That 20 Minute Phone Screen is a Candidate’s Most Important Moment of the Week!

A lot of folks are currently out of job and looking for work. Not many jobs open. Too many candidates lead to a lot of rejections, black holes, no feedback, and very few “interviews”.

You and I (TA Leaders and Pros) don’t consider a twenty-minute phone screen to be an interview. Candidates definitely believe it’s an interview. They prepare for your phone screen at the same level they prepare for an in-person interview with the hiring manager. First impressions and all.

Here’s the problem, that twenty-minute phone screen, one of many you will have during the week, isn’t even in your top 25 most important things you’ll be doing this week. So, how do we address this variance in importance with how the candidate will ultimately view your employment brand, you, your hiring manager, and the job?

That’s a tricky question.

I think the first thing we need to do in talent acquisition is simply to recognize this reality. We are going to be talking with scheduled candidates about who we are, who they are, and what we have, and this is extremely important to them, especially for those out of job. To have some empathy and understanding of the situation. To provide something of value, even as we look to gain some value of information ourselves.

It’s a powerful thing to know you’ll be talking with a number of people in a week, all of whom this could be their most important conversation of the week, month, year. That we (all recruiters) have a major impact on this event in their lives. We can create an amazing experience, or we can do something less than amazing.

I have this naive belief that all of us humans actually want to do things that make other people happy and satisfied. Isn’t that a great little fuzzy, cute world I live in!?! If we knew we had the power to make someone’s life just a little better, we would use that power for good. That if given the choice to make someone’s day brighter, we would always make the right choice.

Well, we do.

Do Good. Be Kind. As Chris Kurtz would say.

This week, as you go out into the world and phone screen your brands out. Try and make someone’s week. You are worth it. They are worth it.

What Is Your 3 Minute Interview Monologue? This is mine!

Right now, with high unemployment and seemingly endless competition for jobs, nailing your interview is critical! Almost every failed interview can be traced back to the first three minutes. Experts will tell you the first ten seconds, but these are the same experts who have never interviewed or haven’t interviewed in the past twenty years. The reality is a little longer, but not much.

An interview doesn’t really start until you’re asked to open your mouth. And, not the small talk crap that you do while people get settled and wait for Jenny to get her coffee and find your resume.

When you get asked that first question, “So, tell us a little about yourself.” Bam! It’s on. Start the clock, you have 180 seconds to show them why they should hire you.

Here’s what I would say:

“I was raised by 6 women. My grandmother is the matriarch of our family. I was raised by a single mom, who had four sisters, my aunts, and my sister was the first grandchild born into the family. As you can imagine, I was dressed-up a lot! The women in my life love to laugh and I have always had a stage with them to make this happen. 

The other thing it taught me was to cook, sew, and iron. All of which I do to this day. My wife is a baker, but I’m the cook. Mending and ironing fall in my chore bucket around the house.

The real thing it taught me was the value of women in the world. I did my master’s thesis on women and leadership. My mother started her own company in 1979 when no women started companies. Not only that, but she also started a company in a male-dominated technical field.  I was nine years old, and she would pay me ten cents to stuff envelopes for her. We would sit on her bed and she made calls to candidates, and I would stuff envelopes with the volume off on the TV.

Living with a single mom, who started a business during a recession was a challenge. I learned the value of work and started my first real job the day I turned sixteen. I paid my own way through college, my parents who could afford to help, but believed I would get more out of college if I found a way to pay for it on my own. I did. In hindsight, I’m glad they taught me this lesson. It was hard but worth it.

All of these experiences have helped shape my leadership style. I set high expectations but work hard to ensure people have the right tools and knowledge to be successful. I hold people accountable for what we agree are our goals. I believe hard work leads to success, and in business when you are successful you have way more fun! 

What else would you like to know about me?”

That’s it. I shut up and wait for a response.

What did I tell them in my three minutes?

I told them my story.  People don’t hire your resume, they hire your story.

If you want to get hired, you need to craft your story. A real story. A story people want to listen to. A story people will remember when it comes time to decide whom to hire.

