Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Challenging

1 10 2009

This is the second of a series of three articles discussing Microsoft’s approach building pipelines and talent communities.  The articles are entitled:

  1. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Rewarding
  2. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Challenging
  3. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Painful

In the first article of this “Being on the Cutting Edge” series, I discussed our Web 2.0 Recruitment Marketing Platform how we achieved success both from the solution we implemented from acknowledgement from the recruiting industry.  But the greatest barometer of success was how we performed for our business clients.  The article pointed out that by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO), over 95% of our jobs were on the first page of Google (the holy grail of SEO).  We saw how SEO reached a significant portion of the target audience that was actively looking for work.  In addition the talent that was demonstrating online behaviors that mirror active candidates (i.e. looking at jobs) could also be reached with our outreach.  But, even with the efficiency of SEO, we were not reaching the remaining 75-80% of the talent supply.  To put that article in the context of this discussion, SEO is a tactic that we employ as part of our talent engagement process (figure 2 below).

In this article we are going to look at our process at a high level and discuss the challenges that this type of initiative must overcome.  The challenges segment nicely into three buckets—designing a process that incorporates Web 2.0; the technological challenges of finding a solution; and the human challenges.  This article will also illustrate how we reach into the 75-80% of the prospect talent pool that is not demonstrating the online behaviors of an active job seeker.

Process Challenges

Designing a process that incorporates Web 2.0 proved to be very challenging; the process needed to connect to social media as well as incorporate a diverse target audience that represented the ten different business talent pipelines (micro-segments) that we were building.  The micro-segments of talent required a method of identifying and engaging them in a manner that incorporated the uniqueness of each segment.  And speaking of challenges—creating and implementing a solution at Microsoft and its complicated environment proved daunting at best.  The challenges of our process development can be summarized in terms of four considerations:

  • Microsoft Staffing Goals
  • Segments of Talent Supply
  • Talent Acquisition Strategy
  • Talent Engagement Model

Microsoft Staffing Goals

The reoccurring themes of Microsoft staffing goals—to source|recruit the best prospects|candidates in the world and to enhance the candidate experience were a part of the DNA of our approach.  Identifying the best prospect versus the best available candidate required that we incorporate great competitive and talent supply intelligence into our thinking.  The improvement to the candidate experience is not targeted at the people who go through the Microsoft interview process (which post interview surveys’ reveal is a great experience), but rather to the ones that got away.  They got away by not being ready to interview for a new job; or not seeing the right job; or by being screened out (and not knowing it); or a host of other reasons.

Segments of Talent Supply

A reoccurring element of the conversation about challenges is illustrated in the graphic below—the segments of the talent supply.  Rather than just active and passive, the governments suggests there are four segments of the talent supply—active, casual, passive and  those not looking.  The fact that our respective target audience is in a state of flux adds to the challenges as different parts of our audience are in different places at any one time.  I like to think of this as the “job search cycle.”

Figure 1: Segments of Talent Supply

Talent Acquisition Strategy

Our talent acquisition strategy is highlighted in the graphic below.  To have our “recruiting house” in order, we need to think about talent identification and talent engagement.

A significant challenge to “talent identification” is that we must pipeline talent that is segmented into target audiences that map to our respective businesses.  Our approach to talent identification and mapping to each business is unusual.  It is not the mapping that makes it unusual, it is the volume of the information harvested that sets us apart.  If you asked me one difference between what we do and the majority of the sourcing community is that we pipeline thousands of targets for each of our businesses.  While the prospects are vetted for general quality and education, it is the quantity of prospects that allows us that we can reach deeper in the pools of prospective talent.  We are getting the “gettable” talent, but also, we are engaging the typically “ungettable” prospects.

The talent engagement tactics are outlined in each of the pillars.  The list of tactics is not exhaustive, but provides an overview as to our thinking about the challenges of a comprehensive Talent Acquisition Strategy.  Our approach to talent engagement is amplified in the process flow chart in the next section.

Figure 2: Talent Acquisition Strategy

Talent Engagement Model

One of the greatest challenges to engaging prospective talent is not just the just the sheer volume of prospects, but also honoring the unique gifts and abilities of each individual.  To improve the candidate experience, you must treat your worst prospect as your best friend.  We must do this because the Microsoft brand is perceived is not what we say it is, but what our respective target audiences say it is.  While we can influence our brand (discussed in greater detail in the final article of this series) we do not control it—our audience does.

Back to the talent engagement!  In a recent article, I discussed our “talent engagement model” (see figure 3) in greater detail.  The essence of our thinking was to find a way to break the “apply or goodbye” nature of much of our relationships we forge with prospective talent.  By staying in a transaction model, we miss the opportunity to deepen the relationship with the prospects that we worked hard to develop.  It is similar to a sales force that develops new prospects as opposed to making additional sales with their existing customers.  We think it is not an “either|or” proposition, but rather a both|and opportunity.

