How to catch the attention of A+ talent that ignores you

November 25th, 2015
Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

As a sourcer of talent, when I find a rock star candidate, sometimes it feels like I’ve won the lottery. That’s when I remember that finding the candidate is only half of the sourcing battle. Next you have to get them to engage. Without engagement, it’s pretty hard to call finding that perfect fit, a win at all.

But, I’m here to tell you that all is not lost. While you may have tried every method you could think of six months ago, there’s certainly an opportunity to resurface and breakthrough the wall of engagement.

Here’s a few strategies to revisit those perfect candidates who seem to have ignored your emails or LinkedIn connection request:

allstar candidate talent sourcingTiming: When you think back to how you tried to get your star candidate’s attention, you remember a desperate attempt of countless emails, LinkedIn messages and voice mails. But every time you worked up the energy to try just one more reach out, you still never captured their attention. Or at least that’s how it felt, and then you made up some reason to rationalize the situation so you could move on. But now that some time has passed, why not try again? Perhaps they actually did see your messages but timing was really bad.  Think of all the events in our lives that we try to juggle. It’s a new day, a new month, or a new year, give it another go!

Woo them: Yes, woo. While you may have told them before, don’t be afraid to reiterate how impressed you are with his or her background. Share that you wanted to try to reach out again, noting your previous attempt. Re-introduce how incredible the opportunity for them would be considering their expertise, and even in the (X) amount of time since first reaching out, he or she is still your ideal candidate.

Show your expertise, ask for theirs: You’re the recruiting and research expert. Explain your understanding of the job market and where the candidate’s particular industry is going. Remember, when working with passive candidates, you need them more than they need you. Maybe he or she is not interested, but would offer their ideas or suggestions for you. They are a ‘rock star’ in their field after all — which means they have deep industry knowledge and likely have some good referrals.

So, when you’re in the valley of desperation during your sourcing journey, don’t lose all hope. There are any number of ways to go back after a “lost” candidate. And in reality, what’s the worst that could happen?

Great sourcing isn’t about just building lists of names or grabbing resumes wherever you can. Great sourcing is about identifying and engaging business-changing talent and passive candidates.

Why Being an Intrapreneur is Good for Your Career

November 18th, 2015

Where are new jobs being created? Small to mid-size businesses! This is where most of the world works. And if you don’t already work for a small or mid-size business, this is where most of you will find work in the coming years. Being entrepreneurial is all about creating, building, and problem solving! Entrepreneurial companies are about building jobs, creating economic value, finding new markets, innovating and solving unsolved customer and marketplace issues. That is why the jobs are in growth companies. A free market works this way. And these are not the type of jobs that your great-grandfather had turning a wrench on the assembly line, working for a big company. These companies create jobs that demand intrapreneurial behaviors and actions.

Small to mid-size business requires a very different mentality and shift in employee thinking and behaviors. If you don’t want to start your own business and take on the burdens of business ownership, then go work for a growth business. I call that being an intrapreneur. As an owner, we choose to create an entrepreneurial environment, in which you can think and act like a business owner, which is being intrapreneurial! For the Outside-In® Companies, well, we made intrapreneurial a value because we want entrepreneurial behaviors in the business.

intrapreneur-entrepreneurialWe want to encourage all employeees to lift their head, to think and see business problems that need solving and to find solutions to them. Intrapreneurs see business opportunities. Take calculated risks. Will never say that’s not my job. And typically that is what it will take to manage and handle a growing business. All hands on deck. Intrapreneurial employees are interested and clear about the company mission. And have an attitude about their job that is different than those who work for a big company or have a government job.

Intrapreneurship means anyone will do whatever it takes to move the company forward in its mission. And this may seem extreme or impossible if you work some place that says just do your job or says no to every idea that you have. But, imagine a place that wants and collects your feedback and ideas. Or that is pleased when you do something that is not on your personal scorecard but it is great for the business.

