|Posted on May 3, 2017 at 5:52 AM||comments (33)|
No, probably not. In fact, I’m guessing your company doesn’t even interview them for fear of the following:
1. When more experience and skills are obvious from their LinkedIn profile or job application it naturally brings the perception of added value. And added value brings the perception of higher pay, even if the salary range hasn’t been disclosed. If that perceived higher salary is higher than your budget for the position the application goes into the “overqualified” file.
2. Recruitment is expensive and takes time, so of course every employer wants the most return on their HR investment. If the applicant brings additional value it’s natural to conclude that they have lots of “options.” Therefore the applicant probably wouldn’t stay very long. Let’s file that one with the overqualified too.
3. Additional experience must mean they’ll get bored with a lower tasked job. And who wants employees who are not motivated or refuse to be “engaged?”
4. Additional experience implies that they are older and set in their ways. And the young manager the applicant would report to really views them as a potential internal competitor, not a potential mentor.
5. Their additional skills and experience means the applicant has obviously applied for the wrong job. That means there must be something wrong with them, or they have something to hide.
There could be several other reasons, but you’ll never know because your organization doesn’t take the time, or see the need to have a conversation. No doubt your management has metrics, case studies or white papers that explain why it’s always done this way. And yet, the overqualified candidate expressed interest. They initiated first contact with your company. If nothing else, don’t you wonder why? For example, what if:
· They want to shift industries.
· Move to a new location.
· Travel less, or more.
· Achieve greater work-life balance.
· They are just ready for a change.
It’s time to rethink this situation because on the positive side overqualified can also mean:
1. Well known and connected to your market.
4. Self-sufficient and easy to manage.
5. Motivated, enthusiastic, even passionate about their work.
6. Able to provide fast results.
7. All of the above.
Look, regardless of how long an overqualified candidate stays, he or she is bound to add value to your employees and company. You could do worse things than hire an amazing performer, even if he or she stays only six months. So, make the time to find out what really motivated them to apply in order to validate additional process considerations. Examine and evaluate their social capital and personal brand carefully. The last thing you want to do is dismiss a relationship that could be useful to your sales, marketing or executive team. Consider creating a networking process to introduce the candidate to key employees within your organization. That action will help your current employees grow their social capital, and at the same time soften the rejection and keep doors open if hiring them is not an option at this time.
|Posted on January 26, 2017 at 8:51 AM||comments (1)|
Whenever a new president takes office talk turns to the vaunted first 100 days. The phrase has been around since FDR and is now used by the media to measure the successes and accomplishments of a president during their initial leadership transition. It’s interesting to note that this benchmark has rarely correlated with the subsequent success or failure of a president’s time in office. After all, every president goes through ups and downs as they face the challenges that are unique to their particular time in history. So what keeps the hundred days mythology alive then? And why have experienced business executives who are starting new positions also been coached to take their first 100 days seriously? Because, almost every organization is really working from a sequence of short-term plans, so it would be disastrous for a new executive to think they have six, nine or 12 months to get up to speed. First impressions are critical to future momentum; first impressions influence credibility, trust and often longer-term success. And as we all know, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Sadly; statistics show that nearly 11 percent of executives will fail in their first year on the job, and according to Manchester Inc. nearly 40 percent won't make it past the first 18 months in a new position. Those facts are eye opening and imply that either a lot of executives are operating with a faulty 100-day plan, or that organizations are doing a great job of placing candidates in the wrong positions.
If you are an executive facing a new assignment take some time to read Michael Watkins “The First 90 Days.” Yes, it was penned back in 2003 but it is still a pretty good read on the subject and it will help you with your strategy.
If you are responsible for hiring a new executive perhaps it’s time to consider a different type of strategy. A strategy based on temporary, interim or fractional executive leadership. Keep in mind, temporary or interim doesn’t mean less talented, and your risk of placing the wrong executive will be greatly reduced.
|Posted on November 17, 2016 at 8:56 AM||comments (2)|
“We’re looking for a lighter version of you.” In a business recruiting situation, they probably don’t mean that you’re overweight. Odds are they’re telling you that they think you’re “overqualified.” And overqualified is usually code speak for the following:
1. You are too old.
2. You are too expensive.
3. The hiring manager would be uncomfortable with your credentials. Perhaps even intimidated.
4. They don’t have the forward thinking vision to consider expanding the position, or to anticipate their future talent needs.
