The Single Biggest Truth in Hiring That No One Will Admit!

I’ve had my mind changed about a lot of things over the past decade of writing. I look back at posts I wrote 5 years ago, and think, “Wow, that was a stupid way of thinking!” I’ve also consistently written about things that I can’t prove, but I know to be true with every ounce of my being.

So, every time I find data that confirms my bias, I like to share it! It makes me think I’m still correct in my viewpoints!

The more attractive you are, the more opportunity you’ll get in your job choice and career! 

Think it isn’t true? Here’s the latest study from 2021, from three PhDs in Economics from Cal and the London School of Economics,  “Do Looks Matter for an Academic Career in Economics?” Want the short answer? Yes! Of course, don’t be stupid!

“Using unique data on Ph.D. graduates from top economics departments in the United States we test whether more attractive individuals are more likely to succeed. We find robust evidence that appearance matters for job outcomes. Attractive individuals are more likely to study at higher-ranked Ph.D. institutions, are more likely to find themselves in private sector jobs than in government jobs or in academia. Within academia, attractive Ph.D. graduates are more likely to be placed at higher ranking institutions. More surprisingly, appearance also predicts research productivity on the job.”

What did the study find?

  1. The more attractive you are, the better schools you’ll get into.
  2. The more attractive you are, the better jobs you’ll get.
  3. The more attractive you are, the better you’ll actually perform!

Now, come on. I get pretty people will get into better schools and get better jobs, but why in the hell do pretty people actually perform better!?! This has to be a flawed study, right!

“Pretty Privilege” is alive and well, at least in the United States, where this study took place. Maybe in other countries, like Canada, ugly people still have a chance. But, I’m doubting it. (Also, shout-out to Maria Alvarez for the “Pretty Privilege” title!)

Can people really have “Pretty Privilege”?  (FYI – the title of my upcoming autobiography is, “Of Course I Have Pretty Privilege, Just Look at Me!”)

So, I’ve laid out my theory of this before, but how soon people forget. So, here it is again:

Step 1: Pretty person gets a great job. Is Successful.

Step 2: Success and Good Lucks, get you a great choice of Mates.

Step 3: Pretty, Successful people get married and procreate.

Step 4: Pretty kids get into the best schools.

Step 5: The cycle repeats.

So, yes, of course, there is pretty privilege. So much so, we pretty people actually talk about it behind the Uggs backs! There are only two privileges stronger than Pretty, being white and being rich! If you have the trifecta-privilege, well, you’re basically unstoppable.

Now, some will want to argue. “Tim, attractiveness is in the eyes of the beholder!” This is usually said by a person who is a six, or lower, on a scale of 1 (troll) to 10 (goddess). To which I could lay out countless studies on attractiveness and call bullshit, but hey, you’re not very attractive, thus, not really my competition, so believe whatever you want, I’m 2/3 of the way to the trifecta!

So, if you have never read my stuff and this is the first time, and you’re ugly, right about now, you’re pissed! So, let me say, the paragraph before is half-joking, I’m 3 for 3, baby! 😉

What can you do if you’re not Pretty? 

First, if you’re asking yourself this question, I’m sorry, you should have more confidence, high confidence is super pretty! But, I get it. We all can’t be the belle of the ball.

If you don’t have Pretty Privilege, you need to do some other stuff extraordinary well. Be way smarter. Grind and Hustle way harder. Network way better. You must outwork the Pretty People. Invest a lot in your outward appearance. You might not be super attractive, but you can definitely be prettier than a lot of other folks! Be the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs, is all I’m saying.

Let’s break it down.

You and the people at your company responsible for hiring aren’t always hiring the best candidate. Mostly, they hire the candidate who can do the job, which also happens to be the best looking of the candidates they interviewed. All things being equal, hire pretty, is the strategy. I’m not saying it’s the best strategy, I’m just saying it’s the strategy most organizations follow, but would never admit to.