So what is the opposite of intrapreneurial?
If you work for the government or a really big company, you’re mostly paid a wage to do a job — nothing more or less. If a wage is what you’re after, great! You found nirvana. But many workers get frustrated and feel like it is hard to have any kind of greater impact. They are made to feel or are told to color within the lines. Don’t challenge. Keep new ideas to yourself. Don’t work too fast. These behaviors will call attention to you, or worse yet others on your team. Many leaders want to change this reality and a few do. BUT, most quit trying for the very reasons others have — it simply takes energy that is not worth it. And in the end, these behaviors are not welcomed because they are a threat. To go above and beyond, one must feel appreciated for it. When they aren’t appreciated, one of two things happens:

  1. Some start to just do the minimum and learn to keep out of the way.
  2. Those who are more intrapreneurial leave!

Contrast that to an entrepreneurial, fast growing and changing business. You’re hired to create economic value. In fact, your earning power is much more directly tied to the power of your ideas and output! Not just the work you do. And in the end, this creates a career path that is more matrix-like, than a ladder that you climb. And climbs take time right? When you slide diagonal and side ways? It happens faster!

So try to behave in these intrapreneurial ways :

  1. Create value. Look around and see what is broken or wrong in your area. Figure out how to fix and then, fix it!
  2. Keep growing and learning. Think this is a silly? Well, many won’t invest in themselves, but the world demands it. Keep up or suffer the outcome.
  3. Understand how people handle change. You must change personally or know how to help others.
  4. Know your market. What are customers saying to you? What is the market sharing? I bet your company can get better and so will your career if you know and work on this.

Outside-In® Chronicles: Hard In and Easy Out

November 11th, 2015

Outside-In® Chronicles: a throwback post, originally published five years ago in November 2010 While many of the same “people questions” exist, the state of the economy, with the lowest unemployment rate since April 2008 (5.0%), makes the answers or solutions uniquely different. And through all the ups and downs in hiring, our mantra of “hard in, easy out” has remained the same.

Leadership is all about the “people side of the business”. It just seems as if the focus and importance of people issues ebbs and flows with the state of our business. For the last two years, most “people” conversations have been exclusively about cutting costs, reducing head count or associated expenses, and/or plans to create efficiencies. Many businesses find themselves in a spot where they are lean and this means that many, many organizations find themselves panicking quietly about people and talent issues. I hear these questions each and every day with more urgency:

Should we hire to add headcount or use temporaries?
I do not have staff to conduct hiring; how do I get started again?
Should I have a long term strategy or simply react now?
How do I make hiring a core competency? What role should my managers and staff play in the process?

I will let you in on a little secret – HR folks of all kinds are now finding jobs at a steady, if not record clip. We cut them fast and hire them back just as fast. Perhaps a little too fast. Over the last twenty years I have operated within an informal mantra, “It should be hard to get into your company as a new hire, yet very easy to leave”. This statement of hard in, easy out is simple to remember yet profound in its significance to your business.

Concept of confusion and right strategy of a businessman

First, let’s address “hard in”. Your employees want to feel proud of how we bring new staff into the business. It is great if your process for hiring is effective and makes it exclusive. It should be difficult to get hired. Truthfully, it should be a process that never, ever stops. How many of you regret that your stopped viewing talent over the recession? Most of us (if we are honest) know it to be true. We need cash and TALENT to win as opportunities continue to emerge!

The “easy out” is just as important. Trust me when I say that the workforce knows they will not work for you for a lifetime. They expect to have seven or so different roles throughout their career. This reality is reinforced every moment with a media frenzy of companies that make business decisions that impact their workforce! The workforce knows business can no longer afford to be loyal. And surprise! They won’t give it to you anyway. There is too much churn and reality in the business world for anyone to be lulled into a false sense of security. No longer do candidates call us and say, “I am just looking for a safe company that I can stay with for many years.” That is no longer the reality for most employees.

My suggestion is to create an honest, open environment around this issue. Your culture must be capable of accepting the fact that you are “leasing” an employee for a period of time. You want their productivity, their creativity, their innovation and they in turn get fair market value in compensation and learning that makes them a more valuable asset to their careers.

Make it hard to get in to your company, yet make it very easy to leave. Do this and you will have the talent you need and the honesty that makes business simple, refreshing and a great story to share.

