The Tim Sackett Commencement Speech!

It’s that time of year when universities and high schools go through graduation ceremonies and we celebrate educational achievements.  It’s also that time of year when you get bombarded with every great commencement speech ever given.  There is clearly a recipe for giving a great commencement speech.  Here are the ingredients:

1. Make the graduates feel like they are about to accomplish something really great, and not just become part of the machine.

2. Make graduates believe like somehow they will be difference makers.

3. Make graduates think they have endless possibilities and opportunities.

4. Make graduates think the world really wants and need them and can’t wait to work with them.

5. Wear sunscreen.

I think that about sums up every great commencement speech ever given.  Let’s face it, the key to any great speech is not telling people what they need to hear, but telling them what they want to hear!

I would like to give a commencement speech.  I think it would be fun.  I like to inspire people.  Here are the main topics I would hit if I were to give a commencement speech:

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 keep giving you stuff.

3.  No one cares about you. Well, maybe your Mom, if you had a good Mom.  They care 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.

5.  Don’t listen to your bitter parents.  Almost always, the person who works the hardest has better outcomes in anything 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.

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.  It doesn’t make you less of a person.

10. Twitter is not what the majority thinks. Twitter are the 10% on the fringe, right and left, don’t confuse what is trending on Twitter with reality, it’s not. The vast majority of America is still Moderate. Smart enough to see a topic probably has at least two sides and willing to understand both and form an opinion.

11.  Wear sunscreen.  Cancer sucks.

So, do you feel inspired now!?  Any high schools or colleges feel free to email me, I’m completely wide open on my commencement speech calendar and willing to give this speech in a moment’s notice!

The Past-Employee Walk of Shame!

I’ve lost jobs and I’ve called old employers to see if they would want to hire me back. I’ve usually gotten a response that sounded something like, “Oh, boy would we want you back but we just don’t have anything. Good Luck!”  Many of us in the talent game talk about our employee Alumni and how we should engage our Alumni but very few of us really take true advantage of leveraging this network.

I was reminded of this recently when a friend of mine took a new job. You know the deal, shorter drive, more money, growing company, and oh, boy, just where do I sign!? The fact was, it was all they said, shorter drive, more money and they were growing, but they forgot to tell him was our operations are broken beyond repair, you will work 7 days a week and probably 12-14 hours per day because of the mess we have, but keep your head up it’s the only way you won’t drown here!

So, now what does he do?

He already had the going away party, bar night out with the work friends with the promises to do lunches and not get disconnected, packed up, and unpack the office into the new office.  Let’s face it, big boy, you’re stuck! Not so fast. He did the single hardest thing an employee can do he called his old boss after 7 days and said one thing, “I made a mistake, can I come back?”

Luckily for him, his past boss was a forward-thinking leader and so this past Monday he did the 2nd hardest thing an employee can do he made the “Employee Walk of Shame”.

You can imagine the looks from people who didn’t know him well, “Hey, wait a minute, didn’t you leave?” Having to tell the same story over and over, feeling like he failed, like he wasn’t good enough to make it in the new position.

HR plays a huge part in this story because it was HR who can make this walk of shame a little less rough. Let’s face it, it is different. You just don’t leave and come back as nothing happened. Something did happen, there was a reason he left and that reason isn’t going away. A transition back needs to be put into place even though he was gone seven days.  It’s not about just plugging back in, it is about re-engaging again and finding out what we all can do better so it doesn’t happen again.

It’s also about making sure you let those employees who you truly want back, that they are welcome to come back (assuming you have the job) and not just saying that to everyone. There are employees who leave that you say a small prayer to G*d and you are thankful they left! There are others where you wish there was a prayer you could say so they wouldn’t leave.

Make it easy for your employees to do the Walk of Shame, it helps the organization, but realize they are hurting, they are embarrassed, but they are also grateful!

Should You Be Promoted Every 3 Years?

ZipRecruiter Co-Founder and CEO, Ian Siegel thinks employees should be on a consistent cadence of being promoted, or there is a problem. Basically, he said it should be every three years. Do you agree?

Early-career employees should aim to get a promotion around every three years, according to Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter. “If you aren’t moving up after three years, there is a problem,” he said.

Let’s say you start your new job right out of college at 22 years old.

First job title (Individual Contributor): HR Generalist 

Second job title at 25 years old: Senior HR Generalist

Third job title at 28 years old: HR Manager 

Fourth job title at 31 years old: Senior HR Manager

Fifth job title at 34: HR Director 

Sixth job title at 37: Sr. HR Director 

Seventh job title at 41: Vice President of HR

I’ve told this story before but I had a goal coming out of college that I wanted to be a Vice President by 35 years old. I spent the early part of my career chasing titles. I became a Vice President at 38. Upon becoming a VP at 38 I immediately realized it didn’t matter at all!

