Category: Customer Stories


Magic or Science? How Talent Acquisition is Misunderstood

July 1st, 2015

Outside-In® Chronicles: Originally published with the title Talent Acquisition is a Science in July, 2011, this article still rings true today. Today the market may be different and there are new recruiting methodologies, but there is still a science behind recruiting that is misunderstood.

Talent Acquisition professionals are misunderstood. Generally, recruiters are rebellious. We color outside the lines and come and go when we please. Often times, this freedom is misinterpreted. Our work can be considered soft, simple, easy. But frankly, we never stop recruiting. We work at night and on weekends and there is science behind the mysterious, magical quality of our work.

Crazy scientist in glasses with a bulb or test-tube We often hear things like, “I don’t know how you do it, but can you get me another one just like Mary (or John or whomever).” It is this mystery and ambiguity that makes our work seem more like art than true science.

I have managed more than 1,000 recruiters in my career and I can share from experience that only a few are born to recruit. Those that are born with it have some common traits. They are naturally curious, they care about people and they have the energy of the “Energizer Bunny”. They go, go, go 24/7 and they move mountains for their customers. They make it look easy, when it is not. This work ethic, curiosity and personality can get you started but it takes great science to be a good recruiter.

The trouble with the science of recruiting is that there is not one standard formula. When it comes to hiring, our clients respect education and certifications. There are CPA’s, MBA’s, RN’s, EE’s… you name it, these certifications and degrees are a symbol of excellence in a particular field. But how do you know when a recruiter has reached a certain level? That they know, understand and excel in their field? For recruiters, it is not as cut and dry. We learn by doing and sometimes we are lucky to have a good mentor show us the way. We can take some course work or get an Internet certification, but we do not have certifications that translate. Have you heard of CPC or CTS? Probably not. I have had both, but now they mean nothing.

All we do is run Internet searches or review our databases. Right? This misunderstanding of our profession means we aren’t typically viewed with strategic importance. We are rock stars for a year. We are homeless the next. Our expertise is necessary during certain times of a business cycle like growth, acquisition, new product or business unit launches. But we have to be creative with our skills to show our value in down times of the business cycle.

Our customers see outcomes (the people we hire, the requisitions that aren’t filled) not process. They don’t care about things like sourcing or behavioral based interviews because they need what they need when they need it. But take a minute to think about the people on your team. Would you hire them if it were up to you? How would you find the right people to build the best team? With enough thought I think you’d agree that people are really the science behind the strategy — and good recruiters are the science behind it all.

Download our recent white paper to learn some of the science behind creating a sourcing strategy, and why you shouldn’t start recruiting without one.

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Hiring: All Signs Point to Growth

June 24th, 2015

After reviewing recent news about recruiting and staffing trends in 2015, all signs point to growth. Below are excerpts from industry surveys and forecasts published this month (June 2015), and CBI Group President, Chris Burkhard’s response to the hiring optimism.

2015 recruiting trends

CFOs in the US are more confident now than they have been in years. – American Staffing Association
The 2015 CFO Outlook Survey conducted by Financial Executives International and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business found “67% of respondents indicated they have plans to hire at their company in the next six months, representing the highest percentage of CFOs to respond positively to this question in three years. The survey also found 77% of CFOs were not forced to reduce headcount over the past 12 months. Furthermore, 74% of respondents said wage levels they are paying are on the rise. The optimism index for US CFOs’ own businesses increased to 74.01 in this quarter’s survey, the highest reported since 2006.”

May Jobs numbers FAR exceeded expectations. – CareerBuilder
“U.S. employers added 280,000 jobs in May, which is the biggest job gain since the end of 2014 and much higher than the 225,000 jobs economists were expecting. That’s especially good news if you look back at some of the numbers from earlier this year.”

All metro areas set for job growth this year. – US Conference of Mayors
“2015 will mark the first year all 363 metro areas will see job growth since the economic recovery began, according to a new economic forecast released by the US Conference of Mayors and prepared by ISH Global Insight. The forecast also projects 316 metros, 87%, will see job growth greater than 1.0%, with only 47 areas, 13%, experiencing job growth of 1.0% or less.”

