Tracking Remote Employees is an Amateur Move!

I continue to see more and more technology being released by tech companies targeting c-suite executives who are paranoid their employees who are working remotely aren’t working! Mouse tracking software, keystroke tracking software, login/logout tracking, etc. It’s become a billion-dollar industry to track you while you work at home, just in case you’re not working at home and just screwing around!

The most ingenious employee is the one who is trying to get paid without doing any work! Check out this TikTok:

@leahova

It’s called mental health, Janice. Look it up. #wfh #workfromhome #corporatetiktok #worklifebalance

♬ original sound – Leah

Now, I don’t think Lea is trying to get away with not working. She’s a good one, she’s paranoid in the other direction. If I try and go to the bathroom may be the A.I. will tell my boss I’m not working and I’ll get fired! None of this software really works like this, but it’s all a slippery slope!

A better idea for tracking employees!

How about building measurable performance goals and just managing those!? OMG! How f’ing brilliant am I!?! I just gave you an idea from 1979 that actually works perfectly and you don’t have to make your employees feel like they are being micromanaged and tracked by Big Brother!

Seriously! How lame are you that you think you need to track an employee at home by how often they move their mouse!? If you’re an executive and you believe this is the cure to your corporate ills, it’s time to hang it up, Hank!

It’s the 21st century, we can now treat employees like adults and place goals and expectations on them, that we’ve sat down and worked with them on coming up with so that we all feel like we are getting a fair deal on this little employment contract we’ve put together. We give “X”, You give us “Y”, and we are all happy with “Z”! If you don’t give us “Y”, let’s dig in and find out why that is, and if you continue to not give us “Y”, we’ll stop giving you “X”.

Okay, for those bad at Algebra, I’m talking about you do your damn job and we pay you. If you decide to sit at home and watch Netflix and not do your job, we stop paying you.

A better idea than buying a “mouse mover”!

Quite that stupid job who thinks measuring your mouse movements is equal to work. Seriously, there are more jobs open than people alive right now. Leave! There are great companies that are waiting to hire you that will let you go to the bathroom as much as you want.

If you bought a mouse mover to sit at home and watch Netflix and get paid, but not work. Congratulations, you’ll eventually be fired and/or your company will go out of business. You win, I guess, for the time being. Just know the world hates people like you.

I broke down hundreds of HR Tech Pitches into one winning formula!

Over the past seven years, I estimate that I’ve listened to roughly 1,000 different HR and TA Technology pitches. As you can imagine, some of these have been super successful and many have failed and were never heard from again. I remember meeting Eightfold’s President, Kamal Ahluwalia, in a bar in Vegas when they probably had eight employees and angel funding and he was telling what this new company was all about and I’m like, yeah, that’s going to do well! Unfortunately, he didn’t offer me founder’s stock!

I’ve got a bunch of those stories, it’s amazing to see technology being born, and down the road thousands of companies using it!

Here’s how about 90%+ of new HR and TA technology startups pitch:

  1. Act like they are the next unicorn and have something no one else does.
  2. Listen to way too many people
  3. Build something they believe their potential buyer wants because they had a potential buyer tell them this is what I want.
  4. Keep building.
  5. Keep building.
  6. Try to sell a little.
  7. Blow it up and build something else, but mostly the same with a new user interface.
  8. Add on, build some more.
  9. Run out of money.

Here’s the winning formula:

  1. Don’t act like a unicorn, but get very curious about real problems organizations are having.
  2. Don’t listen to what HR or Talent pros want.
  3. Listen to what HR and Talent pros can’t get done and if they could get it done what impact would that have to the organization.
  4. Build a working product.
  5. Sell the sh*t out of that product. Get users using it. Sell more of it! No, more!
  6. Go back and make the product better and add on stuff users aren’t asking for because they don’t even know what is possible, but you do.

The single biggest fail of technology startups in the HR ecosystem is they don’t sell and market their product. They just keep hiring engineers and they keep building, mostly without a proof of concept. Or, even worse, they have one proof of concept with one company, and everything they are building is based on what one company wants.

The second biggest mistake startups make is believing they don’t need to be profitable. That’s what VC money is for. We just keep building and gaining users and one day this thing will magically be profitable. You can’t give your tech away for free because “real” users won’t value it. You see, we are willing to pay for stuff we’ll actually use. If I’m not willing to pay you, I probably don’t find very much value in what you built.

