Can Everyone be the Best Employer to Work For?

I have yet to see an organization come out with a brand that says,

“Hey, we’re Super Average, but come work here anyway!” 

For the most part, every organization spouts off about being the best place to work. Statistically, that just can’t be true. Everyone can’t be the best, right?

I think for the most part it’s just lazy recruitment marketing. You are either the best, or you’re something less and no one would ever go to their c-suite and say, “Yeah, so we’re going with “We are almost the best place in the city to work for!” What do you think!?

Why does anyone really want to work at your company? 

That is really the only question you need to answer. It might be because you’re the tallest of the seven dwarfs in your marketplace. It might be it’s a decent-paying job close to home. Maybe you have a friendly culture, and mostly everyone gets along.

But, really, why would anyone choose you?

The answer will set you free. It will allow you to really have fun with who you are and find others that are like you. Not all of us were raised to work for the “best”. The world needs ditch diggers and toilet cleaners, and people who still get up and go to work, and feel proud of what they accomplish.

The fact is, you and your executives shouldn’t give one sh*t about being the best as measured by everyone. You should only be concerned with being the best for those people, who are your people.

Now, why would anyone really come and work for you?

Hiring for a High Give-a-Damn

Josh Zywien, the CMO of Paradox, made a great hire this past week and I sent him a note telling him so. I like to do that. He knows he made a great hire, but it’s always nice to get a note confirming your belief! If you don’t know Josh, you should give me a follow, he’s one of the good guys in our industry.

Josh responded to my note with a statement I wanted to share because it’s profound:

I like to hire people who have a ‘high give-a-damn’! 

I absolutely love that and told him I was stealing it!

What does hiring for High Give-a-Damn Mean? 

It’s one of those intangibles you know when you see it. Like porn. Hard to explain, but when I see it, I know what it is. High Give-a-Damn (HGD) individuals don’t just care about their job and their company. HGD is pervasive in all aspects of their life. You’ll see it come out in other ways away from their career as well.

The High Give-a-Damn Traits:

  • High attention to detail
  • Live an orderly life
  • Most likely, well-kept house, clean, probably makes their bed every single morning.
  • Classic fashionable dress style not to stand out, but you notice them
  • They say the right things and the right times
  • They can be counted on
  • Follow-through is impeccable
  • They give a shit about stuff that matters
  • Have a habit of taking care of their physical & mental self, more than the average person.

People with HGD don’t drive around in a messy car with a coffee stain on their shirt. They might not have a lot of money, but what they have, they take care of. They do more with less because part of HGD is not to waste resources, both professionally and personally. So, you take care of your stuff. Part of your ‘stuff’ is your personal self.

I’ve written about organizations “Hiring Pretty” in the past. About the scientific research that shows organizations that tend to hire more attractive people actually have higher results. There is a bit of this in HGD. Individuals with HGD most likely get the most out of the attractiveness they have.

It doesn’t mean the person has to be naturally ‘pretty’ but think of the time when you took that one selfie, that one time when you were feeling super cute, had that one hat on, the light was right and now it’s your favorite IG photo. Yeah, that, but now what if you did that every day? That’s HGD. “Felt cute, not ever gonna delete!”

Now, at this point, you might be saying, “Tim, all of this seems superficial. There is nothing here about skill or performance, about actually being able to do the job.” Yeah, I’m not only hiring for HGD and nothing else. This is about, what if I had three people who had similar skill level, education, experience? At that point, my tiebreaker is who has the most HGD?

Who is going to bring the most HGD to the team? Because in the end, when I’m going to war with my team, I want people who give a damn. Yeah, we might be making widgets for crackheads, but I still want people who want to make the best widgets for crackheads. People who want to make sure that crackhead has the best experience with our product and service. (Right now, Josh is like, WTF, how did I get in a Tim Sackett Blog Post with Crackheads!?)

Not enough Hiring Managers are hiring for HGD. In fact, as a society we kind of gone soft on HGD. We have this belief that you can be HGD in your personal life, but not your professional life, or vice versa. The reality is true HGD is always on or never on as a personality trait. You either give a damn about your life, or you don’t. I want to be around and work with people who are HGD.

