Fish Out Of Water

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

Albert Einstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skilled Trades Aren’t Winning Gen Z & Millennials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timmy’s Takes on Graduation

As graduation season rolls around, so do the inspiring speeches that mark the milestone. While each speech may seem unique, are they really? I swear there’s a secret recipe behind most of them. Let’s break it down:

  1. Get Them Excited: Make the graduates feel like they’re about to achieve something big, not just join the workforce.
  2. Empower Them: Encourage graduates to believe they can make a real difference in the world. (Because they totally can/will!)
  3. Show Them the Possibilities: Open their eyes to the many opportunities that lie ahead. They’re endless!
  4. Remind Them of Their Value: Assure them that the world is eager for their contributions.

Now, imagine a commencement speech that goes beyond the usual clichés. One by yours truly. Here’s a peek at the topics I’d cover:

1. Work sucks, but being poor sucks more. Don’t ever think work should make you happy.  Find happiness in yourself, not what you do.

2.  You owe a lot of people, a lot of stuff.  Shut your mouth and give back to them. Stop looking for the world to just hand you stuff.

3.  No one cares about you. Well, maybe your mom & dad. Everyone else cares about what you can do for them. Basically, you can’t do much, you’re a new grad.

4.  Don’t think you’re going to be special. 99.9% of people are just normal people, so will you. The sooner you come to grips with this, the sooner you’ll be happy. I know it’s morbid, but reality is hard.

5. Work hard. And then harder. Almost always, the person who works the hardest has the best outcome in life.  Once in a while, a person who doesn’t work hard, but has supremely better talent or connections than you, will kick your ass. That’s life. Buy a helmet.

6.  Don’t listen to advice from famous people.  Their view of the world is warped through their grandiose belief somehow they made it through hard work and effort. It’s usually just good timing. Okay, maybe hard work too.

7. Find out who you care about in life, and make them a priority.  In this world, you have very few people you truly care about, and who care about you in return.  Don’t fuck that up.

8.  Make your mistakes when you’re young.  Failure is difficult, it’s profoundly more difficult when you have a mortgage and 2 kids to take care of.

9.  It’s alright that sometimes you have to kiss ass.  Get good at it. It doesn’t make you less of a person.

10.  Wear sunscreen.  Cancer sucks.

What do you think? Are you feeling inspired? High schools or colleges interested in a down-to-earth commencement speech can reach out anytime. My calendar’s open, and I’m ready to deliver a speech that hits home!

The Day 1 Speech

Are you or someone you know stepping into a new leadership role? This guide is for you!

When starting out as a leader, there are two things you bring with you:

  1. Your resume
  2. Your speech

Your resume is easy. It’s all the crap you did in your career to this point. You’ll be judged on that resume by your new team. It can go several ways, but usually, if you get hired, you have the resume to back it up.

Crafting your Day 1 speech is the important part. It’s your chance to share your vision, goals, and leadership style with your team. Here’s what your speech should cover:

  1. Why you’re the right person for the job and what drives you.
  2. Your role and objectives within the organization.
  3. How the team fits into your plans.
  4. Clear metrics for success.
  5. Insights into your leadership style.

Although it might be tempting to wait until you’re more familiar with the team, it’s important to deliver your speech early on. Your Day 1 speech sets the tone for your leadership and builds trust with your team. Get ‘er done!

You are now the leader. All eyes are on YOU for the answers. You might not have any of them, yet, but you better make it sound like you have them, or you’re about to discover them!

You only bring two things with you into each new position. You only control one of them, at this point. Don’t miss.

Job Titles That Are Killing Me!

Has anyone thought about applying for a role like “Jr. Human Resource Manager”? Probably not, because let’s face it, job titles like that don’t exactly scream excitement or career advancement. Whoever decided to add “Jr.” to any job title ever – you’re killing me! Talk about taking the easy way out!

