When Women Self-Select Out of the Hiring Process

I was having a cup of coffee the other day (those of you who know me, recognize this as code for: basically every moment of every day), when my wife asked me for some help applying for a job she’d seen in our childrens school district. Since I’m a geek around recruiting, job descriptions, etc, I got into it. The description – “.8 Technology Integrator” (gotta love a compelling job title, way to market the sexy on this one, Newburyport), seemed pretty straightforward, and a good match for her skills and experience.

Here’s where it gets interesting – here’s how a man generally sees things:

“There are 8 required skills. She has 6 of them down cold, one is easy to reboot (Mass teaching license, her’s is lapsed, but so what?), and one she can get done with a bit of time. Granted, the last one’s important – an Instructional Tech Specialist license, but she’s done enough homework on how to get it, and has enough relevant work experience that it shouldn’t be a big deal. On top of that, even if it rules her out for this exact position, the role’s open, and somebody somewhere is saying ‘I can’t keep working 60+ hours a week, at this point, I’ll take someone who can at least do part of the work, I’m desperate’.

Cool – they’re definitely going to at least want to talk with her, and it never hurts to try no matter what. At least her name will be in front of them, in case something else comes up. [Insert cliches about missing every shot you don’t take, foot in the door, something about eagles taking flight, yadda yadda]”

Here’s how my wife, and many women, see this (I know she does, because when I said basically the same thing I wrote above, to her, she gave me this response):

“Holy crap, I only meet 6 of the requirements, they’re never going to want to talk to me. I’m not going to apply.”

You may have noticed a slight… difference, in our perspective. Women seem to self-select out very early in the hiring process. Heck, they don’t even really start the process. It seems to be powered by the confidence piece that Sheryl Sandberg talks about in Lean In.

This haunts me (quoted from an excelent Atlantic article by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman):

“Hewlett-Packard discovered several years ago, when it was trying to figure out how to get more women into top management positions. A review of personnel records found that women working at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.”

Now, admittedly, some of what I’m writing about is anecdotal – and, Curt Rice has a critical critique of the HP piece on his blog (he writes on gender equality, etc, and is very much a white hat) – so take it as this: not hard and fast data. But… personal experience, research that begins to back it up, very little that opposes that data, and my experience working with job applicants seems to bear the theory out. It’s an issue, and we need to understand it.

So, here’s the thing: if you do, in fact, do this, opting out before you even opt it: stop it. (Heck, if you’re a man and you do this, stop it, too). Stop selling yourself short. I know there’s a ton behind this, that our society has been programming you since the get-go (eff you, Mattel!) to think of yourselves as somehow not as strong, not as lucky, not as… men. And that’s probably one of the stinkiest piles I’ve come across in a long time. Each and every one of you has one shot in life, just like the men you know. Each and every one of you is not defined by gender, but by who you are, and what you chose. Chose to apply for that job, if you fall somewhere in the ballpark (within some level of reason: that degree in writing poetry – yes, that’s a thing I did – means my dreams of applying for a role as a rocket scientist are likely shot, but it does mean I’m not shy about thinking I’d make a hell of a ad copywriter if I ever decided to walk that path).

Cliche inserting time: you miss every shot you don’t take, and there’s no penalty for taking the shot. Go forth, and conquer. Yadda yadda.

This Is Why Candidate’s Won’t Talk to You (Us)

Hi. Familiar subject, so please indulge me.

A few months ago, a recruiter texted me with an opportunity, one for which I was (and will always be) wildly unqualified for. I led them along for awhile – just because I was bored, and wanted to see how far it would go, but never lied. They just kept texting and texting. The whole thing ended when I texted that I tended to go into high pitched giggles when stressed in a phone interview, and how could they help me? That killed it.

Ruby1 Ruby3 Ruby4 Ruby5

Or, maybe it killed it. Because they did it again, a week later.

What brought it to mind, were the following inmails from Robert Half. It’s insane. I’m a recruiter, with a degree in poetry. I am in no way qualified to handle anyone’s money. No.




I just wish it would stop.

I’ll Be Talkin’. Yo.

Hey there… just a quickie. I’m getting my public face on again (and again, I have no idea why this keeps happening). If you want to hear me talk as part of a very cool panel on selecting an HR tech vendor-partner, put together by the even cooler George Laroque, come to HRTech in Vegas (baby).

Or, if you just want to hear how well I ride the fail-train, I’m going to be dishing on that topic today on DriveThru HR radio. Bring your knives for this one…


Doing What You Love….


You know what I hate? That ^^

You know why? Beyond the fact that Samuel L. Jackson never said it (yes, I checked), and it’s it’s just another sign of how lazy we’ve become, intellectually, as a society? I hate it because it sets people up for misery.

