Can We All Just Get Along?

03/08/2016 09.50 EST

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Civility – its formal definition is politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. Have you noticed the lack of civility getting worse by the day? I know I have. Some examples I’ve observed recently include presidential candidates verbally attacking one another, incessant road rage at all hours of the day, bullying on social media and colleagues or friends sending emails with a nasty, abrasive tone. Need I say more?   Stress can lead to negative actions and consequences, eventually taking a toll on how we interact with each other. With this pressure constantly surrounding us, how can we learn to manage it in our professional and personal environments?   I am not an expert on civility, nor do I think I have all of the answers. However, I am a self-proclaimed optimist, and some solutions stick out to me because I think in positive terms. Based on my experience, here are some easy ways to deal with negative stress through civility:   Think twice before you speak. As our mothers taught us, if you don’t have anything nice to say – don’t say it at all. If you are tired, stressed or just annoyed, don’t react right at that moment. Walk away and give yourself some time to process the situation. By taking a break, your response will almost always be more measured and level-headed. As the saying goes, “kill them with kindness.” Nasty comments or actions become elevated when you rise to the bait that a...

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

02/04/2016 01.02 EST

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The digital age has truly become a playground for the recruiting industry in terms of our ability to find information. Pre-internet, there was an entire research industry dedicated to providing recruiting agencies with background information on potential candidates, including names, ages and a sliver of insight into what those people did for a living. It was a lengthy and expensive process. Today, as a skilled research amateur, I can personally find equivalent information in a concerted hour or two in front of my computer, and often for free.   We are all out there: our professional information can be found on LinkedIn, our personal lives on Facebook, our opinions crystallized on Twitter, our wants and desires on Pinterest, and our biases anonymized (sometimes badly) on reddit and 4chan. Whitepages will tell ages and marriage details, while Instagram makes birthdays and anniversaries clear. And, if you think Snapchat isn’t data mining your information, I’d say you’re naïve. It’s all out there for anyone with the time and inclination to look. This is a recruiter’s playground.   I’ve outlined in a previous blog how digital access to all of this information has made recruiters lazy. That’s because a large preponderance of professionals in our industry don’t go much beyond exploiting this access to contact information. They become direct email purveyors, spamming inboxes with undifferentiated messaging to the same effect and results of a credit card campaign. However, there’s a small subset of search professionals who really know how to...

Hong Kong Meeting

10/22/2015 02.46 EST

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I’ve just returned home from a global IIC Partners meeting which was held in Hong Kong this year.  We had three days of meetings with our partner firms from around the world, and spent a lot of time talking about talent, leadership, executive search and executive assessment.  There were 35 firms participating in the conference from around the world:  18 from Europe, the Middle East and Africa; 6 from Asia Pacific and 11 from the Americas.   I’m always struck by both the similarities and differences in our work across the globe, and I learn a great deal from our discussions of best practices, industry trends and new developments in our field.   Here are some observations and takeaways gleaned from the three-day meeting:   The Rise of Digital. One of the presentations focused on the explosion of digital tools that impact the executive search industry. Although our firm uses every one of the ten tools discussed, over 40% of the firms report that they don’t use social media resources at all.  That was a shocker to me. The world of retained executive search is diversifying. Many firms spoke about their executive assessment practices and the development of market mapping tools.  This is particularly true of firms in Europe, where retained executive search seems to be a bit less prevalent. While every firm is obsessed with how to provide the highest quality services in the shortest amount of time, there is a growing sentiment that excellent work...

I really can’t wait to see social recruiting at its best. Until then…?

07/01/2015 03.11 EST

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I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the current crop of social recruiting experts out there are simply full of it.  In a vacuum, this statement is going to delight one of my partners, who routinely rejects any application of ”science” to the “art” of retained search (yes, we know you had to walk ten miles barefoot to school every day, Grampa John).  However, I believe that social recruiting, and the creative use of current and future applied technologies, will have a huge impact on talent acquisition and the way we engage with the individuals we want to join our companies.  But here’s the thing:  I just don’t think the people leading the charge at the moment are very good at it.   I’ve reviewed the published lists of social recruiting gurus and the bios of speakers at talent acquisition and human resources conferences.  From these sources, it would appear that the two most significant qualifications required to be anointed a guru are: “I tweet a lot!” and “I have a ridiculously large number of LinkedIn connections!”  This, my friends, is a very low bar.  However, the demand for social media expertise is high, and if you tweet more than your clients then, to them anyway, you are an expert.   I equate the current state of the burgeoning social recruiting consulting industry to the state of retained search in a booming economy.  Just about anyone can throw out a shingle and make a quick buck...

What I Learned About Holiday Cards This Year

01/07/2015 04.26 EST

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I’ve been knocking around the world of work for more than 35 years now, so I feel qualified to make blanket statements and sweeping generalizations about plenty of things with only limited facts.   Holiday cards just aren’t what they used to be.   This year, I received no more than five actual holiday greeting cards.  Five years ago, I bet I got at least 40.  I don’t think I am any less popular than I was back then, and my office location hasn’t moved so I think something else is afoot – and that something is digital greeting cards.   I will just come right out and say that I think most of them are lame, not at all creative, and so politically correct that I’m not even sure what I am being wished.  For the first time this year, I received several cards that said “Happy Everything.”  I am not making this up.   The other problem with digital holiday cards is that their nature is dependent on the device on which you read them.  I received an e-card from a large public accounting firm that appeared to be a bare brown tree in a field of green.  I kept clicking on the picture on my PC but nothing happened – it remained a bare brown tree.  Never wanting to miss a chance to take a shot at the managing partner of the firm, a friend, I immediately sent him an email complimenting him on...

