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Ways of Seeing Recruitment

RecruiterMoe: The Goofball Awakens.

 

…a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum. Wait… hang on, scroll past the picture.

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Right then. The thing is, I’m in recruiting, and I get to conferences. A few weeks ago, at the Indeed Interactive conference, Jessica Miller-Merrell, and I got to talking at the bar, as people do. We were talking about all sorts of stuff (as people do). Our backgrounds came up – how we got to be where we are in our careers at that point in time. As I was talking about things, she said “You know, I don’t think a lot of people know how deep your background in the industry goes – you need to fix that. You should definitely write about it.”

I said I would. But I didn’t mean it. Or at least I didn’t think I did. I’ve made the same promise before, about writing in general – Jeff Newman is probably pissed about it, in his affable way. My college advisor gave up years ago.

I suspect my mom has given up, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. And that’s a two-way street, Mother!

(This guy hasn’t given up. But he’s a hopeless romantic.)

ANY-who. Then, this thread showed up on Facebook. I’d link to it, but you may not be able to read it. Here’s a screen grab, just to give a sense:

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There were many sincere responses. People opened up about loving to help people. About bringing real change to an industry that has a bad (and, frankly, oft deserved)  bad reputation. Improving the candidate experience. Changing lives. Changing how business is done.

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And I, one of the industries awkward court jesters (there’s always at least one), wrote this:

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I mean, it was kinda true.

But I felt bad. Flip, flippant, too cool for school.

Plus I’d promised to write about it.

AND, legitimate work reason: I need to sell my skills now. Because I am now a Consultant. That’s right: capital. Freaking. C. Baby. At a real company – a cool one, at that.

So… here it is: the story of RecruiterMoe (erm, that’s me – by way of starters: Moe was a childhood nickname from my godmother, I am a recruiter, and that Twitter handle happened be very available for some shocking reason…). Not the whole damn thing, mind you – I aim to leave a little mystery. So just the first chapters fleshed out, how I went from “Shit. I majored in writing poetry??” To somehow becoming someone who knows things people are willing to pay to gain access to. Holder of secrets and pathfinder of sorts. I’ll close with a sales pitch. Because: Consultant.

A genuine industry sherpa. Who woulda thunk?

Chapter 1: Zero Dark Recruity

College was interesting. Tucked away in the far far north of the States. Lots of characters, time spent in the deep woods. Then wrapping up in London and Europe. I bumbled around for a few years – argued with Franciscan monks about God. Moved to the South for a girl. Ran a bookstore. Things got Tennessee Williams level complex in my love life. Ran my ass back up to the North in a GTI that was a souped up and way too fast… I loved that car.

Tried my hand at publishing. The GTI and I parted ways at some point. Blown clutch, and trying to fund a business booking rock and hip hop acts around Boston made for a hard choice. Possible I should have chosen the car, possible not. Got to hang with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Perry Farrell, and this guy who called himself Moby. Almost got into a fist fight with the lead singer from the Lemonheads. Fun times, but bills to pay…

So… soon, I’m looking for a job.  I have a stutter & talk way way way too fast.

I went looking. In the newspaper. That’s right: I. Am. Old. Monster was just emerging from under a router in an HR companies server room (I am not making that up) at that point. Newspapers had all the jobs.

I found an ad. It did make me laugh. And I found CPS – this client focused, ethical, old-school recruiting agency. Decided to use the word fiduciary in round 2 of my interviews, just to see if I could, because I thought it was funny.

They made me an offer. I think it was because the branch director was an obsessive reader of great books, and hated TV. We got to talking about books in the interview.

About that speech impediment? Making a living at full commission, on the phone (so: voice only) made a ton of sense.

Seriously: I wanted to force myself to talk slower. Fear of not eating, and being evicted, seemed like decent motivators to me at the time. Plus if I did it right: money. I was sick of eating ramen noodles, and praying I didn’t get sick, since, hey who needs health insurance, amiright? (Thanks for not being President yet, Obama… could have used your help). Over the next 5 years, I was trained in a few things:

  • Service, to clients and to candidates, is a granted privilege (that’s the company motto)
    • Screw that up, by being dishonest or cutting corners, and you’re don’t deserve to be a recruiter
      • I thought that was how all recruiters felt (I was, sadly, very wrong)
  • Mistakes happen – just own them when they do
  • Money isn’t the most important thing, but it helps pay bills – just don’t make it everything
  • Talk slower… No, Martin: slower
    • I had a girlfriend who hated how I talked to her when I was on the phone from work “You talk so normal.”
      • I knew I’d won something at that point
  • I also convinced them that using e-mail was okay. And that the Internet, and e-commerce companies, were okay to do business with.

