Month: June 2014

Advice for Job Seekers

For the love of motherfucking God and all that’s holy and the Earth and the universe and everything in between, have your own fucking email that matches your name!

I can’t count the number of times, especially this morning, that I’ve seen this shit.  The name on the resume is Joe Schmoe, the email is from David McFucker, the email on the resume is Sonia McFardle.  Jesus fucking Christ people, gmail is free.  It’s fucking free, and it’s web based.  For Christ’s fucking sake, get your own God damn email already!

Article on Downsizing

From Recruiter.com.  Worth a read, my comment at the bottom makes a point I’ve always thought needed to be addressed.  Human capital is managed to a lesser extent than any other on the market.  I know of no company, literally none, that even knows what revenue is contributed on average on a position level, much less an individual employee level.  Not only do they not really know who to cut and retain in hard times, they don’t know who they should concentrate on retaining in good times, and who is more or less replaceable.

Advice for Hiring Managers and Owners

Consider your off time policy.  Consider this: in other countries there are mandatory amounts of off time imposed by the government.  Usually anywhere from 20-30 days, more when mandatory holidays are counted.  In the US, nothing is mandated, at least not yet.  Based on my own experience people in the US average 15 days of ‘off’ time including vacation and sick time.  I put ‘off’ in quotes because, during that time, they’re usually still working.  They’re on the phone, they’re checking email, they’re not working at 100% capacity, but they are still working.  Speaking with someone from Europe, if you ask, “Who does your job when you’re not at work?” the standard answer would be, “No one.  I start working again when I get back from vacation…”  Also, they often don’t take all their vacation.  Realistically they’re looking at two weeks off if they’re lucky.

Put simply, people in the US are starting to get pissed.  I don’t agree with socialism as a way to do things, but the simple fact is they have proven that your workforce doesn’t need to be on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Your company will not crumble to dust if someone goes on vacation for a week.  Also people in the US are increasingly aware of how badly they’re getting fucked in this area.  The workforce is globalizing, information is certainly flowing, I’d recommend hedging your bets and offering something now before it gets mandated.  This country is increasingly heading to the left in a lot of ways, pretty soon I don’t doubt we’ll have true single payer healthcare among other things.

Now, here’s some math to show you people how stingy you motherfuckers are.  There are approximately 2080 work hours in a standard year.  Two weeks total time off is 80 hours, or approximately 4% of the overall time.  Four weeks of off time, or 160 hours, would be approximately 7.5% down time.  This is not a major amount of time.  Christ, I’ve seen maintenance schedules for manufacturing equipment that give the fucking machines more ‘vacation’ time than the people that maintain them.

For more exact numbers:

One week of off time is 1.92% of the total work year.  Two weeks of off time is 3.85%.  Three weeks of off time is 5.77%.  And four weeks of off time is 7.69%.

When you own a machine that manufacturers widgets you know it’s limits, you know when it needs ‘off time’ for maintenance, and you know pushing those limits means potentially losing a valuable resource to wear and tear.  Why is it you people don’t realize the same applies to your employees?

Take a fucking hint and give your employees a break, literally.  Stop working people until burnout and then replacing them when they fail.  It’s inhuman, it’s poor business strategy, and it’s just a plain old dick move.

More Advice for Job Seekers

I come across this all the time from job seekers, and it’s really annoying.  I send out a mailer via email to people who have specifically asked to be contacted about positions in their area.  Initial reach outs are very broad, that’s just the nature of the game.  Here’s examples of how people often respond that should be avoided at all costs if you ever want to work with that agency at any point in the future.

“No thanks, I don’t want to work at…,” at which point they put the company name they think is correct.

This response is the smart ass, the guy who thinks he knows what job you’re asking about, and since the client is almost always kept confidential, decides to one-up you by showing he knows more than you about the jobs that are open in the area.  The problem is, job descriptions get copied, quite often in fact.  Need a job description for a shit shoveler, and someone has likely written it up already, so you can just go on the web and find it.  Well over nine times out of ten, they’re wrong about which job I’m talking about.  However, the smart ass response annoys me, and most other recruiters, and we’ll just leave off after that.  It’s indicative of an attitude problem, not a good start.  Now, if you don’t care about ever having any kind of relationship with that recruiter, go for it.  However, there’s always the possibility that this person will be a gatekeeper for a job you may want in the future, so answer at your own risk.

“Do I look like I’m…?!?!” followed by indignation that you’d contact them for this particular job.

