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Interviews, or How to Fuck Up Hiring

There’s a nice article here on interviewing, it’s short and sweet, but pretty much sums up my views on the matter entirely. The TLDR of it is, you’re wasting your time with interviews unless they are structured, consistent across all candidates, and aimed specifically at assessing skills you know are required for the job. If you do all of that, then you’ve slightly decreased the chance you’re going to fuck up, but only slightly. Which means you’re probably better off not interviewing people at all, and just testing for intelligence and skills.

Oh yeah, and there’s no point in doing references either. I’ve yet to see a single study which pegs their reliability at over 20%, which means they’re only predictive of job performance 20% of the time. The other 80% of the time they have either no predictive power, or are telling you the opposite of what’s going to happen. But recruiters and hiring managers and HR departments keep using antiquated bullshit ineffective methods for hiring people because… Well because they usually don’t know any better, don’t want to know any better, and even if they do know better, their boss would fire them for not using those techniques because s/he doesn’t know any better.

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LinkedIn, and the Great Recruiter Fuckfest

I do love LinkedIn. It was nothing more than a hopped up resume database with hyperlinks, and it made research real easy, and that was good. Over the last year or so though, it has turned into a different beast. The research potential is still there, but it’s become its own odd version of Facebook, and brought with it similar amounts of acrimony and stupidity. Specifically, it’s become a place for dipshit recruiters to adamantly give people completely subjective advice, which will be ‘right’ for some companies and ‘wrong’ for others, meaning not right or wrong, but completely random. What is a must for one company or recruiter when trying to get hired is irrelevant or verboten at another, and unless you’ve got inside info you’ll never know which is which. But LinkedIn has also become a place for people to bash recruiters, nonstop.

This is understandable to a large degree. Recruiting as a profession has made itself into a joke by letting fly-by-night organizations come in and hawk their wares and services, not having to meet any professional standards at all. It’s a high volume, minimally acceptable quality business at this point, and there are more than enough points to criticize, both the companies and recruiters that behave horrendously, and those recruiters who know better but allow it to happen while remaining silent. But, this glorious cluster fuck has also lead to a bit of an extreme over reaction, where it seems recruiters are apparently responsible for every evil the world has ever known, and there is nothing – nothing you hear! – which candidates can demand that a recruiter can say is unreasonable. And no matter what happens in the hiring process, it’s the recruiter’s fault.

With all due respect, that’s a load of shit. So, here are a few things you should know going in.

One, not everyone is going to get personal attention. That’s just the way it is, fucking deal with it. It is not a personal statement on you, it’s simply that with the workload most recruiters deal with, there’s too many God damn people to call and/or email them personally. The mechanics of doing so are a full time job in itself, never mind actually finding someone to hire while you’re at it. You could easily spend 40+ hours a week sending personal rejection notices to people, giving them all specific feedback, and helping them rewrite their resumes, or find a job at another company. And yes, all of those have been asked multiple time of me, which I’m apparently supposed to provide at no charge, in my spare time, or I’m a bad recruiter. If you interview and don’t get the job, you deserve and absolutely should get personal feedback. You’re likely not going to get anything terribly detailed though, and if you don’t like that, take it up with every vexatious litigant that has graced the court system. But, they should definitely email and call you to let you know you didn’t get it, at the very least.

Two, the timeline often gets stretched out. Recruiters can try and drive it to a close, it rarely works. My personal approach to this was always to give the hiring manager a week and then just let my candidates know the job isn’t on the table anymore, and flat out let them know I haven’t heard back, I don’t know why they’re not moving forward. This has happened to me both in agency and in corporate settings. Not every recruiter will have the balls to tell you that, I’m sorry for that. You are indeed owed that courtesy. But they often hope a little more time will make the difference, and then a little more time becomes a lot more time, and next thing you know, you think your day is over, and you’re already ten or twelve hours in, but wait! There’s more! There’s those four people you haven’t called yet about job X, which you hoped a little more time would lead to some feedback or action, but it didn’t, and one week became two, became three, and you’ve followed up before, but at this point you’re fairly sure it’s not moving forward. Do you stay and call them? Do you do it in the morning? What happens when you leave a voicemail and they call back?  How much time do you devote to something that’s not going to earn you a cent, now or often even in the future?

