Category: For the Hiring Manager

Draft Your Team Like an NFL General Manager

Guest Blogger: Marc Prine PhD

With the NFL Draft on its way, there are few things that can make or break a team’s season and the career of a General Manager (GM) more than a bad draft decision. Similarly, there are a few things that can stall your company’s growth like a bad hire. In both situations, a bad decision will waste time and money and cause aggravation.

Both the NFL GM and the hiring manager are trying to make predictive decisions on how an individual will perform based on all of the information available to them. The average company looks at a person’s education, previous working experience, references and performance in what is typically an unstructured interview. The GM looks at a player’s college career, performance on physical drills at the NFL Combine and a cognitive ability test known as the Wonderlic. How important could a cognitive ability test be in the NFL? Well let’s look at two different players:

player comparisons

On paper which player would you rather have? Player A was the third overall pick in the draft. Player B was draft pick 199 all the way in the sixth round. Player A is Vince Young, who played 6 years in the NFL with no major accolades since winning Rookie of the Year. Player B is Tom Brady, one many view as the best quarterback of all time who in 14 seasons thus far has won 4 Super Bowls (Most Valuable Player in 3 of them). When the average score for a quarterback is 24, somebody so low should raise a red flag and create cause for additional inquiry.

This is not to say that an assessment should dictate who you hire and choose to pass over. It does however show the value of using every data point available to you. This is where you would want to enlist an expert help you compile a competency model specific to your organization’s need and select an assessment to best measure candidates against your model.

Assessments are built to help you gain peace of mind on your hardest decisions. The best resume in the world paired with a witty performance in an interview does not indicate whether or not this person is the right fit for your organization. Make the right choice by giving yourself an objective data point and included an assessment when you draft your team.

Marc Prine PhD is a Director in the Talent Consulting and Assessment Practice at Taylor Strategy Partners. For inquiries or more information on how assessment can help drive your decision making contact Marc at Marc.Prine@Taylor-Strategy.com.

Be an Employment Brand Junkie: My 2014 HCI Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference Take-Away

I love Southwest Airlines; therefore I have a Southwest Visa and avidly watch my points tally up. I have convinced myself my internal energy tank is low without Starbucks in the morning and I have to use my mobile application to pay or else it doesn’t feel right. I own more t-shirts than a sorority sister in her 6th year of undergrad because I elect to represent my teams in Homage gear. And when I receive a Nordstrom Note in the mail it’s as if I was just accepted to my dream college… Every time.

Your employment brand is directly connected to your consumer brand. However, instead of using this vision to sell more plane tickets, you’re using this vision to ensure you have talented folks flying the planes, serving the drinks, checking the bags, and changing travel plans for those who bought that plane ticket.

Employment Brand Quote

Recruiters have been “selling” companies to potential candidates for decades. Employment branding at its core is not new. Showing candidates why they should work at your company is not a new concept. But how you show candidates is changing. Estela Vasquez Perez mentioned three steps to having a successful employment brand:

(1)  Emotional – Connect with your people and potential people.

(2)  Rational – Connect corporate vision with your people and potential people.

(3)  Experiential – Deliver on the employment brand promise you made (nobody likes liars).

Who does this really well? Or at least is on the right track to do this very well? I saw multiple videos at the conference, showing off speaker companies and what it’s like to work there. One stood out and that was Hewlett-Packard. Yes, HP,  the company that has been knocked by many not only for the jet-lagged innovation to Apple in recent years but their revenue numbers have not shown promise either. However, with new CEO Meg Whitman they’ve reassessed their employment brand. HP pulls you in with understanding its history then rationalizes it by showing their inventions of then, now, and the future. And as for the experience part… Guess you’ll have to work there and see if it lives up to expectation.

The job search landscape is competitive. Technology is either crippling your company if you can’t catch-up or lifting your company if you embrace and deliver on it. There is going to be a shortage of talent. High-potentials are going to leave your company. Millennials are knocking on your door. If employment branding wasn’t important before, it certainly is now. It’s no secret these kids are showing up in droves. And guess what?… WE LOVE BRANDS.

