Conversations: Iced Coffee And Organic Sugar

Sales Executive: It's good to finally meet you. It's only been what, two years? 
Headhunter: 19 months. And it's nice to put a real face to the name. I can't believe you use your real photo on LinkedIn. For $500, I can hire someone to photoshop that manly scruff away.
SE: Salespeople can't have old photos - no one recognizes you when you take them to lunch.
H: Good point. Do you want lunch? Food's good, but if you're meeting someone at 12 - well, I don't eat before presentations. 
SE: Me either. Maybe a small muffin and a coffee. So how's business?
H: Would you believe me if I told you I'm working with that company again?
SE: You're braver than me.
H: You never burn a contact in our world. You just try to understand what the problem is and hit it from another angle.
SE: You sound like a sales guy. 
H: I'll get a medium coffee, in a mug please.
SE: I'll get a banana nut muffin, and do you have iced coffee? 
Barista: We don't.
SE: So a hot coffee, and a glass of ice.
H: Dude - you're in the burbs. If you want fresh, cold-pressed brewed fine designer coffee, you have to stay in the city. 
SE: Hot coffee isn't something you drink before a presentation. Get the wrong stuff, and you'll start sweating just as you're asking for money. 
H: Holy crap, you're right. You are a professional salesperson. Honestly, I didn't think about that before. 
SE: You know, it's the little things.
{to Barista}
H: Excuse me - do you have any of that Vegan sugar in the back.
Barista: I'll check, sir.
SE: What did you just ask for?
H: Vegan sugar?
SE: Yeah, vegan sugar.
H: My wife brought it home from Whole Foods the other day. 
SE: Your wife is a sweetheart, but perhaps you can explain why you think you can make fun of me for iced coffee, when you have vegan sugar up on deck. 
H: What is vegan sugar?
SE: I don't know. 
H: Exactly. What is it? Is there something in sugar that's not vegan? I looked at the label. You know what it says? Sugar. And you when you look at a regular sugar package, you know what it says?
SE: Sugar.
H: Exactly. So that got me thinking. What is in my sugar that has a face?
SE: That could be the most disgusting thing I've heard since that pink meat at McDonald's. 
H: Right? It's worth being made fun of if I'm not getting cow brains or horse hoof in my sugar. 
SE: Real salespeople don't put anything in their coffee. It's wasted time that creates tension with the client while you stir in your hazelnut cream. 
H: It's quite possible. The next time I meet a real salespeople, I'll be sure to ask them if that's true. 
SE: Talking with you is like talking with my older brother, after he switched bodies with my youngest daughter. 
H: I get you what you're saying. I'm family. 

{Both start laughing}

Candidate Personas: The Motivated Mover Versus The Happy Hard Sell

Candidate Personas Series: Introduction, and Part I

When looking at candidates, it's important to look at their motivations for the job search. Over time, and with enough interviews, you can begin to identify candidates based on why they would consider your position.

This is not a cure-all. It's not a substitute for behavioral assessments or proper interview procedures. It is simply a way of thinking about a candidate's point of view, so that you can learn to identify their needs and communicate in a way that will increase your likelihood of success. This is a... basket of general attitudes. It's not candidate-specific, but as you see the patterns, you should be able to clearly place someone into a general category.

Let's take a look at three candidate personas, and then we'll look at ways to start conversations with them.

Motivated Mover:

This is every recruiter's favorite candidate. The Motivated Mover is an in-demand, talented candidate who interviews well, understands their value, makes good choices, and is absolutely looking to make a change. 

Motivated Movers have a track record of success. They ask questions about what is needed and who they'll work with because they're trying to picture success at your company. Interviews are two-way conversations. Negotiations are tough, but they're part of the decision-making process. The Motivated Mover isn't looking to just get the best deal, they're determining if your compensation policies deliver success. Throw money at this person, and they'll know you overpay to cover flaws in the business. Come in too low, and they know that you can't or won't pay for the right kind of talent.

Motivated Movers also have multiple options. They don't interview with one company. They have multiple interviews and multiple offers, which means speed is important as well. Wait too long, and a Motivated Mover will get a better deal.

