I received the highlights from a new CareerBuilder study this week and they made me laugh for two reasons. First, because some of these ideas are actually pretty good, and second, because whoever wrote the press release of the data analysis is a bit off the mark. The gist of the research was this: people are looking for jobs (no surprise there) and some of them are doing interesting, strange, or downright weird things to try and stand out from the crowd.

A sampling of the strange

From the press release:

Hiring managers gave the following examples of unusual tactics job seekers used to stand out:

  • Candidate gave the hiring manager a baseball that read: “This is my best pitch of why you should hire me.”
  • Candidate sent the hiring manager daisies with a note that said “Pick me, pick me.”
  • Candidate brought their mother to the interview as an in-person character reference.
  • Candidate developed a whole website dedicated to the hiring manager, asking to be hired.
  • Candidate hugged the hiring manager when introduced instead of shaking hands.
  • Candidate got up from interview and started waiting on customers because the business got busy.
  • Hiring manager had a candidate volunteer to work at the business for a month before submitting an application to show that she was able to do the job.
  • Candidate presented a thick scrapbook of certificates, awards and letters.
  • Candidate sent a Christmas card every year for three years.
  • Candidate sent a cake with their resume printed on it.

Let’s take a moment to break a few of those down before pointing out the interesting flaw in the logic here.

  • The good: candidate got up during interview and started waiting on customers because the business got busy

While this seems like a strange move, I think it’s actually really interesting. If we set aside any labor laws or FLSA issues of having someone perform a work task among real employees for 10-15 minutes, this is the perfect way to see if someone can actually perform the job. In a study we did earlier this year, we found that candidates actually desire assessments and opportunities to prove their ability to perform on the job (they don’t really like generic assessments with no link to the actual work duties).

  • The bad: candidate sent cake with resume printed on it

This is weird. I like cake more than the average person, and even I wouldn’t eat a cake with a resume printed on it. Yes, I understand that the point is to get in front of the hiring manager, but this has nothing to do with qualifications, value, or usefulness. It doesn’t prove to me anything other than you are looking for ways to cut corners and get results without being willing to do something useful like networking, demonstrating value, etc.

  • The ugly: candidate brought mom to interview

Seriously?

I don’t know that I even need to say anything here. The moment I see a candidate bring his or her mother, I immediately dismiss them as capable of anything other than calling mommy for help when the pressure is on. Don’t do this and don’t tolerate this.

Does this actually help you get a job?

Back to the findings:

Stunts can have a negative impact on your chances of getting the job — more than a quarter of employers (26 percent) say unusual attention seeking antics from job seekers would make them less likely to call a candidate in for an interview.

While some read this as “26% of employers say you are less likely to get an interview,” I read this as “74% of employers DO NOT say you are less likely to get called for an interview.” That’s interesting because if I use one of these stunts to get attention, I am three times as likely to get attention based on the data they are presenting, even though they skew it the other direction by saying one out of four companies is turned off by these types of antics.

Here’s a clue if you’re searching for a job: don’t rely on some weird tactic to get you in the door. Just like you wouldn’t want to date someone that rides up on a unicycle juggling flaming batons, you shouldn’t be swayed by people relying on these kinds of attention-grabbing activities to showcase their skills (unless it’s a really unique case of having to use those kinds of skills, which is a one-in-a-million kind of thing).

What about you? Any interesting stories of things candidates have done to get attention that are outside the norm of phone calls, emails, hard copy resumes in the mail, etc.? 

An organizational silo is a tight group of employees that forms within your larger workforce. You could think of it like a high school clique – members within the silo normally work together really well, but they often clash with other people outside their own group.

Organizational silos can be dangerous, because while the silo might produce great results as a team, they may be less invested in wider company goals and objectives. This makes them very difficult to spot, because on the surface, it can look like the silo is just a group of really dedicated employees! So from your position in Human Resources, take a moment to analyze the social movements of your workforce.

It doesn’t matter whether you employ 5 people or 500 – organizational silos can form in any organization. It pays to learn how to stop them. Continue reading

As an HR professional, I am used to being on the interviewer’s side of the hiring table. That makes it easy for me to forget all the hard work candidates put into preparing for their interviews—well, some candidates. There are also people who waltz in totally unprepared, which makes me wonder whether they really want to be hired.

These 21 tips from Company Folders reveal the things prepared candidates do before, after, and during their interviews. Knowing these prep strategies will help you discern which candidates did their homework—and which ones didn’t—so you can get a better idea of who will make a good employee. Besides, it never hurts to brush up on interview etiquette; one day, you may find yourself on the other side of the table. Continue reading

Over the past several years, I have seen a growing trend where businesses have started investing in cool workplace incentives to try to attract and retain talented workers. Some companies are totally nailing it (think Google and Moz), but others are still struggling to create the type of work environment their employees really want.

The difference is that companies with successful incentives programs know why they are offering certain benefits. Others just choose perks they think sound cool, without really understanding the reasons those perks appeal (or perhaps don’t appeal) to the type of employee they want to attract.

The team at Company Folders has created a list of the top ten workplace perks and why they matter to help you create your own incentives program for 2017. You’ll learn what appeals to your team’s specific interests, rather just jumping on a trend for the trend’s sake. Continue reading

Employee turnover is part of life in the corporate food chain—you hire someone, they work for a while, you replace them. But what if I told you that you can lower turnover while spending little to no money?

