Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ten “Dumb” Things to Tell a Candidate
Written by Martin Ellis –
On the continued theme of Dumb Recruitment………trying to get recruiters/headhunters to do the simple things well……….
How much do you tell the candidate? What do you tell them about your client company? And if there’s a lot of challenges in the employing company, what language shoud the recruiter use to get the facts across? – assuming the recruiter knows the facts. The temptation is to really ‘sell’ the role, and often, that’s exactly what happens, but in my book that’s the REALLY dumb way to go. “Selling” the role can blow up in your face – especially if you give a guarantee (as I do) – you don’t need a candidate walking out on the first day telling you “that job’s not what you described to me”.
I have used all the phrases below when headhunting for senior positions. They need to be carefully measured to attract the right candidates and scare those not up to the task in hand. They are simple and dumb, and that’s just the way I like it!
1 – “This is a big job for the right person”
I use this when the client’s got real challenges. For senior people who have to make a difference, this will excite good people and scare those who would prefer to stand in a corner sucking their thumb.
2 – “There’s a lot to get your teeth into here”
Usually used after point 1 when there are huge problems to be overcome. I find this really engages the right people and they often want to know more.
3 – “They aspire to a market leading position”
Often means that’s what the client does want, but they don’t have a joined up plan to do it – They need the candidate to drive in change.
4 – “The boss has the brain of a weasel on speed”
Meant to imply their new potential boss is fast thinking and demanding. I’ve learned that many candidates think they could do their current boss’s job better and want a new boss that can really learn from. It also opens them up to the possibility of a challenging interview should they make the shortlist.
5 – “My client company knows they have to strengthen their gene pool”
Often used when a client company has to drive in management change. It implies to the candidate they may have the resolve to get things done. This one always gets a good response from good candidates – bad one’s tend to go quiet at this point!
6 – “This is a high-profile and very visible role”
Most senior roles are intended to be high-profile, but too many people manage from behind a shut door. This emphasizes that this candidate will have to be brave!
7 – “The Balance Sheet (or whatever the client company’s single business challenge may be) really needs sorting”
Getting the big issue on the table early emphasizes what needs to be done. The candidate can be in no doubt what they’re walking into. Again, good candidates get excited and poor candidates lose just a little colour……..
8 – “Their customer retention (or whatever the client company’s single biggest strength may be) is excellent”
Give the candidate some good news! If they’re isn’t any – have you taken on the right client? Will they have the cash to pay you?
9 – “Trading trends during the past couple of years have been up/flat/down”
Just be straight. Don’t get involved in long detailed discussions about trading. Frame a general picture. Just manage candidate expectation so they’re ready when the client takes them through the detail later on.
10 – “This is a really exciting challenge for the right candidate……” (OK. I’m cheating. It’s a repeat of point 1. But it’s a great way to introduce AND summarize the job – Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em. Tell ‘em – and tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em)
……Implying it’ll be hell for the wrong candidate! Senior people need to be ready for the challenge and not blanch at the first thought of any difficulty.
The truth is the most difficult job is to take over a role that was being done very well by the previous incumbent – especially if they’ve been promoted and will be the new managers direct boss! This needs some dumb honesty applied  – even I would hesitate if I was going into this position. I’d worry my new boss was going to do my job for me. It would be my overriding concern, and that of any decent candidate even if they didn’t admit it.
These days, the best headhunters focus on candidate engagement and motivation. Finding candidates is easy (or at least loads easier that it ever used to be!). There are more recruiters chasing too few good candidates, so the best headhunters have to be a little different – and dumb – to make the process one that enjoyable, informative and useful. Candidates will follow you if you treat them right and manage their expectation with ‘dumb’ language – too much intelligence can lead to complicated communication and confusing messages – Keep it DUMB!
Written by Martin Ellis –

A Company Will Hire You Over Someone Else Because

By  Alder Koten

Can you complete that sentence?

Most people will tend to look back at their careers when they apply or interview for a job, they analyze what they’ve done, why they feel they are qualified and they will most always have a magic number in the back of their mind. A number that will likely be based on a combination of what they’re currently making, what they think they should be making, and what they hear or think people close to them are making.

