Are you a “People Person”?

I was listening to an executive the other day talk about what he needed in an employee. Of course, there were the job skills and competencies, formal education was one, and then that magical phrase came, “Oh, and the candidates better be a ‘people person’!”

A People Person.

What the living hell does that even mean?

A People Person: A person who enjoys and is particularly good at interacting with others. 

Oh, so like a normal person who isn’t an asshole?

The skill of being “A People Person” might be the most over-valued skill of all time. And not because it’s not important, not one wants you to hire an asshole, but because have you ever met someone who when asked said, “You know, I’m just not A People Person!” No! You haven’t! Everyone, from the beginning of time, says they are A People Person!

The reality is, we ask for it because we know the truth, most people don’t enjoy interacting with others. We put up with idiots we run into every day, some of us are better at than others, no profession really does better than another.

In HR, we like to say, “We the People Person People”, but I find it’s actually the opposite. Most HR pros I run into might have the worst People Person skills, but they are paid to do a job, so put on the act fairly well. Once in a while, you find that true kind soul who seems, almost naively, to get along with everyone. “Oh that Mark, he’s a stinker, but you know he once opened a door for me, he’s good people!” Those people might be only real people persons in the world.

I’ve been labeled A People Person in my career. The reality is I’m an inch deep and a mile wide in terms of my interest, so I just have a skill of finding those few things I have in common with people I meet, so conversation comes easy for me when I meet new people. But, I dislike people at the same rate as others. I would consider myself as much of an asshole as most people, I might just hide it better at the right times.

Maybe that’s the true real skill of A People Person. Not being an asshole at the wrong time. Or at least limiting those times you’re an asshole.

Here’s the thing: The next time you hear someone say or ask for A People Person, just smile and chuckle a bit on the inside, because what they are really saying is “I just want someone who isn’t that much of an asshole” but saying “A People Person” sounds so much more professional!

 

The One Fix for Talent Acquisition You’re Too Afraid to Implement!

There’s a ton of reasons we are afraid of stuff. I was never scared of the dark, but for some stupid reasons, I’m scared of bees. I know that I’m not going to die from a bee. I’ve been stung. It hurts, you get over it. Yet, I hate when a bee is buzzing around me!

I think most people are afraid to be ‘found out’ professionally. To have it discovered that we aren’t as good as we think we are. Every function has hickeys. Things we really don’t want others in the company to see or know about. They aren’t career-ending things, still, they are things we aren’t proud of.

In talent acquisition, we lose great talent at points in our recruiting process. It happens way more than it should, for a number of reasons. If you were to truly dig into the exact reason why each person was lost, it wouldn’t be something most TA departments would be proud of.

What this is really saying is that talent acquisition isn’t giving this information to the hiring manager, or more likely, your hiring managers don’t believe the B.S. you’re selling them on the reasons why!

The majority of TA departments, when asked why a good candidate is lost during the process will come up with candidate problem reasons. The candidate backed out, it was too far to drive. They got an offer from another company and couldn’t wait. It wasn’t the position they truly wanted. Etc.

All of which might be legitimate, but we forget, many times the hiring managers get a different side.  Usually, hiring managers know people, who know people, etc. and the ‘real’ reason will get back to them. It then becomes, “well, Mark was getting the run around from your TA team about his plane ticket costing too much, and he felt like it just wasn’t worth dealing with this at this level”, or “the Recruiter took three days to call Mary back to schedule the interview time and by then she decided to take the other offer”.

The reality is, the majority of TA leaders don’t want to know the ‘real’ reason because it reflects poorly on their team, and on them. That doesn’t feel good! Uncovering the brutal truth is painful and many times embarrassing.

Want to fix your TA department? Find out why candidates truly left your hiring process. If that’s your focus, you’ll quickly have your priorities of what to fix, change, and improve upon.

How do you do this? First, you don’t allow your recruiting team to ask the question. The answers you’ll get back will be ‘massaged’ to make TA look great and make the hiring managers look bad, or at the very least blame anyone else except yourself. Third-party this out, or find a neutral party within the organization that can make these inquiries and report back the results. This is key.

The best leaders want to know the truth. Not their version of the truth, but the real truth. Unfortunately, the truth might be the scariest thing you’ll ever face.

The Best of 2019: The Reason You’re Being Ghosted After an Interview!

I’m on a holiday break. Boys are home, we’re going on a trip. So, I’ve put together a Best of 2019 post list for you to enjoy. I’ll be back after the holidays with new stuff and some cool announcements for 2020! 

Dear Timmy,

I recently applied for a position that I’m perfect for! A recruiter from the company contacted me and scheduled me for an interview with the manager. I went, the interview was a little over an hour and it went great! I immediately followed up with an email to the recruiter and the manager thanking them, but since then I’ve heard nothing and it’s been weeks. I’ve sent follow-up emails to both the recruiter and the manager and I’ve gotten no reply.

