Dice Open Web Project: Business Analyst For The Internet Of Things

Thanks to a preview of the Dice Open Web project, I'm digging into a permanent position for a business analyst for a manufacturing company in St Louis. The following are my notes on using DOW. The only compensation was a two week trial of the product.  

State of the Search:

We started with your typical job description, which pretty much is summed up with the title, Business Analayst. The company has been getting resumes from their website, and from recruiters who scour the normal job boards, so I either have to deep dive into companies, or use a new source. 

So I log into Dice, and because I talked to the manager, I enter search terms that are very specific.


I start with simple. "Internet of things" "business analyst" One difference for Dice that you have to get used to is that you don't use quotes for specific phrases. You separate keywords and phrases with a comma. Like all search protocols, knowing this before you start saves you a lot of time.  

"

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 10.24.01 AM

So that creates 57 names, but I wasn't specific enough, and I get into the weeds with internet of things. So I back out and start over. 

Mesh network." "Iot." "NDC." RFID." "Wifi and Supply Chain" What I'm looking for is not just resumes, but clues into the people and companies that work on this in St Louis. 

The RFID Search has 5,000 candidates, but every one on the front page is a fit.  

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 10.32.20 AM

Most of these start with a resume, so I have contact info and know they are looking. But on page 2, I start getting more Open Web profiles, which can send me to LinkedIn, Facebook, Github, and Twitter. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 10.32.34 AM

This solves two problems. One, I'm calling right away. But if those calls hit voice mail, I have other ways of reaching out to them, and as I'm reading through each profile, I'm improving my knowledge of the skillset in St Louis, as well as which companies feature prominently in the space. 

If I were doing this on LinkedIn, I could pull up social data using a Chrome extension, but I'm by definition searching in a passive candidate pond. If I'm using another job board, I'm not focused on tech, and I'm competing against lightning fast contract recruiters who call every new resume as soon as it hits the job board. 

And let's not forget the company is doing th same thing, posting jobs and taking resumes for the position. 

My next step is contacting people. 

1) I call if the number is available. 
2) I email if that's available, using information from their social profile to be the hook. 
3) If they're on LinkedIn, I compare the profile to the resume, and make sure I check profile also viewed that night. 
4) I track them on social channels to see if they're talking about work, and if they're open to messaging on Facebook or Twitter. 
5) I check their name - many candidates use a slightly different version of their name in the resume to throw off their current employer. 

I'll update you on the total numbers and the connection success, as well as keeping a tab on the time as we move this project forward. 


And if you're a business analyst in St Louis with a manufacturing and supply chain background looking to get into the Internet of things, email me at that link to the top right.

 

For more on using Dice, check out their Social Recruiting Toolkit. 

 





Get A Job In 2014

I get a lot of requests from job-seekers. This is my standard advice.  

I applaud you for reaching out. I'm not in St Louis any longer, and don't have any positions to offer you, but there are several things I can think of. 


1) Recruiting. Staffing isn't hard to learn.  If you're good at it, you can make six figures by your third year. All it really takes is the ability to get on the phone, ask questions of people, and keep getting on the phone.  There is a ton of information online about being a good recruiter, and the dirty little secret of getting hired is all you have to do is pick up the phone and start calling around. 

The hardest thing to hire is someone who wants to work. Calling the 100 plus staffing firms in St Louis and telling them you'd like to start as an entry level recruiter is a guaranteed way to get a job. Your salary will be less than $30,000 to start, but if you can work hard, it will quickly jump to 50,000 then to 75,000, then to 100,000.

Owners and managers want to hear that you will use the phone. If you call them, ask them to hire you, and tell them you're going to call all 100 staffing firms until you get an answer, and when you've made 100 calls, you're going to call back with what you learned, someone will hire you. 

Recruiting also fits your career goals of helping people, and I can guarantee you that personal likability is the second most important skillset.  The first being the phone. 

Don't send resumes.  Yours won't get you hired. Instead say, my resume won't get me the job - the only thing that will is that I'm calling you while other candidates are pressing send.  

Seriously - it's a killer argument.  