I’ve Got a Great Business Opportunity for You!

No. No, you don’t. You have a great business opportunity for you, and you need me to make it happen.

Email Subject Lines in the Past Week

  • “Business Opportunity”
  • “Potential Opportunity”
  • “Great Business Opportunity for You!”

There was one common theme with each one of these messages sent to me. Not one of them was an opportunity for me to make money, but each was an opportunity for me to pay someone else money!

Idiots Using these Subject Lines

Do you seriously believe that these subject lines are working? That people are reading them and going, “OMG! I’m the Luckiest Girl alive today! This beautiful human chose me for this opportunity that I was neither looking for nor really even wanting! #Blessed”

I have a feeling there is something clinically wrong with the person who uses this subject line. I want to get them professional help. Medication, therapy, a punch to the throat, whatever it takes, I’m a giver, a helper of sorts.

I would love it if we could have a law where if some moron uses a subject line like this we can send them away for a while. Like prison, but more used car sales lot they have to live in for eternity. Every day, all day, just wandering the lot getting approached by an overly aggressive used car salesman that won’t leave them alone.

Look, I Get It 

I run a company that has to sell our services. Every morning I get up, shower, get dressed, and head off to work. “Gotta make the donuts!” They don’t make themselves. Our world is predicated on someone buying whatever it is we’re selling.

So, I feel for you, but I’ve got a few words of advice –

Be Better! 

Be someone who you want your kids to be. Be someone you want your grandmother to talk about at bridge club. Be someone who will get referred by one client to a future client.

Also, I get you can’t just put up a subject line that says, “Hey, buy my crappy lead generation tool!” (Although, I bet your click-through rate on that is a minimum of 100% higher than “Business Opportunity”.

The world isn’t looking to do work, to make you money. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe your subject line of “Business Opportunity” was just one big miss by me. You were saying, “Hey, I’ve got a business opportunity for me, I just need a sucker like you to bite”, if that’s the case, my bad, continue being an awful person.

Great Business Opportunity

As always, I’m here to help, fellow sales pros. Here are some subject lines that are guaranteed to get some click-through:

– I’ve got your bag full of puppies!

– You need to verify your Pornhub password

– BOGO on Wine, Chocolate, and Jimmy Choos

– Is this your Mom on Facebook?

“But, Tim, these are all lies!” I know, and I’m super excited you found the commonality between my subject lines and yours. Good luck!

 

In Attracting Great Talent, What’s More Important: Employment Branding or Recruitment Marketing?

Like most stuff I write, I try to break down things in HR and TA that we make way more complicated than it really is. We’re just hiring people, and trying to get the most out of our employees that we can. We aren’t launching the space shuttle or performing brain surgery. This stuff really isn’t that complicated.

I asked some of the most brilliant minds in the space and they gave some great advice, tips, and tricks. Some started to get deep into the weeds, but most gave ideas that were simple in nature to execute. There was basically one theme for each function, employment branding, and recruitment marketing:

Employment Branding at its core is your organization just telling your stories to candidates. 

Not made-up stories of what you want people to think about you, but your real employee stories. Simple, straightforward, this is who we are and why we love who we are. Some will love you, some will not. The best EB does just that, allows people to choose, so they don’t make a bad cultural fit choice.

Recruitment Marketing at its core is ensuring your stories get in front of candidates in a way and time they would like to consume those stories. 

So, it’s less “We’re a great company to work for!”, because everyone says they’re a great company to work for. No one says, “Hey, we’re a better than average company to work for!” Even though, that’s probably the real truth.

There is a piece of this, though, that I think the true employment branding experts are missing.

As consumers, we are all mostly dumb. A company tells us they have the best most reliable cars and then they tell us this over and over a million times, and we believe that those cars are the best and most reliable. We actually don’t do any research to find out if these cars are actually the best and most reliable. We got ‘marketed’ to.

Recruitment marketing can work in the exact same way. Put enough content out saying you’re the employer of choice, and people will recognize you as an employer of choice. The reality is the difference between a ‘true’ employer of choice, and an organization that is not an employer of choice is pretty small. Small, like, most people wouldn’t see any differences.