This is prime candidate beef.

How to win: You need a transparent hiring process that is clearly communicated and actually followed by the company. You need high responsiveness from everyone on the hiring team. It's as simple as saying what you'll do and doing what you said.

Cons:  When all is said and done, if you're truly dealing with "A" talent, you're still only going to nab 50% of them (that's a good thing. If you win every pitch you make to a candidate, it's because you're not talking to a high enough quality candidate). 

Happy Hard Sell:

The Happy Hard Sell isn't a candidate you're going to see very often. They're as talented as the Motivated Mover, but they're not motivated to move. They're still quality beef, but they're the steak behind the glass. They like where they are, and they're not particularly interested in hearing a pitch. 

Recruiters often make the mistake of finding a Happy Hard Sell and thinking they can talk them into an interview. If you can talk them into an interview, you then assume they'll take an offer. They're attractive to managers because they are talented and exclusive.

How to win: The Happy Hard Sell isn't interested in being screened, they're interested in being challenged. If they sense that they're just another candidate, they have no reason to continue interviewing. What they want to see is a well-thought out pitch that makes sense for them. Be prepared ahead of time. Focus on the work, and not on selling. The benefits and perks and salaries need to be competitive, but they're not the hook.

The hook is the problem you're trying to solve. During your pitch, you need built in problems that the Happy Hard Sell wants to solve.

Cons: The Happy is a Hard Sell for a reason. That reason may be something you can't match. If so, you can spend a lot of time and resources courting someone who will never move. There's also an element of luck. If a Happy Hard Sell is on the verge of finishing a product, and they're current company hasn't planned out their future, they are susceptible to a pitch. That's a very hard timeline to match.

Planning Player:
This is my favorite kind of candidate for digital marketing management. In our industry, there is an 18-24 month window for advancement. In general, a manager will either be promoted within their company or they'll take a new position at another company. That length of time varies by industry, but it's a good balance between completing a project and embracing new technology and trends.

The Planning Player is clear that their career is the motivation. The promotion is recognition that they are improving, and they are protective of making a smart move. They're okay with a less-defined process, and jumping through your hoops, because they understand that's part of the process. It's not what they care about. They care about your reputation, and the chance to get a short-term win. They're also very focused on selling themself. 

How to win: The planner looks for clarity. They want to know that there aren't hidden risks. They will be sensitive to the company's reputation, and the job description, and the planned budget. The easiest way to pitch is to keep it simple. If they can quickly understand the opportunity, and they can quickly run it past their friends and family, they'll probably interview. And once a planner is in the interview, just don't mess up. 

Cons: Planning players don't like ambiguity. They don't like managers who want to shoot the breeze and get to know them. They believe if they're interviewing that the company has an interest in them. They're not prima donnas - but they're not sheep. You can mistreat them as a function of the process (they're not as sensitive to extra demands or steps), but when they're done with you, they're done. It's like a stress test. They're fine until they're not, and their seeming unflappable nature is hard to judge when they're close to being done with you. The problem is they don't pull themselves out of the process. They will go through to the end to see if they can get the offer, but you're dealing with a dead candidate who is just practicing their interview and negotiating skills.

Things To Say To Each Candidate Type

Motivated Mover: 
1) I know you're looking at several companies. Are they all the same position? Do you clearly know what you want to do next? 
2) Thinking about the company you're at now - what do you wish they would have done to make your last project more successful? 
3) This process is going good places, so let's stop and have a conversation about compensation. This is the ideal package the company would like to see. You can see it places you a very specific niche below a VP but above a typical Director. That's because they want you to have autonomy, but not fall under a normal salary band that requires a certain number of employees to manage. Now in this, you'll be reporting directly to this executive, but will have dotted lines to these three, and regular contact with senior executives during planning. 
4) What are we missing here? If you take the job or don't take it, what do we need to add to the work to make it successful. Is our timeline right? Is our project too ambitious? Maybe not ambitious enough? 

