Tech Companies Should Move To Detroit!

You might have seen this chart recently over at Business Insider:

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 11.10.07 AMWe all probably got this. It costs a TON to live in San Fransico! Way too much. You’re crazy if you want to start a tech company in San Fran.  So, what do all those super smart folks do? Yeah, stay west coast and just go a bit more north to Seattle, still expensive, but seemingly cheap in comparison to San Fransico!

It’s one of the main reasons Austin, TX became a hotbed of tech startups and headquarters about a decade ago. Relatively cheap to place to live. Access to a major university (Univ. of Texas), which gives you young, talented, tech savvy folks. Nice weather.

Here’s the magical formula to picking a place to house your tech company:

  1. Access to talent.
  2. Place people want to live.
    1. Good weather.
    2. Hip vibe.
    3. Affordable. (not necessarily an important factor – but increasing in importance!)

Give this magical formula, I’ll give you the number 1 destination of new tech startups!


Well, actually it’s Ann Arbor, which is about a 15-minute drive from Detroit’s International Airport, a Delta hub and one of the nicest airports around. Which means direct flights to almost everywhere. Home to the University of Michigan and great talent pipeline (Michigan State is also 50 minutes away). So, you have two Giant universities and roughly 80,000 students within easy driving distance.  A ton of other smaller universities within a 50-mile radius as well (Eastern Michigan, Wayne State, Oakland Univ., Univ. of Toledo, etc.).

It’s super cheap to live. Ann Arbor is a great college city, with access to the bigger Metro Detroit area within a thirty-minute drive. Access to someone of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. Toronto is an easy, cheap flight, or 4-hour drive away.

Okay, you won’t get super nice weather. You’ll get four seasons, midwestern work ethic and so much more for your money you won’t understand why anyone ever went west to begin with!

Oh, I hear you. What about the talent?  The Detroit Metro Area is one of the world’s largest engineering centers in the world! You know about all the auto companies, but what you don’t know is that Google has been growing an empire in Ann Arbor for years, and doing it quietly because they don’t want others hoarding in on the secret!

So, yeah, Seattle is way cheaper than San Fransico. You only have to pay 35% of pay towards rent. In Detroit, you only have to pay about 15% of your pay towards rent!

Detroit! The new San Fransico! We even have a bridge!

Recruiting is a Team Sport

I was recently listening to one of my favorite podcasts, HR Happy Hour, with Steve Boese and Trish McFarland, with their guest Daniel Chait, the CEO of Greenhouse. Greenhouse is the one the hottest ATS platforms on the market and Steve attended their user conference. (I didn’t go because I wasn’t invited, even though I sang their graces over a year ago on the world renown T3 – Greenhouse!)

Daniel made a comment on the podcast that was really good:

“Recruiting is a team sport.”

He’s absolutely right! One thing I tell Talent Acquisition leaders is that you need to establish this up front when you start a new position. During the interview, find out who “owns” recruiting in the organization you’re thinking about going to. If they say, “you!” or “recruiting does”, or anything in those terms, run!!!

Recruiting in not a function of one department.  The answer I love to hear is, “the hiring managers own recruiting”. I can work with that!

Great recruiting only happens when it’s a priority by all parties involved. I tell TA pros that recruiting will happen with or without you. If an organization fired everyone in Recruiting today, they’ll still find ways to hire people tomorrow!  So, find ways to add value to the talent attraction that needs to happen with each hiring manager.

Recruiting is a team sport, but you can’t have a bunch of ball hogs on the team!  This isn’t hero ball!  I want my organization to recruit like Golden State shares the ball! Everyone’s involved. Everyone’s excited and bought in. Everyone understands the importance of each other’s contributions.

Greenhouse built their software with this philosophy. An ATS that easily gets everyone involved in the right way. This isn’t a one department function, Recruiting is an organizational function.