US staffing employment up more than 5% over year. – American Staffing Association
US staffing companies employed an average of 3.13 million temporary and contract workers per week in the first quarter of 2015, up 5.5% from the same period in 2014, according to data released today by the American Staffing Association. “Even with weak economic growth in the first quarter, demand for temporary and contract talent increased as businesses increased the size of their flexible and permanent workforces,” said ASA President and CEO Richard Wahlquist. “The continued growth in staffing employment means more long-term opportunities for job seekers.”

The US is projected to create 8 million jobs from 2014-2019 — a 5% increase. – CareerBuilder

“CareerBuilder has released a list of the industries expected to add jobs at an accelerated pace from 2014 to 2019… and it’s not just STEM jobs that look to have especially promising growth in the next several years. Technology and globalization continue to change the composition of the US workforce and push our economy in new directions. Based on EMSI’s data from more than 90 national and state employment resources, it appears the US is projected to create roughly 8 million jobs from 2014 to 2019 – a 5 percent increase. A significant number of industries will likely experience an even greater percentage gain during this period.

Around one-third of all U.S. industries are expected to outperform the national average for employment growth over the next five years. While it’s not surprising that technology and health care made the list, the accumulation of new jobs will take place within a diverse mix of industries requiring a broad range of skills and experience.”

The list represents 20 industries that are projected to add at least 10,000 jobs and experience 15% growth in employment over the next five years.

CBI Group President, Chris Burkhard’s response to signs of growth:

I am never more concerned than when all signs point to good times. Not to be contrarian in nature just for the sake of it. However, all of this demand, hiring and need for a contingent workforce solution will require a dramatic shift in how employers approach this “problem.” No longer can you post and pray with job boards or simply spend money to solve it. Organizations are going to need to make Talent Acquisition a strategy just like Finance, Operations, Sales and Marketing. And this time it is going to need to be foundational — pretty marketing around your employer brand or adding a few more recruiters on contract will not provide a sustainable fix. Talent strategy will need to be forever! Or until the next downturn or recession. And even then, great firms will be in a spot to take advantage of their strong position by scooping up the best talent!

CBI Way: Engaging Your Talent Pipeline

June 17th, 2015

By Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

Just as important as getting your talent pipeline started is keeping that same pipeline engaged with your business. Long before a position that needs to be filled quickly opens, you should be building relationships with the talent pools you’ve created or identified. There are number of ways to engage your pipeline. The methods that will work best for your talent pipeline will probably depend on the type of candidates that are in your pool. Let’s take a look at two strategies for engaging those candidates; social media and in-person networking.

According to a survey by ERE, just 38% of employers continuously recruit throughout a year. Talent pipelining is almost exactly that; keeping in touch with quality candidates, and forming a relationship that could pay dividends in the future. Your pipeline is like your business’ network. Think about sponsoring live networking events at a local college and give young professionals an inside look into your business, its values, and its goals. If you’re recruiting healthcare workers, promote an event for healthcare workers to your healthcare talent pipeline. Set a meeting place, a speaker, and an interesting presentation on new trends in the medical field, and explain the value the information could provide. Follow up the event with an email survey to the attendees in your pipeline and ask them to rate their experience and if they would attend another similar event for medical professionals.

The combination of personal networking and social media content can go a long way in keeping your pipeline engaged. The candidates could be interested in the next event or may be looking for more relevant content about their industry or even your company. Don’t forget to use social media and web content to your advantage. It’s easily accessible, simple to send out, and is a critical tool for keeping your pipeline aware and engaged.