But now more than ever, hiring is market driven. If you don’t chart a path with the market (and your competition) in mind, you are navigating blind.

What most people fail to do is ask that precious question: Why would a company hire me over someone else? It’s not easy since you will seldom know who you are going up against but there are easy ways to benchmark your resume (LinkedIn) and it’s a question that can keep you on your feet. The question can also be looked at from a different perspective: What do you have to offer? and What would make your offer a better value proposition than somebody else’s?

Bear in mind that the answer to those questions can’t be working hard, being committed, or being a fast learner. Yes, those are important traits but they are expected of any above average professional. You HAVE to be good. The question is what makes you great and what can you offer that can can place you among the elite.

Now, don’t forget that great and elite can only be defined in context. A fellow consultant asked me a few weeks ago if I thought Peyton Manning was an elite athlete. I, of course said yes. I’m not a big football fan but it is after all Peyton Manning. I know who Peyton is. But then he asked me how elite Peyton would be playing baseball and then reminded me of Michael Jordan’s time in professional baseball. So, I corrected. Peyton is an elite football player. The next question was how I thought Peyton would play defense, perhaps linebacker? I’m sure you get the picture.

The answer to the value of what you have to offer can’t be isolated from the context.

So, back to the question: A company will hire you over someone else because… ?

If you are looking to increase your income, move up in your organization or land a position contact:
CB Bowman, MBA, CMC, MCEC at Executive Leadership, LLC 908.509.1744;

Friday, March 23, 2012

The EEOC's Roadmap

The EEOC says its latest four-year plan will help it become more efficient and effective. Critics say the agency's increasing emphasis on investigating and bringing claims of systemic discrimination will lead to more costly and complex litigation for employers. They also note the agency's past performance in that realm has been criticized in the courts. 

