Grandmother Approved

Social media and the internet has become our de-facto forum to offer opinions, vent, debate, and say things without thinking first.

I stand guilty as charged.

Typing words into a social media site or a blog has expanded life’s certainties by one. We are all going to pay taxes & die and EVERYTHING you post online will be there FOREVER.

I have posts on Usenet from the 90’s I want to take back, but there it is for all the world to find. If it were possible, I’d travel back in time to have a conversation with 23-year-old Dave about ranting online. Frankly I should probably visit 47-year-old-Dave as well.

There’s a rule of thumb to follow before hitting send. You may have heard it before – is this something I want my grandmother to find? Now I realize some people’s grandmothers might be downright nasty people themselves so this isn’t a universal rule, but you get the picture.

Before you post something think.

  • Am I contributing to a reasonable discussion?
  • Can my response be misunderstood?
  • Am I being mean to a person or group of people?
  • What benefit will myself and others get from my contribution?
  • Is my response argumentative?

Donald Trump went on a rant about illegal immigrants last week which all but guarantees he’s wasting his money running for President and cost his beauty pageants and The Apprentice their TV deals. Pundits on both sides of the gay marriage debate have been blowing up Facebook (again, guilty as charged.)

Everything you ever have written or will write online can be found – even if you delete it. Your next employer is going to be looking. You might want to run some of that stuff past granny.

Roadblocks

Murphy’s Law for Traveling – when you are in a hurry to get somewhere you will hit a roadblock. Returning from Iowa I hit a closed road this morning and happened to be in a hurry for two reasons.

  1. I told my team I would be at work by 11am.
  2. I was on a motorcycle and rain chances went from 25% at my planned arrival time to 40% just an hour later.

Allow me to share some lessons about dealing with roadblocks from this morning.

1. Give Yourself Some Margin for Error.
Best case scenario was 3 1/2 hours from the time I left West Des Moines until I walked in the office. I gave myself 5 hours because rain dramatically slows safe interstate speed on a bike. Even though there was only a 1 in 4 rain chance at my scheduled arrival time I assumed that it was going to rain. The roadblock did not impact the rain factor – I encountered rain – the only difference is I would have gotten wet 10 minutes sooner if the road had been open. Without a margin for error I would’ve been nearly 90 minutes late.

2. Ask for help.
There was no detour sign but a worker happened to be present. I did something very uncharacteristic, I stopped to ask directions. His solution was one mile back. West Des Moines roads have dramatically changed since I left in 1997 and the alternate route I would have taken was 5+ miles back. When you ask for help someone may improve your Plan B.

3. Accept Your Current Situation.
Life would be so much easier if it was 100% in our control, but it’s not. Accept things aren’t going to be 100% to plan. Whether it’s a closed road, repeated unreturned calls, or lost opportunities – there’s not much you can do to get someone else to remove a roadblock. Rather than take an Eeyore approach (Oh Bother) start to look for alternatives.

4. Don’t Lose Focus on End Game.
I ran into an obstacle but I didn’t turn around and spend the day at my parents house. You might have to adjust your timeline a bit. You may have to put off some others things to meet your objective. You probably are going to break some eggs, but you can’t forget you’re there to make an omelet.

5. Look for the Positives.
I don’t seek out opportunities to ride in the rain so I’m not a terribly experienced rider on a wet road. I am, however, more experienced today than I was yesterday and that makes me a safer rider. The experience also inspired this post and I’ve been struggling to find something to write about. Dwelling on the negative is never good. When you don’t carry much baggage your burden is much lighter.

Roadblock shouldn’t keep you from fulfilling the promises you’ve made and the goals you’ve set. My roadblock had no impact on anyone else’s morning.

Yes the road was closed. Yes I got wet.  Yes. I made it to work on time. If I hadn’t said something no one would have ever known.