Be Vulnerable, Be Curious

June 10th, 2015

Outside-In Companies are working on the value of being Open Book. To be clear, Open Book is the concept of opening your books to your shareholder(s) and employees so that they may use the information to improve or enhance the way the business is run. Not everyone likes or even grasps the financial concepts that make up financial statement, balance sheets or cash flow statements. BUT, if all see profits and losses and understand how their performance and decisions affect the numbers, then they can play a big part in impacting the success or failure of the business. There is strength in numbers, as they say.

Open-Book-FishLast week we celebrated our Open Book Values Holiday with some symbolism. To illustrate the meaning of Open Book, team members adopted a goldfish for the Outside-In office. We call him Vulnerable and he swims centrally in the office in a fishbowl for all to see. Vulnerable’s fishbowl represents the transparency and clarity you should expect from an Open Book company. Share, share, share it all! All of us should be willing to open our office doors, let customers into meetings, or share information about the state of the business freely. This requires the information to share. And it requires a culture that encourages, craves, even demands insights and information into running the business.

Having no information usually equates to risky decision making. More information gives you a real advantage or leg up on the competition. Most don’t bother, we prefer to take action rather then back up our thinking and really get clear on what the information is telling us!

We are far from great at being Open Book. This is an ongoing work in progress. For example, in order to be open book we must do a better job of encouraging critical thinking and information gathering by all. We must be curious. This concept must be led and encouraged by the leadership. We must teach and insist that all learn to gather information to make good decisions. And we must create opportunities for teammates to learn the financial concepts as well! We must appreciate the curious and insights that make ideas happen.

As we provide information on the business, we want it to spur further questions, which creates the need for more information, more reporting, and so on and so on. This is a never ending, self-perpetuating cycle right? We must be structurally ready to handle this need for reporting and information! We must be able to provide reports and data when needed so all can run their small business.

Our journey with Open Book is just beginning. I think we have much to do to maximize its potential on our companies. Do you work in an Open Book company? Jack Stack started all this with the Great Game of Business over 20 years ago. There are few concepts more polarizing and challenging to implement. However, if done well? Few values can create such far-reaching organizational value!

Outside-In® Chronicles: Summer Reading List

June 3rd, 2015

ID-100249568Summer reading is a part of the fabric that defines my free time as well as my summer vacation. The challenge is to decide how to recharge and rejuvenate with that precious time off. Do I really want to read an industry publication or study for that upcoming webinar to keep continuing education credits flowing? It’s not that I don’t like my industry or chosen profession, I just need space and time to decompress. The more space I can create or make more time to think, the more likely I am to find new ideas and thoughts that help with my day-to-day work!

However, sometimes it’s hard to get away without our smart phones tethered to our hand 24/7—we all have to find some compromise, right? The very device that lets you order pizza while on vacation or text the teenagers to find out when they will be home is the same piece of technology that pings every time there is a new email and some work issue that either ruins your vacation mood or requires immediate attention!

I once heard the pile of unread business magazines, articles, books, and white papers on your nightstand or work station referred to as the tower of guilt! I, for one, feel good when I take that pile of work and plow through it. Sometimes I read three or four books at the same time in rotation just to change topics for the sake of staying current. However, this is not the approach I like to take for summertime reading.

So if you’re trying too hard to work and want to recharge while coming back with a new perspective on your business, here are my top three must reads:
1. Anything by Gladwell. Malcom not only sees the world differently, but he does the research to back it up. Try The Tipping PointWhat the Dog Saw, or my all time favorite, The Outliers. If you want to think about your business place in a different way, try escaping to the world that Malcom creates!

2.  How to Win Friends and Influence People. So many smart people know something about their field of study or the technical aspects of their profession yet few invest in their relationships.  No books exists that is more time tested for helping you with tools and tips for great human relations skills!

3.  Zen and the Art of Happiness. Everyone gets down in the dumps from time to time. As Dale Carnegie is for great human relationships this book is for realigning your perspective on your daily life. Things happen to us each and everyday, it is what we do next that matters.

If you have a book that recharges and lifts your energy while helping you reflect and improve your business or your leadership persona please let us know!