Now of course these things should be closed off, but the point I’m trying to make here is everyone prioritizes their day and workload, and eventually you will not be the top priority. To you, it’s a personal attack worthy of a public shaming on LinkedIn. To the recruiter, it’s, “I meant to call but I had twelve other things to deal with and left work to get to my kid’s ball game before I realized I forgot to call, and then the next morning when I came in fully intending to call my boss hit me with a dozen new priorities…” This happens to everyone at their job, the balls you drop just don’t show up on social media vilifying you as some subhuman species.

And as mentioned, this is not unique to agency recruiters, contingent or retained. Even for internal, corporate recruiters, it’s the same dynamic. Did a coworker of yours ever not get back to you about something that you thought was critical, but it turns out no one else really agreed with that assessment? Did they ever purposefully not get back to you because they were dicks, and playing around with office politics? Yeah, the same shit happens to internal corporate recruiters. I’ve seen hiring managers ditch retained searches on which there is money down just to spite someone else in the company.

If companies treated applicants better, this wouldn’t be an issue. But most companies treat their own employees like shit, applicants are virtual non entities to them. As recruiters we try to compensate for that, but there’s only so much we can do to drive the process, and when it gets dropped as I said, I try and close things off so you at least know. But you know what? I’ve done that in the past and then had the hiring manager call and want to know if the candidates, the ones I just told the job was off, can interview the coming week. And they’ve done this after being informed that I was going to let the candidates know that, due to to lack of feedback, the job should be considered closed. The world is full of fuck ups and we’re often just in the middle.

Three, there is no magic in this profession. There are a metric fuckton of Monday morning quarterbacks on LinkedIn though. Here’s a sample assertion/response to illustrate what I mean:

Recruiter: We can’t get back to everyone because very often there’s a ton of applicants.

Moron Who has Never Recruited Anyone: Why’d you run an ad? You should have merely networked with the appropriate professionals and put together a shortlist of candidates and presented them.

Reality: Ads are almost always run, because recruiting isn’t sales, it’s marketing, and while networking is usually the ideal way to produce a candidate, this is not an ideal world. You want to hit all avenues, because your networking is not guaranteed to get the right people, or anyone for that matter, and when all is said and done you are responsible for producing a person who can fill the role. So, you will run an ad and you will have a metric fuckton of candidates to manage, which is why you can’t respond to all of them personally. Don’t believe me? Do the job for a few years. The only people who can reliably produce people from networking are either on some kind of ‘spectrum,’ or they only fill a few roles a year like many self-proclaimed ‘thought leaders,’ or extremely specialized and in deep with an industry. I knew a great engineering recruiter once, this woman produced amazing engineers. Accounting candidates, not so much. If you can’t specialize, your network simply won’t be adequate all the time. Especially if you tap it regularly for roles across multiple disciplines. Hence, running an ad.

Recruiter: the candidate bailed on me after getting an offer, I feel sad. Would have been nice to hear from them to at least turn it down.

Moron Who has Never Recruited Anyone: They don’t owe you an explanation, you guys routinely drop off the map for us, so fuck you. Unless it was in writing on their desk within one nanosecond of leaving the interview, you’re an incompetent and they have no professional obligation to let you know they won’t be accepting.

Reality: If you interview and don’t get the job, the recruiter absolutely owes you a personal rejection notification if it comes to that. I do phone and email, always do both. That’s just professionalism, and yeah some recruiters even fail there, but it’s without question unprofessional of them. It’s likewise unprofessional for you to just disappear after one or two interviews and a verbal or written offer. Say no, you don’t owe them an in depth explanation, or any really. But just as they do owe you a personal yes or no once it’s moved beyond you simply applying, but being submitted and interviewing, it’s also professional for you to at least tell them no if you don’t want the offer. Just as you shouldn’t expect a personal rejection from every application, we don’t expect a personal rejection for every reach out we make for this job or that. It’s when it progresses beyond that point to interviewing and what not, that each party owes the other some professional courtesy.