Check out Daniel on the HR Happy Hour Podcast and on Twitter, he’s one of the few HR/Talent Tech CEOs that will actually engage people on Twitter. He even occasionally will tweet at me and tell me he disagrees with my posts, which I love!  (which is probably why he didn’t invite me to his user conference…but, really, I’m over it…I still like their tech regardless…maybe it’s because he’s a UofM grad…)

Who is responsible for the lack of good workers?

It’s parents. First and foremost I blame parents. Parents are the number one reason you can’t find good workers because parents want their kids reach higher than they did. Thus, if Mom or Dad worked in a blue collar profession, they want their kids to look down on that work. It’s subtle. Most parents don’t come out and say “what I do is bad”, it’s more “I want you to be better than me”, by doing this, you’re telling your kids, what I do isn’t worthwhile.

It’s teachers.  It’s our job to prepare you for college! No, it’s not, it’s your job to help prepare them for life after high school. That doesn’t have to be college. When did we turn public education into college preparatory and not life preparatory? Public Education has gotten so bad that the only paths a kid has after high school are college, the military or prison.

It’s the government – oh there’s a popular one.  The government has subconsciously told kids that working with your hands isn’t worthwhile. How? They no longer give public education the funding that is needed to teach skilled and semi-skilled trades in schools. When I went to junior high and high school I took wood shop, metal shop, electrical shop, automotive repair, a cooking class, etc. I was told by my government, as part of my education, that these skills were important to society.

It’s the media. Besides “Dirty Jobs” which is played off as a goof reality show, what show makes you feel like working in a job that makes your hands dirty is a worthwhile and valued career in our society? None. Even if a manual labor type job is portrayed, it’s usually portrayed in a comedy sense of look how screwed up my life is for working this job. Our kids are blasted by the media constantly to only look up to people who work in white collar professions.

We all stopped valuing hard work. Dirty work. Difficult work. Unpretty work. Not socially acceptable work.

We are all to blame.

We need to start telling kids, little kids, it’s okay not to be a doctor or lawyer or banker. That being a plumber is a wonderful, fulfilling career. Being a line cook, creating someone’s meal, can be a really good job. Building some’s car is a noble profession.

Somewhere along the way, we stopped telling our kids that ‘working’ is a good thing, and started telling them, you need to go to college, because ‘working’ is bad. We have generations of kids being raised that think ‘working’ is bad. We should strive to get jobs where you don’t ‘work’. You should manage. You should lead. You should facilitate.

Not work, lord no. You might get your hands dirty. You might get a stain on your trousers. Someone might see you working! We are not a working-class family! Worst of all? You might actually like it! You might like fixing something. You might like building something. You might like creating something.

I miss a time when working was as valued as education.  When you could look up at your Mom and Dad and be proud of them for working at a job that brought them home dirty, but brought them home for dinner.

Michigan Recruiters Conference #MiRecruits @MiRecruits

Over a year ago Jim D’Amico and I started talking about how cool it would be to have a Recruiting only conference right here in our great state of Michigan! We had some models of how some others did it, primarily Paul DeBettignies out of Minnesota, and we decided to give it a try.  HR has thousands of conferences! National, state, local. TA has somehow become the redheaded stepchild of HR! Jim and I love redheaded stepchildren so we wanted to change this!

The first one was held on Friday March 13th in Lansing, MI, onsite at Accident Fund who was a great corporate sponsor for our first event.  We had over 100 corporate talent acquisition leaders and pros come in from all over the state. We had a great speaking group that included Paul and Jennifer McClure. It was everything we hoped for and more.

The 2nd Michigan Recruiters Conference will also be held on  Friday October 2nd onsite at Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids, MI. This time we’ve added more speakers including Kris Dunn, Lori Fenstermaker, David Dart and Troy Farley.  As was the first event, the intent is to help develop and educate corporate talent acquisition pros and leaders to be great.

You can follow the action on the Twitters at #MiRecruits. Also, you can check out my Periscope throughout the day and I’ll bring some Live action to the social stream as well – which you can watch following me on Twitter @TimSackett and download the Periscope App on iTunes or Android.

