Who’s missing the mark?


[tweetmeme source=”JanineMoon” only_single=false]Help me understand please!

I read an article in a recent International Business Times, U.S. edition, reporting that 3.2 million jobs are going begging because perfect candidates aren’t available within the 15 million unemployed. And, apparently, they aren’t available internally, either.

[Note: I am generalizing and lumping all employers together…I acknowledge that there are exceptions!]

As the author of a book that places career development responsibility squarely in the employee’s lap (Career Ownership: Creating ‘Job Security’ in Any Economy), I still find it stupefying that employers don’t consider growing that perfect candidate–whether from the inside or outside. American employers as a whole look at investment in their greatest assets as an expense to be trimmed or eliminated.

Organizations think nothing of property, building and equipment improvements to extend the value of those physical assets, yet they find it a waste of dollars to maintain or improve the value of the assets that count most in today’s economy: workers’ brains. And, this says nothing of the value of workers who bring their hearts as well, motivated to go over and above to ensure the success of the business.

How did organizations get to the place where an operating assumption is that assets must be “perfect” in order to be a “fit,” to be of value? Or that maintaining the value of capital assets is a dispensable expense? Yet, these assumptions seem to drive many organizations in today’s economy. It’s the same thinking that organizations use to terminate workers who finish a project and hire different workers for the next–even if training or another learning solution would bridge the gap quite nicely.

Why is it that:

>Employers require experience, yet ignore slope of a learning curve?

>They downsize a workforce to reach quarterly financial goals while shelling out big bucks for outplacement to assuage guilt and appear socially sensitive in “hard times”?

>So many employers consider improving and “re-purposing” human assets to be an unwarranted expense while ignoring the expense associated with turnover, lost productivity, low morale and disappearing customer loyalty?

If a position can go unfilled for months while a search for the perfect candidate occurs, how important can it be to fill it in the first place? Do the accolades managers receive for coming in “under budget” outweigh the costs (much more difficult to track) of filling a position with less-than-perfect? What numbers would organizations discover if they weighed the ROI between bringing an internal candidate up to speed and recruiting for the perfect fit? How is the lost productivity measured and tracked? The lower efficiency and missed opportunities? Customers who go with a more responsive competitor while the search drags on for a qualified candidate?

How about measuring the real costs of doing business?

Organizations purport that they must “make the numbers;” so it is time for organizations to take responsibility for tracking all the numbers—not just the ones that make a quick short-term impact. In any economy, sacrificing smart, solid longer term business practice in the interests of meeting outdated stability measures results in a false sense of security for the bankers and the stockholders, especially when it’s the assets that are sacrificed.

In the May issue of Fast Company, authors Dan Heath and Chip Heath make a compelling case for growing talent internally rather than recruiting from the outside. It’s high time business people review outdated activities that fall under the guise of “sound business practice” and upgrade those principles to align with the needs of the 2010 economy.

Why not weigh in?

What will it take for employers to put workers on the “asset” side of the ledger instead of the “expense” side? How can workers help this happen?

“Red-headed stepchildren” need not apply


[tweetmeme source=”JanineMoon” only_single=false]Short-sighted. Unconscionable. Foolish. Profligate. Asinine. Ignorant. And I’m just getting started.

How ludicrous is it that some Employers are deciding that the Unemployed are not good enough to hire? CNN Money this week posted an article that says this is becoming more common. While it’s apparently not illegal, I’d have to call it immoral or at the very least ignorant.

Do hiring managers really think that everyone of the almost 11% unemployed is in that position for performance reasons? How far removed from reality are they? Do these hiring managers really believe that organizations suddenly (and all in the same 12-18 month period) decided to retain employees based on performance rather than tenure, politics or laziness? (It takes some doing, after all, to collect the documentation to get rid of someone even in “at-will” states.)

How audacious that hiring managers (and the HR people who clamor to be their strategic partners) so inanely surmise that the talent to fill an opening could only be found in someone who is already employed.

