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Dr. John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of Talent Management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations / organizations in 30 countries on all 6 continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR and the Financial Times. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring”, Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics” and SHRM called him “One of the industries most respected strategists”. He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked #8 among the top 25 online influencers in Talent Management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

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Develop a “1-Day Hiring” Program to Avoid Losing In-Demand Candidates, Part 2 of 2

by Jan 26, 2015, 5:23 am ET

Odds are that it happens way too frequently at your firm. You finally get a highly qualified applicant for one of your critical jobs, and in what seems like an instant, the prized candidate you are counting on is gone.

walmartThe reason that you can’t land any of these top “in-demand” candidates is simply because they have already accepted another offer before you have even completed your standard interviewing process. Fortunately, there is a way to stop this loss of top candidates, and it is called a one-day hiring program.

One-day hiring is a condensed corporate hiring process where you complete all interviewing and reference checking and you make an offer before the candidate leaves the building. The effectiveness of one-day hiring has been demonstrated many times in the hiring of nurses, call-center staff, and for retail jobs (including Wal-Mart and Urban Outfitters). It is also routinely used when hiring interns and many college hires. In last week’s Part 1, I highlighted the many benefits of a one-day hiring process. This Part 2 covers the recommended action steps for implementing an effective one-day hiring process.  keep reading…

Develop a “1-Day Hiring” Program to Avoid Losing In-Demand Candidates, Part 1 of 2

by Jan 19, 2015, 5:32 am ET

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 1.22.53 PMThe average time to fill an average job in the United States is 25 days; unfortunately, in many cases top candidates are no longer available after 10 days.

You may think that making quick hiring decisions would lower the quality of your hire, but the reality is that in most cases, the reverse is true. The very best candidates are in high demand. They are likely to receive multiple offers. And because they are decisive individuals, they are likely to accept another offer before most corporate processes are only one third completed. If you’re skeptical, simply have an intern call your top candidates each day and ask them if they’re still available. You’ll be surprised to learn how quickly they are gone.

I am not advocating one-day or same day hiring for every job. However, you need to have this option available when either a top candidate applies or for jobs where your data shows that available candidates are quickly out of the market (like nursing and software engineer vacancies). You can maintain high-quality hiring standards using same-day hiring if you take the air out of your normal hiring process and if you learn how to assess candidates quickly. More on the “how-to” later, but first let’s go over the many benefits of one-day hiring.

The Many Benefits of One-day Hiring keep reading…

The Top 10 ‘Bleeding Edge’ Recruiting Trends to Watch in 2015

by Jan 12, 2015, 5:29 am ET

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.20.29 PMMost articles that cover recruiting trends highlight what I consider to be obvious approaches that many firms have already adopted. But my perspective on trends is unique because I am focused on what I call the “bleeding-edge trends.” These trends are unique and rare because they have been adopted by less than 5 percent of the major firms. However, they are still important for all recruiting leaders to know and watch because they signal the path that all progressive firms will eventually have to follow. The top bleeding-edge trends are listed below in an easy to scan format.

The Top 10 Most Impactful Trends That May Surprise You keep reading…

Looking For Bold Recruiting Approaches? Best Practices For Recruiting STEM Women and Diversity Candidates, Part 2 of 2

by Jan 5, 2015, 5:49 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 2.15.54 PMUnfortunately, I have found that corporate recruiting leaders spend way too much time complaining about the many problems associated with successfully recruiting STEM women and other diversity hires. What is needed is less talk and more practical, proven recruiting solutions. The goal of this complete article is to provide 25+ leading-edge best practices in recruiting that have proven to be effective at major firms.

Last week’s (12/29/14) part one of this article covered 10 different bold recruiting practices for attracting STEM women and diverse candidates. This part two will cover 10 additional best practices in referrals, candidate slates, and accountability.

Referrals Are the Best Way to Successfully Recruit Top STEM Women keep reading…

Looking For Bold Recruiting Approaches? Best Practices For Recruiting STEM-Women and Diversity Candidates, Part 1 of 2

by Dec 29, 2014, 5:49 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 2.33.26 PMMost valuable information that recruiting leaders seek out are known as best practices: leading-edge recruiting practices that have been implemented at less than 5 percent of major firms. Best-practice information is so valuable because although “brand new” ideas can be exciting, they are always by definition still unproven. When you are faced with limited resources, it makes business sense to focus on learning about and adapting the leading-edge practices that have already been successfully implemented.

Cynical executives are much more willing to fund and support a pilot recruiting initiative after hearing that a Fortune 100 firm that they admire has already thoroughly researched, vetted, and assessed its probability of success. Keeping up with leading-edge best practices is part of the professional development obligation of every recruiter. My research has also found that far too many leaders that are responsible for STEM women and diversity recruiting spend so much of their time complaining about how difficult their problems are that they simply don’t find enough time to implement any “new-to-the-firm” best practice approaches.