The final mistake is HR technology startups underfund sales and marketing by a factor of a hundred! Almost any technology you can build, someone probably has something similar in this space that is around 80-90% of what you do. In fact, there are probably at least ten companies selling something similar to what you’re building. So, you aren’t as unique as you feel you are, but those who market and sell their stuff the best, almost always win.

I see great technology every year that doesn’t make it to the next year, not because the technology doesn’t work, because the founder and the team they’ve assembled, well-meaning, smart, caring folks who want to be successful, don’t know how to sell or market their product. Yes, it’s that simple, and that hard!

How can an HR Tech startup win?

If you get $10 Million in funding, spend $1 million on engineering and $9 million on selling your product. You can shop your engineering out to the Ukraine or India or where ever in the world development is cheaper. You can not shop out sales when selling to the US market.

“Well, if we make great tech, people will find it!” Nope! No, they won’t! Because someone making a good product will be sitting in the office of your buyer and your buyer won’t know who the hell you are.

Tech folks hate this concept. They just want to build great tech. These are the same folks who hate iPhones but love the Google phone. “The iPhone sucks, the Google phones have better technology by a factor of a thousand!” Yeah, but Apple is a genius at marketing and sales. So, we all have iPhones and you have the best phone, congratulations, I hate that I have to text you with a green bubble.

Careerbuilder survived way longer than Monster in the job board wars not because they were better. They were virtually the same! Monster had a bigger brand! CB sold the crap out of their clients! Take a look on LinkedIn and see where most of Indeed’s sales force came from!

The average HR buyer couldn’t name more than a handful of HR Technology companies. There are over 10,000 worldwide. No. One. Knows. Who. You. Are! So, it doesn’t matter what your tech does or doesn’t do if no one knows you!

This isn’t just an HR functional issue. Finance, operations, sales, marketing, IT, etc., we all buy what is sold to us. There might be twenty potential technologies to solve the thing I need solving, but if I only know of three, guess what? I’m buying one of those three! And, all three of those I know, might suck! Why do you think we constantly complain about our technology!?

I sat with an ATS out of Australia that no one has ever heard of. They are awful. Literally, ATS technology from the early 2000s. They found out how to sell to the US government and now have over $500M in US gov’t contracts to provide ATS technology to a number of US agencies. They are still awful, but they figured out how to sell and they are making stupid money delivering an inferior product.

I’m not telling you to make bad technology. Make good technology and be proud of it, and then sell it like it’s the antidote for Covid!

Don’t know how to do that? Let’s talk.

CareerBuilder’s New Look!

Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it, this is probably a mean post. I mean marketing is freaking hard! Logos are impossible. Everyone is a critic.

If you didn’t see it recently, CareerBuilder (the job board – I feel like I have to tell the younger crowd what CareerBuilder is for some reason) came out with a new logo. Now, this is the 4th logo I know about since I started following the industry, there might be more.

At one point, probably like 8 years ago, CB was a client of mine. I did a bunch of work and they had a really great marketing team. They were also a cash cow and printing money, then came along this little startup called Indeed, that at the time they probably could have bought for next to nothing, but when you’re the biggest, baddest job board in town you just laugh at the young, little startups.

When I first started using CareerBuilder as a rookie recruiter this was their logo:

Original OG Logo when they were on top of the world

At some point, when your sales start to decline the first rule of marketing is to rebrand and seem new again, and more relevant. This was the first attempt:

The CB Trivial Pursuit Pie Logo

I can’t even tell you the amount of money and time that went into producing this “new” brand. Shortly after this, almost everyone who was anyone left CB for greener pastures.

As the private equity folks begin to start sniffing around some consultants came into put some lipstick on the pig and this was the next iteration of the CB logo:

But wait, what color of pie pieces do I have?

I actually don’t hate #3 – it’s clean and I like the color navy. But #1 is still my favorite.

And now to our most recent CB Logo change:

This is a joke, right?

Okay, have you guys seen @EmilyZugay on TikTok? She’s the logo girl. She actually takes famous logos and does a redo on them, and she is hilarious! The only thing I can hope for the marketing team at CB is that they are working with Emily! Please tell me you’re working with Emily!

I can’t even with this logo. The best part is they trademarked it like someone was actually going to steal it!