Figure 3: Talent Engagement Model

Are We Really Reaching The Passive Prospects?

I realize that most recruiters approach passive prospects–but are they really reaching the potential of the passive market?  I think most often we reach passive prospects that have behaviors that mirror an active prospect.  The true passive audience can only be reached by mirroring the actual web activities that the passive prospects are engaging—that is usually related to their profession, additional training, etc.  This outreach can be automated such as a Recruitment Marketing Platform that aggregates information on                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the target audience and iteratively reaches out to that audience with different messages that address their interests.

While we look at the talent supply (see figure 4) in terms of active, causal, passive and the non job seekers, it is useful explore the subject a little more deeply.  If we looked at the talent supply in the context of the methods that are used to reach our target audiences it is easy to see the challenges of working with a job search cycle that is nuanced.  The Recruiting Roundtable illustrates this point with the cleaver labels.  This graphic also points out another important point—much of the sourcing of passive prospects is aimed at the very difficult to recruit prospects.  To reach this audience, it takes the best research and highly impactful headhunting tactics.  While effective, it is difficult to leverage this approach to any scale that makes economic sense (particularly in a high volume, high bar type environment).  In short, it takes more than a simple human touch—it takes a “high touch” to engage these prospects.   A conclusion arrived at is that we tend to work at both ends of the spectrum—to engage the very easy to source and the very difficult to source.  And, I believe, we tend to miss a casual and passive audience that falls in the “easy to source” and “difficult to source” categories.

Figure 4: Job Search Cycle

Another layer to the discussion is “touch”—technology and human.  In my previous article, I made the case that SEO was the “technology touch” in our discussion.  And indeed, a technology outreach could capture some of the “causal” audience that was demonstrating web behaviors that mirrored an active job seeker.  This part of the audience was described as “SEO Gettables. “  But, we still have that opportunity in the middle.  We estimate that 30-40% of the available causal and passive audience is not reached with normal sourcing efforts.

It is the Talent Engagement Model that facilitates a human touch.  Just as a high touch is key sourcing and recruiting executives and key contributors, we leverage technology and a human touch to engage a more skeptical and the less active prospects.

Figure 5: Reaching Target Audience

Our experience with community has convinced us that we can scale a human touch using social networking sites.  We think about building relationships with prospects as Guanxi—capturing the spirit of the well-know Chinese core value.  Our goal is to place a significant premium on the relationship that we have with causal and passive prospects (something that is lacking in our world of transactions).

We created community on the existing communities (LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook) and used the respective platforms to engage the appropriate segments of their membership.  Research indicates that people are flocking to social networking sites to meet people, entertain themselves, learn something new or to influence others (Complete, Inc survey).  Forrester’s Technographics research indicated the majority of adults in our society (especially the best educated, highest paid professions as well as the new entrants to the job market) have joined social networking sites.  So when you consider that Facebook (in the near future) will have as many members as the population of the USA; that LinkedIn has over 41 million members representing many of the professions recruiters seek; and Twitter with its explosive growth, has a high quality (“early adopters” and ”persuaders”) membership that is also attractive as a target audience.

Figure 6:Community of Communities

Joining Existing Communities

While we have created talent communities (Jobster & Job2Web), we strategically decided to create community where communities already exist.  .  One way to think about forming community in existing communities is that we are organizing an existing community in a way that could enhance the functioning of that community as long as it aligns with the interests of its members.

An important “ah-ha” of the last two years is that only about 10% of a target audience will join a new community (those numbers held true in multiple situations).  We quickly understood that a community of communities would be the best approach.  The Recruiting Marketing platform facilitates the distribution of information to the respective communities.  The graphic below illustrates the distributive nature of our approach.

Figure 7:Connecting The Moving Parts

Technology Challenges

Matching a process that will work for Microsoft with a vendor solution is quite challenging.  Add the dimension of allowing for community and conversation and we have just doubled or tripled the challenge.  Most technology solutions that we looked at did not allow for web 2.0 community.  While they are great at processing a transaction, the available solutions are not designed for how candidates want to interact with potential employees.  In general terms, most of the solutions we reviewed were a web 1.0 solution in a web 2.0 world.

We discovered our vendor partner Jobs2Web about one year ago.  While their solution was the best and most affordable, we made the selection on their ability to migrate their existing platform to match the processes we designed.  While the rollout has been challenging, I believe we have made each other better.

As we have worked through the technology challenges with our vendor partner, Jobs2Web, we are still left with the human challenges of adopting this model.  The SEO piece is easy as it doesn’t require any real change in recruiter behavior.  But the “human touch” aspects of community building are the remaining challenge.