The Realities of the Current Labor Market. (plus a prediction)

November 4th, 2015

Contrast perceived advantages to working with small/medium firm versus a bohemoth. What is market information telling us?

The US unemployment rate is at 5.1 %; this is considered full employment for economic discussions. However, we have only been here for a couple months. In fact, at the beginning of this year we were at 5.7%, and this time last year we were at 5.8%. This is not a lot of time for workers to see a change in their job search outlook. Nor is it much time for employers to see and react to trends in turnover and hiring.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The realities of Oct/Nov 2015 if you’re a worker, is that it has not been “good” for very long at all. Not even long enough to notice any change really. And this unemployment rate a national statistic. Some regions are red hot and doing better like the mid-west or parts of the west. The east is much cooler in jobs-related reporting than other regions right now.

And if you’re in charge of hiring, every company story is different. Fewer companies are really-aggressively hiring right now. Business strategy drives talent plans. And many current talent plans were set during more conservative and modest business times, likely around the second half of last year. Big companies are not adding or are, in fact staying status quo with hiring plans this year. Small to mid-size companies on the other hand, are driving the growth. As is the rise of the contingent worker who is freelancing, temping, or contracting to greater and greater numbers, which (frankly) barely shows in government labor data.

Now for my predictions.

  • Managing labor costs in business will continue to be a critical focus. This means employers still want flexibility in their labor costs as a strategy. Enter in temps, contractors, independents and or outsourcing.
  • Companies will lower labor costs over time. IT is a great example — After years or decades of using contractors many organizations are seeking to lower costs by bringing more IT folks in-house. This will happen in any skill set over time.
  • We are entering an era of labor shortages. The War for Talent predicted the boomers exit from the workforce and it is happening everyday. Yet now, the exiting labor pool is causing a negative point of view on today’s labor numbers. The labor is leaving the workforce as predicted, albeit a little slower than anticipated. But it is happening and it will cause labor shortages. We simply want our labor shortage to be caused by marketplace growth versus a sharp reduction in supply!

Sourcing Needles in a Haystack – My Journey to Find Arjun

October 28th, 2015

Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

Sourcing Needle in a haystackSometimes sourcing talent can become frustrating. But great sourcing means breaking through to find that needle in a haystack. And every so often, breaking through means trying something simple or different, and just seeing where your sourcing journey takes you. This approach can be refreshing for a very hard to fill job, and as I experienced recently, ultimately rewarding.

I have been working on sourcing for a high level management consulting role in business analytics and strategy. This is a very hard to fill role and the other day I was beginning to feel like I’d never find another qualified candidate. What did I do? Instead of giving up, I went back to sourcing basics. I revisited the job description, pulled the most important keywords, and put together a boolean string that could be plugged into almost any source. Specifically, the three most significant keywords that I thought best represented my target. In this case, ‘business development, ‘advanced analytics’, and ‘electronics’ were my top choices.

With my keywords identified, I chose my favorite search engine (Google), and gave it a shot. There was no shortage of hits, of course. But to my surprise, much of what I saw was very relevant. Articles, publications, companies, and even a few random resumes. I dove right in, letting the web take me on a ride for about twenty minutes.

All of a sudden, in front of me was the needle. A resume. Not just any resume. Arjun’s resume. A name I hadn’t seen, nor experience I had identified anywhere else during my sourcing on LinkedIn, job boards, social media, company targets, and every other source you could imagine.

On my journey to find Arjun, I was reminded of a few things: Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, simplify your strategy, and sometimes, take a sourcing journey through the world wide web.


Try this Inexpensive Way to Improve Service

October 21st, 2015

In every office and warehouse in all corners of the globe, there are responders (responsive employees) and late responders (unresponsive employees). As you read this you probably patted yourself on the back or nodded your head, “yeah I one of the responsive ones.” Next, you thought of that person on your team or in another department that never seems to, well, respond to anything or anyone. How do they keep their job anyway, you wonder.

