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    25 slides on recruiting, no pictures, lots of bullet points, read it anyway

    If you are having problems explaining the recruiting process, process step participants and owners, the overall goals of the recruiting program, and even the desired outcomes to your team, your hiring managers, or even your leaders - then I think you would do a lot worse than to share and walk them through this simple, 25-slide deck from legendary Silicon Vallley VC Daniel Portillo. (the slides are embedded below as well, email and RSS (are there any of those left?), will need to click through).


    The money lines from my point of view (assuming you are way too busy to look at 25 slides) with some SMB comments after each point

    Slide 5 - The goal of recruiting is more than just a repeatable process, it is about crafting an overall experience.

    SB - Definitely needed, and definitely requires that you have the time to take a step back and be really thoughtful and mindful of the overall process/experience. This is more than 'we should treat rejected candidates well', in fact it is probably more about how to treat highly desired and hard to find candidates in a way that respects their time and career aspirations.

    Slide 7 - When 'setting up' the candidate, make sure you understand what will the person work on the first 3, 6, 12 months? Why is it interesting?

    SB - If you can't 'sell' what is interesting about the job, no one with a decent other option, (including staying at the job they have now), will give you a second thought. If the job isn't inherently interesting, then there had better be some other compelling factors you can push to the center of the table, (insane comp, telework, lots of stock, etc.).

    Slide 9 - Who are the decision makers? Parents, wife, kids, etc…

    SB - Does anyone, I mean anyone, take a new job without at least talking it over with someone close to them? Do you factor that in at all? You probably should.

    Slide 15 - When in the 'evaluation' stage - Make sure you ask:  'When have you gone out of your way to do something or learn a skill that wasn’t required?'

    SB - Probably my favorite line of the deck. Speaks to curiosity, ambition, engagement  - all the things we say are important to organizations today.

    Slide 17 - 'Don't hire someone to be the weakest person on the team.'

    SB - I like this one too, and have never seen it before. But you have to think about any new hires impact and effect on your existing team before bringing someone new on board. Being the new guy/gal is hard enough - if the team figures out that the new hire is also not all that talented then you have a flame out waiting to happen.

    Slide 22 - On what kills the candidate experience? One thing is 'People who don't know what the hell they are talking about.'

    SB - This one cuts right to the candidate feeling that their time is being wasted. Everyone you put in front of the candidate should understand the process, the role, and why this candidate in particular is being considered. This is a by-product of companies simply including too many people in the process in what is usually a CYA move set up by someone.

    Slide 25  On compensation for tech talent that have lots of options - 'Companies are essentially paying 2 years ahead of current experience.'

    SB - This one is really simple, but bears repeating especially for 'non-tech' companies that do need to bring in engineers and developers from time to time. You have no shot at competing for the 'top' talent if you don't raise the comp to what everyone in your shop will consider is overpaying. That is just the way this market works right now.

    Ok, that's it from me on this. Take a look at the deck if you are interested and let me know what you think. 

    I'm just happy to see a simple, plain, boring deck full of words and bullet points still be so interesting and compelling that it didn't matter how simple and boring it was.

    Happy Wednesday.


    WEBINAR: Why you shouldn't pick your talent like you did your sorority sisters

    I think the biggest scam going in the HR/Recruiting/Talent game right now is this idea of 'Hiring for Cultural Fit'.

    I've written about it a few times on the blog (most recently here), but the main point I keep coming back to is that 'Hiring for cultural fit' is simply code (and a convenient excuse) for 'Hiring more people that look/act/think/come from/share the same college just like us.'

    I think it takes the focus off of what is usually more important criteria that needs to be considered in the hiring process, AND, it puts HR/Talent pros in a position where they are set up to fail.

    For the geeks out there  - I'd say it is the Admiral Ackbar take on hiring - 'It's a trap!'

    But fear not, O true believers, there is another way out of this trap. And my friends over at Fistful of Talent are ready and able to step in to help you learn how to focus on what really matters when making selection decisions in the hiring process.

    Why is this important?

