Let’s Get #ERE16 Tattoos on Bourbon Street!

bourbon-street-new-orleans-wpthelonggoodbyeNext week (and I’m quite excited!) I’m heading over to from Baton Rouge to New Orleans (a 60 mile drive which, by Louisiana traffic standards, will take 3 hours) in order to get my TA mojo on at The ERE Recruiting Conference (#ERE16). My friend Amber Eastman is coming with me (she’s an awesome recruiter BTW) and we’re going to talk recruiting and tech and employer branding and then probably drink a cocktail or two. OK; maybe three. Probably three.

I’ve not been to ERE before and, let me tell you, I can’t believe I’ve never gone to this conference! How is this possible? I went to the inaugural TLNT conference (they don’t even hold that one anymore!) in Austin (circa 2012 ish?) and then, once upon a time, snuck into SourceCon in Atlanta when I was there for a #tru event. So, in some respect, once I get ERE under my belt I will have completed the Triple Crown of the EREMedia conference circuit. Like getting a stamp on my dance card…am I right?

Look…I float hither and yon with the HR/Talent/Tech/Recruiting crowd. I’ve even been known to cozy up to a payroll lady or two having attended and spoken at a few payroll and accounting conferences. (The swag of choice is also Coach bags and stuffed animals; sensible flats are the footwear of choice). However, there is nothing, seriously, like hanging with recruiters for a couple of days. Nothing. Seriously.

Now I’ve got “HR” in my title but over the course of my career I’ve also worked in a recruiting agency, been an in-house recruiter, and done a few stints as a Corporate Recruiting Manager.  (Perhaps that gives away my age; it was before we re-named ourselves Talent Acquisition. Ahem.). Thinking back on it though every time that I’ve gone back to in-house HR I ended up zigzagging back out and went sideways/upwards back into recruiting. My first love. Truly.

Yup; that’s why I’m ALL about talking talent next week. People – and the acquisition thereof – drive the success of our organizations.

Oh sure, when we work in HR-proper we get all pumped up about our ability to churn out ACA notices or manage Open Enrollment. That magical time of the year, am I right? Kill me now. Employee Relations? Got to master that. Employees peeing in the parking lot? Co-workers can’t get along? A rumble in the lunch room. We are on it!

But… let’s face it. In my heart (thought not in the heart of every HR lady) beats a restless quest to source and recruit and hire and onboard and retain PEOPLE.

That’s what we’re talking about next week and I’m looking forward to hearing from/meeting folks like:

Christine Deputy, CHRO of Nordstrom

Jennifer Shappley, Director, Talent Acquisition, LinkedIn

Tiffany Ligon, Head of Talent Acquisition, Vodafone, Americas

Stephen Leach, Manager, Workforce Diversity and Inclusion, Nestle USA


Follow along at #ERE16 and watch for dispatches from New Orleans. I may take a picture of two of my Sazerac.

Or the tattoos we’re gonna get!



Here’s What Talent Agility Looks Like (redux)

rubber bandsMary managed a small team consisting of 3 employees. The positions they held were coveted jobs in a small but well-known company. With few exceptions these employees tended to be entry-level professionals who used these jobs to launch their careers – ultimately moving on to bigger and better things at other organizations. Even though salaries were below-market and there was limited career mobility due to the size of the organization, morale was high and the employment experience enjoyable. Tenure for these positions was in the range of 18 months or so which meant, as you can imagine, just about the time an employee became extremely proficient and productive, s/he opted to move on for another opportunity.

The department had numerous and varied accountabilities and deliverables over the course of any given year but core responsibilities could be boiled down to 6 primary areas:

  1. Make the widgets
  2. Market the widgets
  3. Sell the widgets
  4. Invoice for the widgets
  5. Ship the widgets
  6. Service the widgets

While all 3 team members needed to have some familiarity with all duties, the job descriptions looked like this for years:

  • Employee A: Responsible for 1 and 2
  • Employee B: Responsible for 3 and 4
  • Employee C: Responsible for 5 and 6

Stuff got done.

But then, one day, both Employees A and B tendered their resignations. The two-week countdown began as Mary realized it was going to be her and Employee C (who had been with the company for 6 months) running the show for the foreseeable future.

Initially Mary approached the hiring process as most managers (and HR professionals) do: she resurrected Job Descriptions A and B and set a course to hire employees who would perform function 1, 2, 3 and 4. After all, she reasoned, Employee C was slaying all the dragons with functions 5 and 6.