2) Marketer 

The other suggestion is to start a small business marketing to restaurants and small stores.  Go knock on doors and tell them you do their social media for $500 a month. Read all you can, copy from other cities, and keep getting new clients.  6 clients is $36,000 a year, and that isn't that much work. You could focus on places that have bands, but I'd do anyone who advertises in the yellow pages or through direct mail. 

 

3) Read This 

http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/basics.htm

 

4) Sending resumes isn't job searching.

Instead make a list of things you might want to do.  List 5.  Then start calling everyone you know and ask them if they know someone who does one of those jobs.  Ask for the phone number, and ask your friend to call that person and tell them you're calling with questions. 

 

Ask:

  • What do you like about the job?
  • How did you start? 
  • What would you do differently if you were starting today? 
  • What would I read (website or books) to learn more?
  • Who else should I speak with to learn more?

 

Don't ask for a job.  Ask for information. Someone will ask if they can help get you a job.  When you get an interview, tell the recruiter/manager/HR person what you did to get the interview.

Someone will hire you.  

I've given this advice to hundreds of people in the last two decades. Six have listened.  All six got great jobs.  The rest still call me back and ask what they can do. 

 

 


Recruiting Versus Sourcing

I did a quick column for SourceCon on the difference between recruiting and sourcing

Sourcing is not the same as recruiting. While I appreciate my talented friends who build talent pipelines, org charts, and call lists for recruiters, they’re not doing themselves any favors comparing the two skill sets.

Hiring is the process of one flawed human deciding to give money to another flawed human in hopes the second flawed human is going to make the life of the first flawed human easier. That’s the basic idea of any interview. Does the manager picture the candidate solving problems, or do they picture them creating problems? The strongest picture wins.

Sourcing is the development of a list of flawed people who interest human #1. It’s an important first step, but even if the sourcer is contacting the people on that list, it’s the easiest part. Calling someone and telling them you have an interest in them is a positive phone call.

SourceCon 2013 Seattle is in Seattle, WA, on October 2–3, 2013.Learn more »


Do You Know Enough Math To Be A Staffing Firm Recruiter?

I occasionally get requests to decipher comp plans from readers.  My first thought when I get them is that if you can't decipher them, either the plan is bad or your math skills aren't good enough to be a recruiter.

But that's unfair.  Comp plans are designed to be difficult.  They vary by company, and there are a lot of factors that determine their profitability.  I myself, a decade ago, flubbed an interview because my understanding of gross margin was different than the company I was interviewing with. 

So here's a guide. 

Simply stated: Gross Margin = Bill Rate - (Pay Rate X Burden).  Gross margin is sometimes referred to as net, net margin, gross net margin, and profit.  Don't assume your company's description is an accurate one. 

There are lots of ways to pay on gross margin

    Company A: Recruiter/Salesperson team generates $1,000,000 in gross margin.  Each gets $500,000 credit.  You pay 25% commission.  They each are paid $125,000. 

    Company B:  Recruiter/Salesperson generates $1,000,000 in gross margin.  They each get credited $1,000,000.  You pay only 15% commission, but they each walk away with $150,000. 

    Company C: Recruiter/Recruiter/Salesperson team (3 people) generates $1,000,000 in gross margin.  You pay 20% commission to the Salesperson for 50% of the credit, paying them $100,000.  The Recruiters pool their half of the credit, and are each paid 30%!  They each go home with $75,000.  

See what happened there?  If you don't understand, you should have been more alert in math class.  There are other ways to do this as well. 

Let's take a look at pay based on revenue, with a minimum gross profit percentage. 

   Company D pays draw of $32,000, with commissions paid as 3% of revenue if gross margin percentage is 20% and 5% of revenue if gross margin percentage is 25% or above.

How much do you revenue do you need to make $100,000 if your gross margin percentage is 22%?

If you average 2000 hours per candidate (no overtime), and you have 30 contractors, what is your average gross margin?

If your burden is 21%, what is your average pay rate? 

Answer below the fold:

Continue reading "Do You Know Enough Math To Be A Staffing Firm Recruiter?" »


Is A Reference Check In A Sales Call A Sign Of Weakness?

What is the purpose of a reference check?  Whether it's for a candidate or for a sales call, a reference check is designed to give some level of comfort to a buyer/hirer that the process they just completed was legitimate. 