Business just doesn’t “get it”

It’s been obvious for some time that many organizations don’t really “get” that their assets and capital for success in this economy reside in their people…and that the people own that capital. Unlike the last half of the 20th century where the assets were equipment and buildings and bricks that stayed put, when people today leave an employer, they take their brains and energy and talent with them. The buildings and equipment that remain are only the shelter and the tools to support the brains (and heart!) that create customer loyalty. It’s the talent within a business that defines excellence and competitiveness in a global marketplace. Our Economy of Choice is driven by the people who do the work, create new products and offerings and serve and retain loyal customers.

But, apparently, some Employers believe that only the Employed can make this cut. I expect this reduces the number of resumes to review. It also assumes [and we all know what ‘assume’ means] that anyone currently employed is a top performer…because of course organizations only keep top performers…no room for “B” or “C” employees these days.

And a top performer would want to work for you WHY, Mr. No-unemployed-need-apply-here Hiring Manager? Because you aren’t talented enough yourself to know that talent isn’t defined by employment? Because you aren’t influenced by labels? Because you aren’t smart enough to know why the U.S. has an unemployment rate of almost 11%? Because you’re blissfully unaware that downsizing, as in ‘across-the-board-cuts’ is the quickest way to impact the hallowed bottom line? Yes, you need some talent in your organization, Mr. Hiring Manager, but the talented won’t tolerate your prejudices and ignorance for long. You’re making your own bed and eventually you’ll lie in it.

Where are the Human Resources people who are Strategic Partners?

If ever there was a time to draw a line in the sand, HR folks, this is it. Strategically, to look only for new hires in the ranks of the Employed is right up there with selecting a physician who will tell you what you want to hear. S/he may not be the physician who can diagnose you, but you aren’t looking for the best–you’re looking for one who fits your parameters.

Where is your backbone, your courage to do the right thing…as well as the smart thing? Your job as a “strategic partner” with other organization leaders is to prevent those leaders from shooting themselves in the foot and to educate them about the concept of human capital. If you haven’t stepped up before, now is certainly a good time.

And, don’t use the excuse that “we need to weed out resumes somehow.” That’s a really lame and lazy excuse, and sounds like an “employee” reason not a “partner” reason. Partners do things to the advantage of the organization, even if it’s difficult and takes time. You should be doing the same.

Where are the Recruiters who know better?

I expect the first response from Recruiters is “that’s what my client(s) want…they won’t talk with anyone who is Unemployed.” To that I say Bunk!

Where’s your courage, your backbone to do the right thing? How could you go along with an Employer who ignorantly or even indifferently believes that hiring only Employed people is a good talent-attraction strategy? Seems awfully similar to someone who only wants to hire blonds but not brunettes. Or only people with advanced degrees when a college degree isn’t really even necessary for the position. Comes down to power, doesn’t it? “Because we can.”

It’s sad to think that we have all become so enamored with comfort and security that we are no longer willing to do the right thing. We aren’t willing to speak up and question or to provide another perspective because somebody might get mad. It’s no wonder that the employment market is in such shambles. It’s a “buyers market” precisely because employees have given up their perspectives in exchange for the illusion of safety. As long as we’re safe, we’ll do as we’re programmed.

And the kicker? We’re as safe as the Emperor who wore no clothes was covered: we’re only kidding ourselves.

If you keep doing things the way you’ve always done them…


Human beings really get in ruts. We love to do things that are comfortable, even when it’s to our disadvantage. Case in point: employment.

News is telling us that the economy is improving, although employment is called a lagging indicator meaning any uptick in employment will come along later, way later. In other words, hiring isn’t going to pick up any time soon. That means many people will continue to be out of work, for a lot longer than they ever expected. So their job searches will continue for a lot longer, too.running in circles

People will continue to do the same job search things they’ve always done and expect that–eventually–the outcome will be a job. One that lasts. One where they won’t have to go through job search hell ever again. And for some that may happen.

But for most, it won’t.

