You should watch it. And then: watch yourself. I think we’re all guilty of this at some level, and it’s time we did better. For everyone’s sake… (also, so we can go to Alpha Centauri)

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The PERFECT Summer Internship… Honest

I work with some fantastic, brilliant, as well as malicious interesting people…. Last year, we came up with this crazy idea to create an onshore development center down in Gainesville, Florida. Smack-dab in the swamp. Full of alligators. Also, full of genius students, a subversive rock culture, and, well, groovy people. Like Austin, but 20 years ago.

It’s been a good year – really good. Recruited an incredible talent acquisition & development specialist named Mike Fabiano, and convinced him to move from Rochester NY to Gainesville. We moved a great up & coming leader named Dan Cohen south, and it’s proven to be a genius move. Built a partnership with the University of Florida, found and built up office space, and set up programs like Agile Pizza. Scaled the office from nothing, to a growing campus full of fresh minds from all over the world, developing amazing mobile. It’s been a good time.

And, now: interns. An intern program. We asked the team down in Gainesville to design it, and man, did they deliver. I thought I’d share the program’s guidelines (authored by the brilliant Holly Gibbs) – in case you want to copy the magic. Please, especially if we’re corporate frenemies, copy away…

 

Summer 2014 Internship Responsibilities & Tasks

As a Mobiquity intern you will be expected to complete the following tasks in a professional and timely manner.

Daily tasks:

  1. Coffee must be picked up (from Starbucks) and delivered to the office every morning for all internship coordinators. The order is as follows:
    1. One half-caf soy cinnamon dulce latte with ONE pump of pumpkin syrup. If they say that pumpkin syrup is seasonal, they are lying. If there is no pumpkin syrup you will be sent back.
    2. One venti green tea frappucino with extra whipped cream, shaved chocolate and chocolate drizzle. Please make sure this is vegan.
    3. Three double-shot coffees. The brew should be medium and ask them to leave room for cream but don’t put any in there.
    4. One grande vanilla soy latte with no whip.
    5. Justin wants his coffee from Cymplify. A small Americano in an insulated cup so it stays warm.
    6. Elise prefers the coffee from Volta. A large iced vanilla chai latte.
    7. The coffees MUST be 150 degrees when delivered. Any colder or hotter and you will be sent back to redo the entire order.
  2. Pratik’s clothes must be ironed for the day. A key to his apartment will be provided. The ironing list is as follows:
    1. 1 pair of underwear (boxers should be ironed and briefs should be pressed)
    2. 1 pair of pants (slacks should be pressed, jeans should be ironed)
    3. 1 undershirt (ironed)
    4. 1 shirt (ironed and pressed collars and cuffs)
    5. No need to iron socks unless they are done the night before.
  3. Pick up the following items from Vine bakery:
    1. One chocolate croissant
    2. Two bread puddings
    3. One loaf of Old 85 bread (sliced thinly)
    4. On Fridays: five loaves of challah (they MUST be fresh and hot and they sell out quickly so it’s best to get there before 7am)
  4. Holly’s dogs are aging and cannot go to the bathroom by themselves. You will be provided with a key and they will need to be taken out twice a day.
    1. Luigi needs to be carried downstairs. He’s 50 pounds, so you must be able to carry that weight.
    2. Once downstairs, you must take him to several locations, pointing to a good spot and asking him if it’s where he wants to “go potty”
    3. He won’t choose any of them. Instead he will want to go behind a row of bushes
    4. You CANNOT watch him go to the bathroom
    5. He must be at the end of the leash or he will not go
    6. Afterwards, please thoroughly inspect his waste for anything unusual. He eats a lot of carrots so that’s OK.
    7. Bag his waste and dispose of it in the dumpster, not in the apartment
    8. Get Bellatrix next. You cannot walk them at the same time because they have two different types of leashes and they get jealous
    9. Bellatrix will need to be coaxed downstairs, but do not carry her. She is working on it. This can take in excess of 25 minutes.
    10. Once downstairs, she will likely go several times. She needs to be walked at least 15 blocks.
    11. Please pick up and inspect her waste as well
    12. Dispose of it in the dumpster
    13. They should both be given a quick bath after their walks.
      1. There is Paul Mitchell shampoo in the shower for them.
      2. Please make sure they are completely dry before leaving.
      3. There are specific dog towels in the linen closet. They are not labeled.
      4. DO NOT use the good towels.
    14. Before you leave the apartment, give them each half of a carrot. Luigi gets the bigger half. They must sit, lay down, roll over and ‘speak’ before they receive it.
  5. Daniel needs his workout clothing washed and laid out for him when he gets home. Please make sure that his wife or two children DO NOT see you while you’re in the house. You should be invisible at all times.
  6. Michael Fabiano likes shredded wheat for breakfast, but he hates shredding it himself. Please make sure it’s shredded and in a bowl for him on his desk before 9am every morning. Do not actually touch the shredded wheat.