Titles are organizational-size specific. If you work for a 250 person company (or a bank or a startup) becoming a VP of whatever probably isn’t too hard. If you work for a company that has 25,000 employees becoming a VP is going to take some time. Also, are you really a Vice President when you have 2 direct reports, or when you are responsible for an organization of hundreds or thousands?

The reality is titles are basically meaningless to everyone except yourself.

I think Ian’s math actually works out for large organizations. If you start working for large companies, the three-year promotional cycle probably works out in most normal economic environments for above-average performers who meet the following criteria:

  1. Have the desire to continually move up.
  2. Have the ability and desire o relocate.
  3. Have a specialized skill-set or education.
  4. Have a willingness to go cross-functional and learn all parts of the business.
  5. Have the ability to play the political game.

You don’t get promoted for just showing up and doing the job you were hired to do. Every idiot in the company can do that. Showing up doesn’t make you promotable.

There are probably a few things that can help you move up faster than I think most upwardly mobile professionals don’t know. You need to make your boss know that you want to move up and you’re willing to work with them to make that happen. Working with them doesn’t mean trying to push them out, it means you will work to push them up.

You need to have a developmental plan that your boss, and maybe the boss above them, has signed off on. This plan is your responsibility, not their responsibility. If you think it’s your boss’s responsibility to make your development plan and push for your promotion, you’re not someone who should be promoted. Own your own development, with their guidance.

Understand that three years is an average. You will be promoted sometimes in six months and sometimes in six years. In some career paths you’ll be promoted three times in three years, but then not again for nine. The right amount of patience is critical in getting promoted. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my career was jumping companies for a title because I thought my current boss wasn’t going anywhere and three months after I left he was promoted and told me I was in line to take his spot. I loved that job! I had no patience.

Being promoted has nothing to do with time and everything to do with you putting yourself in a position to be promoted.

How long should it take a candidate to decide on a job offer?

When you make a candidate an offer, how long do you give them to tell you they want the job or not? 24 hours? 3 days? 1 week? Immediately?

For two decades I’ve been in the camp of a candidate should be able to tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ immediately, or you (the recruiter and hiring manager) did something wrong in closing! But, I think I’ve changed my stance on this, if “fit” is really important for the position, your culture, etc.

Here’s the deal, if the job and/or company fit is really important to your organization. The candidate should take as long as they need to, to make sure that your organization is the one for them. That might mean they need to finish up other interviews, do more research, go through counter-offers, etc.

So, if that takes two or three weeks, so be it. The fit is critical for you and you actually want the candidate to take their time with this decision.

I feel so strongly about this, I think you should actually make candidates wait 72 hours after you offer them the job, to give you an answer! Yes! You won’t accept an acceptance from them until they’ve taken 72 hours to really think about the job, the new boss, the organization, everything!

Why wait 72 hours if they already know!? 

A “cooling down” period will give them some time to get through the infatuation period of getting the offer! It will give them some time to really think about your job, their current job, other jobs they might be considering. This time is important because too often, too many people get that offer and at that moment everything feels so awesome!

After a couple of days, they come down from the high of being desired by you and start to think clearly, and all of sudden you’re not as pretty as you looked two days ago, or you’re even more pretty by playing hard to get.

But what if a candidate gets cold feet by this technique? 

That’s a real concern especially with historic unemployment in many markets and fields. If you force a candidate to wait 72 hours there is a good chance someone else might come in and offer them a job!

Yep! That actually would be awesome if that happened, because then you would really know! Do they love you, or did they just fall in love with someone else!? Remember, this isn’t for every organization. This is only for organizations where fit is critical to your organizational culture.

If a candidate gets cold feet by another offer or by waiting 3 days, they don’t really believe your organization is the one for them. They don’t believe what you have is their dream job or organization. Also, if you get cold feet by having them wait, you don’t really believe fit is important!

So, how long should it take a candidate to decide if your job offer is right for them? 

There is no one right answer. Each of us has our own internal clock to make those decisions. If you force a candidate to decide immediately upon an offer, that speaks to your culture. If you let candidates decide on their timeline, that also speaks to your culture.

In a perfect world, I still believe if the process works as designed, and everyone pre-closed as they should, both you and a candidate should be able to make a decision when the offer is placed on the table. But, honestly, how often does our process work perfectly?