If you’re just learning about this for the first time, I apologize. The reality is, the demand has been great. We sold out both shows without really even trying.  Turns out, Corporate Talent Acquisitions Pros like development, and we all don’t have very many options! We hope this is a great option, that is close to home.  Send me your contact information and I’ll make sure you get added to the contact list for the Spring 2016 conference. (

So, What’s next? 

Our original idea was to try and do this event twice per year. We keep it cheap through great sponsors like Velocity Resource Group and CareerBuilder, as well as corporate sponsors (who provide us with space to hold the one day Conference/Summit) like Accident Fund and Spectrum Health.

That means the next conference will be held in the spring of 2016 and we would love to have it in the metro Detroit area – we just need to find a corporate sponsor, who has a large conference/ballroom type space that can fit a couple hundred people.  Hello, GM, Quicken Loans, Ford, Chrysler, Blue Cross/Blue Shield/ Detroit Medical Center/ Etc.!?  If you have interest in being a corporate sponsor please reach out to me directly, I would love to answer any questions you might have. I promise, we try and make it painless! Plus, it’s huge boost to your employment brand within your market!

You can check out more at!

THE TOP 20 BRANDED HR & TALENT PROS: Meet Jim D’Amico from Spectrum Health

Let’s face it – Fearful of the spotlight and conservative to a fault, HR pros generally aren’t the best examples to look towards when it comes to professional branding. Kris Dunn (Kinetix RPO, The HR Capitalist) and Tim Sackett (HRU Technical Resources, think that needs to change.  That’s why they created this series – The Top 20 Branded HR Pros(sponsored by the team at Glassdoor).

KD and Tim searched the globe for HR Pros who used the tools at their disposal (writing, speaking, social and more) to brand themselves in the HR space, but limited the results to actual practitioners in the areas of HR, Recruiting and Talent Management.  No consultants, no vendors. They found out well-branded HR pros who are actual practitioners are hard to find.  

Tim and KD are running the Top 20 they found here on the HR Capitalist and at  No rankings, just inclusion in the list and some notes on why.  There are at least 20 well-branded HR Pros in the world.  These are their stories. 


Jim D’Amico was born to work in Talent Acquisition.  He’s the kind of guy who strikes up conversations with you while you wait in line at Starbucks hoping no one will strike up a conversation with you!  The great part of about Jim, is once he does strike up that conversation, you find out you just had a pretty cool conversation!

Jim is the Director of Talent Acquisition at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI.  Jim is personally responsible for branding his TA team, “The Best Damn Talent Acquisition Team on the Planet!”  To back up this assertion, ERE voted Spectrum Health the #1 Talent Acquisition team of 2015.  Jim is also the co-Founder of the Michigan Recruiters Conference, held bi-annually across the state to help other corporate TA shops develop into greatness!

Check out Jim’s player card:

Glassdoor Top 20 - Jim D'Amico


Jim has 15 years of experience in the Talent Acquisition game, with both domestic and international assignments.  His current role in healthcare supports an employee base of 24,000 and his team will hire over 5,000 in 2015 alone!

Jim’s branding game is anchored around his writing and speaking.  He’s a regular on the ERE speaking circuit, and a frequent contributor to the ERE writing side as well.  Jim also has been active and involved in many local grassroots efforts to support recruiting as a function in the communities he lives.  Most recently with the Michigan Recruiters Conference, but he also has worked on similar projects in West Michigan and Minnesota as well.

Jim is the poster child for being a Brand Ambassador. I mean, seriously, who comes in and names their TA team “The Best Damn TA Team on the Planet!” Jim Does!  That takes a ton of confidence to know that while we might not be ‘that’ yet, we are going to be!  ERE’s award this years solidified the title.

A fun fact about Jim?  He moonlights as a standup Comic!  He also does a ton of volunteer work in around Grand Rapids, MI.  Basically, branding, professionally and personally is who he is.   If you get a chance to catch him on Recruiting/HR speaking circuit make sure you do, he’s well worth it. Otherwise, connect with him on LinkedIn, you can try on Twitter (he’s a not a huge Tweeter), and don’t even try on Instagram!