Disruptive

Growing up I loved attention. I’d do things and say things simply to get a reaction. I was a disruptive child. I don’t love attention as much as I used to, but I do like doing things to get a reaction. I’m a disruptive adult.

The internet’s definition of disruption is a disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process. Disruption is not always a negative – being disruptive changes things – often for the better (unless you print dictionaries.)

The entire process of attracting top talent needs disruption. Here’s why:

Job Descriptions

We need approved from legal and other bureaucrats in the company leading to a posting that is nothing but a recitation of generic job duties and obvious qualifications like “excellent communication skills.” In some cases it leads to ridiculous qualifications like “must be able to make and receive phone calls” and “must be able to successfully exit and enter a vehicle.” Don’t laugh, I’ve seen both which is sad. Are there people in society so afraid of a lawsuit that they feel compelled to tell me I need to know how to use a phone or get in and out of a car in a job description?

Why can’t we get creative and talk about the actual job? About the company? The team dynamic? Maybe even have a little fun? I’ve seen good job descriptions, but for the most part they’ve looked the same for the 15 years I’ve been in this business.

Candidate Resume Assessment

This process has been outsourced to a computer. We use the internet as a collection agent for thousands upon thousands of resumes – mostly in Word or PDF format – that end up being seen by human eyes only when the right combination of buzzwords appear in sufficient quantity to push the resume to the top of a search. What we call a Business Analyst someone else might call a Systems Analyst. That simple discrepancy can bury the best candidate for the job in a sea of data.

Sidebar – I have a question: what would it do to your reputation and revenue if you ignored a high percentage of inbound customers interested in your products? At the very least someone needs to understand the value of an incoming resume as a potential customer and turn them over to sales & marketing. The most common complaint I hear from job seekers is they never hear back on job applications. This is a completely untapped revenue source for most organizations.

Talent Acquisition shouldn’t be a function of Human Resources

See this post for why I’ve made this bold and disruptive statement, but let me sum it up – they’re too busy handling existing employee issues and HR degree programs don’t teach talent acquisition. If it has to be a function of Human Resources then hire (or train) 100% dedicated recruiters. My opinion? You guys are buried – turn the process over to sales & marketing with minimal (if any) influence from legal.

Top talent does not post their resume to the internet or participate in the “Click to Apply” process. They understand those are broken mechanisms. Top talent needs to be identified and courted. (i.e. RECRUITED). A whole industry revolves around supporting talent acquisition efforts of the private and public sector because this process is broken internally.

Resumes

Sweet Baby James, where is it written than I need a one or two page Word document at the ready to determine whether or not I’m worth considering? Type my name into Google – there’s plenty of collateral to provide sufficient information to determine whether or not I’m worth consideration. I read dozens of resumes every day – it’s an exercise in reading the same thing over and over and over. Much like job descriptions, resumes are rarely creative or stand out.

Name / Address / Phone.

Objective / Summary.

Education / Skills.

Responsibilities / Achievements.

Yawn.

I mentioned I like being disruptive so I put this resume together for fun.

As my musical hero once said….

Uncertainty

If you have parents I’m going to guess at one point they said the only things that are certain are death and taxes. That leaves a lot of room in our lives for uncertainty.

We spend a lot of time assessing and managing risk. Some risk is low – I had cereal this morning & used milk that expires tomorrow. Other risks are high (has anyone have a hot dog on buck night at the K this year?)

Food analogies aside, each of us has a built-in mechanism to identify and deal with risk. As an individual, your “risk meter” is going to be different than mine. I’m not afraid of heights, but I won’t bungee jump. I ride a motorcycle, but I’ve been through a safety program, ride responsibly, and ALWAYS wear a helmet. Usually I also buck the “black leather jacket” trend and wear a neon yellow armored jacket – if you see me you won’t hit me.

Our careers are uncertain. Career stability for baby boomers was largely employer based – you could spend an entire career with one organization and retire with a great pension. Today career stability is based on your ability to sell yourself, your performance while employed, and your ability to adapt to the marketplace when you are between employers.