“Permanent” employment is a thing of the past, but human beliefs and behaviors haven’t changed to deal with it, let alone get ahead of it. Organizations perpetuate this with outdated human resourcesdancing practices that are the ‘way things have always been done’; and people continue to buy into this dance because it’s comfortable and they know how.

Organizations still look to fill “jobs” even though what they really have is “work” and “projects.” Work is always there–it’s permanent. Projects are temporary and everybody knows it. Jobs are (believed to be) permanent although most are only around until the global marketplace changes the competitive direction once again. And, that happens frequently. So a job filled today can be unnecessary in 12 months, and that results in lay-off, outplacement, and hiring in another, newly-competitive area.

And guess what? Because the jobs are different, the same person can’t move from one to the other! And, apparently, neither the organization or the person has thought to have the individual learn the new job’s skills and move from the unneeded job to the new one!

Remember the movieSo, what’s wrong with this picture? Everything!

1. the organization is wasting the skilled individual who is already on top of the learning curve, and adds the expense of outplacement or severance pay, as well as the expense of hiring and subsidizing the learning curve for someone who doesn’t know the company. Dumb.

2. the individual is stuck in a vicious cycle: looking for another job that matches the old one, along with thousands of others doing the same thing. No additional skills or competencies because the organization didn’t provide them. Dumber.

Who will blink first?

Will organizations figure out that there are more intelligent and effective ways (to say nothing of economical) to deal with a changing competitive marketplace than by throwing out the old and buying new? Will they figure out that people can be ‘recycled’ and learn the skills to flex from one area of work to another? Will they figure out that tossing out the brains that bring success to the business is condemning it to failure?

Or, will individuals–you!–figure out that you are more employable and more attractive to buyers when you become highly skilled and flexible with your (current and new) competencies? Will you figure out that only you create your own work security–because there is none in the employment market today? And will you figure out that you can take responsibility for your own improvement and development by carving a learning path that makes you highly adaptable to an organization’s needs?

My money’s on you.

When you own your career, you are the owner of your fate. You depend upon yourself to be flexible and skilled and adaptive to marketplace and customer needs. self-efficacyYou create your work opportunities to stay ahead of your organization’s decisions to change direction. You avoid the downsizing rolls, the job search chaos, the repetitive outplacement systems, the depression and desperation that come with a difficult employment market.

And what’s that worth?

An incredible peace of mind, confidence in your own efficacy, increased capacity to navigate an uncertain economy, and alignment with business reality!

Playing by the Numbers Means All the Numbers


For the second time in as many weeks, I’ve read that organizations have jobs going begging because they can’t find “qualified” people to fill them. Most recent: “Difficulties in Finding Qualified Workers” by Peter Cappelli of The Wharton School who notes two reasons for the mismatch:

Mismatch reason #1: tons of choice in this “buyer’s market.”

too many choices

too many choices

Organizations can hold out for someone better for less since there are so many sellers. Shopping around is a “smart” thing to do.

Question: If an organization shops around to ensure a smart decision, does it mean a) there’s no urgency to fill it (which begs the question ‘how necessary is it?’) or b) the work of the position is getting done somehow? If you’ve been in an organization recently, you know that the work has been parceled out to others. Yet somehow organizations fool themselves into thinking that this cost is insignificant, but the numbers only lie when they’re omitted.

Mismatch reason #2: what most candidates are missing can only be learned on the job, not through additional education.

highest bid wins

highest bid wins

This means organizations are looking for candidates trained with somebody else’s dime. Smart business model, you say? Only until it’s your employee going to the highest bidder.

Running the Numbers

So let’s do a little quick and dirty math, estimating what it costs an organization to shop for exactly qualified individuals in the market, rather than developing its own internal talent.

For the sake of being conservative, let’s say the open professional position is a $30/hour ($60K annual) with a loaded labor rate of 100% (= $60/hour). Peers are at the same rates, as is HR. Let’s say the manager makes double this, $60/hour with the same 100% loaded rate (=$120/hour). Any consultants make a straight $150/hour. Let’s use the average hiring time of 6 months plus a hiring manager who wants to find the best candidate for the least amount.