We are brand junkies. Don Draper said these famous words on AMC’s Mad Men, “Advertising is happiness.” When you read, listen, or watch an ad, its purpose is to generate happiness leading to a transaction. When you think of a brand, what you remember is how that brand made you feel. I’m only going to say, “Yes,” over and over again to a brand that gets it.

You want the people who come to work for your company to be brand junkies. Make them happy. Get them hooked. Show people what it’s like to work at ___________. Next thing you know they’ll be waving your flag through the streets.

Labor Unions: Who The Heck Is Kain Coulter?

Unions are out of style. Just like kids from suburbia with popped collars. Despite this “behind the times” thinking, The NLRB ruled on March 27th that Northwestern University Football players are employees and can unionize because college football generates enough critical mass in dollars to warrant an employee designation. What makes me uneasy about this?

Northwestern does not bring in the big bucks:

In 2012 the Big Ten generated $315 million in football revenue finishing first atop all other conferences. How much of that did Northwestern account for? As the only private institution in the Big Ten they do not have to report numbers but let’s compare the Wildcats with my Buckeyes.

 ryanfieldSea of red at Ryan Field in Evanston, IL. OSU fans generating revenue for Northwestern.

Stadium Capacity:

  • Ryan Field – 47,000
  • The Shoe – 106,000 (and growing, we need to compete with the Team Up North)

Ticket prices:

Bowl games: (The conference receives a pay day when their teams are not only selected for bowl games but also when their teams WIN the bowl games)

Simply by the numbers, it is clear Northwestern does not bring in revenue anywhere close to others in their conference such as The Ohio State University. They’re a David in a Goliath game.

No one knows who Kain Coulter is:

If you’re going to lead a charge as game changing as this, it might be more credible if people knew your name. The incremental name recognition difference between Kain Coulter and Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Braxton Miller, Aarron Murray, or AJ McCarron is substantial. Even between Kain Coulter and AJ McCarron’s girlfriend for that matter. 

kaincoulterKain Coulter announcing the formation of the College Athletes Player’s Association 

It’s similar to running a political campaign; you have to be influential in your field in order to be a game changer. If Kain Coulter was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, with say the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, do you think the Browns would have sold 1200 season tickets in the next four hours? I think not. If Johnny Manziel was fighting for CAPA everyone might pay a little more attention.

Universities are still academic institutions (that make money, A LOT of it):

Why do schools like Ohio State exist? Outside of what our moral beliefs are about education might be, let’s talk dollars because that’s what this “union” is about.

While I will be at each home game this year for the Buckeyes and I thoroughly enjoy football Saturdays, it’s only a small portion of what these universities do, even in terms of the pocket book.

I’m over unions like I’m over American Idol.

Granting the athletes a union is a Band-Aid. It is another public acknowledgement of the exploitation of college athletes. It’s real. It’s happening. However, will a union really solve the problem? The NCAA isn’t going to listen until the college football powerhouse schools start to make moves. Until then, let the debate continue.

Business Majors: Be Unique in 2014 or Be Overlooked

More than 20% of U.S. bachelor’s degrees awarded are in the field of business. Let’s put this in perspective – I went to a tiny university (with a great women’s basketball program obviously) and an enrollment of right around 2200. There are close to 60 different majors. Really, how do you pick what is right for you? Let’s magnify this, if I were to walk down the street to the Goliath of state schools, The Ohio State University, with an enrollment of over 50,000 – there are hundreds of majors. With 1/5 of all undergraduate degrees coming from the same field and hundreds of options out there, how is it that “Business” has taken the millennial generation by storm.

Well we as Americans take pride in capitalism. I think. And then enter technology? The possibilities are endless to become the next big business mogul. Right?  If you find yourself in that 20%, about 400,000 per year (wow), my question is how do you differentiate? Numbers never lie, like the ESPN show will attest, and the market is clearly saturated with “you people,” myself included. Not to mention the other hundreds of thousands who will take jobs in business who didn’t even major in business! Shocking, I know.