By Andrew R. McIlvaine

Is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's recently approved strategic plan for 2012-2016 good or bad? As with many things, it depends on whom you ask.
The plan, which maps out the EEOC's goals and strategies for the next four years, was approved by the commissioners in late February by a 4-to-1 vote.
Commissioner Constance Barker cast the sole dissenting vote, saying she was concerned the plan overemphasizes enforcement at the expense of education and outreach to prevent discrimination from occurring in the first place.
One of the agency's top priorities, as outlined in the plan, will be a focus on combating systemic discrimination, which it defines as "pattern or practice, policy or class cases in which the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, occupation, business or geographic area."
The plan also includes a number of benchmarks and performance measures designed to help the EEOC determine its success in meeting its goals. And those benchmarks -- particularly the ones having to do with systemic discrimination -- are particularly troubling, experts say.
"Systemic-litigation cases can be very high-stakes, high-profile cases that are very expensive for employers," says Christopher DeGroff, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago and co-chair of the firm's complex discrimination litigation practice group. "I don't want to see the EEOC bringing those cases to meet some sort of internal metric."
According to the plan, the EEOC will be required to gradually increase the percentage of systemic-discrimination cases in its litigation docket beginning this year. The plan does not spell out the percentage of cases that must be based on systemic discrimination by 2016.
The agency's recent track record in litigating systemic cases is not reassuring, says Grace Speight, chair of the systemic employment litigation practice group at Morgan Lewis in Washington.
Last year, the agency was ordered to pay Cintas Corp. more than $2.6 million for legal costs and attorney fees after the company prevailed in an 11-year-old systemic-discrimination case.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Sean Cox accused the EEOC of pursuing a "sue first, ask questions later" strategy in which it failed to -- among other things -- properly investigate the allegations against Cintas or interview individual complainants until well after it had filed its own complaint against the company.
Earlier in the year, the EEOC was hit with a similar ruling from a federal court in Michigan that ordered it to pay $750,000 in legal costs to Peoplemark, a Kentucky-based staffing firm.
The court ruled that, in filing suit against the company, the EEOC had failed to properly investigate claims that Peoplemark's alleged policy against hiring applicants with criminal backgrounds had an adverse impact on minority applicants. It turned out that Peoplemark had no such policy and that 22 percent of the claimants with criminal backgrounds had, in fact, been hired by the company.
"The EEOC has been filing these huge, nationwide pattern-and-practice cases in which it wanted to represent a whole class of people that it hadn't really investigated, and hadn't followed all the procedures it's supposed to follow," says Speight.
The emphasis on systemic discussion will require the agency to "bring fewer individual and small-class claims of discrimination, since systemic litigation requires significantly greater resources than other types of litigation," according to the plan document.
Experts also question whether the EEOC will have sufficient resources to tackle such complex cases while, at the same time, attempting to resolve its large backlog of individual cases.
"The more effort they put into systemic cases, the less they can put into individual cases," says Leslie Silverman, a former EEOC vice chair who served as a commissioner from 2002 to 2008.
"Achieving a balance between having enough systemic cases so the EEOC is fulfilling its role and not so many that the government is prosecuting all over the place is the challenge," says Silverman, who initiated and led the EEOC's Systemic Task Force during her tenure there. She is now a partner at Proskauer's labor and employment practice in Washington.
DeGroff says he's also concerned about the agency's "Strategic Enforcement Plan" that, as outlined in the 2012-2016 document, "integrates the EEOC's investigation, conciliation and litigation responsibilities in the private and state and local government sectors."
This "integration" may undermine the impartiality of the EEOC's investigations, he says, adding that the integration is "unprecedented" in the agency's history.
"The EEOC's plan to marry the investigation stage with the litigation stage is troubling," he says. "These investigations are supposed to be impartial, but I'm concerned how impartial an investigation can be if it's being used as a launching pad for future litigation."
However, the EEOC official who oversaw the plan's development says the goal is greater efficiency and not a secret attempt to blur the lines between the agency's investigation and litigation functions or undermine outreach and education.
"If you look at the plan itself, it's clear that the EEOC desires to take an integrated, holistic approach aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations," says Claudia Withers, the EEOC's chief operating officer.
"While we are going to continue to use litigation authority where appropriate," she says, "we're also completely devoted to conciliation and to education and outreach to identify and prevent discrimination."
Withers also disputes DeGroff's characterization of the agency's goals for the percentage of systemic-discrimination cases in its future litigation docket as a "quota system" that may encourage the agency to file more systemic cases simply to meet those goals.
"What we are trying to do is to take a data-driven approach to enforcement," says Withers. "There is a specific performance measure in the plan that talks about fiscal year 2016 having a certain percentage of our cases be systemic-discrimination cases.
"But," she says, "there is no specific number of cases given and no suggestion that the EEOC will be looking at a specific number. If you go through the whole plan, you will see that there are a lot of baseline performance measures across the board."
The EEOC can expect to receive a lot of scrutiny as it develops those benchmarks for systemic cases, says Silverman.
"Whatever percentage they decide on, it's going to be controversial," she says.
March 21, 2012

If you are looking to increase your income, move up in your organization or land a position contact:
CB Bowman, MBA, CMC, MCEC at Executive Leadership, LLC 908.509.1744;

Using Facebook to Predict Success on the Job

A new study finds that profiles, status updates and comments on Facebook are valuable in predicting employee performance on the job, at least as they relate to personality characteristics. The potential liability that accompanies the use of social media in recruiting and hiring continues to be an issue, however. 