Misery.  misery-1990-10-g1

Here’s the brutal, cold truth: odds are, you aren’t doing what you love. Odds are, what you love involves some combination of a recreational activity (ranging from gliding around Gotham on your PS4, to frisbee golf), watching Netflix, beer/ wine/ tipple of your choice, and sleeping. You may also enjoy cooking, needlepoint, etc.

Heck, you probably love yourself some family time, too. One would hope.

So: in order to pay your bills (yes, them), buy food, as well as above-mentioned frisbees, overpriced video games, frisbees, thread, cable, and bedding… You have to have money. And what the quote that set me off early this morning is telling you is…. You are wasting your life if you don’t find some way to frisbee-knit-drink-nap your way to above said bill-paying.

It’s such BS. Utter, utter BS. Some people are fortunate enough to be in roles they love – and, yes, luck is as much about hard work and perspiration, as it is about random chance. So, some people work hard, and have Dame Fortune smile on them. Others – many, many others – work hard, and… work hard. Heck, unlike Mr. Jackson, they work hard for very little. Because that’s how life is, most of the time: real. It’s the rare minority who get to be memed about how great life is, how doing what you love is all that matters, blah blah blah. I mean, if you love painting watercolors of red lobster shacks, and your life involves supporting a family of 4, a mortgage, car payments, etc – unless you’rs some sort of frickin’ genius, there’s no way you can leave that job as an actuarial analyst (and the salary it affords), just so you can go sit on a dock in Rockport, Massachusetts painting Motif No. 1.

This will not pay for 2 college tuitions.
This will not pay for 2 college tuitions.

Here’s what I’d like to see – this. (why are there no down arrow symbols on my keyboard?):


Rant, pretty much wrapped up. I’ll leave you with this: your career may not be as bad as you think it is. It may be your boss. It may be your colleagues. Heck, it may well be… you. I’m not saying “be a good little drudge, put you eyes back on the grindstone, or you get the whip”. What I’m saying is, don’t kill yourself because some hack with a Meme Generate account cut and pasted some simple minded advice onto a picture of a smirking celebrity. Life moves quickly (unless you’re at the DMV, where they’ve figured out how to warp time & space), and then it cuts off. Love what you do for love, work so you can afford it, and keep an eye out for chances to make that side stuff pay your bills. It can happen, just don’t get worked up if it doesn’t.

The Newburyport Conversation


So, just a random thought: would some sort of Algonquin-esqe round table, only in Newburyport, MA, over a few days next summer interest any of my recruiting friends?

Admittedly, I’m being selfish, since I live in Newburyport, but on the flip side, it’s a great place to spend a couple mellow summer days. Far from (some) of the maddening crowd, too.


I’m not talking about an organized conference, per se, maybe more along the lines of Bill Boorman‘s TRUs, but even more “un” unconferency. Really just a chance for a bunch of us to spend a few days talking issues, while eating really good food (we’re surrounded by farms & the sea, so the food’s pretty amazing), sipping beer and wine (multiple breweries in town, vineyards just over the hill…), maybe sailing or just hiking and birdwatching on plum island? Vendors welcome (ie: help, we need some sponsorship if we want to make sure everyone, not just those from big brands, get a seat on the beach), but not vendor booth area – just be part of the convo, since you’ve got a perspective on it too.

Part of what’s driving this is that I’ve decided I hate (and I mean _hate_) giving talks – look, we all get nervous, but I’ve got a speech impediment to beat the band, and it’s triggered by nerves, so… yeah, things get funky for me. With that said, I love (and I mean _love_) having conversations (so, I like being panels, since they feel like conversations… I’d probably do well as a co-host on The View). So this is my way of making this fully about having a chat. With great people. While eating. By the ocean. Also, by gorgeous countryside. And a nifty downtown. Also, conversations….


LinkedIn Recruiter Spam…

Uggh. Alright, so first: it’s been 6 months since I posted. That’s insane. The new job at PwC is amazing, love my boss/ team/ and the work we’re doing. I’m very much in my happy place. All that said, time is whipping by. I’ll make an effort to be more diligent here. Maybe. Sorta.

Or, well, to be a bit more honest: I have no idea. I’ll try to write more. I love it, have a hacker-level ability at it, and gods know I need the catharsis… But. Yeah. I am loathe to promise.

All that said, it’s a typical busy day, err night by now, and I should be pushing a deliverable. I just need to vent for a second, about abuse. Abuse of my time, of LinkedIn, of recruiting in general. One particular thing. Spam.

