People Positive Culture

Employers and employees, does it really need to be this hard?

Employer and Employee Guide to Planning for the New Year

Over at The Creative Party, I blogged about how employees can get their shit together and employers can avoid annoying their employees in planning for the new year. Check it out here:

Wrap it up and get ready to roll in 2014!

HR Ecosystem trends show growth and consolidation

HR analyst at Software Advice, Erin Osterhaus, reports on the growth and changes from 2008-2013 in the HR industry.

Interesting to note is the continued trend of consolidation in the staffing industry. As a small staffing agency owner, it’s concerning to see the big get bigger. Talent can be underserved by these “corporate” brands, where there can exist a drive-thru fast food mentality to staffing. Firms built on relationships are often “closer” to talent but can find it harder and harder to get heard by big brands with large staffing vendor management services. Those firms in turn don’t have the best access to the best talent.

Not surprising is that staffing agencies comprise less of the list than they did in 2008. The industry obviously went through a slump during the recession and growth rates were hurt. Expect these numbers to rebound when reports look at 2014 and beyond.







Visiting “the family” at San Quentin

Once upon a time three friends started a basketball team. 22 years later they took their show to San Quentin prison.

Who cares about Millennials anyway?

Recently I read an article in an HR publication about attracting and retaining the Millennial workforce. Millennials want this it said, Millennials want that, benefits are a right not a perk, they want a voice, what makes this age group tick, what do they look for in a job and career, what makes them cry, you name it. To which I thought to myself, who cares what they want?

I care about my business. I care about my employees. I care about my customers. I care about doing the right thing. I care about having strong values, a strong vision, a strong mission, and follow through. If that means a Millennial is interested in working for my company, great. They will get the same attention and support that anyone working for me would.

What about what makes Gen Y, the Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers, men, women, body-snatchers, pod people, old, young, gray, and tattooed people, tick? Companies will do well to not cater to a specific segment. Instead, they need to establish quality values and live by them. Most of what I read about what Millennials want in their careers strike me as things that any good company with strong values, that tries to do right by their employees, would have present already.

Companies that think reading an article and implementing some Millennial-friendly policies is going to transform them into a Millenial talent attraction machine are deluding themselves. Once on board, the Millenials will see through the façade. At worst, they will feel betrayed and unfulfilled. So unless you are going to commit to wholesale changes, your success in talent attraction will be fleeting.

Start by building a company with strong values. Implement sound talent management strategies to effectively manage and develop your workforce. Focus on having a strong employer brand. Communicate your vision to prospective employees. Engage and establish clear expectations. Always be recruiting. Be a responsible employer. Listen. Observe. Be flexible.

Attraction and retention have just been achieved.

Are your Recruitment Channels up with the times?

The results are in from Software Advice and social media has gained traction in the way employers find talent. Not only has social media usage in recruitment increased, the quality of candidates hired from these sources surpasses many traditional recruitment sources. It’s no wonder then that employers are focusing their growth strategies through expanded use of social media.

Here’s a bit about the survey and its results:

The data indicates that, despite the explosion of niche careers sites and social media-enabled applicant tracking systems, the top three most used channels continue to be the old stand-bys: employee referrals, traditional job boards, and company careers pages.

But despite these three channels being the most used, social-media based recruiting should not be discounted as a sourcing channel. In fact, when recruiters were asked which channels delivered the greatest quantity of candidates, social media ranked third.

In addition, when recruiters were asked to rank which channels delivered the best quality of candidates, social media ranked second, outstripping traditional job boards and company careers pages.

If social media’s dominance in the quality and quantity of hires doesn’t convince you of its staying power, almost 50 percent of respondents claimed they planned on increasing their investment in social media recruiting in 2013.  Social, it seems, is here to stay.

You can read more about the results over at The New Talent Times.

Don’t Fear the Non-Compete Agreement

One of the most misunderstood and reviled aspects of employment in the State of Oregon is the Non-Compete Agreement. They scare individuals and present employers as paranoid, though there is a strong business case for them. I have been under strict non-competes as an individual and I have had to enforce them as an employer. In Oregon, non-competes are legal and until recently, pretty strict.

As an employer what are you really trying to protect and is a non-compete the best way to do it?

What about individuals? Should you sign a non-compete or be afraid to?

Individuals need to know and understand their rights under non-competes and what they should and should not worry about:

• To some degree they are not worth the paper they are printed on, however, you cannot completely disregard them either. By signing you are agreeing to abide by its statutes. Be sure you understand what you are signing.
• The more detailed they are, the greater chance they will hold up in court. General requirements like not working for a competitor in the creative industry are not as scary as saying you cannot work for X Company.
• Whoa…hold up in court? Who said anything about suing? If an individual violates a non-compete their former employer can file suit to stop them from competing. This can land you in court.
• Judges generally view non-competes as “un-American”. They believe one has a right to earn a living.
• If the non-compete is very specific on what you can’t do, and you are doing it, you could be in trouble.