“Adapt to the marketplace” has uncertainty. If you’ve been in a job category that is disappearing you have to find another category that isn’t on it’s way out. If you are tired of making widgets and want to do something else, getting into that something else has unknowns. There will be some risk transitioning to a whole new career.

Uncertainty is scary. It’s risky. When thinking about risk, we need to ask ourselves some questions: What would the world be like if Edison was afraid of failure? If Bill Gates had gone for the “big money” and sold the copyright for MS-DOS to IBM?

Fearing failure IS failure.

Risk is necessary.

Uncertainty a constant.

It’s Broken

Several weeks ago the links at this site disappeared. I don’t think it was anything I did – they just went *poof*

I immediately contacted my friend who hosts the site to enlist his help. Unfortunately his schedule was much like mine and the only assistance he could provide is access to his server and advice to upgrade WordPress.

This involved signing into his server via VPN, downloading software and performing an upgrade. Being the technophile that I am I got as far as click on the link to the VPN which took me to a site where I was completely out of my element. I immediately put the “fix my website” task down the priority list.

That was a month ago. Fast forward to last week. The links mysteriously appear as quickly as they disappeared. *Poof* Back in business.

What’s the lesson? Sometimes it pays to procrastinate? Even though it worked in this case, that is not the lesson here.

Many of my long time followers and the new people I direct to the site rely on the links. The links are important. Fixing the links was important, but it wasn’t urgent. I didn’t lose any sleep over getting them fixed because I’m spending my time in the Urgent / Important quadrant of the Eisenhower Matrix. I also admit there was a bit of the “pucker factor” doing under the hood technical things with the site that could bring the whole thing crashing down.

Balancing priorities. Being cautious when taking risks. There’s your lesson.

I was going to spend some time this weekend getting things up and running. Big thanks to the magic internet fairy who fixed it for me.

Seven Days

This morning I ran across an article written by Mindy Corporon who is the woman who tragically lost her son and father in last year’s shootings at the Jewish Community Center & Village Shalom. I immediately thought about my last post on loss and felt sick to my stomach. I was over the UNI loss before the final buzzer, looking at the positives and asking you to consider the good things when you experience loss.

I have no qualifications to talk about loss. If you want to model how to handle loss look no further than Mindy Corporon. Mindy will no doubt feel deep, meaningful loss for the rest of her life. Yet, her outlook is one of hope. Taking the worst nightmare imaginable and turning it into something good she is sharing with all of us.

The 1 year anniversary of the shootings is in 12 days. Rather than simply mark the occasion with mourning and rituals, Mindy and those who have been loving and supporting her over the past year are calling us to action.

In the Seven Days leading up to April 13th they are challenging each and every one of us to affect change. Affect – with an “A.” Doing something to change our society for the better. They’ve proposed we take these Seven Days to “Make a Ripple and Change the World.”

When you click on THIS LINK you will find this introduction to her idea.

Following the April 13, 2014 tragedy at the Jewish Community Campus and Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas, a group of caring individuals decided that we, as a community, have the power to outshine and overcome such senseless acts of hate. SevenDays is a challenge for young and old, to embrace diversity across races, religions and cultures. Through three events, Faith, Love & Song, Faith, Love & Kindness and Faith, Love & Walk, we hope to promote understanding and encourage kindness to Make a Ripple to Change the World.

I encourage anyone reading this to participate in the “Make a Ripple” campaign and share your stories here. WE have the power. Together WE can change the world. I know this is the truth. Two millennium ago one man gathered 12 others to His side and changes the world forever. WE continue that work today.

This Sunday we celebrate a risen Savior who taught us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. Today Mindy wants us to turn the other cheek, find the love that God puts in each and every one of us, and put it to use for His Glory.

Please join us. Together WE WILL change the world.

Handling a Loss

Last basketball post for a while – I promise.