We see this in organizations all the time. You walk into an organization and you start to go, wait, I think there’s a problem, everyone here is way too good looking! Almost always, those organizations are super successful as well. Back in the day, the c-suite would call this “image”. We are upholding an “image” of the firm. What they were really saying was, you need to be prettier to hang with us!

So, keep ignoring Pretty Privilege if you want. It’s alive and well and most likely determining your next hire.

 

 

 

Are you running out of time to get your nose pierced?

I have three sons, two of whom just graduated from college.  They can do anything right now!  If they wanted, they could fill a backpack and walk the earth. No one is going to stop them, in fact, many will congratulate them for taking this leap while they’re young.

In just a few years, people won’t say that.  They’ll tell them it’s crazy and you’re going to hurt your career, etc.

I’m a few years older than my sons (turns out that’s how it works!).  I have a feeling that I’m getting to an age where I no longer can make a change in my career path.

Before you start commenting with things like, “Tim, age is a state of mind”, or “You can do anything you want”, or “Follow your passion”.  Stop it. I’m a grown-ass man.  I like to think I’m an adult, although my wife and kids question that frequently. I have adult obligations: mortgage, college tuition, kids to raise, health insurance.

I can’t just go off and polish rocks.

We all get to certain points in our life where you can no longer just go do ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is for you. I feel like I’m at a point where I can’t change careers, not because I don’t think I could, but because society doesn’t look well upon middle-aged dudes looking to change careers. Something is now wrong with me if I wanted to change careers. BTW, I don’t want to change careers, I actually think what I do is pretty cool. Or hip. Or Hella. Or whatever the kids are saying.

If I decided to go back and become a nurse, right now, at my age, with all of my responsibilities, people would say something is wrong with me. You know what? I would think there was something wrong with me.

My question is more around what is ‘that’ time when if you’re going to do it, you better do it now?

For traveling the world: I think it’s 18-22 yrs old, or after 60.

For completely changing careers: I think you have to do it around 30-35 years old. Later, and you just look like your reaching. (I think most people won’t agree with this, but it comes from my recruiting background and how hiring managers look at older candidates who have made this move)

For having kids: this one has changed a bit, but before 40 seems safe. Otherwise, you’re just tempting science to give you problems. One caveat, if you’re adopting, I’ll push out this age because those kids just need someone who will love them.

For completely your high school or college education: I’m really open on this one. I would say anytime before death! I’m a huge advocate of lifelong learning!

For having grandkids: After 45 years old for sure. If you have grandkids prior to becoming 45, you did something wrong as a parent.

For getting your nose pierced: 17-28 years old. Yeah, I’m looking at you 37-year-old mom with the kid with a mohawk not wearing his seatbelt in the back of your Ford Mustang.

So, hit me in the comments with your age ranges on when you think it’s no longer socially acceptable to change careers or do any of the other things listed. And, yes, I get it, I’m old and you can do any of these things at any time, and why are you judging. Because I can, it’s my blog, go start your own, Karen.

I’m not a Dr. but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article regarding incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, using the pre-nominal “Dr.” when she has a doctorate in education, Ed.D, versus a medical doctorate, Ph.D. There is no doubt that Jill Biden did the work and received the degree, from a real, actual university.

The question really comes down to, is there really a difference in calling someone “Dr.”? 

I’m a brain surgeon, call me Dr. I’m a clinical psychologist, call me Dr. I’m a Pharmacist, call me Dr. I’m a Physical Therapist, call me Dr. I’m a Professor of Sport History, call me Dr. I’m a Vaccine Scientist, call me Dr. I teach English 101 at a local community college, call me Dr.

For each of those titles, currently, to obtain that title you have to have a doctorate degree. Well, actually, you don’t have to have a doctorate to teach at a university or community college. To become a medical doctor, Pharmacist, Physical Therapist, today, you must get your doctorate in the U.S. Regardless, many people get a doctorate but do jobs that don’t necessarily need a doctorate to do that job.