Happy Hard Sell:
1) What did you want to accomplish when you started your current position? 
2) When looking at our company's future, it was clear that the right team in the position takes more than a job description written by a recruiter like me. There's a tension between what we think we need, what we actually need, and what the right candidate thinks they need. It's kind of impossible to know where any of us are right. We need to be flexible, but everyone can't do this. It's a commitment to the right person, to give them the tools they need. 
3) We're not looking for a moon shot. It's not the impossible - but you don't get the chance very often to make a real impact. Our company has this window, but it's not doable unless we find the right person, and put the right team behind them. 
4) Does any of this sound interesting? Is it even worth you hearing more about, or is there someone else you feel would really be able to get their teeth into this? 

Planning Player:
1) I like your background. It's methodical, it's planned. You've managed your career well. Is this the move that you anticipated? 
2) The roles you've had in the past show you can succeed, but the next rung in the ladder is an important one. It has more competition, more risk, and is fundamentally different from your last few roles. The interview, the process, the negotiation - they're more difficult because there's more at stake. 
3) Many of the candidates that have been successful in your roles had a mentor. As their mentor was hired, they brought them along. Has that been your experience? I mean, it's great, until the mentor's career stalls. Have you been largely self-motivated, or have you been trained and led? How does that effect you now? How do you plan to adapt without...air cover? 
4) I don't like to dig into salary history, but I do want to ask, have you thought through what you need to take this next step? Financially, are you in a position to make a move, and is it about a specific dollar amount or a specific increase? What is the reward for your work, and why hasn't that occurred at your current employer? 



Conversations: The Rise Of Employment Branding

Talent-Acquisition-GraphReporter: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today - this is a pretty straightforward story - we're trying to describe the growth of Employment Branding as a category of recruitment. Did I say that right? Is recruitment the word?
Former TA Head: It's fine. A little awkward, but it gets the point across.  
R: A little awkward - yeah, it felt that way - but I saw it on a blog, and thought it was jargon you guys use. 
TA: It's fine.
R: Okay - the premise so far is that Employment Branding is the application of digital marketing to how we hire. It's a natural progression from a marketing agency building a company brand to the HR department creating a brand around working for the company. Does that sound about right. 
TA: I see the story thread, but employment branding has always been around. The change in the last decade has really been employment branding a line item in the budget. The story would more accurately be described as the story of recruitment marketing, which was originally simply writing job descriptions and posting them in newspapers, and has now emerged into story telling, advertising, video, and testing of candidate experience through a digital process. 
R: Okay, so - recruitment marketing was job posting, but employment branding is something else?
TA: It's grown in importance - which is why it's now in the budget separately, and has its own title and sometimes employees, and even consultants who specialize solely in improving a company's image and application process. 
R: Do you think this was a natural progression? An outgrowth of digital tool filtering down to different departments? I mean, it's not like Photoshop is a skillset that you look for in a Director of Human Resources.
TA: That's a good question. There are probably two responses. Digital is certainly in a progression, and as the tools become cheaper, more departments have access to them. Information Technology is the backbone of our systems, but we purchase our own software for the candidate process. 
R: This is the ATS, the Applicant Tracking System. 
TA: Yes, but it's all traffic to the careers website, and big data from interviews, and behavioral assessments, and a number of recruiting tools like LinkedIn and Entelo that are run by my team, not IT not marketing. We don't need a software analyst to help us on loan - we have our own IT people, although they seem as HR technology and not Information Technology. That might be a distinction without a difference, but again, it goes back to where that person falls in P&L negotiations. 