5. All of the above.
Overqualified candidates are rarely invited to interview with the hiring manager. Their resume or social profile is screened and the assumption made that the person would be bored and not motivated, so they would underperform or leave. As a result, the standard template rejection email is sent letting them know they should feel free to apply for other jobs you have posted. Of course you’ll feel they’re overqualified for those jobs too inviting the process to start over. This is completely ludicrous when you think about it. No doubt HR has metrics, case studies or white papers that explain why it’s always done that way. And yet, the overqualified candidate expressed interest. They initiated first contact with your company. If nothing else, don’t you wonder why? For example:
· They want to shift industries.
· Move to a new location.
· Travel less or more.
· Achieve greater work/life balance.
· They just want to make a change.
There could be several other reasons, but you’ll never know because your organization doesn’t have the time or see the need to have a conversation. And yet, your sales and marketing organizations may very well be spending large portions of their time and promotion budgets trying to meet those same personas. Take note; overqualified is also code speak for:
1. Well known and connected.
2. Influential decision maker.
5. All of the above.
Why you should be networking with the Overqualified
Are there unique factors you should consider in this situation? Indeed and here are just a couple to start:
· Before you reject the candidate find out if there is room to expand the job role in order to take advantage of his/her background. Also, think carefully about future needs. This situation may present an opportunity to bring in areas of expertise that are not currently represented at your company but will eventually be needed. Take time to find out what is really motivating them to make a change in order to validate additional consideration.
· If hiring is definitely not an option make sure you examine and evaluate their social capital carefully. The last thing you want to do is to set fire to a bridge that your sales and/or marketing team has been trying to build. Consider creating a networking process to introduce the candidate to key employees within your organization. That action will help your employees grow their social capital, and at the same time soften the rejection and help keep doors open with the candidate should your needs change.
Are you still thinking about sending that overqualified candidate your standard rejection letter?
|Posted on September 30, 2016 at 10:09 AM||comments (21)|
Your company needs a marketing leader so your HR team is engaged to round up the best possible candidates. This person will provide leadership for your entire marketing group, craft your strategic marketing plan, and report directly to your CEO as part of the executive management team. Your notice in LinkedIn draws many qualified candidates; in fact, you suspect there are some who currently earn more than your budgeted reference range. You can only hire one of them though and you have a small staff, so you tell yourself that you don’t have time for niceties. That means the majority of the applicants will receive your boiler-plated HR rejection letter.
From: [email protected]
After careful consideration, the team has decided not to proceed with your candidacy for the Chief Marketing Officer position at XYZ Company. While this position was not a match, XYZ Company is growing and we continue to add new positions, so please keep an eye on our career site. Thanks again for your interest in XYZ Company. We wish you the best of luck in your search!
The Team at XYZ Company
Let’s take a minute to explore this story.
If you have any empathy at all you know that you’d be disappointed to receive a note like the example shown no matter what position you were applying for. And from my added comments it’s obvious I believe that template letters are nonsensical, and in fact could be disastrous when applied to the executive level no matter the functional area (Legal, Finance, IT, Sales, HR, etc.). To make matters worse, a few of the more socially savvy applicants took proactive steps to attempt networking with some of your senior team members. Alas, your senior team is socially inept and they completely ignored the engagement.
Adding a new member to your executive management team is high risk. Not just as it relates to the hiring of the “right” individual, but to your entire corporate brand over the course of your search. How you and your management team treat the executive candidates and react to their social invitations could have a lasting impact on your brand that may or may not be helpful.
Just remember, many of the applicants you reject and/or ignore could end up as key executives with your suppliers, channel partners or current customers. And what will they be thinking about your corporate brand then?
|Posted on September 7, 2016 at 10:09 AM||comments (189)|
|Posted on August 21, 2016 at 10:58 AM||comments (2)|
“You don’t understand. Our business, in fact our entire industry, is different.”