As a recruiting professional, I have an opinion. 

I believe we call people Dr. when in normal society those people are called “doctors”. When I go see a Physician, most people, who don’t know them personally, will call them “doctor”. If in a normal work setting, someone doesn’t call you “doctor”, but you call yourself doctor, that comes off really bad.

The worse is when you expect someone else to call you “doctor” but the average person in the world would never expect to call you “doctor”. Then you come across as pompous. “Tim, it’s nice to meet you!” Yes, that’s Dr. Tim, thank you. “No, that’s Dr. Asshole, goodbye!”

This is just good situational awareness if you are on the job market. We deal with many candidates who have their doctorate in various sciences. It’s very rare in a professional work setting they would ever use “Dr.”, and if they corrected a hiring manager during an interview, let’s face it, that wouldn’t end well.

Does any of this really matter? 

Before someone loses their head and puts in a 700-word comment about how I’m a misogynist against Dr. Jill Biden, check yourself. I could care less about what Jill Biden wants to be called. If she wants to call herself Queen, good for her! Dr. Queen, even better!

The reality is, most likely, this Op-Ed wouldn’t have been written if Jill Biden was voted in as President, and her first husband, Joe, has his doctorate in education, and called himself Dr. Joe Biden. So, that’s a problem. It doesn’t make the Op-Ed opinion wrong, just questionable.

If she’s comfortable with calling herself Dr., that’s all that really matters. I have a feeling that if I got an Ed.D or any other kind of doctorate degree, I would force people to call me Dr.! “Hey, Mr. Teddy Starbucks barista, that’s “Dr. Timmy”! Get it right!” I would also expect that people would say bad things behind my back if it wasn’t normal for someone with my degree to be called “Dr.”

What do the “real” doctors think? 

I got feedback from three friends who all have a doctorate degree. All three felt like this was basically bad form on the part of the writer of the Opt-Ed. He comes across as a sexiest, old, out of touch elitest.

There is, though, a background within the doctoral community of hazing between those with doctorates about who has the “better” degree and from the “better” school. Also, MD’s, medical doctors, most likely look down on all other doctorates who don’t save lives.

As my one friend put it, I will definitely give it to my fellow doctorate friends who have an Ed.D versus a Ph.D, or went to a B-level school versus an A-list school. But, let’s not kid ourselves, I could have not gone to my Ph.D class on management, or done poorly, and no one is losing their life!

The fact is, all doctorate recipients did the work. Professionally, they will take being called “Dr.” in that professional setting. Professors might not ask to be called “Dr.” but if a student calls them by “Dr.” it fits the professional setting. If Jill Biden is working on Educational Policy and Strategy, if completely fits her being called Dr. Biden, that is her professional role.

If I’m going out for dinner with Jill and Joe, in a personal setting, of course, it would seem weird for her to want me to call her Dr. Jill Biden at the dinner table, if we were just having a social dinner. But, that’s not what this is about. This is about someone you thinks he knows more than everyone else, and he’s going to mansplain it to us all, especially, a woman.

If Jill wants to be called Dr. Jill Biden, call her that. If you don’t like it, then don’t put yourself in a position to have to use her name. I’m sure she would appreciate that.

I voted for an elderly white man! #YesIDid #vote2020

I’ve written a ton about ageism on my blog. Let’s face it, I’m a 50-year-old white dude. Yeah, I know I love higher 40’s, but still, it is what it is. Ageism is a real problem in hiring. I’ve written often of my support for older workers and them being the most undervalued talent in the marketplace.

That being said, I’m not super excited about hiring a white dude over 70 to be my President. I also wouldn’t be super excited at hiring a black man or woman over 70 to be my President.

Does that make me ageist? Yeah, probably it does! I think it was the broadway musical Avenue Q that said, “we’re all a little bit racist” and I’m saying we’re all a little bit ageist!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, and my grandma and my aunts! They are wonderful dear people! I love spending time with them and explaining things like TikTok and how you don’t have to keep a VCR around any longer. They would do anything for me!

