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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As millennials we’re not only green (aka young, inexperienced, naiive… you get it) when it comes to skill sets needed in a job but the real issue is we’re green to full-time work in general. This creates a perfect storm for 20-somethings and we simply just don’t know what we don’t know.
I currently serve on the board of the Human Resources Association of Central Ohio (HRACO) as the VP of Student Services. My responsibilities include the organization and execution of our mentoring program for college students. Last week I was preparing to speak to students about joining HRACO and I began to think about why GenY might balk at the thought of mentorship.
Misconception #1: Making a decision might be worse than Chipotle running out of steak right before they close and it gives me anxiety.
When individuals say you need to find a mentor, it’s singular. As a 24 year-old millennial, how am I supposed to pick just one mentor? What if I pick the wrong one? What if I don’t think I have the time? What if someone recommends me the wrong person? What if I want two or three mentors? The idea of choosing “My Mentor” is daunting and therefore I refuse to even look into it because of the “what ifs.”
Truth: Getting out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do. Decisions really aren’t that bad. You can have one or more mentors and if it’s not an “epic” experience, that’s ok. If you pick up just one nugget of information it’s an experience that is moving your forward.
Misconception #2: I’m young, wild, and free like the retro 2011 song says. I have plenty of time.
Three months ago I had my two-year anniversary at work and if you do the math, with a retirement age of 65, I have 41 years left in my career. 41 years? I’ll get a mentor when I’m 30. I can wait.
Truth: So my question would be what happens when you’re 30? Is that when your career jumpstarts? It might be. But, be content with knowing others started at 22 and you’re now 8 years behind. #sorryimnotsorry
Misconception #3: “Older” folks know nothing about technology and that’s what runs the world, please tell me what I can learn from them.
I have a co-worker who has asked me multiple times to help show him how to forward text messages. I tie both hands behind my back, close my eyes, rap “Ice Ice Baby,” hop on one foot and forward the text at the same time, thinking to myself… “For real?” I guess by definition he could be a mentor but he can’t even use his own phone. On to the next one.
Truth: Don’t hate me for this… but you can only learn so much from YouTube. For example, ask YouTube how to merge a PDF. Do not ask YouTube if it can put you in touch with the VP of HR at your dream company. Whether or not a mentor has the latest app has about as much bearing on his/her ability to teach you rapport-building skills, how to build your network, or organizing/prioritizing tasks as the players on a Cleveland roster have on winning a championship. None.
Misconception #4: When I step off the stage at graduation, nothing can stop me from taking over the world.
When I graduated, there was nothing I “couldn’t” do. My parents let me believe if you work hard enough you can get anywhere you want to go. Why would I ask for help? That’s admitting I can’t do it alone and that does not fall in line with my narcissistic ways.
Truth: You’re creating a new marketing plan, you have a meeting to present it to your supervisor tomorrow, and you do it all by your lonesome. All you have as a reference are the three marketing classes you took in college, where you were on Twitter 87% of the lecture and the other 13% of the time you looked up occasionally to make sure the professor was really only using the PowerPoint. In which case you need not pay attention at all, just tally up another “I showed up” in the attendance books and save the studying for the night before your test when you print the PowerPoint and take a quick read-through. How much about marketing do you REALLY know? Maybe someone who’s done this before could give you some tips? Just a thought.
Whether or not you formally call someone a “mentor” is not the issue. What is important is that we seize opportunities to learn from those with experience. It could be a formal program, a meeting with your professor, or lunch with a co-worker.
I’m not trying to crush dreams. Please feel free to be successful. Just know you might need a few others along the way.
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.
With summer breaking through in the Midwest, I drive home after work with my windows down, country music flowing through the speakers, and dream of being in shorts and a T-shirt at last. Throwing my bag down on the floor, I then immediately find the right Nike Tempo shorts and T-shirt to put on. Black, white, or festive crew socks? Whatever best matches the color scheme I have put together that day. Now that I’ve assured anyone coming within 0.3 miles of me will be able to see me with my assortment of neon hues… I grab my headphones, GPS watch, iPod and head for the door.
