Tuesday, November 28, 2006

$50 Dollar Tips

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to run into and become friends with Dave Morris. When I met Dave, he was with WTW Associates Executive Search. To say that he was a very engaging personality would be to understate the case. Among other traits, I was drawn to his sense of humor that went along with a "directness" that was in-your-face, but in a "nice" way in order to help make a point. As a long-time professional he had also been the past Chairman of IACPR - International Association for Corporate & Professional Recruitment) and in a prior life had been with Citibank.

Over the years and as we got to know each other better, I had asked Dave to be a speaker at ExecuNet's New York networking meeting which he did on more than one occasion to rave reviews. Aside from the fact that he had well honed communication skills, he also had the experience to translate to listeners the do's and don'ts of executive career management, including job search. One of the highlights of any presentation he would make would be what he called "$50 dollar tips," and as I was looking over some of the handouts Dave had from some of those meetings, I came across some of them again, and as I read through them, even though some of them are things we have all heard before, it still seemed to be a pretty powerful list and worth sharing, even in a digital age:

Dave Morris: $50 Dollar Tips
There is no right or wrong way, only the best way.

Dates on the right

If you keep doing what you've been doing, you're likely to get what you've always got.

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. (Henry Ford)

You are as good as you're afraid you are.

Resumes empower the reader not to see you.

In so far as possible, resumes never precede you.

Reading a resume is a negative experience.

Face to face meetings are always positive.

Eliminate "no" from your vocabulary.

When you expect less than the best, you often get it.

Networking isn't about Christmas card lists.

You only know you get where you got when you know how to go.

Nothing happens that you don't make happen, or what to have happen, you’re in control.

Interviews are not just conversations.

Nobody cares about you like you!

If the world made sense, men would ride side saddle.

I know in the end timber grows not with ease, the stronger the wind, the better the trees. (Wm. Marriott)

Only the mediocre do their best all the time.

Dave, if you're listening, these are under-priced.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Old Fashioned Way: One Person at a Time

If you believe the stats, there are currently more than 45,000 career related web sites, and the last time I looked blogs were being created by the thousands every HOUR! There is so much talk and hype around "Web 2.0"
MySpace,YouTube,Facebook, YourSpace, HisSpace, Everybody's Space, and God only knows what else that one would think that anyone who ever has a conversation f2f (as they say in the text messaging world) was in need of therapy or should simply be admitted to the local home for the bewildered.

Okay, maybe that's a tad over-stated, but nonetheless, as I was checking out another of my favorite blogs (Dave Mendoza's Six Degrees from Dave) I found a post by Steve Levy (post date: Nov 13th) entitled One Brick at a Time. Steve's article, which was the third in a series that he had written on different aspects of recruiting, was totally focused some of the techniques and tactics he uses to identify potential candidates and clients. Talk about a good use of your time! But even so, nothing totally revolutionary here just lots of common sense based on experience from someone who has been at the game long before email was a glint in Ray Tomlinson's eye.

What struck me, however, was that no where in the article did one find links to LinkedIn or Ryze or Spoke. What you did find were tips not just for recruiters, but tips which if followed by any proactive executive would work just as well for the to expand their network and there wasn't a bit or byte in the bunch.

So what were Steve's suggestions? Here they are:
1. Business card bowls. Ah, ol’ reliable. Do you know where your competitor’s HQ or other locations are located? Do you know where their employees eat breakfast or lunch? Have you ever seen those business card bowls that seat up by the register offering free meals if you toss in your card? Absolute goldmines. Ask the manager what they do with the cards at the end of each week. If you have to, offer them $10-$20 for the contents of the bowl. Then call the ones who seem to be on target. Classic brick and mortar recruiting.

2. Airports (or really any transportation hub). These are like open directories on the Internet with one great difference – real live people. When traveling, I always make a point of walking past telephone banks or people on cell phones – and listen (well, okay, eavesdrop but it’s a public place) to the conversations. More specifically, I listen very carefully to the details of the call hoping to catch a juicy tidbit that gives me an idea of who the person is, what they do, or for whom they work. If I do, the first chance I can I walk over and say, “Hello, my name is Steve Levy. I’m quite sorry for bothering you but I overheard your phone call and…” Classic brick and mortar recruiting.

