Deja Vu All Over Again

For those of you old enough to remember all the major accounting firms once had their own executive search firms. Then someone somewhere pointed out that to have accounting firms conducting audits on large publicly traded companies and at the same time placing senior officers in those companies constituted a conflict of interest.

As quick as you could say internal audit the accounting firms ditched their search practices.

Well it seems that some people might be condemned to repeat history
It's A Dumb Question

Recently, I've been looking for a Bilingual Customer Service Rep.

It's more junior than the jobs I usually work on and I've found people endlessly asking me - in a concerned and often accusatory manner - "Where did you get my name!".

Friends, these people are in sales and customer service. They are part of the face their companies show to their public. Can they really be so surprised that someone might find out their names?

Moreover, what's the big deal? Some people fear that their own bosses have hired me to test them or to get them out of their firms. But, really, if those cloak and dagger scenarios ever really happen they must be very, very rare. I've never been hired to do that and I don't think Anthony has either.

And, the truth is that these people are lucky to have recruiters call! Can you imagine somebody seeking you out to tell you about a potentially better job with absolutely no cost or obligation at your end. Who says there's no free lunch? The next time someone asks me that question I think I might just say "Your fairy godfather." But I know they'll hear "Big Brother".

Actually, I suspect that they all know it's not Big Brother but many people find that talking to a stranger on the phone is a good opportunity to huff and puff and be indignant - which
is something they might not have the guts to do with the people who play a real part in their lives. After all, if they really believed I was Tony Soprano, they wouldn't act so tough, would they?
True or False?

I came across this article recently while surfing. It is a pretty good article about how to get noticed by headhunters although it doesn't include any of the advice that I gave in an earlier posting on this site.

One piece of advice in particular that I liked was this one:

Corcodilos suggests you contact the appropriate manager at the companies you want to work for and find out which headhunters they use.

“This kind of request is so rare that it can be a very effective ice-breaker. Not everyone will provide a recommendation. But some will.”

The manager might even be impressed enough with your call to invite you in for an interview.

“After all, he knows you're looking, and he knows you're smart enough to seek the best. He might also avoid a headhunter's fee.”

If not, youÂ’ve still go the name of the headhunter the company you want to work for uses.

This is very clever and I think it is worth a try. For one it is proactive and also has two possible positive outcomes. Add this one to your list of ways to get noticed, I won't mind.

Now I have a question for you readers who are regular commenters and those who read and maybe don't comment. The article started out with this statement:

There's perhaps nothing quite so rewarding for the ego as getting a phonecall from a headhunter.

I'd like to believe this is true but often I find the reception to a recruiting call can range from indifferent to downright rude. Also people don't seem inclined to call you back if you leave a detailed message stating you are a recruiter looking to headhunt them.

So I ask you - do you feel a call from a headhunter is an ego boost or a waste of your time? What would you like to see in a voice mail from a headhunter that would make you return the call?

Unfortunate Headline of the Day

Sniper Downs Headhunter!.

Was it the fee?
Fired For HIV, Workers Sue Employers

A 45 year old Georgia man who was fired after his employer learned he is HIV-positive has filed a discrimination suit in US Federal Court.

Joey Saavedra, a skilled auto glass installer has worked in the industry for nearly 27 years. He disclosed his HIV status during an interview for a job with Nodak Enterprises.

He was hired, but three months later he mentioned that he is HIV-positive to the company's district manager and was fired.

Nodak Enterprises' termination notice said, "HIV status is a direct threat to the safety of is in the best interest of this Company to terminate employee at this time."

Lambda Legal, Saavedra's lawyers, claim that his dismissal had nothing to do with job performance since his immediate supervisor wanted too keep him on the job.

"Joey Saavedra was fired out of fear and bigotry -- not sound science -- and that is against the law," said Greg Nevins, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta.
"Joey presents no risk to other employees or customers."

Lambda Legal's lawsuit is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities if they pose no real risk to themselves or others.

Lambda Legal recently won the largest settlement of its kind against Cirque du Soleil when the company agreed to pay $600,000 to gymnast Matthew Cusick after they fired him because he has HIV.

Cusick was told by Cirque du Soleil management that because he has HIV he was a "known safety hazard".

In its defense, Cirque said that it would only hire people with HIV for positions that don't involve bodily contact -- such as dishwashers, food and beverage staff, and souvenir vendors. But, it would not allow people with HIV to work with other performers.

Sources here and here
Don't Hire Happy People

The happier your mood, the more likely you are to make bigoted judgments -- like deciding that someone is guilty of a crime simply because he's a member of a minority group. Why?

One hypothesis claims that satisfaction reduces the motivation for analytical thought. So happy people fall back on simple stereotypes -- including malicious ones.

I think it's because happy people don't experience anything as an insurmountable problem, so they are unable to grasp the magnitude of the problems other people face. This makes them unsympathetic.

This theory seems to be backed up by the fact that a large part of happiness seems to be genetic. Happy people just don't have the capacity to experience the world as being so bad.

British psychologist, Richie Bentall, says that "Happy people overestimate their control over environmental events, give unrealistically positive evaluations of their own achievements, believe that others share their unrealistic opinions about themselves and show a general lack of evenhandedness when comparing themselves to others.'

Since happiness promotes of arrogance, it won't come as a surprise to protesters that the US ranks near the top in international surveys of happiness. Nor that religious people are happier than others.

It is a bit of a surprise that marriage fosters happiness, but not that having children doesn't.

And, here's something interesting: money does little to boost happiness. This is an idea that should be conveyed to candidates when you can't offer them more money to move. It might help convince them of the value of non-monetary rewards.

