Pimpin’ the Group

Well, hello there. How you doin’? Cool, cool… so here’s the thing: I have this little group, over on the Facebok, and it’s kinda cool. If you’re into the whole “talent acquisition/ HR tech sexy” kinda thing.

It’s not everyone’s cuppa tea. Or joe. Or, whiskey…

But it might be yours. The whiskey, that is. Also the group, but… have you tried this yet? Because it is delicious:
Any-hoo, bit early for that. But you should try some.

The group’s the thing, to paraphrase. This group, specifically: Talent Product Plays. We’re a bunch of misfits, scoundrels, and near-do-wells (along with some actual, genuine geniuses), who share a passion for talent acquisition & product. We’re a bit selective about who we accept in, since we want to keep the conversation focused, so it’s a great group to talk within.

Come check us out – if you’re game – and shoot an invite. Nobody bites (or, admits to it publicly) , and it’s a phenomenal group to network within. Also there’s whiskey. Sorta.

AI is Coming at Recruitment Like a Speeding Train

Brilliant article by my friend Rob McIntosh just came out, on the SourceCon sub of ERE. I’m not going to resay what Rob said so eloquently already here, but suffice it to say: if you are in recruiting, in any function, change is about to come, rapidly. And, for the majority of you, it’s gonna hurt. Gird your loins accordingly…

Here’s a snippet:

While some of these technologies are not mainstream yet, or within the financial reach of mainstream recruiting, they are going to be sooner or later. If you believe (or don’t) in Moore’s Law or Rock’s Law, then the speed of this change is surprising some experts (aka AlphaGo, see below)

What we are seeing in the advancement of computer AI, algorithms, and deep machine learning, makes you not only think what is possible and what is next but shows you what is achievable today.

What about a robot doing a better job at assessing candidates than a human?

Meet Sophie the Robot back in 2013. Asking 76 questions about selling, recording emotional responses and facial expressions by candidates.

“She captures their [candidates] cognitive verbal responses and captures their emotional responses by monitoring changes in their facial expression, Khosla says. The whole idea is to develop the emotional profile of candidates including their passion for the job and a behavior profile and benchmark this against an organization’s best employees. Khosla insists robots will not replace humans conducting later stage interviews or employers making final hiring decisions.”

Makes you think about Khosla’s last statement. “Robots will not replace humans conducting later stage interviews or final hiring decisions.” Last time I checked the majority of recruiters do top of the funnel pre-screen interviews and don’t make hiring decisions. (Read the Rest, Here)


A funny thing happened, on the way to and from the Forum.

The Forum, in this case, being the SourceCon Facebook page (it’s excellent, by the by, and you should join up if you haven’t already – I’m assuming that you enjoy things like that, since you’re on a blog like this – if you’re not, or you just need a break from it all, I recommend this).

So, still with me? Great. As a reward, I’ll give you something fun at the end.

And who doesn’t like fun? I mean, beyond this guy?


So, anyways.

The thing.

Big long thread, started by the fabulous Stacey Donovan Zapar (I’m linking to her company, because you should hire her if you can). She was presenting to some muckety-mucks around talent acquisition technology recommendations, and wanted to verify her assumptions with a bunch of people she respects (and me), as well as look for innovative ideas from said same group.

Really great chat came out of it.  Long and the short of it is: there are lot of options you could recommend a firm buy into. Maybe, even, too many. Certainly, a lot of them compete (that’s natural), and there are also noticeable gaps (did I mention I have ideas for a suite or products and/ or features? Yes. Yes, I do.) In fact, it seems like there are a ton of apps/ tools in certain segments of the “solution continuum” (TM!), with some areas that are just sucking void. That’s all a side note, btw – let’s focus on what’s available.

So, you want to recommend solutions to your boss/ client/ mom, whatever. You chat them up (if you’re reading this from the UK, no, not that kind of chatting up, I just mentioned your mum for the love of Pete). You get an idea what their long-term goals are, wish lists, maybe where they vacation, etc. You tie that into more short term strategic goals, and then tie that back into tactical wins (also, if you tied their vacation into all of that, you have won them as a client for life). Then, you say, “Ta-da! Buy this combo of Entelo/ TalentBin/ Gild/ Dice OpenWeb/ CareerBuilder Recruiter Edge, LinkedIn/ Monster/ freaking Xing!, and blah blah blah, and give it to your 100 sourcers, and you’ll be a hero!”