The Greatest Challenge of the Cutting Edge– “The Year of Guanxi”

Early in this work stream, we realized that it was going to be extremely difficult and challenging to introduce this approach into a recruiting process that was basically comprised of a series of transactions.  And, to make things even more interesting, we reward recruiters on the basis of executing those transactions at a very high level.  Talk about strangers in a foreign land!

So, at the end of our second year, the one last hurdle to greater success comes down to people.  It comes down to our ability to engage our recruiting colleagues and their hiring managers in the process.  The Recruitment Marketing Platform is in place; all the moving parts are connected; the activities can be metrixed—but internal engagement is required to move success to the next level.  We will report on our progress towards meeting this challenge in the future.

In the final installment—Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Painful-we will explore what my boss calls—creating under the corporate microscope.  Also, we will discuss other pain points that this type of initiative.


Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Rewarding

13 08 2009

This is the first of a series of three articles discussing Microsoft’s approach to building pipelines and talent communities.  The articles are entitled:

  1. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Rewarding
  2. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Challenging
  3. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Painful

One year ago, I began a discussion of our work at Microsoft by suggesting that “Building a 21st century talent community requires using the right mix of recruiting art and science. “  I felt “we needed to dip back into the prehistoric art of developing relationship with prospects.”   I noted that while a “21st century recruiting technology” optimized a “technology touch” it is the “human touch” that is so valued by the potential prospect pool. I concluded “the challenge with ‘human touch’ is that it doesn’t fit well into our transaction based recruiting model.

guanxiAs we end the second year of this talent community pilot program, the tension between the “technology touch” and the “human touch” has become increasingly evident.  In fact, I believe the third year of this pilot rollout should be coined “The Year of Guanxi.” ([guan-shee] the basic dynamic in personalized networks of influence in Chinese society. As I reflect on our work for past year, it is evident that we have reached our goal of creating a platform that exhibits a very thorough approach to “technology touch” by creating a job distribution network that reaches deeply into active and passive talent pools.

Venues|Platforms for Evangelism

From the beginning, we have shared the work on this talent community pilot effort with the recruiting industry as a method of inviting feedback and fostering sharing of best practices with similar projects that are ongoing in the recruiting industry.  It has been quite a year of evangelizing our work.  We have enjoyed positive feedback from our initial presentation at Sourcecon 2008 to Human Capital Institute webinars to CareerXroads and Corporate Sourcing Leadership Council; SMA Event, HR Executive Forum, and other related venues.

Another purpose of these articles is a preview of our presentation for the Fall 2009 ERE Event, where our talent community pilot will be discussed in the broader context of Web 2.0 Beyond the Social Recruiting Hype: Microsoft’s Approach to Building Talent Pipelines and Communities.


The accolades for our pilot have been very re-enforcing and flattering.  ERE acknowledged our work with a “Most Strategic Use of Technology Award ” and industry thought leaders like Dr. John Sullivan called our work “pioneering.”

Microsoft Goals

Internally, at Microsoft, two of our corporate staffing goals are sourcing|recruiting the best candidates in the world and enhancing the candidate experience at Microsoft.   While external acknowledgement is very complementary, how we perform alongside Microsoft goals and commitments are all that matters.  In this talent community pilot, we see an opportunity to fulfill those goals.

Web 2.0 Recruitment Marketing Platform

At a high level we are creating a Web 2.0 Recruitment Marketing platform for our jobs that will be distributed to search engines, social networking sites, blogs and other relevant sites.  In this manner, we will reach deep into talent pools with a “technology touch.”  We will enhance the candidate experience by direct outreaches to micro-segments of our target audience and by establishing talent communities that will enhance the “human touch.”  It is at the intersection of art and science that success is realized.

The “technology touch” of the Web 2.0 Recruitment Marketing sits on the Jobs2Web platform.  Not only do we employ their unique dynamic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technology, but we take advantage of total power of this platform to connect jobs and social networking sites as well as a CRM-orchestrated targeted outreach.  We not only reach the active job seeker, but we capture passive seekers who visit the site and sign up for our email alerts, RSS feeds or any of our talent communities which allows us to maintain contact and cultivate ambient relationships with these prospects until they are ready to go deep with an employment conversation with Microsoft.

And best of all, we can measure every aspect all the moving parts using Jobs2Web Recruiting Dashboard which gives us visibility to all activity and exact sources of all candidates that come to our talent community (without asking the prospects) which helps us to know what sources are providing the best quality and quantity of candidates in the highly fragmented Web 2.0 World.