More here and at FuturePundit
Wal-Mart Fires Man For Attire

Daniel Lorenz was fired last week for reporting for to work in his priest's shirt with Roman collar, an Arab headdress and six crosses.

Supervisors had warned Lorenz that his job was at risk over his appearance but Lorenz, 20, ignored requests to shed the shirt and collar claiming they reflect his unique spiritual beliefs.

"I told them that would be like turning my back on God, and I couldn't do that," said the Pipe Creek man whose religious fervor was fueled by a 2001 trip to Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. There, Lorenz first donned a kaffiyeh, an Arab headdress of folded cloth that's held on by a cord.

Rounding out his unorthodox look are patches on his hip pack bearing the anarchy symbol and the words "vampire" and "ninja."

Armed with secretly recorded tapes of counseling sessions with his bosses, Lorenz has filed a complaint over his March 1 dismissal by Wal-Mart with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"I believe I have been discriminated against because of my religion, universal belief," he said in a sworn affidavit filed with the agency Tuesday.

Lorenz's ponytail and fuzzy chin reflect his belief that hair should not be cut because he is only "borrowing" his body. He won't date or marry, because all humans are family, he said, and that would make it incest.

Co-workers had varying views of Lorenz, who was a cashier and then a bakery staffer before becoming an overnight stocker for $8.30 an hour. One called him "whacko"; another said he was "a great guy."

Lorenz's mother, who works at Wal-Mart, said she's the only other adherent to her son's spiritual doctrine, which is now being put to paper. "We were Baptists until about three years ago, and then we got really deep into this type of belief." said Catherine Lorenz, 44

News of the dress code feud surprised Earl Floyd, a salesman at a Bandera auto dealership that last year gave Lorenz a 1985 Suburban after his old car died and he didn't qualify for financing on a newer one. "I've seen him a dozen times, but never with the headdress," Floyd said Thursday.

Also filing an EEOC complaint Tuesday was Melanie Lorenz, Daniel's sister, who claims Wal-Mart fired her last month in retaliation for reporting a co-worker's inappropriate remarks.

Find more here
Nice Guy Kills Supervisor at Chicken Plant

On June 9, 2004 Ric Coleman went to a chicken-processing plant and shot Derrell McBroom, who had fired him that morning. Coleman then shot himself in the head.

Coleman, 56, was divorced and lived alone in a house on Lake Bistineau in Webster Parish. He had a large collection of guns, neighbors said. Coleman was the plant's water treatment manager. He was fired for insubordination after working there for nearly 30 years under three different owners.

Plant employees gave varying opinions about McBroom, who was the plant's production manager. Some described him as demanding and others said he was easy to work with. Workers also described Coleman as easy to work with, Ballance said. Neighbors described Coleman as being a friendly, generous man.

Writing Job Descriptions

We’ve written quite a bit on the blog about things you can do as a candidate to help your employment chances.

We’ve talked about interviews, references, voice mails all kinds of things.

It struck me tonight that we have been ignoring the other side of the equation and that is from the perspective of the hiring manager.

So I am going to write some pieces that I hope will help you if you find yourself in a position where you are going to market with a position to fill.

There is a lot of places to start I suppose since some job openings are sudden and others are planned for long term. Some come up because of expansion and growth others are created through organizational development planning.

I don’t want to get into the evolution of how a job is created so I will start at a basic point in the process: The Job Description.

Have you ever had to write a job description? It can be quite difficult for some people. Companies actually employ people to write job descriptions. They are called Hr Generalists and they are often lousy at it. Why? Because they aren’t the experts on the position you are trying to fill – you are.

I once had a major consulting engagement with a Fortune 500 firm. They had lousy job descriptions. Mainly because no body wanted to sit down and write them. So they would go to this big old black binder that someone had put together years ago and copy stuff out of it. If a position description existed with the exact same title they would use that.

I’ll never forget the first time I read their description for a Sales Representative. The first line under Duties was:

“Maintain customer care”

I went to one of the sales managers and asked, “What is the main focus of a Sales Representative?”

His answer: “Make quota. “

“I see so that is his main goal?”
“Yes I need a rep that can make the numbers”
“What about customer care?”
“Isn’t customer care an important issue?”
“No don’t worry about customer care that’s what the customer service department is for. I will handle any customer care issues – just get me someone who can make quota!”

I went back to my desk and revised the job description. The first line now read: Meet or exceed sales targets.

I don’t want to get into a discussion about whether the Sales Manager’s focus on quota first and customer service second was a valid way to conduct his business, I merely raise it to illustrate what I believe to be the most important thing in developing a good job description and that is this: Begin with the end in mind.

Ok so I stole that from Steven Covey but it is quite appropriate here. If you have a position that you are filling and you want to develop a good position description you should first start by looking one year ahead. In that year what do you want the person to accomplish in this role? Is there a major project that has to be completed? Are there sales targets to be met? Are there products that need to be developed? Whatever the position is from CEO to Admin Assistant you should be able to devise some tangible measures for the position.

This is your first starting point. When you know where you are going you can draw the map.

So let’s say for arguments sake you are going to hire a sales rep and you want to increase sales in a particular territory by 20% this year. Assuming this is a reasonable goal how does the sales rep go about increasing sales in the region? Will it be by acquiring new customers or by increasing business in current accounts?

If it is the former then the one of the main functions of the job will be prospecting for new business or prospecting for new accounts. If it is the latter then account management or account development is going to be a key aspect of the position.