I back the sugar daddies that can grab a girl 40-50 years younger than them, just because they have a ton of money. Wait, no I don’t, that still gross! Like way gross! Stop it!

Being a middle-aged white dude (assuming I live until I’m 100) I was hoping for a selection of candidates that was younger and more diverse. Maybe someone in their 40s! Maybe a female! I don’t know, maybe a Hispanic or Asian! Someone who spoke as I spoke. Someone who viewed the world in a longer-term sense than like I might die before this speech is over.

Call me ageist, if you want. Cancel me. Whatever.

This is our fault. Younger people, like me, are the ones to blame. We allowed this to happen because we don’t get out and vote and say, “Wait, Grandpa, go back home and stop acting like you can run the most powerful country in the free world! We don’t even let you drive long distances any more!” We didn’t show up to vote when it wasn’t the “big” vote. We waited for all the older people, who actually pay attention to this shit, to do the voting, and then we bitch and moan we don’t like the choices!

I think it’s time we just came to the conclusion that, as Americans, we just really like old white dudes! The facts are the facts! The data doesn’t lie! Look, we all have a flavor and apparently, America’s flavor is old, white, and male. Some people get really upset by this, but then go and pick another old white guy. Even Obama, choose an old white buy to be his running mate because he knew the flavor we like. You really think Obama wanted to hang out with Biden!? He could have had someone super cool! He could have had Oprah or Beyonce or Chris Rock, Anyone!

So, go vote for your old white guy today and be happy you were given the flavor you’ve purposely decided you wanted.

 

 

3 Ways You Can Extend the Work Lifecycle of Older Employees

One of the biggest biases we have as leaders is ageism. If you’re 35 years old and running a department and you are looking to fill a position on your team that will be your righthand person, the last thing you’re looking for is a 55-year-old to fill that spot! That’s just me being real for a second.

You and I both know that 35-year-old hiring manager is looking for a 25 – 28 year old to fill that spot

That’s mainly because at 35 you’re still basically stupid. I was. You were. We think 35ish is the pinnacle of all knowledge, but it’s really when we just start learning for real.

So, we have this core issue to deal with in workplaces right now. Our leaders are mostly Millennial and GenX, and Millennials are increasing into these roles at a rapid rate. Because of the Boomers leaving in large amounts, there aren’t enough talented young workers to replace the knowledge gap that is being left. So, we are left grappling with what we think we want (youth) with what really needs (experience!).

A recent study at the University of Minnesota found that employers need to add programs to focus on older workers:

The study argued that programs aimed at training workers won’t be enough to satisfy the state’s need for workers between 2020 and 2030. New policy directives and incentives may be needed, including offering pathways for baby boomers to delay retirement, drawing in workers from other states and supporting immigration from other countries

“There’s all this focus on workforce development, but none of it is guided to older workers,” said Mary Jo Schifsky, whose business, GenSync, advocates for meaningful career pathways for older adults and who helped initiate the study for the Board on Aging with the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “We need career pathways for older workers just as much as we do for younger workers.”
 