As I said, mean, petty post. Sorry, CB marketing team. I hope this is a joke because it would be amazing if it was. If it’s not, I get it, marketing is super hard! I hate my own logo, sorry for poking fun. Also, call Emily and pay her a few thousand and this becomes an amazing story!

What I learned at #HRTechConf 2021!

I’ve had a chance to sit down and go through my notes from one of my favorite conferences of the year and here are my 50,000-foot takeaways from The HR Technology Conference!

– The numbers were way down from 2019, but almost every single person I spoke with knew that would be the case, but kudos to LRP and the team for moving forward and finding a way to make this work. The Expo was still fantastic. The keynotes were still great. Those that showed up were as active in engaging as ever and it was a thoroughly enjoyable week talking shop with peers and friends.

– There are way too many “Coaching” technologies on the market and trying to come to market, and it’s strange. I get it, everyone, except me, wants to be a life coach. But honestly, most of this tech is some form of vaporware or marketplace, not actually technology, and I don’t see any HR Leaders clamoring for Coaching tech. I would estimate of the startups I saw, 30% were some form of coaching tech.

– I moderated the best panel at the conference! I’m just going to state the facts! I had Kris Dunn, Madeline Laurano, and Kyle Lagunas on a TA Tech panel I moderated and it was magic! Why? We are all friends, we love this industry, we do our homework, and it literally becomes an unfiltered great conversation amongst peers about stuff and questions people really want to know about. No agenda trying to position a product or sell a service, just real practitioner talk. Many attendees came up afterward and said that the panel was the best thing of their entire week at HR Tech!

– The 3rd Annual Pitchfest was again one of my favorite events. OnwardsHR won the contest, and second place went to Sciolytix. OnwardsHR is separation management technology and Sciolytix is assessment technology specifically for hiring sales professionals. Ironically, both of those came out of the semi-final that I was judging and Emceeing. That’s one of the hard things about the competition. I actually thought in my semi-final I had 4 of the best startups out of the entire 33, but only 2 from each semi-final can move on. Maybe a nice addition might be giving each judge a “Golden Ticket” to give to one company that can also make it into the final. I had great judges with me, but we are all looking at things from a different frame of reference. Also, I don’t know the exact percentage, but it felt like 50% of the startups were either female, non-binary, or trans-led, which was amazing!

– Who would have got my “Golden Ticket”? The team at Shaka! GenZ, Female Founded employee engagement, connection, and culture technology. In my opinion, they had the cleanest pitch of anyone, truly polished, and understood the market. Strong tech, strong branding. If I had to put money on a startup that I think will make it long-term, with the little we find out about them in an event like this, I’m betting the team from Shaka.

– As you can imagine, the TA Tech space is totally going insane right now. Internal Mobility is another piece that folks are pouring money into, and we are starting to see hybrid-work tech emerging. How do we manage the logistics and performance of disparate teams and work environments?

– The two names I heard more than any others from attendees were “HiredScore” and “Eightfold“. That’s awesome for those brands. One of the problems is, along with the name I was asked, “Now, what do they do, really?” Nice to have that brand awareness, but this demonstrates one of the issues we have right now. All of the TA Tech companies are bleeding into each other and they can do a lot of stuff, including these two. So, defining who and what they are is a challenge. If a buyer can’t define you, they tend to shy away. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case for either of these technologies as I think their client base is driving referral sales from positive interaction and results.

I’m looking forward to The HR Technology Conference 2022 being held back in Las Vegas on September 13-16th! See you there!

2021 HR Technology Conference Pitchfest Participants Announced! #hrtechconf (HR Tech You Want To Know About!)

I’m out in Vegas this year (for the third time in like 6 weeks!) and I’m both a judge and Emcee of The HR Technology Conference’s 3rd Annual Pitchfest! It’s one of my favorite events and sessions of the year because we all get to see what is the latest and greatest new technology that is having an impact on our day-to-day lives as HR and Talent practitioners!

The winners of this year’s event get a $25,000 cash prize and a booth at the 2022 HR Technology Conference Expo! Second place gets a set of steak knives! No, just kidding, they get $5000!

Who are the participants of this year’s event?

