Friday, June 20, 2008

Polyanna shut your trapper... Abe had it right!

I was sent this craigstlist posting by an old coworker (as in I don't work with him anymore... not referencing his age folks) and was truly inspired by it's honesty. To sum it up for those too lazy to click the link: an owner of a cat has realized they are no longer benefiting from the cat/owner relationship and they want to give it away. Instead of posting misleading content like a photo of the cat cooking breakfast, or an exerpt from the Sign Language for Cats book inspired by Mr. Wiskerson himself, the owner tells it like it is.

In today's society we use terms like "prior owned" when referring to a USED late model Datsun and line our check out stands with airbrushed actresses on gossip magazines all in the name of "putting our best foot forward." I think that's why this posting was so refreshing. It makes me wonder how brutal honesty might change my profession if embraced by candidates and employers...

Candidate with the following skills and qualities seeks new opportunity:
- Makes it a point to round down when clocking in and round up when clocking out to the nearest half hour
- Considered forgetful by past employers, and posseses the ability to formulate an excuses at the drop of a hat.
- Habitually steals food out of the common frig, but always leaves one bite left as to not be rude.
- Quick to take credit for other's work. Put me in left-field when Barry Bonds is up to the plate and I'll be the reason he walks back to the dug out. (For those who don't follow baseball Barry Bonds always pulls the ball so the left fielder can pretty much sit down when he comes up to the plate)

Company seeks candidate with the following qualities and skills:
- Willing to take on additional work in the event of layed offs or reorgs with no expectation of salary increase.
- Embraces after hours calls from manager for "special projects."
- Considers the phrase "not in the budget" underutilized and completely satisfying
- Enjoys morning runs to local donut shop and fetching coffee

I might give some serious thought to my brutally honest "strengths and weaknesses" on my commute home in the typical friday parking lot our department of transportation deems a "highway." I am thankful for the opportunity my commute gives me to reflect on the day and just spend some quality time by myself. WHO AM I KIDDING?!?! I am going to leave the sugar coating for my breakfast cereal and call the commute what it is. A slow and painful battle between patience and rage and if I hear that "Bleeding Love" song more than once on the ride home I might just hiss. That reminds me... I've got to see a man about a cat!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Work my fingers to the bone..."

"What do you get? Boney fingers!" I know this old country song for one reason and one reason only. As a child my father would sing it over and over and when he got to "Boney Fingers!" he would take his knuckles and attempt to tickle me the only way a father knows how to tickle... painfully.

Those words repeated over and over in my head recently as my inspiration for my next blog post hit me like the treadmill greets the pecks of the guy in the new Voice Activated Ford Sync Commercial. It's okay that you laughed at that!

Onto the blog... you hear the phrase "work-life balance" thrown around a lot these days in the corporate environment. Company websites boast flex schedules and work from home to help their employees achieve this idea. I read an article last week about an advertising firm that allowed new moms to bring their newborns to work for the first six months. How many technological devices have been invented to help employees organized their lives and attain this harmony that so few can accomplish? Try googling "work life balance training" and see the links to company after company willing to take your money in exchange for insight into their 7 step process to total work-life domination.

I personally think companies and employees are making this too difficult. Companies are taking on the responsibility of helping employees manage their lives when if they would simply give them an appropriate work load the employees might find themselves empowered to handle it themselves. I listen as employees recount their 1AM email sessions, or their 45 minute phone interview conducted while driving their kids to school and I question if VPN and hands free are truly the work-life balance godsends our corporate websites are claiming them to be. I wonder if our spouses and kids are thrilled to have us at every soccer game and awards banquet with our little blue lights in our ear providing the pyrotechnics for the event, or if they wouldn't rather us just be fully there for half of them. Maybe to show up and leave the blackberry in the car and not be quizzed on if the venue has free wireless access.

It seems the more we dump on our employees the less likely they are to connect at home regardless of what device we give them. As a company we try to caution them from doing too much from home and even go so far as to dictate they are to take a day off. Isn't it a bit contradictory to expect them to stop working for 24 hours knowing good and well if they do they are simply postponing the workload and stress. Afterall, we trained them fully on procrastination just last month!

Too much work can also lead to and increased probability of erroneous output. I know when my "to do cup" is running over the last thing I need to be tasked with is something immenant and important... like brain surgery. So we are setting these employees up for failure and when they fail and are reprimanded who hears about it? Their spouse! It is packaged up, taken home and presented at the dinner table over a bed of mixed greens and balsalmic vinegarette. Don't worry spouses... you won't have to hear about it long because you will disrupted by a familiar buzz and your broken husband or wife excusing themselves from the table to take the call. Ahhhh work-life balance!

So in this day and age if you overwork yourself day in and day out what do you get? More money and more stress! A love of either could leave you happy with your results so you choose. Afterall, it's your work-life.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sticks and Stones

"... will break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I recall as a child unleashing this clever phrase at the resident 3rd grade bully during recess only to get clubbed up side the face with a tether ball shortly after. I don't recall what said bully told me to invoke my mouthy reaction, but I do vividly remember feeling like I had just run into a glass door after the ball on a rope struct my face. It would appear in this instance, Sticks and Stones: 1, Words: 0. When it comes to companies however, I think most would take a poke in the eye with a sharp stick over a filling buffet of libel and slander most days. Here's why...

On a daily basis I speak with candidates from a wide range of backgrounds and industries and there is generally one question I consistently ask that has the potential to be more loaded than a Fat Albert's baked potatoe. The way they answer "Why are you looking to change jobs?" usually gives me some good insight into the state of the corporate culture at their current employer. These candidates peel away the "Best Company..." awards and really get to the heart of what is going on inside and how it is effecting them. They offer up the information as if I am a confidant and that leads me to believe anyone who has shared oxygen with this person probably is aware of what I have just been made privy to. I try to use my best judgement on whether I am dealing with an eternally disgruntled employee or if there are serious issues going on and then at that point formulate my own opinion of the company and then I react based on it.

