One of my Facebook friends posted a link to a short video addressing how the Internet is changing our brains. In a few minutes, it explains how we are wired for distraction. We need to think about the consequences of continual access to information. Are we are losing our abilities to navigate, read a paper map, remember things, calculate, to concentrate and absorb information?
Many would like to dial things back. Others want to step on the gas. It may seem as if we are living in The Matrix times, but, unless you want to live off the grid, grow your own food, butcher your own meat, and generate your own electricity, the genie is here, and not going back in the bottle.
The cloud dynamic offers opportunities to preserve ancient wisdom and knowledge. We aren’t losing; we are gaining. My teenage son is now the family chef because of Google and YouTube videos. We can move forward with our traditions intact. We can improve our condition, but we will need to think differently.
Since we don’t need to use our brains to store and recall, or to calculate, we need to use our brains to process and think. The ability to analyse, think critically, and create will be the tickets to the future. Dan Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, lays this out superbly. As we merge with our technology (think Google Glass and Jawbone Up), we need to cultivate awareness and concentration so that we can process and use the information available to us. We need to build and grow real relationships, with our physical and virtual communities. We must understand and expand our humanity.
The world has changed. The train is moving out. Those who aren’t on-board will be left at the station.
A little over a decade ago, I was in San Francisco visiting my son, Randy Bias. This was before he became a cloud computing rock star. He shared a big Victorian house with a bunch of amazing, creative people in the heart of the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco. One of his housemates was Amit Shoham, now a prominent SF DJ, artist and producer. I had recently released an album and was working hard to develop a career as a recording artist, in my spare time, which is another story.
When I first called him to work out my plans, he said,
“Mom, Amit’s got a studio in the basement. When you get here, we need to lay down some tracks.” “OK. What are we going to record?” “We’re going to lay down some tracks.” At that point, I began to get concerned. You see, recording is not that simple. You need a plan.
I voiced these concerns and Randy told me that we would be recording “house” and it would be alright. We would go in Amit’s studio and lay down some tracks. It was all under control. He had an idea of what we were going to do, but I needed more than idea. I wanted a plan. I wanted a song.
Often, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and start ups take a similar approach. They become captivated by an idea, but when the time comes to execute, the plan is weakly formed. If success isn’t forthcoming, they change direction. What I’ve learned, the hard way, is: make a plan and stick to it.
Nashville is home to some of the greatest songwriters in the world. There are also many wannabes. Smart recording artists learn to write their own songs by co-writing with the best. The ones who make the most money, stick to singing songs they had some hand in writing. They take time to learn the craft.
Smart business strategists take time to do the heavy lifting and work out a strategy. They make their plan and stick to it.
As I continue to reflect on David Smooke’s question, “What can we do to connect people with opportunity?” I wonder why, in this age of light-speed communication, multitudinous weak-tied tribes, and a bandwagon of technology tools to bring it all together, we even have to ask this question. It should be easy—to find a job, to find qualified people, to make good hires. But, it is not.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to help a friend who was having some challenges staffing his infrastructure team. I hadn’t actively recruited for over five years, but, I thought it would be great fun to be onsite, work with smart people and play with new tools such as Jobvite and Checkster. It seems like yesterday that I was having coffee with Jobvite founder, Jesper Shultz, as he shared his vision for a unique recruiting tool that would leverage social networks and help recruiters manage their applicant flow. Yves Lermusi, who developed Checkster in his post-Taleo career, was a memorable speaker at one of our NCHRA meetings. I discovered (as Raghav Singh tried to tell me) that in spite of some really cool tools, the recruitment process hasn’t changed since I first cut my teeth at the Santa Cruz Operation in the 80s.
I’ll stake my career (spanning leadership roles in technology, professional services, and HR) on three things:
1. Your company’s career site must function
Your marketing team spends a lot of money to attract customers to your site. While they are there, they will almost always look to see if you’re hiring. Any one who becomes aware of an opening you have (via employees, job postings, advertising, etc.) will go to your website to learn more. Don’t blow your biggest opportunity to attract talent with a dysfunctional site.
It needs to be easy for people to navigate and apply. If it isn’t, the best ones won’t bother. Only the most desperate job seeker will bother to click more than 3 times to apply. If your applicant flow is slow in this job market, look at your career site with a critical eye. It may need an overhaul.
2. No murky messages
Potential employees need to know what you want. Don’t be lazy with your message. Most job postings are cut and pasted versions of job requisitions, which are rarely read internally. Netflix’s jobs page is a great example of how to do it right!Treat applicants as nicely as you do your customers
3. Treat applicants as nicely as you do your customers
The dreaded white postcard or automated response that says, in essence, “we got your application. Big deal. We will review it when we get a chance, and maybe, just maybe, you will hear from us” is no way to treat future employees, who may be one of your customers.
It isn’t that hard to answer an email or return a phone call. Customer service reps are adept at this and customer service skills are important competencies for recruiters and HR professionals.
To attract people who will make a difference, focus your resources on these three things.
I want to thank you for your help over the last few months as it has been a inspiring, life-changing experience. Connecting with you helped me realize just how bad things were at my then present job and how important it was for me to take control of my career and develop a meaningful short-term and long-term plan. You logically walked me through the transition including the negotiation of an exit package and then deeply listened to me to understand my core beliefs. From there you put me in front of a mirror and reminded me who I was, what drove me and why what I had been doing was consistently tripping me up. Looking back the solution seems so simple but its harder to see the alligators when your in the water, that is why your coaching was so helpful. Thank you for all of your guidance, sometimes gentle, sometimes with a two by four between the eyes. It worked. You are a “career whisperer” and I’m grateful that for the experience.
All the best,