Blossom.team (Coaching Tech)MyExcelia (Coaching Tech)
Cauldron (Recruiting Tech)NoahFace (Workplace Security/Tracking)
centralFOne Donation (Employee Giving)
Charthop (People Data Tech)Onwards HR (Separation Tech)
Clovers AI (Interview Tech) Phoenix Technology Systems (HRIS)
Compa (Job Offer Tech)Pointers (Talent Management)
Culturora (Culture Tech)PTO Genius (PTO Tech)
Edammo, Inc. (Business Intelligence)Public Insight (Talent Analytics)
Equality AI (Ethical AI) Sciolytix (Training Tech)
GraceBlocks (HR Architecture) Sentinel Pay Analytics (Pay Equity Tech)
ICC (Innovate. Coach. Consult.) (Coaching)Shaka Culture Application (Employee Engagement)
Included (DEI Analytics) Stayhome Inc. (Hybrid Office Mngt)
Insurights (Healthcare Tech)STEERus (Talent Development)
INTalent (Architecture) Translator, Inc. (DEI Tech)
InternConnect (Internship Tech) Viveka (Coaching Tech)
Learn In (Employee Development)Workrowd (Hybrid Work Tech)
MeBeBot (Employee Experience) WORQDRIVE (Internal Mobility)

The HR Technology Pitchfest takes place Tuesday and Wednesday at the expo at the Pitchfest Theater! Come check it out, it’s a great way to see a ton of technology in a one-hour time slot to see if you want to find out more.

Pro Tip to Startups!

If I “Google” your product name and “HR Tech” I better be able to find you, or you better fire your marketing person! LOL! I can’t tell you how hard it was to find the website address for each of these companies listed above! It. Should. Not. Be. Hard. To. Find. You!

So, if your name is mentioned above and the link goes to the wrong company, I’m not apologizing! That’s on you! Get a better name with an easy-to-find URL!

See everyone in Vegas!

SHRMLab Better Workplace Challenge Cup Winners! #HRTech @SHRM

In my post on Monday, I mentioned that my new favorite segment of content at SHRM Annual was the SHRMLabs Better Workplace Challenge Cup. Odd name that doesn’t make much sense to what the content really is. It’s a technology pitchfest. A startup competition of HR Technology companies. I’m going to assume the name came from someone who is sponsoring it, regardless, it was awesome!

The competition started amongst 150 different startups within the HR Technology community who first pitched at regional SHRM events across the country. From those five regional competitions, the winners were selected to present and pitch at SHRM Annual. Here are the five:

  • Compt: A perk stipend software company based in Boston, Mass.  
  • Symba: An all-in-one workforce management platform for talent development programs based in Chicago, Ill.
  • TiLT: A leave management platform based in Fort Collins, Colo.
  • UnboXt: A leadership development platform based in Atlanta, Ga.
  • WorkWhile: A technology company that connects hourly workers to shifts based in San Francisco, Calif.

All five pitched very well, and if you are looking to expand your HR Technology knowledge these five would be great ones to start with demos!

The winner was Compt. Deserving, I mean all of them were deserving, but Compt came across as a little more “sexy” for the judges. Perk companies tend to do that. They pitch well, especially to folks who don’t have a deep knowledge of the HR Technology marketplace and what HR pros actually use. Perk companies always sound cool, because it’s the kind of thing as employees we wished we had, but we don’t because it turns out it costs a bunch of money we don’t have! All of that said, Compt did very well and they do have some great technology.

My personal favorite was Tilt, for the simple fact, I know this is a technology that almost any company with over a hundred employees could use. Managing leave, well, is hard. HRIS systems do a little of this, but not to the extent that it makes the person leave feeling confident and also makes the HR person in charge of leave feel like they have their arms around everything.

I wasn’t a huge fan of bringing in SharkTank judge Daymond James, but honestly, I was in the super minority! In hindsight, it was a good call on SHRM’s part because it got a lot of people in the room who were stargazing, to actually take a look at some great HR Technology. Kind of a brilliant move on SHRMLab’s part to find a way to get folks interested in HR tech who aren’t normally interested in HR tech! Maybe SHRM can get Matthew McConaughey SHRM 2022 in New Orleans to judge!

I’m out at the HR Technology Conference in a couple of weeks and I’m one of the Emcee’s and Judges for their HR Technology startup competition, the Pitchfest. I love that more HR tech companies are getting an opportunity to be in front of actual practitioners. There is so much great HR Tech in the world, and most of us know just a fraction of it. Kudos to both SHRM and The HR Technology Conference for giving these startups a platform to be seen!