Anyway, you get the point. There’s apparently a veritable mob of Monday morning quarterbacks, people who have never been a recruiter in their entire careers, who not only know exactly how to ‘properly’ do the job and deliver perfect results in the judgement of all involved, but who also tend to think that there’s no demand, nothing which a candidate could ask of a recruiter, that could or should be refused. Help rewriting the resume? You owe it to them. Finding them a job even if you’re not getting paid for it? You owe it to them. A six month prolonged correspondence because they weren’t qualified for a job they applied to, covering everything from career coaching to resume writing to helping them research companies to apply to? You owe it to them. These people do indeed set the bar very high for recruiters, and honestly I’d rejoice in seeing their sorry asses thrown into the profession for a mere three months, just to see how well they do trying to deliver up to their own lofty standards under real world conditions.

For a variety of reasons I’ve gone into here and elsewhere, labor has been devalued globally and specifically in the US. Companies treat employees like shit, as if they are disposable. They go through employees like shit through a goose without a care in the world for turnover costs, and this has lead to a very lucrative market for substandard recruiters to help companies wade through the increasingly desperate mobs of people who need jobs. These recruiters have flooded into the profession, the companies have split the business development and recruiting functions to help bring in more (questionable quality) business, and loaded up even well-meaning and skilled recruiters with so many reqs that they have little choice but to push service quality to the barest acceptable minimum if they want to keep their jobs and get a paycheck capable of paying the rent. As such, recruiters fucking suck these days, plain and simple. The profession has been decimated by people who’d rather make a quick buck reinforcing the delusions of idiot business owners who think they can nickel and dime people without consequence.

But, that does not mean recruiters are the source of all the woes of the hiring process. They aren’t, what’s happening in the recruiting industry is the result of larger, economy-wide trends. More often than not, they’re just schlubs like you and me, trying to earn a check to pay the rent and put food on the table. And while service quality has been pushed ridiculously low, that doesn’t mean in a pristine market every recruiter owes you a steak dinner. Even if the process were working as it should, to a decent standard with respect for candidates, what some people expect from recruiters just ain’t happening. They are not your career coaches, resume writers, or psychotherapists. And if you have ideas on what you think recruiters owe candidates, or how to do the job in a better way, I’m all ears. But I’d also advise, if you’re serious about your ideas, to actually do the job for a year or two. See how it goes, how things actually work, and what the sources of the problems really are.

After you’ve done that, then come and tell me what you think reasonable expectations and requests are, from candidates and clients, and what changes you think will help. At the very least, after you spend enough unpaid overtime simply answering every application with a personal rejection notice explaining why they weren’t chosen, and not having seen your family for months on end, you’ll have a much different perspective on what ‘reasonable’ communication expectations from candidates should be. I’ll guaran-god-damn-tee you that.

Some Comments on a Recent Tom Woods Show

I’ve commented a few times on Tom Woods’ show.  Now, to be straight, I like the guy.  His political ideology more or less matches mine, but we came to it from two totally different starting points.  He retains enough of his neoconservative roots to grate on me occasionally.  Plus, I think he needs to pull his head out of his theory sometimes and address the real world.  In general, you’ll find when libertarians or anarcho capitalists respond to criticisms, they always defend the theoretical free market, when in fact the objections people are raising are to specific events involving specific people and often specific companies or corporations.  For example, when someone objects to Wal Mart’s low salaries or business practices, these types will immediately take this as an attack on capitalism and free markets.  Here’s the thing though: Wal Mart has nothing to do with free markets.