228457_10150597359605647_1864873_n

How do you stand out as 1 in 400,000+? That’s a tough question but there might be a few things you can tweak and make your own. Be authentic, maybe a geek in your own way. Your educational institutions want you to be successful, but not just you, they want every person in your degree program to do well. It’s good for PR of course. In turn you’re all getting relatively the same advice as your peers regarding your resume, how to interview, how to dress, social media etiquette, dining etiquette, networking tactics, and last but not least – a firm handshake. And if you don’t have the firm handshake by now my fellow business majors, I might be a little weary. Below are some tips you might not typically hear.

Tips a non 20-something might not tell you:

1. Orange is the new black: In no way am I advocating imprisonment, but I think it can relate to what is considered acceptable “business attire.” I’m over the black or navy suit requirement. Let’s be honest, when you walk into a career fair for business majors it feels stiff. How many box-like dark pieces of clothing can we wear? Maybe even take a page out of RGIII’s book and find some creative socks.

rg3_supermansocks

2. Your resume: Have you followed what your educational institution has put forth as a template? Insert name here, company, appropriate bullet points, etc. This might not be a “novel” idea but has it occurred to you that everyone else in your class will be giving recruiters the same dull sheet of paper? Again, you don’t have to go over board, but it’s reasonable to put a little more creative thought into the piece of paper that defines your career.

3. Time for questions: At the end of an interview the interviewer will typically ask, “Do you have any questions?”  The hand-me-down questions of “Why did you choose to work here?” are just fine. I’m sure you’ll get some decent, valuable information. But, it might be a good idea to sit down and truly think about the company and the person you’re interviewing with. Be creative. These questions will be custom to the opportunity you’re interviewing for and if you want some specific tips, you know where to find me.

These items seem simple but that’s the point. You don’t want to be drastically out of this world, but these kinds of details can make a difference. When you’re out in the job market give us business majors a little uniqueness, a little more credibility in the “think outside the box” department. You don’t need to be in web design, performing arts, social sciences, mass media, or any other field where it’s okay to bend the rules a little in order to be authentic and creative.

Business majors unite.

Millennials: Will Work Well In Groups

Myth/Overused Stereotype #146 about Millennials: they are known for collaboration and to be fluid team players. A trait that could be mapped to the current education system consistently promoting group work; so let me get this straight, we currently have a narcissistic generation who also likes to collaborate and work with a team? That seems somewhat unhealthy. Maybe even an oxymoron or more realistically, a group that cannot and will not operate efficiently and effectively.

I’m not quite sure how many “group projects” you’ve worked on, but in my high school and college experience (2003-2011, prime formative GenY years) a group project was met with anxiety, rolled eyes, and immediate over-the-shoulder looking to evaluate if the “worst” person you could potentially work with truly isn’t “that bad,” right?

What caused this change in the education system? Why are we now completing more group projects than in the past? It’s simple mathematics, if I’m a teacher or professor… Do I want to grade 23 papers or 4 papers? Hum… I’ll take 4. And yes, I went to a private liberal arts school and it is possible to have only 23 people in a class. Disclaimer: if any of my business professors are reading this – I truly did enjoy my time and don’t judge me for wanting to get A’s on your group projects. All in a day’s work. I loved my time at Mount.

When you go to a Division III private liberal arts school, you have to take majestic photos.

When you go to a Division III private liberal arts school, you have to take majestic photos.

Now that we’ve discussed one reason why there is a shift to group work, let’s assess how these group projects truly work.

Cast: The Annoying, Control Freak Over-Achiever, Slacker #1, Slacker #2, and Will Follow Orders

The Annoying, Control Freak Over-Achiever reads the assignment and delegates work. Will Follow Orders completes minimal research on Wednesday and sets up a second group meeting on Thursday, the day before the assignment is due. Slacker #2 doesn’t show up to the meeting, Slacker #1 wants to makes sure they get the grade and asks, “So what part of the presentation am I doing?” And The Annoying, Control Freak Over-Achiever has already put together the entire project to be delivered the next day.

If you’re wondering… I may or may not have played the first role of The Annoying, Control Freak Over-Achiever sans Annoying of course.

At the end of the day a class project results in a grade.  The Annoying, Control Freak Over-Achiever is only worried about chasing an “A” and truly does not care how he/she gets there. Does this promote great group work? You can be the judge. If you played The Annoying, Control Freak Over-Achiever in school, you despised group work. If you played any other role, you loved group work. Simple.