The Practical Guide to Implementing the Value of Defined by Three Customers

May 27th, 2015

First things first, we all know there is only one paying customer. For the purposes of our value, specifically the way we think, we define our three customers as employees, paying customers, and vendors.

3Customers-01-150x150Defined by Three Customers is about balanced thinking and decision making for all three customer subsets. This is a compass designed to help guide us—it’s not foolproof nor perfect. However, it’s much more balanced than an equation where no thought or care for one “customer” comes into play.

Are you wondering if/how this is relevant to you? I can prove it to you! Did you ever work for the manager that never let his or her people leave the department or post for other positions? The manager’s needs in their job tend to get in the way of the needs of employees or the employer.

How about the salesperson who seems to never hit their plan because they are telling the marketplace and their prospects that they have a monthly quota to hit? They don’t do it intentionally, mind you. They show it in their actions—they are not balancing prospect needs and wants with their own needs.

How can you live the value Defined by Three Customers?

  1. As an employee taking care of your customer who will eventually take care of you, do things for your customers to add value and they will come back!
  2. Challenge (in a good way) and get to your vendors. You would be surprised what they can do to help if you share where you’re taking your business and what value they can bring to you get there!
  3. Sometimes one “customer” wins and another loses in the short term. We must have a long-term view. We can’t always get the employee the raise nor the feedback they crave. A vendor can’t always give favorable terms on their business. A leader can’t always make a balanced decision—their short budget depends on the quick hit. The key is to stay focused on the doing right things right everyday and we will balance the scales in the long run!
  4. Defined by Three Customers is an equal number of debits and credits in the relationship bank account. Make sure you’re taking care of your stakeholders all of the time!
  5. Think longer term. Think about taking care of all groups. Imagine you will break bread with your three customers on a regular basis. When we think about long-term relationships, we moderate our short-term needs and wants!

CBI Way: Getting Your Pipeline Started

May 20th, 2015

By Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

Having the ability to tap your own pipeline of talent when trying to fill open positions can be a game-changer. As discussed in the last CBI Way Blog, talent pipelining is about preparing for future openings, and easily identifying quality candidates quickly, reducing critical metrics such as time to fill. As you can probably predict, creating your pipeline starts with a familiar topic: engaging passive candidates.

CBIWayEngaging passive talent can be an incredibly effective way to encourage your pipeline’s success. First, identifying the profile and skillsets needed for future openings is going to help point you in the right direction for engaging those ideal candidates. For example, perhaps you want to build a pipeline of electrical engineers, knowing of a large project kicking off next year. You might be able to get a decent amount of names from LinkedIn, FaceBook, or old resumes on job boards. But more likely, the most effective source for building your pool of electrical engineers is going to be associations, niche groups, and seminars or events where candidates with the skillset you seek meet, interact, and engage one another. Gathering as much information possible about your pipelined candidates will take in-depth research and cross-referencing, but will pay dividends for the long term approach. Emails, telephone numbers, and social media profiles can all help bridge the gap to engagement.

Identifying the sources to generate passive candidates is an important step. But perhaps just as important is engaging that talent, and building relationships to foster interest and help drive referrals. In the next CBI Way blog, we’ll discuss some common strategies to produce success when attempting to engage your newly built talent pipeline.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Do You Choose to Act Like a Temporary Employee or an Entrepreneur?

May 14th, 2015

temporentreWhat would you do with yourself if you realized that the world of work has changed dramatically and that we have a choice to make? We are basically temps OR we are entrepreneurs that must choose ourselves. That is my interpretation of a wonderfully honest book by James Altucher called Choose Yourself!

We are temps in the sense that we go to work, do our jobs, and collect our paychecks. We don’t love what we do, however, we don’t even really know that there is another option. We don’t put a whole lot into our career when we act like a temporary employee. The career is simply a means to an end. I get paid and I am waiting for someone to tell me what to do and how to do it—that is the extent of the contract.

