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Heather Bussing is a returning contributor to our HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Heather has practiced employment and business law for over 20 years. She has represented employers, unions and employees in every aspect of employment and labor law including contract negotiations, discrimination and wage hour issues. While the courtroom is a place she’s very familiar with, her preferred approach to employment law is to prevent problems through early intervention and good policies and agreements. Full bio…
by Heather Bussing
I’ve been listening to sessions on employment branding at the Tru London conference. The overall consensus is that companies should be more “authentic.” But what does that really mean? And how do you do it?
Asking yourself if you are being authentic enough is like asking if your jeans make your butt look big. The questions are equally narcissistic and no one is going to tell you the truth. (By the way, transparency always makes your butt look big.)
To work on being more “authentic” is to preclude the very possibility of authenticity. Authenticity is not a destination. It’s part of the sweat you work up taking a good hard run at life.
There is no way to “be” authentic. Authenticity is inherent in just being. This is because being authentic is just being yourself. If you are comfortable in your own skin, you will be authentic without trying.
It gets a little more complex when you want to appear authentic while doing something that isn’t really, well, “you.” This is the classic problem with politics, advertising, marketing, branding, social media and recruiting.
”Really, this job as the Manager of the Ice Plant in Juno—Fantastic Career Move!”
How do you appear authentic and sincere and still keep your job or fill the one that really stinks?
For some, being authentic means revealing personal information. For others, it means demonstrating their quirks and foibles to seem more human. Still others want to be clearer in their communications and say exactly what they mean.
These things don’t always work, nor do they demonstrate authenticity. The whole point of authenticity is credibility. When we say somone is authentic it means that they are not fake, they are true and you can believe them.
So the key is to be yourself but stay focused on your purpose, audience and topic. Here are some practical tips I’ve learned as a trial lawyer on where to draw the line with your genuine, sincere, authenticity:
1. Avoid TMI: Too Much Information is not the same as being authentic. People don’t want to know about your medical conditions, particularly anything involving a rash or oozing. They also don’t want to know about the toilet training of your children, how you cured smelly feet or what type of tampon you think works best.
2. Avoid Public Heartfelt Disclosures: It absolutely works in private and is essential to close relationships. Most people are really uncomfortable with that level of disclosure with people they don’t know. So avoid public discussion in business or professional settings of the epiphanies you had in therapy, church, during sex or any combination thereof.
3. Self deprecation only works if it’s funny. Irony doesn’t come through in writing unless you are a really talented writer with room for context. Even adding an emoticon just doesn’t cut it. If you say, “I’m such an idiot,” people will just think you’re an idiot. On the other hand, you can push the line a lot farther if it’s funny (or really loud- think Recruiting Animal).
4. Be your “professional” self. Put things out there you would share with a new boss or colleague. If it’s someone who would get less than 70% on your Facebook how well do you know me quiz, it’s probably TMI.
5. Do not post anything online out of anger, fear, after more than one drink or after 10 pm whichever comes first.
6. Righteous indignation, no matter how passionate and heartfelt, always comes off closer to raving lunatic.
7. If you are uncomfortable, you’ll never pull it off. Don’t even try to overcome it. So just be uncomfortable and move on. It will pass as soon as you let it.
The real key to communicating authentically is understanding what you are saying really well, then saying it as clearly and simply as possible. This takes a lot more work and a lot more time than knocking off a few lines at the keyboard or flying by the seat of your pants. It often requires editing, polishing, feedback and rethinking—all things that are often absent in online publishing.
Bottom line (Get it? Bottom . . . line?):
Authenticity is both knowing what you are talking about and saying it really well.
Please welcome Mark McMillan back as a returning contributor to the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Mark is co-founder of Talent Function, where he combines executive coaching expertise with ten years of recruitment software industry experience. He started his software career for the Oracle Corporation and later joined BrassRing as a Director of Strategy and Business Development. Full Bio…
The Darwinian Evolution of the Recruiter
by Mark McMillan
For the next 19 years, 10,000 baby-boomers will retire each day, leading to the hackneyed conclusion – recruiting is going to get harder. That phrase should start paragraphs, not end them. Like all species, the “recruiter” must evolve to survive. Recruiter’s need to grow a new compassion appendage that is going to make them look, more and more, like a coach.