The Top 20 Branded HR Pros is brought to you by Glassdoor, who invites you to attend the Annual Glassdoor Employer Branding Summit on September 25th, where a stellar speaker lineup of industry experts and thought leaders exploring the intersection of employer branding and talent acquisition, the candidate experience and employee engagement. 

Tickets are sold out, but wait!  You can attend the livestream online featuring studio coverage with Kris Dunn and Tim Sackett by registering here (click to register).  Fun and games are sure to be a part of that coverage.


The “New” Skilled Trades

Google started it.  Don’t they start everything. You can thank Lazlo for all of this when he came out and said Google no longer requires a college degree to get hired into many of their technical roles. Now, we are beginning to see specialized training schools popping up to begin to ‘train’ the next gen workforce in what will be soon considered the new skilled trades of the future.  From CNBC:

Students at the New York City-based school pay $15,000 for four months of coding instruction. They leave with the ability to develop software, and according to Flatiron School, 99 percent of students get a job with an average starting salary of $70,000 a year.

Flatiron founders Adam Enbar and Avi Flombaum said they believe coding will be a form of literacy in the future.

“Just like you need to learn how to read and write, even if you’re not going to be a journalist, you need to learn how to code and wield technology if you’re going to be successful in the world,” said Enbar…

Some of Flatiron’s students share Enbar’s frustration with higher education. Jen Eisenberg was studying computer science as an undergraduate at Michigan State University, but stopped after her first semester when her father asked if she could build him a website.

“I realized I couldn’t build anything tangible … it’s more theory and algorithms,” Eisenberg said.

After completing Flatiron’s program, Eisenberg is a software engineer at Paperless Post, an online stationery shop. She helps write the instruction, or code, that makes the website function.

For years I’ve been telling high school students are getting ready to graduate that public education has given them two paths in their life:

1. College

2. Prison

That’s it!  Years ago we did away with skilled trades curriculum in public schools. The programs where kids learned how to weld, fix cars, pull wire, sweat pipe, build things, etc. Now, you go to high school to do well on a test and hopefully that test will get you into college. If it doesn’t?  Good luck, you’re basically on your own, which for most eighteen year olds usually ends up in prison.

So, I’m actually excited about these ‘new’ skilled trades!  Learning how to code, test, program, design and build web apps, etc.  Our reality is we have kids who don’t want to go to college. Traditional school environments are not their cup of tea!  They can’t wait to get out of high school, and the last thing they want is to go back to a similar setting in college.

America is in desperate need of vocational programs that start when kids are around seventeen.  Companies are begging for help in the traditional skilled trades, as well.  On both ends of technology, those who turn a wrench and those who click a mouse, need more trained individuals in the workforce, and at both of those ends, a full four year college program isn’t the answer.

Does this mean no one needs to go to college any longer? No.  We still need all kinds of college grads.  But, we can’t forget about all the others, and we have, for more than a decade.  Skilled trades, traditional and new, are the lifeblood of innovation.  You can design the greatest thing ever, but eventually, someone has to build it.  Someone has to get their hands dirty.  Someone has to put in the hours to make it a reality.

Sounds like a job for someone with a skilled trade.

The Public Education Summer Vacation Scam

In about 2 weeks my 3 sons will be off of school for the summer.  That means my wife will lose her mind for the next 12 weeks as she has 3 smelly bodies running in and out of the house all day, lying around and doing what boys do. Which at this point I think entails: eating, leaving their stuff lying around, eating, watching TV/Playing Ebox, eating, texting, eating, sleeping, eating, repeat.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t understand the American public education system any longer.  When I was a kid (old white guy rant begin now), I loved it! Three months off of school during the only time in Michigan that is nice! What a great plan!  As a parent/adult, I ceased believing this is a wise plan.

Will someone please explain to me why in 2015 we need to have kids off of school for 12 straight weeks?