Weekly tasks:

  1. Dry cleaning orders should be dropped off on Tuesday mornings and picked up on Thursday by 3pm. You are in charge of asking all staff members and reminding them about the service weekly. But not in an annoying way.
  2. Several of our staff members are on specialty diets (gluten free, paleo, Zone) and require homemade snacks for the week. You are responsible for researching, shopping for and making snacks for them each week. The kitchen must be fully stocked for the whole week on Monday morning by 9am.
  3. All interns will be responsible for cleaning the office weekly. Bathrooms and the kitchen should be paid extra attention. Please also make sure nobody actually sees you cleaning, because it makes some staff members uncomfortable.
  4. All cars in the parking lot should be vacuumed, cleaned, waxed and have their wiper fluids filled weekly. Interns are responsible for keeping track of which cars have been washed and which have not. Failure to do this during the week will result in weekend trips to employee’s houses to complete the task.
  5. Daniel likes to get weekly pedicures but DOES NOT want anyone to know or acknowledge it. You are responsible for arranging a pedicurist to come in to the office between 11:45am and 12:45pm every Tuesday to give him his weekly pedicure. They must bring a massaging chair and foot tub, as well as clear polish and all of the equipment they may need. Nobody can see them come or leave, and it is essential that nobody disturb him during this hour. You will be responsible for overseeing this process and for guarding his door. Curtains must be installed beforehand and removed once the pedicure is done.
  6. Dave has a 150-gallon fish tank that will need to be cleaned weekly. Please research saltwater tank maintenance before doing this task, as several of his fish cost thousands of dollars and you will be responsible for their well-being.
  7. We have a bit of a pest problem in the intern building. Interns are responsible for spraying the building, setting traps and cleaning them once something is caught.
  8. Sarah only drinks spring water, and it has to be fresh from the springs. Please take a 5-gallon container to the springs during the weekends to collect water for her. You are responsible for testing the water to make sure it’s drinkable. If it’s not, please treat it so that it is. She prefers the water from Ichetucknee Springs.

Additional tasks:

