Friday, December 21, 2007

Arlington At Christmas

Pat Haly who has for a number of years and continues to facilitate our networking meetings in Atlanta sent this photo along to me (and many of his other friends) with the following information explaining what brings this all about. He suggested that I might want to share it with others, and it struck me as something very much worth sharing. Many readers may have also seen it reported on some of the nightly newscasts.

Since I will be away for the next month, this seemed like a fitting image to remain until I return. Among other things, for me, it also served as yet another reminder that "actions speak louder than words."

Readers may be interested to know that these wreaths -- some 5,000 -- are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harring ton , Maine . The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He's done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oxymoron #36 Passive Candidate

I am a sucker for "bumper stickers" like the one that I recently saw for the holidays that said "It's a Jingle Out There." Okay, if you didn't like that one, how about "Ho. Greetings from the Society for the Prevention of Redundancy." Okay, I'll move on, just don't throw anything.

The site where I find these is called Internet Bumper Stickers and there are several categories on the site one of which is Oxymorans and there you will find stickers like Oxymoron #3: "Microsoft Works" or #7: "Government Accountability." Okay, I'll move on from these too, but before I do, I want to try and add what I have arbitrarily labeled Oxymoron #36: Passive Candidate.

What energized me to lobby for this addition? My friend Pete Weddle, as he has on a number of other occasions, prompted me to start pounding away on my keyboard. Pete recently published an article in one of his newsletters which he called Why Recruit Passives? In it, Pete makes, as he always does, a number of very cogent arguments about why "passives" are better than "actives." One of the points he made was this:
... Are active job seekers also qualified? Of course. But passive prospects are passive largely because they are already employed and, therefore, presumably making an acceptable or better contribution to their employers. Data collected by the Yahoo! survey tend to support this view. It found that the average experience level of passive prospects was 18.4 years, with over half reporting more than 20 years in the workplace. The average for active job seekers, in contrast, was 14.9 years of experience, with slightly more than a third reporting more than 20 years on-the-job. In addition, if pay is a measure of a person's perceived value to an enterprise, then passive job seekers are viewed as significantly greater contributors. The average annual salary for passive prospects is $66,100, while the average for active job seekers is over 10% lower at $54,583.
Okay, I admit I have not gone back and looked at the Yahoo survey that Pete has referenced, so maybe it defines some of this stuff in more detail, but at least based on what I read in all this, I just don't buy it.

I don't buy the exerience level as much of a criteria for a number of reasons, not the least of which is just because someone has "hung in there" for 20 years or so doesn't mean they aren't "active." I know an awful lot of folks with 20 years in same gig who may not be "actively" looking but that doesn't mean that they are happy campers (we have lots of data from our own surveys that says they aren't) or that they aren't staying where they are because they are afraid on a lot of levels.

There is an old saying that there are two things that cause people to act; one is inspiration and the other is desperation. Point being just because they aren't out there pounding the pavement doesn't mean they wouldn't like to be "active" and certainly doesn't mean that they would be a better or more productive employee than someone who is "active" be they driven by either inspiration of desperation.

I also don't quite get the compensation as a criteria etiher. Compensation is, as we all know, dictated by any number of veriables, such as industry, geography, seniority (and I am not talking about bargaining unit seniority), etc.

That there has been and continues to be a strong bias in this country against people who are "at liberty" as they used to say back in the day versus someone who is "...presumably making an acceptable or better contribution to their employers" is hardly a military secret.

I would submit that at this stage of the downsizing game in our country that there are at least as many folks out there working like hell to find meaningful employment who are every bit as capable if not more so at making "acceptable or better contributions to their employees" as those who are still "presumably" still doing so.

I just don't think there is such a thing as a "passive candidate" in the sense that someone who is currently employed is the definition of 'passive' and someone who isn't employed is the definition of "active."

As far as those who are working being passive or active is concerned, I think that depends on how things went at the office on any given day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Work-Life Balance

Pete Weddle is a name that has been around the cyber staffing space since it became a "space." For those who try to follow what's cooking in the staffing arena, being on the Weddle's newsletter mailing list is not just a "want to" it is a "must do." It is also free by the way.

In a piece that he wrote for the December 6th issue called Rethinking Work-Life Balance Pete did what he usually does, he got me to thinking about what he had to say both on a macro level as well as a personal level.

I am not going to try and summarize the point Pete made in the article. It would take up too much space and more importantly, he has already said it far better than I could.

When I finished reading the piece, however, the quote "Happiness is different things to different people" came to mind.

Maybe it's because it is the holiday season that makes one nostalgic or maybe it's the fact that ExecuNet is only a matter of days away from marking our 20th anniversary or something in between, but whatever it is is, when I think about my own work-life balance at this stage of my life, I can't help but feel how very fortunate I am on both sides of all this.

When it comes to "work", I can't help how very proud I am to be a part of an enterprise where we hear "thanks for your help" as much as we do, and and to come to work every day with people whose skills I not only respect but who are so much fun to be around.