Here are the answers I get:

– We need the kids to work the crops! (Not since 1930 was this a real reason!)

– We need the kids to work at the resorts for the tourism industry! (No, you don’t – you need the kids off school so parents will take their kids on vacation and spend money at your resorts)

– Kids need a break to let their brains reboot! (I won’t even justify this with a response.)

Here are the real answers:

– The Teachers Unions won’t negotiate a full year schedule because teachers love having the summers off.

– Some parents are stuck in this 1950’s notion that their kids need 12 weeks off in a row because they got it, so should their kids. (Do you see the pattern of entitlement beginning to take place…)

– Politicians don’t have the guts to do the right thing, so they stick with what is currently in place, even though it was developed over 80 years ago when their was an actual need to have kids off during the summer months.  (This reason could be used for most of what ails America.)

So, here’s what I know: Having kids home for 12 straight weeks sucks for families.  Childcare is a nightmare – many kids forced to stay home by themselves or under watched, plus the additional cost is bad for families.  Kids unlearn way too much during this time off, forcing reeducation at the beginning of each year – which wastes time and resources.

What can ‘we’ do it about since politicians refuse to do anything about it?  I think companies can solve this.  There are some issues companies have with America’s education system right now.  Companies feel kids are not prepared for the workforce, don’t have work ethic, aren’t being taught work-related skills, etc.  Instead of waiting around for the world to change, I think American Corporations can change the world ourselves.

Here are 3 things companies can do to help out Moms and help out themselves:

  1. Job Corp.  Yep, good old fashion put kids (14 yrs old and above) to work learning and training on skills companies will need in the future.  No, I’m not talking about child labor – I’m talking about starting kids out in an environment where they go to work with their parents and learn how actually to work.  Want to see some real change in America?!  Imagine having to take your 15 year old with you to work each day for 12 weeks!  Take your child to work – Everyday!  That’s Big Change!
  2. Community volunteer programs. Companies rotate paid sabbaticals for the 12 weeks where the company workers lead teams of kids on community based projects.  Help elderly fix up their homes, clean up parks and waterways, beautify our cities, clean up vacant lots, etc.  Can you imagine the change that would happen if for 30-40 hours per week, for 12 weeks all of the kids eight years and up in America were working across the country volunteering?!  That is an unimaginable change that would be so cool!
  3. Change Public Education.  Corporations need to voice strongly their displeasure with the current public school scheduling and demand a change.  Full year schedules. Longer days.  Kids will still get time off – just spread those weeks around the year where it makes better sense to learning.  This can be done.  We just have to let politicians know this by not funding their campaigns if they won’t support this change.

What would you do to help out families facing the annual summer break?

This One’s For You Poppi

(Picture Above – Poppi, my Mom (far left) and three of my Aunts)

My Grandfather fought in WWII in the U.S. Navy.  After he died my Grandmother gave me his medals and pictures. I was about 13 years old. I still remember the feel of the medals and yellowing of the paper and edges of the pictures. I got older, learn to drive, went of to college, and for the life of me I’ve never been able to find that envelop of artifacts.  It pains me that I lost them.

It’s not that those pictures and pins remind me of Poppi (my name for my Grandfather), he never talked to me about the war, or I never listened, I was a kid. I remember him taking me fishing, grabbing my knee to tickle me and how he loved my grandmother.  As kids we would all wear his ‘giant’ t-shirts as pajamas to bed when we stayed over, and you could smell the Old Spice on them.

Poppi would tell my Grandmother how much he loved her as he drifted off to sleep. All of us grandkids stacked up like cordwood on the floor right outside their bedroom, the door always open.  We would giggle as he seemed to not stop telling her until we all seem to finally drift off to sleep. It left a deep impression on me on how he truly loved this woman with his entire being.

It made me love her more. As a kid you look up to your grandfather and if he loved her that much, I better try to love her at least half that much.  He was the best example of how to love someone I have had in my entire life.