Once you craft that story, sit down with as many people as possible, and tell them that story. You need to perfect it. You need to be able to “perform” that story in the interview so that it’s 100% natural. Pro tip: try and get people that don’t like you very much to listen to your story and give you feedback. They’ll still be nice, but you’ll get more honest feedback from them, then your fans.

You have 3 minutes! How are you going to use that time?

Recruiting Brainfood Tribune: 20 Questions with @TimSackett by @HungLee

One of the great things that blogging about recruiting and HR topics over the past decade has given me is a bunch of international friends and contacts. One of those friends is the founder of Recruiting Brainfood, out of the UK, Hung Lee.

You won’t find a nicer dude, doing great work for the recruiting space around the world. If you haven’t heard of the Player’s Tribune, it’s a sports website where instead of journalist writing, it’s the athletes themselves. You hear very personal stories from the athletes in their own voice.

Hung had the idea to do this for our industry (The Recruiting Brainfood Tribune) and he asked me to do this for his site through answer a series of twenty questions. I hope you like it, and make sure you subscribe to Hung Lee’s weekly Recruiting Brainfood newsletter – it’s exceptional!

  1. Who was your favourite teacher at school? What did you learn from that person?

Ruth Kemp, high school English teacher. She forced us to journal, and this was in the 1980s! So, each day we had to just write for 20 minutes a day. Write about anything, but you had to write even if you just copied text from a book or magazine. The cool part is she would read everything you wrote and respond with comments. So, even though I didn’t want to write, I loved her reactions to what I wrote! For me, it became a game to try and make her laugh or be shocked. She was smart and playful and always played along with my creativity. She taught me that I actually loved to write, I just didn’t know it. I ended up being her teacher’s aide for my junior and senior years. We would talk for hours about anything and everything.

She retired years ago, but when I wrote my book, The Talent Fix, I wanted to send her a copy because she was really the reason that it happened. I found out, through the school, that she was doing some volunteer work at the local airport assistance desk with some other senior citizens. I fly a lot, so I thought eventually I would run into her. One night on a last flight of the night coming into the airport at almost midnight, I finally ran into her on her very last day of volunteering ever. It had been 30 years since we had seen each other (she totally looked the same!). I walked up to the counter, and she asked me if she could help me. I said, “I’m Tim Sackett!” and she replied, “Of course you are!” We hugged and shared stories, and it brings tears to my eyes as I write this that I could see her one last time and let her know what a dramatic impact she had on my life.

  1. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

I don’t think my wife thinks I’m an adult yet! I tell people I was raised by all women. My Grandmother was the matriarch of our family. She had five daughters, my mother being the oldest. The first grandchild in our family was my sister. I was the second. My parents divorced when I was four, and my grandparents help raise me a lot, being that my Mom was a single parent working a ton launching her business that I currently run. My grandfather passed away when I was twelve. At his funeral, I was sitting between my Mom and my Grandmother. My Grandmother leans over during the service, puts her hand on my knee, and whispers into my ear, “You are the man of the family now.” I’m quite sure I wasn’t an adult at that moment, but it definitely shaped so much of my life moving forward! To this day, I still hold the title as the senior-most “blood” male of our family, and my 90-year-old Grandmother still expects me to be the man of the family.

  1. What do you think is true that most people think is false? What do you think is false, that most people think is true?

I think if you fail a lot, you are more likely to keep failing. Our society tends to believe the opposite. Fail more! Fail faster! It’s all bullshit. I coached baseball, and if I had a…

Read the rest of the twenty questions over at Recruiting Brainfood – it’s all about me and stuff, but I think it’s pretty good. Hung asked some great questions! 

 

What can we really hope for out of a work experience?

I heard this quote recently, it was used by an old football coach to his players:

“It’s hard, but it’s fair.”

He wasn’t the first to use this and probably won’t be the last – but the line stuck with me because of how I don’t think many people in today’s age really think this way.  Many want to talk about what’s fair, few want to discuss the ‘hard’ part.  The football coach’s son described the meaning of what he feels the phrase means:

“It’s about sacrifice,” Toler Jr. said of the quote. “It means that if you work hard that when it’s all said and done at the end of the day, it will be fair based on your body of work. It’s about putting in the time, making sure that you’re ready for the opportunity.”