This is the pissed off candidate, one who doesn’t seem to realize that we, as recruiters, often have to contact hundreds of people and then whittle that down to a few.  The initial reach out will be broad, it will be keyword based, and it will unfortunately hit people who are too senior or junior for particular roles.  Yes, this sucks.  However, if it pissed you off that much I might suggest you have other issues to tend to, because it really shouldn’t.  If you want to answer, a polite no will do.  Again, this is indicative of an attitude problem and…

Then, there are the psychotic callers.  You send out one email and this person calls you thirty times over the course of the next hour.  Answer in kind, one call is enough.  This is indicative of a borderline psychotic and we simply will not want to deal with you.  Ever.  There is such a thing as too aggressive.

Then there is the snorting exacerbated job seeker.  This guy gets on the phone with you in response to the email, you ask one simple question and the answer is, “Well, let me tell you…,” followed by several snorting laughs, followed by their entire life story and indignation at how hard it is to land a job.  They never answer questions, ever.  They dominate the entire conversation with their tale of woe and indignation.  They’re being discriminated against!  Or, maybe they just come across as assholes, honestly bemused by why the world doesn’t recognize their brilliance.  Whenever I hear that distinctive, snorting laugh this guy invariably follows.  Don’t be this guy.  Please, for the love of god, I understand how hard it is to get a job these days, you don’t have to tell me.  Just answer the fucking questions I ask so I can tell if this job I have right now is the right one.  It may be, but if you don’t answer the questions and instead regale me with the finest but ultimately irrelevant details of the last six months of your life, I am just going to give up.  I only have so much time in my day, as I’m sure you do.  Please stay on point.

The best advice I can give any job seeker is ATFQ: Answer The Fucking Question!  And for the love of god stop getting pissed off because you got an email you didn’t want.  Ask to be removed from the list, you will be.  You never know who is on the other end of the email chain, or the phone, and what that person may be able to do for you in the future.  If you want to sour the relationship through rudeness or very often misplaced arrogance, well that’s your prerogative.  But you might want to consider just why the hell you’re so pissed off… over getting an email.

Myths That Need to be Busted

If there were two myths in hiring I’d say absolutely need to be busted, I’d say it’s these two:

1) Employees are a Cost.  This is utter bullshit.  In any exchange, it happens because of a reverse valuation; which means each person wants what the other has more than what they’re giving them in exchange for it.  If you value two things equally, there’s no need to exchange because it doesn’t matter.  In the context of employment, the employee wants the salary more than the time spent on the job, and the employer wants the work product more than the salary paid for it.  As such, employees are an addition to a company’s revenue stream.  When any individual trades something they have for something they want more than that thing, they have made a return, or a profit.  Same goes for employers.  So companies need to stop acting as if employees are a cost and see them for what they are: additions to their revenue stream.  They need to start realizing vacancies have a cost, both in lost revenue from that position, but also lost revenue for everyone who has to pick up the slack and so potentially not performing their primary duties to the best of their ability.  Over staffing is certainly possible, but as long as employees are seen as a cost, all companies are always over staffed, because at least on an accounting level, they would be better off without everyone.  Of course, if that happened then the company is gone too.

Newsflash for employers: you’re not doing anyone a favor by employing them.  It’s a mutual exchange that benefits both parties.  Pull your heads out of your asses and start treating your employees as what they are: revenue generators.

2) There’s a labor shortage.  Pure bullshit.  There’s a documented labor surplus, and I and other recruiters have routinely seen multiple instances of tens, hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of applicants for an open position where the hiring manager claims none are qualified.  It’s not the candidates, it’s not a labor shortage, it’s not the recruiters.  The problem is no accountability for hiring with the managers.  There’s plenty of qualified people out there, your hiring managers are not accountable, nor do you have an honest, realistic assessment of what you offer as an employer.  Every employer thinks they deserve the Fabulous 5%, the top performers in any industry.  Horseshit.  You’re an average company with average salaries and average managers, you’re going to get average people.  Fucking deal with it.  You’re not Google, you have no benefits, you offer mediocre to no time off, who the fuck do you think is going to want to work for you?  You had better do an honest assessment of where you stand.  Think of yourself as a manufacturer of employment opportunities.  And then realize that, if it were any other product, that if your market strategy was to bitch and moan about how inept your customers were for not being willing to buy your clearly superior product for the ridiculously high price you charge, you’d be out of business in a heart beat.  In this case the high price you’re charging is the ridiculous discount to the mean salary offered in the area that you expect people to take for the ‘privilege’ of working at your company.

It’s time for employers to pull their heads out of their asses and start taking ownership of the hiring process.  If employment at your company isn’t attractive that’s your fault, and you need to correct it.  Control bad managers, up your salaries to something more reasonable, and start holding people accountable for getting positions filled.  And for those places with screaming, abusive owners, have the balls to be the one who explains to them how pathetic that behavior is and how horrible it is for their own business.

And if you aren’t willing to do those things, then don’t blame everyone else for your problems.  You aren’t serving your customers right, and that’s your fault, not theirs.