In the U survey, managers ranked baby boomers high on loyalty, professionalism, engagement, and their commitment to producing quality work.
Employers need to find ways to extend the Work-Life Cycle of the older employees that work for them until the workforce, technology, and retraining programs can catch up to fill the void. Most employers are only focused on programs that are looking at younger workers.
So, what can you do as an employer to extend the life cycle of your older employees?
1.  Have real conversations with older employees about what they want. Most employers shy away from having the ‘retirement’ conversation with older employees because they think it’s embarrassing or illegal. It’s not. It’s a major reality of workforce planning. “Hey, Mary, Happy 55th Birthday, let’s talk about your future!” Oh, you want to work 18 more years! Nice! Let’s talk about a career path!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard a hiring manager say, “I don’t want to hire him because he’s 59 and is going to hire soon.” Well, I spoke to him and he wants to work until he’s 70 (11 years) and our average employee tenure is 4.7 years. I think we’re good!
2. Stop, Stop, Stop, believing that all you can do is hire full and part-time FTEs into roles. If Mary, my 63-year-old financial analyst wants to give me five more years of work, but only wants to work three days per week, in role ‘traditionally’ we’ve only had a full-timer, I’m taking Mary for three days! HR owes it to our organizations and hiring manager to push them out of the box when it comes to schedules and how we have always filled positions. 3 days of Mary is probably worth 3 weeks of an entry-level analyst in the same role!
We do this to ourselves. I hear it constantly from hiring managers, “HR won’t allow me to do that.” Why? Have you asked? No, but HR doesn’t allow us to do anything. We need to come to our hiring managers with solutions and let them see we are open to doing whatever it takes to help the organization meet its people’s needs.
3. Develop programs and benefits specifically designed to retain older employees. I work with a plant manager who developed an entire engineering internship program around having his retired engineers come back and work three days a week with interns and paid them ‘on-call’ wages for the days they weren’t there, so interns could call them with questions at any time. These retired engineers loved it! They could come to do some real work, help out, and still have a great balance.
It went so well, he kept some on all year, on-call, and partnered them with younger engineers who needed the same support and assistance from time to time. The on-call rate was pretty inexpensive, the support and knowledge they got in return, was invaluable.
It all comes down to flexibility on our part as employers to extend the life cycle of our older employees. We no longer have this choice where we can just throw our older employees away and think we can easily replace them. We can’t! There physically isn’t anyone there!
This is about using each other’s strengths. Younger leaders will be stretched and we need to help them stretch. We need to help older employees understand their roles. In the end, we need to find a way where we can all see each other for the strengths we bring to the table, not the opportunities.
It’s our job as HR professionals to work on how we can extend the life cycle of each of our employees.

When in Doubt, Hiring Attractive People Usually Works Out!

The first time I wrote that in a post, it was 2012 with a post called, “Hire More Beautiful People!“. In 2014, it was, “Do Managers Have a Bias for Hiring Attractive People!” (Spoiler Alert – Yes!) In 2016, I doubled down as the science continued to tell us, pretty people, make the best employees with, “Pretty People Make the Best Employees!”  In 2018, it was “The One Big Problem with Being Pretty!

All of them pre-Internet outrage wars. So, the fall out was minimal. A few ruffled feathers from some ugly folks, but all in all, people believe science! That’s hard for the extra-libs! They want to kill Trump for not believing science, but then it’s hard for them to kill me when I’m using science.

So, here we are in 2019, the height of #outrage culture and Business Insider feed my obsession to write about the Attractiveness Bias in hiring with, “11 Scientific Reasons Why Attractive People Are More Successful in Life!” I love science!

I think I write about our need to hire attractive people so much because it’s right there in our face and yet no one wants to admit to it! You see, I was raised a red-headed stepchild. I know what it’s like to not be attractive and lose out in life to some idiot who looks like Brad Pitt. To me, it might be the biggest travesty of our time!

So, what does “science” tell us about being attractive (remember – this is science, it’s not me!):

Since I’ve been writing about this concept of “Hiring Pretty” I haven’t really changed my position. When in doubt, hire an attractive one!

It’s a bit fascinating to me that there is so much research about this topic. But, like me, I think dorky smart people, who most of us wouldn’t consider attractive, are trying to prove all of this wrong, but we can’t! Those damn pretty people still keep coming out on top! It’s like they have pretty privilege.

There is one giant reason most people don’t get upset by this concept of “hire pretty”. For the most part, we all think we’re fairly attractive! Not all the time, but at our best, when our game is flowing great, we look in the mirror and go “yeah, I’d hit that!” Come on! Be honest! You believe that!

I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a hotel room getting ready to go down and speak and look in the mirror and think, “yep, they’re about to get destroyed by you, beautiful bastard!” Then, sixty minutes later, I see pictures of myself on social media and I look like a troll! A f@cking TROLL!