They are a corporation; that status, its privileges and protections, are created and enforced by the government.  They often push healthcare costs, these days usually assumed to be a portion of a person’s compensation, on to… the government, and thus tax payer’s wallets.  They have used eminent domain, used the government, to steal land from people to build their stores.  They have used the public highway system to their advantage, and to my memory according to some articles well beyond what they pay in taxes for said roads, and who knows if they’re paying anything near what they would pay if the roads were private, as I believe they should be.  Which means they are receiving yet another government subsidy.  Many of their products are manufactured and imported from countries with which the US does not have free trade, but highly managed and controlled trade, and their size and monetary influence means they essentially get to buy access to goods and cheap labor from the government, which would be available to them and everyone else without the government, but it’s kind of hard to accept that, given travel costs, all the goods currently made offshore are really better off being made there, the division of labor and comparative advantage not withstanding.  I mean, in a totally free market, would it really pay to burn thousands upon thousands of gallons of bunker oil in transport ships to bring rubber slippers from China to the US?  Maybe, maybe not, the point is the market really isn’t operating in an unhampered fashion, which would be necessary to really know the answer to this question.

So Wal Mart really has jack shit to do with the free market.  It’s possible they may not even exist in their current form if markets were free.  My guess is a lot of business would be smaller and more dispersed in free markets, but that’s all guess work.  In any event, the advent of the mega corporation is a trend facilitated and more often than not subsidized by the government.  And mega corporations are tied to the government intimately, but also in a combative fashion at times, because they too are targets.  The government has to answer to some degree to the populace, so these companies have to act in such a way, and provide information in such a vein to at least convince people they aren’t the glorified slave owners many really are.

So in this most recent podcast I listened to, Tom had a guest on and they seemed genuinely amazed that people feel like they’re working more hours.  The reality is hours worked are a mixed bag in the modern world.  But what really got me was their stats, because it was all the usual bullshit I see quoted where exempt employees are quoted as working 40 hours a week.  I’ve seen this bullshit in memes put out by teachers I know on Facebook, comparing hours worked in the private sector to them to prove how oh so over worked and underpaid they are, and of course their assumption was that at 40 hours private sector workers drop everything they’re doing and head out for the weekend, never to see their job again for 48 straight hours.  This assumption was also voiced by Woods’ guest, Ryan McMaken, when he said, to paraphrase, these days people leave work at 5 PM every day.

Horseshit!

The problem with these claims, and most of the stats I’ve seen that ‘support’ them, is that they include exempt employees.  Being exempt just means you get paid on a salaried basis on what is presumed by the government to be an on average 40 hour week, and if memory serves this was a part of COBRA.  Basically it means your job has a hard time assigning a defined time to it, or you’re at a level where it’s expected that longer, harder, and sometimes odd hours might be required.  So your employer, if you’re exempt, doesn’t owe you overtime.  You’re supposed to work as needed.  But, they’re also supposed to throw some flexibility back your way; you’re not supposed to be punching a clock and having your hours tracked by HR Nazis; you’re assumed to also have some weeks where you work below forty hours; etc.  What really happened though, is that employers classified anyone and everyone they possibly could as exempt, and essentially got to ditch a massive amount of overhead for overtime.  Many employers – in fact every one I’ve worked for but one – had employees classified as exempt that were in no way supposed to be, and one employer I worked for a while ago actually got busted for this by the DOL, and ended up shelling out a load of back pay in the form of overtime.

Now to the idiots who, as mentioned above, will rush to the defense of the free market which doesn’t exist: Yes, people should be allowed to contract for employment under whatever terms they find acceptable!  That is not what is happening here.  There are fewer and fewer jobs, employees have less and less power, and these companies are using a government created and enforced legal distinction to not pay people  overtime.  How many people do you know who, if we did have a free market, a  solid honest money, and a surplus of jobs, would jump at the idea of not being paid for their time but to work for an extra 25% to 50% of time with no additional compensation?  Yeah, I’m sure everyone would be totally jumping at that opportunity…  There would be contractors and people who would not work on a timed basis, I’m sure, but for those people like factory workers, whose jobs will always have productivity measured at least in part on a timed basis, if you think they would just jump en masse at the idea of working ridiculously long hours for nothing in return, you’re fucking nuts.