By Kristen B. Frasch
A new study could be a game-changer in the way social media, namely Facebook, might one day be used as a viable predictor of job success.
The academic study appears to be the first-ever venture into compiling statistical data to prove that information on Facebook can yield valuable personality and job-performance information -- not just clues as to whether someone parties too hard or has alarming philosophies or alliances.
Bottom line, "there is now evidence that [social media] could be useful" as a job-performance predictor for recruiters and hiring managers, says Don Kluemper, a professor of management who specializes in human resources at Northern Illinois University's College of Business, who co-authored Social Networking Websites, Personality Ratings and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye?
"A lot of actions are taken based on Facebook profiles -- people are hired, fired, suspended -- but this is the first study to systematically examine whether using Facebook to help make such decisions has any validity," he says.
For the study, Kluemper and fellow researchers -- Peter A. Rosen, a professor at the University of Evansville's Schroeder Family School of Business Administration, and Kevin W. Mossholder, with the Department of Management at Auburn University -- asked a group of 586 undergraduate students to complete a personality questionnaire commonly used by companies to gauge what assessors call the Big Five (or key) traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, emotional stability and openness.
Of those students, 274 had Facebook profiles that were accessible to the general public and granted a team of three raters access to their profiles. Each rater perused the profiles and answered questions about the subject that were similar to those on the self-report personality questionnaire.
The researchers then calculated two personality scores per subject, one based on responses from the subject and the second based on responses from the raters. The team found that the Facebook raters had a pretty good handle on the subjects they evaluated.
"Based upon other studies, we were able to conclude that after a five-minute perusal of a Facebook page, raters were able to answer questions regarding the subject about as reliably as would be expected of a significant other or close friend," Kluemper says.
Researchers then followed a subset of students who were employed and asked their supervisors, six months later, to complete a performance evaluation. Comparing those scores to the personality scores, they found that the Facebook-derived scores provided a more accurate predictor of future job performance than the self-evaluation.
Kluemper says he wasn't expecting the results he got. He also says many more validation studies would have to be done -- and legal and privacy issues ironed out -- before the theory could be tried and tested in the business world, but the research is at least "a first step in that direction."
Just as cognitive-ability tests were first doubted, but then thoroughly tested and vetted for any adverse-impact, "so, too, would social-media profiles as job predictors need to be studied [and vetted]," he says, "and academics should be the ones studying it."
Gerry Crispin, social recruiting guru and president of CareerXroads in Kendall Park, N.J., says though he "loved the fact that someone even attempted a serious academic study [connecting Facebook with possible recruiting value] ... none of those characteristics [raters were looking for] had anything to do with the face-valid requirements of any job, i.e., lifting 50 pounds repeatedly or having an engineering degree ... ."
However, "the characteristics could be relevant as indicators of 'hard work,' 'team play,' etc., that are hypothetically predictive of performance," he says.
Kluemper says the Big Five predictors have been accepted metrics for many years and are not hypothetical, though he admits the qualities found by his raters were not job-specific.
Regardless of the study findings, Nancy Flynn, executive director of The e-Policy Institute in Columbus, Ohio, says social media remains a legal minefield for HR and hiring managers.
"From the HR and management perspective, you need to be real mindful that, while those Facebook posts may be giving you a look at the true person behind the resume ... you could be violating a discrimination clause by looking," says Flynn, author of The Social Media Handbook. "Whatever it is you saw that made you pause might be [indicative of] a protected class."
Some companies, say Flynn and Kluemper, are hiring vendors or assigning staff to screen social-media sites for background and then filter the appropriate information to HR and hiring managers.
"I say if [they] do use such resources," Flynn says, "it would be wise for HR leaders to have a discussion with the vendor just to make doubly sure that vendor understands that some of this information could be liable.
"A job candidate could say, 'Hey, you liked me when you got my resume and it wasn't until you had access to my social-media site that you were no longer interested in me. Clearly, you made that decision based on what you saw in me as a member of a protected class,' " be it ethnicity, disability, religion or anything else, she says.
Kluemper says Facebook -- and other social-networking sites -- have a place in the future of hiring, and that they may even be more valuable than personality tests because users will be less likely to get away with putting up false fronts.
"Personality-profile questionnaires," he says, "are subject to people providing what they think is the socially acceptable answer. It's harder to do that on Facebook -- your friends will call you out."
Or will Facebook become less authentic and more antiseptic as users start "gaming that system?" Kluemper wonders.
Already, he says, he's "seen some blogs that are out there giving people tips on how to make themselves more positive on their profiles ... .If people think they're being assessed by all these different parties, they might not be going there anymore."
Or they certainly won't be open about their activities or beliefs, perhaps.
Wherever all this is leading, says Crispin, the fact that it's now being studied is "pretty cool."
"I wonder how many folks actually are thinking seriously of incorporating Facebook ratings into their hiring-process map," he says. "God help us."
March 16, 2012

If you are looking to increase your income, move up in your organization or land a position contact:

CB Bowman, MBA, CMC, MCEC at Executive Leadership, LLC 908.509.1744;

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are You an Invisible Man...or Woman?