If a candidate is not a fit for what I am looking for and I know of another solid company hiring I will often times coach them on how to get into their recruiting process. My Who's Who List is constantly altered by the feedback I recieve from my standard question stated above. I am not saying my lack of referals can bring down a company with a ticker symbol, but if as an outsider I am not willing to give a referral then think about the ramifications of employee referrals? Internal referrals are proven time and time again to be the best source for quality of hire so why put this method in jeopardy by not meeting your employees needs.

Granted you will never please EVERYONE, but the best way to shut up the disgruntled employees is to be a good company. Don't foolishly probe them with the childish sticks and stones line. If you do get ready to be called pancake face the rest of the day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"A Change Will Do You Good"

If Sheryl Crow says it, it must be true. I can confirm the first cut really is the deepest and everyday truly is a winding road so why not take the pop star's advice? That being said, last week I accepted a new position with a wireless company as a corporate recruiter and so far so great!

The first week I spent meeting with hiring managers and executives learning the company's vision, strategy and processes. This will prove to be incredibly valuable down the road once I start recruiting full force. I realize this is fairly common place when training a recruiter, the individual tasked with selling potential candidates on the company, but do companies adopt some small scale variation of this for ALL employee orientation? They should!

It is certainly incredibly important for Nathan New Hire to know which child is required to hand over for his yearly medical insurance deductable or what time the yoga instructor arrives at the onsite gym, but equally important is getting him on fire with company history and vision. (Warning: this only works for companies who add value to society. Online child pornography rings need not trouble themselves with walking new hires through their core values.)

By equipping new hires with company knowledge such as history, strategy, and culture an organization is empowering every employee to be a company ambassador. All employees hold a piece of the company life line in the form of employee referrals. As a recruiter I have a lot more confidence in an employee referral than a cold candidate I find on a job board. There is an element of dependability that only resides in a candidate who has had someone else vouching for them. An employee however is not going to refer someone to a company they are not excited about.

Employee contentment of course goes beyond a company pep rally on the first day and also depends heavily on ensuring all you present is true and experienced once they get comfortable in their postion. The first dominoe however must be a solid employee orientation. Whatever content you choose whether you incorporate exectutive speakers or a powerpoint on the company timeline, just do something! All those who have stake in the success of the company will thank you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Recruiter Seeks Man Made of Tin

Ahhhh salary negotiations. I know what you are thinking... that tree looks familiar. Yes, I have broached this subject several times and unfortunatley I am still hunting for the map that leads me to contentment when a salary negotiation is over with. The last one I must say took a toll on me that would make the Texas Highway Department envious. The ingredients in this candidate vs. employer face off were greed and pride and well we all know how that ends (see Hungry Hungry Hippos post). After I surveyed the results, one imagine popped in my head and I think my goal for this post is to explore why...

I have to admit I have never seen The Wizzard of Oz in it's entirety so I feel a bit uncomfortable making this reference. After all, I am of the opinion you shouldn't be able to use the phrase "Catch 22" unless you have read the Joseph Heller novel, and thanks to a great high school english teacher, I have. I am going to buck my own opinion here though because what I know of the Tin Man, it's a reference that is right on.

So here's what I know about the Tin Man... all tin and no heart. If I delve a bit deaper into his tin exterior and what exactly that means I find that tin is a substance that has a high resistance to corrosion. Simply put, it is going to take a lot for the Tin Man's surroundings to pearce him and if they do, all they have waiting inside is an abyss. That's right, all that hard work to get to our dear tin man, and your grand prize is NO HEART! And that is why ladies and gentlemen, when I find myself with a ring side seat to a battle between candidate and company, with a lot riding on them finding a middle ground, I want the anatomy of a tin man.

I am being a tad dramatic. Before I head to the plastic surgeon with a photo of a man with a funnel on his head I should probably attempt to make some rational internal changes. Any advice out there?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dwight's Interview for No.2

Every recruiter has interviewed an "Andy" at some point. One of my favorite dialogues so far on The Office...

Dwight: What is the best color?
Andy: White, because it contains all other colors.
Dwight: Wrong. Black. It is the most dominant. How do you make a table?
Andy: You make a chair...but you don't sit on it.
Dwight: What is the capital of Maine?
Andy: Capital of Maine is Montpelier, Vermont, which is near Ithica, New York, where I went to Cornell.
Dwight: Okay, also, moratorium on Cornell talk. Don't wanna hear about it. Forget your personal history and learn the history of this company.
Andy: Should not be a problem, I minored in history in the Ivy League school which I attended.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"In My Mind I'm Gone to Carolina"

Employees around this great nation wait the appropriate 8 hours before heading out to the parking lot to survey the workday's door dings on their cars, but often times mentally clock out long before the traffic begins to pile up on the interstate.

I've been wronged, trampled on, exploited so 6 hours in I'm going to catch up on my favorite blogger. After all... if questioned by the authorities I can confidently say I am doing "market research." I often wonder what disgruntled employees used to pass those last couple of hours when the internet was just a dim lightbulb in the mind of our former Vice President. Regardless of what non related work activity the employee chooses to take on, this mental disengagement from one's work has long wreaked havock on productivity... or has it?

Here is an article on the direction our country is heading in regards to attention span. Do you think there's a coorelation? Are employers expecting too much out of their employees requiring 8 hour days with an hour lunch break, or are those who mentally check out early from time to time slackers who have a misplaced view of entitlement?