The Conversational Job Interview

Photo: Job interview begins with a warm handshake.

Job interviews have to be the toughest way to get to know a person or a company. It’s not a whole lot different than looking for a potential mate at a bar. Everyone’s dressed up and ready to dole out clever words. What are the chances you’re going to see the true picture?

I wrote this article for people on both sides of the interview desk. It should help you have a conversation rather than a stilted, superficial Q and A session.  Continue reading “The Conversational Job Interview”


Funky Corporate Culture Feeds Creativity

Pinterest headquarters staff making a mural

PinterestByTechCrunchCan you imagine working in a place that brings in DJs to keep everyone pumped during a makeathon? I can. How about getting your hands dirty with old fashioned glue and ancient printing presses? I’m talking about Pinterest’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco. Continue reading “Funky Corporate Culture Feeds Creativity”

Showcase Your Employment Brand On Instagram

Sample Instagram Photos

Instagram fun photos from employersYou’re probably wondering why I would promote Instagram as a place to build your employment brand. To be clear, I’m not suggesting you run right out and create a recruitment campaign on the site. I’m not sure you’d get a very good hit rate. But wouldn’t it be great Continue reading “Showcase Your Employment Brand On Instagram”

The Fall Of The Alphas by Dana Ardi

The Fall of the Alphas

I had two main goals in life when I was little. First, when I grew up I would have a house with dozens of rooms to hold my many interests. Second, I would own a complete set of the most up-to-date edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. I attribute both aspirations to having a mom with a deep appreciation for learning. For the longest time, I thought she was magic for having memorized the alpha notations on the encyclopedia spines. If you asked her how long katydids lived, her response would be “Go get the ‘hia to loc’ volume, it’s the ninth one.”

The Fall of the AlphasFast forward a few decades and I’ve eschewed the consumerism and real estate goals for a simpler life — but the daily pursuit of knowledge has stayed with me. I no longer lust after those volumes because I have something bigger and better: an inexhaustible supply of data and information via the Internet. 

I’m not the only one with insatiable curiosity. We’ve become a society of information addicts. When we want to know something, we want to know right now. And we have zero tolerance for lack of transparency or access. Social networking, blogs, and online magazines have taught us to be suspicious of partial answers. No problem. We’ll just Google it to get the rest of the story.

It’s no wonder the work environment is going through so many changes. We can’t shift as a society and expect leadership models developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s to be effective with today’s workforce.

The Fall Of The Alphas by Dana Ardi takes us through the agrarian and industrial ages, to our modern-day information age to make the following argument:

The information age demands a new approach to organizing groups of people, as well as to functioning within those same organizations. The Alpha paradigm no longer fits today’s world. We need a new approach to business that doesn’t rely on seniority and other strict traditional patterns of advancement and growth; an approach that gives employees and customers the ability and opportunity to acquire information and express themselves; and not least, an approach that promotes greater teamwork, both internally and externally. Did anyone say Beta?

Contrasting the traditional Alpha structure (think ‘top dog’ and hierarchy) Ardi defines Beta this way: The communitarian, horizontal alternative to the individualistic, hierarchical Alpha paradigm. Beta creates networks rather than silos. Beta de-emphasizes secrecy, and focuses instead on the pooling of information, ideas and opinions.

Wow. Sounds like us, doesn’t it? She goes on to use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to demonstrate the sameness and differences between Alpha and Beta work environments. The base, or primary, needs don’t change, but when we get into the third tier, the one where we seek affinity and relationships, this is where a Beta organization begins to distinguish itself. In the esteem and self-actualization tiers, the Beta organization leaves Alphas in its dust.

Another way the author differentiates the two is by pointing out that Alpha organizations are by their very nature elitist. I can attest to this from my own experience working in sales organizations. Elitism can manifest in the form of tolerating inappropriate behaviour from the highest producers while professing to hold everyone to the same standards of conduct.

What’s A Leader To Do?

The author’s stated goal is not to “transform established, successful, conservative companies. Rather, to help organizations position themselves to succeed with today’s workers, and in today’s new business environment.”

I’ve pulled out a few more lines from the book to better describe the distinguishing features of a Beta organization.

  • Beta companies are communities, not armies. They are made up of shifting, project- or process-based teams instead of rigid functional silos.
  • Instead of focusing on people who have the best metrics, companies need to recognize the facilitators within the organization.
  • “Craftspeople” need to be as valued and rewarded as managers.
  • The short definition of Beta: communication, collaboration and curation

The book appears to be light reading when you pick it up but is actually quite deep and academic in places.  I found it challenging to make it through the first two chapters (‘Corporate Anthropology’ and ‘Plows and Primates’) but it picked up after that. It’s not a quick read. I recommend it for leaders and leadership teams who are open to change and confident enough to question current methodologies. Ardi provides practical examples of ways in which organizations can exemplify Beta behaviours.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review. This review is my personal opinion and was not influenced by the publicist, the publisher, or author.

7 HR Blogs You Don’t Want To Miss

Plugged In Work - Your career, your brand, your workplace

These seven human resource professionals write about the sharp edge of leadership and performance. They’re role models for embracing the new digital world and showing us how to make it work for HR.

HR Bartender – Sharlyn Lauby: When she’s not writing about human resources, leadership, or workplace politics , Sharlyn is president of ITM Group, a training company focused on employee engagement.

Evil HR Lady – Suzanne Lucas: Her materials have been used in HR certification and management training courses, and is a regular contributor on CBS MoneyWatch and Inc.

HR Ringleader – Trish McFarlane: Here’s a blogger who sees how the digital world has changed HR forever. In her spare time, she’s head of HR for Perficient, an IT management consulting firm.

Steve Boese’s HR Technology: This blog takes on HR and business issues and serve as an adjunct to the graduate course in HR technology he teaches.