Hall of Fame coach Rick Patino and his very good Louisville squad ended another chapter of UNI basketball yesterday. It’s always disappointing to lose, but looking back there’s a lot of positives to the past season and some great things to look forward to in coming seasons.

  • They won 30 games (THIRTY!) and were rewarded with the highest NCAA tournament seed in school history.
  • They were ranked in the Top 25 most of the season, and finished the season at their highest rank ever in the AP: #8 in the nation (right ahead of the #9 KU Jayhawks I might add).
  • They split the season with arch-rival (and new KU nemesis) Wichita State and finished just one game behind the Shockers in the regular season.
  • They won the Valley tournament on a 20+ point come from behind victory over a very tough Illinois State team.
  • They won another NCAA tournament game – convincingly.
  • Senior Seth Tuttle earned a spot on the All American team, the first Panther in history to be selected.
  • Matt Bohanan, Jeremy Morgan, and Wes Washpun will anchor a new starting five that will include several strong forwards to replace Seniors Tuttle & Buss.
  • There’s six years left on Coach Jake’s contract.

You just walked out of your interview and nailed it. The job is right up your alley. You answered all their questions effortlessly and had some great questions of your own. They were exhibiting all the “buying signs.” The job is yours – all you’re doing is waiting for the call. Two days later you find out you’re the bridesmaid.

It’s always disappointing to lose, but rather than focus on the loss focus on the positives.

  • You beat out a lot of qualified candidates to get to the final stage – obviously you know how to stand out in the marketplace and demonstrate value to an employer.
  • You have a new contact that knows you well inside a company that will have other jobs. Take advantage of that situation.
  • You have more experience to draw from in your next interview.
  • You have 3 other appointments and a list of 8 people to call this week.
  • There are 4 networking events before the end of the month that sound interesting.
  • There is another interview with feedback still pending.

If those last 3 bullets ring a little hollow be a little more engaged with the community. Look to your right and find a networking event, a workshop, and a job club to visit this week. Join one of the webinars listed.

Unlike the NCAA Tournament, your job search is not a “one and done” situation. Look toward the future and build on the success of getting the interview, regardless of the outcome.

The Little Guys

If you follow college basketball you may know two Missouri Valley Conference teams are creeping toward the Top 10 and are set up for a big showdown in Wichita on February 28th. Being a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa I am closely following the Panther’s historic run: 14 wins in a row, 25-2 overall, and ranked #11 in the nation – their highest ever.

Nipping at their heels is the recent Final Four / Missouri Valley powerhouse #13 Wichita State Shockers (Wichita is a state??) . It’s going to be an epic “Battle of the Little Guys” sure to be repeated a week later at the MVC Arch Madness Tournament in St Louis.

Casual fans of college hoops usually take the “big names” like Kentucky, KU, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Louisville deep in their bracket. (Sidenote: how’d that work out for you in 2010 Jayhawk fans? Sorry, couldn’t resist)

However, brackets ALWAYS have an “underdog” or two in the Sweet Sixteen.  The little guys. We love the tournament in part because each and every season the little guys beat the big guys. Facing the best team in the nation, the little guys take them out on a national stage. I have to say, when you’re the little guy that feels good. Really good.

If you’re like me you identify with the little guy. I work in a small company that competes with some of the biggest in the nation. Sure, their revenues are astronomical compared to ours, but we get our fair share of wins against them.

If you’re looking for a job you’re up against plenty of competition – some of them powerhouses and some of them mid-majors. Dig deep and play the game harder and smarter than your competition.

Don’t get discouraged when you give it your best and you don’t win – keep playing hard. Look at your game plan and make adjustments.

Here’s the beautiful part if you’re looking for a job. All it takes is one win. That one tournament win that you hold on to for four years…

Play smart, play hard, believe in yourself & your ability and eventually you’re going to knock someone else out of the tournament.

