Ditch “In Transition” if You Want to Land Your Next Job!

Be honest—what’s your first thought when you see “In Transition” on someone’s resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile? Share your thoughts in the comments!

If you’re like me, the reaction isn’t positive. If it’s not working in your favor, it’s time to remove it from your profiles!

When I see “In Transition,” I wonder, “Why are you in transition? Is something wrong?” No one aspires to be in transition. While career transitions can be positive, the term often carries negative weight.

Why does “In Transition” have such a negative vibe? To me, it suggests uncertainty—you’re not clear about what you want. Instead of being “in transition,” you should focus on clearly stating your goals and the direction you’re heading.

Why You Might Be “In Transition” and Seeking a New Job:

  • Retirement from your previous role (often viewed negatively due to age bias)
  • Switching careers entirely (potentially positive if you’re willing to start at an entry-level position)
  • Fired from your last job
  • Laid off or company closed down
  • Owned a business that has since ended
  • Took a personal leave of absence (for reasons like FMLA, further education, child-rearing, or caring for an aging parent)

The challenge is finding a term that doesn’t immediately raise red flags for TA pros and hiring managers. While there’s no perfect phrase, honesty framed positively can go a long way.

Here are some suggestions to replace “In Transition”:

  • “I resigned from my last position because…”
  • “Retired from my previous role and now seeking opportunities to contribute my skills in…”
  • “Took time off for [specific reason], and now looking to…”
  • “Laid off from my last job due to [specific reason]…” (Be truthful, as savvy TA professionals can verify this.)
  • “Started and ran my own business, which [insert outcome]. Now, I’m excited to leverage my entrepreneurial skills to help your organization in…”

What do you think? Does the term “In Transition” make you wary of a candidate?

Why Great Recruiters Matter More Than Ever

It’s Re-Run Friday! This blog post was originally published in May 2020.

Misery May Love Company, But Bitterness Recruits It!

Want great employees? Hire great recruiters, who love your company and love recruiting!

Yeah but Tim we really aren’t hiring anyone right now. I hear you, but let’s take a look at the long view for a second. Right now, you’re running lean. Every single employee you have, and every single new employee you hire, but be really strong, or you are going to be hurting.

During the most recent ten year run of good fortune that most organizations have had, we’ve made some really crappy recruiter hires. Recruiters who don’t really like recruiting and most of them don’t even like working for you. They are miserable. Miserable, but need a job, so they aren’t going anywhere.

Sometimes you need to give someone a gift. If they are miserable working for you as a recruiter, they will recruit other miserable people.

On the opposite side, people who love your organization make the best recruiters even if they have never recruited before. That doesn’t mean run out and make those who love your company recruiters! That might actually make them miserable! It’s the balance of loving your org and loving to recruit which is the secret sauce!

I keep hearing about organizations that are letting go of their recruiters because they don’t have any need for hiring. When I hear that I want to ask the CEO of that organization if 100% of the current employees they have are “A” players, great employees? Of course, she will say, well, no, not 100%.

Then you have some hiring to do. You have some upgrading to do. You need great recruiters. Recruiters who love hunting. Finding the best. Finding noticeably better talent. The best organizations are doing this right now. Average organizations are cutting really strong recruiters.

So, be better! 

The time to invest is when you can get the best deal on a commodity. Great talent is devalued at this current moment. HR and TA leaders should be going to their executive teams with a talent plan that says this is how we will become world-class on the backside of this pandemic!

In fact, Heads of TA should be cherry-picking great recruiters at this very moment! You give out a few gifts to those people working for you as recruiters who are miserable and you hire recruiters who love to recruit and happen to be very good at it!

Invest now in who you want to become, it’s never been cheaper. You won’t have this chance again for a very long time. The old adage is it takes money to make money. Well, right now, it takes a lot less money to make money!

A 99% Chance to Get More Applications!