3. I’m still at airports. This time sitting amongst other travelers waiting for my flight. Here’s another “must have” skill for all recruiters – the ability to read from the side or upside down. I mean it – and you can practice to develop this skill. So I’m waiting for the flight to be called and I’m severely exercising my eyeballs – left, right, up, down – spying the contents of laptop screens and paperwork of travelers. Eavesdropping? Darn right. But to the naysayers, it’s all public. Just as the telephone example, I use the same approach… “Hello, my name is Steve Levy. I’m quite sorry for bothering you but I caught a glimpse of what you’re working on and …” Classic brick and mortar recruiting.

4. Field Trips to Starbucks. I consider these to be the mainstays of brick and mortar recruiting. Don’t like Starbucks? Pick any gathering place in your area that offers beverages and Wi-Fi. I once took the recruiting team from a West Coast client to a local Starbucks and had them sit at different tables and listen to conversations or exercise their eyeballs for five minutes. Next was to introduce themselves according to the model and go from there. Sure it was difficult at first but in time it does become easier, more sincere, and more effective.

But here’s the one inherent problem with this approach to brick and mortar recruiting: It isn’t easy. And it has vexed most normal people practically their entire lives. Do you remember your junior or senior prom (or really any social event before you were an “adult”) especially if you went solo? Do you remember girls on one side and boys on the other, neither side approaching to ask someone to dance? Brings back some interesting memories, right?

Finally someone takes a chance and pops the question; soon enough, most are dancing and thanking the person who reached out their hand. Classic brick and mortar recruiting will always be like this with the risk-taking first-responders who recognize its value receiving the greatest accolades and the best candidates. At its core, recruiting really is just one hand shaking another, a human interaction versus a technological one.

Here are a few more brick and mortar examples to consider:

5. Commuting. If you commute to work via mass transit, do you just sit there cuddled up to your favorite newspaper or exercising your thumbs on your Blackberry, or do you introduce yourself to others? Do you sit in the same seat every day? For shame - your next hire is in the next car!

6. Conferences and Trade Shows. While attending trade shows, do you walk around collecting pens and squishy toys or do you show up early during set-up time with coffee and donuts and offer these to the people assembling the booths? Trade a treat for an introduction!

7. The Internet. I’m quite sure that searching User Groups is part of most of your sourcing strategies. But do you attend these groups’ monthly meetings? Or better yet, what I recently did for a client was to survey the landscape and realize that there wasn’t a dotNET User Group in their area and having recruited dotNET Developers, I knew who they were and where they worked. So I created one in an area that was in desperate need of one (in fact, others had failed to successfully create one in the past). The result was 62 dotNET Developers at the kick-off meeting and I strongly suspect at least 25% to 30% more attendees the next meeting. The group meets at my client’s office; however, the single most important goal is not recruiting but brand and relationship building – a staple of brick and mortar recruiting. The result will be that my client’s brand will be bolstered by this show of professional goodwill and in time, so will their talent pipeline.

8. Chapter Meetings. Hold as many meetings of the local chapters of the professional or technical associations in which your employees belong. You know all these groups from searching the Internet so my not really make this information useful? Why not build your company’s brand and expose your employees to new and fresh ways of thinking? Incidentally, when consider The Internet and Chapter Meetings one of your most critical tasks is to train your people how to network, how to introduce themselves to others, what to say, and how to offer and ask for business cards. Finally, you’ll have to debrief them afterwards and even give them homework to follow-up with the people they met. Now your employees are part of brick and mortar recruiting.

Ultimately, recruiting is all about building and building requires significant investments to ensure the building is solid and meets the needs of its occupants. We’ve invested in technology to the point where entire conferences focus on HR technology. But are there specific conferences that focus on recruiting at the point of the person? Sadly not. We’re so enamored by the technological solution that I think our eyes have come off the ball. Hard to believe but the politicians may actually have it right: Elections are won one vote at a time, shaking hands and kissing babies.

