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Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bdpacharlotte/5536075322/Recruiters are some of the most loved/hated/annoying people that candidates interact with whether looking for a job or an opportunity—a job pays the bills, while an opportunity moves your career—it’s nice when they are one-in-the-same.

What candidates need to keep front and center is that helping someone, no matter how good, is not recruiters’ primary focus.

Their focus is getting paid.

Recruiters get paid by filling a company’s open req.

Marketing a candidate is done with the primary goal of getting access to that company’s/manager’s open reqs and a contractual obligation to pay the recruiter.

A marketable candidate is not necessarily the best candidate available, but the candidate most likely to be “sold” successfully.

That judgment is based on the current needs of the marketplace and the number of similar positions in the target companies.

To actively market people who hold senior positions, have esoteric skills, are in large supply, or do not fit the general parameters of the recruiter’s normal market is not a good recipe for success.

Therefore, the decision to market or not to market has very little to do with candidate skills and everything to do with recruiters’ desire/need to spend their time productively.

The problem is that most recruiters are reluctant to explain.

Like most folks they are uncomfortable saying no, they don’t want to hurt the candidate’s feelings or they just can’t be bothered (this goes for hiring managers, too).

I have always contended that it is far worse for a candidate to think something is happening when it’s not than to be told the truth.

Disclaimer: Other than helping clients make staffing a core competency I’m long out of active recruiting, but it seems ridiculous to me that in these days of networking and DIY-everything trusting your future to a stranger when you are on the lowest rung of their priority ladder (after self and client) isn’t the smartest thing to do—and it never was.

Flickr image credit: BDPA Charlotte – IT Thought Leaders

Ducks in a Row: Worthless Offers

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

That’s right; multiple offers are worthless,.

It only takes one right offer.

Career experts and anybody with more than one job under their belt who can make the mental leap between cause and effect will tell you that culture is the number one reason to join a company, not to mention the number one indicator of how well a person will do.

Perhaps that’s starting to sink in to college dwellers, even those in the rarefied ultra-competitive Ivy atmosphere.

Yalies are a particularly competitive bunch, and nothing delights us more than an acceptance letter (though an open carrel at Bass is a close second). For us, life is a parade of applications, and acceptance is an indicator of self-worth.

During all the years I worked as a recruiter and since in this blog, I’ve spent a lot of effort to help people understand that getting multiple offers should not be their goal, whereas getting the right offer should be.

(In fact, interviewing everywhere just to get offers for the ego-boost can brand you as a shopper; no manager likes wasting time interviewing a candidate whose reputation/history says “shopper” and that reputation got around long before social media existed).

Being in the wrong culture is like being a duck out of water.

Most people aren’t looking for a job they are looking for a home.

They are looking for an environment in which they fit and feel challenged, appreciated and safe.

Isn’t that what you wanted growing up?

Then why is it considered strange that you would crave the same thing in the place in which you spend more than half your waking hours as an adult?

But even when you find the right culture and a job you love it’s worth noting that basing your self-worth on the success of your company is exceedingly dangerous.

Flickr image credit: David Blaikie

Entrepreneur: Not for Everyone

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

1221230_my_holidaysBack in the late Seventies/early Eighties women who chose to stay home, as opposed to working, were, demeaned, called “traitors to the cause” and looked down on for their choice.

Which was stupid.

Today, people who don’t start their own companies or choose to work for established corporations are similarly treated.

Which is just as stupid.

Not everybody should be an entrepreneur; not everybody should work in a startup; and those choices do not reflect negatively on the quality of a person’s skills or attitude.

Choosing to work for an established company or large corporation does not lower people’s intrinsic value; nor does it mean they are dumb, lazy, unmotivated or uncreative.

Some see large company experience as a training ground, while for others there is pride in being part of something large and ongoing and they enjoy the camaraderie.

Some are looking for stability, although that is mostly gone, and some don’t really care as long as they can pay their bills—their job (paycheck) is not their career; that energy is focused on a passion that just doesn’t pay.

Even some entrepreneur’s think traditional jobs can be a better fit.

Just as thousands of intelligent, educated, driven, passionate, creative women chose to stay home and raise their kids, thousands of intelligent, educated, driven, passionate creative people choose to work for large companies.

As I said Tuesday, it’s about fit and “fit” isn’t a reason to judge.

We are all different; you need to find what floats your boat and do it—not do what others say should float it.

Stock.xchng image credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1221230

Ducks In A Row: Culture And The Dual Career Ladder

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

The list of basic cultural IBBs prompted a phone call from a reader asking for more information on the dual career ladder. When we were done, he suggested that I put that information on the blog this week. Who am I to argue with a reader?

I’m not an historian, but I think that the need for the ladder was seen first in the technical world at least 40 years ago and although they may not have been the first, IBM and the original Bell Labs were two of the highest profile early adopters.

People work to improve their situation, but companies need only so many managers and only so many people want to manage. This is especially true in tech companies where many people are ill-suited to management roles, yet that was the only road to a raise.

So the two driving facts behind the dual ladder were

  • a limited number of management positions—the number is still shrinking as corporate structures keep flattening; and
  • recognition that not everyone is suited to management.

Enter the Dual Career Ladder; it’s simple, logical and most easily explained with this graphic

IBM Called their highest level Sr. Fellow, Bell Labs used Principal Engineer. Both positions were more than just an honor for which people strove, since they carried with them the same compensation and status as a director or vice president.

My caller asked why the model wasn’t in wider use if it was so effective.

That’s easy, ego and culture.

Accepting, for example, that a software architect is of equal value to the company as a vice president and should be compensated accordingly is hard to swallow. Few executives are comfortable with the idea that people who do hands-on work are as valuable to the organization as they are. This plays out at every level of management from team leader up.

And it’s not just in tech that this happens. I still remember when the top salesman in a certain industry had his commissioned cut because he had sold so much product that his earnings were more than the company president’s salary. That was deemed “unseemly” and so the decision to cut his commission. His reaction was what you would expect and he gave his notice less than a week later.

Because of that ego, the ladder needs to be deeply embedded in the company’s culture so it can be implemented fairly and evenly throughout the organization.

It’s the egos that prevent that from happening.

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