The point is employers have an incentive to classify people as exempt, and this is especially true if their jobs require consistently longer hours, and when this data is reported it necessarily makes it look like hours worked are way lower than they really are.  Most exempt employees I know work 50 to 60 hours a week.  Some more, but even if you pick 50 that’s a 25% increase in hours worked over the claimed 40 for a significant portion of the population.  That’s not chicken change, and something Mr. Woods and his guest should have addressed before trying to portray the modern work-a-day American as some ungrateful prick who should be thankful his kids don’t have to work in a coal mine to feed the families.  Yes, conditions for the average person have improved dramatically, and I credit the market with all of the improvements.  Rather, I credit those aspects of the market that are still free.  But we do not live in a totally free market, but one which is highly regulated by the government, and through monetary debasement and regulation of the market from root to leaf, companies have devalued labor, and I believe to a far greater degree and in a manner that reaches further than Woods, libertarians, and anarcho capitalists who originate from the right tend to realize.  They come in with a heavy supply side/corporatist tinge and they never seem to lose that bias, looking with rose colored glasses on everything corporations do, and running to defend some idealistic theory when people levy criticisms at what real, extant people and corporations have done, which is never in a vacuum but in the government managed market we live in.  Hence, why they believe it when Government Mafia backed Corporation A, B, or C, tells them their workforce doesn’t work so many hours, no, not at all…  Oh!, those exempt people?  Well, maybe they sometimes work more than 40 hours, but trust us, it’s not often…  Once more,

Horseshit!

The government has massively retarded the advance of working conditions in this country, and governments have done so across the world in general, and just because people aren’t living at pre industrial revolution levels of a poverty anymore does not mean they haven’t been significantly stolen from, or made to bear an enormous opportunity cost by government interventions made in favor of hard lobbying, campaign supporting corporations.

Here’s a link to the page for the show I recently commented on.  Like I said, I like Woods and his show, and especially his Contra Krugman show.  But he often does shows where he veers off into theory over reality, or where he seems to buy into bad information or some idealized way he thinks things work in the corporate world without seeming to have any grasp on the reality of the situation.  He’s an academic who worked hard and, with a little luck, carved out a nice niche for himself and so perhaps he hasn’t had his soul crushed to a significant degree by corporate America to truly grasp how fucked a lot of companies are, he really should try maintaining on a day job.  And he’s commented on this in the past with the implication that people should just break into the twenty-first century, and start a blog or something, which to me indicates he’s spending too much time around sales people and get rich quick types.  The majority of the people on this planet can’t start a blog and live off of it, or sell agorist chocolates to people in Detroit while getting their food from urban farming.  The majority of people on this planet need, and will have, a regular job for a long time to come.  A 9 to 5 job, which is really 7 to 7 for many of them while earning them no extra money for those extra hours, and that’s a problem.  And then when they listen to Woods and McMaken josh around with each other about how many hours people are working, vs how many hours each listener knows he’s working, he’s going to know right away, or assume, that these guys are largely full of shit.  That’s not good if you want the message of markets and freedom to spread.

Another of Ted’s LinkedIn Posts

Another good post by this guy here, I have some comments to offer, with quotes extracted I will comment on, but the gist of the post is that productivity has gone up quite a bit from the 1950s, but we’re still working minimum 40 hour weeks.

“So: what does all this mean?”

What does working the same 40 hours – and to be honest usually consistently way more – per week, and being dramatically more productive while getting roughly the same pay in real terms, mean? It means you’re getting screwed big time, because while your productive output has skyrocketed relative to the 50’s worker, your pay is roughly the same in real terms; buying power, or the standard of living you can afford.

“Why are we still so concerned with a 40-hour+ work week?”

Because it sets an arbitrary standard allowing for control over people corporations otherwise wouldn’t get, basically a holdover from the industrial revolution. Managing to performance and outputs would make more sense, but it’s way easier to make sure someone puts in their 40 hours – again, usually way more these days too – per week than it is to make sure they actually do their job well. Plus employers always think a productivity gain means more for them over a given time period. It never, or rarely occurs to them, that people have limits or that labor carries dis-utility, and as such their employees might prefer and expect a little more time for themselves as non monetary compensation, especially considering as their increase in output is almost never matched with an increase in compensation.