I hate spending 3 seconds on job titles, because job titles just scream, “Personnel Department”, but I have to take a few minutes to help out some of my HR brothers and sisters. Recently, I came across a classic job title mistake when someone had posted an opening and then broadcasted it out to the world for a, wait for it, “Jr. Industrial Engineer”. I almost cried.

Seriously! Did someone really sit down and think, “Yes, there’s a budding Industrial Engineer out there dreaming of being a ‘Jr. Industrial Engineer’?” It’s baffling. Some might argue, “But we use ‘Jr.’ to distinguish our less experienced engineers from the seniors.” However, I challenge you this: why not title it as a “Lesser Paid Industrial Engineer”? You’d attract the same caliber of candidates!

The solution is simple (yet often resisted). Establish a single pay band for all levels of Industrial Engineers, ranging from $38K to $100K, and compensate individuals based on their experience and qualifications within that band.

Why the resistance, you ask? Well, your senior compensation manager probably knows deep down that implementing such a system would lead to all your Industrial Engineers—juniors, mid-level, and seniors—earning $100K within two years!

And let’s not even get started on those numeric titles like “Accountant I, Accountant II,” which imply some grand career progression. Do you really think an Accountant is out there thinking, “Someday, I’ll be an Accountant III”? Also – what if someone doesn’t know roman numerals?

If only organizations like SHRM could intervene and educate HR professionals on effective job titling. Imagine SHRM representatives visiting workplaces and ceremoniously cutting up your HR certifications like expired credit cards if you used these job titles—it would be a game-changer!

Outdated job titles make companies look like relics from the 1970s-era Personnel Department.

But seriously, if you hear of any openings for Senior Associate HR Manager IV roles, I’m all ears!

Meaningful Work Isn’t Just Saving Puppies

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes work truly meaningful. Many HR professionals believe that for employees to be truly engaged, they need to feel that their work is meaningful.

I agree with this idea.

However, some HR pros have misunderstood this concept. They’ve started pushing social causes onto employees, thinking that supporting these causes equals meaningful work.

Tom’s shoes are the best example. Each pair costs around $45, but the materials and labor probably only amount to about $5. While Tom’s donates a pair to a child in need for each one sold, they’re essentially sacrificing $5 of profit per pair. Can we really say this is meaningful work?

So, what’s my idea of meaningful work?

Meaningful work isn’t about saving puppies. It’s not about supporting causes. It’s about employees feeling that what they do every day contributes to the organization’s success. For many organizations, this has little to do with supporting specific causes—although it might for some.

The problem with equating meaningful work with causes is that everyone has their own causes they care about. If an organization defines helping the homeless as its cause, that’s great! But now, they need to find employees who also care about this cause to make work meaningful for everyone.

In HR, we sometimes make the concept of meaningful work too complicated. Instead, we should help leaders communicate better with their teams about how individual efforts impact the organization’s success. Meaningful work is about using your skills to contribute to your organization’s prosperity.

Sorry, we’re not saving puppies or planting trees here – but I promise it’s still going to be meaningful to us!

Staying True to Your Game

The saying “Stay true to the game” pops up all the time. It’s been around in sports and pop culture for ages. Basketball especially! (Side note: who do you have winning tonight?) Anyway, I feel like I keep hearing it more and more.

“The game” stands for your thing, whether it’s sales, accounting, basketball, you name it. For me, it’s recruiting. Whether third-party, corporate, or RPO, we’re all in the same boat.

Being true to recruiting is kind of subjective. What does it even mean?

If you zoom out from recruiting and think about staying true to something you’re passionate about, how do you do it? How do you make sure it’s a priority? What do you do to show you’re committed?

This way of thinking sets the stage for understanding what it means to stay true to recruiting.

Recruiting is my thing. To keep it real, I stick to a few key things:

  1. I soak up as much recruitment info as I can.
  2. I connect with top-notch recruiters.
  3. I swap stories and tips with fellow recruiters.
  4. I’m always looking for ways to improve my skills.
  5. I know that staying loyal to recruiting is a choice I make.