Flipping from long term to short term think for a minute about what this person’s typical day would be like. I mean the person comes in at whatever time – 8:30 am for example has a cup of coffee and then what? What are some of the key tasks this person will be performing?

Going back to our sales example perhaps the person will come in briefly but spend most of his day on the road calling on customers or making cold calls. But there may be other aspects of this person’s position that are important as well. For example is part of his day spent completing sales orders? Does he have to write proposals? All of these things should be included in the position description. If you aren’t sure about what makes up a person’s day go and ask someone in the same position right now. You might be surprised at what they tell you.

Once you have an idea of the duties of the position you can easily start developing an idea of what the skills and attributes of the position should be.

For example: strong cold calling skills, proposal writing skills, territory management skills etc.
Now you should have two main areas of the job description completed. The first would be the Duties and Responsibilities section and the second would be the Skills section.

You can add to that other requirements like degree or certification and presto you have a job description. Now you can bring it to HR and they can translate it to corporate speak for their big binder.

I know that the examples I have been using are rather simplistic but I didn’t want to overload you with detail and besides this is a blog not a book.

However the point remains valid for all types of positions. If you are going to write a good position description start with concrete goals for the position and then work backwards right down to a typical day you will definitely improve the quality of your written descriptions.
Pizza Hut Fires Driver For Self-Defence

Ronald B. Honeycutt, 38, has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He's been delivering pizzas for 20 years and has always packed heat on the job.

Jerome Brown-Dancler approached Honeycutt at around 11 p.m. on May 17 just after he had made a pizza delivery in Indianapolis. Brown-Dancler pointed a 9 mm handgun at the Pizza Hut employee as he was entering his van.

Brown-Dancler's gun carried a loaded 14-round clip but had no bullet in the chamber. When confronted, Honeycutt pulled his own 9 mm from the back of his pants and fired until it was empty. He says he fired 15 times in about eight seconds. An autopsy revealed Brown-Dancler was hit at least 10 times.

Honeycutt insists Brown-Dancler didn't fall until after the last shot was fired. "The guy kept standing," Honeycutt told the paper. "And the only thing he could say when I was grabbing his gun off the ground was, 'I just wanted pizza.'"

After the encounter, Honeycutt took Brown-Dancler's gun, fearing it might be stolen if it was left with the body. He drove to the Pizza Hut restaurant where he worked and told his manager to call police.

"This was late at night. This was a high-crime area," said Deputy Prosecutor Barb Crawford. "He left because he wasn't sure whether or not Brown-Dancler had any friends with him. As it turns out, he did indeed have friends with him. They left when they heard shots fired."

The pizza deliveryman won't face charges but his employer, Pizza Hut, has fired him for violating a company policy against carrying firearms.

Honeycutt says he plans to find another job delivering pizzas. "Other criminals better think twice, because I'm going back out there," he said.

"I hope those of you in the media will realize the incredible unfairness of a huge company telling its employees – in essence – they must agree to die for the company rather than use legal reasonable means to defend themselves," Rick Whitham, an Indianapolis attorney, told WND.

Sainsbury Saga Continues

The soap opera over the fall-off at Sainsbury is still being played out in the British press

When last we reported on this story executive search firm Whitehead Mann was taking flak for placing a candidate who left within a week.

Now the recruiters are firing back.

Whitehead Mann, which was sacked by Sainsbury in the aftermath of the affair, defended its role and accused its former client of attempting to pass the buck over the disastrous appointment.

Taking the unusual step of talking publicly about a client, Stephen Lawrence accused Sainsbury of "wanting to deflect the criticism" when the appointment backfired.

Whitehead Mann had warned the Sainsbury board about Sir Ian's patchy reputation in parts of the City and only put him forward as one of a shortlist of five equal candidates, he said.

Sounds like a reference check was in order. Think I should send them my handy reference questions? Maybe he had a lot of reference letters and they believed them?

Mr Lawrence said it was agreed during the search that Sir George Bull, then Sainsbury chairman and head of the nominations committee, would take his own City soundings, rather than rely on Whitehead Mann to do it.

Is soundings a British term for references?

He also pointed out that his firm was "paid in full" for the job - a fee understood to have been about £115,000 - citing it as further evidence that Sainsbury had nothing to complain about.

Sainsbury had no official comment yesterday, though one source at the retailer said it would have been difficult to reduce the fee because it was largely paid in advance.

Heh heh sneaky British headhunters.
Assess Recruiter Quality

Here are some measures of performance for recruiters.

1) Performance of hires
2) Retention rates
3) Candidate satisfaction
4) Manager satisfaction
5) Fill Time
6) Offer acceptance rate
7) Recruiting load
8) Market Knowledge
9) Knowledge of Sourcing Tools

Find more here
How To Assess Foresight

If the job requires someone with insight, ask the candidate for her views of the future.

Give her a job-related situation and ask how she would expect to approach the problem differently as a result of upcoming changes in the industry.

It's not as important that she gets the forecast correct as it is that she continually thinks about the future and the changes that it might include.

Anyone who says she hasn't thought about upcoming changes should be rejected.

Find more here
At least the candidates don't lie.

Picture this, a priest sits on his side of the confessional booth. He hears a parishioner enter so he slides back the little window expecting to hear "Bless me Father for I have sinned" Instead he hears "Father I've been retained by a large parish to conduct a search for a priest".

Sound far fetched? Well not really, in the true American tradition of finding your niche David Lyons a former corporate recruiter decided that there was a need to provide recruiting services to help churches find pastors and other staff.

Called MinisterSearch Lyons says that

We have the ability to identify and attract better candidates than a church could ever do on its own," said Lyons, "because this is all we do, all day long."