R: The cost in software drops, and it's easy to use, and because of that, you can do marketing - uh - things, that couldn't be done before.
TA: Yes, a little simplified, but yes. We can do more without a large team, the same way that software lets my daughter edit movies on her phone that are technically a higher quality than Disney was putting out in the 60's. And it's an afterthought - not even the purpose of the phone. 
R: The first response is that it's happening because it finally can happen. That's the thrust of the article, but you mentioned a second response.
TA: I don't know how popular this is, but I find it interesting that Employment Branding, and even the term I have in my title, my former title, Talent Acquisition, gained popularity at the same time. In terms of trends, this could a reaction to talk of moving Recruiting into its own function outside of Human Resources, or moving it under the Marketing umbrella. There was certainly the sense in the boardroom that as marketing budgets grew, the CMO was amassing too much power. It was the corollary to "Software is eating the world." The CMO can't have everything, so perhaps the change in our titles reflected a desire to protect turf.
R: That would be something if it were true. Is it true?
TA: Possibly. But it's also a very corporate way of looking at trends. Are you familiar with social intelligence?
R: Is that like EQ?
TA: No, it's group intelligence. It's basically the sum total of a group's decisions, which tends to be more accurate in describing a current situation. Regular intelligence is good for new ways of thinking, but the group has to follow that thinking for it to take hold, and for good reason, abandons most "smart" solutions. But group intelligence is collectively a better tool for understanding why things happen. Simply put, there are too many variables to understand in economic analysis, or global trends, or even, conversations between people. The world is a complex place, and we're not smart to fully understand it. Social intelligence posits that the group is smart enough to react, but doesn't bother to explain. When I said corporate, I meant solipsistic, which is a focus on oneself. If the summary of a trend is a bit too useful to you, it's probably wrong. That's why I don't think the second response is true.
R: That's very interesting. So, mostly - you'd agree it's just availability of the tools that brought Employment Branding to the fore. 
TA: Perhaps. But what else is happening? What can social intelligence tell us about what's occurring?
R: Social intelligence doesn't explain.
TA: That's true, but we can take a crack at it. How about this. Company loyalty has been in decline for almost 40 years. The dream of the Boomers of working for one company is long-gone, as is the trust in authority that was a hallmark of American society. It's important to recognize this was a distinctly American trend. The classless structure of the US, or rather the assumption that it's classless, required a different kind of loyalty. That was company loyalty. If you think about it, this was actually a enormous reservoir of goodwill. The average applicant assumed goodwill on the part of the company unless they were specifically told this was not the case. 
R: Employment Branding is a reaction to job-hopping?
TA: The challenge of hiring is a basic marketing problem. If they know your name, they apply. If they don't know your name, they don't apply. Today, knowing a company exists is not enough to make someone apply. They want to know about you. They want more from you. 
R: They want more. 
TA: They want more. And thus, to give them more Employment Branding was born. Now, jobseekers don't know it's called Employment Branding, but their expectations are that the company sell itself prior to them applying. From our side, we can see that if we're liked prior to the application, they're more likely to take the job. This is pretty new. I didn't have to do this I started. 
R: So the story then becomes that Employment Branding was made possible by technology, but is a response to the uncertainty in the job market, even for those who are employed 
TA: That sounds about right. 
R: That, is a very good ending. I'll see if I can work that in. Anything else to come mind I should add? 
TA: Nothing important. Good luck on the article. Send me a link, when it's live. 