Only… maybe not. What if, instead, some of those sourcers loved the combo. Say, maybe 2 of them. Because that’s about what you’ll get. Amongst the rest, you’ll get some who are happy with TalentBin, but man there are others going “WTF, I love _Enetelo_, man!” Maybe you’ve got hard-core nerds goin “LinkedIn is for also-rans. I want to build a Sovren-based sourcing instance, and scour the deep Web… and gimme the AIRS search bar!”

There will also be 8 who hate everything you do. There. Just. Will. Be. They happen to relate to this guy.


So, you can’t please them all. Unless you can (except for those last  8 – they suck).

My idea, small one, is that we can riff off of the BYOD movement. Or, maybe the better way to look at it is, we can riff off of what smart engineering leaders have known for years: geeks are hard to please. Technical geeks are even harder to please. More to the point, they’re probably smart enough that there’s a reason they’re so hard to please.

They want to use the tools that fit them. So, when they hire them, they ask what sort of dev tools they need, what sort of machine. Because they are smart, and they know how to succeed.

I think it’s the same with sourcers and recruiters. Just because one of your top people is a whiz at cracking LinkedIn like a walnut, and has a freakishly high InMail response rate (I believe LinkedIn rates anything over 15% as freakishly high these days, but I may be off), doesn’t mean that their neighbor will. In fact, their neighbor may be phenomenal at inhaling data via, say, that Sovren-driven tool they home built, and all they need is a license. Or, maybe they’re well known in the Stack Overflow community, and need to use that tool to win.

What. Freaking. Evs. It’s all good. Let them have their cake, and let them eat it.

Here’s the play. You get a rough budget idea, based on last year, for tools. Maybe you make some cases for exceptions, but you can start with that baseline. Survey your team – do it via  Google Form to make it stupidly easy. Just ask: what tools work for you? Which ones did you never use this year, and if you lost them, would you come and yell at us? Why in the world would you do that, are you one of those freaking bottom 8’s??

Wait – sorry – deep breath.

Anywhooo, you get the idea. Find out what’s working for your teams, and why. Force rank their requests a bit, do a bit of follow up to confirm your suspicions, run some of this past Compliance/ IT/ leadership, etc, and then once you have a sense for what’s possible, set up the tools. Communicate with people that, yes, Virginina, there is a Santa Claus, and he just got you your GitHub account, and he’s gonna give you some IT support to set up that cool Sovren tool you keep rambling about.

It’s a bit more work on the front end – you’ll either need a good agency of record (there are several, like HireClix, TMP, etc), or the bandwidth to do a bit of extra negotiating up from, since it means more vendors/ contracts/ invoices to manage, but… less people yelling. Better sourcing. Good metrics a-go-go.

Also, put aside some money in your budget, for when you make new hires, and let them know “Hey – we get it. You want flexibility. This year, we have contracts with this menu of vendors, with these tools on offer. You don’t get them all, unless you want us to start taking it out of your pay, but you can select up to $xx amount from the menu, place your order, and the kitchen will get to work cooking it up for you.”

If you’re a sourcer, reading this, think about how that would feel. No more: “You get a Recruiter seat, and you get to post to Monster.” More: “We want you to succeed. How can we best invest in you?”

If you hire sourcers, imagine being able to use that in your pitch? Or, better yet, imagine your competition being able to, when you can’t?

Well. Unless they’re the ones who don’t like anything. We all know what to do with them.

Alright, thus endeth the ramblin’, and I do remember I promised you something fun. I happen to like this, today.


Archimedes Moves Me



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, early in my career. 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 change. If I was shy, stuttered, talked too fast, and had a hard time talking, wrote poetry and read sci-fi? I was going to go into a role with that required me to be chatty, charismatic, etc: recruitment. Full commission. No draw. No food if I failed.

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.

Nothing major…

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…

Dating Your HR Technology Vendor

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.

tumblr_inline_minm0cnohz1qz4rgp (1)

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.”