Book I’ve Added to My Reading List

There is a book out called “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs” that is going right on my reading list.  There’s an interview here with the author, Peter Cappelli, that gives you the gist of what the book pinpoints as hiring issues.  It definitely looks like it’s worth a read.  Here’s a quote from the interview:

Employers, when they say they’ve got a skills gap, that there are no applicants out there who meet their needs, they are self-diagnosing the situation. What’s really happening is they’re just not able to hire, but you don’t know why that is, right? And the skills gap story is their diagnosis. It’s basically saying there’s nobody out there, when in fact, it turns out it’s typically the case that employers’ requirements are crazy, they’re not paying enough or their applicant screening is so rigid that nobody gets through.

In my experience this is so on point it’s ridiculous.  I can’t recall the number of times after multiple interviews and seeing God knows how many resumes, managers would claim they hadn’t hired anyone because they, “Hadn’t seen people.”  Then when you presented evidence that they had seen numerous people, they’d claim they hadn’t seen any qualified people.  And then, you’d go over the individual resumes of everyone who was interviewed and they’d be hard pressed to come up with reasons why any of them couldn’t do the job.

Another great point Cappelli makes is there’s no ERP system to track vacancies and revenue generation by employees.  Now, hiring is risky and people don’t want to make the decision until they have to, and when you couple that hesitance with a lack of true data as to how much a vacancy costs, you get at least part of the way to the current situation of tons of people looking for work and employers claiming there’s no one worth hiring.  It’s bullshit and it’s high time more people called these employers on their bullshit.

Opportunity!

This is advice for candidates.  Recruiters are always trying to sell you on a great Opportunity!  Yeah, the pay is maybe better than what you’ve got now, usually not.  The benefits are about the same, or worse.  The commute is about the same, or worse, maybe a little better.  Work-life balance is something most companies never heard of, so it’ll be the same.  But it’s such a great Opportunity!  So, you gotta take it, right?

Wrong.

Now, you may or may not take any particular job, that’s up to you to judge.  However, when making that judgement, know that Opportunity! is what a recruiter sells when there’s nothing else to sell.  It’s kind of like when those credit card protection hucksters sell you Peace of Mind.  Peace of Mind is an intangible load of BS, what it means is they’re selling you something you’re probably never going to need.  Incidentally, the only reason they sell those credit card protection programs is because the fee usually works out to the equivalent of adding 10 points on your interest.  The ‘protection’ they offer is usually something you already get via some law or regulation, of in the contract you already signed.

When a recruiter tries to sell you on the Opportunity! of a job, ask questions.  One, ask why it’s such a great opportunity.  If all you get is some happy horseshit about it being a great company, etc., then they’re full of shit.  If they get more specific and talk about the company’s technology, market position, tenure of existing employees, advancement, then that’s worth considering.  But keep in mind, most of that is bullshit too.  Two, ask yourself if, even if the recruiter is telling the truth, is that the opportunity you want and need?

You need to judge where you’re at in your career, and what the Opportunity! is worth, assuming it’s real.  Recruiters, bless their hearts, will call 55 year old electrical engineers and try and sell them the Opportunity! for advancement in their career.  A 55 year old engineer likely doesn’t have much career left, nor is s/he usually looking for one.  A 55 year old engineer has already had their Opportunity! and proven themselves, and now just deserves to get paid what they’re worth off the bat.  Which feeds into the last point…

Opportunity! is usually just an excuse to pay you less.  It’s another way of saying, “Yeah, technically the mean salary for position X in area Y is 75K per year and we’re only offering 50K, but the Opportunity! is tremendous, so please take the job at a discount!”

Remember, the average company is average.  They have average salaries, average management, average jobs, average commutes, average benefits, and average opportunity.  If the salary and all else is below average, usually the Opportunity! is too.  Recruiters want you to think you’re one job move away from the Opportunity! to become the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.  You’re not.  The chances of you becoming that filthy rich are less than winning the lottery.  However, if you work your ass off and never see your family and give yourself an early heart attack, you may have the opportunity to get into a slightly higher pay bracket.  Assuming it all doesn’t disappear into taxes, what reality boils down to is if you truly work your ass off you’ll be able to afford an Acura as opposed to a Honda.  You will have a two and one half bath house instead of a one and one half.  And, the chances of even that happening are still pretty much lottery levels.

So, instead of using the Dollar and a Dream approach to career planning, my advice as a recruiter is to always demand to paid what you’re worth now.  Don’t settle for the Opportunity! to get what you’re worth now in five to ten years if you work your ass off and if your boss decides to acknowledge it.

Fuck Opportunity!, get paid what you’re worth now.

The Real Recruiting Revolution Has Nothing To Do With Recruiting

I modified a comment I made on Ere.net slightly to make it a post here. I feel it’s right on the money, other opinions vary of course.