People ask me all the time what I read and how I continually educate myself in recruiting. Honestly, I rarely read stuff from other recruiters. There are a few folks who I think get it at another level – my BFF, Kris Dunn (dude, is the best TA leader on the planet, and you can’t find me a better one – truly). I really like Jan Tegze and his takes. Hung Lee just continually immerses himself in our space. But, for the most part, I read content from tech, economists, and things outside of our space because I think recruiting and talent acquisition, for the most part, lag behind a lot of industries.

When we take a look at consumer marketing and behavior, I think there are a lot of things we can take from that industry that have a major impact on recruiting. One of those is buyer behavior. In a real sense, a candidate is buying a job/boss/company, when they decide to accept an offer from you.

Think about how you buy something today.

Tomorrow, you need to go buy a new vacuum cleaner. Do you just go to a store and purchase one off the shelf? Or do you do a little research first? 99% of consumers do research today before making almost any purchase. If you’re like me, that feels about right! If I buy a $10 bottle of vitamins off Amazon, I’m going to read reviews, take a look at a few others, etc. Even though we know many of those reviews might be bogus, we still look for ones that seem real to help us validate our decisions.

Now, let’s go back to recruiting.

How often do you use “reviews” as part of your recruitment marketing strategy? Most of us, still don’t. “Oh, you mean like, Glassdoor?! or Indeed reviews?” Yes and no. You can use those, but I read those like I read Amazon reviews. I get lost in all the crap. You have disgruntled low performers who tend to post too much in those spaces, so you tend not to believe most of them.

You know what I would believe? Short, 45-90-second videos from real employees who tell me what it’s like working at your company. Not overly produced hostage videos. Ugh! Those are the worst! Authentic, real cell phone video of an actual employee being themselves, unscripted, telling me why this place is right for them. Almost no one does this, and it’s perplexing because they are so swaying toward other candidates!

It takes almost no time. No money. Very little effort. Maybe that’s why we do use them.

We buy stuff because we tend to believe people won’t lie to us. They do, but that doesn’t really change our behavior because they don’t always. Humans are very trusting, for the most part. We love to say we aren’t but our actions speak differently.

Go out and use reviews more. You’re missing out on a great way to get others interested in you and choosing you, simply because your own employees tell them it’s the place for them.

Fish Out Of Water

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Albert Einstein

You know, Albert Einstein has a point with this whole fish-climbing-a-tree analogy. It sums up one of the biggest headaches in HR: hiring someone for a specific set of skills, then expecting them to perform a completely different role. No wonder so many hires end up failing.

When was the last time you looked at your organization’s terminations?

Chances are, a big chunk of them were due to employees not meeting expectations for roles that were different from what they were initially hired for. It’s a classic case of mismatched skills and job requirements.

The problem doesn’t just lie in HR; it extends to how we approach training and development. We often expect a brief training session to miraculously transform employees into experts in a whole new field. Spoiler alert: it rarely works. Instead, we scratch our heads wondering why performance is tanking and turnover rates are soaring. But really, it’s not the employees’ fault—it’s the unrealistic expectations we’ve placed on them.

So, what’s the solution? Well, first off, we need to admit that both HR and the organization are part of the problem. You can’t expect employees to seamlessly transition into vastly different roles without proper support and guidance.

Sure, in some extreme cases, it might make sense to part ways with certain employees if the skill gap is too wide.

But more often than not, a better approach involves setting realistic expectations for training and development. Transforming an average performer into a star player takes time and effort—there are no shortcuts.

It’s also crucial to have open conversations with your team about the challenges ahead. Transparency about timelines and expectations will help everyone understand the road ahead, whether it involves retraining existing staff or bringing in new talent.

But here’s the thing: regardless of the path you choose, there’s going to be some turbulence along the way. So, buckle up, brace yourself for a bit of chaos, and stock up on bananas—because if you want those fish to learn how to climb trees, you’re going to need a lot of incentives!

The Best Job Search Advice Ever!

Okay, I’m going to give you the best job search tip ever, but first we’ve
got to talk about all the bad job search tips that are out there! And it’s a
lot! A LOT!