I think we all think our parents are hard on us growing up.  I recall stories I tell to my own sons of my Dad waking me up on a Saturday morning at 7 am, after I was out too late the night before, and ‘making’ me help him with something, like chopping wood or cleaning the garage out.  He didn’t really need my help, he was trying to teach me a lesson about choices.  If I chose to stay out late at night, it was going to suck getting up early to go to school.

He shared with me stories of his father doing the same thing, one night my Dad had gotten home late, so late, he didn’t even go to bed, just started a pot of coffee and waited for my grandfather to get up, figuring that was easier than getting a couple of hours of sleep and then hearing it from my grandfather the rest of the day.

As an HR Pro, we see this every day in our workforce.  There are some who work their tails off, not outwardly expecting anything additional, they’re just hard workers.  Others will put in the minimum, then expect a cookie. It’s a tough life lesson for those folks.  Most usually end up leaving your organization, believing they were treated unfairly, so they’ll go bounce around a few more times.

Eventually, they’ll learn to put in the work, put in the time, and more times than not, things work out pretty well.  Sometimes it won’t, so you go back to work even harder.  It’s been very rare in my 20 year HR career that I’ve truly seen a really hard worker get screwed over. Very rare! Now I know a ton of people who think they work hard, but they don’t, and they’ll say they get screwed. But the reality is they don’t work hard, they do the same as everyone else.

Do some idiots who don’t deserve a promotion or raise sometimes get it? Yep, they sure do, but that doesn’t happen as much as you think. The hard workers tend to get the better end of the deal almost always.

I hope I can teach my sons this lesson:  Life is going to be hard, but if you keep at it and put in the work, it’s going to be fair.  I think that is all we can really hope for.

The 4 Lessons I Learned From Job Searching During the Pandemic! #TheProjectTakeover

Hi everyone! I’m back! If you don’t know me, I’m Cameron (Tim’s middle son) and I have been featured several times on my Dad’s blog, podcast, and social media. Recently, I have been featured heavily on his social feeds and blog because I am doing what no one wants to be doing right now: searching for a job. I recently graduated from the University of Michigan into a horrible economy and job market. Just my luck! While this job search so far has been frustrating and agonizing (and is still ongoing), I have learned a few lessons that I hope might be helpful for anyone in the same position as me. 

1. It takes a village

In order to find a job, most times you will need some help. I have needed some form of help to get almost every job that I have ever had. During this period, I have reached out and asked for help from more people than I ever have before. Although I really don’t like to ask for help, I have received so many encouraging and positive messages from people that have been trying to aid my job search  in whatever way that they can. Thanks to my Dad, I have a plethora of HR pros to help me through this, but I have received help from so many of my friends, adults in my community, and random people who saw a post on social media and reached out to me. When I do find a job, I will have a village of people to thank when I’m on the other side. 

2. When you’re stuck, try something new

One of the first things that I started at the beginning of quarantine was learning how to podcast. I have been a huge fan of podcasts for years and I have always wanted to be a part of the production of one. My Dad asked me to help out with his podcast and now, I am a producer and editor of the HR Famous podcast. When I started, I had very minimal knowledge of audio editing and the production/distribution of podcasts, but I have been able to learn more and add a new skill to my resume. Not only has podcasting helped me feel productive during my job search, but it may potentially open up a new door for me in my job search. 

3. It is a full-time job to get a full-time job

I think anyone who has job searched before may already know this, but as a recent college grad, I had no idea how much time it would take to get a real job. I thought I would be able to spend a few hours a week applying to 5-10 jobs and that would be enough. Oh, how I was SO wrong.  After 6 months of being on the job search, I cannot even fathom the number of hours I have put into looking and applying for jobs, networking with people, and updating resumes, cover letters, and portfolios. Although it is extremely exhausting and at times debilitating, I am (kinda) grateful that I have had something to fill my quarantined days. 