Chapter 2: Internet and Ecommerce Companies Are Not Always Good to Do Business With (Or: what they hell is that sound? It sounds like something popped… like a million VC-backed companies crying out in anguish all at once, and then… nothing)

2001-2005 quite literally sucked at a business level. On a personal level, I got married and became a dad. Took a lot of the suckage out of things, and replaced it with this blissful exhaustion. My wife was generally freaked out at the roller coaster a full commission recruiter’s income becomes when the economy is in free-fall. I left CPS and took an outside sales job selling agendas and 7-Habits curriculum to school districts that were watching their budgets get slashed every minute. Managed to increase the territories sales – I am not sure how I did this. I drove a fantastic old brown Legacy wagon named Midge.

One day, I saw my future, and… no.

Chapter 3: Once More, Into the Breach

I missed the hell out of recruiting. I’d been so good at it. It was fun, I got to meet new people, learn about all kinds of businesses, and I could support a family. Decided to go back in.

I wanted to try out corporate – no idea why, aside from a vague feeling that being a hired gun gets tiring. And I was curious. On the agency side of the world, corporate recruitment gets ridiculed. I wanted to find out if all the snide comments were true.

But then I got to thinking that there was no company in the world that would hire me into corporate, with the economy still shaky, what with me having been out of the game for a few years. So I went and talked to a bunch of agencies, found one that seemed promising, and took a desk.

I didn’t like it. The thing at CPS was all about ethics and service. That we checked references thoroughly on candidates before submitting them, verified college degrees, all of it. If we found out something bad, we did not submit them. Period. We could call and talk through the issue with the client, if the candidate had a strong enough background and whatever we’d uncovered seemed potentially reasonable, but it was never to be done as a sell. Our job was to protect our clients, not make money and run. And that went to candidates, too – bad clients who didn’t treat their people well were verboten. The idea was that behaving this way, paying it forward, would come back as a benefit – a long game. You’d hear from clients, as well as candidates, quite often “You people at CPS are just different from any other recruiters I’ve ever worked with – you seem like real people.”

It was naive of me to think that was the norm. Turns out, most agencies will tell their people: “If you find a bad reference, bury that shit and find a good one. Tell the candidate to never bring it up. Also, you found out they lied about their degree? Only submit them to clients you know don’t do degree verification. Get the placement.”

I really didn’t like it. I couldn’t do it, and decided to leave.

At the same time, I was reading this new (to me) site, called ERE. Lots of great info on recruiting, trends, etc etc. People who seemed to believe in recruiting as a calling. A way of doing good, while making a living. Cool stuff. One day, while reading it, I saw an ad for a company called ZoomInfo. I liked their tech, and got a demo. I was also in the habit (still am) of checking out interesting companies for fun. I’d recently written Big Ass Fans a fan letter (yeah, pun intended), and gotten a bag of swag as a thank you. I was thinking about doing the same with ZoomInfo, when I realized they were 1 goddam mile from my house.

1 mile. So, I went to their career site. They were looking for someone to run corporate recruiting! I’d never done that before. But, I figured, at one point I’d never ridden a bike. Or kissed a girl. There’s always a first time, right?

You know what I did? I wrote the Mother of all Cover Letters. It was beautiful. I wish I still had it (this was pre-Cloud, and it’s likely on a hard drive in some dusty corner). Bryan Burdick, who I suspect is a genius, was the new COO there. He loves good writing, and he appreciates a great cover letter.

He hired me. It was time for me to hang my guns up, and ride out of town.

 

Chapter 4: Goodbye Shane, and Hello Sheriff

To tell you the truth, Bryan’s brilliant. I also suspect he’s insane. He’d just hired a guy whose entire recruiting experience consisted of working on the agency side, recruiting actuaries and accountants, to build internal recruiting at a fast-growing internet start-up. Not only that, but the CEO had the classic engineering-CEO disdain of HR. So, it was up to our controller and me to be HR. Bear in mind: I’d only been in an HR department once, years earlier, and it was to get yelled at.