Let’s start with the folks on TikTok – this is just one example:

https://www.tiktok.com/@giovanna.ventola/video/7367043279516388654

Okay, first, I’m not slamming on Giovanna. Our girl got something that
really excited her, and she’s going with it. Thankfully, in the comments, the
real HR and TA pros came through and gave some perspective.

First, just because one HR person does their process one way doesn’t mean an
entire industry of millions of HR/TA pros do it this way. That should have been
obvious, but apparently it wasn’t. Second, most HR/TA pros will post jobs when
they can/have to because of today’s algorithms on Indeed/LinkedIn/Etc. It
doesn’t matter the day. It did, like, 8 years ago, but it doesn’t now. Also,
any recruiter worth their salt will tell you that they look at resumes every
single day because great talent gets picked off fast.

Here’s another one, and this one actually is smart for those who can pull it off:

 

@camipetyn

wanted to share this hack again bc it helped me SO much shoutout @Daym for teaching me it!!#recessioncore #jobapplytricks #jobinterview #applyingforjobs

♬ original sound – Cami Petyn

Okay, now we’re talking real job search hacks. If companies are going to use AI to scan, filter, and rank, you’ve got to play the game! In high-volume, where there are hundreds if not thousands of candidates, this actually works. Eventually, the AI vendors will catch up to this, and it won’t work. But take advantage while you can.

The Best Job Search Tip Ever?

Some of the job search/candidate advice “experts” in our space call this the hidden job market. It’s not hidden. It’s just understanding the reality of how many jobs get filled. Let me give you a quick rundown:

  1. A manager needs to hire someone.
  2. Before they even contact HR or Recruiting, they’ll think about who they know first. Maybe someone already on their team or someone else in the company. Maybe it’s someone they have in their network or someone who works for them in their network. All of this is done before the job is even posted.
  3. At some point, to get someone hired, they have to contact HR/TA. Some companies will have posting requirements, but at the end of the day, the lowest amount of friction always wins. This means that if the manager tells HR they already have identified someone, that person will almost always win.
  4. So, for intents and purposes, the job is filled before it’s even posted, no matter how great your resume or application is.
  5. This is the hidden job market.

How do you break into this? You network the sh!t out of yourself! You use every single connection you have. Your friends have. Your parents have. You let people know if something opens up, you want to be considered, and then you keep letting them know.

A lot of the hidden job market comes down to timing and relationships. It has little to do with skills, performance, and experience. That’s because, usually, no matter who you hire, the job will still get done at a satisfactory level. And putting in the extra time and effort to get someone who is a little better isn’t worth the work.

That’s the real 411.

Help, this thing is broken!

When I talk to people who have just started a new position as an HR leader, they often mention that the department they’ve inherited is a mess. Their main question is, “How do I turn this thing around?”

We’ve all wondered this at some point, haven’t we? Help, Timmy, this thing is broken!

Usually, your first leadership role isn’t handed to you on a silver platter. You’re brought in because something’s broken and needs fixing. It’s rare to step into a perfect setup where everything runs smoothly, everyone gets along, and the budget is overflowing.

If it were perfect, they wouldn’t need you!

Here are the steps I recommend from my experience in turning around struggling HR departments:

Step 1 – Don’t Expect Instant Cultural Change

You can’t change the culture overnight. The existing culture is strong and takes time to shift. The only way to change it immediately would be to replace everyone, which isn’t realistic. I mean technically it’s possible – but focus on gradual changes instead.

Step 2 – Look for Quick Wins

Find the easy fixes first. There are always simple things you can improve that will make a big difference. These quick wins create positive energy and give you time to tackle bigger issues.

Step 3 – Remove Problem Employees Fast

Don’t be afraid to fire toxic employees, even if they have essential knowledge. Negative people can drag down the whole team. If the department is already broken, a bit more disruption won’t hurt and can actually help in the long run.

Step 4 – Hire Loyal Team Members

Bring in people who are loyal to you first and the company second. High turnover in HR leadership can be a red flag. When interviewing, ask how many leaders came before you. A supportive team is crucial to help you through the tough times.