It's checking to make sure that what you were told was the truth, and that you were not sold a bill of goods.  

Some people will say references are an important part of any sales process, of any interview.  It shows a thoroughness on the part of the checker - a covering of all bases. It is a risk management tool that serves as a warning to fraudsters and con men that they have to do more than spin a good yarn.

But enough with the metaphors, and on to the sales lesson.  I'm not here to talk about the importance or wisdom of references. I'm here to share a story about bad salespeople, who require references. 

I was learning at the foot of a master salesman.  The guy had been around, knew how to close, and most important, was willing to teach.  Sitting in his office, we would wait for sales agents out in the field to call in during client presentations.  The call was a necessary part of the sale.  Salespeople had to get authorization on their deals.  Anyone who has bought a car understands why this works, and its importance in negotiation. 

The strong ones called in and laid out the deals they were negotiating.  They used the call as a tool to show a process of buying.  That process made the clients comfortable.  It showed the salesperson had a company behind them, and the call was part of that process.  They weren't asking for permission to close, they were playing a role to create urgency.   

The weak ones used the call for backup.  The sales manager knew this, and would tell me before the call what would happen. 

"He's going to call in, tell us it's a good deal with an interested client.  He's going to say, 'They're almost ready to sign, but they want to talk to some references first.'"

And just like the sales manager was some kind of prophet, that's exactly what would happen.  The sales guy would call in, say he had a good deal, and explain that references were all that was needed to close the deal. 

Here's what I learned. References never close the deal.  If you cannot close the deal by yourself, references are not going to do it for you.  That's why they're called a reference check, and not a reference close.  

1) Only a durned fool gives bad references.  While I've seen it happen for candidates, that's because candidates have learned that a lot of companies don't actually check references.  In sales, that doesn't happen.  That means that only positive references are given.  What use are those? 

2) It's not the reference check that's the problem.  It's the idea that it has power.  Reference checks are designed only to make the checker feel good in their decision. 

What's the proper way to handle a request for a reference in a sales call?  This is what I was taught. 

Sales Manager:  Tell them this.  Tell them of course you're going to give them references, but you're sensing there is something else going on. Do they have concerns about the project?  Are they prepared to buy right there?  If we call and get the references on the phone, will they sign upon hanging up?  We ask because references have to be protected.  They've graciously allowed us to use their name, but it's not their job to sell for us.  So again, tell them of course they can check references, but let's make sure that there isn't anything else stopping them from signing. 

It's a beautiful understanding of the sales process, and the response of the prospect would tell us all we needed to know. 

1) Just give us the references, and we'll call them: This meant they were stalling, and asking for references was their way of ending the sales meeting without having to sign a commitment. 

2) They admitted their were other factors in place: including time, budget, and/or revisions to what we intended to sell them:

3) They got belligerent: This was usually followed by the suggestion that a failure to provide references was a sign we were hiding something. 

This was always the most interesting, because it told us the problem was not the product.  Those who got belligerent fell into two camps - those that had purchased a similar product and had been burned, and those who did not trust the salesperson.

The belligerence was based either on fear of getting burned again, or distrust of the salesperson.  In both cases, it showed someone who could be sold by the right person.  

In no case, and in no time since, has a request for a reference check in a sales process ever led to a sale. Reference checks asked before the conclusion of a deal happen because the salesperson failed to unearth relevant information about the prospect.  While it is entirely normal for a prospect to ask for them, the time and manner in which they ask should serve as a signal as to whether or not you will close the deal.   

 


I Want To Be Indispensable

I was 25 years old, and had spent two years at my first office job.  After years in catering, restaurant, and retail, I was working at a desk in an office with computers and printers and an undefined role. 

At the time, I was a marketing/IT/sales/management hybrid, developing a mapping project for outside salespeople to use in collecting leads while in new markets.  With the help of the 3rd fastest computer in the company, and a whopping 4 GB of memory, I redrew the United States into walkable sections based on business lists purchased from ABI. 

In addition, I handled special marketing projects, served as a liaison to other departments (shipping, sales, marketing, enterprise, customer service), served as a buffer between  my boss and the sales floor, and for a while, I sang in the choir. 

