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Archive for December, 2008

Proper Interview Follow-Up

As an employer what type of follow up should you expect from a candidate?  Should you receive a thank you?  Should that thank you be a hand written mailed thank you, an email thank you or a quick text on your cell phone?

Did that last one get your attention?  It did mine as I read a post from Steven Rothberg.  The post used a couple of quotes from hiring managers that were offended by candidates sending out an email from a blackberry within minutes of the interview and a text message to the managers cell phone.  The hiring manager that received the text felt her “personal space” was infringed on. 

If you agree with these hiring managers then you need to change your thought process.  With all the technology at our disposal, we shouldn’t be surprised or taken aback with almost instant feedback or correspondence (especially with Gen Y).  This may not be how I would send the thank you, but I shouldn’t be offended if a generation who has grown up with all this technology uses it to it’s fullest.  I agree with Steven’s point that if you hand out your business card with your contact information then how can receiving a text be an infringement on your personal space?

Which leads me to this question – how quickly do you get back to candidates after an interview?  I hear from candidates all the time that they are constantly left in the dark as to where they are in the hiring process.  If you have an interest you should never leave them hanging.  We have heard of companies that wait weeks before getting back to candidates.  

I doubt that is an image you want to give candidates at this step in the process.  I know you have a lot going on and hiring is only a small part of all the responsibilities you have, but bottom line, you don’t want to turn off strong candidates.  You have spent a lot of time and money getting a candidate to this point in the process so keep things moving.  If you don’t have an interest in a candidate then tell them.  They won’t like it, but they will respect it.  As we have said before, during the hiring process you will see the candidates at their best.  The same holds true for you the hiring company and manager.

2009 Prediction Time-Talent Management

The Herman Trend Alert offers up some expected predictions, some insightful ones and some surprising ones for 2009.  Here is one that falls in the expected/not surprising category:

1. Certain Skill Sets Continue to be in Short Supply.

In spite of the global economic slowdown and massive layoffs, certain skill sets are in short supply. All but the most short-sighted employers will continue to respect talented workers in all fields for their contributions.

I don’t think that is surprising at all, but not all companies subscribe to that approach.

Here is an insightful prediction:

3. Fear and Apprehension Reduce Productivity.

As we have written about some months ago, there is a significant percentage of employees who are worried about the future. Unless addressed, this fear will reduce productivity and employee morale. Wise employers will show their appreciation for their workers and reignite passion and excitement with activities and contests that challenge employees to achieve high performance levels.

Absolutely true.  I have seen this bunker mentality developing over the past few months and it definitely impacts productivity in a negative way.  The consistent “depression” drumbeat of the hyperbolic mainstream media doesn’t help.

And here’s one that will make recent Gen Y grads groan:

10. Older Workers will be Particularly Valued this Year.

To get the work done without resorting to hiring expensive contract help, some employers will begin mining the rolls of their retired workers and hiring them back on a part time basis. These seasoned professionals have a lot to offer their former employers. The companies will probably need to conduct less training and most certainly will have a more reliable workforce than recruiting Millennials.

What do you think of that last line?  I would say that is a bit of a shot, and not a fair one at that.  I understand the approach of rehiring retired workers and it that is a valid approach.  However, I have seen companies that are set in their ways – the energy, vitality has almost disappeared from their company.  The culture has settled into this lethargic, phlegmatic style…and it is dangerous in a slow economy.

My experience has been that young workers help change this culture.  They bring energy, ideas and, well, a fresh approach.  I’ve seen younger workers invigorate a stale company.  Yes, you have to train young employees, but I think this prediction greatly discounts the upside of hiring Millennials in this economy.

The End Of The Keyboard

Nothing like the end of the year and the obligatory futuristic predictions.  Yahoo offers a story that predicts the end of the keyboard as we know it:

“Talk and touch are common technology interfaces. People have adjusted to hearing individuals dictating information in public to their computing devices. In addition ‘haptic’ technologies based on touch feedback have been fully developed, so, for instance, a small handheld Internet appliance allows you to display and use a full-size virtual keyboard on any flat surface for those moments when you would prefer not to talk aloud to your networked computer.”

The idea is to incorporate this technology into a cell phone to make for easier data entry.

The story probably ruined this guy’s day:

BBD-Pay For Customer Service

BBD=Bad Business Decision.  I am always amazed that companies want to charge for customer service, but obviously it must work for them.  I can see where computer customer service is a difficult thing since you often have uniformed end-users.  However, this story is over-the-top (my bold):

Many consumers are used to getting customer service on the phone from international call centers, but now some companies are offering domestic aid for a price.

I just laugh when I read it.  Extra charges for domestic support just seems insulting to me as a consumer.  Again, I may be really out of touch on this one.  The article continues with worse news:

Also, lawmakers are trying to make it even less attractive for companies to send calls overseas by trying to pass a new law that would mandate customer service reps identify where they are handling calls from.

The government dabbling in customer service?  That is a nightmare scenario.  If you have ever had to deal with the government on a support issue you know exactly what I am talking about.

Liars For Candidates

Remember the old joke, you can tell when they are lying because their lips are moving?  Selling Power provides this article which opens with this statement:

Did you know that 50 percent of candidates lie on their resumes? (This includes people who omit things, stretch the truth, and those who outright lie.)

That seems optimistic to me.  This lying problem is rampant in hiring as we have seen first-hand.  I think candidates believe they can state things that are difficult to verify with the legal restrictions in this country.  How can you verify that they turned around a territory?  How do you know they were the lead person on a large account?  There are ways, but it takes more time and effort than most hiring managers are willing to expend.

I did like this suggestion from the author:

Another way to encourage and check honesty is to conduct comparative interviews with the candidates. Using this process allows you to get many different viewpoints about candidates. Let candidates know upfront that several people will interview them and compare notes. After the interviews, look for any discrepancies, overstatements, omissions, or lies about work experience.

