Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Got the Time?

"90% of success is just showing up" famously quipped Woody Allen. I think there's a ton of truth in that but it didn't help me a lick when I showed up, unprepared, for a Calculus exam in college.

Oh, I "showed up", alright. It was just everything else I had a problem with.

A gazillion smart or clever things have also been written about the importance of impeccable organization,,,and the value of  timing. (or access to "timely" information).

How do you manage "timing" when it comes to hiring? You don't- it manages you. And the problem is staring right back at you in the mirror.

In recent years, corporate Human Resources departments have put tremendous trust in Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). It's not working. LinkedIn has helped company and candidate alike but it doesn't solve the problem of everyone being in synch..."we need you now..does now work for you?"

Many of the better companies do a good job in keeping tabs on the pool of sought-after talent in their industry. But they are still forced to use agencies when they need that certain someone ASAP- and they pay big money for it.

Agencies have no secret sauce. They face the same challenges as the employers. Endlessly contacting their candidates under the guise of "just touching base"- if that's their secret sauce, that's not too tough to replicate for the companies doing the hiring. And most agencies don't do a helluva lot more than that. Ask a top performer in any industry how many of those calls he receives every month.

The problem for both sides is alarming turnover amongst the people whose job it is to stay close to any specialized labor market. When you're constantly flipping segments of your workforce (recruiting), there's simply no real knowledge transfer taking place when they leave. Expensive software is better than the old yellow candidate file folders...but not by much. And the expensive software will always run victim to the Garbage In, Garbage Out reality so widespread to an apathetic workforce that expects to be working somewhere else in a few months.

This is why instead of having the name at their fingertips of that Project Manager who's likely going to be on the market in the early Spring, companies will pay 15, 20, 30K and more to an agency who has that"timely" information.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

5 %

If you are time-tested and proven in your line of work- and many influential people are aware of who you are- job security or the ease in which you can change employers almost certainly isn’t a concern.

So we’re talking about, what, 5% of the workforce? You think you’re in that group? You very well might be.  I have a lot of admiration for the people in that lot.

I do, at times, wonder about that 5%. Mostly I wonder why these elite performers work for other people. You 5% ‘ers  are a very special group, the BEST employees.  And my “why” inquiry- at a macro level- would be a study with endless layers that is best left to academics and meaningless to this short blog entry.

But please allow me some room.

The vast majority of business empire builders were never part of this 5%. Some were very good employees, but most were not. They just didn’t believe they should serve anything or anybody but their own ideas and resolute belief in THEMSELVES. And our world certainly benefited from their brilliance. The high profile types in this mix- Richard Branson, Steve Jobs etc..aren’t useful for this example. 

I’m talking about the untold thousands of brilliant people who perform at the highest of levels but never contemplate the idea of building something they can call their own. And gaining the monetary windfall from it.

Most high-performance employees aren’t looking to change the world. They have their own worlds- family, friends, value systems, hobbies. They are more than fine with trading their output for what is hopefully a equitable payment from an employer. And the world ALSO benefits tremendously from their effort and endeavors.


If you’re EXCELLENT at what you do, are you confident and comfortable that you are getting what the market bears for someone like yourself? 

A question, even if in silence, that needs asking.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Screen the screener

The headline read something like: What 10 things candidates do that drives Recruiters crazy. 

For openers, I ignore all articles like this and I suggest you do the same.

Aside this is how Internet marketing people hope to get people to click on Web content of any variety, regardless of subject (EVERYTHING is now a TOP TEN-LIKE HEADLINE positioned somewhere on your screen) pay no attention to articles about what recruiters don't like...or like. And pay no attention to the man behind the curtain because it was a GREAT line from The Wizard of Oz and I felt like including it- so there.

The next time a Recruiter puts you up on the Witness Stand and starts grilling you with questions, tell them you can't do this phone interview unless you know something about them.

If they won't oblige, politely tell them you are about to end the call. 9 times out of 10, this person is not in any position to do anything except pass your resume along to someone only slightly less empowered to assist you.

Ask the recruiter the purpose of this phone interview/screen
Ask the recruiter ALL the steps they must pass to get an interview with someone who understands the type of work you do and has the authority to hire you.
Ask the recruiter if THEY THEMSELVES are employed by this company.
Ask the recruiter their unique qualifications that qualifies THEM to qualify you.

Truth is, doing this won't advance your cause....that's the bad news. Good news is you waste no time being interrogated by someone not qualified to qualify you.  

But taking this approach allows you to learn who you are talking to. By this I mean can they do anything but DISQUALIFY you?

They're are MILLIONS of people in the U.S. employed in the DISQUALIFYING business. They usually have ridiculous titles like "Sr Talent Acquisition Specialist" . Beyond ridiculous.