So when does it make sense to engage in group work at the office?

When Group Work Works for Millennials:

  • They’ve had time to ideate alonegroupthink is powerful, I’d argue too powerful to overlook with a group of 20 something’s.
  • A clear business challenge or innovative approach will be discussed – chasing a grade is easy, but finding a solution as to why company “x” is spending too much money on base compensation for their sales people has an ambiguous result – we don’t know exactly what we’re chasing and therefore, we have to stretch.
  • It comes sparingly – when working in a group it’s a chance to dig out from the “cube life.” If you do something too much it loses meaning. Very similar to praise, don’t just do it because Milennials supposedly “thrive” in that environment. But rather view it as, hey, it’s nice to every once in a while talk to other humans. Even more so when you’re getting paid to actually talk about an innovative approach or solve a problem.

If you’re in GenX or a Baby Boomer, don’t take my word for it or even one of the 808,000 Google results for (“millennials” AND “group work”), ask one of your millennial co-workers about their group projects in high school and college. That will result in some valuable water cooler talk, not to mention hopefully it’s entertaining.

Job Offer Turndowns and The Bachelorette

A wise man once said, “Offering a candidate a job is very similar to proposing to your soul mate.” That wise man may or may not be my boss, but this is beside the point. If you’re ready to be at the altar and can’t wait to begin your life with THE ONE, there is excitement, nerves, anxiety, anticipation, and for some of us out there (who don’t lie to ourselves), sweat, bullets of sweat. 

Finding your husband or wife is one of the greatest fulfillments and one of the most important milestones in your life, or so I’ve heard. Treating the hiring of employees as one of the most important milestones in a company’s life though, seems a bit of a stretch, right? Wrong. No matter the level, open headcount costs companies each day its jobs are not filled. Even worse, the wrong hopeless romantic (candidate) says, “Yes! I do!”, only for everyone to find out one month later it was the biggest mistake of their lives.

 

Last Monday was the anticipated prelude to The Bachelorette finale on ABC. The Bachelorette is a reality TV show, which I’m clearly not afraid to admit I watch where a young lady is presented with 25 handsome devils to choose from with the ultimate goal of marrying a final lucky bachelor. Desiree, the bachelorette, has narrowed her pool of men down to three.

Brooks is one of the three remaining men. Des thinks she’s going on this magical catamaran date but Brooks has other plans. I guess if you’re going to break up anywhere though Antigua is not a bad draw.  I won’t get into details of how Brooks breaks up with Des; however, I will say it was similar to a 9th grade break-up with the boy you’ve been dating since the 7th grade.

It’s been long enough you think you can marry him and when he tells you his feelings aren’t the same you act as such: you begin to sob uncontrollably, pull your legs into your chest onto the bench you’re sitting on, cross your arms on your knees, bury your head  into your forearms, and pout like you’ve never pouted before. “No, this just isn’t fair! This isn’t how it’s supposed to go! I love you and you’re supposed to love me back!”

 

Similar to hiring candidates into a company, hiring managers wait with baited breath when an offer is sent out. On the other side of the relationship, candidates wait to receive the offer.  We typically hear about companies not interested in the candidate. But, what if the candidate tells the company they don’t want to get “married”? If a company wants to avoid being surprised with rejection like Des (you can’t eliminate all turndowns) there is one, proven overarching strategy.

Talk about deal breakers early and often.

There are more in-depth steps to the secret recipe I MIGHT reveal in a later blog, but if companies use this as a rule of thumb they’re well on their way to curbing their turndown rate.

Compensation. Relocation. Benefits. Title. Career path. Window seat. Flexible work hours. Company car. Summer Fridays. Trailing spouse. Children.  Direct reports.

These are deal breakers. I know recruiters / hiring managers don’t want to scare off the “perfect” candidate and candidates don’t want to disappoint a potential employer but discussing deal breakers on the first, second, third, and fourth encounters will help avoid extending offers that aren’t accepted. Everyone is on the same page and at the end of the day no one wants a surprise, a surprise break-up that is.

If you don’t want to be left in despair on the island of Antigua like Des (or maybe you do, but you’re not in Antigua so snap out of it), think about deal breakers and talk about deal breakers early and often.