Every time I’ve ever struggled with getting a hiring manager to actually make a decision to hire, and they just won’t, I know the problem. I haven’t given them someone pretty enough to hire! Once I find an attractive candidate, they always pull the trigger and make the hire. It’s science, we can’t stop it.

So, kill me in the comments. I’m just sharing our reality that we continue to ignore. We love to hire pretty!

Your Job Posting Requiring a Bachelor’s Degree is Discriminatory!

From the world of sports this week in 2019 –

The NCAA (collegiate sports governing body) came out with rules for agents working with college athletes who are underclassman but trying to make a decision to test the NBA waters before graduation. Take a look at what they had to say:

“With this in mind, we benchmarked our new rules against requirements for other organizations that certify agents, like the NBPA, which also requires agents to have a bachelor’s degree. While different and distinct, our rules taken together, which is the manner they were meant to be examined, provide a clear opportunity for our student-athletes to receive excellent advice from knowledgeable professionals on either the college or professional path they choose.”

So, this is being called the “Rich Paul Rule” around the NBA circles. Rich Paul is Lebron James agent, the most famous basketball player on the planet. Rich Paul is a childhood friend of Lebron James, both of them skipped ‘college’ and went directly to the pros! James went and played basketball in the NBA, Paul went and trained as an agent and now has his own sports agency, Klutch, which Lebron happens to be a minority owner.

So, why is this discriminatory?

Rich Paul, like Lebron, grew up black and with little resources. He probably could have gone to college, given the right support system, but when you grow up black and poor, usually access to those support systems are non-existent. Lebron and Rich have had some great success getting young NCAA basketball players to want to sign with them. So, the NCAA makes a rule whereas Paul will not be able to ‘tamper’ with these young men.

Rich Paul, by all accounts, is a successful sports agent for his clients. He’s a very wealthy man, running a very successful business. He’s smart enough to have an army of lawyers, CPAs, etc. surrounding him to ensure his clients have the exact representation they need to be successful in negotiating great contracts.

Rich Paul does not need a bachelors degree. The role of a sports agent does not need a bachelors degree. The NCAA is forcing agents to have a bachelor’s degree if they want to have access to these athletes.

So, let’s get back to HR. We, organizations and HR pros, are pretty much like the NCAA. We often require education for positions where there is no correlation between educational obtainment and success on the job. We do this, like the NCAA, because we are either:

  1. Discriminatory
  2. Lazy
  3. Lazy and Discriminatory

Well, we’ve always hired Account Managers with bachelor’s degrees, so that is why we keep requiring a bachelor’s degree. I would say probably 80% of the positions we hire for in organizations do not need a formal education to do that job, but there will be a formal education requirement on the job description.

Let’s not be stupid and you make comments below about how we definitely want doctors to have degrees. Of course, there are formal educational programs that are critical to success. But there are more jobs that require education where it’s not critical for success. Using education as a screener because you have too many candidates is flat out lazy and you’re probably missing great talent.

Since we know who has and doesn’t have access to higher education, requiring higher education for jobs that don’t really need it, you’re basically saying “we just really don’t want to hire minorities”. The NCAA doesn’t want Rich Paul around “it’s kids”, so they change the rules. The reality is, these are more Rich Paul’s kids than the NCAA’s. At least Rich is upfront with his clients about how he’s making money on them!

 

The New Red Flag in Hiring!

I’m trained as an HR pro to pick up on ‘red flags’ in interviewing, in employee behavior, potential turnover risks, etc. Sometimes those red flags are really obvious.  I tease my staff all the time, but missing time on Mondays and Fridays, unexcused time, is a red flag.  It says something about how you feel about work, that you want to extend your weekend. It’s subtle, but in my experience, it doesn’t play out well.

My new red flag in hiring is Positivity.

