Brands Need Good Leadership

Leadership 1.0

Brands. There’s a lot of talk about brands, branding and the importance brands evolving.
Take Taylor Swift. Hugely successful ingénue country singer who successfully pivoted her brand to main stream vocal Phenom. Like Ms. Swift generations have names and identities and are brands that evolve.
For example, Baby boomers are associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values. As a group, baby boomers were the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation up to the era in which they arrived, and were among the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time.
Let’s look at today’s punching bag generation – Millennials. I know some, some are my children and in the course of my work – recruiting, I’ve interviewed my share. Most don’t deserve to be defined with the negatively charged commentary commonly described by the press.
In my opinion the Millennial generation is at a brand cross-road. One direction leaves them on the current controversial path. The other path amplifies all that’s good about a generation that trusts, believes in giving back and cares deeply for family. What’s missing, I submit, is leadership of substance to stabilize the generation’s brand and take it to its rightful place.
So, Millennials what are you waiting for?

Don’t Fear Good Executive Recruiters

Fear

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Good recruiters aren’t dangerous, likely to cause pain nor do they pose a threat. So, why are so many hiring managers reluctant to engage the services of recruiters?

Is it the “fear” of admitting they can’t do everything by themselves?

I’m convinced it has more to do with time and money. They don’t take the time to consider how much recruiters add to the bottom line focusing only on the recruiter’s fee – something they and their management view as a cost or expense. But, if one does the math it’s money well spent.

Take, for example, the revenue lost while the job remains unfilled. Add the cost of the hiring manager’s time devoted to filling the position – time taken away from attending to her/his primary responsibilities. The sum is considerably more than a simple fee and grows dramatically with each day the job remains open. One might factor in the cost of morale as others are tasked with picking up the organizational slack and its impact on current customers.

So, come on hiring managers, quit dragging your feet because some bean counter says recruiters are an expense and call us! No fear. We promise.

Honesty

Honesty

In one of his acts George Carlin had a telling line about honesty, “Everyone appreciates your honesty until your honest with them. Then you’re an a**hole.”

This dovetails nicely with an old recruiter joke. The hiring manager is conducting an interview with a candidate and everything is going smoothly until the interviewer asks an uninspired but common question, “So what do you consider your greatest weakness?” The candidate answers tersely, “Honesty”. Taken aback, the interviewer says, “I don’t consider honesty to be a weakness”. The candidate replies, “I don’t give a damn what you think”.

Honesty is an interesting facet of the recruiting process. Obviously, candidates, through their resumes or interviews, are often less than transparent. On occasion, every hiring manager will admit to the same lack of transparency. And recruiters may be even worse offenders. At PointClear Search, we try to be guided by the principle of telling people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. And that goes for both clients and candidates.

We try to fix bad resumes and we coach candidates prior to interviews. If the candidate completely blows the interview, we gently tell them why so they won’t make the same mistake again. When it comes down to a small group of finalists in a bake-off, somebody has to lose and often the real reason someone loses is because the hiring manager simply liked someone better. I’ve seen some very ugly and emotional reactions when I’ve delivered bad news and I’ll admit to sugar-coating the truth when I know a candidate is very emotionally invested.

In the used car business, there’s an old saying “How can you tell when the salesman is lying? His lips are moving!” Politician’s also fall under the same banner. We try real hard not to be that cynical but some days it’s very hard.

I Support Diversity in Hiring

Compass

It seems that almost everything that Ad Age publishes lately both online and in print has some editorial devoted to the diversity issue. There are certainly plenty of comments about how women still do not have the same kinds of opportunities that men have in the broad field of marketing communications especially at the senior level. And of course, there are no scarcity of comments on how our industry is not reflective of the general population in terms of employing African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans. My liberal friends tell me I should feel guilty because I make my living helping these “racist, misogynistic SOB’s” continue to acquire talent perpetuating these injustices.

In looking back at my own career in media sales, I know that I hired many more women than men for the very specific reason that they were the best salespeople available at the time I was hiring. I used to say I would hire a little green person from Mars if they could sell but no one like that ever came in for an interview. But, neither did any significant number of “minority” candidates. I was compensated on my ability to deliver results so I always tried to do the best I could with the talent available. I wasn’t going to be a social engineer with my career and the careers of others on the line.

Yes, in a perfect world we would have an industry whose work force more accurately reflects the population as a whole. But, if one lacks the skill set or experience to do what my client needs for a specific role, I can’t recommend that she/he hire you. Yes, I understand the Catch-22 of a biased education system and limited opportunities at the entry level. Is that fair? I don’t know. Life’s not fair.

I wonder how many other industries can claim they’re doing a better job of providing the “level playing field” than advertising.

Character Counts

Character 1.0

A couple of weeks back, an already-signed-offer-letter-candidate went radio silent for 10 days before finally fessing-up to taking a counter offer. It happens but research shows the majority of people taking counter offers stick around for less than 12 months (they have already told their boss once that they are very willing to explore other opportunities so the boss understands where their priorities are). Knowing this, a lot of companies have a policy against making counter offers.
Most candidates, who take counter offers, immediately alert and offer an explanation to the hiring manager if, for no other reason, because they understand the value of reputation. As we in the media business learned early on, be careful of the toes you step on as you climb to the top; they may well be connected to the butt you’ll have to kiss on the way down!
Just this week a referral candidate pitched hard the reasons why any ad agency, publisher or company would benefit from the candidate’s skills, experience and leadership. After sharing the job description with a great agency ready to fill a key position a day later I receive a note from the candidate stating contact with an ad agency “may” have already been made. Turns out TWO applications had been submitted online – one just THREE DAYS before our initial conversation! Are you kidding me?
Let’s set aside all the proverbial excuses either of these individuals could use and get real.
Character is defined as, “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual”.
Everyone expect sociopaths have character. For those who don’t think character counts – you’re wrong. There’s consequences and you won’t like the outcome. It’s not too late to build character so step up now.