What should I do? Why do companies do this to candidates? I would rather they just tell me they aren’t interested than have them say nothing at all!

The Ghost Candidate

************************************************************

Dear Ghost,

There are a number of reasons that recruiters and hiring managers ghost candidates and none of them are good! Here’s a short-list of some of these reasons:

– They hated you and hope you go away when they ghost you because conflict is uncomfortable.

– They like you, but not as much as another candidate they’re trying to talk into the job, but want to leave you on the back burner, but they’re idiots and don’t know how to do this properly.

– They decided to promote someone internally and they don’t care about candidate experience enough to tell you they went another direction.

– They have a completely broken recruitment process and might still be going through it believing you’re just as happy as a pig in shi…

– They think they communicated to you electronically to bug off through their ATS, but they haven’t audited the process to know this isn’t working.

– The recruiter got fired and no one picked up the process.

I would love to tell you that ghosting candidates are a rare thing, but it’s not! It happens all the time! There is never a reason to ghost a candidate, ever! Sometimes I believe candidates get ghosted by recruiters because hiring managers don’t give feedback, but that still isn’t an excuse I would accept, at least tell the candidate that!

Look, I’ve ghosted people. At conference cocktail parties, I’ve been known to ghost my way right back up to my room and go to sleep! When it comes to candidates, I don’t ghost! I would rather tell them the truth so they don’t keep coming back around unless I want them to come back around.

I think most recruiters ghost candidates because they’re over their heads in the amount of work they have, and they mean to get back to people, but just don’t have the time. When you’re in the firefighting mode you tend to only communicate with the candidates you want, not the ones you don’t. Is this good practice? Heck, no! But when you’re fighting fires, you do what you have to do to stay alive.

What would I do, if I was you? 

Here are a few ideas to try if you really want to know the truth:

1. Send a handwritten letter to the CEO of the company briefly explaining your experience and what outcome you would like.

2. Go on Twitter and in 140 characters send a shot across the bow! “XYZ Co. I interviewed 2 weeks ago and still haven’t heard anything! Can you help me!?” (Will work on Facebook as well!)

3. Write a post about your experience on LinkedIn and tag the recruiter and the recruiter’s boss.

4. Take the hint and go find a company that truly values you and your talent! If the organization and this manager treat candidates like this, imagine how you’ll be treated as an employee?

The Best of 2019: Wanted: Blunt Roller ($40-50K plus Benefits!)

I’m on a holiday break. Boys are home, we’re going on a trip. So, I’ve put together a Best of 2019 post list for you to enjoy. I’ll be back after the holidays with new stuff and some cool announcements for 2020! 

In case you didn’t see the job posting by Snoop Dogg, on his staff (yes, giant mogul rapper/entertainers have staffs) he has a person whose sole job is to role blunts (for the Baby Boomers in the crowd – a blunt is joint, a marijuana cigarette, if you will). What’s the quote? Do a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.

From the article:

“If you’re great at something I need, I’m hiring you,” said Snoop.

The gentlemen staffer in question is allowed as much marijuana as he would like, travels with Snoop, has all his expenses paid, and gets free swag whenever his boss receives it. In exchange, he keeps a well-organized box full of impeccably rolled blunts and waits for his services to be required.

“Motherf*cker like Lurch from the Addams Family. ‘You rang?’”  said Snoop, who might have had the Addams on his mind since contributing the song “My Family” to the new movie.

Why is Snoop Dogg successful?

Oh, well it must be his talent. There’s a ton of folks in the music game more talented than Snoop. Don’t get me wrong, he’s massively talented, but did you catch the first line from the article? “If you’re great at something I need, I’m hiring you”.

Now you and I, and many others might not need a blunt. Snoop has made it pretty clear he smokes like every day, multiple times a day, and he’s decided a great blunt is something he needs, so he’s hired a dude who’s great at what he does. Successful people in life surround themselves with people who are successful at what they do, period.

It makes me start to wonder who I need to surround myself with if I… (Click here to go and read the rest of the original post, and because the comments left by stoned readers trying to get this job are remarkable! It might be the greatest thing on the blog in 2019!)

This isn’t about “Fit”, it’s about your Bias is showing!

“We’re big on CULTURE and fit!” We’re looking for the “right” person, not just skills!” “We just kind of know if they’ll fit or not…”

Of course, it’s not The Project if we don’t have some sports analogies that I tie back to some HR topic! That’s how this puppy was founded, probably won’t change. So, you might have missed a great sports-HR topic that popped last week!

LSU is the top college football program in the land and their head coach is Ed Orgeron. He’s beloved by a lot of people and has a great coaching pedigree. It’s surprising, with all of his success at LSU, that USC could have had him as their head coach, but he was passed over. And last week the truth of why he was passed overcame out!