Step 5 – Have a Clear Plan and Communicate It

Develop a plan and get buy-in from executives early on. Keep them updated on your progress regularly. Change takes time, but consistent communication ensures you have the support you need.

Step 6 – Build Relationships with Other Departments

Make friends in IT, Marketing, Finance, Operations, and other departments. You need their support to drive change. It’s okay if not everyone in your department likes you, but you need respect and backing from other departments.

Step 7 – Change the Way You Talk About HR

Stop saying HR is broken. Use positive language to describe your efforts. Talk about building great processes, using top-notch technology, and developing amazing talent. Changing how you talk about HR helps change how others see it.

The hardest, most challenging, thing you’ll ever do is turn around a broken department, but it will also be the most rewarding and best thing that ever happened to your career!

Are you banking on me being lazy?

It’s re-run Friday again – this post originally ran in May 2022!

Is someone banking on you being lazy in your job?

I work in an industry where I’ve been told for a decade technology is going to take my job. The staffing industry is half a trillion-dollar industry worldwide. The entire industry is built on us banking on the fact that someone in corporate TA is going to be lazy.

Ouch! That should sting a little!

So, I don’t really bank on you being lazy at my company. We do contract work so we are looking to fill contingent roles, not direct hire staffing, which is an industry almost completely built on laziness! For my staffing brothers and sisters out there, I hear you, I know you’re ‘just’ filling in when ‘capacity’ is an issue. (wink, head nod, wink)

There are other industries that bank you us being lazy. The entire diet industry! You’ve got overpriced awful foods, bars, shakes, workout gyms, at-home gyms, etc. Because we won’t eat less and move more, because we are “lazy”, we pay a lot for that! Believe me, I pay my fair share! Just because I’m too lazy! Ugh, it’s embarrassing!

Direct hire staffing as an industry could be gone tomorrow if corporate TA just did what they were hired to do. You have an opening, you fill the opening. We aren’t trying to put a woman on the moon! This isn’t rocket science!

But, we don’t fill the opening. In fact, we do just about everything except fill the opening. We post the opening. We meet about the opening. We send whoever applies to the manager of the opening. We meet some more about candidate experience. We have another meeting about employment branding. One more meeting with the manager to see if anything has changed.

That doesn’t sound lazy, does it?

But, deflection of more difficult work is just another form of laziness.

My kid doesn’t want to go out in 90-degree heat and mow the lawn. It’s a hard, hot job. So, they come up with ‘alternative’ work that they have to do that just happens to be inside in the air conditioning.

As TA Leaders, we have to understand how are others are banking on us being lazy, and then make adjustments to stop laziness. So, how do you do that?

Well, I wrote an entire book on the subject – The Talent Fix – you can buy it here – but until you can get it, here are some tips:

  1. Have clearly defined measurable activity goals set for each member of your TA team.
  2. Make those measures transparent so everyone can see them every day.
  3. Have performance conversations immediately when measures aren’t met.
  4. Course correct as measures needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of the business.
  5. Rinse, repeat.

The Employee Benefit That Costs Nothing

Every few months, news outlets release rankings of the benefits that employees value most. They include the usual: compensation, remote work, health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, blah, blah, blah. While these benefits are consistently listed, the rankings vary slightly based on factors like age, gender, and location.

It’s 2024. We’re in an era where certain benefits are now baseline expectations. If you want to attract and retain truly talented employees, offering good health insurance, competitive PTO, retirement plans, and life insurance is no longer optional. These are the minimum requirements just to compete. Without them, you’re not even in the game.

So, what can genuinely differentiate your company in this competitive landscape?

If you ask me, the answer is simple: flexible work schedules. It’s THE employee benefits that employees care about.

Flexible work schedules are a big plus for many employers, but they don’t work for everyone. An insurance company can allow employees to start their day at 10 AM and work until 7 PM without impacting operations. But, a restaurant can’t have its cook showing up at 2 PM when the lunch rush starts at 11:30 AM.

If your business can handle flexible work schedules, you’ll have an advantage in attracting top talent.