We all know late responders, we all have stories about them. YouTube “bad service” and watch customers answer the phones in retails stores because no employees would do it. Try calling the government on a service hot line. I don’t mean to pick on the obvious, however, I just called my state government and was told “your call is very important to us, there are currently 97 callers in front of you and we will answer your call in 1 hour and 24 minutes, please go to the website…” I had to wait. I eventually talked to a responder, but wow, their overall service is much more about being a late responder! So what are the responsive and non-responsive behaviors?

Non-responsive Behavior

  • Ignoring emails and any repeated attempts to engage — (After many attempts to combat this behavior, others may even make excuses for late responders [they are busy, they have a hard job], but these are excuses for non-responsive behavior.)
  • Letting calls go to voicemail because you can — I am not talking about general opinions about phones and texts here. I am talking about flat out avoidance of work.
  • Cancelling meetings
  • Not listening — (Late responders do all of the talking.)
  • “Quitting and staying” — I don’t have enough help or I have issues at home, they say. Whatever it is, late responders can’t help you, no matter what kind of customer you are. Have you been to an overwhelmed, fast food restaurant lately?
  • Complacency — Late responders have no reason to try too hard. Perhaps they are comfortable, or hiding from you. Regardless there is no internal reason to respond any faster than they feel like.

Responsive Behavior

  • Take action and engage
  • Showing respect for and appreciating others
  • Know, build and maintain important relationships in and out of the company
  • Balancing the need to get to the to do list with the needs of others
  • Caring — Sure it helps when you like your company and believe in its cause.
  • Liking what you do — It also helps to have a boss that cares about your aspirations and looks out for you.

If you’re smart, you’re realizing that these responsive behaviors are a personal choice that your employees have to make. A great company focused on service realizes that this is a wonderful way to add value to customers’ and employees’ worlds. And it’s free. So try this inexpensive way to improve customer service and adopt or promote responsive behaviors in your workplace.

  • Being a non-responder or owner of a company full of them is not free. It’s bad for business, and in fact, hurts your paycheck or your income statement.
  • Being a responder is free, a competitive advantage and good for stakeholders.

p.s. If you really are a responder, you can work for me anytime. Send your resume to icanhelpyou [at]

How do you handle peak hiring?

September 30th, 2015
Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

Last quarter, an average of 221,000 jobs were added per month, which means many companies experienced and are experiencing increased hiring. After a recession and many years of slow or stable growth, companies with or without HR teams have been able to handle the steady hiring. But now, for companies that are experiencing fast-growth, those same teams are entering unknown territory. Some don’t have the time to add more recruiting to their plate. Others don’t have their recruiting process ironed out and the increased hiring shines a spotlight on those gaps. And, many aren’t sure whether to hire new recruiters to their staff because they aren’t sure when the peak hiring period will come to an end. No matter what the recruiting challenge is, companies are left to wonder, “How do we handle peak hiring?”hiring peaks

If you’re thinking, “this is too much for us to handle, let’s outsource” — then you may consider an RPO solution to meet the needs of a new office, new product, or quick growth. While Recruitment Process Outsourcing can be quite effective, it’s not the best solution to jump into when you need quick results and expect it to take all your pain away immediately. Getting the internal support and dedication to fully engage with your RPO partner is important and takes time, and it also takes longer to implement this type of outsourced solution.

The good news is, if you are experiencing a spike (whether you expected it or not) you are not alone. There were five million hires in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding to more than 10 million in the previous two months. So, how are companies handling all that hiring? The contract recruiter model is well-designed for peak hiring. An on-demand recruiter with experience in your recruiting niche, is used to coming into an unknown environment and is able to get up to speed quickly. Additionally, at CBI Group, our contract recruiters have their own technology “tool-kit” to utilize and are backed by our Outside-In® team and therefore able to rely on our recruiting and research teams. As an alternative to a complete outsourcing model like RPO, on-demand recruiters can be project-based support that fully integrates into your team and culture.

The inevitable peaks and valleys of hiring can create an unbalanced workforce. A specialized recruiter can provide unmatched flexibility and expertise for just about any situation, including hiring spikes. With varying levels of experience, industry expertise and cost, strategic approaches to talent acquisition partnerships can help shape your business immediately and down the road.

