Make my birthday wish come true!?

Guess what?

It’s my birthday! Let’s make this one for the books – literally! The only thing I want is for you to go pre-order my new book The Talent Fix, Vol. 2. Head over to the pre-order page, secure your copy, and let the countdown to the book release begin!

I’m beyond grateful for your ongoing support and am lucky to continue sharing this incredible journey with you. Cheers to another year of growth, learning, and a leader’s guide to recruiting great talent.

Career Roulette

BookofOdds.com has a piece titled Hey Kids, Choose Your Career that breaks down the chances of your kid (or any kid, really) landing in a particular job. on consideration for both of them. As you can imagine the article gives some of the fun careers first, like the odds my kid will be a:

  • Surgeon: 1 in 2,872
  • Pro Athlete: 1 in 9,684
  • Fashion Model: 1 in 81,440
  • Firefighter: 1 in 452
  • Elementary Teacher: 1 in 87

Because you know, we all thought we were going to be one of those when we grew up!

When I did a career test in high school, it didn’t tell me I’d end up in HR. It gave me my top 3 choices, which were kind of weird: 1. Teacher; 2. Floral Designer; 3. Sales. No idea how “Floral Designer” got in there, but I still love gardening. HR wasn’t even on the list.

Thinking about my sons, realistically, they’re most likely to end up in:

  • Administrative Role: 1 in 5
  • Sales: 1 in 9
  • Food Service: 1 in 11
  • Healthcare: 1 in 19
  • Education: 1 in 16

But what about HR?

Human Resources: 1 in 656.9

The odds for Human Resources (HR) at 1 in 656.9 shows how jobs can be all over the place, and your career journey can be a bit of a rollercoaster. Even if we’ve got certain ideas about what we want for our kids, the job market can throw some curveballs. Landing an HR job isn’t something you’d bet on every day, but it’s a cool reminder that surprises can pop up in unexpected places when it comes to careers. So, while we might have some thoughts about where our kids will end up, the job scene has a way of keeping us on our toes with its own surprises.

Burning a Hire

If you’re a fan of baseball, you know there’s this cool thing in the game where a pitcher throws a ‘burn’ pitch to set up another one. It’s not about scoring a point but getting ready for a better play down the line.

Ever thought about doing that in HR? Ever burned a hire?

In big companies, sometimes you have to burn hires to make a point or get your hiring managers on board. I remember when we brought in this fancy pre-employment test, and the managers hated it. They didn’t trust the science behind it. Good assessments only work if everyone believes they’re worth it in the end.

I let the managers hire people they liked, even when the test said they might not work out. It was a gamble, but I wanted to show the value of the tools we were using. I wouldn’t keep doing it, but sometimes you need to prove your point for the greater good.

I’ve also burned hires with executive referrals. Top-level folks sometimes want to get jobs for their family, and most of the time, these hires don’t work out. But fighting against it isn’t smart, so you burn a hire.

Not many HR people openly admit to burning hires, but behind closed doors, we know it happens. Sometimes, the small battles aren’t as crucial as the bigger internal war, so you let certain hires go through even when you’d normally stop them.

This doesn’t make you bad at HR; it’s just being strategic. Like the pitcher, you’re setting yourself up for success by burning a hire here and there.

The Snowstorm Test

Throughout my career, I’ve had conversations with coworkers who think they’re more crucial to the business than they really are. You know the type – they drop comments like “This place would be lost without me” or “Let’s see how things go if I’m not around.” Usually, it’s the sales or tech folks who, despite their contributions, sometimes overestimate their importance. Over time, I’ve come up with a simple two-step test to figure out if someone is truly essential to your business:

  1. Snowstorm Test:
    • Ask yourself if this person is required to show up at the office during a severe snowstorm, lasting multiple days.
    Example: In a large Health System where I worked, doctors and nurses were essential, with plans in place for emergencies. Meanwhile, in HR, I wasn’t on the list for a 4-wheel drive SUV pickup.
  2. Self-Promotion Check:
    • Consider if the person spends a lot of time trying to convince you of their importance to your operation.
    Examples: Statements like “Our biggest client wouldn’t be here without me” or “Our department saved the organization $500K last year on a $3.7M budget.”