However, we are all, in essence, rented for a period of time (even though the job is not a true temporary position). Time is relative. If the average tenure of a public CEO is thirteen months, I could make the argument that it is a temporary assignment. It is our attitude, level of engagement, lack of drive to learn, and inability to grow or find ways to become more of an asset that often catch up with us. You act temporary and you don’t know any better!

Or maybe it’s not your fault at all and it’s simply the realities of today’s workplace that did it to you. No company or job is forever, right? The economy, markets, your company, and its industry, all play a key role. I think that is the point of the title of choosing yourself! You are responsible for you. No one else, let alone your current employer. You must own your skills and development and how you monetize what you are capable of! A job simply might not cut it anymore! Or perhaps it just part of you how monetize your time and capabilities?

Being an entrepreneur? Well, I think this is both literal and figurative. All of us must be resourceful, creative, hard working, productive, a risk taker, and a learner. We must find ways to create revenues for our employers and for ourselves on the side. This could be cottage industries, extra jobs, writing blogs or books. We are responsible for our own careers and for inventing ourselves!

The key to NOT being a temp? Act like an entrepreneur. Frankly, the book itself is full of implementable ways of choosing yourself and finding a way to own your income and your career. The magic is in being and thinking differently while you’re employed. Most businesses crave entrepreneurial thinking. Culture and external environment may dictate terms, but it starts within! I, for one, have supported many employees to become entrepreneurs. I have supported side projects and reviewed their cottage industry ideas. Quite frankly, I buy from them, too! This is how you choose yourself.

If cold calls don’t work, change your plans. If the product doesn’t sell, sell something else. If the meeting did not go well, then try again. This is what entrepreneurs do—and it is what great entrepreneurial employees do, too!

Want to meet great entrepreneurial employees? I have a few that get what it takes to chose for themselves! Mary Schaefer (left) is one of our Career Coaches at Barton Career Advisors, and Kelly Hocutt (right) is our Marketing Team Leader for the Outside-In® Companies.

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Outside-In® Chronicles: Three Things Grandmom Rose Taught Me About Leadership

May 6th, 2015

photo-2-223x300With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to revisit this blog about my Grandmom Rose and her significant influence on my leadership style.

My Grandmom Rose was an amazing person. When she was young, she absolutely loved to dance. When she was older, during a time when marrying those of another religion was uncommon, she left her Jewish faith to marry a man of a different one. And for decades, she fought for the underdog through volunteering for the rights and privileges of the blind here in Delaware. She lived to be well over 102—but her wisdom remains infinite. Although Rose died a few years ago, I think of her often. How could I not? Whenever I was sick as a child, Rose played 97 straight games of Candy Land with me. Imagine that. I think she let me win every time, too.

Today, I thought I would share a few thoughts on Rose’s lifestyle that I think translates pretty darn well into reminders for all of us in leadership positions.

1. Have a sense of mindfulness. This is a hard one. Are you centered and focused on the moment or the task at hand? Are you in the meeting you’re in? Or are you messaging others on your cell phone and trying to keep up with the rest of your day? Rose never knew technology and its advantages, but you always knew she was focused on you when you were sitting in front of her. As a leader, are you giving 100% to the team or person in front of you? Or do your distractions show? Does your lack of attention send the message that your time there is not important? Value the face time.

2. Ask valuable questions. If you’re in a sales, leadership, consulting, or frankly any role in life, there is nothing better than the ability to invest in others through asking questions. If you knew Rose she could ask some humdingers. They would just keep coming, too. They were good and stimulating questions. She genuinely cared about you and life—this showed through her investment in you. As a leader, how many times do you catch yourself talking, maybe dulling out general advice because it’s easier and feels good. Certainly easier than asking the style of questions that help people work through their own challenges and opportunities. Staff members want more than answers. They want skills they can use again and again. Does your leadership style involve a healthy sense of curiosity and frequently asking questions? Or are you too busy to lead and simply give out answers just to keep the day moving along?