Want to discuss your hiring strategy for peak hiring?
Request a meeting and we’ll schedule time for you to chat with one of our talent solutions experts. We guarantee a phone meeting within 3 days.

Job Market Trends: Plentiful vs Hard to Get

September 23rd, 2015

Something unique is happening in the job market and no one is paying a bit of attention. While most of us were squeezing in one more summer vacation or doing back to school shopping, employees left their jobs in what appears to be record numbers! Allow me to explain.

The US economy is into to its sixth year of job recovery. Relative to the labor market there has been a slow but steady environment of job creation with an average of 211,000 jobs created per month in 2015 while the unemployment rate has dropped .4 percentage points during that time. In August, while a little below average, 173,000 jobs were created, prompting unemployment to drop from 5.3% to 5.1%. All of this has happened right in front of us, with very little impact on the mindsets of employees and hiring managers.

A lack of awareness of the recent turnover makes sense on a base level. We have had very little, if any, wage pressures or inflation. There has been no real pain for employers. Sure, we hear the market talking about some skills sets that are in short supply. That STEM jobs never really felt the recession. But, job postings that used to produce a slate of candidates, well, no longer produce quality candidates. In fact, in July the US set an all time record going back to the year 2000 for the number of jobs posted. Yet hiring was about the same, yet consistent number? Why?

What is the shift? Voluntary Turnover. Every Monday morning we are getting calls and messages pointing out the obvious. Employees are leaving for greener pastures. And, more than likely, they were not even looking for work. They either got a call from a friend, someone sent them a job posting, or perhaps they got a call from a recruiter. At 5.1% there are fewer being laid off, fewer who are unemployed. There are simply less active job seekers available now than there have been since 2007 (pre-recession). And the pressures of this environment are now starting to show during planning sessions with talent acquisition professionals. For most, business is good, earnings are up. Revenues hanging in there. Now we have talent gaps, shortages and resignations? What next?

But Burkhard, where is your hard data? This is just conjecture and first-hand marketplace experience. Trust me, we are looking for others that are studying this. And we are working on plans to launch our own survey very soon. But here is my proof.

The Conference Board just updated Jobs Survey Results — a survey they have done for 20+ years. September is the first time since late 2007 that the proportion of respondents “who are finding jobs plentiful equals that for those who are finding jobs hard to get. The last two times the ‘plentifuls’ first exceeded the ‘hard-to-gets’ after an economic slowdown were 1996 and 2005.” In both of those period jobs, unemployment, and frankly a good economy followed. (Source: Bloomberg, Wells Fargo Investment Institute)

So mark my words: what we see is real. If the economy holds up we are entering a new era in employment. Get ready for turnover. Be prepared for job postings to produce less. Get conditioned to recruitment and talent being critical business issues that hold back your business. Employees have had choices. They and their employers simply did not know it. Demand is so strong that the jobs are coming to them!

I am not sure business is prepared for what’s to come. Expect Monday morning surprises “Hey boss, do you have a minute?” Your talent strategy will stop producing they way it did. Your turnover could and should spike, regardless of your focus on talent, culture and employee engagement. Whatever your talent weakness has been, it will be exploited!

Got data? Lets talk! We have many, many relationships that are seeing this ‘plentiful vs. hard to get’ trend.

When do company values go wrong?

September 16th, 2015

We are in an era where workers are looking for reasons to why a business exists beyond making money. A time when it’s commonplace to discuss the greater purpose of a business and the values that are important to both the leaders and employees of a company. The values of a company are the personality of the place. The behaviors that the founder(s) and leaders want from all employees in their absence. These behaviors act as an ongoing compass that provides employees direction when they are on their own or faced with an opportunity or crisis in the business. When the business purpose is not clear, it is almost assumed that the purpose is to make money. But today there are so many other reasons for the business to exist; to do good for social causes, to be active in the community and to exist for greater good!

So, in the modern business world we celebrate values. Google is famous for the value or corporate motto “Don’t be evil”, which really encourages all employees to think morally about the impact of their decisions on the people who use their service. And as the legends suggest, software engineers often pound the table when a suggested change will do evil.