I was in a growing company, and had won my spurs in the first year, placing in the top 5 salespeople dialing 125 times a day setting up appointments with car dealers, mortgage companies, retail stories, and distributors on selling an incentive program. 

This is all brought up because I just noticed Seth Godin has a book called Linchpin, Are You Indispensable?

Indespensable.  At the age of 25, that's all I wanted.  I remember standing in a bar on a Friday explaining to a group of 8-10 people what I actually did.  The answer was everything.  Anything my boss wanted me to do. Anything I saw that needed to be done.  Anything other people wouldn't do.  From recruiting to admin to training to reporting functions to IT Help Desk to UX work - my job was simply to solve problems. 

And so when they asked, I told them my job was to be indispensable. 

One guy - a real stud, both in sales and in life, looked at me with sympathetic eyes and 10 more years of experience and said, "No one can ever be indispensable."

It's been 12 years since, and I'm now inclined to believe him. Companies move on, more often than not.  When they lack personnel or lose someone important, they move to different things.  Whether they fail aor succeed, they move on.  How can one man be indispensable in a system that adjusts itself through sheer inertia?  Whatever satisfaction you get from helping the company win or watching it lose, the result is temporary.  Indispensable simply doesn't last forever. 

That desire never left me, and so in 2006, I started my own company.  Ultimately the only way to truly be indispensable for any length of time was to do it all yourself.  To date, I'm still indispensable, but I'm actively working each day to make myself obsolete.  It will be a joy the day I can sit back for six months and watch the company work on its own.  How crazy is that?    

I'm out every day looking for employees that are indispensable.  I'm out every day looking, and not finding, because on thing is true - people who want to be indispensable can't reach their potential working for others.

Clearly I've yet to read Godin's book, but the title struck a memory chord, and a strong one.

Are you indispensable?  Is it even possible to be?  


Predicting The Future Is Easy. Complaining About The Future Is Getting Old

One of the lamer trends that pops up every six months are so is the column from an industry stalwartbemoaning the rise of social media in the human resource community.  Having watched this unfold for over ten years, the pattern of behavior as social media invades yet another walled fortress makes this really boring to me, but the earnestness in which social media is denounced and accepted compels me to write something about the situation. 

Social media is all over the place because it's scary.  With a public (that consists of both B2C and the general public) that craves information and now has learned to share it, the ability to tightly control information is no longer possible.  In fact, once social media has breached the walls, attempts to control information actually increase the growth of adoption as people learn they don't have to take it anymore. 

This is very damaging to the old guard.  It first hits pundits, who find themselves forced to cover social media, but only at a distance.  Later it progresses to consultants, who explain that social media is important, but not as important as the basics they teach. Finally, it reaches executives who have not prepared their companies for change, and are terrified of what it portends.  It's true in every industry, starting with the media, and continuing on to marketing, sales, customer service, and of course human resources.  It's about the only thing we can count on in today's economy.  That order is also the order of outrage, with first pundits, then consultants, then executives taking to blogs and online magazines  (ironically) to decry the barbarians at the gate.  "You Lack Experience," they proclaim. "You Can't Show Your Results," they mock.  "You Need A Steady Hand" (one they provide at hundreds of dollars an hour), they beg.  And many people cheer them along, grateful that someone is there to protect them from LinkedIn invitations and Twitter searches.

And then another year passes, and the naysayers turn around to find themselves surrounded with change, as social media participants in their company, supply chain, customer base, and competitor's sales force ignored their warnings and just dove in.  Without consultants and without direction, working off slivers of information provided at conferences and online, the companies and people of the world are doing more on their own, without the hallowed gatekeepers giving them the go ahead.  The peasants are revolting, without even bothering to ask for permission. 

It's as if the early adopters, in using their imagination and testing out new technology, sparked the use of creativity and imagination among the workforce, who in their day-to-day activities realized their customers were already using social media.  

It's as if early adopters, far from being the catalysts for change, were simply noting that the world was changing, and that paying attention to those changes might be important if a company didn't want to get lost. 

What we now know, is that early adopters are not special.  They are not super talented gadget freaks with magic social powers.  We know this because the masses who came after them are exhibiting the same behaviors once exposed to the platforms.  In other words, paying attention to the early adopters and their actual use of social media, was a pretty gosh darned good way to predict what would happen. 