4. Don’t be ashamed

I would say I am a pretty outgoing person and I am not too afraid to talk to new people, but it is scary reaching out to people who have no idea who you are and asking for help. I was very reluctant at first to reach out to strangers on social media or through email and try to make a connection, but I am so glad that I did. After doing this for several months, I am starting to see the beginning of the benefits of doing this. Some new opportunities are starting to open up and people have been reaching out to me about them. It is scary to put yourself out there in a vulnerable way to new people, but most likely they’re going to be nice and try to help.

All four of these lessons add up to one bigger lesson that is something I am still working on: you cannot tie your identity to the amount of rejection and failure you receive. It has been agonizing to see my friends start their jobs at incredible companies or get ready to head off to grad school, while I sit and wait for any company to email me for an interview request. However, I know that I did almost everything I could have done during college to aid me in this job search and the cards are just stacked against me right now. In the future, I will be grateful for all of this rejection because I will be better equipped to handle it then. It just feels pretty damn bad right now. But it will get better for me and for everyone. 

Cameron Sackett is a recent Communications and Marketing graduate from the University of Michigan with internships in social media and marketing at MTV/Viacom, Quicken Loans, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Skill Scout.

COVID Career Pivots – The One Thing You Need to Know!

On a daily basis, I get messages from folks who are ready to make a pivot in their career, and with so many folks losing their job because of COVID the amount looking to pivot seems to be increasing. Career pivots aren’t a new thing. On average people change jobs like 358 times during their career or something like that.

Here’s how that conversation normally goes when I have a conversation with a friend who’s deciding on a pivot:

Friend of the Project: Tim! So, I lost my job (or I hate my job) and I’ve always wanted to be a Professional Puppy Petter!

Me: OMG! Me Too! I love puppies! So awesome!

FOP: Okay, so I’m currently making low six figures, like $127,350. And while I know I won’t make that same amount in my pivot profession, I still need to make $127,300. What advice do you have for me to become a Professional Puppy Petter?

Me: Don’t.

FOP: Haha! No seriously, petty puppies are my passion! I’ll do whatever it takes!

Me: You have to be prepared to take a pay cut of at least 99% (in reality, for most career pivots, it’s probably 30-40%).

The reality is, most of the actual examples are people asking me how to get into HR. They are usually coming from a sales job or management job where they are making $65-85K. Some even have an HR degree, but little or no experience.

That’s awesome. I love HR! But, you have to be ready and prepared for an offer around $40-45K for your first HR job, depending on the market. That means you need to adjust your lifestyle to make that career pivot. I find about 1 out of 25 people are willing to make that adjustment.

When I first jumped from agency recruiting to HR I took a 65% cut in pay to move into straight corporate HR. I actually lied about how much I was making because it was probably double what my new corporate boss was making. They never would have hired me knowing they were making me an offer so low from I was currently at. But, I truly wanted to make that pivot!

Career pivots take major sacrifice, but often they are worth it if you find a career doing something you truly care about. It’s easier to pivot at the beginning or end of your career. You have less to lose. When you are mid-career with a house payment and kids and a dog, career pivots are almost impossible, without major adjustments to lifestyle.

The one thing you need to know…

Career pivots have less to do with your ability to do the new job and everything to do with your willingness to take a major step back in life comforts.

Good luck out there my friends!

What we say versus What we want in a Job!

My wife always tells me it’s actions, not words that make a difference. You can say all of this great stuff, but if you do nothing, it’s meaningless. I think we would all agree with this.

So, when we hear graduating students, candidates, and employees tell us what they really want is “Meaningful Work” in their careers, we have to understand that those are “Words”! Not actions, just words. A new study from Olivet Nazarene University Meaningful Work Survey asked this question and, predictably, found this:

So, yeah, 90% of us believe that meaningful work is critical for our career and happiness. Sounds about right, those ‘words’ tend to always come out when we talk about our dream job, etc.

Then the study asked another question. It was basically, given your current career, job, etc. what is the one thing that would make it better? An action. But, remember those words!? What you would believe would make their career/job better should be “more meaningful work”! 90% of you idiots just answered that is was super important for your career and happiness!

Here’s what they actually said:

Show. Me. The. Money!!!!