How We Measure Success

For the active (and a percentage of passive) prospects, success is measured by our jobs “being seen” or “being found” in the keyword search results.  The chief reason to “optimize” our jobs is because job seekers primarily use search engines to look for a job (as opposed to job boards).  The highlight outlined below illustrates the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of our jobs on Google (which enjoys 70% of the market for job searches).  As the graph demonstrates-97% of our targeted recruiting keywords (i.e. Seattle Developer Jobs, Washington .Net Jobs, Washington Tech Jobs, etc.) show up in the first page of Google search results.

To reach our ultimate goal of sourcing|recruiting the best talent in the world, we must use this “technology touch” to reach into talent pools that can be described as causal, passive or non-looking job seekers.  When you think about active vs. the more passive job seeker, we have to remember that only a small percentage of the job market is actively searching for a new job at any point in time.  The graph below illustrates this point.  This graph was created using 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics (the last official year), so we could conclude that the active job seeker market must be greater today given the high unemployment rate.  So let’s say it is 20% today.  Even at that level, that means that 80% of the available talent is not actively looking for work.

If we view the Job Search Cycle from a slightly different angle, we are able to see a more discreet method of classifying active vs. passive job seeking. The Recruiting Roundtable suggests we add the filter of” difficultly to source” as we move from left (easiest to source) to right (the most difficult to source) on the graph below.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Recruiting Roundtable

The degree of difficulty to source adds a deeper dimension to our thinking.  So rather than just active or passive, we think about “gettables” and the “ungettables.”  Most recruiters have antidotes about convincing a person not seeking a job to take a look at their opportunities.  So I think that it makes sense that we can convince someone to look at a job.  In fact the Recruiting Roundtable recently published a study that 83% (I have no idea why it is not 100%) of active job seekers would consider other jobs, while 42% of passive job seekers will consider other jobs.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Recruiting Roundtable

It is difficult to project how many people will respond to “technology touch” vs. the “human touch.”  Research tells us that even passive prospects engage in active prospect behavior.  To that extent, we are able to connect with the “gettables” that may be casually or passively looking, the reach of technology touch will be far greater than just optimizing our jobs for the active job seeker.  The “gettables” that can be reached by our SEO activities are highlighted in red below.  The overall reach of our technology touch is depicted in green.  How we reach the prospects in the green shaded area will be discussed next month.

To achieve the Microsoft goal of sourcing|recruiting the best candidates in the world, we must reach deep into targeted talent pools.  Using the technology touch of our Recruitment Marketing platform, we are able to reach out to a greater targeted audience.  The first step in how we measure success is with search engine optimization of our jobs that will be viewed by gettable talent.  At the same time, we need to remember our second goal of enhancing the prospect|candidate experience.  Next month, we will look at our second step, which examines how our Recruitment Marketing Platform connects social media as well as targets micro-segments of the target talent audience.

About the author:

smith-marvinHaving been in the recruiting world for over two decades, Marvin Smith currently works for Microsoft. He provides the Microsoft Entertainment & Devices Division staffing team with mission critical talent by identifying and cultivating relationships with target talent community. His talent community development strategies include competitive intelligence, e-sourcing/recruiting,online recruiting, social networking, and talent database acquisition.

Who Do You Trust, And Why? Part 2

25 06 2009

Success is a byproduct of personal commitment, of cooperative interpersonal behavior, of willingly giving and receiving candor from competent people.  These factors enhance trust being developed and maintained.  Both high performance and high satisfaction are needed to achieve optimum organizational levels of quality or effectiveness, productivity or efficiency, economies, delivery, service, procedural correctness or accuracy, and (ultimately) profit.

In a trust-related experience, any action, or behavior which brings you closer to achieving your real long-term goals and objectives is considered productive.  Likewise, any action, or behavior, which moves you further away from achieving your real long-term goals and objectives is considered counterproductive.

Though many “experts” disagree with this definition, trust can be defined as anticipating a certain outcome or result, whatever the value of the outcome or the result to those involved.

Trust has five identifiable elements of interpersonal behavior:

  1. Competence: The perception that a person is capable and does their work well.
  2. Presentation: How people appear or appeal to others, as people tend to trust others more if they are: more friendly, articulate, good-humored, and show a concern for their appearance, and if they possess universal features of attractiveness.
  3. Values: People value others more if they tend to have high integrity, valid opinions, and high principles based upon if their own values, principles, goals, attitudes, and perceptions similar to oneself.
  4. Intentions: The perception that a person wants to, or tries to, do the right thing and strives for effective performance or improved achievements.
  5. Respect: The perception of the open, honest, fair, and compassionate treatment of others.  This is the single most important element of these five elements of trust in interpersonal behavior.

Self-evaluate your responses to the exercise from Tuesday and determine what the results say about you and the effectiveness of your relationships with other people.  Although it is not the intent of this contribution . . . the absence of trust is chaos, but trust is manageable if it is somehow measured, and in spite of what you have been lead to accept previously, trust can be accurately measured.