"Sheer numbers" is MinisterSearch's biggest selling point. A typical church committee might select a minister from a few dozen resumes; the firm networks with thousands of ministers, including many that churches wouldn't know about.

"Typically the best candidate is a `passive candidate' -- someone who is not actively looking for a job," he said. Through its networking efforts, MinisterSearch develops confidential contacts with candidates who aren't job-hunting but who may be willing to relocate if the right position comes along.

And he is not the only game in town either. Apparently there is a website devoted to the same market called which allows churches so search for their next pastor via the Internet.

So how do you interview a priest anyway?

"Father can you give us a breakdown of how many souls you have saved in the last three years?"
"how's your conversion record?"
"Can you give us a sample sermon?"

Read the full article here
How Managers Should Plan To Respond to Terror

What to expect:

In the aftermath of a terrorist attack employees may fear working in tall buildings, especially landmarks. They will fear taking planes. Many will suffer from a general malaise and anxiety. Expect an overall decrease in productivity, an increase in hallway conversations and a desire to listen to the news. Expect increased absenteeism and late arrivals.

Employees perceived as being from certain ethnic and religious groups arelikely to fear blame. Some might actually be harassed.

Anticipate the need for grief counseling and immediate financial support in the case of people affected directly by an attack. Talk to your legal staff about any potential legal or insurance liabilities.

Expect a slowdown in recruiting and turnover because few people will be moving or looking during this uncertain period.

What to do:

Keeping people busy is important because it keeps their minds off of currentevents so urge employees to get back into their routine immediately.

Educate managers about possible anxiety problems and employee concerns. Urge managers to talk directly to their employees about these issues and respond rapidly to their requests.

Designate an HR person to be the primary contact for issues related to the event. Provide onsite or telephone counseling for anxiety. If individual workers are clearly being disruptive (because of their anxiety) send them to counseling or home.

Add an information section to your website which covers issues related to thisevent. Allow workers to take time off to work for charities or to give blood, in order to meet their need to "do something" to help.

Contact your employees in international locations. Ask them what they need andrespond rapidly to the requests.

Encourage employees who see harassment to report it immediately. Remind employees of the penalties for harassment. Assign an HR professional to handlethese cases and identify any employees that may be "at risk" of harassment.

Be more flexible in requests for using sick leave and vacation for the next week. Allow workers time to call friends and relatives and to talk out their concerns. Allow stressed workers to work at home or to use sick days until their anxieties subside.

Allow workers to postpone or cancel immediate business trips that require
commercial flights. Cancel or postpone upcoming conferences or events that may require a large number of people to fly commercial carriers.

Involve workers in the process of alleviating anxiety in order to lessen their fears and to get their "ownership" of the problem.

Contact your employee assistance program vendor to see what services they offer and if they are gearing up for the extra counseling that will be needed.

If you have people missing be prepared to offer immediate financial and counseling support to the families.

Review and upgrade your disaster plan.

Source Johnny Sullivan
A Reference Letter is Not a Reference

I was going through a box of old files this weekend and found a reference letter that a candidate brought with her to an interview.

The letter is dated 1987 I think.

Anyway this person was from Hong Kong and I guess women had a different place in the workforce over there because her boss ( a man) wrote that she was a good worker because she was:

"silent, diligent and obedient".

I still laugh when I read that letter.

But it got me to thinking about references letters in general. I have some candidates come to me with binders full of glowing reference letters that they are quite proud of. Some of them want me to read them right then and there (I don't) and some take them to interviews as well.

So as much as it hurts me to tell you all this, I feel it's important.

I don't care one whit about what's in your reference letter. It means zero to me.

If I want a reference I will call your former boss up directly and speak to him or her. Reference letters are often canned and are full of generalities and low on specifics.

I posted some of my reference questions in an earlier post but since our permalinks are screwed here they are again:

1 Did you hire this candidate – if so why? Did he/she live up to your expectations why/why not?

2 What did the candidate accomplish during his/her time there?

3 How was he/she perceived by internal stakeholders?

4 How would you rate this person’s influencing skills?

5 How would you rate this person’s ability to operate independently?

6 How would you rate this person’s time management skills?

7 What are this person’s strong points?

8 How do they compare to others who have done the same job?

9 How would you rate them overall on a scale of 1-10. What do they have to do to get closer to 10?

10 What areas were you coaching this person on? Did he/she improve? How does he/she take constructive criticism and feedback?

11 Did he/she ever disappoint you?

12 What motivates this person?

13 How does a manager get the best performance out of him/her?

14 Why did this person leave? Are they eligible for rehire?

Ask yourself is all of this information on your reference letter?

More importantly will the person who wrote this letter accept a call? Some people come to me with a reference letter and then tell me that it isn't ok to call the person who wrote it.

This is a major red flag.

First of all - what if the person didn't write it? Maybe you just put some stuff on company letterhead and signed it. I have no idea what your bosses signature looks like so how would I know the difference?

Second if the person believes in you so strongly that he or she wrote this letter why he would he or she not take a phone call in order to further expound on your greatness?

Don't get me wrong I am not saying that if you are given a reference letter from an former employer you should turn it down.

But you should really get clearance from that person to take a phone call from a recruiter or future employer to give you a real reference.

If they won't do it your reference letter isn't worth the paper it's written on.

There are only a few personality traits directly related to job fit and job performance. The critical traits associated with job performance include:

Problem solving.
A person's attitude toward solving complicated problems. People with high scores tend to prefer jobs that require a mental challenge.