Yep, you know I love this! “We just a job that saves puppies! That would make me so happy!” Oh, wait, saving puppies only pays $23,000 per year!?! Yeah, screw those puppies! I want to work for a private equity firm! I’m a boat, bitch!

Want to retain your employees? Stop trying to make your employees believe that the rubber vomit you’re manufacturing matters and pay them more and give them flexibility! Stop asshole managers from treating their people bad! And magically, you’ll have high retention and your people will love working for you, even though you don’t save puppies!

I get it, deep down, we all want to do something that changes the world for good. We want to help others, and save puppies. And the concept of meaningful work does really matter, given all other things, like compensation, flexibility, great leaders and co-workers, etc. are equal.

If I can make six figures a year saving puppies, I’m saving puppies. You’re saving puppies. We are all saving puppies!

But it doesn’t, so our actions speak way louder than our words when it comes to career choices and change. Meaningful work is not the most important thing for people in their careers. Its something to consider, but don’t get too caught up in believing it’s going to fix all of your employee experience issues!

Who are the best companies to work for? And why?

I don’t put much stock into “Best Company to Work For” lists. That said, the data provided by Universum in there World’s Most Attractive Employer Report is pretty cool and gives you some insight on how you can help move your organization in the right direction.

What’s wrong with the best places to work lists?

  1. It only measures those employers who actually do the work to be considered for the list.
  2. It’s based on data that someone, other than yourself, decided was criteria for being a great place to work. And that might not align with what your org considers to be a great place to work, or the talent you market to, etc.

All that being said, I find that organizations, every single one who tries out for these lists, probably care about their employee and candidate experience at a pretty high level. Are they really the ‘best’ place to work? I don’t know, but they’re trying and that’s more than most of us can say!

So, who are they?

So, you can already see the bias, right? Tech, Business services, big brands. There isn’t one company on the list you haven’t heard of. Doesn’t that seem strange? You mean in the top 50 companies in the WORLD, there isn’t one company we haven’t heard of who is just great? Well, it’s the “World’s 50 Most Attractive”, so the one thing about being “attractive” is you’re probably known, when it comes to lists like these.

What makes you an “Attractive” employer? 

1. The ability to have high future earnings (you can make a lot of money) – 49.1%

2. You’ll get professional training and development – 43.8%

3. The job is secure (you won’t get laid off) – 39.1%

4. Working for this brand will help your career in the future – 38.8%

5. You have the ability to be creative – 38.7%

6. The company is successful within the market they compete in – 38.5%

7. The company encourages you to go home once in a while – 38.2%

8. You like the people you work with – 38.2%

9. You have leaders who support and they know how to develop talent – 38%

10. Competitive base salary – 37.6%

Anything pop out at you from the list?

What about #1 and #10? Oh, so, really base salary doesn’t mean anything, as long as I make a lot of money from what I’m doing!?! Turns out we release research and data for a reason. If you’re trying to sell employer branding software, it’s important for employers to understand it’s not about how much you pay because at that point you don’t need a brand, you need to pay the most.

But, it’s not what this data says. Like all modern research around this topic, what you make, is significantly more important than things like ‘being developed” and having “challenging work”. The person has to know and understand that financially this will work out very well for me, and then, all the other stuff becomes important once that question is satisfied.

You can not act like the most important thing on the list (#1 – High Future Earnings) is really that different than the last thing on the list (#10- competitive base salary). Those things are married at the hip if we have any inkling about basic compensation theory on where someone starts their career in base salary vs. the impact that has on future earnings, in the millions of dollars, going forward.

Let’s face it, as an employer you want to be able to deliver each of the ten things on the list in a really good way. If you do, you will not have trouble attracting talent or keeping your best talent.

College Students: Are you adding your side-hustle to your resume!?

I got killed a few weeks ago by some trolls on Twitter over posting this tweet:

I get that many people need to work side hustles to make ends meet in today’s world. I wasn’t talking about these folks working their butts off to make ends meet. I myself work side hustles.

In today’s #outrage culture, this tweet was seen as insensitive by some folks who spend way too much time on Twitter and not enough time on their professional role! Also, I’m clearly not Gary Vaynerchuk, the king of hustle porn, who could tweet this exact tweet and get 5 million likes before the end of the day!