But then she stopped. Perhaps, she thought, if I provide a bit more variety and the chance for staff members to contribute in different ways, we’ll not only get the work done but reap the benefits of employees staying for longer periods because they’re continually learning and exploring. Maybe if they have the chance to do something new – something that builds on what they already know – we’ll all benefit.

So she talked to Employee C (who for 6 months had been responsible for shipping and servicing the widgets) and asked her “what would you like to do? What do you want to learn? What functional areas interest you?” Employee C said “I’ve always wanted to market and sell the widgets but I know those tasks are assigned to two different jobs. So I’m not sure what we can do.” 

But I’m sure you’ve guessed what they did.

Mary decided to be much more fluid in her operational model; versatility was in and rigidity was out. Rather than creating positions and praying-and-hoping that employees would stay long enough to develop deep-deep DEEP expertise she opted for a new model that encouraged the development of skills and the need for employees to tackle new challenges. She adopted a high-touch and constantly evolving approach that provided for task rotation every 6 months; this not only kept team members interested and engaged but ensured cross training in a fully team focused environment.

While the jobs continued to be ones that young professionals used to merely launch their long-term careers, tenure for the department increased from 18 months to close to 3 years.

I call that talent agility. I call that winning the battle.

After all…sometimes the “war for talent” is waged within.


this post originally ran in 2015 


All Recruiting is Local: Triage

sisyphus punishmentThis has been quite the summer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Alton Sterling (July 5th). The ambush/shooting that resulted in the death of three law enforcement officers (July 17th). The flood of epic/biblical/Zeus tossing lighting bolts/’Tony Perkins didn’t understand God” proportion (August 12th /13th /14th).

We were reeling, as a community, after the first two events; it’s the kind of news coverage no city wants. We’re used to national or international news being made due to (1) LSU football (2) the foolishness of our government/former governor or (3) because somebody is singing “Me and Bobby McGee” at some karaoke bar while drunkenly lamenting (in kinship with Janis Joplin) about being ‘busted flat in Baton Rouge.’ (admit it; you just sang along to that….didn’t you?)

Then came the flood.

But let’s rewind.

How do we spin this mofo?

After the Alton Sterling shooting (and weeks of protest marches) and the grief that settled on the region after the killing of the 3 officers, people were unsettled. Obviously.

How could this be happening to good old Baton Rouge? We’re a charming city halfway between New Orleans and Lafayette! Oh sure, we may have the worst traffic along the entire stretch of I-10 but we’re the city that Garth Brooks sings about for God’s sake. We have unbelievable food, great music, friendly people, and what many consider the epitome of college football tailgating traditions. Are we a bit behind the times with a soupcon of (hidden) southern racism? Well, yeah. But, by God, we’re also bustling and growing and working super hard to change.

But then … pow. Ouch. A punch to the collective solar plexus. Awful and heart wrenching and devastating.

But, because our Baton Rouge Area Chamber (of Commerce) has a really super cool Talent Development group (seriously; the two awesome women that have led this since its inception are so incredibly stellar), they convened a meeting of local HR/Recruiting/Talent leaders on August 3rd so we could chat about positioning Baton Rouge as an employment destination after these two events. We discussed how, as employers, we’re promoting opportunities to in-demand talent and discussing relocation with people who, let’s face it, never considered BR as a career destination in the first place. We dove into WTF is IBM going to do? What about our local mega-hospitals? How do we convince Justin and/or Jasmine to choose Baton Rouge over Austin or Dallas or Atlanta or Seattle? This was, obviously, a challenging task before July; by August 3rd this was starting to seem like a chore of Sysiphean proportion.

Then the rain fell.

Digging Out

Two weeks after this meeting we had 31 inches of rain in 2 days. Mud and sludge and water, water, water. Mold and more mold and mold upon mold. We now live amongst sheetrock and gutted homes. Our residents talk about lost cars and lost homes and, sadly, lost lives. We had entire cities decimated in a matter of hours.

How do you dig out from crap like that?

The People

A woman I work with arrived at the office yesterday for the first time since the flood. She gave me her iPhone and we swiped through hundreds of pictures of her house. Saved for her own memories, of course, but also saved as the necessary documentation for FEMA and the SBA and the insurance adjustors and the company’s employee assistance fund/foundation and for God and baby Jesus and anyone else who could help.

We looked at pictures of her life; everything piled on the curb in Denham Springs, LA. We giggled at the photo of her son-in-law, sweating profusely after ripping down water-soaked walls in 95 degree heat/humidity. In one photo he sprawled in a lawn chair, beer in hand, shouting exuberantly to a room with concrete floors; nothing (save him and his outstretched arms), blocking the view from the front door to the far back of the house.