Talk about being on the "bleeding edge." Way to go Steve.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Not Just The Big Picture, The Total Picture

I am sure that I am no different than most in terms of trying to keep up with the information overload that comes from the 24/7 world in which we live. I am also sure that like most, it doesn't take long before you stop adding to your "favorites" list and start culling it down to those sites and blogs that you find meaningful in terms of whatever your particular area of interest might be.

In my case, there are number that I follow as closely as I can. Among them are blogs such as Joel Cheesman's, Cheezhead, Steve Levy & Maureen Sharib's The Recruiting Edge, Jeff Hunter's Talentism, and Jack Hayhow's Pig Widom just to name a few.

The other day I noted a post on Talentism in which Jeff was thanking Peter Clayton, the engine behind Total Picture Radio for helping him learn more about Podcasting. Given the quality of thought that is evident in what Peter has done and continues to do with Total Picture Radio, not to mention the positive spirit and energy he brings to the career management arena, that he would offer his help came as no surprise. If you know Peter, you know what I mean.

At ExecuNet we have had the pleasure of both "learning" from Peter as well as contributing to some of his broadcasts. He is, in our opinion, doing outstanding work, and if you are someone interested in keeping "tuned into what is happening and important in the world of careers, you would do well to set your Internet dial to Total Picture Radio.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Age Police

Britain cracks down on age discrimination was a story that recently found its way into the pages of the Christian Science Monitor. It made me wonder if the UK "age police" were going to be any more effective at the age game than our sad record here in the U.S.

The average age of ExecuNet's membership is 49, so we hear a good deal from our members on this subject. We also have done surveys on various aspects of the senior level executive market, including this subject for many years, the most recent of which was just a couple of months ago. The results were hardly a surprise:

According to the survey of 168 executives with an average age of 50, nearly three-in-four (74%) are concerned they will be discriminated against on the basis of their age and more than half (58%) believe their age has disqualified them as a candidate for opportunities in the past.

One-in-three executives surveyed (33%) believes age becomes a significant factor in a hiring decision at or below the age of 50, 34% say it starts between the ages of 51 and 55, and another one-third (33%) report it becomes an issue after the age of 55.

Nearly half (47%) of those surveyed say that the stereotypes suggesting older workers are inflexible and lack energy are most responsible for putting executives at risk of being discriminated on the basis of age. Thirty-seven percent blame corporate cost cutting, 10% point toward rapid changes in technology, and 6% say increased health insurance premiums are the primary reason older executives encounter age discrimination.

The survey also found that while nearly half of all executives (47%) expect to retire after the age of 65, 24% are concerned they may be forced into retirement sooner due to their age.
Obviously, none of us are so naive as to think that discrimination based on age is going to disappear any time soon, but one would think that with some 76 million boomers heading to traditional retirement age, companies who are already more than mildly concerned about slots going unfilled due to a significantly reduced labor pool would start to realize that retaining and capitalizing on the experience base represented by this cohort would be something to creatively court rather than creatively cut.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Shameless Promotion

I have known Sheryl Spanier the lady you see here for a long time, and it was not until some years ago that I discovered her talents went well beyond being one of the most accomplished and well respected executive coaches and career management professionals around to also becoming aware that she was a Broadway vet and had a voice to match.

I also knew that Sheryl, had been continuing with her avocation, but it wasn't until I got an invitation to her appearance at the Skylight Room Cabaret on Dec. 6 and Dec. 12 (show time is at 7:00) which arrived by email today that I became aware that she was taking her show on the "road". Okay, maybe not on the "road" but to the West side, 346 W. 46th between 8th and 9th to be precise. If the name of the location is not familiar to you, here's just a little of what the New England Entertainment Digest had to say:

"Danny's Skylight Room remains one of the best locations nationwide for audiences to discover the magic of cabaret. Whether one's personal taste leans more towards jazz, Broadway standards or pop, this little jewel box on Restaurant Row in New York always sings with joy."

If you are in the City and are looking for a relaxing time Sheryl would make it a fun evening. (212) 265-8133