When the hiring manager decides to fill the position, he revises the job description just a bit, sends it to HR and has a conversation about his time line and budget. [2 hours] Then:

1. The manager divvies up the position’s critical work to four co-workers within the department. [2 hours] Let’s presume that this organization is “lean and mean” and each worker is already doing 1.5 jobs. This means that people who already have more than a full work load get more work to do. And so none of it gets done well and probably some of it doesn’t get done at all. So, the people left to cover the work become more stressed, do less quality work trying to juggle an impossible number of tasks, and work more hours like shell-shocked refugees, always wondering if their decreased productivity and quality will put them on the downsizing list.

more lost dollars

a waste of resources

So that means 4 people, all doing 2 jobs now, are reduced to 50% effectiveness…for six months. The organization is still paying each employee full wages. Big cha-ching, one not reflected in the budget but there nonetheless. [1000 hours per employee for 6 months.]

2. By waiting, the hiring manager saves the monthly salary and loaded labor rate in his budget and so becomes a ‘corporate hero,’ a great example of  ‘how to tighten the purse strings in this economy.’ Given the number of available candidates and his desire to be certain of the best candidate, the manager may be able to save six months worth of salary dollars, becoming a real hero for short-term budget views. So that’s a “budget savings” of 1,000 hours @ the $60/hour loaded labor rate, or $60,000. Nice cha-ching!

3. Human resources people get the word out, posting to different sites and continuing to review hundreds of resumes: with rigid requirements, they go through lots of chaff to find wheat. Let’s say one HR person takes 4 hours to write up the posting, list it on sites and post internally; plus 4 hours to review 300 resumes and select the top 20 to send to the hiring manager. [8 hours]

shopping takes time; time = money

shopping takes time; time = money

4. The hiring manager gets the top 20 resumes, reviews them, and selects three he wants to interview. Time for paper review, telephone interviews and notes = 6 hours.

5. None of the telephone interviews are quite good enough, so the hiring manager asks HR to re-post. He knows he can get better qualified candidates: the market’s full of people looking for work. He also calls a couple of recruiters he’s worked with and asks them to send him exact matches. [6 HR hours and 15 recruiter hours] Cha-ching.

6. Sound internal candidates are denied because they aren’t exactly right. Career moves are infrequent, so the candidates are upset, disillusioned and disappointed. Let’s say 5 internal candidates denied, now discontent and with no development dollars available, their effectiveness drops to 75% for 6 months. Another big cha-ching that doesn’t show up in the budget, at 1000 hours per employee times 5.

7. Let’s say the process repeats itself three times during the 6 months it takes to find a candidate–the average hiring time in today’s labor market. And then, the hiring manager finds the perfect candidate—for double the money. No learning curve, no development needs, ready to start tomorrow but the “savings” in his budget labor line plus the minimal learning curve makes this hire worth it.

The bottom line?
$ 199, 210 Subtotal costs for hiring the perfect candidate
(60, 000) Less 6 months of salary saved during hiring process
60,000 Additional salary for perfect candidate

$ 199, 210 Total cost

Breakdown: $ 12,060 “hiring” expense that hits the budget and                     $187,150 salary expense that still hits the budget but now for work not done

“Playing” the numbers

All the numbers

All the numbers

How much internal and on-the-job training could be done for almost $200,000? How many employees could have or be a mentor or get skills training to increase bench strength? How much of the expense could be avoided when internal candidates are ready and eager to move into positions that challenge them? How much could be saved in outplacement costs and recruiting retainers?

How much impact on the bottom line could 100% employee commitment have? How much additional top line impact could 100% employee commitment make? What level of customer service could employees who are totally committed to the organization deliver…every day and to each customer? What kind of customer loyalty and business could your organization realize?  What if each employee were productive for 8 hours rather than 6, an average found in a 2008 salary.com survey?

The simple answer? Huge impact. Gallup says over $380 billion annually in the U.S. alone.