3. Do one thing at a time. This sounds so…well, impossible in today’s world. Rose was really great about doing one thing at a time. I think she just wouldn’t understand why we think it is a good idea to multi-task to the point of exhaustion. Leaders get that adrenaline rush. Fight that fire. Answer that email. Text that message. All of these are signs of a normal, hectic day. However, before we know it the day is done. Did you accomplish your most important task? Did you finish what you started? It may seem old fashioned, but there is something to working on the hardest thing first and working on it until it is completed. It’s even more impressive if you do so without succumbing to the constant distractions of smart phones, tablets, and laptops!

When I was young, Rose took me to Gino’s for lunch every week for almost a year to collect that week’s plastic NFL football helmet. Each time she would laugh as I would eat one giant burger and then ask for a second one! Rose knew what was important in relationships. She knew what to bother with. If you see me turn off my phone, close my laptop, or shut the door to focus, know that in some small way, it’s my ode to Rose!

What Would Happen if We Stopped Taking Risks?

April 29th, 2015

Lets start with the obvious, avoiding taking any risk is actually a pretty serious risk all by itself! This requires us to avoid phone calls and interactions with customers and associates. We need to skip team meetings and duck out of the break room, too. The longer we stand still and stay status quo the more likely we are to fall a step behind or even lose altogether—all while our competitors and peers march forward.

The Outside-In® Companies believe in our value of taking risks. We definitely don’t steer around or away from it, but why does it matter for our employees to live this value? Who really cares anyway? In fact, why should any service company encourage risk taking?

ID-100309958First off, risk taking is really about decision making, the lack of perceived authority, task discretion, and reward for doing so. Employees that do not make decisions often do so because their company’s culture discourages it. This is cultivated through the management team and their practices. This is quite often an unexpected negative outcome of a company that lacks a cultural plan to encourage customer centric actions with those that have direct customer contact.

Employees that don’t make decisions have little or no choice but to get the answer for a customer from those that have the power or information. Usually, the power lies in controlling that information and it is intended to be a business control that simply hedges risk. However, in this case, it kills the customer! This can be because of a lack of training and knowledge or a matter of policy and the preferred hierarchical nature of the company.

Close your eyes and remember when this happened to you, a roommate, someone from your household, etc. Is there anything more frustrating than when you’re on the phone with that utility, or in line at the retail store, or airport and the service associate needs a manager? All you needed was to make a return, change a seat, or get your bill in the correct name. The worst part is that the supervisor does not do anything fancy—they just need a stupid code or a key to take care of your return or to move your flight.

A culture that values its customers empowers and encourages risks that take place in the act of serving a customer!

Employees that are not encouraged to notice what their customers are actually saying and then do something about it are not serving the strategic purposes of the business. The front lines see and hear it all. How many times have you heard a clerk or phone representative say that they have told management about a customer opinion so many times but no one listens. Then their voice trails off and their interest and engagement level wanes day by day! If we listen to customers as employees they will tell you why they are angry about a program or policy change, what is never in the store, when service is slow, or when a product has been replaced that should not have been. We can always hear it as employees.

A culture that values risk taking creates an environment where employees have tools and formats to share what they hear and take action! This is customer centric and systematic cultural risk taking. What did you learn from our marketplace today? What did our customers challenge us with? What do they need and want from us? Ask employees for feedback often, give all employees a format to share, reward this flow of insights, then categorize it and teach what to do with it. Most likely your plan of improvement needs tweaking. Employees just need permission to open their eyes and be empowered to see what needs fixing. Empowerment and the confidence to stand up and share what might be the next product or service that enhances your company’s top line strategy are the keys to grow your business.

Risk taking is a cultural tool to encourage customer centric and entrepreneurial behaviors for all of your employees. You have a choice in your organization; you can either treat employees like leased resources, or you can act and create an environment that encourages entrepreneurial behaviors that enhance your customer’s experience with you.

Go sit and listen to your employees, have Outside-In® eyes and ears, and gather the information you need in order to decide how to encourage risk taking that improves the experience for your customer base. Or come visit our office and see it in action!

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