And the Truth Shall Set You Free….

“The truth” being referred to in this quote from John is the truth of Christ as Savior but these seven words from the Bible hold a strong meaning for us as individuals, and for society as a whole. This week NBC has suspended Brian Williams for six months for not telling the truth about his war reports from a decade ago. Just today this year’s Little League World Series Champions from Chicago were stripped of their title for cheating. Face it, at one time or another, all of us are guilty of not telling the truth. Sometimes we lie to protect someone, but more often we lie to protect (or promote) ourselves.

I read a lot of resumes and I’ve caught a fair share of people in a lie. College degrees listed but not earned. Dates fudged to cover gaps. Outright fabrication of experiences. Nothing shocks me anymore. Which is sad.

Our society puts too much emphasis on self. People see us as a product of what we achieve. Some feel to get ahead they need to lie. I’m not saying Brian Williams got the Nightly News because of his fabricated reporting, but it certainly was a factor. Somewhere in Illinois a coach is taking a trophy out of a case and a group of teenagers (hopefully) have learned a lesson in honesty and humility.

Another related scripture can be found in Matthew. It tells us (paraphrasing) not to make an oath to one another, but simply to let our yes mean yes and our no mean no. In other words, be honest. Let people see who you really are, what you really stand for, and let your yes be yes and no be no. Get on a path of honor and let it lead you to freedom. Life is a lot easier when you’ve been set free.

Should Human Resources be Recruiting?

No doubt you’ve heard about “The War for Talent.” The economy is rebounding and organizations are scrambling to find people to help keep up with a growing business. Some of you reading this may be wondering why these organizations aren’t fighting to find you. My answer is simple: they are, they just have broken mechanisms to find you.

In most organizations the responsibility for finding people falls on Human Resources. This is the department that is in charge of ensuring that the company is compliant with federal, state, county, and municipal law; researching, negotiating, and administering increasingly complex benefit programs; developing programs to maximize return on employee investment; making sure employees are properly trained, that leaders are following prescribed procedures for managing & promoting people on their teams, that existing employees are happy, and that no one is being sexually harassed or discriminated against. They make sure the workplace is safe and, while they’re at it, they’re charged with attracting, screening, vetting, and on-boarding new talent (seeing as how they have so much spare time).

Job seekers generally give HR a bad rap. Some of this reputation is earned – when I see job descriptions that include requirements such as “While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear” it makes me question their understanding of how to attract talent. I’m fairly certain silly requirements like that come from legal, but just as bad is “must have excellent communication skills” which I’m pretty sure was included in a description 20 years ago and the HR team has never bothered to take it out.

The big reason they have a bad rap isn’t their fault. People educated and/or trained in Human Resources have a LOT on their plate. Take a look at the required courses for a Masters Degree in HR Management at one of the top schools in the area for HR (Ottawa). One class in recruiting. ONE. It’s not a priority. They have too many other pieces of the organizational puzzle to manage to be effective at talent acquisition. HR professionals are simply too busy to dedicate 100% of their time to recruiting. Frankly, I’d be shocked if they have 20% of their time available to recruit. They aren’t effective recruiters because they simply aren’t given the time necessary.

Here’s the rub – to say recruiting is a full time job is an understatement.

Recruiting is the only job I’ve had where I could work 24×7 and still not run out of things to accomplish. Organizations that are effective at talent acquisition usually have two strategies. The most effective is a great referral programs. Happy employees make great recruiters. They other strategy is having dedicated Talent Acquisition teams. These may or may not be people trained & educated in Human Resources, but their time is 100% dedicated to recruiting. Without one (or both) of those programs hiring great people moves down the organizational priority list.

If it was up to me, recruiting would be a separate department under sales and marketing. They’re already out there promoting the company brand, they know how to get the audience’s attention and get them to act. Good customers like your company, they trust you enough that you’ve earned their business.

I’m sure some of them would like to be on your team.