    Because people have an innate and subconscious tendency to hire the most attractive, smooth-talking candidate when making a selection decision. But having the most attractive pledge class on the block may not always prove to be the best hiring strategy for driving your house’s bottom line.

    That's why FOT'ers Tim Sackett and Kathy Rapp are going Greek this summer with the FOT webinar FOT’s 2013 Rush: Why You Shouldn’t Pick Your Talent Like You Did Your Sorority Sisters, brought to you by the team at Chequed.com.

    Join Join your hosts Tim and Kathy on July 17 at 1pm EST and they’ll hit you with the following:

    1. A deeper look at the old way of hiring paralleled to sorority rush. Skit Day and behavioral interviewing, matching interview polos and Lily Pulitzer-laden ladies, Pref Day and the final offer… sorority rush has bad HR written all over it. But adding more steps does not always lead to the best hire; that’s why FOT is giving you an actionable plan to align your hiring process with your desired candidate profile.

    2. FOT’s complete guide to dumb things your hiring managers do when making hiring decisions — and how to change them. In order to break the mold you have to know what the problem is, right?  We’ll cover items like hiring based on alma mater, handshake, favorite flavor of fro-yo, etc. in true FOT fashion. You guessed it — we’re calling out common biases and aligning them with your favorite Greek characters from pop-culture for easy reference when making your next hire.

    3. We’ll explore the cliché Hiring With Your Gut” and breakdown when that good old standard makes sense, when it’s lazy and when it may get someone fired (for a variety of reasons). While the paddle is optional in this section, not having a defined hiring process tied to an underlying job profile is not. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in this section.

    4. Five rush strategies to end the Stepford Wife plague in your house today. Ready to mix up your pledge class? We’ll show you how to go from the House Bunny to a balanced group of team members in 5 simple steps.

    5. We’ll wrap this webinar by bringing in an industry expert from Chequed.com for a little game of “It’s the freakin’ science, dude.” Hiring isn’t an art—it’s a science. We’ll give you the cliff’s notes on why so you can ace your next hiring exam.

    Forget what you learned in college, and put FOT’s rush system to work at your company for a more balanced team today. Who knows, we may even get crazy with an FOT rendition of Shout to close this thing out right…

    Register today:



    Recruiting the ninth best guy on the team

    Note: Yes I am posting about sports again. If you are sick of it I am sorry, you can quit now and go somewhere else to read ANOTHER post about employee engagement or culture or some such. Tell me truly that you aren't sick of those too.

    In college and professional sports 'stunt' recruiting demonstrations- mocking up team jerseys, creating fake pictures or scoreboard videos with the player in the new team colors, or imagined play-by-play calls of a player hitting a big shot or winning a championship for his or her would-be new team are not really new or all that novel anymore. 

    College teams especially, and sometimes professional ones too, use these kind of demonstrations to try and impress the candidate/recruit, to get them to more clearly envision themselves joining the team, and to play into their egos somewhat - not only will they come to the school or team for the expected reasons, (get an education, make some money, etc.), but they will also achieve their bigger dreams as well - win titles, be idolized, create a legacy - that kind of thing. For big-time and highly sought after recruits these kinds of displays are kind of expected and probably don't do all that much on their own to sway the recruit's decision. After all, once the 5-star high school running back sees about a dozen of these same kinds of pictures/videos from every major college program in the country the effect of any of them is pretty diminished. 

    But where these kinds of gestures can still be effective I think is at the next, or even next-next tier of recruiting - for those candidates that are not All-Stars or Top Talent or whatever expression you prefer. For the players/candidates that might only be solid contributors, important to the overall cause but not the most important factor, perhaps just a little bit in the way of treatment typicall reserved for the big time prospects can be the most effective lever the recruiter can pull.  

    Take a look at this piece, Chris Copeland signs an offer sheet with Indiana after the team Photoshopped him into an ESPN Mag cover on the Indiana Pacers efforts to sign the former New York Knicks and now free agent Chris Copeland - a guy who just broke into the league at 28 years old, and on a good team like Indiana figures to be the 8th or 9th most important player.