Looking at how organizations evolve, it’s interesting to note that in the beginning, only essential employees are truly needed – those involved in getting materials, making products, selling them, and handling finances. Support functions like HR and Marketing often come later, usually after the company grows beyond 100 employees.

Regularly reassessing who holds essential roles within your organization is important. As a “client” to these vital contributors, focus on tasks that support their efforts. This means having direct conversations, asking, “How can I help you do your job better?” It’s simple but often overlooked.

Think of organizations like picking teams on a playground. If your most essential employee were choosing a team, where would you stand – first, tenth, or last? It’s worth thinking about where you fit in.

Snagging Your Dream Job

Who doesn’t want a job they really love? It’s something everyone craves. The specifics might vary, but if you ask anyone, “Do you want a job you love or one you hate?” 100% are going to go for the love. Right?

Sure, there are some conditions. I might dream of being a video game tester, but let’s be real, not many people consider that a high-paying career. And a career as a surf instructor in Hawaii could lose its appeal without family nearby (and lack of surfing skills).

Now, here’s the one foolproof way to lock in a job you love – you have to want it for the right reasons.

Not because it pays more or has better perks. Not because it’s in a warmer spot or your significant other lives nearby. That’s not the ticket to landing a job you love. You’re just ticking off some life checkboxes.

To land a job you love, you have to want it because it’s been your thing forever. You have to have a track record that screams, “I’ve been after this for ages!” If you stick to that path, your odds of hitting the jackpot go way up.

Take my dream of coaching the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s been on my mind forever, but truth be told, I never put in the grind to make it happen. I didn’t hustle my way up the coaching ladder, globetrotting to chase that passion, or grind through years of coaching sucky basketball teams to gain experience.

The problem is, many folks want a dream job without putting in the work. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. 99.9% of people don’t just stumble into jobs they love. They might start something not knowing if they’ll love it, and maybe, just maybe, end up loving it along the way.

So, you want that dream job? Work for it. Prove you’re all about it through your actions and hustle. That’s the way to snap a job you genuinely love.

Is it time to go with the flow?

Whenever HR folks hang out, they often think they’re the rebels in the room. But truth be told, when you look at what they say and do, we’re all not much different from everyone else. This isn’t just an HR thing; it’s all over our workplaces. It’s like we’re stuck in this ‘Group-think’ mode.

Back in the 1950s, Solomon Asch did a study where students had to solve simple problems, like figuring out if two lines were the same length. Some students purposefully gave wrong answers, and guess what? Three-quarters of the others went along with the wrong answers at least once. It’s a reminder that as humans we tend to follow the herd, even when it’s clear they’re off track.

In the corporate world, the contrarian label often gets slapped on the CEO or someone on the fast track to getting the boot. Despite what top executives say about valuing contrarian ideas, the truth is, going against the grain isn’t well-received in companies. So, it’s kind of amusing when HR pros claim they’re the rebels in their organizations. No you’re not. Plus, do you really want to be?

Let’s cut to the chase – HR doesn’t have to be the rebel; shouldn’t they just go with the flow? HR needs someone who totally drinks the Kool-Aid and fully supports the mission. It might sound rebellious in its own way, especially if the boss is a visionary leader, but that’s what organizations need from HR.

HR needs to toe the line. Conform to the vision, conform to the mission, and lead by sticking to the organizational goals. By embracing this kind of conformity, HR can actually make a real difference in the success of the company.

Why You Should Recruit from Competitors

Is it cool to hire from your competitors? This usually gets mixed responses. If you ask 100 Talent Acquisition Pros, half might say it’s a no-go due to agreements not to poach from each other – a common practice in the corporate world.

