Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Adventures In Recruiting: How Recruiters Get A Bad Name

Another recruiter once called me to ask for my advice.  It seemed that she had a candidate who had accepted a job, resigned from his current job and on the Friday before he was to start work the next Monday had the offer withdrawn.  It appeared that he lied on his résumé.  When the company did its due diligence, it was discovered that there was no record of him graduating from the college listed.  She asked me if there was anything I could tell her.

I told her that there was nothing she could do, but asked what happened.

The recruiter told me that the candidate did have a college degree, but not from the one shown on his résumé.  She told me that the candidate told her that another recruiter had told him to change his college to a more prestigious school. So he put down that he graduated from Princeton, although he had gotten his degree from Rutgers. My response was shame on the candidate for making a false statement on his résumé.  I also told this recruiter that the headhunter who told him to change his résumé should be banned from the business. She told me about the candidate and, in truth, there was no reason to change the college on his résumé since he was over fifteen years out of school and had had a successful career. 

Of course, there was nothing he or she could do about it.  She lost the placement because the candidate lied about his background. End of story.

Well, not quite.

Some months later I was having lunch with a recruiter friend and we were exchanging war stories.  I told her this one.  She asked me who the recruiter was.  I told her.

The person I was having lunch with started laughing. She almost choked on her food she was laughing so hard.

It seems that she knew the whole story.  The candidate was also working with her (I did not know him) and had told her the entire story.  She said to me that, aside from the fact that the candidate was an idiot, it was in fact the same recruiter who called me and who had told him to make the change in his resume. This recruiter told the candidate that no one checks those things.  So the candidate made the change.  My recruiter friend told me who the company was.  The irony was that I knew this company and that they could have cared less, at this point, about the candidate’s education; but, of course, they did care that he lied on his résumé.

So the recruiter brought it on herself.  But why call me?  She probably called me to see if there was a way she could save it.

My friend and I both had a good laugh. What was this recruiter thinking?  How could I possibly help?
Ironically, the recruiter is still in the business.  It is a shame because it gives us all a black eye.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Progressive Companies Are Moving Towards Unlimited Vacations

The announcement recently by LinkedIn of moving to an unlimited vacation policy (DTO – Discretionary Time Off) was music to my ears.  All business ought to take notice. It will improve productivity, increase employee loyalty and retention and save money.

LinkedIn joins a growing list of companies to adopt this policy.  Among the other companies doing this are Virgin Atlantic, GE, Groupon, Netflix, Survey Monkey. The Some of the statistics surrounding this policy are surprising.  Start with this:  61% of American workers report working while on vacation.  It makes sense – these days we are all always connected.  For many, many years I have been recruiting and working with companies and candidates while I am out of town.  It doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t disturb my R&R. Senior executives have to be available to make decisions and continue their work.

The other surprising statistic was that Americans only take 52% of their entitled vacations.  What companies such as LinkedIn have discovered is that this DTO policy increases productivity and profits. Their people at every level are paid to be productive and are measured by their output.  Much has been written about productivity going up when workers take vacations and come back to work refreshed and relaxed.  And one reason DTO is more profitable is that when employees leave they do not have to be paid for unused vacation time.  Ad agencies, which are always looking for ways of cutting costs can learn something from this; because of the high turnover in advertising, I am sure that unused vacation time costs agencies a fortune.  It is one of those hidden expenses which actually can be reduced with a DTO policy.  

The first ad agency to adopt this policy will achieve a public relations coup - and a lot of loyal and happy employees.

In 2011, I wrote about vacations increasing productivity.  I have always believed this.  Unfortunately, I received many private emails from advertising executives who told me that in their environment, vacations were frowned upon and impossible to take. Last year I wrote that I thought that executives should not have to abide by a strict vacation policy.  The essence of that post was that executives can often work extraordinary hours – eighty and 90 hour weeks are common - sometimes going weeks without a day off. Counting vacation days for these executives is an insult.  Clearly, there are a number of progressive companies that agree with a DTO policy.

Executives in advertising are paid by the year, not by the hour, day or week. They are paid to produce.  Their output is judged by how well they do their jobs.  No productive employee should be evaluated by whether they take needed time off.  Vacation time does not and should not detract from productivity.

The irony of vacations is something I observed when I worked for companies. When I took two consecutive weeks off and returned, most projects were still pretty much where I left them.  Oh, sure, some projects moved along, but they were pretty much finished before I left for vacation.

Many executives are actually afraid of taking time off. I have seen reports that people are fearful that it will be discovered that they are not necessary if they take time away from the office.  That is absurd.  And executives with this attitude need a good shrink.

I am a big believer in time off and time away from the office.  After the economic crunch a few years ago, most of the network agencies cancelled summer Fridays. It was a stupid move since senior executives still take them anyway. Taking a summer Friday does nothing to interfere with output and productivity.

Ad agencies should take a cue from the companies which practice DTO.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Never Tell Your Company You Are Looking For A Job

In the course of talking to job candidates – at all levels from junior to very senior – I often hear that they have told their boss that they are looking.  Every time I hear this, I cringe.  It is often their downfall, despite the fact that they think they have a great relationship and/or a friendship and their “search” will be kept secret. 

I recently had a very good account director tell me a story:  She worked for someone earlier in her career.  They liked each other and stayed in touch.  Several years and two jobs later when she decided to change jobs, she called him and he offered  to hire her and she accepted.  He had started a small agency which was now twenty people and he needed someone at her level.  After only a few months she realized that it was the wrong place for her.  And she told her boss that she wanted to look, but would give him ample notice once she found a job.


A month later she was gone.

I completely understand where she was coming from.  She and her boss were friends, so she thought she was doing the decent thing. Truth is, all she was doing was assuaging her conscience.  She didn’t take into consideration several things.  First, inadvertently, she was proving herself disloyal and made him feel as if hiring her was a wrong decision (and no one likes to be made wrong).  She also didn’t think through that once she got a new job, ample notice is rarely enough. Few employees can be replaced in two, three or even four weeks.  And the new employer will inevitably want her to start within two weeks. What happened in this case was that her boss had coincidentally met someone he liked and, despite his relationship with the account director, he did not want to get caught on the short end of the stick. You can’t blame him.  

She was shocked and surprised by being fired because her intentions were totally honorable.

The first rule of job hunting is total secrecy.  Even from friends.  I once had a person tell me that he told his roommate about a job he was interviewing for.  The roommate called, got an interview and took the job. (They are no longer friends, obviously.)

Furthermore, from the employer’s point of view, no matter how well you and your supervisor(s) get along, everyone is overworked.  So the first thing they think about when they hear that someone who is reporting to them is going to leave is a selfish thought – who is going to do the work that this person was/is doing.  As a recruiter, I have many clients who call me absolutely panicked, telling me that they are too busy and need someone immediately (that is why counteroffers are often made). 

So as nice and moral as you want to be, keep your job changing plans to yourself. Your supervisor may be your friend, but he or she has a greater responsibility to their company.

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