Have you met me? There is no way I should ride shot-gun on an HR department. I mean, when they told me they were thinking about doing sexual harassment training, I quipped “There’s a class for that? I thought that stuff just comes naturally to some people.”

We were hiring software engineers – and not just web-devs, but experts in natural language processing, AI-driven, big-data search. Before those skills were at least relatively common in the software community. In a location that was nowhere near Cambridge or Boston. In an office park in a remote corner of a suburb. The subway did not, and will never, go there. Hell, the nearest bus stop was blocks away. And they wanted shiny kids from MIT.

We were also hiring marketers. Sales reps. Product managers. Executives.

Oh, and, over 4 years, maybe 3 accountants.

Like the GTA sheriff above, I decided to get scrappy (no, I didn’t shoot anybody – thought about it, but didn’t go for it). Since I was a department of one, I needed to use tools, I figured, to increase my destructive power – err, reach. So, I decided an ATS was a good idea.

(Btw, day 1 on the job? Nobody was expecting me. My boss wasn’t in yet. My desk was covered in a layer of dust, the light didn’t work, and the IT guys – who I rapidly came to love – had no idea I was starting, so hadn’t set up my desktop yet. Also: I had a used desktop. Not a laptop.

One of the first things I created was an onboarding plan).

I knew jack-shit about corporate. About software. About, hell: Excel.

When the Director of Core Dev said “We need to create some reqs,” my first thought was “Wrecks? I know about getting wrecked. Maybe he wants to go binge drinking?”

Luckily I knew how to fake it, and figure it out fast. Plus – turns out, not knowing what I was doing was an advantage. I didn’t know any better. Figured what I was doing was normal.

So… I found an ATS. Shopped around, did bake-offs. In the end, Colin Kingsbury had a solid one called HRMDirect that fit our needs. So I learned how to implement an ATS. Which meant not sleeping for a while, but: learning experience. We were a startup, figured that’s how we did it.

There were a lot of reqs. That’s right: I’d figured out what the word meant (thanks you Google). Hell, I’d gone and created a req-approval process that included service-level-agreements with the hiring managers, all done paperless. So I was sourcing. Prepping candidates. Scheduling interviews. Checking references. Making offers. Assessing, and training, interviewers on interviewing. Created an offer letter doc and process. Full-boat recruiting.

And… I was doing content marketing. Without any clue, I was doing inbound marketing before HubSpot was even a blip. It wasn’t genius. It was just me assuming “This makes sense, this will make my life easier, I’m assuming everyone else is doing this because it makes sense. I have so many reqs. Holy shit I need more candidates! Whadda ya mean you want a weekly dashboard for the exec team – aaargh….” Finding a way to multiply myself mattered. I was encouraging our employees to blog (this was 2006 – blogging was this random new thing – I know, I know… amazing how quickly things age…) Getting their names out there, tied back into our career site. Creating thought leadership everywhere we could that candidates we wanted might see it. Set up a blog on my side, too – the one you’re reading.

It seemed pretty clear that a blog that was all just reposted jobs would be.. boring. Like a radio station that was all ads – not content. So I decided to make mine about career advice, with the occasional post about ZoomInfo (like, every 5 or 6). I found a widget that could pull in freshly published jobs into a sidebar on the blog, from our carer site.

We set up an employee referral program, and worked with Marketing to create buzz (proud to say that at its peak, we were over 60% employee referrals).

Oh: and the career site got rebuilt. That was fun. Learned about A/B testing. Site maps. Created a voice for our employment brand in the process. It doesn’t look the same anymore – I still think mine was better.

And job postings… I had fun there.

Rock Stars: that may be my fault. Not sure. All I know is, I was up one night, late, and needed a generic description. I didn’t want to miss great people once I’d pulled them into the site, just because they didn’t see an opening. So… I was watching the show 6 Feet Under. One of the characters called the other “You’re such a rock star!”