Hit me in the comments with what you believe is the proper amount of time you should give a candidate to decide whether or not they’ll accept your job offer?

The #1 Thing You Need To Do To Find The Job You’ve Always Wanted!

Last week I got a call from an old work friend. He wanted to have a “virtual” lunch or cup of coffee.  He just left a position and was in transition.  Not a bad or negative job loss, just parted ways.  When you get to a certain executive point in your career, it’s rare that bad terminations take place. It’s usually, “Hey, we like you, but we really want to go another direction, and we know you don’t want to go that direction, so let’s just shake hands and call it a day, here’s a big fat check.”

Executives get this.  For the most part, there aren’t hard feelings, like when you were young and lost a job. I usually find that the organization the person is leaving from are super complimentary, and usually takes the blame for the change.  Executives in corporate America are like NFL coaches. You get hired with the understanding that one day you’ll be fired.  It’s not that you know less, or aren’t going to be successful in your career, it’s just that the organization needs change, and you’re part of that change.

Welcome to the show, kid.

My friend decided that he was going to find his next position not through posting for positions online, or trolling corporate career pages, he was going to have lunches.  About two per week, with past work friends. Let’s connect, no pressure, we already know each other and I want to catch up.

You see, in 2021 you don’t find great jobs by filling out applications in ATSs and uploading your resume to Indeed. You get great jobs because of the relationships and personal capital you’ve built up over your career.  Having lunch and reconnecting turn on a relationship machine. I believe that people, innately, want to help other people. When a friend comes to you with a situation, and you have something to offer or help, you will do that.

The problem is most people who are looking for great jobs don’t do this. They lock themselves in their home office and apply to a thousand jobs online and get upset when nothing happens. Great jobs aren’t filled by ATSs and corporate recruiters.  Great jobs are filled through relationships. Every single one of them.

Want to find a great job in 2021?

Go out to lunch.

Covering Up a Career Hickey

I had a person work for me at a past job in HR.  She performed the HR cardinal sin of sins, she shared personal, confidential information with an employee outside of HR.  My problem was, this person was a high performer, an outstanding employee, she had a frustrating, weak moment, and did something you just can’t do in an HR position.  This is what we call a Career Hickey. Sometimes you can survive these hickeys and cover them up, and continue to work as normal.  Many times you can’t.

So now, this Hi-Po has a Huge Hickey.  Interestingly though, this Hickey can’t be seen when you look at their resume or interview them in person, but it’s a Hickey they can’t get rid of.  So, barring a life-turtleneck how does one cover this puppy up?

It’s interesting because I think that probably the best of us have a hickey or two that we would rather not have our current or future employer know about.  Sometimes they’re big-giant-in-the-back-of-a-Chevy-17-year-old-I-will-love-you-forever hickeys and sometimes they’re just oops-I-lingered-a-little-too-long type of hickeys. Either way, I would rather not expose my hickeys and have to worry about how this will impact the rest of my professional life. And here’s where most people drive themselves crazy.

As HR Pros I think it’s important for us to be able to help our organizations determine the relative value of individuals.  This person was a rock star at ABC company, did something wrong, and couldn’t maintain that position any longer with ABC because of said incident, and lost their job. Now we have a chance to pick up a Rock Star (and probably for a discount).

The question you have to ask is not could we live with this person if they did the same thing here?  Because that really isn’t the question, you already have that answer is “No.”

The question is: do we feel this person learned from said wrongdoing and is there any risk of them doing it again? 

You might come to the conclusion, “yes, they’ve learned, and yes, there is potential they might do it again” (let’s face it if they did it once, they’ve shown they can do it, so there’s always a risk), but it’s a risk we are willing to take.

So how does someone come back from a transgression at work? The answer is that they have some help.  Eventually, someone is going to ask the question: “why aren’t you with ABC Company anymore?”  They’ll give you the canned answer they’ve been developing since the moment they lost their job. If you’re a good interviewer, you won’t buy the first answer (I mean really – so you decided it was better off not to have a job – is what you’re telling me?!) and you will dig to see the hickey.  Hickeys are funny in that you really can’t take your eyes off of them, once you see them, but for those who can get by the hickeys, you might just find a great talent who is grateful for the second chance.

But, you also might find someone who just likes being in the back of that Chevy and getting Hickeys. You’re the HR Pro though and that’s really why your company pays your salary – to mitigate risk vs. the quality of talent your organization needs to succeed. So, you have to ask yourself, can you live with a Hickey?

Hiring Managers! Job Seekers are only judging you on two things!