    From the Yahoo! Sports piece:

    This isn’t a new exercise, teams have been Photoshopping potential free agents into would-be uniforms as part of a free agent pitch for years, but it’s still cool to see. Chris Copeland has signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, and before doing so the Pacers sent him this gift box (pic at right).

    Copeland is a D-League alum that couldn’t even hook on with some of the better leagues that international basketball has to offer, playing in outposts like Belgium and the Netherlands before catching on with New York as a long range shooter and active defender.

    Indiana’s biggest weakness in its run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals was its depth, and in acquiring both C.J. Watson and eventually Copeland, the team has smartly shored up that pine with players that should fit right into (Pacer Coach) Frank Vogel’s system. 

    Again, not that big a deal, I suppose, teams can and have been doing these kinds of stunts for ages. But what is distinctive in this example is the approach and attention paid by the Pacers to a guy, Copeland, who will almost certainly not be a star on the team, and will not even be a starter on the team. Sure, the actual contract offer ( 2 years for $6.1M) reflects that, but making the player feel as wanted and as needed as a big time recruit with the simple little photoshop magazine cover, (that probably took someone all of 20 minutes to do), shows that the Pacers understand what is important when working with talent.

    There will probably be a few games next season where the contributions of bench players like Copeland mean the difference between a win and a loss. The NBA grind is relentless, and often teams have to get better-than-expected efforts from the 8th or 9th best guys on the team when the stars are not playing well or are tired or someone in the starting lineup gets injured.

    By showing the ninth best guy on the team that he is still important, that he is wanted, that he too, can envision himself on magazine covers the Pacers teach us all a lesson about making talent feel important.

    Even those who are not so-called 'Top Talent.'

    Have a great Tuesday everyone! 


    If you want to understand work, you have to understand email

    I don't care how much your enlightened company pushes cutting-edge social collaboration tools, uses an internal social network like Yammer or similar, or even has set up Facebook or LinkedIn Groups for internal company communication and collaboration - you are still sending and receiving ridiculous amounts of email every week.

    Don't lie like you like to - you have a problem, a bad habit that manifests itself in endless email conversation threads, tapping out five word responses on your iPhone while waiting on line at Starbucks, and conversations that often include questions like 'Did you see my email?' 

    Of course she saw your email. She 'sees' every email. She's just ignoring your email.

    But that aside, for a technology, communications tool, and collaboration medium that we all use so much, we understand and attempt to analyze just how we use email. Sure, we might know how many unread messages are in our Inbox, and how often we need to delete stuff since we are always surpassing some nonsensical IT-imposed storage limit, but aside from that, we don't really think about email and how we use it to get work done all that often (if ever).

    An aside before I get to the point. If you work someplace where you are always going over your email storage limit then you need to consider working someplace else, or if you have any influence over this kind of thing, finding some new IT people that will make that problem go away. No one should ever run out of space for storing work-related email. That's it. And I won't argue with anyone on that point because you are wrong.

    Ok, back to the post.

    If you are a user for Gmail for work or even for mainly personal reasons, a new project out the MIT Media Lab can help shed some light on how you actually use Gmail. The tool called Immersion, creates a really cool visualization of your email activity, and more importantly, it helps illuminate the sub-networks and collaborative teams within. An example of the network view that Immersion creates, from my Gmail activity, is below, (and some related stats are along the right side of the post).

    Click image for an even larger view

    Immersion uses color coding, network connection links, and size/distance of the nodes to help understand with whom you are most frequently emailing, who else is likely included in those conversations, how often they occur, and the topics or projects that are being worked on.

    On my chart, I can see pretty clear delineation between messages about HRevolution, Fistful of Talent, HR Technology, as well as personal and fun stuff as well. But the key point is that the Immersion tool offers a little bit of a window into how I am actually using email - the one technology that I am still sad to say dominates many workdays.

    You probably can't leverage the Immersion tool, (yet), if you are using a corporate, MS-based email backbone. But you can put some pressure on your IT pals to find some tools and methods to help you and your organization better understand how and when and in what manner the number one collaboration technology in your organization is being used.