Idea generation / innovation.
Not everyone likes jobs that require freethinking and creativity. Some people just want to produce a steady stream of traditional work.

On the other hand, some organizations expect their people to continually generate new and better ways of producing work.

It would be de-motivating to put a person with high creativity interests in
a position requiring repetitive, unchanging work.

Many jobs require methodical administration and follow through to see that tasks are accomplished on time and on schedule.

The traditional middle management position requires maintenance and oversight of systems. Other jobs require a more freewheeling style, such as sales. Sample item: I like to play it safe and go by the book.

Resistance to change.
Some jobs are steady, while others change from day to day. People who thrive on fast pace and change enjoy jobs that challenge them to keep pace. People who prefer stability would burn out with the pressure. This factor indicates a
person's resistance to change on the job.

Being self-centered can be very damaging for both the organization and co-worker relationships. Self-centered people spend much of their time thinking about the impact of decisions on them personally instead of worrying about out producing and out-smarting the competition.

Some people are more productive working by themselves. Some enjoy working in teams are naturally more productive and satisfied when working closely with other people.

Many jobs require outgoing personalities, such as sales. People must have an interest or willingness to stand out in social settings.

Jobs that require fast decisions and quick actions require people who enjoy that
type of environment. Too much impulsiveness, however, can lead to the "ready, fire, aim" syndrome. Some people are driven to knee-jerk reactions that get them
into trouble because they did not think through the consequences of their actions.

People with high perfection scores may so fussy they cause unnecessary delays and reductions in output. People with too little perfectionism may be sloppy and unconcerned with quality.

Attitude to Work
Do they like to work. Are they able to pull together for a common focus on the customer. If not, their attitudes sap energy.

Measuring this helps to assess the value of the rest of the answers.

Tips on Testing
People who are presenting themselves for a job don't answer questions about themselves in the same way as people who are already employed. So don't use tests whose scores are compared with a group of employed people.

Differential validity means you can probably trust unfavorable scores (i.e., "I am a closet psychopath") more than you can trust socially desirable scores (i.e., "I love working long hours for little pay").

A lie scale consists of questions the test developer knows have a normal distribution. If an applicant's score falls in either the top 15% of bottom 15%, the administrator can suspect that scores on the rest of the items were either abnormally high or low, as well.

Suppose you want to predict if a person is male or female. You could ask a single question about carrying a purse, or you could ask a series of questions
about shoe size, height, weight, wardrobe expenses, and mechanical skills.

A single test item would contain more room for error. A cluster of test items would be much more accurate. Be wary of any test that uses less than five items per factor because it is probably going to be inaccurate.

(Source is here)
It's Always the Headhunters Fault

Jilted British Land blames headhunter

British executive search firm Whitehead Mann are getting blamed because a candidate in a high profile search has accepted another position.

I don't know that it is entirely their fault since I am not privy to all the details but this type of occurrence isn't rare.

Many searches have gone aground because the candidate has taken another job much to the chagrin of the client firm and the headhunter. But it is often not the headhunter's fault.

Remember we want to make a placement happen and aren't in the business of incomplete searches.

One of the most frustrating thing that we as headhunters run into is company bureaucracy where we have a strong candidate who is being courted by numerous firms but the client company cant move fast enough in order to secure the candidate.

As a headhunter I think it is my responsibility to be aware of any other offers or situations that my candidate is considering and to make sure that my client is aware that the candidate has other possibilities.

I believe that this is important because too many clients act as if they are the only game in town and knowledge that they aren't often motivates them to move a little faster.

Plus I believe that they should be aware that the candidate has other options so that if he/she accepts another offer they aren't surprised.

Perhaps that was Whitehead Mann's mistake here?
Why Successful People Are Not Happy

Is Dennis Prager a sloppy thinker? You tell me.

When people who are affluent and live in a free society are not particularly happy, one cannot place the blame on society. It is not oppression or poverty that prevents such people from being happier - it is human nature.

Uncontrolled, human nature leads more to unhappiness than to happiness - because it is, in a word, insatiable. Human nature is designed never to feel satisfied. Whatever it wants, it wants more of.

Many years ago, I came across an ad in the Los Angeles Times: "If you are not completely satisfied with your sex life, give us a call." The ad was for a sex therapy clinic, and it was brilliant. Who in Los Angeles...was completely satisfied with his or her sex life?...

The truth is that we are completely satisfied with nothing. Imagine if the ad had read, "If you are not completely satisfied with your parents, give us a call," or "If you are not completely satisfied with your income, give us a call."

There is nothing that we want that we do not want more of. We are completely satisfied with nothing we desire...

This is not learned. It is part of human nature. I monitored the order of words my youngest child spoke. The first was "Mama." The second was "Dada." The third was "more."

That is why happiness depends on our learning not to allow our nature's permanent state of dissatisfaction to make us unhappy. No one proves this point better than the successful professionals for whom happiness remains elusive.

from Dennis Prager: Are Brokers Happy?
Here's Prager's logic.

He says that most people in business are taught to hold great professional expectations in order to succeed. But the more expectations people have the more they take for granted.

If they expect as a matter of course to be healthy, why should they be happy if they are healthy? If they expect to earn good money, why should they be particularly happy when they do?

He concludes: "If we get what we expect, we won't be especially pleased; and if we don't get what we expect, we will be angry".

His remedy: consciously minimizing expectations is the best way to achieve happiness.

Now, there's a trick here in his use of the word
"expectations". Prager doesn't use "expectation of success" to refer to confidence in your ability to achieve high goals and ambitions.