By: Georgia Adamson
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Like it or not, we live in an electronic age where privacy is on the endangered species list, if not actually in the extinct category. That said, we can choose at least some aspects of our public presence. A key point in this regard is the online presence that is consciously claimed by executives and senior management individuals—or not claimed, as the case may be.

The reality is: If you are not readily visible online, in a positive way, you are essentially invisible when it comes to being found and considered credible by anyone who might be looking for someone like you. In particular, this means potential employers and others who may have a significant impact on your short--and long--term career prospects could overlook you, or even see, but ultimately disregard you because you do not come across as someone who is serious about his or her career.

One reason often given for not having a LinkedIn presence--or, at best, having a skeleton profile--involves the fear that the executive’s current employer will suspect he or she is actively looking for a new job. Two points come to mind in this regard:
  1. It makes sense for most, if not all, company management staff and others farther down the ladder to maintain an ongoing, professional presence there. It shouldn’t be done only when the individual is looking for a new opportunity.
  2. If you actually are seeking a new position, you can and should turn off the activity notification feature (under account settings) before updating your profile, so people in your network will not receive notice that the profile has been updated.

Another concern that some executives have voiced focuses on privacy in general and identity theft specifically. The decision to avoid having a robust online presence based on this concern is understandable but might be futile. Information about you most likely already exists online--just try Googling your name (“John Q. Citizen,” for example) and see what comes up. You might be surprised at how much is there that you didn’t specifically publicize and have no control over.
Suggested plan of action: Choose what you want to have seen online and maintain that in an appropriate manner. Use prudence in the details and amount of information you share, but do not let fear dictate it and turn you into an invisible person.

If you are looking to increase your income, move up in your organization or land a position contact:

CB Bowman, MBA, CMC, MCEC at Executive Leadership, LLC 908.509.1744;

Saturday, March 10, 2012

10 Leadership Lessons from the IBM Executive School

August Turak, Contributor
I write about Service and Selflessness: the Secret to Success.

3/02/2012 @ 12:22PM |57,376 views

But failure was not an option for Mobley, and after many a dark night of the soul he hit upon the answer that turned IBM into the fastest growing and most admired corporation in the world…
In 1955 IBM’s legendary CEO, Tom Watson Jr., gave my mentor, Louis R. Mobley, a blank check and carte blanche to create The IBM Executive School. Fresh from successfully implementing IBM’s first supervisor and middle management training programs, Mobley confidently set about churning out executives as well.
The first thing he did, in conjunction with GE and DuPont, was hire the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the same company that still does the SATs, to identify the skills that make great leaders great. Once these intellectual skills were identified, Mobley and his colleagues at GE and DuPont assumed that spitting out executives would simply mean “training to the test.”
ETS dutifully rounded up a bunch of proven leaders and tested them every which way from Sunday looking for their common skills. The results were astounding and more than a little disturbing. As Mobley put it, “No matter what bell shaped curve we drew, successful leaders fell on the extreme edges. The only thing they seemed to have in common was having nothing in common. ETS was so frustrated that they offered us our money back.”
But failure wasn’t an option for Mobley, and after many a dark night of the soul he finally hit upon the answer. Unlike supervisors and middle managers, what successful executives shared were not skills and knowledge but values and attitudes. And over time Mobley identified the values and attitudes that great leaders share.
1) Great Leaders Thrive on Ambiguity. While most of us like black and white decisions, successful leaders are comfortable with what Mobley called, “shades of gray.” Great leaders are able to hold apparent contradictions in tension. They use the tension these paradoxes produce to come up with innovative ideas.
2)   Great Leaders Love Blank Sheets of Paper. Supervisors and middle managers use a framework of policies and procedures to guide them to the proper decision. They want a plan that reduces their job to filling in the blanks or what Mobley called “following the bouncing ball.” By contrast, leaders create the blanks that managers fill in. Like some business Einstein intent on reinventing the universe, every great leader relishes the opportunity to “think things through” from scratch.
3)   Great Leaders are Secure People. Successful executives thrive on differences of opinion. They surround themselves with the best people they can find: people strong enough to hold a contrary opinion and argue vociferously for it. Great leaders crave challenges, and this means hiring the most challenging people they can find with no regard for whether today’s challenger might be tomorrow’s rival.
4)   Great Leaders Want Options. Long before it became fashionable,Mobley was a huge proponent of diversity. However his definition meant a diversity of opinion rather than the kind we usually associate with political correctness. Mobley’s great leader constantly demands diverse options from his team, and uses these options to produce creative decisions.
5)   Great Leaders are Tough Enough to Face Facts. At heart Mobley was a spiritual man who valued the Truth for the Truth’s sake. Successful executives face facts, and this means being open to the truth even when it is not what we want to hear. One of the most successful executives I know offers cash rewards to anyone in his company who can prove him wrong. Great leaders have a nose for B.S and abhor it.
6)   Great Leaders Stick Their Necks Out. It is a natural human trait to fear being evaluated. We crave wiggle room so we can deflect blame and get off the hook when things go wrong. In business what is often passed off as a collaborative effort is actually just an attempt to avoid individual accountability. Great leaders want to be measured and evaluated. They continually look for ways to measure things that may seem immeasurable, and they cheerfully accept the blame when they are wrong or fail to deliver. The old adage that success has a 1000 fathers while failure is an orphan does not apply to great leadership.
7)   Great Leaders Believe in Themselves. While great leaders crave advice, options, and strong colleagues, they all share a profound belief in themselves and their judgment. Mobley described great leaders as “people stubbornly following their star who don’t know how to quit.” Holding this stubbornness in tension with a willingness to be wrong is perhaps the greatest trick that every great leader must perform.