“Specifically, Feldman said certain people in the Pat Haden administration “couldn’t get past what Ed Orgeron sounded like.”

“They didn’t listen to the players. They didn’t listen to the staff,” Feldman explained. “Ed Orgeron’s not a country club guy. I think he can relate to just about anybody…I think he can read people very well. I don’t think Pat Haden, who was the decision-maker at the time, that’s just not kind of guy he wanted. And I don’t think he could get past it.”

USC as an institution is elitist. They have graduates like Matt Charney and Neil Armstrong and George Lucas and OJ Simpson. Pat Haden, himself a USC graduate and Rhodes scholar, was the Athletic Director at the time Ed Orgeron was the interim head coach.

Can you imagine one of your hiring managers coming to you and saying, “Yeah, the resume is awesome, the references are awesome, but you know the candidate sounds dumb, so I’m going to pass!” That’s culture and fit. “We’re great” and we need someone who is going to “represent” us in a way where he makes us believe we are still great.

Pat had a bias. I want a head coach who ‘looks’ and ‘sounds’ like a head coach of USC. What does that mean? Looks good in a suit. Sounds like an educated person, probably white (at least sounds white). Heterosexual with a pretty wife. It was a look, an image. It wasn’t about results.

Pat Haden and USC were just doing what most organizations constantly do. They were hiring for fit. For “culture”. Believing somehow they had it figured out. Turns out, for Ed’s sake, they made the right call, because he is in a position where he is valued and they actually like his accent!

If you find yourself in an interview debrief and the conversation starts going down a path of “Fit” understand you’re about to hear someone’s bias coming out! Maybe you’ll even catch yourself and your own bias. We all have some and they mostly come out when we really can’t determine a real reason of why we don’t want to hire someone!

Wanted: Blunt Roller ($40-50K salary, plus benefits)

In case you didn’t see the job posting by Snoop Dogg, on his staff (yes, giant mogul rapper/entertainers have staffs) he has a person whose sole job is to role blunts (for the Baby Boomers in the crowd – a blunt is joint, a marijuana cigarette, if you will). What’s the quote? Do a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.

From the article:

“If you’re great at something I need, I’m hiring you,” said Snoop.

The gentlemen staffer in question is allowed as much marijuana as he would like, travels with Snoop, has all his expenses paid, and gets free swag whenever his boss receives it. In exchange, he keeps a well-organized box full of impeccably rolled blunts and waits for his services to be required.

“Motherf*cker like Lurch from the Addams Family. ‘You rang?’”  said Snoop, who might have had the Addams on his mind since contributing the song “My Family” to the new movie.

Why is Snoop Dogg successful?

Oh, well it must be his talent. There’s a ton of folks in the music game more talented than Snoop. Don’t get me wrong, he’s massively talented, but did you catch the first line from the article? “If you’re great at something I need, I’m hiring you”.

Now you and I, and many others might not need a blunt. Snoop has made it pretty clear he smokes like every day, multiple times a day, and he’s decided a great blunt is something he needs, so he’s hired a dude who’s great at what he does. Successful people in life surround themselves with people who are successful at what they do, period.

It makes me start to wonder who I need to surround myself with if I want to be more successful? I’m don’t smoke blunts so I don’t need this position, and I don’t question compensation value Snoop put on this role. We all value things differently. Here are some roles I would like to hire for in my personal life:

  1. Handy Person – I suck at most things related to anything handy around the house. Hanging pictures? F’ing hate it! Fixing a dripping faucet? No idea. Chaulk coming away from that thingy, in the thingy? Um, what? I need a person to take care of all of my crap that I don’t know how to take care of. It’s not a full-time gig, but I think it could be a kind of job share program. Clean the outside and inside of my car? That job sucks. I know a bunch of dudes and gals like me who need this service and I could probably fill 8 hours per week, $30-40/hr.
  2. diet Dew on-call – Like Snoop, we all have our addictions. I don’t drink coffee, but I’m addicted to caffeine. If I was wealthy like my guy, Snoop, I would have a person on staff to ensure when I need a fix, that fix would be there!
  3. Masseuse – Nothing is better and more relaxing than a full body massage. I would do it daily if I could.

I don’t need a personal shopper or cook. I actually like doing that stuff. My wife keeps an immaculate house, so if she wants someone to come in, I’m all for it, but I don’t think we would ever find someone to her standards. An in-house dog sitter might be a possibility to make it easier on travel. Scout is so needy!

Who would you hire for yourself if you could? Hit me in the comments – no judgment!

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.

When in Doubt, Hiring Attractive People Usually Works Out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 7 Words That Turn Candidates Off!

Communication is a tricky thing. It’s so easy to turn off another party by simply using just one wrong word, especially when you’re trying to build a relationship with a candidate you potentially want to hire.