But, before I can make it down the stairs there’s a collie following my every move. By slanting his eyebrows down and making well thought out whimpers just at the right cadence, Rex pleads, “Take me with you, take me with you. Please?” I mean really, how do I say “no” to that! I just can’t. And even though he always completely throws off my run with his half mile sprint to start, I snag his leash, take off, and prepare myself for the insane amount compliments about to take place regarding the majestic pup pulling me along. Can you blame them though?
As most of us in the workforce (I won’t say all, because being that assumptive can get you in trouble) do not have beautifully groomed locks of fur, a snout that allows us to secretly knock food off of the counter and eyes that you just can’t say “no” to – we must understand that rejection is inevitable at some point. Yes, Jesse Williams (Jackson from Grey’s Anatomy), you do have eyes that can make any gal melt – but nothing competes with man’s best friend. Trust me.
When talking about my own career I’ve often been candid in sharing that recruiting was not my first choice as a starter job, but the right choice. You learn how to deal with “no” very quickly. Along with, “You’re getting ‘no’ because you need to do ‘this, this, and this’ better.” This morning, my Twitter feed offered up an interesting blog title related to this, “On Losing Your Fear of Rejection and Embracing ‘No.’”
The blog specifically discusses rejection as it pertains to jobseekers. Resumé after resumé peddled out, e-mail after e-mail with thanks but no thanks. But I think it’s important for Millennials to understand that when you’re a new grad beaming with your college degree, you’re going to hear “no” even when you do land that job. It could come from customers or co-workers but be prepared for when it occurs. Whether it’s a rejected sale, project idea, or vacation request – it’s going to happen.
Taking rejection and criticism is a trait Millennials are not typically ready to deal with appropriately. However, I think this lesson is not solely for 18-32 year olds but can be learned at any age, it’s never too late.
To highlight this, earlier this week I attended an event where Gene Smith, Athletic Director at The Ohio State University, was a guest speaker. He mentioned Gen Y and Z having issues with discussing rejection or criticism face-to-face. As an example, his student-athletes would rather send an e-mail or text to their professor questioning why they got an “A-” instead of an “A” rather than meet in person. Regardless of generation, if you understand face-to-face communication is the best way for you to deal with rejection or criticism, this is what can separate you from the pack. If face-to-face is impossible, make the phone call.
Millennials, you’re competing with peers who are also intelligent, have internships, have degrees and in a lot of cases advanced degrees. Yet, the unemployment rate is currently hovering around 11-12% for this age group. The question I always ask myself is, what are the other 88% doing right? Understanding how to deal with “no” at the age of 22 (an age Taylor Swift made much cooler than it actually is) is a differentiator when it comes to the workforce.
You can try your best Rex impression to turn a “no” into a “yes,” but if you truly want to separate yourself – accept you will hear “no,” understand how to deal with “no,” and learn from “no.”
There are two schools of thought when it comes to hiring athletes. One being they’re just “dumb jocks” and won’t bring value to your organization. Second being they’re an attractive hire because they’ve shown commitment to a cause.
Being a college athlete I have a slight bias and tend to agree with the latter. It is a benefit to the workplace to hire college athletes but not just any college athlete. I recently read a blog essentially classifying the “good” athlete hire versus the “bad.” Pointing to combinations of level of play from Division I-III or NAIA, grade point average, scholarship amount, and playing time.
These combinations only scratch the surface of evaluating a student-athlete. When you have a recent grad or current student in the interview process, you should be asking yourself, “What can this individual add to our company?” In my opinion outside of GPA, the division a player competed in, scholarship amount and playing time, don’t tell you if the candidate “can do this job” – it only tells you about the level of basketball player they were and if they might be able to beat you in a game of H-O-R-S-E.