I’ve heard that statement a hundred times. To be honest, early in my career, I’m sure I said, and believed it myself; but not for quite some time now. After decades of working with sales and marketing organizations across several industries I can tell you with confidence that when it comes to the basic mechanics of your business you’re not that unique. Believe me, it’s OK for us to agree to disagree on this topic, and I’m sure many will. But in my opinion there is nothing magically different about your company, and the fact that you insist on only hiring individuals who have “industry experience” is the very reason you will fall behind your competition.
How do I know you value industry experience so much? First of all, it was obvious in your job post:
You don’t have to read between the lines to see your thought process. Industry experience equals rainmaker. When asked which is more important, picking the best qualifications or selecting a player who presents the strongest industry background, most hiring managers will say I want both. Yes, they are both desired. But if you had to favor either industry experience or best qualifications which one would you choose if you were serious about maximizing the impact of your team?
From my point of view, put your money on the organization that drafts the best athlete. Uncertainty reigns, and in today’s business environment a rolodex can become outdated before your new player finishes reading your new employee manual. In addition, even if their contacts remain current there is no guarantee your new player will maintain their industry standing. After all, their reputation was established under a different brand and that in no way guarantees that they won’t need training, or will make a successful transition to your particular environment.
At best, strict industry experience comes across as desperate pleas for quick sales or a statement of “we don’t like change.” Of course, anyone who has carried a quota or launched a marketing campaign knows Quick Hits and Low-Hanging Fruit are never as quick or as low as everyone believes. And “more of the same” is certainly a creativity killer.
What statements might you find in a job post that focuses on the best athlete?
The best athlete understand how persuasion really works and know that human beings still make buying decisions based on doing business with people they know, like, and trust.
They are capable of creating narratives with ultimate designs on increasing their social capital. And they are able to consistently create content that their audience values. In short, they can figure out how to build key relationships and add value across any industry, not just drop names and quantify the costs.
If you want to grow your business, stop worrying about how much industry experience your job candidate has. Just hire the best sales and marketing athlete.
|Posted on April 26, 2016 at 11:16 AM||comments (0)|
“Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.”
It’s a phrase meant to express the speaker’s complete familiarity with a situation, and as you probably noticed, it definitely contains overtones of cynicism and exhaustion. I’ll admit that I used it several times on my children as they were growing up. And I’ve been tempted to use it in business situations, but have managed to hold my tongue.
Middle managers have watched senior executives come and go with their golden parachutes and slogans of the day. They’ve trained and guided interns and new hires knowing they could actually be nurturing their future boss. Yes, most 40+ middle managers have seen it all, and they’ve earned the right to wear that darn t-shirt. At least the ones that still have their jobs. The problem they face today is that the “middle” isn’t valued; particularly when the middle is starting to acquire a few grey hairs. In order to trim expenses and flatten the organization, the middle is often gutted leaving senior working staff and middle management without a position. Hey, it’s not personal, it’s just business. Remember the phrase, “up or out?” You know, if you can’t make, or won’t take the leap to senior executive then you’re history. After all, if you’re an older person who just likes doing the job there must be something wrong with you. Besides, at this point you’re more expensive than someone with less seniority, more resistive to change, and your skill sets are not the latest and greatest. So, why are we even having this conversation? Case closed.
This conversation needs to happen because the assumptions above are simply not true and could be hurting your business.
Senior staff and middle managers are often the most reliable sources of accumulated corporate wisdom. They are the trusted experts that fellow employees, business partners and clients have come to depend on. If you believe their acquired knowledge can be captured and transferred into your data warehouse before the layoffs you’re just plain wrong. The insights, perspectives, institutional memory, and relationships they’ve built over time can’t be duplicated or replaced. Here are three good reasons not to gut your middle managers:
1. Brain drain can impact your business in many ways. The elimination of your middle management doesn’t necessarily reduce your human capital costs. Yes, this group tends to be more expensive than the new hires that may eventually lead your business; but who will train and mentor those new hires in order to help them learn the business and make them productive?