Since HR professionals are often holed up in our own little cubbies, we don’t necessarily get to see what daily life looks like for everyone else in our company. But understanding the work environment is crucial to lowering turnover. In fact, you could be missing valuable warning signs that employees are about to quit—like low engagement.

Employee engagement rates are lower than ever, with just 30% of employees fully engaged at their jobs. Disengaged employees are more likely to complete personal tasks at work, produce lower quality work, and ultimately, quit their jobs. Continue reading

I haven’t always been a last minute shopper, but some years it sneaks up on me. If you’re looking for that gift for the special HR someone in your life, or if you are looking for an idea for yourself, here are three ideas that will delight the HR pro you’re buying a gift for. :-)

Fun HR Ninja Gear

hr_quirky_offspring_yellow_tshirtMost of you probably don’t know, but for more than five years I have been selling HR ninja gear on Cafepress. I actually forget about it sometimes, because I just threw it up there years ago and haven’t really put any effort into it since then.

I have virtually no markup on any of the products, because I love the idea of them being used far and wide, so grab what you like, such as this shirt that highlights HR as the offspring of a lawyer and a psychologist. I just had someone purchase 25 HR ninja mugs for their local SHRM chapter giveaways, so there are lots of ways to use this to give your HR friends a smile! Have fun with it.

HR Certification

Yes, it’s work-related, but you can give the timeless gift of certification to anyone, or yourself. This week I have a 10% discount on both the PHR and the SPHR self study courses. No discount code required, and the discount expires on December 26th, so get it while it’s hot! You can even buy now and use the course any time in the future. I have had several students taking the course this fall after purchasing during last summer’s sale.

For the Out of the Closet Nerds

If you are an admitted nerd, then one of the things you’re hoping for this year is a stack of books. If you know someone who is a reader, here are some great suggestions for books I’ve enjoyed that could not just entertain, but improve someone’s life/career.

  • The Front Line Leader: How to act like a CEO, what leadership looks like, and how to run a large, successful healthcare organization.
  • Innovation Judo: how to innovate despite structural and “people” roadblocks, including great stories of successful innovation.
  • All In: building a culture of belief, research-based stories of success, and the coolest profile of Bruce Lee I’ve ever read.
  • The Pursuit of Something Better: the first book I ever read and reviewed on upstartHR. Still one of my favorites, it explores the turnaround of U.S. Cellular and the readoption of basic tenets like culture, leadership, and service.
  • What about my book, What Running Taught Me about HR? :-) It’s a collection of stories and insights from my years in HR and also includes several profiles of other running HR pros and what makes them tick.

As always, you can find a ton of other book reviews here.

Whatever you end up picking up, I hope you have an incredibly merry Christmas!

Last week I was sitting in a board meeting for my local SHRM Chapter (NASHRM). I’ve been on the board for about five years now in various roles, and it’s a great way to get connected and serve others within the profession. But volunteering in that capacity is not what we’re discussing today. There was a point in the conversation where we were talking about our upcoming Mentor University program, and someone asked what the minimum threshold should be for mentors in the program. Someone threw out ten years as a baseline, and there was an immediate reaction from some of my friends on the board.

“What? Just ten years? We have ten years of experience and still feel like we don’t have much to offer.”

I had to laugh. First, because one of these self-professed not-quite-mentors is a good friend that speaks often in front of large crowds. She is a subject matter expert on recruiting, staffing, and managing candidate relationships. I have plenty of hands-on recruiting experience, but when she talks, I listen. So that seems funny to think that she can teach groups of senior level HR pros and recruiters about strategy and tactics but doesn’t have the capability (supposedly) to work in an informal one-on-one relationship with someone less experienced.

Secondly, everyone has something to offer. You do. Yes, you.

  • If you have twenty years of experience, that HR generalist with ten years under his belt can learn something from you.
  • If you have ten years of experience as a specialist in some area, the junior HR pro with a few years on the front lines can pick up a few tips and tricks you’ve learned.
  • If you have a week of experience as an HR pro of any sort, you have insights to offer someone who is just making steps to pursue an HR career.

See? You do, really.

I think in the end we dropped the ten year experience requirement on the mentors because it is artificial, and it doesn’t tell us what we want to know. When I am speaking on retention and the link to professional development, I often throw out the example of having ten years of experience. There are two ways to get to the ten year mark:

  1. Do the same basic tasks over and over again all year long, and then do it for ten years, never learning and growing beyond those basic functions.
  2. Master your basic tasks and then begin adding complexity and depth to your responsibilities, growing year after year progressively until you have a solid block of ten years behind you.

I want to be the second one here, and I want to find more of them in my daily work, because those are the people you can learn and grow from.

This week I’ll be in Florida for the Brandon Hall Group Excellence Conference. Wednesday I’ll be copresenting a workshop on the changing learning environment and how to integrate informal/experiential learning into your formal training programs. Friday I will be working in two sessions–the first on the changes we’re seeing in learning and development technology and the second focuses on the research linking human capital management technology and bottom-line business results. It’s going to be busy and fun. Am I the world’s foremost expert in these topics? No, but I do have something to offer. Insights from dozens of vendor briefings and discussions, data from our research, and practical experience from the trenches are all rolled together into one delivery that will help the audience learn and grow.

Think about yourself this week. Whether you’re volunteering through a local chapter or just finding a way to help someone else that needs it, you do have something to offer. Don’t let your own thoughts or anyone else tell you differently.