He is referring to a very narrow focus on "great expectations" which causes people to take anything but the extraordinary for granted which encourages them to focus on their bottomless needs.

But, in this regard he raises an interesting issue which he later ignores completely.

Whether having high expectations of success - as opposed to having high goals and ambitions, and making great demands on oneself - is truly necessary in order to succeed is a matter of conjecture.
It makes sense to think that people who have high goals and ambitions and make great demands on themselves necessarily take a lot of lesser things for granted. You might think that running five miles a day is a great achievement. But once you decide to become a serious runner five miles a day is nothing but a laugh, a blip.

I remember reading a profile of Michael Dukakis once and what amazed me about him was the amount of work he would do in university as a matter of course. But Prager, after raising the issue is content to just cast it aside.

I'd wager that many successful people are happier than others just because they are able to take so much for granted. It allows them to calmly face huge challenges that would surely intimidate lesser beings.
Economies of Scale

Who's doing better right now in terms of economic performance the United States or Canada?

If you watch enough American news the picture has been fairly gloomy as of late with talks of jobless recoveries and offshoring and what not. Even the tenure of current President George W. Bush is said to be threatened by the same economic problems that beset his father.

In Canada the economic news has been for the most part positive. We have avoided the American "recession" (technically the American economy never went into recession despite journalists anxiousness to use the word) and if you took a quick survey I am sure most Canadians would tell you that our economy is doing far better than our big neighbour to the south.

Numbers however don't lie.

Unemployment in Canada is currently at 7.3% compared to the U.S. where it 5.6% (when is the last time our unemployment figure was that good?). Ok you might ask but hasn't the U.S. employment picture improved recently? Yes it has, the 5.6% number is an improvement over 6% a year ago. So that makes us (Canada) look a little better right? Well actually our employment was 7.6% a year ago.

GDP numbers also give us a clue to the health of the economy. Canada's GDP is currently growing at an annualized rate of 2.4%. Our economically challenged neighbour to the south? 4.4%.

The sluggishness of our economy relative to our neighbour is getting little treatment in the press. Considering that we are currently in the midst of a Federal election campaign you would think there would be more discussion about that.

The health of the American economy generally bodes well for Canada. After all we sell 80% of the stuff we produce to the U.S. But if our economy is slowing down it will bode ill for the next government of Canada especially if a different party takes over.

Look for any economic malaise to be blamed on the newcomers rather than the old guard.

Accepting Opposition

Semper Fi Consulting claims that Israelis take a healthy, matter-of-fact attitude toward being the target of hatred. Whatever you think about the Middle-East that attitude can surely be applied to conflicts at the office or plant, as well.

SF says that hatred isn't something Israelis ponder over; they don’t rack their brains trying to get to the reasons for the hostility ("Why do they hate us?").

Instead, they go about their daily lives fully aware that millions of their neighbours would like to kill them. What struck SF about the Israelis he met was an almost cheerful acceptance of hatred, and the deep confidence they have in their own (national) values.

SF says that the acceptance of being the target of hatred requires a profound psychological adjustment.

Knowing that somebody out there hates you, and knowing that there is nothing you can do, or should do, to dissuade the hater, creates a certain "adult state of mind". Some pleasant qualities, for instance, such as giving the benefit of the doubt towards a stranger, have to be replaced by a frank candor.

No one likes being hated, but you can adjust to the phenomenon, by recognizing more fully your personal value --rather than trying to change yourself fundamentally in an effort to appease the opposition.

Find more here
We Didn't Get This One....

Penney begins search for next CEO

J.C. Penney Co., still in a turnaround campaign started by chief executive Allen J. Questrom, has begun looking for its next CEO.

The department store company's board of directors has hired an executive-search firm to find a successor to Questrom, whose five-year contract expires in September 2005, a spokesman said.

Penney hired the firm of Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. last month, Lyons said. He said the company has used the firm to fill other executive vacancies.

Lyons said the board asked Heidrick & Struggles to consider both inside and outside candidates. He declined to say how much Penney was paying the search firm.

Well I can tell you that the fee is probably about 25-30% of the annual total compensation. If Heidrick is true to form they will recommend an internal candidate or a former Penney exec now retired.

Right Coca Cola shareholders??
A Manager's Day - in 1944

RANDALL: I was a second lieutenant. This means you have 40 men that are dependent upon you for their lives and they treat you as their father. And here, you're 22 years old and can't possibly be that smart...

I was given a mission to take a few men and reconnoiter a small dirt road, only about a half-mile long, and determine if it had on anti- personnel or anti-tank mines or if it had trip wires. And this was under a foot of snow and it was down right next to the river... in open country....

And when I got this news from the Battalion S2, the intelligence officer, I said, "But don't we have engineers to do this kind of thing?" And he said, "We have engineers, but they aren't doin' this kind of thing. They're on some other mission." And then I said, "Don't you have mine detectors that I can take down there?" He said, yeah have mine detectors. They're out on another patrol." He said, "Lieutenant, there are five snowsuits in the corner. You take those and go."

So I had four men and myself, and I threw the snowsuits to them and I tried to orient at them on this, thinking, "This is the worst situation I can think of." And the panic mounted in me. It was below freezing. My teeth were chattering so badly I could not orient them properly.

I couldn't talk. I finally resorted to the infantry motto, which is, "Follow me." I could say those two things. And then we walked through the woods, following a road for about a half-a-mile and came to the end of the tree line.

And then you could look out and see this completely untrammeled snow, a small rural road — you could see a depression in the snow to show where the road was, not a mark on it and it led right down to the river. And you look up... 450 feet high was the escarpment which contained all the pillboxes in our zone on the Siegfried line.