If you’re out looking for a job it usually feels like you’re being judged on every little thing you do, has done, or potentially will do in the future. Interestingly enough, a Harvard professor discovered you’re actually only judged on two things:

“People size you up in seconds, but what exactly are they evaluating?

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has been studying first impressions alongside fellow psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick for more than 15 years and has discovered patterns in these interactions.

In her book, “Presence,” Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:

 – Can I trust this person?

 – Can I respect this person?

Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively, and ideally, you want to be perceived as having both.

Interestingly, Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.”

Trust and Respect.

I’ll add this is probably the two things you’re being judged immediately following the judging that gets done on your overall appearance, which is almost instantaneous! Let’s face it, we like to hire pretty people.

Once you open your mouth, you’re being judged on how well can I trust what this person is telling me, and can I respect their background, work ethic, where they came from, etc. Most of this is based on the person doing the judging, not you. I know, that sucks.

How do you help yourself?

1. Try and mirror the energy of the person who is interviewing you. If you come in all calm and cool, and the person who is interviewing is really upbeat and high energy, they’ll immediately question you as a fit.

2. Do research on who you’ll be interviewing with and try and get some sense of their background and story. Try and make some connections as fast as possible in the interview. This will help build trust and respect with this person. In today’s world, it’s not that hard to find out stuff about an individual. If HR sets up your interview, just politely ask who you will be interviewing with (the name).

3. Be interesting. Have a good story to tell, one that most people will find funny or interesting. Not too long. A good icebreaker to set off the interview on a great tone.

I tell people all the time. An interview isn’t a test, it’s just a conversation with some people you don’t know. We have these all the time. Sometimes you end up liking the people, sometimes you don’t. If you don’t like the people you’re interviewing with, there’s a good chance you won’t like the job!

How to get promoted to the job you want in 2021!

I read an article recently where a “former” Google HR executive shared his wisdom. (editor side note – are all Google HR executives “Former”? Have you ever heard from a “current” Google HR executive? Why does Google have a hard time keeping HR execs?) The dude’s name is Justin Angsuwat and he’s the current VP of People at Thumbtack, which not ironically does not make thumbtacks but it would awesome if they did. And he gives his inside Google advice to Business Insider on how to get promoted. Are you ready?
Why is this promotion important to you? Justin Angsuwat
Um, what?! Seriously, that’s your advice Justin? Okay, I’m sure Justin is brilliant, he’s Australian and worked for PwC and Google, and let’s face it, American’s will hire any idiot with an Australian accent, but I’m sure Justin is not an idiot, but I hate the “I’m going to answer your question with a question” because that’s how ‘real’ leaders do it. What Justin is saying is most people have no idea why someone wants to be promoted. We just get this idea in our head that’s what we are supposed to do, so as leaders we need to figure out why, because most don’t really care if they get promoted, they just want you to pay attention to them! Okay, Justin, I’ll agree with that. Now tell me why there are so many former Google HR executives!? What do you really need to do if you want to get promoted?
  • Tell your current boss you want to get promoted and why.
  • Tell the boss that you’ll be under when you get promoted that you want to get promoted and why. This is a must-do if your current boss is a tool and won’t raise you up to the organization.
  • Get a specific development plan around what the organization needs to see from you to get promoted. If you can, try to get some realistic timing around the plan. Understand, 90 days, is not realistic. 3 years, might be. I find most people who want to get promoted believe they have already put in the work, but those above them don’t see it that way.
  • Do the work and be patient.
  • Be a positive advocate for your boss and the company. Yes, you might even cheerlead a little. Don’t ever underestimate the power of positivity on your ability to get promoted. Executives hate promoting assholes. Right, Justin?
I teasing Justin, but I actually really like his question. Way too many people chase titles but don’t really know why they’re chasing it. They get there and it feels unsatisfying because the reality is it’s not what they expect it to be. Getting promoted because you want more money, probably isn’t the reason you really want. It’s legitimate, but you won’t be happy. Wanting to lead teams or functions is better, wanting to help others reach their goals is even better, wanting to help the company reach its mission and you’re all in on the company is probably the best. Most of us don’t even think about those things, though.

5 Magic Phrases that Will Instantly Make You More Likable in an Interview!

We’ve heard for decades that most interview decisions are made within seconds. Someone meets you and pretty much sizes you up in those first few moments. I think that’s mostly correct, but every interviewee still has that time to change hearts and minds.

Sure, you came in and immediately made a verbal gaffe or smelled like old lady feet, that doesn’t mean you’re dead in the water! You can still make a comeback, but it really depends on your personality and how you engage with those in the interview.