Basically when you look at stats and analysis like these, it paints a picture of a labor force that is increasingly robbed of the value of its output, which is usually redistributed to the famed 1%.  Of course, a decent economist will tell you a relative difference in wealth isn’t indicative of a problem in itself; why complain X has five yachts and you only have 1?  However, I think such people are too dismissive of the fact that these wealth differences matter to people.  When you see your boss pull up in a new BMW on the day of lay-offs, it makes an impression.  Plus, I feel people know inherently when they’re being screwed, or when the value they’re receiving is not necessarily in line with what they’re giving in return.

It’s my contention that via monetary, fiscal, trade, and other policies and protective legislation businesses have protected themselves from competition and produced what amounts to a permanent jobs shortage, forcing a devaluation of labor and what amounts to real wages that aren’t rising commensurate with the labor force’s increase in productivity over the years.  As labor gets more productive, it should become more valuable in real terms.  That is, nominal salaries may go up or down, but the buying power/standard of living received in return for work should have a secular trend upward along with productivity.  As that value received has, by most measures I’ve seen, stagnated or fallen, that’s a serious indication that something is massively fucked up with the system.  To the extent you can trust econometrics, George Carlin was right.  It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.  In the waking world, people are working more and more for increasingly lower returns, and sacrificing their health and families and friendships on the altar of 60+ hour work weeks.

The Broken Window Fallacy and Sales and Recruiting

The broken window fallacy is simple, yet most people don’t get it.  Most news anchors will commit this fallacy whenever there’s a hurricane, and in the aftermath they say something along the lines of, “But at least the rebuilding will lead to a boost in economic activity for the area…”  It goes like this:

A kid breaks a window, the glazier comes and repairs it, and everyone shames the kid, but one person says, “No, look at the money the glazier earned, so the kid actually committed a ‘good’ for the economy.”  This comes down to what is seen vs unseen.  People see the transaction between the window’s owner and the glazier, they don’t see the suit, or the computer, or anything else he might have bought if he didn’t have to repair his window.  At the end of what’s seen, he just has a window.  He had to expend resources to the simply get to where he already had been.  If the kid hadn’t broken the window, the guy would have had the window and something else; a suit, a computer, etc.  The opportunity cost, in other words.  The opportunity cost is always unseen.

This is somewhat applicable to sales people who perpetually go after bad accounts, a massive problem in the recruiting industry.  They always want to ‘get in’ to that account, as if it’s the end all be all of existence.  Sometimes this works, they get in, and one in a million times the account starts to generate revenue.  The problem is most times, this does not happen.  The sales person is perpetually trying to ‘get in’, and wasting time and resources that are unrecoverable.  And even if they invest thousands of man hours and untold monetary resources ‘getting in’ with that account, even one placement is enough to make the Sales guy say, “See?!  See?!  I told you we could get in there!”  They’re so fixated on the moment of closure that they literally think that erases all the previous losses. Now, imagine the resources spent ‘getting in’ with that one account were spread over accounts with higher response rates, or developing new accounts.

It is necessary to be aware of opportunity cost when managing people and processes.  Sales people have no concept of opportunity cost, that is why they make such shitty managers.

Good LinkedIn Post

Definitely worth reading this, I’ll comment on it later, but I wanted to get it up here when I saw it.

Update: Ted makes some good points, but I think he misses the underlying problem: Sales!  The problem with sales, and specifically sales people, is they are detached from reality.  Sales people are notoriously disorganized, and they are ridiculously positive.  They are positive in the face of the most horrifying adversity.  Now, in sales that’s a good thing.  The problem is in any non-pure sales position, and especially one that requires management of any kind, it’s a recipe for utter failure.