Their EMPLOYMENT HISTORIES??...don't get me started- but they are there to screen you.

If you have a long track record with notable employers in your industry, this post is not about you, If you are the other 90%, take charge of your career and don't subject yourself to these "screening calls".

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Start your own company and you can award yourself any salary you like.

Doesn’t that sound delightful?

“Well, there, fine sir. We are extending you an offer of employment with an annual salary of…oh, just fill in any number!...we think you are the bees knees. And please forgive our use of bees knees- an expression that even your grandparents though was dated..Yeee haaa”

It sounds super-snarky but I do say the line about "starting your own company" a couple of times a year to people looking for a job or to change jobs. I say it because they’ve convinced themselves they should be paid a king’s ransom but they possess zero economic justification.
(they’ve also convinced themselves that I just graduated from the 3rd grade- and not with high honors)
What people are paid doesn’t come from some arcane formula. Like water, money/salaries will find its own level. Supply and Demand in any labor market is driving this bus. The brain surgeon makes more than the retail clerk. The lawyer who wins cases AND brings in new clients makes more than the lawyer who wins cases. The Project Manager with a long track record on getting projects done on time and at or under budget gets paid more than the Project Manager whose record is less.
I’m not sure it works in a Planned Economy but with free markets, you get paid what the market says your worth. Any monetary value is where buyer and seller agree to meet, no exceptions. If you want to get paid more, the market will let you know if you’ve earned it. Might take a while- often you’ve got to hustle. Sometimes, people will come to you and announce your worth more. Ask them what qualifies them to make this assessment. Do not accept incomplete and vague answers.

My work includes advising people on the market and what people’s compensation looks like. Too many of the people who also do what I do haven’t the vaguest idea on what they are talking about. Again, be careful-even suspicious.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rand Finale

I normally attempt to amuse myself in these vignettes while simultaneously playing the role of Mr. CrankyPants.
This time I’m playing the role of the blown-dried newscaster tilting his head slightly to the right, that solemn and grave stare , about to do a piece on something important- directly followed by the fluff piece about a house cat that just adores watching Jon Stewart.
Years before people were discussing the nations “richest 1%”,  I commented to a friend that such a tiny fraction of the population controlling so much of the nation’s wealth cannot be a good thing.  Mind you I’ve mostly voted for Republican candidates- except the ones who insinuate that God is on their side.
My friend, far from being wealthy but a lifelong Ayn Rand Objectivist replied:  you think so?..how come?. ..do you  think it affects you?...you think the uber wealthy affects you..or anybody, for that matter?
The guy FROZE me with that question. I had nothing.
Many years later, I still don’t know.  Let me clarify: I BELIEVE  it doesn’t affect me personally but I can’t say for sure it doesn’t hamstring this or any economic system in which it which it exists.
Like him, it is my belief that Capitalism serves the people far better than any form of Socialism.
History’s experiments in Socialism/Collectivism have ended in unequivocal economic ruin and unspeakable horrors and human tragedy. All of them. Meanwhile, for all of the talk of the unfairness of the U.S. income inequality, tens of millions of immigrants still desperately want to come here WHILE, statistically speaking, nobody ever leaves.
History, however, does not have any precedent to compare the current relationship between Capital and Labor and a disparity in income and wealth only seen before in societies with The Royal Class and peasants. 
For clarification purposes, “Labor” doesn’t just mean the middle class, the working class or the working poor. Labor are ALL people in the workforce whose income comes only from work. A Brain Surgeon who receives virtually all of his income from their work is Labor while the person whose economic output is entirely earning money from their money is “Capital”. Same question or debate has been asked the last two hundred years so we're not talking about anything new here.
Extraordinary advances in productivity- much the result of incredible advances in Information Technology has made any comparisons between the past and present economic eras unusable. It would be tough to argue advances in worker productivity are a MAJOR reason for the deeper shifts in the concentration of wealth. But I still don't know if there is anything inherently good or bad about this.
If I were again asked to answer my friends question, I (again) would be stumped. My job has never been sent overseas but- if it had been- is that necessarily wrong or cold hearted? Anyone with a conscience feels for that person but is there any difference between their situation and that of the laborer flattened by the Industrial Revolution of 130 years ago? Some could intelligently argue it’s the necessary impetus for the lower-skilled worker at acquire the skills the market seeks. But others could argue that insatiable economic growth with no ceiling will always slaughter society’s weakest and most disadvantaged.
I do know with 100% certainty that the entrenched middle class/working class in the U.S.- with virtually no free time due to increased demands from work while raising a family- have a very different life than the middle classes that came before them. They are much worse off.
Now let’s go back to my co-anchor Skyler for that story about an area 2nd grader who created a Facebook Page for Mark Zuckerberg- only to learn later that Mark Zuckerberg owns 53% of the company, has a net worth north of $30 billion and apparently already has his own page.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

If it Doesn't Fit

If a salesperson, recruiter or some other total stranger colds calls you- and they describe what they're representing as any of the following: 1.) A great fit for you 2.) Amazing 3.) Fantastic- I advise you to hang up immediately. They are entirely full of shit and will be working elsewhere shortly.