Here are 5 magic phrases if you used at the right time and context can make you exponentially more likable in your next interview:

1. “Wait, can you say that again, I want to write that down?” 

Of course, you need to use this phrase when appropriate. Let’s say a leader in the interview says something about how they like to manage, or something about their leadership style, etc. It should be quotable or something that would need writing down. But the phrase is very flattering to the person it’s said to.

Alt versions:

“I love that idea! I’m going to write that down so I don’t forget it.”

“That’s interesting, I like how you do that, I’m going to write that down so I remember.”

2. “Thanks for asking…” 

Again, needs to be used in the right context. “So, tell us about yourself.” Is not a good time, to say, “Thanks for asking, well let me tell you about me!” That seems corny at best! But, many times in interviews we get the, “Do you mind if I ask…” This is when it’s a perfect time. “No, in fact, Thanks for asking that question…”

3. “Sorry for interrupting, I’m a little nervous during this interview and can get really excited to respond.” 

This works well when you know you probably jumped the gun, but the interviewer was let you go on anyway. To be able to finish your thought, but let them know that you know, you probably stepped in too soon. “I’m sorry, I think I interrupted what you were going to say…” Also, especially in a setting when you’re a male being interviewed by a female, you don’t want to come across as mansplaining or hogging the floor. Being able to acknowledge you’ve interrupted shows high self-insight and gives the floor back to the person who should have it.

Alt versions:

“Sorry for interrupting, I’m just really into this topic!”

“Sorry for interrupting, I think I didn’t let you finish your question or thought.”

4. “I’d love your input on…” 

In every interview, usually towards the end, there is always the, “do you have any questions for us…” A better way to approach that as an interviewee is to use the “I’d love your input on…” I’d love your input on how you believe “X” technology will evolve or change your business? I’d love your input on how you think my skills can be used within your department? From a communication standpoint, asking for input connotates conversation and peer level. It brings the interview back to the level of professionals having a conversation.

5. “I usually dread interviews, but this has actually been fun.” 

Now, it might have been torture, but you don’t want your captives to know that! Letting your interviewers know you had ‘fun’ when interviewing them lets them know you feel comfortable. Much of the interview process is about “do we and they feel comfortable together”. Just as you worry about do they like me, many interviewers are worrying about the same thing! You are saying, whoever I am, I match you guys and I could get used to this.

 

Career Advice My Mom Gave Me!

My past away a couple of years ago, but I’m constantly reminded of advice she gave, or more accurately, things she told me, but at the time I probably blew off as stuff your parents tell you that you believe they have no idea about! Sound right, parents!?

I had someone come into our office recently to interview. Right before this person came in, I was driving into our parking lot and it struck me that every single vehicle in the parking lot was newer and clean. A bunch of nice-looking cars! How stupid is it to notice something like that?

That’s when I remembered my Mom telling me that when you go on an interview pay attention to the cars in the parking lot. She said you want to work at a company where the employees drive nice cars because that means they pay well. If there are a bunch of junkers and a few nice ones, only a few people are getting paid well!

And there it is – Mom’s advice that I thought was stupid at the time it was given, and all of sudden it was pretty accurate!

I’ve given out a lot of career advice over the years. Some are probably based on my own experience, and some were given to me by all those mentors in my life (parents, grandparents, respected leaders, and peers).

Here is some of my favorite career advice:

Don’t chase titles, chase responsibility. I chased titles and I missed out on some great career outcomes by not being patient enough. All along I had the responsibility I wanted, and that should have been enough.

Culture always wins. We think as leaders we can just come into any company and make the culture our own. You can’t. You can make the culture something new, but it will be a mix of old and what you bring to it, it will not be just yours entirely.

Find ways to stand up for your trusted advisors, publicly, and never break that trust, privately. Professionally, you are the measure of your circle of trust. You will have times when you can demonstrate that trust both publicly and privately. Make sure you do both, as often as you can.

Don’t be a disgruntled employee, ever. If you are underpaid or underappreciated, just leave. Being disgruntled will follow you in ways you don’t even know. Being a strong employee that leaves to pursue other employment, will not follow you.

Hire people who are so talented, they scare the sh*t out of you. I want to be surrounded by people who should have my job. That’s how I will continue to push myself to be better and actually create the greatest outcomes for all involved. I’m scared because they are so good, they will take my job unless I get better! One of my mentors once asked me, before she hired me, “Are you better than me?” The only way she could hire me was if I said, “Yes”.

What is the best career advice you have been given by someone close to you, that at the time you might not have agreed with, but over time you’ve come to appreciate?

Hit me in the comments!