Congratulations Roger Tremblay, Mary Henry Humanitarian Award Recipient!

Dream Fund

Congratulations Roger Tremblay, Mary Henry Humanitarian Award Recipient!

Roger Tremblay is a Detroit, Michigan native who graduated from Michigan State University with a BA and MA in Advertising and is a recipient of the University’s Alumni Service Award. He has held sales and management positions with The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living, Texas Monthly, Chicago Magazine, Houston Metropolitan and Media Networks. He is the co-founder, along with Joe Kelly, of Kelly/Tremblay & Co, which was one of the nation’s largest independent media sales firms. He was a Senior Partner at Allen Austin Global Executive search before starting PointClear Search with Dave Manchee.

Roger, in addition to many years of service to DREAM Fund, is a director of the Michigan State University of Alumni Association, both internationally and locally here in DFW. Roger also serves as a mentor for graduate students at MSU. He has given countless volunteer hours in both leadership and volunteer positions for AAF Dallas and initiated and created the first AIME Award in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Roger, most deserving of this recognition, will be presented with the award at the AWM Awards of Excellence Gala on April 7th.

What They Need to Hear

What Clients Need to Hear

One reoccurring conundrum in the recruiting world occurs when market facts contradict client’s beliefs.  It’s happening with growing frequency as the flow of information floods decision-making.  The downside is suspect information that may not be valid in real time.

PointClear Search Principal and Founder, Roger Tremblay, continually reminds us of a simple truth well illustrated above, “Tell the client what the need to hear not what they want to hear”.

It’s not always a comfortable conversation but, at the end of the day, it’s always the right conversation. And, it always builds trust and confidence.

Managing a Most Precious Commodity – TIME

Clock 1

Last week Roger’s blog examined how some companies’ inattention to moving the hiring process along with serious deliberation opens the door for quicker moving, decisive hiring managers to snap up superior talent. And, in today’s tight market every open head means lost revenue.

This week let’s examine the process as a doctor would a patient to determine what’s contributing to the long hiring cycle. Let’s consider the real cause too many layers of interviews and the extended cycle the symptom.

Consider one major time suck – the interview panel – that sometimes awkward series of back-to-back interviews populated by junior and highly experienced individuals. We know assembling the panel requires days if not weeks to organize. And then there’s the question of the members influence on the final outcome. Should panel members be afforded equal “votes”? Has the company adequately trained each of the interviewers? Are they checking off the boxes in the correct order – intelligence, cultural fit and skills?

There’s a special excitement for candidates after meeting with well-trained panels. Unfortunately momentum somehow falls into a black hole when management fails to act on panel feedback further causing the process to drag on.

If over-interviewing is crippling your quest to hire great talent are you prepared to avoid the time trap in 2016?

Time To Get Serious About Hiring.

BigBen

This week THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ran a piece in the Personal Journal section titled “The Six-Month Job Interview – The Hiring Game: Surviving The Job-Interview Marathon”

The article described, in detail, the long, drawn-out process that some employers put prospective candidates through before they are hired.  From this recruiters point of view, some of it certainly makes sense but, much of it is just plain poor business practice. In the marketing communications space where we work, the reality is that the demand for top-tier talent far outstrips the supply – it’s a buyer’s market!

On more than one occasion this year, after being thoroughly vetted by us, PCS delivered a really top candidate to the client for an initial interview.  The interview goes well, there is a promise of a second round of interviews with, perhaps multiple participants, and then the whole process drags on for days, weeks and, sometimes, months.  Perhaps scheduling multiple interviewers is difficult, maybe the daily demands of the company require immediate attention or, heaven help us, the hiring manager and the HR manager have a different opinion on the urgency of filling the position.

But, the end result is always the same: the candidate gets frustrated and tired of waiting, has other suitors who act quickly and accepts another job.  As a result of feet dragging our client loses out on a potential valuable employee.  We go back to square one. And, the former future star possibly has a less than favorable opinion of “Glacially Slow, Inc.”.

Most of the companies we deal with say, “our people are our most valuable asset”.  You would never know it from their hiring approach.

How Do I Know I’m Working With The Right Recruiter?

Innovation

As a candidate I’ve worked with some very talented recruiters. I’ve also had conversations with recruiters who were clearly only working for themselves. From a candidate’s perspective here are five questions you should ask yourself.

1. Is the initial conversation with the recruiter focused on you, your career goals and needs or, is the recruiter hard selling the job he/she is trying to fill?
2. Does the job presented by the recruiter fit your personal and career goals? Does it fulfill your immediate and long-term needs?
3. Can the recruiter provide meaningful insights into his or her client company’s business model, culture, leadership, and competitive advantage (verses he/she lazily directing you to the client’s website suggesting you “check ‘em out and let me know what you think”)?
4. Has the recruiter set realistic expectations with you about the steps in the hiring process and timing?
5. Are you receiving regular communications regarding your status in the hiring process? And, timely replies to your inquiries?

If your answers are “yes” you’re working with someone with a genuine interest in furthering your career. Congratulations!