I think there are some words and phrases that have a high probability of turning off a candidate to want to come work for your organization. I speak to students a few times a year about interviewing and I tell them something similar, which is what you say can automatically make a hiring manager not want to hire you!

Think about being an interview and the candidate starts to tell you why they’re no longer working for ACME Inc. “Oh, you know it was just a ‘misunderstanding’, I can explain…”

“Misunderstanding” is a killer word to use while interviewing! It wasn’t a misunderstanding! You got fired! The ‘misunderstanding’ is you not understanding the crap you were doing was wrong! 

So, what are the 7 Deadly Words you should never use as a recruiter? Don’t use these:

-“Layoff” – It doesn’t matter how you use it. Even, ‘we’ve never had a layoff!’ “Layoff” isn’t a positive word to someone looking to come to work for you, so why would you even add it to the conversation!

-“Might” – Great candidates want black and white, not gray. “Might” is gray. Well, we might be adding that tech but I don’t know. Instead, use “I’m not sure, let me check for you because I want to get you the truth.  Add

-“Maybe” – See above.

-“Unstable” – You know what’s unstable? Nothing good, that’s what! If something isn’t good, don’t hide behind a word that makes people guess how bad it might be, because they’ll usually assume it’s worse than it really is!

-“Legally” – “Legally” is never followed by something positive! “Legally, we would love to give you a $25K sign-on bonus, but…” It’s always followed by something that makes you uncomfortable. When trying to get someone interested in your organization and job, don’t add “Legally” to the conversation!

-“Temporarily” – This is another unsettling word for candidates. “Temporarily” we’ll have to have you work out of the Nashville office, but no worries, you’ll be Austin soon enough! Um, no.

-“Fluid” – Well, that’s a great question, right now it’s a fluid situation, we’re hoping that hiring you will help clarify it! Well, isn’t that comforting… Add: “Up in the air” to this category!

We use many of these words because we don’t want to tell the candidate the truth. We think telling them exactly what’s wrong with our organization, the position, our culture, will drive them away. So, we wordsmith them to death!

The reality is most candidates will actually love the honesty and tend to believe they can be the one to come in and make it better. We all want to be the knight on the white horse. Candidates are no different. Tell them the truth and you’ll end up with better hires and higher retention!

Amazon just got 200,000+ Applications and That is a Giant Problem!

You probably saw the headline from Amazon: “Hiring 30,000!” Let’s face it, Amazon is a rocketship. Have you seen the Amazon vans coming down your street? I’m 100% sure the “Amazon Guy” who drives the van in our neighborhood stops by our house about 250% more times then the mailperson stops by our house!

I’m not actually surprised they have 30,000 openings, but I am surprised that they only got 200,000 applications!

The headline is from Business Insider and they’re mostly professional journalist thinking that when they write the headline everyone will be wowed by the big number, but in reality, that number is scary low! Do the quick math 200,000/30,000 = 6.6 applications per position.

Also, we (Talent Pros) know the reality. For positions that Amazon has no trouble filling, they probably got 600 applications per positions and for the ones they are having trouble filling they got zero or one, and that one wasn’t even close to being qualified!

I’m not sure exactly what Amazon’s applicant funnel looks like but if the top of the funnel only has 6 applicants, that’s a problem! A giant problem! The big question is how many applicants does Amazon need to fill 30,000 currently open, or anticipated open positions. If Amazon has 30,000 positions to fill, right now, how many applicants would they have to plow through to fill those jobs?

This is where the rubber hits the road with your Talent Strategy. There are a number of factors:

  • What’s the average pay per position?
  • Can we group these positions into various categories to better understand how long the process will take?
  • How many are skilled vs. unskilled vs. semi-skilled vs. white-collar?
  • What are the locations?
  • How fast do these need to be filled?
  • How picky are your hiring managers?
  • What’s our comp strategy? Trailing, leading, etc.?

Let’s just throw out some numbers assuming the average pay is around $15/hr. Probably low for many of the openings they are filling, but I’m also assuming the vast majority are warehouse, drivers, service level type roles. Scattered all over the country, but most white-collar positions will be in highly competitive markets.

Let’s say you need at least 20 applicants on average per position. That would mean at a minimum they will need around 600,000. But, there is a massive turnover of those lower-level positions, plus Amazon is known to have a demanding work culture that tends to push folks out even quicker, so you would probably need at least double that to around 1.2 million applications to fill 30,000 openings.

That means, in the real world, Amazon’s TA team is probably right now having a panic attack! A panic attack of being around 1 million applications short to fill 30,000 positions, and that’s not even considering current turn and churn of their giant employee base already, plus who knows what Bezos and the team have cooked up for future growth.

The numbers are staggering, but at scale this the job. It’s just a funnel whether you’re filling 30,000 or 30. You better know how many applications you need on the topside to ensure you get the hires at the end!