  1. Jason needs you to update this piece of software that we’ve been using. The guy that wrote it quit 7 years ago, and he thinks that he used Pascal. We don’t have any documentation on it, but it’s critical for our business.
  2. Dave needs someone to research the origins and history of .NET and to write a 50-page report on it. He won’t actually read the report before he makes his decision on it, but we need it just in case.
  3. We need someone to research and prototype a gaming system that does the following:
    1. Provide monitoring for 6 new video game systems, a maximum of 2 of any type from any given vendor.
    2. Generate clean data (data that does not contain any identifiable information from real people) from new video game systems.
    3. Design a prototype rig for capturing data from new video game systems.
    4. Implement the prototype rig on the new video game systems.
    5. Provide used video games systems purchased on the open market.  Used systems provided shall be likely to contain data from previous users.
    6. Extend tool development to implement creating signatures over sections.
    7. Survey console chat room technology and identify potential chokepoints where data may be committed to storage.
    8. Identify data storage points on used video game systems and attempt to demonstrate proof of concept.
    9. Extract real data from used video game systems.
    10. This is due in two weeks.
  4. Every intern is responsible for knowing each employee’s name, immediate family’s names, and weekly schedule. If there is anything an employee needs during the week, the intern is responsible for making sure they get it and the process goes smoothly. It’s your job to work around their weekly schedule.
  5. Several staff members have additional projects they’re working on outside of work. You are responsible for answering calls, emails and taking meetings in regards to all of these projects. DO NOT ask any questions about the details of these projects.
  6. We have several employee birthdays each month. Interns are responsible for planning a birthday party for each employee. They must be catered with that employee’s favorite foods and you will be responsible for coordinating the schedules of everyone in the office so all can attend. You also must contact their family for photos of them as a child and have large-format prints made to be hung up around the office. We cannot have birthday cake, however, so you will be responsible for finding a suitable replacement for birthday cake that people will get just as excited about. (Note: A “cake” made from fruit salad spears is bullshit)

If you have any questions regarding any of these tasks, please make a support ticket and assign it to yourself. Then figure it out.

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I Was Thinking About Subban and Sterling…

It’s a funny thing, race in America. On the one hand, we urge all children to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. On the other, we completely ignore the fact that a lot of those kids don’t even have boots, let alone straps (as an aside: what the hell is a bootstrap, and how do I get one?)

The last few weeks have been interesting, in terms of race and sports in my country. On the one hand, we have the multi-billionaire owner of a major-league basketball team telling his mixed race mistress* that he doesn’t want her seen in public with black people (after that, he gets really racist); on the other, you have Boston Bruins fans hurling racial slurs at a black hockey player who’s team had just beaten them during Game 1 of a finals series.

It’s all shameful. We’ll ignore the Europeans tossing bananas at black soccer players because…. well, because the European version of me can blog on that particular little bit of stupidity.

So, here’s what I think (in case you’re still reading and haven’t nodded off). To the people that are wondering why basketball seems to have a lot of blacks, while hockey is almost all white: it comes down to equipment. At the early ages. What’s lacking is leveling. As a modern society, that has aspirations at moral leadership globally, we need all children to have the same level of access to opportunity. Hockey equipment is incredibly expensive; basketball equipment is not. When you start out in poverty, as a disproportionate number of black children do, you never even get the chance to get on the ice. 

Now, extend that to technology. Wonder why there are so many white kids who become computer whizzes and make careers as developers? Access. They had access at an early age to tech. Not just in school, but around the house. Around their lives. It’s normal and comfortable to them. Kids raised in poverty generally don’t get access like that outside of the classroom, if they’re even lucky enough to have that. Consider this: in a fascinating analysis of AP CS placement exams, the number of black students taking the exams, state after state, is 30% of what it _should_ be based on percents of the population (I’m pleased that in Massachusetts it’s 50% of what is should be – but, not really pleased… more like, less ashamed than if I was from Mississippi).

The color divide of hockey and basketball is actually a grim reflection back on the fact that we haven’t summoned the courage up to take a generation of black kids up to the _average_ level of prosperity/ opportunity of a concurrent generation of white kids. If we did that – if we really invested in them, a moonshot mission to equalize access to tech, sport, literature, etc – I think we’d break a number of cycles, not just sports. And, as a society, we’d finally become whole, with all the incredible benefits a truly united “United” States could achieve.

Thus endeth the ran.

 

*btw, if you’re not following: he’s 80, she’s 30 – he looks like the ugly brother of Gollum, she could probably get a gig at the Playboy Mansion: draw your own conclusions…

pps: If you’re wondering what a Sterling/ Gollum love-child would look like, here you go….
Gollum--donald-sterling-a-p-jpg

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