And when it comes to "life" and for all our faults and flaws, how fortunate I feel to live in this country.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Feedback from the Real World

There are a couple of ways you can gather the data you need to support your professional or personal interests. The insular way is to stay in your office and evaluate the feedback that comes in on a minute-by-minute basis and bounce that off of what you glean from the Internet.

The other way, of course, is to actually attend conferences, seminars, and workshops that are taking place around and about topics of interest in your area of interest and/or supposed expertise.

For good or for ill, my work-life balance in this regard is badly skewed to the office-bound variety of trying to get a handle of what's hot and what's not.

It was therefore with considerable anticipation that I looked forward to attending Kennedy Information's Recruiting Conference & Expo in Orlando recently. I wasn't disappointed.

It was a fun time because I got the chance to catch up with many industry colleagues I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was also a time for some significant "learnings" when I had the chance over the two days to hear what thought leaders in the HR and Staffing world had to say on a wide variety of topics. I even had the opportunity to contribute a bit myself as part of a panel headed up by Pete Weddle who moderated a discussion on looking ahead at what recruiting in 2017 might look like. Long story short, there was a lot going on.

Of course, one of the dilemmas that anyone attending a conference like this faces are the hard choices you have to make when you have concurrent tracks going. To try and help people overcome this habitual hurdle, the folks at Kennedy asked us to field some "reporters" so that we could pull together a summary that participants could use and have the "learnings" and headlines in one place.

Spearheaded by our intrepid Senior Contributing Editor and industry guru Joe McCool, we tried to accomplish all this by doing a live wrap-up session at the close of the conference and then using the notes of our "reporters" to create a summary report for the attendees.

While there were around 500+ attendees at the conference, there were obviously lots of people who were not able to go but who might have an interest in some or all of the topics on the agenda. Kennedy has posted copies of the PowerPoint presentations on their site as well as a PDF copy of the report that ExecuNet put together called ROI Recruiting: Select and Retain the Best.

While certainly it is not the same as "being there" it still seems to me a nice gesture on the part of Kennedy to make these materials available, so by extension, I thought I would make them available here as well.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Learnings From The Way We Treat People

Maybe it is because it is now officially December or the fact that as this is written the wind is blowing at about 40+ mph, the sky is crystal clear and the blue has a freshness and crispness to it that somehow doesn't seem to show itself at any other time of year, and the whitecaps blowing across Narragansett Bay don't seem to bother the swans, ducks, or gulls at all. It also might be because the few trees with their deep brown, red, and gold leaves are putting up such a fight against the wind in trying to hang on to what they have left before giving up their grip on fall.

Whatever it is, I was sitting in my home office working on stuff that I thought was super important and up pops an email from my wife (sitting at her PC not 100' away) which in turn had been forwarded to her by a friend.

When it is from your wife of course, you read it right away even though I have to admit I was also intrigued by the title: Five (5) lessons about the way we treat people.

I "googled" it after I had read it and found that it has apparently been around for quite a while and that its author is unknown. Maybe that fact alone makes its impact even more powerful? I also have no idea if some of the vignettes in the piece are true (e.g. the story about Mrs. Nat King Cole) or not, but the messages certainly resonated, at least for me.

I share it here for those who might come to this blog and who are not familiar with it hoping that if it turns out to be "new" to them, that they will pass it along to others.

Five (5) lessons about the way we treat people.

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor
gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student
and had breezed through the questions until I read
the last one:

"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"
Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the
cleaning woman several times. She was tall,
dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question
blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if
the e last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely,” said the professor. "In your careers,
you will meet many people. All are significant. They
deserve your attention and care, even if all you do
is smile and say "hello."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her
name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American
woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway
trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had
broken down and she desperately needed a ride.
Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.
A young white man stopped to help her, generally
unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960's. The man
took her to safety, helped her get assistance and
put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his
address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a
knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a
giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A
special note was attached.

It read:
"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway
the other night. The rain drenched not only my
clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along.
Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying
husband's bedside just before he passed away... God
bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving

Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those
who serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,
a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and
sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in
front of him.

"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.
"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and
studied the coins in it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the
waitress was growing impatient.

"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on
the table and walked away The boy finished the ice
cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress
came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the
table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,
were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had
to have e enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a
roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if
anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the
king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by
and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the
King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did
anything about getting the stone out of t he way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of
vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the
peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the
stone to the side of the road. After much pushing
and straining, he finally succeeded. After the
peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed
a purse lying in the road where the boulder had
been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note
from the King indicating that the gold was for the
person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The
peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve
our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a
hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who
was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only
chance of recovery appeared to be a blood
transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had
miraculously survived the same disease and had
developed the antibodies needed to combat the
illness. The doctor explained the situation to her
little brother, and asked the little boy if he would
be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a
deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save
her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed
next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing
the color returning to her cheek. Then his face
grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a
trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away".

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the
doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his
sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Now you have 2 choices.

1 Delete this email, or
2. Forward it other people.
I hope that you will choose No. 2 and remember.

Most importantly.... "Work like you
don't need the money, love like you've never been
hurt, and dance like you do when nobody's watching."