Infamous legal dramas, like the Silicon Valley case, highlight the downsides of these secret pacts. Between 2005 and 2009, tech giants allegedly avoided recruiting each other’s people, causing lower wages and less job mobility. The lawsuit claims this left workers in the dark about better-paying opportunities.

Surprisingly, openly declaring an agreement not to recruit from competitors is not just ethically weird – it’s illegal. Yes, you heard that right. While it’s tempting to dodge the hiring treadmill in a competitive market, there are smarter ways to deal with it.

One approach is to invest in better pay, engagement, and talent development. DUH! Smart companies know it’s crucial to pay at or above market rates to keep their team happy. Instead of reacting to high turnover with higher wages, these companies stay ahead by regularly adjusting compensation to retain top talent.

Choosing between paying upfront or dealing with turnover costs is a classic business challenge. Reactive companies end up paying more on the back end due to turnover and higher wages. On the flip side, proactive organizations invest upfront in talent development, keeping a competitive edge by promoting from within and having visionary leaders.

I would actually love to see legislation that makes it illegal if you’re a corporate recruiter and you don’t make cold calls to recruit! You saying you’re a ‘Recruiter’ but you don’t recruit! That’s the real criminal activity going on!

Can someone make a Recruiting Degree happen?

Ever wondered why colleges don’t offer a degree in recruiting? With plenty of human resources programs around, it’s always surprised me that there’s no focus on recruiting and talent acquisition.

Typically, folks in recruiting come from programs like Communications, Business Administration/Marketing, Liberal Arts (not known for job prospects), Sports Management, or Human Resources. These degrees open doors to a field where newbie recruiters can earn $40,000 to $50,000 in their first year, and the top ones make six figures.

Imagine a Bachelor’s degree in Recruiting, with classes designed to prepare students for the real deal.

Timmy’s Proposed Bachelor’s in Recruiting Classes:

  1. Recruiting 101 – History of Recruiting
  2. Recruiting 102 – Recruiting Processes and Procedures
  3. Recruiting 103 – Recruiting Communication and Marketing
  4. Recruiting 104 – Sourcing
  5. Recruiting 105 – Negotiation, Offers, and Recruiting Finance
  6. Recruiting 106 – 100 Ways to Connect with People – #1 is the Phone!
  7. Recruiting 107 – Writing Job Descriptions like a Marketer
  8. Recruiting 201 – Employment Branding
  9. Recruiting 202 – Candidate Experience
  10. Recruiting 203 – Recruiting Technology
  11. Recruiting 204 – Advanced Sourcing
  12. Recruiting 205 – Specialty Recruitment
  13. Recruiting 206 – Recruiting Analytics
  14. Recruiting 207 – The Law & Candidates
  15. Recruiting 301 – Senior Project – solving real-life recruiting problems in real-world companies

So, if colleges had a Recruiting degree, would employers hire those grads? Definitely. Employers would dig hiring folks with targeted recruiting skills.

What do you think? Any other cool ones you’d throw in? I think the potential for creating practical content in a Recruiting degree is huge.

The Truth About Job Hopping

Ever thought about whether job hopping is a wise career move? If you’re old-fashioned like me, you probably concluded it wasn’t. But hold on – playing devil’s advocate here! Let me remind you of a Fast Company article I shared a while back. It claims that job hopping can actually enhance learning, performance, and loyalty. Wait, what?! Do Talent Acquisition leaders worldwide really believe in this concept?

Let’s break it down.

According to the article, switching jobs every three years is key for developing quick job-getting skills and ensuring career stability. But not everyone agrees. (It’s me, hi, I’m the problem! It’s me!)

The truth is, that hiring managers often see job hoppers as a red flag. It might signal a lack of commitment or trouble sticking to a role. While some job hopping could be due to a bad company fit, relocation, etc, repeating the same pattern might make them question your decision-making.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “But Timmy, there’s more money in job hopping!” Well, let me not be the first to tell you, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, right?