The changing contours of the labor supply mean that recruiting is changing in importance and complexity. Recruiters cannot simply rely on passive candidates. Let’s examine passive candidate recruiting:
|Recruiter Inquiry Effort Level||Passive Candidate State||Description|
|Level I||Passive “Aggressive"||Candidate is performing a high level and they have made the decision to check out the market. They will have not posted their resume, but they are talking to headhunters and are working their networks to get a new job. They are making a move, but they will play their cards as a passive candidate. They are in the border region Afghanistan and Pakistan in the “active” – “passive” schema. They have emotionally quit their job. They are ready to negotiate.|
|Level II||Passive “Ripe”||Already has a clear idea of what they are looking for in a new job and a new company. Possesses a flickering desire to make a move depending on the day. They feel like they should make a move to improve their career trajectory. They may have a particular dissatisfying issue that is a deal-breaker with their current company. If you can get a hold of them, because they are busy, then you could get them to negotiate very easily.|
|Level III||Passive “Latent”||They are humming along in their job. They are happy and haven’t given any thought to leaving their current job and company. They haven’t done any of the soul-searching required to make a move to another company. They have not done any career reflection. They don’t know what they want because they haven’t thought about it.|
The prevailing definition of passive candidate recruiting includes Aggressive and Ripe candidates only. This is when the hunter archetypes swoop in and close the candidates. You can picture the aggressive, type A recruiter pushing for the decision. This is all about closing skills. These skills are important and will only get more important going forward. But they will not be enough.
Recruiters will also have to learn how to work with Latent candidates. The recruiters that I know run from Latent candidates. They send them to their friends (like me) that are coaches. The recruiters simply don’t have time to invest in an inquiry process that might not result in an active candidate. For many of them, it also isn’t in their make-up. What makes these recruiters successful is their certainty, and, to a degree, their impatience. They wield certainty. They don’t have time for candidate fog.
In the new world order with a smaller workforce, recruiters won’t have the luxury of turning away latent candidates. The Type A, hunter, closer approach doesn’t work with these candidates. That coaching appendage will be necessary to provide recruiters with the insight to give candidates a hand.
The coaching skill set is required to recruit Latent candidates. Coaches are trained to produce and control conversations that yield what is really going on inside someone’s mind. They are masters at rapport that enables them to get to trust quickly. And with that trust, they can control conversations that lead to the candidate stepping into their own new thought meadows. I am not saying that Latent candidates are going to be easily sold by the coaching skill set. What I am saying is that if there is any real opportunity for a job change, then the coach stands the best chance of uncovering it.
If you want an exaggerated, entertaining glimpse into the mastery of coaching, then I suggest you take a look at the television show, Lie to Me.
In order to be successful in the coming years, recruiters will have invest more time in candidates and to learn to understand and guide them. This may or may not result in filling the current requisition on the desk. But I do believe that the candidate, recruiter and importantly, the client, will be more satisfied with both the process and results.
That new appendage emerging is just the hand that both candidates and clients will require in the coming years.
Everything that used to be centralized is becoming distributed. This is the the way things move in a post-mass-media environment. The changes are really caused by huge disruptions in growth. One billion PCs, one trillion web pages, 6.7 Billion people, more than 305 million Americans. World population doubled in the last 35 years. United States population doubled in 50 years.
Everything that used to be centralized is becoming distributed.
Like a movie action hero walking towards the camera and away from the blast, we are reeling from the pace of growth. When management was invented in the 19th century, it was used to deal with a world that was 10% of the size of today’s world. Information traveled slowly. Decisions could be made from the top because the view was better up there. That world exploded with more people, tools and complexity.
The theory that it was possible to deliver order by centralizing power had its heyday in the 20th Century. Everything got big and standardized. One car model, three networks, global superpowers, linear narratives. Lots of product. Limited choice. That’s how we dealt with the doubling of world population that happened between 1925 and 1970. The latest doubling effectively ruined the idea of standardization as a method for handling explosive growth.