These are the same people who will be "advising" you on wise career decisions because they are a SR TALENT ACQUISITION SPECIALIST (Translation: they are a new hire at some bogus Staffing company).

A Great Fit for You. Is that so? Tell me more about me...oh, wait. You don't know me, but you already know what constitutes a great fit in my work life?

Wow. Am I here right now?

An awesome opportunity, you say? How does this job inspire awe? Just the thought of the formation of the Solar System...now THAT inspires awe, the birth of a child, even the peaceful death of a 100 year old who serenely takes their last breath.

The product/job you're trying to pitch me might does not inspire awe.

I overheard this somewhat relevant conversation the other day: (With apologies to Dr. Suess). It has to do with the adjective I just used. Worth mentioning that both of these people were AT LEAST 10 years out of college.

Thing One: That is, like, sooooo annoying. I mean, like, what is he thinking?
Thing Two: I don't know. But you're right..the guy is so, like, I don't know!
Thing One: I know, right? Like, it's so awesome that his idea will be ignored.
Thing Two: I know. Tanner is such an awesome manager. He, like, has no time for that.
Thing One: I know. It's so awesome. You free for lunch?
Thing Two: I am!..want to go to that new place, Vapid? I hear it's, like, really awesome.
Thing One: Definitely!
Thing Two: Awesome!

If you're one of my estimated three regular readers, you know I loathe stereotypical salespeople. There are considerably less of them out there but not because of an evolutionary shift in consciousness. Some companies just have smartened up and realized this low intel garbage doesn't work.

But you will still get these emails and phone calls about products, services, jobs etc.

Maybe the nature of your work requires you to pick up that phone. I, personally, have never hung up on someone the way I just described. But I plan on starting because it will be, ya know, like...so awesome.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Please Don't Go..

Ask a recruiter about the repercussions of taking a counter offer and you'll likely be told that an asteroid will hit not only your home but the homes of everyone you love as well.

Fact is you can get an offer from another employer, take the counter offer from your current employer and still emerge from the burning embers that was your abode in one piece. Your job is about as safe as it was before. For most of us, your job is safe UNTIL IT ISN'T.

Your current employer will keep you for as long as they need you. As long as your exit would make life miserable for your current supervisor, they won't look for a reason to fire you.

(Wow...that's the good news)

But here's the bad news. If your current supervisor comes to have even marginal feelings about your value, they'll remember you held them hostage for more money. (and that's how they'll remember it). And if your supervisor goes elsewhere, their boss remembers what went down when you almost left.

Keep in mind, if you're earning a professionals salary and you can't quantify the revenue you bring into the organization, your less expensive replacement is out there. If this sounds like the words of a pessimist, you're shielding yourself from some painful truths.

It's a form of economic Darwinism that has always existed but has grown exponentially. Information technology has finally delivered on the increases in productivity it promised for years. In some cases, people can do your job from a desk overseas. Public companies put shareholder value over everything- including profitability. Private employers have taken note of all of the above and have a number on your back specific to the bottom line. 

A small handful of people are seemingly protected..you probably know a few. They've been at the current job for 10, 15, 20 years. They've either been designated as irreplaceable or they are THE ROCKET SCIENTISTS of playing company politics. They may not like kissing all the right asses at every turn but they like it better than the alternative: finding another job that covers their needs.

For an overwhelming majority of the labor force: you're a free agent. There's some upside to all this. Figure out what's best for you because the entity that is your employer is in a constant state of doing just that. The bright side is if you're good at what you do, you'll earn comparatively more money in this market of bidders for your services than you would have staying at the same job in an earlier generation.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Whining and Dining

I've been far too busy complaining about the weather to do much of anything lately- that includes writing blog posts.

Oh, sure, the New England winter has been affected by the Earth somehow being blown off its axis, pushed 30 million miles further away from The Sun but whining about it does nothing but make you and others more miserable.

I'm pretty sure the world of business keeps chugging along, despite it all.

For my estimated 3 regular readers, I plan on writing much more in 2015. More about business and the business of hiring. I think it likely I'll win the multi-state lottery at some point this year so-fair warning-my posts will then veer solely towards attempting to amuse myself.

Now its time to get back to telling people I barely know that the 7 feet of snow in 4 weeks plus daytime temperatures previously only observed during Mars evenings will surely mean the end of me.