The Cynical Girl – Lauri Ruettimann: Forbes named her website one of the top 100 websites for women. She’s the co-founder of and The HR Blogger Network.

The HR Introvert – Tim Gardner: Tim’s posts are creative and well thought out; exactly what you’d expect from an introvert.

The HR Capitalist – Kris Dunn: His topics span HR practice, technology and business results — with an occasional piece about NBA basketball.

Socialnomics – The Opportunity For Recruitment Firms

Socialnomics - the opportunity for recruitment firms

Photo - a small crowd of people with text bubbles above their heads to represent social reputationA company’s reputation has a direct impact on its ability to source top talent. That makes employer branding a concern for all businesses. For recruitment firms, it actually provides an opportunity to pull out in front of the competition. What’s the link between employer branding and socialnomics? And what is socialnomics, anyway?

Socialnomics Is Word Of Mouth On Steroids

Socialnomics is defined as the value created by social media and its influence on outcomes. Continue reading “Socialnomics – The Opportunity For Recruitment Firms”

Do This One Thing And Improve Your Employer Brand Now

Photo: Two action figures dressed as police lean on a globe and a smartphone

Whether you call it a war for talent, a talent crunch, or a skills shortage — employers agree that it’s getting tougher to attract the best. I’m sure you would also agree that your company won’t be going anywhere without the right people in the right jobs. That makes talent attraction a key initiative and a critical function. It also means you can’t afford to ignore your employer brand.

What Is An Employer Brand?

An employer brand is, quite simply, the way applicants, candidates, current employees, and past employees experience you as an employer. It’s the sum total of their comments to each other, to family members, and to contacts on social media. Yes, your marketing plays a role, but not as much as you might think. The public puts more trust in what others say than what a brand says about itself.

What’s The One Thing?

People want to connect. They want to work with companies that create a sense of community; those that are reachable and responsive. This applies as much to job candidates as it does to consumers. If you want an employer brand with the power to attract, look for communication gaps and close them. Review all the potential touchpoints — places where applicants may be reaching out but not receiving responses — and close the gaps. This means assigning someone to watch for opportunities to answer questions and chat with the public on your corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts. It means acknowledging every applicant, including the ones that don’t appear to match your company’s skill requirements.

Turn your social media sites into places where real conversations happen and you’ll improve your employer brand at lightning speed.

New Facebook Tool For Recruiters

FacebookFridayWideDiagonalFacebook used to be a tool for staying in touch with people we already know. Here’s the big shift: Graph Search was created so we can connect with people on Facebook that we don’t know. And — they’ve added work skills to the search parameters. This is big news for recruiters.

Below is a screen shot of a sample search. I typed in “Admin Assistants who live near Calgary, Alberta” and got pages full of results. If I had a great admin opportunity, I’d now be able to ask if they want to hear about it. Privacy settings are fully functional so if someone has hidden their profile, they won’t show up.

Of course, Graph Search works for non-recruiters, too. You can search for “people who play soccer and live near Ajax, Ontario”, or “people who like Pepsi”. Insert any brand or location you like.

Try it out — Let me know what you think of it.



The Problem With Exit Interviews

thinkerExit interviews: strategic move or too little, too late? Turns out, the answer is “it depends.” The biggest argument in favour of exit interviews is that the information provided will be used to improve the work environment. I’ve yet to see a direct correlation between exit data and change initiatives. My cynicism is based on three observations.

  • It’s common to apply broad exceptions to the exit process so that not everyone is interviewed. This means you’re getting a slice of data, not the whole picture. As an example, employees who are not performing satisfactorily or who have been terminated are usually not invited to an exit interview. That handily skews the results as the company only hears from the happy leavers.
  • The exit conversations are sometimes shielded by a bond of secrecy that dynamite wouldn’t dislodge. It begs the question: Why go through the motions of asking if you’re going to tie your own hands behind your back? Some of this, I believe, is caused by the manner in which questions are asked, rather than by direct request of the exiting employee.
  • When there are problems in need of a solution, people know about them. I have never seen a case where an exit interview revealed a problem that was completely unknown and was addressed as a direct result of the exit interview.

I worry about the people who don’t leave. When they hear their departing colleague is scheduled to do an exit interview — and they do hear — are they wondering why it takes a resignation to get invited to a one-on-one consultation on how the company is doing in the areas of benefits, working conditions, and compensation? Annual employee satisfaction surveys are nice but they don’t hold a candle to individual attention and concern.

There’s another problem with exits. Once the interview is done, the departing employee may tell colleagues that they revealed all the woes afflicting the company during their exit interview and were assured that their information would be used to make the company a better place to work. It sets an air of expectation among the remaining employee population. They’re watching for something to be said; for something to change.

Those are my concerns. I’m including links to two articles, each with differing opinions on the matter. Both writers make good points for and against.

In my own experience over the last 20 years, exit interviews take place too selectively to be of any real statistical value. They also tend to be shrouded in secrecy which further reduces their usefulness.

What do you think? Do I have it wrong? Feel free to leave comments.

Lead Generation For Staffing Companies – 7 Blogs

7 Blogs for 7 Days graphicContent marketing programs and social media engagement allow staffing firms to abandon interruption marketing as a business development strategy. Recruiters and Account Managers everywhere will enjoy hearing that cold calling is dying out.

The blog posts in this week’s roundup show updated business development methods relying heavily on quality online content and a well-developed follow up plan. Two of my favourites are John Jantsch’s “Lead Generation Is About Being Found”, and Seth Godin’s “Being Found vs. Being Sought”; links to both articles are below.

Wishing you all the best success and a reputation that will make Seth’s words work for you:

Nice to be found. Essential to be sought.