First, I’ll admit to you that I’m a mostly a positive person.  My normal gauge is set to “things will probably work out in the end”.  I try to be realistic, without thinking the sky is going to fall when something doesn’t go my way.  Life has been pretty good to me. My glass is over half full, and when it’s not, I believe I can find a way to fill it back up.

What I don’t buy is the people who are so positive they seem to be telling themselves they’re positive.  I tend to believe if you’re positive, you don’t need to say your outlook is positive, people will hear it and see it in your daily interactions.  Those are the people you get drawn to. They are truly positive people who enjoy the life they’ve created for themselves.

There is another kind of positive person.  This is the person who needs to keep reminding themselves and anyone around them they’re positive. This positive scares me. This positive is a red flag for me.  This type of positive makes me believe you are actually fairly negative but trying to turn yourself into positive.

Now, I don’t necessarily think that’s bad, someone wanting to change from negative to positive.  I applaud the effort. I also know that most people are hardwired to lean one way.  It’s your personality, and that’s really hard to change long term.

My friend Kris Dunn, author of The 9 Faces of HR, loves to ask applicants about what work experience in their life they enjoyed the most, and which one did they dislike the most. Each tells you something about the person.  A truly positive person will have a hard time finding a place they truly disliked, but they’ll speak a ton about what they really liked. A truly negative person will do the opposite. They’ll go on and on about what they dislike, but move on quickly with their answer about what they like.

Basically, you can fake positivity, and it’s common amongst candidates.  The problem is, you can’t fake it for long, and even if they can fake it, fake positivity can get downright annoying!

I think it’s important to remember that the opposite of Positive Thinking isn’t Negative Thinking. It’s Possible Thinking. I want to hire people who are realistic about what is possible. Blind positivity doesn’t last and usually leads to a big fall.  I don’t need the drama in my work environment.

Who would have ever thought that positivity would be a hiring red flag!

The Myth of Being a “Highly Selective Employer”

We all think about it, don’t we?  We all want to believe in this notion that we only hire the best and brightest. We only hire the highest quality candidates.  We are ‘highly’ selective!

We’ll show our executives really cool data that shows how ‘highly’ selective we are.  The number of applicants per hire, 25,000 people applied for this position and we only took the best one!

I read something interesting from Time magazine and college admissions at highly selective colleges. Think Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc.  Schools that are super hard to get into because of how selective they are much like the hiring process of your organization. From Time’s article:

“What many parents and students don’t realize is that increasing numbers of applications isn’t necessarily a sign that it’s harder to get into a selective school; rather, it’s a sign of changes in behavior among high school seniors. More and more people who aren’t necessarily qualified are applying to top schools, inflating the application numbers while not seriously impacting admissions. In fact, it has arguably become easier to get into a selective school, though it may be harder to get into a particular selective school…

The most recent study available from the National Association for College Admission Counseling shows that between 2010 and 2011 (the most recent years available), the percentage of students applying to at least three colleges rose from 77% to 79% and the percentage of students applying to at least seven colleges rose from 25% to 29%. In 2000, only 67% of students applied to three or more colleges, while 12% applied to seven or more.

The net effect of this behavior is to create an illusion of increased selectivity.

Especially at the most selective schools, an increase in applications generally leads to the acceptance of a smaller percentage of the students who apply. However, students who meet the academic and extracurricular thresholds to qualify for competitive schools will still get into a selective college; it’s just less likely that they’ll get into a specific competitive college.

These schools work hard to not admit students who won’t attend;  the acceptance rate and the matriculation rate (the percentage of accepted students who attend) are key measures in many college ranking methodologies, so both admitting too many students and admitting students who don’t attend can hurt a college’s ranking.”

An illusion of increased selectivity, you see, just because you turn down a high number of candidates doesn’t make you more selective, it makes you popular.  Too many organizations and HR departments are marketing that they are highly selective based on some simple numbers that give an illusion of being highly selective when in reality, they’re just good at processing a high number of applicants, but not really being ‘more’ selective.