Most employers are stuck in the middle of delivering a fairly stripped-down basic employee experience. We all offer basically the same thing for all candidates. Thus, there’s a great opportunity for marketing to tell people we ‘actually’ offer a ‘better’ experience. Say it enough times and people will believe it.

I know my EB expert friends will say this isn’t being transparent and once the candidates get hired they’ll realize it’s not an exceptional experience. But, this is also mostly bullshit. Most people don’t realize it. They’ll get hired. They’ll go to work. They’ll be super excited about the new job. They’ll post a pic on IG. Life continues. One day, three years from now, they’ll wake up and think nothing. They won’t think either way about your company from the last company.

There are like 3 actual companies that offer up this ‘unicorn’ level employee experience that can actually match your brand. The reality of employment branding is far less sexy and fun than we make it out to be. Our stories are uniquely our own, and yet, very similar to those stories of every other employer.

I love your stories, but don’t discount the power of marketing will have on candidate behavior.

Can we stop using the phrase “Top Talent”!?

Rant warning! Proceed with caution! 
First off the vast majority of us wouldn’t know top talent for a specific position if it came up and slapped us in the face. What we know are people/candidates that are actually open to listening to what we have open right now.
“Pipelining top talent” makes you sound like a psychopath! You truly have no idea who is the most talented person in your market for a certain position. Absolutely no idea! And every technology that says they can tell you who is the most talented is lying to you, they can just tell you who is probably more talented amongst a group of known candidates.
But somehow you believe you not only have one “top talented” person but now you have a complete pipeline of top talent? Shut up! You look like an idiot! What you have is a list of people who might work for your position, but you truly have no idea if they’re ax murders or super talented in the skill set they’re telling you they have.
Hopefully, you get lucky and make a good hire that will produce good work. Every once in a while we hit the jackpot and find a person who truly seems better than the rest we have on the team. But we only hire “top talent” is the biggest lie we currently tell ourselves in talent acquisition!
We don’t actually go out and hire “top” talent. We go out and look for people who can do the job we have open at the time we have it open, who are also open to our average pay, average benefits, average leadership, average culture, and location. Let’s not kid ourselves, about 80% of us are average, so are slightly better, some are slightly worse.
“Top Talent”… Give me a freaking break!
“Hire Sally she’s Top Talent!” “Hire Jimmy he’s Top Talent!” Do you know who’s not top talent? The person using the phrase “Top Talent”!?
I love it when I see an agency have some stupid 4 part process or plan or dumb little 4 P’s of how we hire the Top Talent in the industry. Psychopaths! They aren’t doing anything but posting jobs and hitting their databases to find out who might actually be open to taking the interview. Top Talent? How about “might show up for the interview” talent!
“No, Tim! We use the 4 P’s, it’s a proven process to uncover top talent!” What are the 4 P’s? It doesn’t matter! Because it’s all B.S., made up to make you believe there’s some secret sauce. The secret sauce is they picked up the phone and called people instead of waiting around for someone who’s out of work to find your opening and apply.
“You can use our A.I. driven technology that uncovers and delivers right to your inbox the “Top Talent” your company is searching for!”  It reaches out to everyone, finds out who is interested, finds out who meets your qualifications, and sends them to you. Top Talent? Or warm body talent? They both mean the same thing.
Okay – I’m done. Not really, but I have some “top talent” I need to go searching for…

Life is better when you have cheerleaders!

I’ve got some great friends in my life. People who support me in my professional field. I’ve got cheerleaders that are on my side hoping I succeed in everything I do.

Do you have cheerleaders? Do you have a cheerleader?

I think if you have one your life is richer. It’s not about who has the most cheerleaders, but I do think it is critical for your success to have a cheerleader or two in your life.

What’s the role of a cheerleader in your life?

  • Support you in the community when you are not present.
  • Support you in your professional and personal positive endeavors. Sometimes in person. Sometimes from afar.
  • Pick you up when you are having a hard time picking yourself up.
  • They believe in you, and they’ve let you know they believe in you through their words and actions.
  • To let you know what you do matters. Maybe only to one other person, but it still matters.