MOYERS: German pillboxes?

RANDALL: Yeah... And I thought, "My God, when we step out on this snow we're going to be visible, we're going to be moving, and immediately a magnesium flare will go up, a parachute flare... and then, naturally, you get machine gunned."...

And I was so scared I really didn't know what to do and I really didn't know how to find these mines. I knew this was important information because of the battalion going down these roads in a few nights carrying assault boats to hit the river.

So I really gulped hard in trying to conquer this fear, told all the men to get behind the trees and I just jumped down on the road. And I didn't blow up.

And I was pretty pleased about that. And then I just thought, "Well, I'll just keep going." So I walked another about 50 yards in the snow and motioned for the next guy — I'm thinking, "He probably won't come out," but he did and that gratified me immensely.

And we all went down with this big interval between us in case of one of us set off a mine. And, well, to make it shorter, we trampled the heck out of all that snow and got back to the tree line.

And by that time we were so relieved and happy that we were throwing snowballs at each other. And when we went back to through our own outpost lines, we completely forgot to pass word and almost got shot doin' that.

And I went back and reported this - that there were no mines to Battalion S2. And he said, "Good information, Randall." And I turned to leave... and he said, "Hey, Randall, how did you determine there weren't any mines on that road?" And I said, "We trampled the hell out of every square foot of snow on your goddamned road!"...

The war changed my self-perception.... All decisions in later life are viewed in the perspective of your early experience in the war, and I wasn't afraid to just make a major decision involving money or stuff because I'd say to myself, "Hell, if I lose it, I'm still alive and nobody is shooting at me."
I'd like to pay a personal thank you to those guys and others like them. (More of this interview here).

Addendum: I just read this article
(via Damian Penny and Andrew Sullivan) and it made me feel a little guilty. The author, David Gelernter, has it right that many young people in the post-war generation were taught to have contempt for anything military and were, therefore, unable to pay due respect to the veterans and those who lost their lives during the Second World War. However, I don't believe that anyone showed contempt for what they had done or thought that it wasn't worthwhile. The anti-military and the pro-WW2 attitudes co-existed in a form of shallow schizophrenia without the one truly affecting the other. Moreover, I believe that the anti-war attitudes of the post-war era were (well-handled or not) an attempt to continue the fight against unthinking obedience in the service of militarism. And, finally, as I told the Photon Courier a few weeks ago, the "greatest generation" were regular guys who were thrust into an extraordinary situation. Back in civilian life they weren't one dimensional heroes and could not be treated as such. Archie Bunker served in WW2. That being said, I don't think it's hypocritical to appreciate them now and to make up for any praise that was lost but due.
Voice Mail III

Just a couple more things on voice mail and then I’ll leave it.

1. When you leave a voice mail leave your first and last name. I can’t tell you how many times a candidate calls me and assumes since we have spoken before I know them by their first name.

“Hi, Anthony it’s Jim calling give me a call…..”

First of all I have many Jim’s in my database – don’t assume I will know which one you are. Additionally leave your company name as well. That will tie it in really quickly for me.

2. Always always always leave your phone number. It doesn’t matter how many times I have spoken to you before don’t assume I have memorized your number. I have it on my computer but make it easy for me – leave it on the voice mail so I can call you back quickly. I leave my number on every voice mail even when I am calling my Mother. It just makes it that much easier on the person that you want to call you back.

Remember the easier you make it for the headhunter the more inclined we are to look upon you favorably. We are human after all.
More On Voice Mail

I was recently called by a fellow in his thirties who came to Canada just over a year ago. He was a Chartered Accountant in India and his experience has included a number of years with large international firms. He has one year's experience in Canada with a small CA firm.

This guy strikes me as being an excellent candidate. His English is very good, he has a bright, energetic manner of speaking, he's not at all shy but he's very polite and he seems to have good experience. I would consider him a definite hire.

He told me that his goal was to get into a local CA firm as an articling student so that he can become a Canadian CA. He was calling partners in the firms to apply but he had the belief that it was necessary to actually engage the potential employer in a conversation and, so, he had not left one voice mail message. He wasn't having any success and asked me what I thought he should do.

Well, first of all, he seems to be calling at a bad time. Most of the firms have already planned on bringing in new students when the school year ends. So, he has to plan for the next hiring period which I think is in the fall.

Secondly, I told him that he has to leave voicemail messages. There are two reasons for this. First of all, as he had found, it's very difficult to get someone on the phone. And, secondly, even if you do, there's a good chance that you will be interrupting him when he is in the middle of something.

So, I emailed him the following advice:

I suggest that you call all of the people on the list once a month and leave them voice mail messages and email your resume to them after each time you call.

Below is a basic voice mail message. Naturally, you can alter it to suit your own manner of speaking. But I think it covers the main points in a brief, direct manner.

"Hi, my name is XYZ. I'm a Chartered Accountant from India with 14 years experience, including 4 years at [high-profile, international firm]. I have one year of Canadian experience and I'm looking for an opportunity to be a CA articling student so that I can work towards my CA designation in Ontario. What I can offer you is a lot of good experience for a modest salary. I'm hoping that we can have a chat about employment by phone or in person. I'd really appreciate a call. You can reach me at 416-111- 1111."

[I also gave him some advice about receiving calls at home].

If someone is at home during the day and picks up your calls, he or she should be taught how to answer the phone and take a message in a businesslike fashion. If someone is at home who does not speak English, your calls should
definitely be allowed to go straight to voice mail.