The Focus Should Be On Bold, Practical, and Already Proven Recruiting Solutions keep reading…

The Power Has Shifted to the Candidate, So Current Recruiting Practices Will Stop Working

by Dec 22, 2014, 5:02 am ET

Areas where recruiting must change during 2015

If you are frustrated because your recruiting approaches are no longer producing great results, you will be happy to know that there is a logical reason behind it. I estimate that 90 percent of recruiting leaders and hiring managers have yet to realize that the power in the recruiting relationship, which for years has favored employers, has shifted over to the jobseekers.

The technical term for this change is a shift from an employer-driven market to a candidate-driven market. And The Recruiter Sentiment Survey by the MRINetwork has revealed that 83 percent of the surveyed recruiters have realized that the power has now shifted to the candidate.

Knowing the reasons for shift is less important for recruiting leaders and hiring managers than recognizing that when jobseekers hold the power in the relationship, your current array of recruiting tools and approaches will literally stop working.

Another interesting phenomenon happens after the power shifts.

keep reading…

Are Firms ‘Kicking the Can Down The Road’ So They Can Pay STEM Women Less?

by Dec 15, 2014, 5:40 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.55.57 AMConsider the possibility that thousands of STEM women are literally missing out on billions of dollars in higher salaries as a result of the recent actions by tech firms.

Everyone knows that many of the larger tech firms have recently released their employee diversity numbers.

Obviously releasing this data was a positive move that resulted in an expanded discussion around the need to increase the number of STEM women employees at tech firms. But what most analysts have missed is the realization that, almost universally, the response to this shortage of women in tech firms has been some variation of a long-term “increase-the-supply” solution. In my book, increasing the supply is code for “doesn’t increase your salary costs.” This is what would occur if every firm instead solved its shortage problem with a short-term solution. This would involve actively recruiting STEM women away from other firms, because that competition would have the effect of immediately driving up the salaries of women.

Waiting 5+ Years for the Employees You Need Wouldn’t Be the Normal Response keep reading…

The Top 12 Most Effective But Easy-to-Implement Recruiting Tools

by Dec 8, 2014, 5:46 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 1.11.42 PMCorporate recruiting leaders and recruiters, as well as hiring managers who operate in small businesses, are constantly searching for new and effective recruiting approaches. There is certainly no shortage of new and emerging recruiting approaches, but unfortunately, most of the approaches that you are likely to run across are either expensive, overly complicated, or they are extremely difficult to implement. So if you’re looking for highly effective but cheap and easy-to-implement recruiting tools, here is a descriptive list of my top 12. Each one has already been proven effective, so you won’t be the first to try it.

The Top 12 Highly Effective But Cheap and Easy-to-Implement Recruiting Tools keep reading…

There Is Little Recruiting Competition During December … So Be Bold and Seize a Great Opportunity

by Dec 1, 2014, 5:05 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 5.24.51 PMBetween Thanksgiving and the rest of the year in the Silicon Valley and in many other geographic areas around the U.S., it is mostly a dead period for recruiting. But recruiting leaders should realize that failing to recruit during this period is a huge missed opportunity, simply because the recruiting competition is mostly inactive during this extended period. This lack of competition makes recruiting even more essential for smaller firms and those without a strong employer brand simply because the major firms (with powerful employer brands that are difficult to compete against) are on the sidelines. keep reading…

Hire to Hurt: the Boldest Recruiting Strategy of Them All

by Nov 24, 2014, 5:56 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 8.01.16 AMThe recruiting function is unique among business functions because almost no one in recruiting can actually name even a handful of the different strategies that are available to the chief recruiting leader. But this article is not about the complete list of recruiting strategies (it can be found here), but instead it is about which strategy from among the 20+ possibilities is the boldest and most aggressive recruiting strategy.

The “Hire to Hurt” strategy (or H2H for short) is the most aggressive for a variety of reasons. The first is that the name alone sends chills through the risk adverse in recruiting. The name of the strategy is also clearly indicative of its chief goal, which is to “identify key talent and then directly hire them away to the point where your H2H hiring actually hurts the competitor’s business results.”

It’s a two-for-one deal. Not only does your firm get top quality talent but simultaneously your top competitors’ lose key talent. As one CEO put it, “I really like that strategy; our ship rises while their ship sinks” (Incidentally, the No. 2 most aggressive recruiting strategy is “make other firms your farm team”.)