Just because someone is your cheerleader doesn’t mean you need to be their cheerleader. I have people in my life that I cheer for, that they don’t cheer for me. It doesn’t mean they dislike me, it’s just they aren’t one of my cheerleaders, and that’s okay. I also have cheerleaders that I don’t return the favor for, again, not because I don’t cherish them, I just don’t know them enough to return that favor.

I think cheerleaders get a bad rap in our society. Why would someone want to stand on the sidelines and just cheer for someone else? Go do it yourself!

Yeah, I get that, but also what’s wrong with wanting to help someone else succeed? It’s a very selfless and endearing feature to want to help others succeed and cheer them on in their success. I don’t think cheerleaders get enough credit for what they do. When a team loses or an individual loses, people feel bad for them, but no one feels worse than those who cheered them on the most.

Here’s what I know.

I’ve been in places in my life when it felt like I didn’t have any cheerleaders in my life, and I’m in a place where it seems like I’ve got a tremendous amount of cheerleaders in my life cheering me on daily.

Life is way better with cheerleaders.

You Can’t Teach Your Employees to be Human! #Transform

You might have seen this in the news a few weeks back. Mom and Dad take their Autistic son to a Universal Theme Park in Orlando. The son is over the top excited for the Spiderman ride, and Murphy’s Law comes into play.

The family gets to the ride and it’s broken down. The son loses it. Full blown, five-alarm tantrum on the ground in front of the ride. Mom and Dad are doing all they can to help him calm down, he’s having none of it, when this happens:

So, you see the son with his headphones and you see an actual park employee from Universal from the Spiderman ride who came over and got on the ground and just laid down with this child. Let everyone know who was gawking that you know, it’s okay, some days the Spiderman ride breaks down and it sucks and we all want to scream about it.

The child eventually calmed down with the help of the employee. The parents were all so grateful for the assist and help.

This is a great human story. This is also a great story for Universal’s recruiting team! Let’s be honest. The reality is, the TA team really had nothing to do with this. They ran their process, and out of that, got lucky enough to hire a person who had these capabilities and a giant heart.

You can’t expect or set out to hire, individuals like this woman. She’s a unicorn. In fact, I would bet that Universal in their training would probably use an example like this of what not to do from a liability standpoint! All that said, it happened and it was wonderful.

You might see a story like this and say to yourself, “we need to add this example into our onboarding so that our new employees know this is what we want them to be like!” That’s really unfair to your new hires. Some might see this and think that’s the scariest thing I can imagine, but they might be willing to do a thousand other great things.

The biggest learning from an HR standpoint on this for me is that we can’t eliminate risk in our environments. Things are going to happen. We hope we hire and train employees to do the ‘right’ thing. To be kind. To be human. To do what they would want someone to do for them in a similar circumstance.

Also, to know, when we ask our employees to take the risk of being kind, being human, etc. that sometimes it’s going to backfire, but if it was done with positive intent and good heart we are willing to take that risk.

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.

 

College Athletes: You better have some experience!

My oldest son is so close to being off the payroll and graduating college I can almost taste it! Because he transferred schools after his first two years he has a couple of classes to make up, but he has a great internship this summer, so he’s going back to school in the fall to finish up his senior year.

He plays college baseball, so a bunch of his senior teammates in the same grad class as he did graduate this past weekend. I got to speak with a bunch of these parents who are now excited for their kids to find jobs. You know we all love to hire college athletes, right!?! Right?

Here’s the thing. College athletes work their butts off and put in more hours than you can ever imagine between their sport and their classes. The work ethic. The competitiveness. Etc. Is why so many employers search out college athletes to hire.

But, with all of that comes one big problem. Most college athletes use the summer to get themselves ready for the next season. Becoming a starter takes place because of the extra work you put in on the offseason. So, we find a ton of college athletes don’t actually have much on their resume upon graduation, except for the fact they played a college sport, which now that they are in the real work world has very little value for most employers.