Just because you turn down 24,999 candidates doesn’t make you selective it just means you have a high number of applicants.

So what does make you selective?

Quality of hire. Which I can argue is another very subjective metric in most organizations, but at least it’s a start.  Can you demonstrate with real measurable items that the applicants you’re hiring are better or getting better than those previously hired?  This creates real evidence that you’re becoming ‘more’ selective and on your way to becoming ‘highly’ selective.

You are only “selective” if you’re are actually only hiring the best candidate in your market in the position you have open, not the only candidate who just happens to apply to your job and is the tallest of the seven dwarfs at the time you have the job open.

 

Ford Layoffs – “Hey, stay a few days and say your goodbyes!”

A big announcement yesterday over at Ford where 7,000 or so white-collar workers will be getting laid off. For generations of automotive families, this is really anything new. You grow up knowing about once every ten years, the big autos will do some ‘right-sizing’ or reorganizations. The reality is, and other industries are much different, auto industries hire in good times like your drunk Uncle Lou buys drinks at the bar after he cashes his income tax return check!

In good times, there is nothing better than working in the automotive industry. Everyone gets hired for good wages, bonuses are good, and they throw money around like it’s monopoly money. In bad times, they ‘right-size’ and it’s not targeted, it’s pretty much we need to cut 10,000 people, make it happen!

Ford CEO Jim Hacket said this layoff is different, it’s not, but to prove the point he also said this:

He acknowledged saying goodbye to colleagues is “difficult and emotional.”

“We have moved away from past practices in some regions where team members who were separated had to leave immediately with their belongings, instead giving people the choice to stay for a few days to wrap up and say goodbye,” he wrote.

Wow, really!?! Thanks, Jim!

Honestly, though, it is a bit more humane, right? Basically what you say when you walk someone out immediately during a layoff is this:

  • Hey, you no longer have a job but thank you for all those years of your life and discretionary effort you gave!
  • Also, we don’t trust you, so get the hell out, NOW!
  • Also, if you know of any younger workers who can do what you do, but for 30% less, please refer them to us!

Now, I am not saying Ford is laying off older workers and keeping younger workers. That would be slanderous, and I would never say such a thing! You can look at the data for yourself! It is a bit ironic though how white-collar layoffs tend to impact higher paid, more experienced workers. Turns out experience only matters to a certain salary point, then we are mostly the same in terms of productivity and knowledge.

No, Ford is in a very competitive industry and very fast-changing industry, and while all these ‘more experienced’ workers made us a lot of money, we now need to hire a different set of skills for our next generation of products. We no longer need all these mechanical engineers (true) and we need many more electrical and computer engineering skill sets (also true). Also, we probably need less more experienced finance, human resources, marketing, and operations folks as well, for these new more technical products we are creating.

So, back to the actual layoffs. Do you agree with Hackett (no relation, since my name, is “Sackett” with an “S”, and not an “H” but I see the confusion if you’re dumb) on his layoff approach of treating the Ford employees a bit differently and letting them close up shop and not walk them out immediately?

My take:

This should be an individual management decision. Your manager knows if you’re a terrorists or not. If she believes you can act like an adult and not sabotage anything on your way out, she should be able to make that call. If she believes you’re a problem, she should also be able to make that call on walking you out immediately.

I don’t believe this should be an all or nothing approach. I’ve seen people who have done some very bad things when given the chance to ‘pack up shop” on their way out. When you take the livelihood way from a person, you really don’t know how they’ll react. Some will become desperate and take anything they can get, staplers, information, etc.

Most, the vast majority, will be sad and grieve but also be able to handle this news in a respectful manner, knowing they’ll probably need that manager reference to land their next spot.

Layoffs suck, even when done for the best reasons to save the jobs of thousands of others. They just suck. I feel awful for those Ford employees having to go through this, just as I did for the GM employees who had to go through this at the end of last year. Organizations are living, breathing things, and as such, tend to make the same mistakes as well do in good times and bad.