Join the Team, Because Every Other Business Function Already Tries to Hurt the Competitors keep reading…

Improve Offer Acceptance Rates by Revealing the Quality of Your Team Members

by Nov 17, 2014, 5:35 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 10.57.11 PMTop candidates demand quality co-workers … so show them profiles of team members

Imagine this recruiting scenario. During a final interview, one of your top tech candidates clearly appears to be wavering about whether she is willing to leave her current “pretty good job” and accept a possible new opportunity at your firm. Suddenly the hiring manager makes a bold and unexpected move by leaning over and handing this reluctant candidate a stack of resumes, each one from a member of his current team. Why? In order to show her the power, education, experience, and capabilities of the team she’ll be joining.

In this case the manager was Jonathan Rosenberg (as outlined in his recent book), who eventually ran the product team at Google. However, this “show-them-their-future-coworkers” approach can be used by almost any hiring manager. In my experience, revealing the quality of the coworkers remains as one of the simplest, most effective but least-used candidate closing approaches.

The Average Worker Cares About Coworker Quality keep reading…

Hire Self-Motivated People — the Single Smartest Thing a Hiring Manager Can Do

by Nov 10, 2014, 5:55 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 3.12.11 PMHow recruiters can become a hero of your hiring managers by dramatically reducing the number of hours that they have to spend motivating and watching their employees 

If you are a corporate manager, you already know that you routinely spend a significant portion of your time trying to motivate your employees. On average, I estimate that encouraging, cajoling, and the worst part, having to hang around just to ensure that your employees are continuously working takes up to 50 percent of the average manager’s time each week. If you don’t believe my estimate, ask a few managers to keep a work log for a few weeks if you want an accurate time for your firm. You might go a step further and ask a few of your managers if they enjoy trying to motivate and if they are good at it, because you’re likely to find that they dread every minute of it.

Fortunately you can recapture every minute of that “motivation time” if you just do one simple thing: begin recruiting and hiring self-motivated employees. These type of employees are not a myth. They are called self-motivated or intrinsically motivated people. Imagine what it would be like as a manager to have a team full of employees who not only automatically did the work that they were assigned but who would also proactively seek out new work that needed to be done.  keep reading…

Increase Hiring Manager Performance and Compliance With Service-level Agreements

by Nov 3, 2014, 12:49 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.19.29 AMI estimate that hiring managers are responsible for more than 60 percent of all delays and errors during hiring. So if you want to improve your quality of hire, reduce position vacancy days, and improve process compliance, it only makes sense to try to get hiring managers to put a greater focus on recruiting. One proven solution is to adopt service-level agreements, which are one of the most effective tools that drive service delivery consistency in service-related functions outside of HR. keep reading…

If Martian Executives Visited Recruiting … What Would They Find Missing?

by Oct 27, 2014, 12:33 am ET

MarsIt may seem like a strange proposition at first, but what if an experienced business executive who knew nothing about recruiting visited and took a snapshot assessment of your function?

Obviously even a Martian executive would be able to quickly find and understand traditional recruiting functions like employer branding, sourcing, and interview processes. But what would they find missing? In other words, what standard business elements that exist in every other business function and process (like production, product development, supply chain, or marketing) would an outsider be surprised to find totally absent from your corporate recruiting function?

If you are a recruiting leader and one of your goals is to be “more businesslike,” you might be surprised at the number of common business process elements that simply can’t be found in corporate recruiting.

Business Process Elements That Are Almost Always Absent From Recruiting

If you were a strong business person who assessed the recruiting function, you might be surprised to find that many business process elements are simply missing. Those missing elements include: keep reading…

Ebola — Are Your Corporate Leaders Prepared for All Upcoming Employee Issues?

by Oct 20, 2014, 12:38 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 1.45.18 PMYou might initially think that Ebola is only a medical issue, but corporate leaders, HR, and recruiting professionals should realize that the likely upcoming Ebola-related panic and anxiety will also negatively impact an organization’s employees and candidates.

Take a moment to visualize this possible scenario where during the upcoming flu season employees will irrationally stress, panic, and avoid other employees and customers who appear to be even slightly symptomatic. Envision an HR function that will be bombarded with questions and concerns about sick leave, medical benefits, and a variety of Ebola related issues.

So if you operate under the philosophy that it’s better to be prepared than surprised, prepare for the possibility that the fear of the Ebola disease alone will result in severe employee stress, turmoil, and lower productivity.

The Top 10 Ebola-related People Management Issues You Should Be Preparing For keep reading…

The Top 10 Actions for Dramatically Improving Employee Referral Program Results

by Oct 13, 2014, 12:02 am ET

As the economy improves and recruiting top talent becomes more difficult, focus on employee referrals. They routinely produce the highest volume and quality of hire. If you are getting less than 40 percent of your hires from your employee referral program, here are the top 10 actions that I have found will dramatically improve your ERP results.