To Share or Not To Share

09/02/2014 11.28 EST

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Nothing annoys me more on LinkedIn than to find that one of my 1st connections has blocked the ability to view their connections (beyond the ones we have in common).  I don’t know why people do this; in my mind, it directly contradicts the social networking purpose of the site.  It also tells me that people are much less discriminating of whom they connect with on LinkedIn than they are of whom they connect with on Facebook.  Most Facebook users don’t limit the ability of their friends to view their other friends.  So, why do people do it on LinkedIn?   First, I really don’t think people give much thought to responding to a LinkedIn request.  I know I don’t, beyond checking to see how that person is connected to people already in my network.  If they are a 2nd connection, particularly one where we share several folks in common, I automatically add them.  If they are a 3rd connection, I give it a little more thought, but more often than not, I add them as well (unless it’s obvious that they are cold selling something).  Let’s just say I’m not conducting thorough due diligence.   LIONS I occasionally debate whether I should be more critical when accepting connection requests.  After all, LinkedIn does advise you to only add people to your network whom you trust and would be comfortable referring to other connections.  And, as I noted in my first-ever blog, referral functionality decreases exponentially when...

Reverse Mentoring

05/20/2013 08.50 EST

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I attend the HRPS Global Conference every year and there are always one or two presentations that have great nuggets of information.  The presentation by Debi Hirshlag from Workday was one of those presentations.   Debi discussed the future of work and talked about Bob Johansen’s “Ten Leadership Skills for the Future.”  While all of these future skills were interesting, the one that resonated most with me was “immersive learning ability.”  This is essentially the ability to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar environment and learn from it in a first-person way.  What does this mean, exactly?  In other words, how do you adapt to new working environments as well as learn new technologies or novel approaches to your work?  Instead of just reading about them, how do you really learn them?   I have a good example: Social Media.  Several years ago, our colleagues at Buchanan Public Relations introduced us to social media.  We had already been fairly entrenched in using LinkedIn but none of us had touched Twitter.  With their help, we dove into this unknown world.  It was like learning a new language!  How do you say anything substantial when it is limited to 140 characters?  What in the world is a hashtag?!  Kathleen McFadden at Buchanan PR, who is much younger and wiser, slowly but surely taught me how to use Twitter and, in turn, demonstrated how to build my personal and professional brand.  Debi Hirshlag calls this process “reverse mentoring” – learning new...

To Those of You Who Are Shirtless on LinkedIn

05/06/2013 10.45 EST

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College students learned years ago that they should be careful when choosing which photos they include on their Facebook pages.  Drunk at a frat party?  Probably not.  Helping poor kids learn how to read in an inner-city church?  Bingo.   So it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect that a mid-career grown-up might exercise a bit of judgment when selecting the photo to use for their LinkedIn profile.  After all, the site’s tagline is “The World’s Largest Professional Network.”   Our firm holds an annual seminar for soon-to-be college graduates to help them figure out how to conduct an effective job search.  We do it as a nice gesture to our clients who wring their hands at this time of year, wondering how they are going to get junior off the payroll.   Every year, we place more emphasis on the power of LinkedIn, advising these new grads to have a substantial profile on the site.  With the National Association of Colleges and Employers recently reporting that employers expect their level of new-grad hires to remain flat, those entering the workforce can better market themselves with a fully optimized, professional-looking profile.   In order to give these new grads examples of profile photo do’s and don’ts, we logged into our own accounts to survey our connections’ pictures in hopes of finding some questionable choices.  It turned out to be easier – and more surprising – than we’d anticipated.   First of all, we stopped counting the number of...

If a Tree Falls in the Forest…

04/15/2013 10.43 EST

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For the past month (at least), I have been harassed daily (at least) by my colleague who is responsible for posting blog entries on our website.  Her job is not to write them – even though she has about 30 IQ points on me.  Instead, her job is to annoy me, occasionally with good humor, to be sure we regularly post interesting blogs related to our firm and the world of talent acquisition.   It wasn’t her idea to bug me; we asked her to do this.  It’s part of her job.  But she does embrace it with more passion and relish than anything else she does here.   But that’s not what I want to write about.  I want to write about why she has had to bug me for a month.  Sure, it takes time to write and I am constantly swamped.  It also requires that I come up with interesting topics – easier some days than others.   But I’m starting to think the reason I’ve been dragging my feet is because I don’t think anyone reads what I write.   Blogs are supposed to be one of the central social media marketing strategies for firms like ours who are trying to get noticed without spending tons of money on advertising.  We like that the blogs give us a chance to sound like the experts we are, maybe educate people along the way, and create a positive, attractive brand presence in our field.  Plus...

The Rules of Engagement

03/01/2013 01.44 EST

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This article originally ran on TLNT.  To view it, click here.   Let’s face it.  The active candidate has become a second-class citizen.  Conventional wisdom says that there continues to be a glut of in-transition executives in the job market.  Just post a job on Monster.com and you can expect an avalanche of resumes to bury your inbox.  Or, set your corporate recruiter loose on LinkedIn and within a few days, she will be sitting in your office with a stack of profiles from which you can choose your next VP of [insert job title here].  The only catch is that the vast majority of these candidates are either out of work or have something going on in their current companies that is pushing them out the door.   That’s not to say there are not a number of talented executives in the active candidate pile.  There are.  You can’t have the type of economic upheaval we have experienced over the past several years and not some very talented professionals be displaced.  But, do you really want this demographic to make up the entire applicant pool for a critical senior hire?  That answer comes down to making a choice between whether you are looking for the best talent available or the best talent period.   In my opinion, this is where the talent acquisition function is currently failing its client base.  Many have mistaken the increase in candidate visibility for an increase in candidate quality.  That’s simply not the...