Turns out, Recruiters are now encouraging college students to put their side hustles on their resume and profiles. Why? Because employers actually really like candidates who aren’t afraid to work! It’s the #1 thing that executives tell me when we talk about their pain points around hiring. “Tim, we just need people who want to work!”

So, what are the top side hustles you should be adding onto your resume and profiles? The folks at The Knowledge Academy did a survey and found these were the most popular:

  • 85% of US recruiters recommend those college students who buy items from garage sales and then sell them online for a higher price, to include it on their resume/job applications
  • 67% of US recruiters believe college students that create/modify products to sell online, should have it on their resume/job applications
  • 60% of US recruiters think college students who offer photography services for hire, encourage stating it on their resume/job applications

I really think as a candidate, any skill you believe adds to your overall value as an employee should be something you add to your resume and/or profile, but just know that some HR/Talent/Hiring Managers will look at this in different ways. If you’re an engineer and you’re also driving for a ride share service, you probably need to explain why the full-time gig isn’t enough. “I’m also supplementing my income with weekend and evening ride share to help pay off my student loans quicker!”

The survey found that –52% of recruiters feel companies who know an employee has a growing ‘side hustle’ should take an active approach to support them (i.e. offering flexible working hours). Um, what!? So, Mary is our accountant and we love her, but she also has a growing cupcake business on the side and I should give her time off to go do that and not fulfill her duties in a full-time role? I’m not sure I 100% can buy into this philosophy from a business standpoint!

I would probably go back to that employee and ask them if they started their own business, like this side hustle, and had to hire folks, who then wanted to not work their ‘real’ job, but put more time and effort towards their own thing, how would that sit with them? I already know the answer. They want and need workers who are committed and get their jobs done like everyone else.

It’s definitely a different world we live in. Side hustles become full-time hustles for so many folks. I definitely see this when someone is working a full-time gig that they hate, and a side hustle that they love. Like Gary V would say, you need to then adjust your lifestyle to fit your side hustle, and not your full-time gig if that’s what you desire to do. What you can’t do is think just because you love petting puppies, doesn’t mean you can do it full-time without giving up some stuff. It’s hard to make those Tesla payments on a puppy petter salary!

Are Employees Really Upset Over Being Replaced By Robots?

I think we all want to believe that our employees are freaking out that one day their job, in the near future, will be replaced by a robot. It’s all you hear right now in our space! “A.I. will be taking over 97% of jobs by next week!”

The reality is our employees are not afraid of their job being taken by a robot. But they are afraid!

Turns out, our employees are more afraid of their job being taken by another employee, not a robot! A new study by the Technical University of Munich has shown that our employees are actually more afraid of other people taking their jobs, then by A.I.

The study shows: In principle, most people view it more favorably when workers are replaced by other people than by robots or intelligent software. This preference reverses, however, when it refers to people’s own jobs. When that is the case, the majority of workers find it less upsetting to see their own jobs go to robots than to other employees…

People tend to compare themselves less with machines than with other people. Consequently, being replaced by a robot or software poses less of a threat to their feeling of self-worth. This reduced self-threat could even be observed when participants assumed that they were being replaced by other employees who relied on technological abilities such as artificial intelligence in their work.

Turns out, it’s a huge punch to our gut to be replaced by another human since we compare ourselves to being equal, or better, to other humans, but we can comprehend that technology, like A.I., is actually better than ourselves at many tasks.

“The robot can definitely do parts of my job better than me, but g*d damn it, Mark can not!” 

It makes sense, for the most part, we all have fairly fragile egos. It’s hard for us to comprehend that our employer would replace us with another person because that means we probably suck at our job, or at least, our employer thinks we suck. If I’m replaced by a machine I can rationalize that away. If I’m replaced by another person, that’s a hard one to explain to family and friends.

It’s definitely something to keep in mind as we transition many tasks over to the robots. I think from an organizational behavior standpoint we are very concerned about what our employees will think, but the reality is they’ll probably have less issue with it than if we were shopping their jobs offshore to people who will do it cheaper but are real!