So . . . back on task now . . . as a Researcher, as a Sourcer, etc.   How do you build trust quickly with others?  Please weigh in by commenting below.


Ray Towle has experience in leading, and in contributing to, project teams, managing high volume work efforts both internally, and also in support of external clients. Ray has served in many diverse HR Roles, but primarily sourcing and recruiting, for the following companies or organizations: Hewitt Associates, Carolina Handling Company; General Steel Company; Georgia State University; Habitat for Humanity International; Hunt Oil Company; Inland Steel Company; Oglethorpe University; Panasonic USA; Phillips Consumer Electronics; SYGMA Network; The Home Depot and the U.S. Army.

Who Do You Trust, And Why? Part 1

23 06 2009

Trust is a vital interpersonal skill.  Effective people are more understanding of the elements that influence trust than are people of less interpersonal effectiveness.  People who are considered to be effective are more willing to put something of themselves at risk with another people, usually by confiding in other people.  Trust should have limits, however.

Highly effective people make adjustments about trust in different risk situations.  When those people reveal a shortcoming or flaw, they carefully, even sometimes shrewdly, risk their reputation and their self-esteem, but when they demonstrate this risk, they have usually concluded that the potential rewards are greater than the inherent risks in what they reveal.  Occasionally, this is done because of misplaced faith or inappropriate naivete.

This is a self-assessment exercise in which you will not be required nor encouraged to share with anyone, if you prefer not to.  The information you create in this “exercise” will remain within your complete control.

Take a few minutes and jot down some notes and do your best to respond openly and honestly to these five self-assessment questions:

  1. How would you describe the degree or level of your willingness to trust others?
  2. What factors affect your willingness to trust others?
  3. Is there something that you would never confide to anyone else?
  4. Why or why not?
  5. How could you be damaged if your trust in another person was betrayed?

The remainder of this topic (Part 2) will be posted on Thursday.

The Resilient Recruiter: Got Resiliency? Part 4

12 03 2009

Part Four of Four: Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Candidates

Welcome to the final article in our “The Resilient Recruiter” series.  In this series, we have been exploring the relevance of resiliency skills to the success of recruiting professionals.  Previously in this series, we defined resiliency as the ability to deal with adversity and bounce back, and we learned that resiliency consists of a set of skills that can be strengthened.  We explored the inner resiliency factors of defining values, setting goals, creating and following plans and confidently making decisions.  We also discussed the importance of establishing outer resiliency factors, which include healthy relationships, group or community involvement, hobbies, healthy diet, sleep, exercise, etc. 

In this fourth and final article of the series, we will offer you four key questions that you can ask yourself (or your candidates) to assess your resiliency (or theirs).  When you ask yourself these questions, your answers will give you a clue about where your resiliency needs to be strengthened.  Your candidates’ answers to these questions will help you assess their resiliency, thus their suitability for long-term employment. 

Here are four key questions to ask yourself (or your candidates) to assist you in assessing your resiliency (or their resiliency):

  1. Tell me about a time when something happened at work (or school for new graduates, or in life) when something went wrong or you encountered a challenge.
  2. How long did it take you to respond?
  3. What was the outcome and how was it achieved?
  4. Who did you work with (if anyone) to resolve the situation?

Analysis:  The following will help you know what to listen for in answers to the above questions.  Knowing what to listen for will help you assess the resiliency of the person answering these questions:

1.     Tell me about a time when something happened at work (or school for new graduates, or in life) when something went wrong or you encountered a challenge. 

  • How well did they qualify/quantify the issue?  Resilient people understand the issue and they are able to articulate it clearly and without confusion.
  • How quickly were they able to accept the situation for what it was in order to start working on a solution?  Acceptance of what is going on is a large part of being resilient (staying out of denial or avoidance). 
  • Did they go to blame or acceptance?  Blame indicates lack of resiliency.  Acceptance and the ability to work toward a solution, regardless of the cause (blame), indicate a higher level of resiliency.
  • What role did they play? Their role will give you clues about whether they were part of the solution (a sign of resiliency), or part of blaming and/or otherwise making matters worse.
  • How soon did they notice things were “off track”? This helps you get a feel for how much they pay attention to what is happening around them. How mindful of things are they?  Resilient people are “tuned in” to their situations and surroundings.
  • Did they “over own” the problem?  Were they able to distinguish what part they should “own” versus what is not theirs to own?  Resilient people know what issues are their own versus what issues are others, and they maintain clear boundaries.  They own what is theirs without blame; however, they do not own issues that belong to someone else.

2.     How long did it take you to respond?

  • This speaks to how fast to they adapt to change and accept it.  Quick acceptance and adaptation is a key resiliency factor.