These trends aren't difficult to see in hindsight.  It wasn't that long ago that people didn't use credit cards online, and certainly wouldn't swipe it to a mobile device.  Now?  We're on the cusp of using our phones as the credit card.  Mobile check-ins seemed a huge invasion of privacy, until you start checking and realizing that the information you need about a place was left by the last 10 people who were there. 

I'm not one to give "social media consultants" a pass simply because they're on Facebook, but I do see a value in simply jumping into the pool, and if a business is comfortable paying someone to do so, more power to both parties.  For those who like to complain, I simply wait a few months, and then point out they've added "social media consulting" to their website, despite having done nothing to earn it. 

The world is changing, and that means learning new ways to sell, market, hire, and provide customer service.  When someone tells you that nothing has changed, it's a sure sign they' are afraid of being left on the sidelines.  It's an understandable reaction, but one I've seen too many times.  I may be a social media consultant, that most vile of the barbarian hordes, but at least I'm original. 


Oh Noes!! I've Been Fake-Fired From My Fake Job!

Yesterday, I was fake fired from my fake job at the company I don't work for.  Don't panic, I run my own company, so it's not like I'm actually fired, but we'll come back to that in a moment. 

Several years ago I was speaking with a manager who used to work at Boeing.  When I say, used to, I mean it had been 9 years since he worked there.  One day he was driving to his current place of employment, and pulls into the parking lot, and realizes, he's at Boeing.  His brain had gone back in time and driven him to the employee parking lot of his previous position.  That's a work habit. 

My father was always an early riser.  Years on a farm and then the military ingrained in him the desire to wake up around 5:00 in the morning.  I could never understand this, but years after he needed to, he would still rise every morning, out of habit.

I worked in a cubicle for 9 years myself.  Different jobs, but a cubicle nonetheless.  So when I moved into new office space in April that had a cubicle, I set up my computer and was hit with the strangest emotion.  Fear. I was afraid a boss was about to come by and tell me what to do.  That was a habit. 

I've run my own company for six years.  I've had an office for the last three, a retail space in Ladue that was very nice and most important, mine.  When I moved to Dallas, I tried the home office, but decided to sub-lease some space, and the first available was a row of cubicles inside an office of a friend of a friend. I figured it would be fine, so I took it.  And after a few days, the "boss" feeling went away, and I worked 10-12 hours at a clip. 

So imagine my surprise when the guy who rented me the space walked up to my cubicle and asked to speak with me, privately in his office.  I walked back to his office, and he told me that I couldn't sublease anymore.  The office management was notified of new keycode access, and when they realized it was a sublease, pointed out they weren't allowed to do this.  It wasn't a big deal - in fact I had my eye on an executive suite two blocks from my gym I was going to move into in August, but the next 10 minutes were surreal. 

People wouldn't meet my eye when I walked by.  When I handed in my keys, one asked for the mouse I had borrowed that morning.  I exchanged addresses with the guy I had become friendly with, and promised to stay in touch.  I took my Red Bull from the fridge, dumped the salad I had saved for later, and erased my data from a whiteboard behind me. I had to box up my stuff, and when I was done, they cut me a check for the unused portion of my rent!   Short of having a security guard escort me out, what happened was exactly what would have happened if I was actually fired.

But, there was no emotional aspect to it.  It was like I was being fired on the day I hit the lottery.  It was comical, not sad.  I called my wife and we had a good laugh, and drove to the executive suite to secure a place for the next day at the same price but with more privacy.  30 minutes after leaving, I had a new, better place.  I was fake hired and a new fake job.   

And yet, lingering in the back of my mind, is the recognition that if I had been employed there, if I had needed the job, my emotional response would have been much different.  I haven't ever been fired, but I have fired people, and I've been there when others were fired.  

Yes, my story ends well, because I was never in danger.  And yet, l can't quite shake the feeling that yesterday, I was let go.  Call it an old work habit - a ghost from days past when the threat of losing your job every day was real.  Even though today it is my responsibility to hire, manage, and make a payroll, old habits die hard.  From Boeing parking lots to early rising to bad coffee in the breakroom - every day at work is creating a habit in who you are.