She wept, just once, as she told me about her mother’s belongings that are now lost forever; tangible mementos from her childhood and her mother’s life that now sit in a 10 foot high pile of garbage waiting for the Waste Management truck to scoop up on its next pass through the neighborhood.

She dealt with all this in just two weeks. She’s back on the job.

But not everyone is.

Hiring (not just recruiting) is local

Those problems we discussed on August 3rd (one month ago today) seem almost solvable now in light of recent developments. Not to sweep those July events under the rug of course; crime and institutional racism are not trivial by any matter. That hen has yet to come home to roost.

But how, locally, do we recruit in a market where people are in need of putting their lives back together before they even consider looking for a new job? How do we entice folks to move here when there is no housing stock on the market, apartments are booked across a 20 parish region, and people are on waiting lists of 600+ just to get a rental car? (note: guy at work told me yesterday he could get a rental car if he was willing to drive to Oklahoma and then, once he was done with it, drive it back to Oklahoma).

The economic recovery in south Louisiana is projected to take a year. Retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré, who coordinated military response in New Orleans after Katrina, says he expects it will be 8 – 10 years. (Have always loved me some General Honoré; that man needs to run for POTUS).

We have thousands of residents displaced, thousands of Louisianians homeless, and thousands more destined to feel the full force of emotions hit them in a few days, weeks or months. How do we triage that?

Would you move to Baton Rouge for a career opportunity?

There’s the ultimate talent question.

Source me some of that.



image: Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Analog or Digital? Recruiting Hourly Workers

job board paperI recently got to chat with my friend Tim Sackett about the challenges many organizations face when sourcing, attracting and hiring hourly workers. We discussed some techniques and tools that have worked well for us and, hopefully, will work for you too!

As Tim said…..

“I go to a lot of recruiting conferences each year, and I’ve noticed recently that I can find a large number of sessions at those conferences on how to recruit technical and IT talent, nurses, and other white-collar professionals. But what I never find is a session on how to recruit the hourly worker. Remember Joe the plumber? Yeah, that guy!

Hourly workers are increasingly becoming some of the most difficult hires we make in our organizations. Does this sound familiar? “Oh, anyone can do that, Tim! Just put up a job posting and schedule some interviews. The ones that actually show up get the job.”

Unfortunately, you would be shocked at how many organizations still believe this is how you hire your hourly staff. Frequently, very little attention and resources go into these hires, and yet they can make up a majority of your workforce. Take a look at your recruiting budget right now. What percentage of your budget goes to hourly hiring versus professional hiring, and how many hires is that for each?

What I see in my business is that most organizations spend anywhere from four to five times as much on professional hiring as they do on hourly hiring, and I’ve seen that run as high as 10 to 20 times more! There’s no doubt that professional hiring is more expensive, but should it be five to ten times per hire more?

Organizations need to understand this difference in cost-per-hire between hourly and professional positions. In many cases, great talent acquisition leaders can find extra money in the professional hiring budget to incorporate some new techniques and tools to better hire hourly employees.”

Read the rest of this SHRM article –> Viewpoint: Recruiting Hourly Employees in a Digital World   — we had some good suggestions if I do say so myself!



The #tru Community – Louisiana Style

truNewOrleanssquare300x300I’m looking forward to a fun day! It’s #truNOLA time and we’ll be learning, sharing, collaborating and furthering relationships within our HR and Recruiting community.

I love everything about these events.

This is the third #tru I’ve hosted in Louisiana; we held #truNOLA in 2012, #truBatonRouge last year, and now we’re set for the 2016 iteration.

So what do we have in store? We’ve got tracks about Branding the Entire Employee Lifecycle and Applying the Candidate Experience to an Individual Applicant. We’ll be talking about the Recruiting of Veterans and How to Recruit Industrial Labor (from an ever-narrowing pool of interested candidates).

Oh – and we’re gonna dive into a debate about In-House vs. 3rd Party Recruiters as we ask the question “Can’t We All Get Along?”

A BUNCH of good stuff – check it out here.

Huge thanks to our sponsors (without whom this would NOT be happening!) – HROnboard and Clinch. Seriously – go check them out if you haven’t already.

You can follow along today using the hashtag #truNOLA. Oh, and here’s a fun story….there’s a New Orleans rapper on twitter named @JSLUGG500 who uses the same hashtag; I’m sure he can’t quite figure out what-in-the-hell is going on…..

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