I get it, we are sports obsessed in America. We think little Johnny and little Suzy are the next Olympians and we spend enormous amounts of time and money chasing these dreams. I’ve personally spent more time and money than probably 99% of parents out there!

If I take off my Dad hat and put on my employer hat, this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Great Enterprise Rent-A-Car found success hiring college athletes to work as Manager in Training. By the way, that job sucks! But, if you can make it through the first couple of years, you can make a decent career out of it. But do you think anyone is going to college believing that they want to be a Manager in Training for a rental car company?

I look at the resumes of so many college athletes, as compared to non-college athletes and there is one glaring difference, and that difference isn’t one was an athlete and one wasn’t. It’s that the non-athlete, many times, has 3-4 internships with real companies, doing real jobs, getting real experience. That has real value to employers.

I Love that my son got the experiences he did in college athletics, but he was also smart enough to say I’m willing to give up training all summer, to get internship experience because, in the end, I’m not getting drafted. He’s in the minority. Most either work jobs that have nothing to do with getting a career, or don’t work at all, and then upon graduation are surprised to find out they aren’t as sought out as they were lead to believe.

So, if your kid is playing a college sport here’s my advice:

  1. Unless they are high-level D1 and have a legitimate shot at going pro and making real money, don’t let a college coach make your kid feel like they have to use their entire offseason to keep playing their sport.
  2. Get a real internship, at least one, before graduation that is in line with your degree.
  3. If you bought into the hype and the pressure and your kid now has no experience in the real world, it’s never too late to go and do an internship, even for free, to get real experience. Even after graduation.

Here’s the reality. When a hiring manager has an opening, especially for entry-level grads, they will see resumes with candidates who have multiple internships with big brands, and those candidates come across a very sexy! They will also see resumes of candidates who were athletes in college, and they will be intrigued. Almost always, the candidate with real-world experience will kick the ass of an athlete without experience in an interview.

Have fun. Play sports. Also, get some experience!

If Your Company has a Chief Happiness Officer you Should Rethink Your Career Path!

In the past three weeks, I’ve been pitched by some well-meaning PR person about a story on how Google, Salesforce, Zappos, Airbnb, etc., have “Chief Happiness Officers” and how important they are to corporate success. Or at least, how “Happiness” as a measure is important to corporate success.

I’ve been pitched this idea four times, primarily so I would talk about their client, Snappy, which apparently is a chatbot of some kind that asks your employee questions to probably gauge their happiness or something, and in turn, you can then turn to your Chief Happiness Officer to fix the happy that is broken. (BTW – look for my new book in 2020 – “Fix the Happy!”)

Snappy might be some awesome tech, but I don’t like the pitch. I think that pitch is broken, for the real world. The real world is not Google and Zappos. Those are unicorns. Real companies have real issues and making their entitled employees happy is not one of those real issues.

I want to punch every Chief Happiness Officer in the smiling face!

Seriously, how completely warped do you have to be to think you actually bring happiness to another human being, let alone an entire company of human beings!?!

Will Smith is my Chief Happiness Officer:

Turns out CHO’s don’t make employees happy. Employees make themselves happy. No amount of money, or time off, or Taco Tuesdays, or standup desks or seven flavors of Kombucha in the employee cafe, will make a person happy. Happiness is an emotion controlled by the individual, no matter the environment they’re in.

There are great stories of prisoners at Auschwitz that chose love and happiness in the darkest hours and circumstances that anyone could imagine. There are people who win $500M lotteries that blow their head off because of how depressed they are. A CHO can’t change that.

Chief Happiness Officers are what happens to organizations when leadership gets out of control. When we stop actually leading and managing the business, and we ‘become’ leaders. When we start believing our own bullsh*t to a level where we think we actually control the emotions of our employees.

Look, I get it. I also want to drink the Kool-aid and believe in Santa Claus. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful, fantasy-filled life?! But that is life. 99.99% of us have to work to pay bills. Within that, we can choose to be happy, or miserable, or somewhere in between and that actually might have many times in the same day. No one person is going to make me happy or miserable unless I make that choice to allow that to happen.

There you go. That’s my take. Chief Life Officer, out.