2. Targeting experienced employees sends the message that seniority is a liability with your company. Is that the message you really want to send? If so you can throw employee loyalty out the door.
3. The Yiddish expression, “maven” is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “one who knows.” Mavens are trusted experts. Middle managers are your mavens. Can your business realistically grow and thrive without a few mavens?
“Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.” OK, that’s great but that’s not the point. We need mavens who can help us harness their wisdom in order to build solutions to the challenges we’re facing today. And that’s why this post isn’t a call to just collect t-shirts.
|Posted on February 29, 2016 at 9:04 AM||comments (24)|
Do you truly understand the value of your own personal brand? The strength of your personal brand plays a role in, and impacts the strength of your social network. And the strength of your social network contributes value to your employer. Your personal network isn’t a tangible asset, but it is social capital that vests immediately. And it's portable, meaning you can take it with you. Have you ever thought of it that way?
I’m often surprised that many organizations don’t consider the power their employee’s hold in this regard. There is always conversation about “brand value” as an intangible corporate asset. But accountants would be quick to point out that value is not derived from rolling up the individual sum of each employee’s personal brand. But how do they justify separating the value of the corporate brand from the efforts of the employees whose personal connections and know-how made their company brand success possible?
If one or two of your most influential employee’s left the company what would happen? For many smaller organizations that event could be very damaging. It doesn’t necessarily mean the end is imminent, but the loss of those connections and the related social influence could take a long time to recover from.
In the B2B world we do business with people we know, like and trust. And individuals, who are known, liked and trusted are generally effective at building influential social capital. What statements often describe social capital builders?
In short, they know how to build trust-based relationships and add-value to their network, not just drop names and quote prices. If your business wants to grow, look for more than just “industry experience,” seek out individuals with strong personal brands who have a track record for building social capital. They are often natural rainmakers.
|Posted on February 22, 2016 at 3:45 PM||comments (1)|
The executive team gathered around the conference table and the webcam flashed green as the First-Half 2016 sales forecast began. The CMO remembered a time when these meetings were in person and required full business attire, there was no PowerPoint, and there were no smart phones or facilitated hashtagged social conversations with the audience. The business world had changed though, and he loved it. He can tweet and blog with the best of them. Social media and mobile devices were changing the business landscape, and he was determined to help his company meet the transformation challenge. The prior year had involved several one-on-one meetings with his counterparts. They were productive, but at times he could still feel a little tension and some apprehension.
Information Technology - The Chief Information Officer
The prior year included several meetings with the Chief Information Officer. In late 2012 Gartner analyst Laura McLellan had published a report that contained the statement “by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.” Of course a sound bite like that raised some eyebrows in both marketing and IT. 2017 is now less than one year away and it was time to check their facts and see if that prediction could be supported with their own data. The CMO and CIO had already been working closely together over the past couple of years as a result of the organizations ongoing social media and mobile marketing initiatives. And what did they discover?
That technology was indeed the second largest part of the marketing budget. But for their company, the associated dollar value was not more than the IT budget or likely to overtake it. What was actually becoming of greater concern was the number of applications, programs and platforms the small marketing team was being tasked to learn and manage. In fact, across all the marketing functions, the number currently stood at well over two dozen.
CMO/CIO Collaboration: Marketing departments are often responsible for several technical applications. They can include aspects of CRM, marketing automation, email marketing, website analytics, data analytics, marketing research, creative applications, webinar-meeting, and more. This doesn’t even begin to touch on all the new social media and mobile marketing related platforms and applications that are now part of the strategic marketing plan. The CMO and CIO need to focus more on matching talent and headcount to the applications that are actually being used and bringing value than worrying about who has the bigger budget.
Sales – The Chief Sales Officer
Like many CMO’s he had started his career in sales. He had carried a quota and covered a territory just like the CSO. That background brought great credibility and helped them agree on many strategies; but they could still have their moments when it came to lead generation. Of course sales would like “qualified, ready-to-buy right now” leads. But they both know in complex solution selling environments that’s not a realistic expectation. Marketing was providing support through the entire sales cycle, but their main focus – including the budget – was on the front end. Creating awareness, generating interest and building greater industry credibility had been important to helping them engage with prospects and customers. And the fact that over 60% of their marketing budget was dedicated to lead generation activity supported that point-of-view.