Being positive all the time means a psychotic disregard for opportunity cost.  Sales people will pursue every method to make a sale, and the one time out of a hundred it works, they’ll say, “See, see, I told you it works!”  And they will ignore the costs of the 99 times it failed, even if the cumulative cost of those failures is  greater than the profit for the one success.  And if you have an industry controlled by sales people, like recruiting, it will be ridiculously slow to change, its participants will be psychotically averse to admitting error, they will all be psychotically averse to criticism and evidence based approaches that question the validity of their methods, and none of them will see a problem until it is so huge that it’s ready to destroy them.

That’s basically the state of recruiting today.  It’s dominated by agencies, those agencies are in the main run by Sales! types who will bend over backwards to fellate  the Almighty Client, however ridiculous and moronic their demands are.  When objective reality intrudes into the situation, they get confused at best, petulant and obnoxious at worst.  For example, if the prevailing wage for an Account Receivable person with 5 years of experience and a degree is X, and the Almighty Client wants one at 50% of X without compromising any on the person – same requirements for education, experience, etc. – it’s not a moronic white elephant hunt.  Nope, it’s a ‘challenge.’  The client is ‘challenging,’ not a fucking idiot.

Right now, the hiring process is essentially controlled by people who think it’s a pure sales process, when in fact it’s more of a supply chain process.  The Sales! types always want to concentrate on intangibles; culture, chemistry, job satisfaction, etc., etc., etc.  They never want to concentrate on objective reality: skill set and measurable ability within it, company structure, reporting relationships, time frames for delivery, etc., etc., etc.  Nor do they ever, ever, under any circumstances, want to talk about price, otherwise known as wages.  Because the Almighty Client doesn’t want to pay them, and therefore you’re not getting any.

We need to get the Sales! types out of control of the recruiting industry or it will die a spectacular death from them pushing it too far, pushing salaries too low, indulging the ridiculous requests of Almighty Clients who want people at rock bottom wages for 80 hour weeks, no benefits, no time off, etc., etc., etc.  People will get fed up with the bullshit and eventually hiring will come under the thumb of some bureau of the government who regulates every aspect of it, and quite frankly if this profession can’t kick these assholes out and get its collective shit together, we deserve no less a fate.

The! War! For! Talent!

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of posts prognosticating that 2015 is going to be The Year where everything turns around. Employees are in the driver’s seat! Salaries are going up! The economy is in real recovery!

All from the same troop of jackasses who thought real estate prices could never go down, and that pre crash we were in a post scarcity world where wealth would just pile up endlessly for everyone.  Well, I say horse shit.

One, prediction can only be made in broad, qualitative terms.  Quantitative predictions are almost always wrong.  Two, trends are great, until they reverse, and then they’re not trends anymore.  So, here’s my prognostication:

There may be a slight uptick in salaries in 2015.  The Fed against all probability has managed to reflate a bit of a bubble, so people might feel richer for it, at least for a while.  However,  some policies and realities continue regardless of the optimism of a few.  For one, monetary policy here and in almost every other country has gone full retard, and the underlying misallocations of capital thanks to near zero, and in reality negative interest loans when you account for devaluation, will eventually have to be exposed and corrected.  What that means is the crash of 2008 was chump change compared to what’s coming.

The end of the petro dollar seems inevitable, and without that the US loses some clout in the world.  China and Russia will get friendlier, and India will go along with them.  And specifically to China, my guess is that’s where the black swan event will occur that will bring on the next depression.  You’ve got them being the latest blip on the skyscraper index, and they are literally building entire cities for no one in that country.  If ever there was a real Austrian Economics style bubble economy happening, it’s in China, and when that one pops it’s going to take a big chunk of the world with it.

And, to top all that off, monetary and trade policy remains moronic in the US, regulations are piling up, and income inequality is being exacerbated to an extreme, with the levels of expatriation of the rich going through the roof.

In the US we are seeing a blip upwards on what is otherwise a very long path downward, and it won’t be long before capital starts flowing out of the US en masse.  I’m with Peter Schiff, eventually this will resolve itself into a currency crisis, and I’m pretty sure most currency crisis lead to military crisis.