You should have Bell Canada voice mail service. It costs about $5 or $6 dollars a month and can take messages even if someone is on the phone. It would probably be best to get an Identicall number. This is a second number for your
same phone line. It costs about $5.00 per month and rings differently so that your family members will know not to answer any call that comes in with two rings.
Voice Mail – Friend or Foe?

Most books or articles that you read will tell you that if you send someone a resume you should follow up with a phone call.

I think a lot of people know that because I get lots of phone calls from people who send me resumes.

Typically it happens when I have run some type of career advertising on behalf of the client.

Most people - actually all of them don’t help their cause at all when they follow up and here’s why.

90% of the time the person following up reaches my voice mail and they leave me a message. This is how the message sounds 100% of the time:

“Hi my name is X and I sent you a resume last week. I just wanted to follow up and make sure you received it. Please call me back at….”

I never ever will call this person back. Why? They have not given me a compelling reason to. Think about it, I get hundreds of resumes from one ad. I have a stack of them sitting on my desk. Why should I go leafing through each one to find yours just so I can call you and tell you that yes I have your resume?

I mentioned on an earlier post that you should approach a job search with the end goal in mind. So every step you take has to result in an action that takes you closer to that goal. If you have sent a resume to me then your next step is to get an interview. Does the above phone call increase your chances of getting an interview?

Well if I call you back maybe you can turn the conversation into a semi-interview and I will be so charmed that I will have you come in. But it isn’t going to happen because you haven’t given me a good reason to call you back.

If the purpose of your call was merely to check to see if I received your resume then if I called you and said “Hi X it’s Anthony. Yes I received your resume” click and hung up then you would be happy right?

Let me suggest to you that you have a valuable tool available to you that can increase your chances of getting an interview if used properly: voice mail.

When you get the voice mail of the person you are trying to reach consider what would make that person excited enough to pull your resume out of the pile and call you.

First they have to know who you are. It is no good just to leave your name you must leave some details. Like I send you my resume it is on light blue paper and I used to work for X and Y.

However just doing that isn’t enough. You must used the voice mail to sell yourself. Think about it the person who is listening can’t interrupt, they can either listen to your message or skip it. So make your message compelling.

I suggest leaving one or two tidbits about your background that are germain to the position description and highlight how you fit the role. You want the person to think “hey this person sounds good, I think I will call them” remember no HR person wants to plow through a stack of resumes. If you can make things easier for them you will increase your chances of landing the position substantially.

I did sales recruitment for a large publicly traded firm for many years. I used to advertise many times and never received a good voice mail message follow up from those who had sent in their resumes. Here is the voice mail I would like to have heard (customize this for your own position):

"Anthony, my name is X and I sent you a resume last week on the sales position you advertised for Toronto. I don’t know if you had a chance to read my resume but I wanted to call and tell you I believe I am very qualified for the position.

I have 5 years sales experience in the industry and have always achieved quota. Last year I won a company award for most new customers and I have been promoted twice since I have been here. I have strong cold calling and closing skills and excel at penetrating new accounts.

I would love to meet with you to answer any questions you might have about my background. Please call me at ……"

Now that is a voice mail I would have returned. In the 6 years I recruited for this client I never received one like that. So if you do it imagine how it will make you stand out from the herd.

Rational Life

Generally, what Anthony and I seem to recommend is a relaxed, orderly approach to thinking about one's work.

At any time, you should be able to state about four of the main functions of your job and supply examples of your achievements in those areas.

You should be able to state a few examples of how your work supports the business by saving it money or making it money or making it work better.

You should be able to give a few examples of what you like in your work and give reasons as to why you like those things.

You should be able to tell someone what your career plans are, at least in the short term.

You don't have to be fanatically analytic to be able to this. You just have to give a little thought to what you are doing and the logic behind it.

People are supposed to start every day like this aren't they? With an idea of their priorities for the day, the reasons for them, and an ability to describe what they are doing in their technical specialties to business people in other departments.

It really just sounds like a natural part of taking a practical, orderly, common sense approach to life in general. But is this what's taught in school? No one taught it to me (many will swear to that) and I don't think it's being taught now.

How do I know? Well, how about this. Canada is currently involved in a federal election campaign and one of the main topics you hear repeatedly on the news is the lack of interest in voting among people aged 18 to 35.

Last week I saw part of Play, an entertainment program on one of our national television networks. The host is a MuchMusic-style Vee-Jay who probably thinks he's dealing with real artists in the sense of seers as opposed to mere entertainers.

He's a real puppy dog of a guy who seems to need to show how cool he is by aligning himself with the most popular of moods (eg. on Iraq). So, this time, he got himself a sign that read "Screw The Vote" and went around asking young voters about their lack of interest.

I've seen this kind of thing on regular news programs as well and the replies are always passive and cynical. All you ever hear from people in the "Canadian street" are complaints that the politicians aren't doing enough for them to be interested. There is never any sense that they live in a democracy so they can take a practical approach to politics themselves.

Why is that? Well, when I was in high school we spent one term in grade ten on how the government worked. That was it. There was no education as to how a citizen can take an orderly, rational approach to getting things done. And, so, I've always found the popular attitude to politics is always one of resentment against the boss as if you were still living at home and your parents were too strict about the car.

Sometimes, in job interviews, the discussion of hobbies can be used to find out something about what the person is like generally. After I saw the interviews on Play, I wondered what it would be like to be able to discuss politics with young candidates in interviews.

It would be interesting to see if they could state a few ideas in a clear orderly manner and then support them with evidence. Or if they just whined. I also wondered if the ability to do so would reflect anything about their ability to do the job or if it was just an extraneous matter.