I have a connection, whom I’ve never met, and I’m not sure how we connected. That’s fine – she seems legit, works in recruiting, etc. No big deal. But for this: her only communications to me, ever, are spam. I just got one, and I’m going to post it as an example of why, when I ask for feedback on “what’s your biggest complaint about LinkedIn”, I get responses like this one from an engineer friend of mine:

“Too many lazy recruiters sending job offers that aren’t applicable to some ones skill set or even better asking for free referrals #hacks#drainonhumanity

That’s a huge issue for our industry. We’ve talked and talked about it at a leadership level, but then we see data showing individuals who have sent thousands of inmails in a single month.

Thousands. Plural. Figure an average of 22 wrk days per month. 4400 inmails. 200 a day. Being generous, let’s say 4 hours a day just sourcing on LinkedIn. So… 50 an hour. Basically one a minute. That, or just pure bulk messaging (and we all know that’s what it really is).

How can that be effective? Nobody responds to those, unless they’re desperate. And, if they’re responding, they probably applied already anyways. It’s just busywork, by a lazy recruiter, and it’s killing us.

Please. Stop. It. Just leave the industry if that’s your approach, or take the time to learn a new approach. All you’re doing is making people hate  the rest of us… and, sometimes, you get blogged about for it.

In any event, here’s the inmail I got (redacted to, well, not be a jerk on my end). Bear in mind, this is from the president of a staffing firm who – supposedly – knows who I am, and what I do for a living. Knows that asking me for leads like this, and in this fashion, is futile – heck, under LinkedIn’s new rules tightly limiting the number of inmails recruiters can send per month, is actually a waste of money and time. Should also know I’m a mean son-of-a-gun at times. This is like poking a bear with a short stick…

Hi Martin,

We are hiring!!! (sorry, this is Martin – editorial note – what?I have actually blogged about how much I hate unnecessary exclamation points – and, kid, this is a case in point. Imagine someone coming up to you at a party and shouting at you like this “We’re hiring!! WEEE!!!” You’d want to knock them on the head with the punch bowl in self-defense. And everyone would applaud you). Even though it’s cold outside, the digital job market is HOT! We are looking for top talent to fill the following positions:

For full job details please visit our career page at


(best if viewed in IE) (Wait. Whaaa?  So: “best viewed in a browser that nobody in digital or marketing will ever use!”… and these roles are all about digital and marketing… anyways: go on…)

Account Management /Strategy
• Group Planning Director-Performance Marketing- NYC
• Account Director – Digital Performance Marketing-CHI
• VP, Group Account Director- Dallas/Ft. Worth
• Digital Strategist-LA
• EVP, Group Account Director- Boston
• Analytics Director- Boston
• Web Analyst- Chicago
• Supervisor, Insights and Data Science- Chicago
• Supervisor, Insights and Data Science-Social- NYC

Display Media
• Digital Media Planner-CHI
• Digital Media Planner- NYC
• Digital Media Planner- SF
• Associate Media Director- RTB-NYC (Really Trying BS? I don’t understand, but yes, that is what this email amounts to)

Email Marketing
• Deployment Consultant-Miami

• Associate Director, Search- Chicago
• Media Manager-Paid Search- Chicago
• Sr. Media Manager-Paid Search- Search- NY
• Sr. SEO Strategist- NY
• Director of Paid Media- Dallas, PA (Was that where they shot JR? I always thought he was a Texan…)

Social Media
• Social Media Manager/Recruiter- Ft. Lauderdale (NO. You are one, or the other. NO.)

• VP, Business Development- Multi-channel -NYC
• Media Sales- Digital OOH/TV/Video-NYC (What? OOOH TV! Is that somebody who’s still excited about the talkies? I’m confused. Also, clearly, if I don’t even know what the title means…)

Tell your friends!!! (Oh, trust me: I am)
We are offering a referral bonus if your one of your referral is hired by our client. You will receive an iPad or $500 gift card for your first hired referral and $1000 cash for any additional referrals that are hired. Candidates must exceed their 90 day probationary period before a referral bonus is issued. Referrals are valid for 6 months.

Thanks for your help! (Oh, no – thank you. I needed a distraction…)


Wanna Grab a Coffee? Talent Acquisition/ HR Conference Update

Hi there –

I tend to bop around the globe from time-to-time, generally for honorable purposes. October, far from the cruelest month, is when I’m at some fall conferences. I’m at three (so far) for the month. If you’re planning on attending any, I’d love to catch up and talk shop, look at tech, etc. Vendors: love to hear what you have to say – predictive analytics, talent pools, inbound marketing, social, and mobile are high on my interest list.

Here’s my quick list:

  • 10/2: Boston Recruitment Media Day (presenting) http://bit.ly/1wcueBq
  • 10/7-10/10: HRTech: http://www.hrtechconference.com/index.html
  • 10/20-10/24: LinkedIn Talent Connect: http://business.linkedin.com/events/talent-connect/north-america.html

E-mail, DM, text, carrier pigeon, etc me at your convenience…