But not all college athletes are one in the same.
The Myths of Hiring College Athletes
- They all have time management skills: There’s a major difference between knowing how to allocate time to projects in the work environment and knowing that on MWF I have class from 9-11am and 1-2:30pm with practice from 4-6pm. Out of the 8 hours plus left in the day – I somehow have to find time for homework and to study! Trust me… College athletes DO have time (less than non-athletes, you’re right, but time nonetheless) – it’s just a matter of how they use it.
- They’re all coachable: I can think of several individuals I have played with or against who were college athletes and never once did I think they were coachable. Watch an NBA playoff game this week. Coachability isn’t exactly a quality all athletes possess.
- They know how to work with a team: One, let’s discuss all of the individual sports out there – golf, tennis, gymnastics. Yes, I know they can win team trophies too but they don’t need to communicate, “Hey! I’m going to rocket a pass to you under the basket and if you don’t look up I will peg you in the back of the head” in less than 2 seconds. Two, as with time management and being coachable, just because you’re on a team and listed on a roster does not mean you understand how to be a good teammate or how to work effectively in a group.
The above 3 items are typically knighted upon all college athletes who enter the workforce. But, as a hiring manager or recruiter – do not be fooled. They are not automatic traits. And if you’re an athlete – don’t fake these qualities, it will become apparent very quickly that you started all but 4 games in your career, received a full-ride scholarship, but can’t seem to figure out why you’re terrible at sales.
You may now be asking yourself, “So what am I looking for? You’ve told me about several fallacies and yet, I’m left with no action.” Below are the REAL reasons you should hire college athletes.
What to Look For and Questions to Ask:
- Mental Toughness: How were you tested physically as an athlete in college? When you were faced with adversity, how did you handle the situation? The day a teenager or early 20-something says to himself or herself, “Wow, I can’t believe I just did that. I didn’t think it was possible.” You’ve struck gold. Your coach should push you to levels you never thought you could reach and this quality will be one you will use over and over again in the workplace.
- Self-Discipline: What did your off-season workouts look like? When you arrived back on campus in the fall, were you in shape? Did your coach instill a sense of accountability when it came to working out on your own? It’s a lot more difficult to stay on task and push yourself when no one is watching.
- Sacrifice: This is how I define TEAM. You know when to put others before yourself. You do what’s right, because you don’t want to let your teammates down. When have you had to sacrifice for your team?
- Leadership: Describe leadership stories. The title “captain” doesn’t grant you leadership skills. Why were you elected captain? If anything about being a senior or upperclassman is mentioned, that’s a turn-off. You earn the title of captain because you know how to motivate, you cultivate relationships, and not only do your teammates trust you but so does your coach. You can also gain leadership skills without being a captain. The question around leadership boils down to; did your teammates value your opinion? And, when things weren’t going well, did your team look to you?
- Coachable: This is a very important trait but, as stated before, don’t assume just any athlete is coachable. Ask pointed questions – How did you react when your coach pointed out mistakes? When posed with opportunities to improve, did you take the initiative to get better?
For the majority of college athletes who will not be playing professionally, as the famous NCAA advertisement states, it’s important to differentiate yourself beyond that line on your resume reading “Varsity Basketball 2007-2011.” Millennial athletes, did you gain any of the characteristics above? Be prepared to convey more than “common traits” several athletes before you have over-used. Tell them your stories. The resume lines on winning one regular season league championship, two league tournament championships, and two NCAA appearances with a Sweet 16 don’t hurt either. More stories.
Hiring managers, expect more from the athletes you’re interviewing. Get to the important traits and don’t take college athletes at face value.
I think most will find that the clear indicator of the value of a college athlete can be measured by the coach they played for. A coach who runs a program with the goal of not only winning championships but developing contributing members in the real world and teach their players mental toughness, self-discipline, sacrifice, leadership, and being coachable.