CMO/CSO Collaboration: There will always be some degree of tension between sales and marketing when it comes to lead generation activity. And that’s OK, the key is not to let it spiral out of control. One area the CMO and CSO agreed needed more focus was on helping the sales teams understand and make better use of social media, particularly LinkedIn. Many sales people still view social media as child’s play. They are not leveraging social platforms as business development tools. Subject matter experts from the marketing team need to spend more time training the sales teams, one-on-one if necessary, in order to make improvements in this area.
Legal – Chief Legal Counsel
A few years ago the CMO and Chief Legal Counsel had a difficult relationship. At one point the CMO had actually said “I’d rather go to the dentist than have a meeting with our legal department.” The reason is that Legal and HR had formed an alliance to band all corporate social media activity. Employees were not allowed to access LinkedIn during the early social media years and later on blogging, Facebook and Twitter went through similar review processes. That was now in the past, the legal department was onboard.
CMO/Legal Collaboration: Legal understands the value of social media and recognizes the fact that there will always be some degree of risk associated with those media channels that cannot be totally mitigated. However, that doesn’t mean marketing gets a free pass. The marketing department will work to make sure all “Social Media Policies and Procedures” documentation is always up-to-date and communicated throughout the organization. This will be very important because “Social Employee Advocacy” software applications are likely to expand how marketing leverages social media throughout the company in order to help employees feel comfortable in the role of brand advocates.
Human Resources – Chief Human Resources Officer
Like legal, HR has been fully engaged with marketing as it related to the new social media channels. Sure, in the beginning they worried about employee productivity and whether or not social media was even relevant to their functional area. At times they still wonder about the productivity, but they definitely see the recruitment value.
CMO/HR Collaboration: There are two important areas the CMO would like to see addressed as it relates to HR and how their current processes impact the corporate brand. Both projects will also involve IT.
First, current HR applications and processes offer prospective employees the ability to connect their LinkedIn profiles and or upload their current resumes. Either way, the process still requires them to enter the same employment and education history that can be found in those sources. This duplication of effort is time consuming, frustrating and leaves a bad first impression of the corporate brand.
Second, automated boilerplate rejection letters are killing brand value. Take a close look at the message projected in a typical automated HR letter:
What type of messages are we sending? Here are just a few to consider:
1. Applicants don’t appear to rate a human response. Sorry the “HR Department” doesn’t count. By the way, how do you feel when you get an email concerning a subject that you’d naturally like to respond to, but can’t?
2. The subject line “Thank You for Your Interest” feels like a Western Union Death Notice.
3. The applicant response is not personalized. Sorry, just because you used their first name in the opening doesn’t make it personal. Most standard rejection letters have the exact same wording. It appears that all HR departments are using the same group of lawyers for this task. Sorry, just kidding. But really, how original.
4. Your high-level feedback, “credentials and experience are valuable” is too general in nature and is not helpful to the applicant or the process they are going through.
5. The same form letter is sent to nearly every applicant. Sure, the three or four you interview and the one person who gets the job doesn’t receive this particular letter. But think of the hundreds of individuals, some who might be potential customers and have a high degree of social influence, who are now very disappointed and perhaps quite insulted by the rejection.
6. The response was sent late. They applied for that position three months ago. The fact that you were busy is not an excuse. Simply terrible.
In my opinion the hiring manager (even if the position is reporting directly to the CEO) needs to send the letter. A form rejection letter sent from HR months after the application was submitted only confirms that they were never seriously considered. We’ve figured out how to do one-to-one marketing with our customers and prospects; it’s time to bring that same care to our HR process or we’ll find ourselves losing ground fast in the social economy.
CMO / CEO Collaboration:
The Chief Executive Officer came up through finance and is pretty much a numbers person. And, as you might suspect, the CEO takes special interest in things that increase revenue, decrease costs, or mitigates risk. In short, that means the question “What’s the ROI?” is never going to be far from the surface. The CEO is speaking now so let’s listen…
“What is currently impossible to do that if it were possible would change everything.”