As an employer, before you implement a policy requiring employees to sign a non-compete, you should:

• Understand the message it sends, both good and bad. The good: We take our business seriously and don’t want you to screw us over. The bad: We already don’t trust you and are drawing an employer/employee line in the sand.
• If the employee goes to work for a competitor after leaving your firm, do you really care as long as they are not trying to hurt your business? For example, if a copywriter goes to work for a competitor does this really hurt your business? If it does, you may have other problems anyway.
• If you are not going to enforce it, why have it? Enforcing it means going to court.
• Isn’t a non-solicitation agreement what you are really after? You don’t want former employees soliciting business from your clients but competing is fine right? Again, as long as they are not maliciously trying to hurt you, implement a non-solicitation agreement and leave it at that.
• Unless the employee is maliciously trying to hurt your business, the non-compete would probably not hold up in court anyway.
• Whoa! Court? Yes, to enforce a non-compete you would ultimately have to take your former employee to court.

Are these questions, anguish and confusion worth it? Is this the way to start a new employment relationship?

I work in a very competitive industry where employees could easily leave and take relationships with them. I’ve chosen to not have these agreements. Not having them creates a stronger employer-employee bond, and it means I have to build a stronger company to hold up in case someone does leave and take work with them. I’m OK with that. The strong survive.

Recruiting Problem? You have a Marketing problem.

Employer branding, recruitment branding…whatever you call it, it is all about branding. How your company connects with potential employees matters. And, it’s usually overlooked.

I read a lot about the challenge companies have in attracting and hiring talent. I suspect that these firms are not doing an adequate job marketing themselves. In fact, I know they are not. Hiring is not all about you. It’s a two-way street. Why does someone want to work for you? What is your compelling story?

Erin Osterhaus wrote a story about this on Software Advice‘s HR blog, The New Talent Times. You can find it here:

JobJenny interviews Potestio about resumes!


Want to Attract the A-Talent? Treat the D-Talent better.

You want to hire the A-talent?

I will tell you how. Treat the D-talent better.

Companies either have a hard time finding the talent they need or they believe they have to throw money and perks at talent to entice them to join their company.

A-talent is the talent that has the skills, experience and attitude you seek for openings with your company. The typical strategies to hire the best talent? Offer more money, amazing benefits, provide office perks like free food and foosball and hope for the best. D-talent may be great talent for somebody, but not for your company. They are someone else’s A-talent. So, you ignore them. Wrong. Treat everyone the same during the recruitment process.

Treating the D-talent (B’s and the C’s) better shows your company is consistent and focused in your recruitment strategy. It aligns everyone in your organization along the same goals and plan. You present your company and your staff as being a united front. Your organization comes across as professional, organized and your employees engaged and involved. Good stuff when a candidate is evaluating whether they want to come work for you. The foosball table is fluff; this stuff is real.

People talk. Company reputations get built on what people on the street say and whom they say it to. Treating candidates poorly sends bad messages out to their extended network and you risk negative associations with your company. If your firm has a bad reputation, or has a bad recruitment process, people will talk about it. Your employer brand suffers. If your employer brand suffers, so does your recruitment efforts.

I recently had a conversation with a business owner who complained that he couldn’t find employees fast enough. He felt people were lazy and did not want to work hard. This was an insight into how he, and subsequently how his company, hired people. I did not want to tell him, but his attitude is a reason his company can’t attract people.

Most companies try to attract talent with money, benefits and perks. Survey after survey tells us that money is not the most important driver for most employees.
Throwing money and benefits at A-talent may work at times, but it is not a strategy. And it’s certainly not sustainable. In the long-term it probably creates more problems. If money is the driver for people to join a company, money will always be the driver. And they will probably leave as soon as someone else gives them more.

Most large corporations have a process in place for managing resumes and candidates. It does not mean they do it well, but they have a process. Many smaller firms don’t have a process, and they don’t have a strategy. And it shows.

Take these small steps to build a strategy and start attracting better talent.

• Establish a process for recruitment and hiring. Identify someone to “own” your process. No rogue managers….everyone follows the process.
• Don’t solely rely on job postings as an awareness campaign for your openings. Be proactive in promoting your brand. If you do post jobs, focus more on your brand, vision and future and less on a laundry list of skills you seek.
• Implement an employee referral bonus program.
• Make the process reasonable for the candidate to navigate. Be clear on everything from next steps in the process to coaching your employees on who they may be interviewing and why. Get everyone on the same page.
• Map your company hiring plans with your growth plans.
• Make sure your employees know where the company has been and where it wants to go. They are spokespeople for your brand. They need to know your company’s story.
• Be honest about your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t sugarcoat stuff. The truth will come out eventually anyway.
• Acknowledge and respond to EVERYONE that submits resumes.
• CALL everyone you interview but do not hire. Thank them for their interest.
• Identify people that may fit future opportunities. Let them know you have this interest.
• Have formalized offer letters and job descriptions.
• Offer fair market salaries and benefits.
• Know what your salary range is and be firm. Pay extra if you have to but not as a policy. If it’s about money, this may not be the candidate for the long-term. Know this early.
• Have an on-boarding process established.
• Be clear and set expectations for success early with new hires.
• Have a training plan established.