Reactions From My First In-Person Conference Since the Beginning of the Pandemic! #SHRMTalent

Out in Vegas at one of my favorite conferences, SHRM Talent, this week. I love and missed interacting with all the TA pros and leaders, so this week was really energizing!

There are so many takeaways from this week at SHRM Talent. It seemed both odd and familiar all at the same time. I’ve been going to conferences for over a decade and very few put on a better conference than SHRM, it’s always first-class, and the 2021 SHRM Talent was at the new Cesar’s Forum conference center which is super nice.

The Reactions:

  • SHRM has opened up their 2021 conferences to be both in-person and virtual. This combination has been unique. After a year and a half of only doing virutual, as a speaker, you have to get back into practice of the cadence of in-person speaking. In virtual, you have very little audience reaction to what you’re saying, so you just plow through the content. In-person you get reactions, so you have timing that you have to be concerned about. Funny line, hold for laughter, wait I actually heard some laughter!
  • At the same time, you still have a virtual audience that you have to engage. What I found, across many sessions, that quesitons from the virtual audience were usually 3-4 times more than the in-person audience. I think in the future, SHRM and others, will figure out a way for people to ask questions all through one format, so those in-person attendees can have the same comfort level of asking their questions as well.
  • Those attendees who chose to be in-person seemed to be very engaged! It’s like these were the folks hungry for real-life interactions and they are making the most of being out in the wild for the first time in long time. Everyone has been very friendly, talkative, welcoming. I think we are all just happy for a bit of back to normal.
  • SHRM has caught some criticism for going back to in-person, but I applaud them for making the hard decision to figuring this out. It’s not going to be perfect, but at some point we must rip off the band-aid and get back to some normalacy, while trying to be safe. Masks were required and you were reminded immediately if you forgot. I was asked upon checking in if I was vaccinated and had to sign off on that. It wasn’t required, but highly encouraged, and definitely tracking attendees.
  • The difficult piece of all of this Covid/Vaccine stuff. You go to breakfast and sit down at a round talbe with four or five peers and all of sudden no one has masks on and everyone is talkign and interacting. You go from your hotel room through a Vegas casino cesspool and into the conference and back and forth. Is anyone really believing that any one is safe? It’s all kind of a game of make believe. This isn’t a SHRM issue, this is an issue every single in-person conference has to navigate. The HR Tech Conference has mandated vaccines, but the same reality will be experienced there as well. The reall world is all around us, just because we protect ourselves some part of it, doesn’t mean the rest isn’t all around us.
  • The content and the practitioners desire to learn and grow is still so inspiring to witness live. To see people really getting nuggets they can take back to the office and make them better, and see a speaker talking passionately to an audience can not be replicated virtually. I think we’ve found that when you can’t do virtual and good second place is virtual, but in-person just hits differently.
  • I don’t think SHRM will ever be able to put the toothpaste back into the tub when it comes to having virutal attendees. I also think this is awesome for those pros who can’t afford the travel, or can’t travel for so many reasons. But it does mean that in-person SHRM audiences will probably be smaller moving forward. SHRM National is rumored to be around 11,000 attendees this year, down from over 17,000 (in-person) for 2019. Also, around 25-40% of those 11,000 will attend virtually. Virutal attendees are very profitable for SHRM, so it’s not all bad to the bottom-line for SHRM. I do think in the future SHRM, and others, will have to figure out some unique things to do for virtual attendees verse the in-person. Transform Recruitment Marketing did an unboxing for their virtual audience, and I can definitely see SHRM working with vendors to put something like this together to help make those virtual attendees feel more connected to the conference experience.
  • Finally, I got some “real” hugs this week from friends I haven’t seen in a long time and it felt amazing! And, yes, we were all masked and vaccinated!

Shout out to the SHRM staff for putting on a great event under a lot of uncertainty. As always they handled it with class and professionalism, and I’m sure it was a great trial run for them to get ready for the upcoming annual conference!

SHRM Annual Conference is happening on September 9-12th and I’ll be back in Vegas to present to a live audience again, and I’m so excited to see how this goes as well since the numbers will be much larger, and then soon after back again to The HR Technology Conference in Vegas on Sept 28 – Oct 1. Come join me!

My Interview with Visage_Jobs @JossLeufrancois on Better Sourcing!