Despite businesses as large as Google or Zappos having values and a greater purpose than just making money, I am asked frequently about the implications of having corporate values. What happens when the company values are misinterpreted by employees, or even customers for their personal gain? “Don’t be evil” is regularly misquoted as “Don’t do evil.” Big deal? Not so sure.

One of our values that is often misquoted at Outside-In® Companies is being Front Door. Picture a house with three doors; a front door, side door and back door. Now imagine how communication flows in any good size group. Inevitably issues and opportunities arise. Conversations need to happen. Not everyone likes, knows how or knows when they need to have the hard conversations that represent being Front Door. So being direct is front door, being indirect is side door, and water cooler chatter or gossip is back door.


Now imagine that an employee misinterprets the Front Door value as their right to say anything they want directly, regardless of tone or its impact. For instance, screaming expletives and justifying the behavior by saying, “I am just being Front Door” is an abuse of the value’s intent. And undermines the goal, which is to get in front of small problems before they fester into larger ones. Front Door is not a right to be mean or to lack other professional attributes when you go about your business. When this happens, it can mean one of two things. The employee has a misunderstanding of the meaning of the value OR that employee is misusing the value with intent of personal gain, and therefore is not a culture fit.

To elevate this another level, what happens when a leader appears to behave in a way that defies the values? When leaders run a company in defiance of its values, only bad things happen and a decline is inevitable. For example, when a leader continues to promote an employee that habitually defies the company values, a ripple effect of decline is inevitable. The key word for leaders to note is “appears.” A leader may be acting within the definition of the value(s)’s intent, but the appearance of defiance can have a ripple effect as well. In this case, the onus is on the employee to be Front Door with the leader to say “you are not living X value.” This gives the leader a chance to explain the missing perspective and prevent a decline. Having company values feels good, but living values and holding teammates accountable is the mark of a true values-based organization.

I am collecting stories where values have gone bad or have been misinterpreted or misquoted for the purpose of personal gain. Please send them to me at Icanhelpyou (at) thecbigroup (dot) com or share them in a comment below.

Outside-In® Chronicles: Lead from the Heart

September 9th, 2015

Outside-In® Chronicles: Originally published in September 2009, this was the first blog posted on the Outside-In® Guy Blog. How did he react after revisiting his writing from six years ago? “I want people to know that I believe in this and fail at it too. But I get back to it. This is the hardest part of being a leader for me.  I want to protect and shoulder the burden, but we can’t. We must share because others can help!”

Living “from the heart” is Leading from the heart

Lead with heart.I was taught to live life from the heart. To lead from it. To sell from it. Parent from the heart. You get the point. So much about business life mimics the rest of life. Insert _____ from the heart in all aspects of your life. It requires honesty, directness in communication and perhaps most importantly, some humility. It requires you to give it away and take risks. So much about sales and leadership today is anything but “from the heart” behavior. Leaders today are operating more efficiently because they must do so to survive.

The opportunity is to include employees further in the business. They can take it. They want the truth. Anything short of the truth creates doubt and issues in clarity when it is needed most. I have made mistakes with this as a leader. Not to hide something. But because I thought they deserved a break from the pain of the recession. I let up a little. I softened the bad news. I told them it was under control — and it was not. I got real and they engaged.

Today information is not to be kept as advantage; it is best shared so the team can utilize it to better the business. Leaders need to admit mistakes, not blame others. During times of uncertainty, leaders revert to hierarchy as a means of maintaining control and making sure there is order. People have jobs to do, they can’t be worried with the strategic challenges of the business. This is a major error in judgement. Outside-In® leaders get others involved. They seek opinion. They learn that control comes from giving it away.

Leading from the heart in an Outside-In® organization requires a change in most leaders’ way of operating. Employees know the difference between the corporate line and real communication. Employees know what is plastic. Guess what? So do prospects. Sales people that try and dump their products on their prospects without involving them in the decision don’t make the sale. Those that look and sound like the stereotypical images of sales people fail. There is only one way to build business and that is by building relationships based on trust and credibility. Where real conversation solves real business problems. I find when I am myself, flawed, direct, open and imperfect in sales that people like it, and you often get real in return!

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