This is why the network approach of Generation Y is not an anomaly. It’s the only method that will work in the world we actually inhabit.
Everything that used to be centralized is becoming more distributed.
There is a subset of the Slow Movement called Slow Work. It’s like that but not quite.
This thing I’m seeing is about finding dignity in work. It’s about working for the sake of work itself. It’s not about fast bucks and fancy positions. It’s about normal jobs and the fact that they are our new assets. For many, a job is the only remaining asset. Some of us aren’t even that lucky.
After all of the fluff about passion and employee engagement, this emerging trend focuses on the value to be found in a good day’s work. Somehow, in our quest for wealth and status, we lost sight of the fact that even a menial job can be a great job. It’s not really in the hands of the employer, it’s in the hands of the person working.
How you feel about your job and what you get out of it are completely up to you.
As I write, I’m cringing. This sort of idea is so easy to co-opt that I imagine salivating politicos. On one side, the anti-union anti-EFCA forces will hear the word dignity and immediately think soft and “pro-union”. At the other extreme, the PC police and the “cult of nice” will hearthe sweet overtones of dogs sleeping under the desk .
This is not something to be organized by HR. This is not a proposal for a new program. Nor is it a second part of calisthenics while chanting the company slogan. It’s a recognition of a growing mood in the country, maybe the world.
Our problems are not going to be fixed by the things that caused them. Better banking is not how you solve a crisis of confidence in the banks. More credit won’t help a system paralyzed by having used too much credit. Bailing out the perpetrators won’t help us learn the lesson.
Things are so convoluted that nobody knows what anything is worth. Good friend Hank Stringer suggests that we should simply eradicate all debt one day in April. That way, we could start by figuring out which things are important, which have value and which can be jettisoned.
I call it “Just Work”. As in, it’s not just work, it’s just work. (Lifted from Thanksgiving Coffee’s slogan, “It’s not just a cup of coffee, it’s a just cup of coffee.”). Can you hear the overtones of justice, of righteousness without the indignation?
Work is one of those almost sacred (well, maybe it is all the way sacred) things. Doing work for the sake of doing work, not for passion, prestige or performance bonuses is how we built our country the first time. I’m seeing a return to those simpler values. Here are four data points :
- Mike Rowe is the host of an interesting show called “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel. (I don’t have a TV so this is pure speculation). This talk, given at the TED conference, features Rowe talking about a particular job: herding sheep. The video traverses content that might make you uncomfortable if you’re squeamish. But, it’s worth the story to get to the message. The moral is that the worst imaginable jobs are often the source of pride. They are places where real wisdom is created. This was my first taste of “Just Work”
- Peter Weddle, our industry’s own Matterhorn expedition leader, continues to add to his website for his book, “Work Strong“. Full of the obvious Lance Armstrong overtones, “Work Strong helps you tap both sides of your brain in learning how to build a healthy career.” In Weddle’s view, a career is not a fantasy of celebrity and enormous wealth. It’s a way to have balance throughout your life.
- The Jobing Foundation, in partnership with the various elements of SHRM and about area employers is giving Phoenix eighth graders a chance to experience work in a hands-on way. Experience Your Future attempts to give young people the opportunity to actually see what people do for a living. The idea is to make planning and dreaming a little more tangible.
- Time Magazine (remember magazines?) says that Jobs Are the New Assets. “All the while, we blissfully ignored a little concept economists like to call human capital. The cognition you’ve got up there in your head — your education and training — it’s worth something. We can extract value not just from our homes and our portfolios but from ourselves as well. The mechanism for extracting that value? A job. “The income you earn from working is like the stream of interest income you might get from owning a bond,” says Johns Hopkins University economist Christopher Carroll. “Think of it as a dividend on your human wealth.”
And there you have it. Just Jobs, the movement to celebrate the power of having a regular job is taking shape. My bet is that when we look back, the renewal won’t really come from big expensive programs. It will come from people going to work and working hard each day.