There is absolutely no reason why recruitment made sense as a career choice for me.
Think about my profile, and then think about what a recruiter should have in their tool bag. First, I’m shy. I wasn’t the kid everyone wanted to hang out with, never figured out the sports thing. Was actually the kid picked last for games, and know that feeling intimately – the way time slows down, as the play unfolds, act by act, until it’s just you, and the look on your captain’s face as they’re forced to deal with you… tick-tock… tick.. fucking.. tock.
I stutter when I’m stressed out. I’m stressed out a lot. I talk wicked, wicked fast, and mumble.
I am not a closer – I don’t get the Cadillac, barely rate the steak knives.
Oh, and I’m just brimming with self confidence.
Here’s the thing: I believe experience can change us. That we’re just lumps of rock, and time is the wind, the water, washing over us. We are eroded as we go. I chose to control my shaping, as much as I could. Not the minutia, the fine lines, but the broader strokes. To seize the wind and the water, and point it’s power at sections of me that I wanted to chance. If I was shy, and had a hard time talking, wrote poetry and read sci f? Fuck me: I was going to go into recruitment. Full commission. No draw. No food if I failed.
So, that’s the origin story – there’s tons of stupid detail behind that, and we can talk over beers about it someday, but I want to move forward and justify both my blog title, and my career. Because I stuck with it. I made this happen, and I’m proud of that.
I still talk way too fast. I still love sci fi. I’m still shy (I have managed to mask that last bit beautifully, but know this, when we’re talking, that I’m not 100% sure you give a crap – you’re still the coach, and I’m that kid you just kind hadda deal with). But… I found a lever. And I want to change the world. Because that’s important, in life. I don’t want to die without making change. My legacy will not be “he was that nice, quiet kid who wrote poem, wonder what ever happened to him…” No. Since I’m not a person of faith, my view is that this is my one shot, and I want it to count. To move the world.
Archimedes once wrote: “give me a lever long enough, and I will move the world”. I can get behind that. I need a lever, before I go.
The economy matters – goods, commerce, food, all of it. It’s the engine. It impacts how we eat, sleep, grow, meet, date, survive. Affect the economy? That’s a lever. But… how?
Recruitment. Mother-effing-recruitment. Think about it: the economy is about money. The transfer of goods, via symbols. The way to collect those symbols is via a job (yes, yes: “welfare, blah blah blah” – fuck you, by the way: study after study shows that most people want to work, it’s just part of our DNA). Jobs bring us money, we spend money, the wheel is lubricated, etc etc. If you can impact the speed at which people get hired, their carer arc, job satisfaction, etc, you are greasing the wheel. And, on the other side of the table, the faster companies can hire the right people (that last bit is huge, and making mistakes there is always why companies fail), the better they can grow, hire more, etc. It’s that whole virtuous circle thing.
Most of the people in my industry are clueless about how important they are in this equation. And, to be fair: a some of them are terrible at it. There’s a whole ‘nother blog post coming on that.
I think I get it – and it’s why, despite my wandering eye for a career as dime-store poet, I stay in the game: I’m holding that lever. What I’m doing effing matters. There are hardly any other careers out there that have this level of impact. Each time I make a positive change to my profession, it means somebody’s job search got better. They found work faster. Their kids are less hungry, they’re less stressed out, they’re reinvesting in the economy via Wegmans, funding the PTA, flying the friendly skies again, etc etc. They’re tickling the economy. And, my work powered that – it mattered. And, at an enterprise level, working with huge brands, it really matters. It scales. By being active in my industry, the blog, my speaking engagements (huge irony there), etc etc, I move my industry. The lever moves, and the world moves with it.
I will always be that kid who didn’t get picked – but screw that: I decided to captain my own fate. I found a lever, and I’m am putting my weight on it. I encourage you to do the same…
Next week, I get the great opportunity to sit on a panel at HR Tech, hosted by my friend/ industry legend George LaRocque. The title is “Selecting the ‘Right’ HR Technology Solution Provider”, and it’s all about exactly what it says it’s about: how to pick partners.
Note that keyword: partners. When you’re evaluating software, the culture of the firms you’re looking at matters (and, unless it’s an absolutely innovative solution, there’s going to be a plural, and – yes – you should look at several of them before you buy). Think of it like… dating. Not to be a cynic (fine, that’s a lie, since that’s my default position), but the very best you’re going to get from a suitor comes at the beginning – the first date. They’re trying to make the best impression they can – and, it all goes downhill from there. Before you know it, you’re farting in front of each other, the door-holding tends to drop off, flowers turn into “I grabbed you a doughnut, too – what, you’re on a diet? Cool, more for me!”, you’re farting in front of each other even more often (Dutch Oven becomes a horrible, horrible morning game), etc etc.
So, if that first date/ tech demo is awful… consider the red flag at least partially raised.
So, with software providers – pay attention to their approach, from the beginning. It matters. And, pay attention to how they treat you, throughout the process. Then, take the worst of that behavior, give it an X multiplier, and there you have it: a decent prediction of how they’re going to treat you after you sign the deal.
It’s not always pretty. You owe it to yourself to think long and hard about how much you actually want to date this vendor – are they so much better in… implementation? Is their data-set that big? Performance that much of a deal closer? Do you trust them with your security, with support, with meeting your parents? (Okay, that last one may never happen – and probably shouldn’t, as I think about it). Anyways: caveat emptor, hinc sequitur exin (or something like that – my high school Latin is so rusty it’s basically a pile of orange dust by now).
Oh, and I’m a-gonna close with a rant. Not gonna name names (rhymes with “fuse”…), but got a random email from a sales rep just now – someone I’ve never spoken to before, about a service I’ve never expressed interest in. So: not gauging my interest. No building rapport. Nope, just… an assumption that I’d be so interested in meeting some random VP of theirs, that I’d schedule a meeting during the conference, just days before it begins, since hey my dance card never fills weeks before a conference, nope, I’m just that fugly.
Because, yeah – wait… no flowers? Not even a doughnut? Just start right off with leaving the bathroom door open? And what’s that smell…
“Hi Martin – I wanted to see if you’re headed to Las Vegas for the HR tech conference next week. If so, would you be interested in speaking with our VP while you’re in town?
Scheduling time is quick and easy – feel free to check availability here.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.