3.     What was the outcome and how was it achieved? 

  • Did they follow all the rules (high compliant)? Or did they get creative to get resolution? Resilient people get creative and think outside the box.

4.     Who did you work with (if anyone) to resolve the situation? 

  • Did they tap into their formal team?  Had they already established their own team of relationships to assist them in solving issues in life?  Or…were they on their own with no support?  Resilient people surround themselves with people they can call on to help them work through challenges in life.  The relationships of resilient people can handle conflict without damage to the relationship – their relationships are healthy.

Did you ask yourself these questions?  If so, what did you conclude about your own resiliency?  If you are not pleased with your answers, then you may want to embark on a journey to strengthen your resiliency.  You can strengthen your resiliency by implementing resiliency factors from this series in your life.  For maximum improvement, you can enlist the assistance of a resiliency trainer, such as Michael Ballard. 

Do you see how asking these questions of your candidates will help you to assess their resiliency, too?  You can be confident that resilient candidates are the best match, whether they are an application developer, sales professional, staff accountant…or…recruiter.

Obviously, this series has merely provided a cursory overview of the subject of resiliency – a subject that has much more depth than we could convey in a short series.  As a recruiter who has encountered her fair share of challenging times, I must mention that my belief system – specifically faith – has had the most direct impact on my own resiliency.  I encourage you to evaluate your resiliency and, as needed, commit yourself to strengthening it.

As we bring The Resilient Recruiter series to a close, we reiterate that we will all encounter times in our lives when we are under higher than normal levels of stress.  It is during those times that we learn how resilient we are – or aren’t.  Nothing will be more positively impacting to your success in your recruiting career – and in your life – than possessing strong resiliency skills.  


As “The Recruiter’s Recruiter,” Wendy Albrecht Kembel enjoys placing recruiting professionals. View Wendy’s profile at . Her company, Integrity Recruiting Group, Inc., works in alliance with Anderson Recruiting Consultants, Inc. . Feel free to email Wendy at

To find out more about the work and services provided by Michael Ballard and his firm Resiliency for Life, you can contact him at or visit his website

Recruiting from the Middle of Nowhere: Part II

11 03 2009

Forward Thinking Companies Take the Lead; Others Take Notice

In last month’s Part One of Recruiting from the Middle of Nowhere, I discussed how you can transition from an in-house employee, to virtual one located anywhere, working for an employer located anywhere, and still remain a very viable part of the team. This month, I will highlight some of the advantages not only for the employee, but for the company, and the environment as well.

By the end of Part One you could see the benefits of augmenting your recruiting staff with virtual recruiters or other employees…so what does virtual staff offer on a larger scale?  A growing number of forward-thinking companies are embracing virtual employees for a host of positions, not only for temporary needs, but on a full time basis. Many have either implemented remote based employment programs, or are piloting plans to do so. Seminars and webinars are touting programs about remote employee management, including the latest tele-technologies and metrics. Given that virtual employees can be even more productive than their on-site peers, and that a bi-costal career dilemma faced by a dual career family can now be mitigated by technology, now may be the time for your company to explore ‘virtually’ all your options! Consider adding recruiters not only from the middle of nowhere, but also consider having recruiters search out candidates to fill your other positions from anywhere—even the middle of nowhere.

From a real estate and facilities perspective, management can factor in capital savings for offices, cubicles, desks, chairs, computers, phones, and related ancillary expenses.  This amounts to significant cost savings for companies that re-task viable in-house roles to virtual ones, and is causing companies to rethink their space and overhead requirements as they enter the age of the ‘talent economy’. 

In addition, from a facilities vantage point, right-sizing corporate campuses in balance with a virtual workforce provides a significant cost advantage.

‘There are two ways to think about real estate, according to John Vivadelli, president and CEO of AgilQuest: abundance and scarcity. “The mindset of abundance says that the organization should provide enough assets for any possible peak-usage load.” This mentality has gotten many organizations into trouble because it leads them to procure too much real estate—real estate that cannot be sustained through market peaks and valleys.’  

“Organizations with the mindset of scarcity treat every asset as expensive and valuable,” says Vivadelli. “The organization bases cost accounting on actual use rather than predetermined allocations and constantly evaluates and decides the best mix of people, facility and technology assets required to produce the best ROI.

The array of technologies available to companies and teleworkers is now at the point where virtual meetings are commonplace for participants on a global scale, with little attention paid to the virtual aspect. Indeed, companies like AT&T, Nortel, and Sun are leading the way with these technologies. In a future Recruiting from the Middle of Nowhere article, I’ll go into more depth about that, but for now let’s look at a few of the remarkable technologies available for virtual work.

Sun CIO Bill Vass reports that its virtual employees use Sun Ray, a diskless ultra-thin client computer that runs off an employee’s corporate badge.