Staying true to recruiting means always aiming higher, personally and professionally.

Sure, it’s not always easy, but it’s about staying true to the game.

So, here’s the deal this Monday. Share what your thing is in the comments below. Then, let us know how you’re staying true to it this week. Go for it.

What is a Passive Candidate anyway?

Every hiring manager wants passive candidates – to stumble on those hidden talents just waiting to be discovered. But what exactly defines a passive candidate today? Let’s break it down without the frilly stuff.

Traditionally, passive candidates were those who were not actively seeking jobs. But what does “actively searching” really mean? It used to include only the unemployed, those in irrelevant jobs, or on the verge of being fired. But that’s too narrow in today’s reality.

Recruiters often boast about finding “passive” candidates like they’ve hit the jackpot. But let’s be real. Take Timmy, for example. He seems passive, but he’s quietly applying for jobs while stuck in a dead-end job. Anyone with an online profile is fair game – they may not hunt for jobs daily, but they’re definitely open to offers.

So, here’s an updated definition:

“A Passive Candidate is someone found through various channels, not actively seeking your job.”

A passive candidate isn’t someone you found who hasn’t happened to think about applying to your job, yet. They actually might be the most active candidate on the planet, who you just happen to run into. Think of candidates buried in your database or referrals from employees.

We know a truly passive candidate when we speak to one. They’re a bit nervous. A bit surprised. A bit flattered. You can tell they’re not used to talking to recruiters and feel guilty talking to you. This is the person you’re hiring managers are asking for when they say they want a passive candidate.

This isn’t to say passive candidates are better. That’s an entire other post, but let’s not act like we are providing passive candidates when we aren’t.

Don’t Just Wait to Be Discovered

As a recruiter, we’re always on the lookout for talent. Whether we’re at work, running errands, or enjoying time off, we are constantly searching for people with the right skills and drive.

But, I’m here to tell you, opportunities won’t just land in your lap. If you’re waiting for someone to find you, you could be waiting forever.

Because recruiters don’t stumble upon talent by accident. They look for people who are actively showing what they can do. Every single day. It’s like trick-or-treating – we only go where there’s a light on.

Too often, I meet people who want a new job but aren’t doing anything about it. They’re afraid to let their current employer know they’re looking. But that’s not the best way to get noticed.

Instead of waiting around, get involved. Connect with others in your industry and community. Let people know what you’re looking for.

Even in today’s job market, there are plenty of opportunities out there. But you have to put yourself out there to find them.

So stop waiting to be discovered – go out and make it happen. Success isn’t luck; it’s hard work.

Soft Feedback Isn’t Cutting It

Today, it’s rare to get honest feedback. Most people just want praise instead of hearing what they need to improve on.

The thing is, folks struggle with criticism unless they’re expecting it. And not many have the guts to handle it well. So, instead of giving real feedback, we often sugarcoat things to avoid hurting feelings.

Here’s an example:

Soft Feedback: “You’re doing well, but it’d be nice if you could push that project forward.”

Honest Feedback: “You’re good at what you’re told to do, but I need someone who can take charge of projects without constant supervision. I’m here to help you grow, but I need more initiative from you. Can you step up?”

Both say the same thing, but the honest one gives clearer direction. Sadly, we rarely give this kind of feedback because we’re scared of upsetting people.

So, how do we fix this?

It starts with hiring. Candidates need to know we value honest communication and expect them to take feedback well. Those who handle it during interviews are more likely to thrive in a culture that values growth over ego.

For existing employees, leaders need to lead by example. They should show they’re open to feedback themselves and train others to give it constructively.

Coaching and mentorship programs can also help. They give employees support and examples to help them embrace feedback for personal growth.

Sure, it takes time and effort. But companies that prioritize honest feedback build a culture of trust and growth. Employees see the value in open communication, making the company stand out as a place where people can truly grow.