I recently posted about Visage, the AI smart sourcing tool that my own team has been using with great success. Today, I bring on Visage’s co-founder and CEO, Joss Leufrancois to talk about what organizations are doing today to better at sourcing and hiring overall.

Very cool technology to take a look at. It’s different from many of the other sourcing technologies on the market in that it’s not a database to search, but actual real-life sources doing the work and giving your recruiters a short-list to attack!

Enjoy!

Are Microsoft’s MyAnalytics Emails Improving Your Productivity?

On episode 71 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss when they are most productive, their work habits via Microsoft MyAnalytics Reports, and what those reports say about their wellness levels and work/life balance.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights

2:30 – KD kicks off the episode by asking the crew if they’re more productive in the morning or night. JLee is not a morning person, whereas Tim is the opposite.

6:00 – KD likes to wake up in the morning and read a few chapters. Can you read in the morning, or would you fall asleep?

9:00 – KD tries to unplug once a week and he checks his Microsoft MyAnalytics report to see how good he is at this. The analytics report didn’t seem too impressed with KD’s attempt at “crushing it” since he only had two work-free days in the entire month.

12:00 – These Microsoft reports seem to be telling employees that they have some work to do from a wellbeing perspective due to set “on” and “off” hours.

14:30 – Another statistic KD’s report gave him was that he compromised his “nightly recharge” by working after midnight.

17:30 – JLee thinks that what might work with these reports is managers having conversations with their teams about how to best look at this data and use the insightful parts.

19:00 – Tim turns off his phone at night and wakes up to a manual alarm clock. JLee and KD leave their phones on at night. Do you leave your phone on at night?

22:30 – KD notes that there is no real designation on the platform as “offline,” so it’s giving everyone “online” time during their working hours, even if they’re not being 100% productive.

24:30 – KD’s report said that he gets easily distracted by email and reads 75% of his email within 30 minutes of reading it. The advice it gave him was to think about reading emails only once an hour.

28:00 – Tim and KD read over 1,000 emails a week. JLee says she doesn’t read a lot of emails, and KD notes that that’s only really OK if you’re a leader.

32:00 – KD gives props to Microsoft for giving a shot at giving these kinds of analytics. He doesn’t know if he loves all of this info going to all employees without more context.

College Recruiting For Candidates Is A Giant Mess!

I think about 99.99% of us believe that we actually put a man on the moon! We have put together technology to take someone on earth and put them on the moon, and then actually get them back to earth! That is amazing. Do you know what we haven’t figured out?! One system to help college kids connect with employers to get jobs!!! UGH!!!!

Why hasn’t recruiting technology solved this issue?

Okay, don’t start with me on Handshake or LinkedIn or Yello or Brazen or whatever dumb tech that says it’s for college recruiting but doesn’t really work for every college or every student.

First, shout out to my guy John Hill, former Campus Evangelist for LinkedIn, who is now with TechStars. Six years ago this man figured out how LinkedIn could have owned this space, but they weren’t interested. They walked away from owning every single professional at the beginning of their career. It could have been so easy for us all. One platform under God, indivisible, and all that sh*t. John, you are a genius, and I so badly wanted you to succeed with that idea!

If you want to hire an upcoming college grad for a job you have, it’s a freaking nightmare, mostly. First off, you have to find out from each college/university who they actually work with and to which platform are they sending their kids. Handshake is the big one, but not everyone works with them, and as an employer, they are kind of difficult to work with (I’ll explain later). LinkedIn is the easiest to work with. Yello and Brazen, and others like them, are more event and campus management, than a database of students.

The reality is, employers just want a database of students! We want to log in, pay whatever fee you ask, and search by the university, year, major, location, etc. We are simple people with simple needs. Why can’t we have our simple tech!?!

Why doesn’t one technology own the college recruiting space?

First, it’s not really a technology problem. It’s an empire-building and power play by university career services offices. Let’s do some history. Old school career services ran “Job Fairs”. You came to campus, paid them money, and ran the dog and pony show. It was awful. Everyone hated it. Except for the Career Services employees. This was their singular job and how they proved their value to the powers that be.

The future came and employers and students were like, “Job Fairs Suck!” and why can’t we just put up a profile on LinkedIn or something like LinkedIn and connect with employers that way? Well, you can’t because then we (the Career Services) lose power! You have to join the platform we tell you, so we can still get paid because while you paid us way too much for your education, we still need to make more money on you and your hard work!