8)   Great Leaders are Deep Thinkers. Managers get things done. Executives must decide on the things worth doing in the first place. Though very difficult to quantify, great leaders are deep thinkers. They constantly dive below surface “facts” searching for new ways to knit those facts together. Great leaders are generalists not specialists driven by an omnivorous curiosity. They know that the answers they are seeking will probably emerge from outside business and from disciplines that may seem utterly unrelated.
9)   Great Leaders are Ruthlessly Honest with Themselves. Self-knowledge is perhaps the most critical trait that all great leaders share. Leaders question assumptions and disrupt complacency by relentlessly asking the question: “What is the business of the business?” This exercise develops and refines the organization’s mission and purpose, and it is little more than the age old question “Who am I?” applied collectively. If you are not clear about the purpose of your own life how can you provide a sense of organizational purpose for others?
10) Great Leaders are Passionate. They may be loudly charismatic or quietly intense, but all great leaders care deeply about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Perhaps most importantly they care about people. Every business is a people business, and passionately caring about people whether they are employees, customers, vendors or stockholders is an essential leadership value.
Once Mobley compiled his list, he was faced with another even more difficult problem: How do you instill values and transform attitudes? He discovered that unlike supervisors and middle managers, executives shared another trait: They were constitutionally untrainable and reacted with hostility to any effort to “brainwash” them with “training.” Worse, Mobley discovered that values and attitudes are not only impervious to typical training techniques, but hectoring people to change often had the unintended consequence of hardening existing attitudes instead.
As the result some deep thinking of his own, Mobley eventually realized that what was needed was “a revolution in consciousness” rather than the kind of step by step curriculum that leads to a single “right answer.” Taking a leap of faith, he decided that the values and attitudes he was looking for could only be brought about as a side benefit or unintended consequence of what almost might be termed “spiritual work.” Rather than converging on a super set of skills, the IBM Executive School fostered the divergence that values uniqueness and individual authenticity.
The risk of failure was real, but if Mobley was going to produce people willing to stick out their necks he had to stick out his own first. He abandoned lectures and books in favor of games, simulations and other experiential techniques designed, not to “train,” but to “blow people’s minds.”
As for the personal accountability and measuring results, Mobley’s record speaks for itself. He ran the IBM Executive School from 1956-1966. It was his students that turned IBM into the fastest growing and most admired corporation in the world in the 1960s and 70s…

If you are looking to increase your income, move up in your organization or land a position contact:
Executive Leadership, LLC