Why aren’t more companies embracing flexible work schedules? Many industries and organizations that haven’t traditionally offered flexible schedules could do so with minor adjustments. However, they’re often led by baby boomers and some Gen Xers who believe that if they can’t see you working, you must not be working. It’s really that simple.

The reality is that time spent in a seat is no longer a valid measure of productivity. With modern technology, we can accurately track the productivity and performance of our workforce. Unless an employee’s role strictly requires specific hours, does it matter if she prefers to start at 9 AM and finish at 6 PM instead of the traditional 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM?

Another common argument against flexible schedules is that it’s unfair unless everyone can benefit from them. What?! Not everyone gets a company car, but that doesn’t stop companies from offering them.

Employees who need to be there at specific times get why it’s necessary and probably won’t mind others having flexible hours. Instead of treating everyone under the same blanket schedule, why not be more flexible where you can? Your employees will appreciate it, and it won’t cost you anything.

Skilled Trades Aren’t Winning Gen Z & Millennials

What!? They aren’t? Surprise, they don’t like Facebook either!

So, picture this: I’m cruising to work, listening to NPR (I’m old), and this dude from Gen X pops up, talking about how teens aren’t into skilled trades because, well, they’re not sexy. And I’m like, duh! Even I know that!

Who’d think a job fixing stuff or working with tools is sexy?

It’s not about being sexy; it’s about being stable.

Let’s face it: Trying to pitch skilled trades to teens is like offering snow boots in the Sahara – it’s just not on their radar. They’re not buying it.

But you know who might? Those folks hitting the big 3-5. Why? Because they’re at that point where stability starts sounding like music to their ears. They’ve been humping $40K jobs for 15 years and have almost, but not quite, given up on hope.

Imagine walking into a restaurant and saying, “Hey, want a job that pays well, has killer benefits, and sets you up for a comfy retirement?” It’s like waving a magic wand. And who’s going to be first in line? Not the teens dreaming of six-figure gigs without lifting a finger. Nope, it’s those 35-year-olds who’ve been around the block and know the value of a hard day’s work.

So, sure, skilled trades might not be on the top of Gen Z and Millennials’ wishlists, but who needs ’em when you’ve got another generation out there dreaming of steady work and a fat paycheck!

Everyone Loves A Good Story

I love telling stories. I also love listening to stories. Picture me at Barnes and Noble, throwing elbows to squeeze onto a first-row bench to hear a story alongside the kids. They’re my thing.

Storytelling is a skill, something anyone can be good at if they want to bad enough.

But what does storytelling have to do with HR?

In HR, we usually rely on facts and figures to make our case. We get the data, create spreadsheets, and present our findings in meetings, hoping to persuade others with logic and evidence.

Seth Godin once said, “A statement of fact is insufficient and often not even necessary to persuade someone of your point of view.”

Think about it: Have you ever been in a meeting where someone shared a compelling story that completely changed the tone of the conversation?

Maybe it was a personal story about overcoming a challenge or a funny one that broke the tension in the room. Whatever the case, stories have a way of resonating with people on a deeper level than facts alone.

Seth’s goes on to say: “Politicians, non-profits and most of all, amateur marketers believe that all they need to do to win the day is to recite a fact. You’re playing Monopoly and you say, “I’ll trade you Illinois for Connecticut.” The other person refuses, which is absurd. I mean, Illinois costs WAY more than Connecticut. It’s a fact. There’s no room for discussion here. You are right and they are wrong.

But they still have the property you want, and you lose. Because all you had was a fact.

On the other hand, the story wins the day every time. When the youngest son, losing the game, offers to trade his mom Baltic for Boardwalk, she says yes in a heartbeat. Because it feels right, not because it is right.

There are lots of ways HR pros can better use storytelling: sharing personal stories in presentations, using storytelling techniques for engaging training materials, or integrating employee stories into company communications. Stories have a unique power. They allow us to share our experiences and values, and inspire others to action. In HR, this means going beyond the numbers and presenting information in a way that actually sticks.

Stories make connections.  Connections drive people to act and behave differently.  Things change when behaviors change.  Facts don’t do that – connections do that. Stories do that.