It’s not a revolution in recruiting that’s needed. There’s plenty of people out there, it’s getting easier and easier to connect with them via old and new school methods. What’s needed is a revolution in the interview/hiring process. It’s there and then that the process is most likely to go off the rails with multiple, sometime endless interviews, tests, and endless requests to, “see more people,” well above and beyond what should be necessary to fill one position. We need to start pushing back against poor managers, bad decisions, and out of control processes as much as possible. As long as our role is to facilitate the bad practices and decisions of others, we won’t be taken seriously as a profession. So, as a profession, we need to take a stand and start pushing for a quality process as much as possible. My suggestions would be these:

1) Any vetting method with no clear evidence supporting its effectiveness should be dropped, period. Credit checks and drug testing come to mind immediately, with the latter allowing exceptions for sobriety testing in safety critical situations. Nor should this step be limited to such ancillary processes; if interviewing itself is found to be ineffective, then drop it or change it so it becomes effective. I only recently looked, but I’ve yet to see evidence that interviewing itself does much if anything to ensure a good hire and subsequent good performance.

2) Push for standard, open salary requirements. Throwing money at people doesn’t solve problems, but lack of money does create them. Honesty and openness in the realm of salary from both companies and candidates is necessary and the topic should lose its taboo status. “Competitive compensation and benefits,” is a phrase that’s on par with, “cozy,” in real estate; the latter means small space to house/apartment hunters, the former means low pay in the world of the job hunters.

3) Develop evidence and research based standards for a more regular hiring process. We need hard research demonstrating what techniques work and where diminishing returns kick in. Otherwise the hiring process will continue to be an out of control monster with 1 step in some companies and 40 in others, one or two interviews here, ten to twelve there. And real research based on effectiveness is what’s needed, not LinkedIn surveys for God’s sake.

4) Treat recruiting and employment as steps in the same life cycle process for all employees. Accountability needs to be on the managers for engaging in the hiring process, accountability beyond the date of hire needs to fall on recruiters too for quality purposes. There should always be a presumed DSLA in place, and there should be hard research done into when and where in the process accountability for retention shifts from the recruiter finding a good person to the manager/company being able to keep them.

5) Push for better treatment of workers in the US. Recruiters and HR leaders need to stop being Yes men and women for the whims of whoever happens to be in charge and develop professional standards based on evidence for how much time off, hours worked, etc., should be offered. As the workforce increasingly globalizes people in the US are inevitably going to notice that their European counterparts get twice the time off and then some, and yet, through some miracle, the companies they work for don’t collapse into dust when they take a week off and don’t answer their cell phone and check email every ten minutes. In the US we are burning out our workforce with lower and lower pay, fewer and fewer benefits, and more and more hours worked. When people are dealing with capital equipment they know the machine’s limits and tolerances and maintenance schedule, and respect it if they want the equipment to last. But people are considered to have no limits, no need for real down time, no maintenance, and are just terminally pushed for more and more and more with no regard to burn out. We treat our machines better than our workers, that has to change.

Recruiting feeds people into a machine that is largely beyond our control. There is no talent shortage, there is no lack of willing and able people. There is a severe problem with hiring; it’s a meandering, standardless maze of conflicting and redundant and often useless processes that people get thrown into and it grinds them down. That’s where the revolution is needed.

Partnering?

There is no such thing as partnering.  It’s a word that’s often used in recruiting, I’ve yet to see it happen.  They often talk about partnering with the hiring manager.  In reality the hiring manager usually just says or does whatever they want, and then the recruiter does damage control by selling their latest stupidity to the candidates.  Whether it’s one more interview on top of the three that have already happened, or a skills test for skills the candidate already said they didn’t have, it gets done.

The reason it gets done is because there’s too much sales in recruiting and not enough collaboration.  Usually there’s a sales manager who handles the account, and a recruiter who handles the candidates.  Sometimes one person does everything, but rarely these days.  And the sales guy, he really has trouble saying, “No,” to anything the client asks, which idea the recruiter then has to sell the candidate on, no matter how foolish, time intensive and wasting.

As an example, I routinely get these positions which are supposedly, in the words of the sales people, easy fills.  Then it turns out the salary being offered is 30%-50% lower than the market rate.  That’s not an easy fill by any standard, in fact, the more the salary deviates below the area’s mean, the harder the fill will be, and this holds true at all levels.

Now, a real partnering with the hiring manager would mean pointing this out and setting realistic expectations for the hiring process and timeline, etc.  That happens maybe one out of every thousand times.  So, the reality of recruiting is really that any position is taken from almost any client, and the sales guys agree to fill it in a certain time frame at any price, and the recruiters are left trying to make that happen no matter how far the target is from being realistic.

There is no partnering, there is only Sales! in the worst, used car salesman sense.