Reverse Mentoring

05/20/2013 08.50 EDT

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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 EDT

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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 EDT

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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 EDT

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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...

4 Ways Companies Can Fix Succession Planning in 2013

01/29/2013 04.15 EDT

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Succession planning is a bit like flossing your teeth or going on a New Year’s diet – you know it is a good idea and that it can only make you healthier, but it is difficult to muster the discipline necessary to follow through on the commitment.   Most companies take a similar approach toward building a succession plan – or not building one.  The majority of organizations today lack an adequate pool of internal candidates ready to replace the executives who are slated to be promoted to the next management level or retire.  By first addressing the shortfall they have of candidates for key positions in the organization, companies can then begin to develop a comprehensive succession plan.   To stick to that New Year’s resolution of finally mapping out your organization’s successors, follow these four simple steps to get started.   Find out who cares about succession planning.  If the Board, the CEO or division leaders don’t care about succession planning, don’t waste your time trying to drive a program.  If you want to get them interested, remind them of some spectacular successes (or failures) in succession planning that had a real effect on the company.  If they still aren’t interested, update your resume and start looking for a new job. Conduct a “succession audit.”  Don’t panic – this does not have to be a big deal.  For each critical position in the organization, identify two types of employees who are already on staff: those...

Don’t Call Me a Headhunter

11/02/2012 04.13 EDT

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Headhunter. The definition of a “headhunter” is someone who seeks, collects and preserves the heads of enemies as trophies or ceremonial objects. This is not what I do and I certainly hope it’s not something my competitors do.   Whenever I attend an event and meet people for the first time, most ask me what I do for a living. They are confused when I respond that I am an “executive search consultant.” Most of the time, I receive glazed looks in response to this term and almost always need to follow it with a more detailed description: “I am hired or retained by corporations to help them recruit for specific executive-level positions.” This is typically followed by more confusion until I give in and say I am a headhunter. Then the vacant stare shifts into clear recognition – “Oh, now I understand what you do!” – followed by a description of their job-seeking friend “Joe” and why he’d be perfect for my client. Now I am just frustrated. That is not what I do either.   While referrals are welcome, I wish people would understand the core differences between executive search and headhunting:   We work with clients on very specific assignments. Even though “Joe” may be a great guy, if I don’t have a search assignment that matches his background, it doesn’t matter. We are not a placement agency. We are a consulting firm that partners with companies to identify talented executives who have the...