The Top 10 High-impact Actions for Increasing Referral Results keep reading…

Recruit Top Prospects During Their ‘Angry Hours’ — Because Timing Is Everything

by Oct 6, 2014, 12:03 am ET

An in-depth analysis on how the right timing can dramatically improve recruiting

In my experience, the hardest-to-recruit exceptional targets are those who I label as “no, and stop calling me” passive top prospects who simply won’t accept a recruiter’s call. Even though most recruiters will tell you that their lack of interest in changing jobs is unwavering, my research has found that there are exceptions that may occur once or twice during each year, and I call them “their angry hours.”

During this brief time period the prospect is open to a recruiting discussion because something has recently occurred that makes them angry about their job, their manager, or their company. And for at least a few hours … that anger makes them suddenly receptive to recruiter calls and to new job opportunities.

Timing Is Everything in Sales and Recruiting keep reading…

HR Ranks at the Bottom — Reasons to Adopt Metrics and Predictive Analytics

by Sep 29, 2014, 12:55 am ET

When you survey the most frequent users of analytics and metrics in the corporate world, not surprisingly you find that HR ranks at the very bottom. Compared to finance, which is ranked No. 1, HR compares poorly with only half of its functions being classified as advanced users and three times more HR functions are classified as non-users.

HR shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the executive team came in No. 2 because they (along with finance) are at the forefront of demanding more metrics and analytics from HR. The remaining business functions, operations, R&D, marketing, and sales all had a higher percentage of advanced metrics users than HR in this excellent 2013 AMA/i4cp study. I have been a public advocate of talent management and talent acquisition shifting to a data-based model for decades but the transition at most corporations has been slow, expensive, and painful. Because I give regular presentations on analytics and metrics, I’ve been able to capture a long list of reasons why firms should shift to a data-based model. The remainder of this article is simply a list of credible reasons that resonate with most HR audiences as to why your corporate talent function should embrace metrics and a data-based decision model.

Part I – Reasons Why Every Firm Needs to Shift to Data-based HR Model Using Standard Metrics and Analytics keep reading…

What’s Wrong With Retention Bonuses? Pretty Much Everything

by Sep 22, 2014, 6:35 am ET

In 30 years, I have yet to see a retention bonus retain, let alone motivate, anyone. – Kate D’ Camp, former VP of HR at Cisco

Let’s face it: only a few people voluntarily spend any time thinking about the use of employee retention bonuses (ERBs). I wouldn’t either, except for the fact that a majority of major firms use them instead of much more effective retention approaches. The use of retention bonuses is at an all-time high but I wonder why, because they’re expensive and only occasionally do  work. In my over 20 years of work as a thought leader and practitioner in retention, I have been unable to find any credible corporate data that even comes close to demonstrating the effectiveness of retention bonuses.  

The major flaws of employee retention bonuses fall into three categories, which include:

  • ERBs are evil because they are a form of “paid servitude,” where you buy rather than earn employee loyalty.
  • ERBs don’t actually work in a time when turnover rates have gone up 45 percent.
  • ERBs have many negative unintended consequences that unintentionally create damage.

Maybe the lack of data proving the effectiveness of retention bonuses is not such a big surprise, because almost nothing in corporate retention is data-driven. There is also no data to prove the effectiveness of most other common “retention resource wasters” like improving benefits for all, engagement efforts to improve retention, or offering a coach/mentor or profit-sharing. Despite their lack of supporting evidence, the use of retention bonuses has doubled since 2010 (according to a recent WorldatWork survey). If you are a corporate manager or a talent management professional who is considering offering retention bonuses, review the following 25 ugly reasons thoroughly before you act. In my book, they rank at the very bottom as the least effective commonly used retention tool.

The Top 25 Reasons Why Retention Bonuses Don’t Work keep reading…

Workforce Speed — the Most Impactful Talent Factor That No One Is Managing

by Sep 15, 2014, 12:50 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 2.22.46 PMI work in the Silicon Valley, where we have a long-established mantra of “faster, cheaper and better.” But now no matter where you work in the world, almost everyone can sense the fact that every aspect of global business now seems to move significantly faster than it did even 10 years ago. You could even label the 21st century as “the century when speed dominated.” This increased speed means that new products and product features come to market at an amazing rate, copying is almost immediate, everything you rely on seems to become quickly obsolete, and long-established businesses routinely lose out to faster moving startups.

In this environment, even notable fast-mover firms like Google and Apple occasionally don’t move fast enough. This was the case where they both failed to effectively seize on the amazing social media and microblogging opportunities that the faster-moving startups Facebook and Twitter quickly dominated.

In the past, the business domination rule was simple … Large and established firms will dominate the smaller ones.

However the new rule has become “It’s the fast-moving and rapidly adapting firms that now dominate the slower ones, whether they are large or small.”

If Your Firm Changes Slower Internally Than the External World, it Has No Future keep reading…