(the rest of the transcript was fact-checking, spelling, and other basic reporting techniques)

Conversations: I'm Too Busy To Get Anything Done

Sister: So when are we going to lunch?
Senior Manager: This week is just shot. 
S: You're not planning on eating lunch this week? 
M: I am - but, I can't get away. I am over-booked. Back-to-back-to-back meetings and that doesn't even include the work I have to do. 
S: Do you do any work? 
M: All I do is work.
S: You say that, and yet, you're always in back-to-back-to-back meetings. Can't you cancel them?
M: I wish. We're supposed to be open, and give input across divisions. If I'm not there, it slows everyone else down.
S: You're doing it wrong. 
M: Excuse me?
S: You're doing this whole management thing wrong. If you were talking to me like this as an employee, I'd roll my eyes and go get a smoothie.
M: That's why you don't have a corporate job, sis. 
S: That's why you're so bad at yours. Seriously? Back-to-back-to-back? What does that even mean? You walk into every meeting late, unprepared, and with everyone afraid to start because they'll just have to start back over when you arrive. 
M: Ha! I had a manager when I first started who would shut and lock the door one minute before the meeting. You were either in or out. 
S: How did that go over? 
M: I transferred to a better division. 6 months later he was fired when they found out he was sleeping with one of his direct reports.
S: They fire you for that?
M: No. They fired him because that little door-locking stunt was just one of many weird things he did to maintain control, and his division was failing. 
S: It's like what Mom says - that's Business Ethics!
M: So what were you saying? You don't think I'm prepared?
S: You showed up to my birthday party 25 minutes late and with the phone in your ear. When you got off the phone, you were boring to talk to for an hour.
M: I just needed to get out of my head - and into the party. 
S: Exactly. What you should have done is finished the call, got your head right, and walked into my party smiling that your baby sister was turning 30. Now - I happen to know that nothing in life with the exception of the kids, and maybe your husband, is more important than your baby sister, which means that your employees and other work manager type people aren't getting any of your attention. And that, dear sister, is because you're pretending that it doesn't bother you when you're booked back-to-back-to-back. 
M: You really like saying that, don't you. 
S: It's so stupid. Back-to-back is fine. When you say back-to-back-to-back, what you're really saying is "I'm so important - look at me and how busy I am!" 
M: I decided I like your brother better than I like you. 
S: Impossible. Seriously - you said it yourself. I have to get through these meetings and then I'll get the real work done. 
M: You might be right - there's actually some studies on that. 
S: Some studies - and your brilliant, beautiful, perfect sister telling you that if you're whining to me, you're whining to everyone. 
M: I wish it were that simple. 
S: What's the point of being the boss if you can't tell people to do their own work?
M: I'm not the boss. And even if you are the boss, that means less time. You're responsible...
S: For all the you's that are running around not getting anything done and pretending to be busy. 
M: I can't do lunch this week. 
S: Okay - then you should treat me like our brother and pay for my lunch even if you can't go. 
M: That happened one time. 
S: And that's why I'm your favorite. 

Conversations: Al Pacino On Job Offers

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 9.24.44 AM
Guy walks in with an envelope. Pacino is talking to the bartender. Guy sits down next to him

Al Pacino: That looks like a story. What do you have in the envelope?

Guy: It’s a job offer. They sent it over, and I told them I want to think about it over the weekend.

Al: The weekend? How long have you been interviewing?

G: 2 months.

Al: 2 months: And you just need..2..more..days. Just a little more time. 

G: Yeah - I want to make sure this is the right choice.

Al: I get it. You want to be smart about this. You want to take your time and make sure that if you’re jumping from one rock to the next, you don’t slip and fall. I get it. You want security. That’s good, it’s good to want security.  That’s what this is about, right? But uh, forgive me for intruding - life doesn’t work that way. You look at what’s in front of you, or you can peer back into the past, but life itself - is always moving forward. Every tick of the clock is one second closer to death, and we are all terrified of it. We know - we know we take nothing with us, but for today, well, we just want to put a little bit of space between us and the future. Right? 


Jobs, promotions,  layoffs - what are they? An opportunity. An opportunity to make a little more, maybe to prove we have what it takes? Maybe a chance to fail, and in the process get a little tougher because we can’t shake the idea that maybe we had it too easy. A guy comes to you, asks if you want a job. What do you do? You call your mom. You think of buying your wife a mug that says San Diego. You check the weather app on your phone. What does it mean? You think looking at house prices is really going to make a difference? 

So what - what are we talking about. An offer? A decision to take an offer? No. We're talking about you. Your life is changing no matter what you do. Let’s say your boss leaves. You want their job. You get it, but you do not get a raise. What did you think was going to happen? Your bosses want the same security you want. They pay you more, then they gotta listen to the next sob story and the next, until their whole day is saying yes or no to people at their door, hat in hand, asking for just a little more. You want to be in that line? That’s security? No, If your bosses understood what they had, they'd already have paid you and you’d be sitting on the other side of that offer, waiting for some guy in a bar to tell you he needs the weekend to think about it.

Hey. You got an offer in hand. You should take your time. Call your mother. Talk about the past. But if you’re going to sit there, with your foot on the brake, checking to make sure that you’re okay, someone might pull into your spot. When they do - you’re going to find something about yourself. You might feel relief.. Well, relief feels good! At least, until it’s time to stand in line, with your hat in your hand, asking for just.. a little more. 

Guy: That’s, that's uh, some good advice. So what do you do?

Al: Pal, you got a decision in front of you and you want to push that off to talk to some guy in a bar? I tell you what I do. I don’t stand in lines.