    They have time believe me. And make sure you tell them to quit with the 'Your mailbox is over the storage size limit emails.'

    Everyone ignores them.


    The Celtics, Coaching, and Compensation

    The Boston Celtics shocked the professional sports world earlier this week when they named Butler University Men's Basketball Coach Brad Stevens to be their new Head Coach, replacing the recently departed long time coach Doc Rivers.

    The signing of Stevens as the C's new on-court leader was notable and surprising on several levels:

    • None of the NBA writers or pundits seemed to have Stevens named as a potential replacement for Rivers or even in a fuzzy, 'sources say' kind of way
    • Stevens has no prior NBA experience as an assistant coach or a player, the most common kind of experience possessed by first-time NBA head coaches
    • There has been a recent history of failure at the NBA level for a number of very high profile college coaches, i.e. success in college coaching hasn't not been carrying over to the NBA
    • Stevens, at 36, immediately becomes the youngest head coach in the NBA
    • And finally, while at Butler for the last six seasons, Stevens' teams had success, including reaching the National Title game twice, (losing on both occasions), he had not reached the 'top' of the college coaching ranks reserved for the leaders of most historic and storied programs like Duke, Kentucky, or North Carolina.

    All in all, the announcement of Stevens, by all accounts an excellent coach and still rising star in the profession was one that took nearly everyone off guard. And it may or may not work out for the Celtics and Stevens, but dig just a little deeper into the details of the deal, and the former coach Rivers' contract, and then it begins to make more sense from a pure Talent Management perspective.

    The Celtics are a team that is in rebuilding mode - they recently traded away two of their most highly paid and best performing players Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, and rumors are circling that their other key franchise player Rajon Rondo might be next to be shipped off. The team clearly wants to build around some younger players and hopes to utilize the increased number of draft picks acquired in the recent trade with the Nets to stockpile more young, (and importantly, cheaper), talent.

    And in essentially trading Rivers, the former head coach who has over 12 years experience as an NBA head coach and led the Celtics to the NBA Championship in 2008, for the much less experienced Stevens, the C's also give us all in the talent game a lesson and reminder of the tradeoffs that organizations have to make when chasing talent, and more importantly, aligning the talent strategy to the business and organizational reality.

    Rivers with his years of experience, demonstrated success in the job, and reputation amongst the players was a very highly compensated coach - he had 3 years and $21 million remaining on his Celtics contract. At $7M per season, that is the kind of compensation that elite NBA head coaches can expect.

    Stevens, by comparison, signed for 6 years and $22 million. Still a lot of scratch, but by NBA head coaching standards not so much. 

    You pay Rivers, or similar, $7 million a year because he is a proven championship coach. These are incredibly hard to find. But the Celtics are not going to be a championship-caliber team next season, and probably for two or three more after that. They are essentially starting over after six or seven years of really high-level, title-contending play. Paying an elite-level coach top of the market compensation in this scenario makes no sense. It's wasted money (not to mention Rivers himself losing interest in the club as well).

    So you make the smart move - bet on a younger coach, hopefully on the rise, at half the salary of the last guy knowing that in the next couple of years anyway, his inexperience in the role won't matter too much because the team isn't ready to contend.  Maybe it works out, and the Celtics look like geniuses for locking up a great coach at a bargain rate.

    But the key here is the Celtics know who they are right now. For all their storied history and many championships over the years, they are not an elite team at the moment. And that fed into the call and the decision to release their elite coach, some of their elite players, and move in a new (and cheaper) direction.

    All organizations say they want to attract and retain the 'best' talent. But sometimes doing what is necessary to land the 'best' talent doesn't make sense from a broader organizational context. And when you need to move off what is needed to land the top talent in terms of compensation, then you also likely need to think more expansively and creatively about who you can bring in. Maybe you place a bet on an up-and-comer. Maybe you don't worry so much about '10 years experience doing exactly the same job'.

    Maybe you find a way to land the next star employee before the competition does.

    You have to know who you are, and make talent decisions accordingly.

    Have a great weekend!