So, on this Memorial Day, I remember the only soldier I ever truly knew, my Poppi.  I’m so happy he came back to marry my Grandmother, and it makes me think of all those kids who never got a chance to know their Poppi.

United We Win

Labor Unions are Dinosaurs

You already know I’m not a fan of labor unions.  I just don’t see the point to them in today’s society.  They were needed once in our history. They are no longer needed.

Employers, for the most part, in today’s information is everywhere world, can’t afford to treat employees bad.  It doesn’t mean that we can’t find stories of this happening, it does, but employers face major ramifications for going off the rails.

Regardless, the data is even showing us how ineffective labor unions really are. From BusinessInsider:

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its annual figures on the number of employee strikes and employer lockouts for 2014. Only 11 work stoppages, including both strikes and lockouts, involving at least 1,000 workers began in 2014, tied with 2010 for the second lowest number on record.”

labor unions

Employers and employees no longer have an appetite for strikes.  Employers can’t afford them, and employees can’t afford them.  At no other point in the history of the world have employers and employees worked so well together. Both, have too much to lose.

When you reach this point in an economic relationship, labor unions cease to have relevance.

Labor unions, now, seem to be more of a burden on employees, the people they represent, than they are to the actual employers.  In the past couple of decades you actually see more employers inviting unions into their shops, not because they love unions, but because they see unions as a way to control employees more effectively.

Contracts work both ways.  When unions are strong, like they were fifty years ago, contracts work to the favor of the employees. When unions are weak, like they are now, contracts work to the benefit of the employer.

Are unions completely dead?  No.  Could they be?  Yes.  The existence of unions, while hugely important to American labor history, no longer have a useful existence in a 21st century employment market. If anything, they are now holding employees back.


Stories from the D: How Loyal are your Employees?

By now almost the entire world has heard the James Robertson story. He is the Detroiter who walked 21 miles to work, one-way.  It sounds like a story your grandparents told you about how they had to walk to 2 miles to school, in the snow, uphill, both ways!  The difference is, this story is true:

“James Robertson, 56, of Detroit, walks toward Woodward Ave. in Detroit to catch his morning bus to Somerset Collection in Troy before walking to his job at Schain Mold & Engineering in Rochester Hills on Thursday January 29, 2015. James walks 21 miles daily round trip to his job.Robertson’s round trip commute requires a bus ride each direction as well as nearly 21-miles of walking consuming 22 hours of his day before beginning again throughout the work week.”

He leaves his home in downtown Detroit at 8am to make sure he makes it on time for his 2pm shift, and he’s always on time.

“I set our attendance standard by this man,” says Todd Wilson, plant manager at Schain Mold & Engineering. “I say, if this man can get here, walking all those miles through snow and rain, well I’ll tell you, I have people in Pontiac 10 minutes away and they say they can’t get here — bull!”

walking man


Why does he do this?  For a job that pays $10.53 per hour.  Why does he have to walk?  First, his 1988 Honda Accord broke down and he couldn’t afford to fix it, he also struggled with the high cost of car insurance. Second, Detroit might have the worst large city public transportation in the nation! Why doesn’t he just move closer?  The house he lives in, with his girlfriend, was inherited and they own it outright.  Why doesn’t he just find a job closer to home? There aren’t many, that are good, and he’s loyal.

More loyal than 99.9% of your employees!

This story will have a happy ending. A local university student heard read this story and started a GoFundMe account to help get James a car to drive to work.  As of today, that account has raised over $275,000 and both Honda and General Motors have come forward to offer him a free car!  People love to give to someone who isn’t asking for it, but deserves it.

For all the bad stories we hear about of lazy employees, people who don’t want to work and live off welfare, we forget that there are more people who get up every single day and just want to work.  You have more loyal employees than you have disloyal.  We should be celebrating those people.

You know I love the fact this story came out of the D.  Detroit got hit hard during the recession, but we are bouncing back.  We are doing that because of people like James Robertson.  He’s someone you should tell your kids about!