It seemed cool at the time. Different. I wrote a description called “General Rock Stars”. It got blogged a bunch as a great example of how to do a job description. Next thing I knew…

Look: I never called anyone a ninja. Or guru. But, rock stars is something I caused, or at least helped accelerate: mea culpe. I just liked the line in the show…

Along the years,  I kept trying on hats: designed & project managed a physical expansion of our headquarters; stepped into product marketing when we laid off our recruitment product marketing team; did some of the aforementioned HR stuff; worked a booth at conferences with our sales team; gave some talks to recruiting teams, helping schlep our products. Wrote copy (I’m fond of the summary I wrote here). It kind of goes on from there…

End of the day, I took an offer for a package, when the company shrank in 2010 – and it was perfect timing. I’d done a ton. Learned a lot. Had fun, got tired, did it again. But it was time.

Chapter 5: And This is Where I Start to Leave You

Look, you’re read a lot. If you’re still here (hi Mom). So thanks. I promise this starts to wind down.

After ZoomInfo, I kept going. Started my own business – Talent MatchUp – helping with talent products, career site10854309_10153497996663852_8805996799951196523_o design, branding, sourcer training.

Realized I was faking it. Went to Paris. Did a bunch of thinking on bridges.

Paris was fun. And it gave me time to think about consulting. I knew I enjoyed it, and that I had information, and leadership, to offer, but that I wasn’t fully baked yet.

Chapter 6: PreBirth of the Cool Consultant

Here’s some advice: If you’re hiring a consultant, make sure they’ve actually done your job (or something equivalent) before. If they haven’t led TA, built a department, hired & fired… if they haven’t implemented an ATS that they then had to live with, haven’t built and run processes that – you guessed it – they had to live with… how can they help you do that? Consultants who haven’t taken arrows, spears, and blows to the head as a result of their decisions cannot help you avoid those types of injuries. They lack the nuanced information that comes with doing the job. That’s what I realized in Paris.

To get to that point, where I could feel legitimate in my advising, I focused my company on being a mini-RPO for one major client, who I could get to know well, and advise, and prepped myself to go back inside. Joined, and then as head of global TA scaled a company from under 100 employees to close to 450, helped lead their international expansion, lived part time abroad, built teams & managed them. Then went to PwC. Learned about massive corporate, about matrixed environments. About OFCCP compliance – and what it’s like to live in that environment, and the subtle ways to work there. Helped them transform their recruitment technologies.

I built skills, in other words. Because, I wanted to be able to give advice that came from actual experience. Advice that would help, and create value – because as I’d learned several chapters back, that’s the long-game. Not spending 6 months at a client, hand them a deck with high-level buzzwords and bill them 6-figures (that happens, and people let it happen).

Chapter 7: C for Consultant (or: Bring the Noise, Bring the Pitch)

hireclix black logo.pngHireClix. Hire. Freaking. Clix.

We’re building something bold. Funky. Fresh. The team here is brilliant – I’ve used them as a vendor in the past, and the contrast with the TMP’s of the world is shocking. Service matters to me, as does expertise – if that’s not clear already. This team lives and breaths those attributes. They’ve built on that, and the client list is scaling rapidly – Fortune firms are moving over, and others are trying to end contracts to do the same. They know how to help companies improve recruiting technology efficiences, are service consultants for some of the leading ATS & CRM platforms, build creative, etc. It’s a solid offering. With my joining, we’re setting up a service that will provide practitioners with real world advice and guidance around talent acquisition, particularly technology. How to gauge its effectiveness. How to untangle the spaghetti mess of legacy systems. What tools to invest in towards the future, and what the future looks like. How to get their purchases approved.

Need to write an RFP? We’ve got real-world experience there. Want to do a pilot, and measure it? Done that over and over. Need a perspective on why you didn’t select the tool the Managing Director’s wife’s cousin built that “He’s sure we’ll want to use – oh, and he told me that he’s in talks with all of our competitors”. Lived that, can help you be ready with docs, decks, whatever you need for air cover. Heck, you can even make us the scapegoat – that’s our job. We will help you look amazing.

So… yeah. This was supposed to be acres shorter. Became a bit of a ramble, wound up with a sales pitch (hey, I’m excited, okay?). You can reach me here: martin@hireclix.com

I’ll leave you with this. Complete non-sequitor, but he is America’s finest actor.

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:
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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)

Trouble-Junkie Talks

My friend Kevin and I chit chatting about killer robots, recruitment, and our dads.  

 

BYO…

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?

party-pooper

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.

party-pooper

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.

Ta…

Adele Just Applied. And Applied. And Applied…

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.

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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.”

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.

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