Is all of this sound familiar and accurate?!

Before “Karen” or “Ken” from Career Services at State U. loses her/his mind, let me just say, I get it. I know of many career services folks who truly want to help the Art History majors of the world get employed. Which they never succeed at, but keep helping those MBA’s and Engineers find a job…

Can I be real for a minute? in 2021, do we really think the function of “Career Services” at a university is necessary? If a kid can’t figure out how to get on Handshake, or LinkedIn and Indeed, shouldn’t that be kind of a sign of their employability?! I just hear from too many students that feel like Career Services did nothing for them in finding a career. In fact, that’s all I hear. I can’t remember ever hearing one story from a new grad going, “OMG! Career Services at State U. was so amazing and helpful!” Not once, in twenty-five years!

My Experience with Handshake

Recently, I was hiring a couple of recruiters for my team. We have had great success hiring new grads, we have a great university (Michigan State) in our backyard, so I was like how do we post a job for MSU students to see. Handshake has entered the chat.

The MSU Career folks said get on Handshake it’s easy! Which was mostly true, any idiot can figure out how to get on a site and register themselves. But using Handshake to recruit becomes a different story. First, we are a “recruiting agency” so right off the bat Handshake hates us. Plus, Handshake works off of a “Trust” score to get schools to work with you, which seems super fishy!

I wanted to hire someone directly for my company, not a client. We are a good employer. Good culture. Good pay. Local. Etc. Doesn’t matter, our “Trust Score” is low. How do we increase this Trust Score, I asked? Go to this one page and read a bunch of stuff that won’t help you at all! That is all. Can I just pay you some money and we stop this nonsense?!

The way it’s supposed to work is I have to reach out to a school and ask to be able to post a job and have access to their students. But the schools don’t know one employer from the next, so they rely on this “Trust Score” but no matter what you do, your score doesn’t really move that much. I’m assuming it would move if I paid them money, but that was the one thing I didn’t try!

I actually had local schools reply back and said because of your trust score we have a policy not to post your job! This is particularly hard for small employers who don’t have much activity. Thankfully, most schools would let you in if you made a personal plea and explained the issue. Still, this is a pain in the butt! This isn’t a good experience for anyone involved, the employer, the schools, or the students trying to get jobs.

Don’t take this as a slam on Handshake, it’s not! At least they are attempting to build something that is better than showing up on 500 campuses and doing traditional job fairs! The biggest problem is they left the Career Services still in charge! (BTW – I reached out to Handshake to try and get some help with this, I’m kind of in the space! No one would help, besides sending me to the same lame talking points on how to increase your trust score.)

There has to be a better way!

You would think because of the pandemic someone would have figured this out, and I’m sure even the folks at Handshake could figure this out if they had willing participants at the college and university levels. I’m still a bit salty that LinkedIn just didn’t do this because I’m guessing they had the size to just roll over career services and actually make something that works great for both students and employers.

The reality is employers are trying to recruit like it’s the 2000’s. Students are trying to get jobs like it’s the 2000’s. University and colleges are still trying to help like it’s 1970, and the technology companies are trying to find some sort of weird middle ground to keep them happy, but at least give students and employers something to work with.

Well, it doesn’t work. It sucks.

We (the recruiting industry overall) should be better than this. University and college career services should be better than this. We should have one global database for graduates and upcoming graduates to see all the jobs and internships, and for employers to see all the potential student candidates, and allow them to interact.

Instead, we play this game of who has the power, and who wants to make money on whom, and in the end, the students and employers are the ones paying the price.

Is there a way out of this mess?

I think the only way out of this mess is for students to recognize one brand as the place to go. The problem is, they don’t. If you talk to most university students about where they should go find a job, the answers are all over the board, and they mostly take direction from those at the university who are paid to help them.

A brand like Google or Apple might be able to break through the noise and stop all of this mess, but they are like any other company, there just isn’t enough money in it. I do think 100% of organizations would pay to have access to something like this if it was all-inclusive. Get every single public and private college to put in their students, give them a cut of the money based on being a part of the system, and everyone is happy.

I have yet to speak to one corporation’s Campus TA team who thinks the current situation is good. It’s a giant sh*t show, and university Presidents and Boards have no idea how bad it is.

Okay, rant over, that’s as long as a chapter in a book. Thanks for attending my Ted Talk. Now Fix the Damn Thang!