Sun Rays are diskless, operating-system-less laptop-like devices that can be used with any type of monitor, keyboard or mouse. When a user inserts his corporate ID badge into the Sun Ray, the device communicates to Sun Ray servers at headquarters. Those servers manage all the data and applications, including VoIP soft phones, and simply deliver the GUI to the remote user. The badge contains a small Java chip that handles authentication and encryption.” The result is a mobile workforce that is far more secure, and easier to support and administer than traditional laptop-wielders. The Sun Rays cost just $200 apiece and require the same amount of technical support as a typical TV, meaning zero, Vass says.”

“We save $15 million a year in administrative costs alone,” Vass says, adding that the Sun Rays, which use only 11 watts of power, also save the company $2.8 million in power costs.  The company garners another $6.5 million a year by not having to refresh its desktops. “Plus, it’s a tremendous leap in security,” he says. Remote workers can’t become infected with worms or viruses and pass them onto the corporate network, because the Sun Rays have no operating system to infiltrate, he says.

As many as 17,000 of Sun’s 33,000 employees work virtually in some capacity, and because any employee can work on any Sun Ray, cubicles at headquarters and other sites are virtual, as well, divvied up on a first-come, first-served basis. “It’s a lot like parking – if you get in early, you get your favorite space. If not, you get what’s left,” Vass says. (Even Sun President Jonathan Schwartz has no permanent office space.)

The setup lets Sun designate 1.5 people per office, a move that saves $68.9 million a year in real estate costs, Vass says.  In fact, Sun’s data also shows that teleworkers on average work 3 hours more per day and give back 60% of their commute time to Sun.

Nortel’s CIO Albert Hitchcock concurs: “On average, 40% of our offices are unoccupied, largely because of this telework technology and the flexibility we’re giving our employees,” Hitchcock says. So he says Nortel plans to revamp offices so that they revolve around shared spaces and conference rooms, with private cubicles assigned in a hoteling fashion.

“When they get together, teleworkers are looking to collaborate in shared spaces. So why have all these empty cubicles? We’re working closely with our real estate organization to further consolidate space,” he says.

Nortel also plans to continue using wireless technologies to achieve its virtual goals. Already a big Wi-Fi proponent, Nortel has installed more than 1,000 wireless LAN access points within its corporate buildings so employees can work anywhere on a Nortel site without losing network connectivity. Now it’s investing in WiMAX 802.16 and Code Division Multiple Access Release A, both of which are designed to provide broadband-level wireless access.

“In the very near future, we’ll have a constantly connected broadband world, and clearly, we want to take advantage of that from an overall employee mobility and productivity standpoint,” Hitchcock says.

Leave a Smaller Footprint

Virtual work produces a three-pronged green benefit.  Given last year’s surge in fuel prices and a long term forecast for more to come, virtual work arrangements can give considerable relief to employee’s monthly fuel bills. Virtual work not only saves money for the employee, but a critical mass of remote workers can cut corporate energy consumption significantly as well. Recent articles suggest that companies as well as governmental agencies consider letting employees either work virtually or flex their hours to help mitigate rush hour congestion, which conserves fuel.  In fact, respected transport consultant John Cox says “forget about beefing up public transport because the most promising way to save the planet is a high-speed broadband network.” In an article published in The Australian, Cox said “telecommunications offers the best prospects for reducing urban congestion and cutting family fuel costs.”  One needn’t go to Australia for facts on the subject however; just Google ‘telecommute AND fuel costs’ and you will pull up tens of thousands of articles on the subject in less than a second. You may reach your own conclusions from the material you find there.

As Your Company Goes Somewhere…Use Staff from Virtually Anywhere’

Put simply, most organizations now have the ability to harness extraordinary talent in an ordinary way. Just give them the opportunity to work virtually.  No cube, office, or related overhead.  If your candidate can’t sell their house due to a troubled local market, you can still employ his/her talent.  You company can hire the best candidate for your must-fill position without a spouse leaving their career, without pulling kids out of school, and without paying for a move across the country.  You leave gas in the tank, the bottom line larger, workers happier, and the environment a little cleaner.



Alan LaRotonda is a Talent Acquisition Professional who has worked since 1993 recruiting talent in the semiconductor, pharmaceutical, biotech, energy and medical device recruitment arenas. Alan is a charter member on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Metro Employment Management Association (, and was the 2006 Chapter President for that organization. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management from Saint Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. Mr. LaRotonda has been working virtually as a recruitment consultant/sourcer since 2006. He now resides with his family in northeast Pennsylvania where he specializes in innovative sourcing and recruitment strategies for technology, pharmaceutical, wireless, biotech, energy, and medical device industries.


FacilitiesNet / Building Operations Management. February 2005. Steve Hargis and Mia Jacobsen.