So, overall, my guess is it’s not too much longer before World War III gets going in earnest.

A Worthwhile Read for Every Idiot Manager on the Planet

[M]ost American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot.

This article, well worth it.  Especially for jackass moron managers who continue to insist on 50 and 60 hour work weeks.  Another quote:

[E]verything America’s managers used to know about sustaining worker productivity was forgotten. Now, 30 years and a few economic meltdowns on, the cafeterias and child-care centers and gyms are mostly gone, along with the stock options and bonuses that were once held out as the potential reward for the long hours. All that remains of those heady, optimistic days is the mandatory 60-hour work-week. And, unless you’re an hourly worker — still entitled to time and a half by law — the only inducement employers currently offer in exchange for submitting yourself to this abuse is that you get to keep your job.

And…

[T]he bottom line is: For the good of our bodies, our families, our communities, the profitability of American companies, and the future of the country, this insanity has to stop. Working long days and weeks has been incontrovertibly proven to be the stupidest, most expensive way there is to get work done.

Interesting Article from WO

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/robert-samuelson-where-have-all-the-entrepreneurs-gone/2014/08/06/e01e7246-1d7c-11e4-82f9-2cd6fa8da5c4_story.html

Old business practices are indeed a major problem in recruiting.  But while people whine about the entrepreneurs, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a pure entrepreneur.  It’s a word that’s an economic construct, used specifically to delineate the difference between the capitalist function, and money earned via that route, vs the entrepreneurial function which is risk assumption.  Colloquially I understand how it’s used as a word, however that clouds an important issue: many of the regulations which are currently strangling these entrepreneurs were lobbied for by previous self proclaimed entrepreneurs.  There are two types of entrepreneurs: private and political, and in the real world they’re always a mix of both types.  As such, fuck ’em.  They dug their own graves.

Another Denied Comment

I like Recruiter.com, but they definitely seem to put a stranglehold on the comments to make sure everything is nice and shiny.  Here’s an article they put up concerning dress code, and my response:

The problem is that people latch on to something like dress code, which may or may not influence performance, and define that as performance in and of itself, and this leads to the focus wandering from actual performance. Which is what leads to ridiculous situations like two employees of roughly equal performance getting different raises because one wears suits and the other just collared shirts, when their revenue impact on the company was in fact equal.

“Why did Joe get a better raise than me, don’t we produce at roughly the same levels?”

“Well, yes, Jimmy. But you see, Joe wears extraordinarily uncomfortable clothing, including wool suits in the middle of summer, and is always sweating like a hog, unnecessarily so, yes, and I can’t quite put my finger on why that should actually matter, but he does it, and it does matter… for some reason, and he blows most of his income on his wardrobe rather than rent and food for his kids, so therefore he must be a better performer on some level than you, regardless of what the actual metrics say…”

Dress will influence people to varying degrees and in different ways, which is exactly why it has nothing to do with performance and should not be a part of a performance requirement, because one standard does not fit all, nor work for all, and imposing one standard will then by definition narrow the pool of people who can and will be successful in your organization, which limits your ability to be productive. How in any way shape or form is that beneficial to a company, to hinder or in fact close off access to an entire portion of the labor pool because they don’t like wearing a full suit? Maybe with rising prices everywhere for food and gas and housing the last thing many people want to hear is they have to blow half their income on fitted suits for no perceivable objective reason other than the fact that the boss wants them to.

So keep it simple. Define performance in terms of actual work product – what needs to be done, when does it need to be done, and to what quality standard – and manage to that as your standard of performance. Dress code, aside from being clean and presentable and not smelling like ass, will most likely not be a part of that. I think most people will find it utterly amazing how productive their workforce gets when they stop trying to run their employees’ lives to the minutest degree and just concentrate on what’s expected of them in terms of their deliverables at work.

Dress code is like any other irrational and useless metric that’s there for no discernible reason, and it’s mostly used as an excuse for incompetent managers to prove they are managing!, even if it’s connection to actual employee performance is tenuous to nonexistent.