The difficulty in using all the numbers? Moving far enough away to see the forest for the trees: to see the true costs and returns (visible and not so much) in a global economy driven by employee brains and hearts rather than by financial reports developed for a different era. If organizations play by all of the numbers, then hiring will reflect human capital as valuable, and the ledgers must as well.

Chasing your tail?


So how’s that job search going?

Chasing your tail?

Chasing your tail?

I facilitate a monthly networking group–Execunet–for those who are in job search mode and/or who recognize that connecting, developing and maintaining a lifelong network is critical in today’s work world. Some people don’t get it: when they leave, they say “Nice to be here, but I hope I don’t see you next month!” Others do get it, and use the meeting as a beginning step in expanding their lifelong network.

We’re creatures of habit, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that so many folks looking for their next job use the same old approaches and tactics that worked the last time around–back in the 20th century… way back, actually. So, when you’re looking, just know that hanging your job search on these things is really ineffective…a lot like a dog chasing its tail!

“I’m an executive”

What you were called then doesn’t mean a whole lot, except to you, obviously, as you continue to define who you are by your former title.

It's about value, not title

It's about value, not title

So making it a point of dropping “executive” and “C-level” and “Cxx” into your conversation and expecting people to treat you special (and be honest here, if you didn’t think it did, why would you use it in the first place?) isn’t effective or helpful. It dates you. It says you’re still living in the past. Emphasizing what your title was as opposed to what your value is says “I paid my dues and deserve to be at the top of the heap” or “I’m important, so know who you’re talking to.”

Other executives may be interested in hearing this…most likely for mirroring or measurement purposes. Otherwise, it’s really irrelevant. While there was a time when you were defined by your title, that’s no longer the case: you are defined by what you bring to the workplace, by your skills and talents and characteristics and contributions.

Hiring managers (C-level included) want to know what you can do for them…not how great you used to be, or how high up the ladder you climbed. When you tell your stories about results, outcomes, growth and value you can make it very plain that you bring strategic-level results and visionary leadership. And that’s what translates to “what you can do for them.”

POINT: Talk your value, not your (former) title.

“I have an MBA”

That’s great. An MBA has value in and of itself. But what have you learned since you got that degree?

Work is driven by information and ideas. The amount of information–new information–available to us every 30 days is staggering: it’s about as much as two Washington Monuments. We can’t even measure it linearly, only exponentially. Look at it this way: in 1980, the information available to us as a world was about the size of the Washington Monument. Now, every 30 days we have double that available.** Not all good probably, not all valuable maybe, but available nonetheless. So an MBA, as the end-all-and-be-all statement of business knowledge has a life span of, say, the time it takes you to walk across the stage as you collect your degree.

Of course your MBA is valuable…just don’t think you can stop there. It may be most useful today to get you through the paper sort of resumes, but it says nothing about how current you are. So, use your MBA as a distinction, yes, but more importantly as a jumping-off-point for your agility and ongoing learning around business, building teams and leading change.

POINT: Talk your currency, not your degree.

“My resume tells the story!”

Where is your resume in the haystack?

Where is your resume in the haystack?

To you, maybe, but it’s your story that gets lost in the pile of paper collected for a job posting.

The best use of a resume is to follow you…not precede you! Because when it follows you, the person who reads it has already met you and so begun the process of knowing, liking and trusting you.

If you must send your resume to become part of a stack of paper, then you also must recognize that how it tells your story is the key to getting you to the other stack, the “interview” pile. Effective resumes summarize, highlight, spotlight, accentuate and underscore your value in concise, carefully chosen and customized language, and do so in the first third of the first page. On average, your resume, might get a seven-second read; your goal is to have your paper-description fit the job description like a glove…so you get a longer read and make it into that more desirable stack of paper!

POINT: Talk your fit, not your life story.

Little shifts can make for big impacts.  Be intentional in your approach, stop chasing your tail, and get more effective results:  focusing on your value, not your persona makes you memorable!