 Network World. April 25, 2005. Joanne Cummings Masters of the virtual world – Financially strapped NW200 vendors find cost-cutting nirvana with large-scale telework deployments.

 FacilitiesNet / Building Operations Management. February 2005. Steve Hargis and Mia Jacobsen.



The Resilient Recruiter: Outer Resiliency

13 01 2009

Part Three of Four: Outer Resiliency

Welcome back to The Resilient Recruiter series, in which we are exploring the relevance of resiliency skills to the success of recruiting professionals during times of adversity.  Recruiting professionals need well-developed resiliency skills in order to perform at maximum effectiveness, particularly during this era of economic uncertainty and continuous change. 

Previously in this series, we defined resiliency as the ability to deal with adversity and bounce back, and we learned that resiliency consists of a set of skills that can be strengthened.  A resilient recruiter will “hit a wall” and then quickly and creatively adapt and find a way around it, becoming stronger in the process.  A recruiter, sourcer or researcher who is not as resilient, however, might hit that same wall, but instead succumb to discouragement and choose to linger at the wall in despair. 

In our last article, we explored the inner resiliency factors of defining values, setting goals, creating and following plans and confidently making decisions.  As implied by the name, inner resiliency factors are primarily those factors which are developed from within.

In this part three article we will depart from our previous interview format as we explore the following outer resiliency factors:  relationships, involvement in groups or community, participation in hobbies, volunteer work, healthy diet, exercise and sleep. 

We will start with the more basic and obvious outer resiliency factors of healthy diet, exercise and sleep.  Naturally, if you take care of your body during the good times, then your body will be more resilient during adversity.  The stress that usually accompanies adversity has been proven to lower immunity and can lead to physical illness at a time when you most need health and strength.  Waiting until adversity hits is not the time to suddenly decide to take proper care of your body.  A great place to start in boosting your outer resiliency is to develop healthy habits around what you eat and around obtaining regular exercise and adequate sleep daily.   

This brings us to the relational and activity related outer resiliency factors.  A good place to begin is to ask yourself about the quality of your relationships with those who matter to you the most.  That represents the cornerstone of your outer resiliency.  If you have trouble in those relationships, it will be well worth the time and expense to invest in help to improve those relationships.  Be prepared, though, to hold a mirror up and keep it up.  Improving those relationships will require you to “own” your contribution to difficulties. 

Now, step back a bit.  Are there any relationships which, if you are completely honest with yourself, drain you and leave you depleted?  If so, then seriously consider whether it is healthy for you to continue those relationships.  Perhaps there are some relationships you need to end and others that need some healthy boundaries put into place.  Be picky in choosing those with whom you will spend your time. 

The strength of your relationships – your network of support – will be a significant determinant in whether you thrive, versus just survive when adversity hits.  Those who have close, healthy, authentic relationships with a network of people who know them well will find themselves surrounded by the support they need at the time they need it.  Those who isolate and do not have close relationships are at risk for withdrawing into clinical depression and spiraling into blame and other unhealthy choices and behaviors (alcohol, drugs, over-eating, etc.) when faced with adversity. 

In addition to proactively taking care of their bodies and choosing healthy relationships, resilient recruiting professionals also participate in hobbies and activities.  Those who are involved in the community or do volunteer work have an expanded network of support and are found to have higher self-esteem than those who wallow in self-focus.  Those who are involved in church small groups also enjoy a strong support network, which significantly increases their outer resiliency.  It is wise to assess your relationships and involvement in groups, activities and hobbies prior to adversity coming your way.  Once adversity hits, it is much more difficult to cultivate relationships and outside interests in a meaningful and authentic way. 

In summary, whether you are a full life cycle recruiter, a sourcer or researcher, no amount of cool tools or gadgets will carry you when adversity hits.  All of us encounter challenging times at some point in our lives. The question is:  how will you navigate those times of adversity?  If your inner and outer resiliency skills are well developed, then you will have the ability to engage your creative problem-solving abilities with strength and confidence.  You will be able to maintain a sense of humor about your situation (without slipping into denial), while allowing your network of support to be there for you in the way that any human needs during difficult times.  You will then discover, on other side of adversity, that you are a better and stronger recruiting professional because of the adversity you experienced.  You will have flexed and strengthened your resiliency muscles, preparing you to navigate the next challenge in “finer form”. 

Stay tuned for this series’ final article, in which we will learn how to assess our resiliency and the resiliency of the candidates we are recruiting.


As “The Recruiter’s Recruiter,” Wendy Albrecht Kembel enjoys placing recruiting professionals. View Wendy’s profile at . Her company, Integrity Recruiting Group, Inc., works in alliance with Anderson Recruiting Consultants, Inc. . Feel free to email Wendy at