16 easy steps every company can implement. You will become organized. Professional. Intent. Strategic.

You will begin to build a reputation as a company that values people. Not just the A-talent, but all people.

The A-talent will get the message.

Your Personal Brand. Grow and Evolve your Career.

What is a personal brand? Your personal brand is not only who you are, it’s how others see you. Employers. Co-workers. Future employers. Clients.

A good way to think about this is to think about you as packaging on a shelf. I hate to take it to this level, but if you are looking for work, this is how employers think. They are looking for the “product” that best fits their need.

Now, if this sounds unappealing, think about this: Unlike the product on the shelf, you have a choice as to who’s shopping cart you go for a ride in! So while you build and develop a brand, remember your brand always has the ability to ask whether you are a fit with the organization looking to hire you. That is one of the cards you hold.

Examples of a personal brand could be:

Aspiring copywriter with a flair for humor
Account planner focused on brand strategy
Client services professional dedicated to great customer service

Things to remember and keep in mind when developing and refining your brand.

  • Be consistent
  • Define who you are/what you want. Unless you have no definition. That’s a brand too. But don’t expect someone else to figure you out.
  • If you don’t know what you want, focus on who you are. Try to have one of these set especially if you are looking for work.
  • View yourself as others will and build how you want them to see you.
  • Know yourself.
  • Be confident in your abilities.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses.

You have something to offer. It’s your job to effectively communicate what that is. There are people/employers out there that will figure it out themselves but you can’t rely on that.

What if you are still trying to figure out your next steps or what your brand is? That’s OK too, but be aware of the messages and content you are “putting out there”. Every message has the potential to influence your brand.

Social media is now where our personal brands often live.

Linkedin is your brand at work.
Facebook is your brand at play.
Twitter is your brand speaking.

If you are looking for a job, you send your resume to a company – What is the first thing an employer does when they get your resume and are potentially interested in your background? They immediately go to your Linkedin page to see what you look like. But, they are also digging deeper into your background and experience and looking for consistencies or inconsistencies in your background. If your Linkedin profile does not match or support your resume, it sends a bad signal to the employer. They are left to question why there are inconsistencies. People are busy. They may not take the time to try to figure out why you have an inconsistent message.

Your Linkedin profile is your chance to really impress, expand upon and support what is listed in your resume.
The use of Linkedin has exploded in the last 12-24 months. It’s hiring voyeurism.

Linkedin is your on-line resume and a very powerful job search tool.


  • Put a picture up. You can make this invisible to people you aren’t connected with. Why would you do this? In case you do not want people either making judgments based on how you look, privacy.
  • Write a compelling summary. Keep it short but sweet. It can grow as your career grows.
  • Write a summary/bio that tells people who you are, what you are, and some of your accomplishments. Summarize your “brand”
  • Constantly develop your network/add connections.
  • Get recommended. And recommend people back.
  • Join Groups related to your career interests.
  • Complete your profile – add details and accomplishments to your work history.
  • Be careful in selecting a title – make it mean something.


  • Put in too much personal information
  • Look nude in your photo
  • Use abbreviations – spell things out
  • Use Linkedin too aggressively when looking for a job – example – you send your resume to HR at a company, and then find the HR person at that company and send them a note through Linkedin. Too forward.

Your resume supports your brand. It needs to be consistent with Linkedin. This helps support and furthers your brand.

Don’t believe what they all say about employers and Facebook – yes, employers will try to look at your profile and make judgments on what you are doing. There have been many articles scaring people into believing that HR will disqualify people based on their FB activity. There has also been just as many articles that indicate employers want to see you out socializing. This indicates that you have a healthy social life and can potentially be a good teammate and connect well with clients and vendors.

Twitter is your brand speaking. Be cognizant of what you post. Try to either strike a balance between your personal and professional or consider separate accounts. If you are branding yourself an expert or have passion in a particular area, support this through your Tweets.

All this activity that you do and all this content that you are putting out there, supports what you are saying when you are in interview situations.

For example, you go into an interview as the “aspiring copywriter with the flair for humor” and the writing on your Linkedin has no humor or no flair, your brand is not consistent. If you, however, have some compelling writing, are connected with Linkedin groups that are industry specific, and have Twitter feeds and posts based on writing, industry news, ad campaigns you find are well done, etc., you begin to form a more consistent brand.

Communication and appearance are also big aspects to your brand. This can be the “experience” of your brand. The employer has taken the package off the shelf and may be interacting with the product. What is the experience they have when interacting with your brand?

If you are super casual and want to work in a place that is super casual, that kind of appearance may become part of your brand. But be aware that I may not fit everyplace. Be keenly aware of your brand perception.

In summary – your brand is your package. It’s the look and feel. It’s the wording. It’s the product itself. The benefits of using the product. How you feel when interacting with the product.

The product on the shelf. You.