**from the video, Shift Happens!, by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod

Paying the Piper


The May 11 print issue of Business Week has a must-read article for anyone who is in the job market, worried about job security, or generally recognizes that our employment market isn’t quite as effective as we think. The author notes that in the midst of the high-unemployment across the country, there are about 3 million job openings that aren’t being filled.

Why? The short answer is that job-seekers don’t match the jobs. The jobs require skills sets different than those held by people looking for work. We’ve known for years that a number of industries are shrinking (e.g. manufacturing) and other industries are growing (e.g. health care). Even with this information, employers in shrinking industries did little retraining of their workforces and employees in these same shrinking industries thought little about becoming trained for another line of work. That gets us to today: jobs going begging for people to fill them, while workers by the millions are collecting unemployment. It’s time to pay the piper.

Here’s the Big Question: Who is responsible for retraining and retooling? The organization or the worker? Rather than facing reality and stepping into the responsibility, each points the finger at the other while saying loudly, “we have no money to retrain.” This leads to more of the same, while the market imbalance only increases. We are so quick to place blame and so slow to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

work_retraining

Let’s look at both perspectives.

Employers
Fact: some industries cannot hire enough qualified people, e.g. health care, education, professional services and government.
Their options: continue understaffed, shut down parts of the business, inflate hiring packages, or hire under-qualified people and train them.

The last option of the four makes a lot of sense…and maybe that’s why it’s not often selected. For whatever reason, employers expect that their employees will come with 110% of position requirements… fully trained with short or non-existent learning curves. Given the current pool of unemployed workers, this expectation is beyond a mismatch…it’s a fantasy. Most employers will take one (maybe all) of the first three options before they even consider training people. Why? Because ‘we’ve always hired this way.’ Or, it’s too expensive. Yet, these same employers don’t calculate the true costs of the first three options. So, employers’ expectations aren’t aligned with their business needs.

Workers
Fact: many people searching for work have outdated, irrelevant skills yet they continue to search for jobs that use those skills. Of course, the jobs aren’t there.
Their options: blame the economy and continue to feel worthless, expect additional unemployment benefits from the stimulus money, wish that things were the same as they were twenty years ago, or retrain for another industry or work function.

Again, the last option of the four makes the most sense…yet it’s often not pursued for lack of money (and a guaranteed return) or for lack of confidence. Probably because of Industrial economy paternalism, employees see training as what employers do, and so their expectations get in the way of a common sense solution to the employment market blues.

So, who must take accountability to create a match between employer needs and worker skills? Both.

It does the economy little good to have employers unable to compete globally; it does society little good to have great numbers of unemployed; it does families little good to live in depression and exist on welfare; it does workers little good to lose pride of contribution and self-efficacy.

If you’re an employer who doesn’t believe you can afford to train or retrain–think again, because you can’t afford not to. Can you afford to lose customers while you continue to search for the ideal employee? Can you afford to cut back on services while you search?

If you’re a worker who doesn’t believe you can afford to update your skills or retrain for another industry, think again…you can’t afford not to either. You must do one or more of these things:

1. Visit your local community college, and talk to a counselor; investigate their retraining programs for growth industries. Ask about loans and grant monies to pay for the training because it’s out there. It’s time to stop making excuses for why you can’t find work.

2. Get on the internet and find out what industries are growing and figure out your best path to invest in yourself and your (and your family’s) future. Visit The Occupational Outlook Handbook to determine what interests you, the education and training requirements for positions in that industry and how you can get that training. Another sound source of occupational information is O*Net; visit the site and investigate opportunities for a new direction.

3. Talk to a career coach or counselor to help you define a path. There are plenty of low-cost and no-cost services within any community if you look around. Check out faith-based and social service organizations; these are good sources of and good referrals for community career services.

Whether you’re an employer looking for skilled workers or a worker looking for stable employment, take another look at how you’re doing things. If you’re coming up short, making little headway in the employment marketplace and you want to dance, you have to pay the piper. Now’s the time.