This is the right approach since it is difficult even for the most cunning liars to maintain their stories over multiple sessions and people.  We always encourage multiple people participating in interviews from group interviews to follow-up individual interviews.  Do not underestimate the value of this approach.

Lastly, I personally prefer this approach:

Finally, Halford says to state questions like you would “essay” questions, not “interrogation” questions. “When you get someone to just talk, you will learn more about him or her,” he explains. “You will gain more from asking four ‘essay-like,’ open-ended questions than 20 closed-ended or interrogative questions.”

I have seen many interrogations and they are absolute rapport killers.  I take the approach of building rapport so you can have a more open discussion.  If the candidate is comfortable, they will talk more openly and, in effect, more honestly.  Don’t drill them with rapid-fire, cold questions.  Find some common ground, share a personal story and start with an open-ended question.

Top 10 Ways For Admins To Get Fired

Work for an American automotive company.  Ok, that was my contribution. offers up a rather dry article for administrative people to avoid being fired.  However, most of the points seem rather self-evident.  I took note since my wife works in an administrative role.  I wanted to enjoy this one but…

5. Drink at Work: One of the quickest ways to be shown the door is drinking too much at lunch and walking into a wall. Administrative assistants must keep things organized, efficient and clear, so maintaining your own clarity is extremely important. Staying on top of the mountain of details that go into making a business run smoothly requires focus—and sobriety.

See what I mean?  I was expecting some humor in that point, but the author is rather serious.  If an employee cannot figure that one out, they won’t be employed anywhere in any position.

Here is a good suggestion for anyone:

6. Surf the Web Excessively: Spending much of your workday cruising around cyberspace puts you just a point-and-click away from unemployment. And checking out adult-oriented Web sites on the job is a definite no-no.

I worked with someone who was an excessive online shopper to an annoying level.  Tough to get work done when you are checking out all the time.

Bad pun – sorry.

Tips For Hiring Superstars

Great article here from – The Best Ways to Turn Off a Star.  I am a big fan of showing people how not to do something.  That is a powerful format for teaching.

In that light, here are 6 tips from the article (in a “what not to do” vein):

    1. Talk about yourself and your company. You really don’t need any information about the candidates; it’s all on their resumes anyway.
    2. Wait for them to call you.
    3. Make them wait. Hey, if they really want to work for your company, it’s worth waiting through your 40-minute phone call to your old college roommate.
    4. Bribe them. Offer a free microwave or golf cart to sweeten the deal.
    5. Never check references. They’ll just say nice things about the person anyway. It’s a waste of your valuable time.
    6. Make promises that you can’t possibly keep. Once you get them on board at your company, let them know gradually that you kind of stretched the truth about that five-week vacation, company car, and corner office.

Spot on, each and every one of them.  Unfortunately, we have seen every one of these play out in a hiring process.  Of the 6, I find the first one to be of the highest importance.  Many times hiring managers judge the success of an interview by how much information they shared with the candidate.

Remember, you are there to gather information about the candidate.  You have to sell your opportunity, but there is a time and place for that task.  The initial interview is not one of them.

Online Job Ads Down

Recently Cheezhead mentioned that online job ads are down again in November.  According to the Conference Board Help-Wanted Online Data Series online job postings declined 70,200 to 4,369,200 in November.  Job postings for the September to November period were down 264,000.

The data they collected shows declines in the Northeast, the South and the West.  In the Northeast Pennsylvania lead with a decline of 19,900 postings and in the south Texas lead with a decline of 37,800.  Our state, Minnesota, had the largest decline in the midwest – down 12,600 postings.

Funny Job Ad Titles

I recently stumbled across this article and blog – 51 Funny Craigslist Job Titles and Listings.  Now sometimes a catchy title may catch a candidate’s eye, but most of the time you run the risk of not being taken seriously.  Here are a couple that I thought were rather good:

  • Attractive, Busy Professional Seeks Very Attractive Personal Assistant
  • Get Paid to Wave and Dance!!!

Pre-Call Prep

I have been in sales since 1992 and have seen the marketplace change in drastic ways.  Today, we are in the midst of the information age where knowledge is king.  Preparedness is a necessity for successful selling.  In all honesty, this trait has never been one of my strengths.  However, I have made changes to my approach (in order to survive!).

The reason is found in this article – Pre-Call Planning: It’s More than Just Research.  The author shares a frightening sales story:

G.A. Bartick remembers the day he called on a large wire house in San Francisco. He’d just completed a project for another brokerage firm that went well and, feeling confident he knew the industry, he skipped his pre-call research. Big mistake. During his meeting with a senior VP, the executive often referred to the Wilshire 5000. Thinking this was company jargon, Bartick, about 10 minutes into the meeting, interrupted the VP and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with the Wilshire 5000.” The VP, recalls Bartick, “stood up and said, ‘You obviously aren’t ready to be meeting with me and I’m pretty busy so why don’t we end this meeting now.'” Since then, Bartick has never ignored his pre-call research.

I remember ignoring pre-call research back in the day, but you could get away with it back then.  Today – not a chance.

The article goes on to share 5 other preparedness factors that should be automatic for any salesperson so I recommend you read the entire thing.  And just to whet your whistle, here is one of the better tips I have read lately:

Iron your briefcase. More than once, Bartick has gone to his briefcase during a sales meeting only to discover that the form he needs isn’t there. Now, he does what he calls “ironing his briefcase” every night before he goes to bed. He reviews his schedule for the next day, empties out the contents of his briefcase and files everything he doesn’t need. Then he collects all the materials for the next day and places them in the briefcase. “Ironing,” he says, “helps take the wrinkles out of tomorrow by preparing today.”

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