Looking back on my own experience, I hopped jobs early in my career, chasing an executive title. In hindsight, not my smartest move, maybe even my dumbest. Job hopping, as the article suggests, isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

Here’s the deal: Avoid job hopping. For every person that it helps, it will hurt ten others. Most hiring managers don’t like seeing a resume filled with short stints, raising doubts about your stability.

So, stuck in the job hopper cycle? How do you make it look better?

Bundle your projects under one consulting job, creating the illusion of a cohesive work history. Many IT folks are doing this as contingent workers, handling multiple projects under a single brand. It’s not perfect, but it makes your resume look better.

Job hopping isn’t the career move it’s made out to be. If your career feels stuck, make a change strategically. Most careers don’t stall in just 2-3 years.

Lessons from Curveballs

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

The Ball Will Always Find You!

There is a baseball metaphor about the ball finding you. Basically, if you are unprepared or you are scared, that’s precisely when the ball will find you! The moment you least want the ball to come to you is when the ball is hit at you. I’ve heard coaches say this statement my entire life being around baseball.

Life works like this as well.

The one time when you go into the office, and you’re not really prepared for your job or function is the day you’ll be called into an emergency meeting with the CEO! The one question you don’t prepare to be asked will be the one that will be asked.

So, how do you prepare yourself for being unprepared?

1. Acknowledge it when it comes.

So often, we want to try and fake our way through something we weren’t prepared for, but it shows. We aren’t really fooling anyone but ourselves. So, acknowledge it. You know, that’s a great question you asked. I’m not prepared to answer that at this moment, but let me do some research and come back to you with a thorough answer.

2. Redirect the conversation to what you do know.

This isn’t perfect because a savvy executive will come back to the original question, but 60% of the time, it works every time! “That’s a great question. What I focused on were these factors, which, in my estimation, is what we need. I believe…”

3. Answer another question like you’re answering their question.

This is risky, but politicians use this tactic all the time, and it mostly works because the person asking the question is sure you answered their question or not, and they don’t want to sound dumb by asking it again, thinking you answered it! Tim, can you give me some insight into how much we’ll be over budget in TA by the end of the year? “Sure, first, it’s amazing the progress we’ve made. At the beginning of the year, we had no idea we’d be 75% over our planned hiring, and the team has been amazing in reaching that goal. In the second half of the year, we see hiring beginning to slow, and we are anticipating that in Q1 of 2024, we’ll be back up to normal.” Then you just shut up or ask if anyone else has any other questions! Bonus points if you actually go back at them during your answer with some verbal ques like, “You understand, right?” Of course, they’ll be nodding yes! At that point, they will never follow up with another question!

4. Bluff.

Answer the question, even though you don’t really know the answer, and hope and pray they also don’t know the answer! I’ve seen way too many people in my career try and look like a fool. I find that very few executives ask a question they don’t have some semblance of an answer to already. They are just checking to see if you’re on your game and have the answer. So, I do not recommend bluffing. This is usually a low-performer behavior that is probably getting fired soon anyway, and they’re desperate!

5. Open the conversation up to the broader audience or the person who asked the question.

This strategy works really well if you have a strong relationship and trust with the person or people you’re speaking with. In this tactic, you basically acknowledge you don’t know but come back and see if anyone knows or has a strong opinion. You are still driving the conversation and asking questions, which puts you in an authority position, so you don’t look weak by not knowing the answer to the question being asked. “That’s a great question. I actually don’t know the answer, but I’m wondering if anyone else in the room does. Or does anyone have a feeling on what this might look like?” At this point, you could offer up an educated guess as to what you believe it to be if no one else has anything and agree to come back with some more specific information.

Professionally, the ball is going to find you whether you are ready for it or not. We all hope that we will be prepared and ready, but that’s not always the case. Your next reaction is critical to how others will end up viewing you. The more confident you are in your ability and performance, the easier it is to say you just don’t know. Unfortunately, so many times throughout our careers, we get caught off guard, and it might be during a time when our confidence isn’t super high, and that opens us up to trying to make something up on the fly and opening ourselves up to being viewed as a fool.

Posted on  by Tim Sackett