That’s an interesting question to open the meeting…
“Well, use the hashtag #ItsPossible for today’s meeting because we’ve got big news!”
OK, the CEO is more than just a numbers person! The CEO understands the importance of leading by example and is not afraid to leverage the new social platforms. Perhaps I’ll take some time to enjoy my seat at the executive table this year.
|Posted on April 1, 2015 at 2:16 PM||comments (21)|
If you are a technology vendor or CIO don’t panic. Chief Marketing Officers still love you. We continue to think about and are concerned with technology and data. But I’m starting to spend more time with HR this year. Yes, I’m concerned with whether or not marketing has the “right people on the bus.” That’s a challenge that never ends, particularly when the business environment is constantly changing. What I’m bringing attention to, and becoming more concerned with, is the individuals we don’t have room for on the bus. Let me set up the scenario.
Think about your total recruitment this year. Based on the size of your company, your HR department is likely to post several jobs, for several departments, across various platforms depending on job scope and level. Some of your organizations have appeared on “lists” recognizing your company as one of those “Best Places to Work.” That means you are likely to get tens if not hundreds of applications for each position you seek to fill. Now bear with me because I’m going to apply some math, logic, and then get personal in a moment.
For one mid-level management job you received 50 applications. Your HR department called the top five best choices, based on geographic location (you didn't want to pay for relocation), experience and so on. After the Skype interviews three were extended an invitation for personal face-to-face interviews and one job offer was tendered. Actually, the person hired didn't technically go through your formal job process, they networked their way into the position. OK then, here is the tricky part, were forty-five applicants sent the following standard HR email?
Dear (First Name),
Thank you for your interest in our (Internal Job Number and Internal Job Title) position with XYZ Company. While your credentials and experience are valuable, we have determined the credentials of other candidates may better fit our needs at this time. Your profile will be available to our recruiters as they seek candidates for other opportunities. Please check back for future opportunities.
XYZ Company Human Resources
** Please do not respond to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. **
From a math and logic perspective are we good so far? You might be thinking, yes, your math is in the ballpark, we’d get about 50 applications for a mid-level job posting. And logically we don’t have the bandwidth to give personal attention to the forty-five who didn't make the initial screening. Sure, several in that group were very well qualified, but we had to make the cut somewhere.
“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”
I love that line, but it’s dead wrong. It’s always personal. We are by nature, an emotional being. So, let’s take a personal look at the standard rejection letter.
1. It’s not from a person. Sorry the “HR Department” and “Do Not Reply” don’t count. By the way, how do you feel when you get an email concerning a subject that you’d naturally like to respond to, but can’t?
2. The subject line “Thank You for Your Interest” might just as well be a Western Union Death Notice.
3. The wording is very similar in most rejection letters. It appears that all HR departments are using the same group of lawyers for this task. Sorry, just kidding. But really, how original.
4. Your high-level feedback, “credentials and experience are valuable” is not helpful to the applicant or the process they are going through.
5. Your response was late. They applied for that position three months ago. We know, you almost forgot to send any notice. Simply terrible.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Alan, you’re in marketing, I still don’t understand why you care about HR. OK, here is why I care. Forty-five (late) standard rejections letters multiplied by how many total job postings for the year? From a branding perspective we have potentially upset hundreds of individuals who could very well hurt our sales in the future. How? Because many of the individuals we passed on could still end up in our industry. They may end up as employees of our competitors, sales or marketing reps for our channel partners, or buyers for our current customers. And we just dismissed their interest in our company with a canned rejection letter. How much do you think they are really going to like us? What makes it worse is that from a political perspective most of these individuals will keep their grudge silent. Just like the consumer who has a terrible customer experience and chooses not to publicly voice their dissatisfaction, but they never return.
Is there an easy, quick and cheap answer? No, this is a big problem that most organizations have given very little attention to. I doubt the negative financial impact of these actions has ever been researched. In fact, such research would probably be difficult to verify. But I do have some ideas for improvement, and I’m going to be setting up more time with HR to discuss them.