Receive daily articles & headlines each day in your inbox with your free ERE Daily Subscription.

Not logged in. [log in or register]

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.

Dr. John Sullivan RSS feed Articles by Dr. John Sullivan...

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…

Experience Is Overrated — Arguments for Hiring Talented Individuals Without Perfect Credentials

by and Sep 8, 2014, 12:09 am ET

Southwest Airlines listening centerOrville Wright did not have a pilot’s license –slogan used at Facebook to warn hiring managers not to overly focus on credentials

I, the lead author, have 40 years of experience working in the talent space. But given that experience, I still don’t understand why recruiters and hiring managers place such an unwavering emphasis on hiring only individuals with “direct experience” (i.e. experience working with the specific job title that they’ve applied for). So despite my extensive personal experience and education, I agree with the conclusion reached by Google, Facebook, and most startups that many of the best hires are those whose education, experience, and other credentials are not a perfect “fit” for a job opening.

The Track Record of Those With No Direct Experience or Weak Credentials Is Impressive keep reading…

Refusing to Hire Overqualified Candidates – a Myth That Can Hurt Your Firm

by Aug 25, 2014, 12:31 am ET

Imagine being assigned a physician and then purposely rejecting them solely because they were “overqualified” for your medical situation. Well that’s exactly what happens when hiring managers reject candidates who have “too many” qualifications.

There is simply no excuse in this new era of data-based recruiting to adhere to this old wives’ tales” in hiring. I have written in the past about the cost of rejecting “job jumpers” and in this article, I will focus on the false assumption that hiring candidates who are “overqualified” will result in frustrated employees who will quickly quit. There is simply no data to prove any of the negative assumptions that are often made about overqualified prospects or candidates.

There Are No Proven Performance Issues Related to Being Overqualified keep reading…

Revealing the Factors That Restrict the Recruiting of STEM Women (Part 2 of 2)

by and Aug 18, 2014, 12:20 am ET

STEMThis is the final part of a two-part research-based series that is designed to reveal and describe the four categories of factors that restrict the recruiting of STEM women (i.e. women with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) into high-tech firms.

In part one we highlighted Category 1, the lack of a short-term impact associated with efforts to increase the supply of STEM women, and Category 2, the top barriers that restrict STEM women from applying for and accepting new jobs. Our research and analysis indicates that there are two more major categories of factors that inhibit STEM women from changing jobs. Those factors will be covered in Category 3, the corporate cultural frustrators that discourage STEM women from being recruited into new jobs, and Category 4, biases against women in the hiring process of high-tech firms.


CATEGORY 3 — The corporate cultural frustrators That Discourage STEM Women From Being Recruited Into New Jobs keep reading…

Revealing the Factors That Restrict the Recruiting of STEM Women (Part 1 of 2)

by and Aug 11, 2014, 12:52 am ET

STEMWe are deeply disturbed at the “there’s little we can do” attitude of the leadership at most major tech firms towards increasing the number of STEM (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) women recruited into their firms. The leaders of these firms seem to think that their posting of shallow diversity metrics was sufficient. Because males dominate many of the high-tech leadership roles, it’s a bit arrogant for them to assume that they know and understand the barriers that STEM women face.

Instead, we propose they use a more scientific approach that uses survey research techniques to identify the actual barriers that STEM women face when applying for a job in a high-tech culture. Only after you pinpoint the actual barriers can executives then take the precise steps necessary to mitigate or overcome those barriers. Rather than waiting for these hesitant leaders at high-tech firms to act, we have been conducting our own interviews and survey research with the goal of identifying each of the barriers that STEM women recruits face. Our research has found that there are four categories of factors that contribute to the STEM women recruiting problem.

They are 1) the weak supply; 2) the perceived barriers that restrict them from applying for jobs; 3) the negative male culture that frustrates and discourages women; and 4) the biases against women embedded in most corporate hiring and promotion processes.

In this part 1 of a 2-part article, we will address the first two categories, the weak supply of STEM women, and the perceived barriers that restrict STEM women from applying for jobs.  keep reading…

Metrics for STEM Women – a Critical Examination of the High-tech Approach

by and Aug 4, 2014, 5:21 am ET

STEMThere has been a great deal of publicity lately surrounding the lack of STEM women at high-tech firms. Unfortunately, we have to give two thumbs down to the diversity data from each of the top high-tech firms that have publicly released their numbers. Although the firms’ intentions were good, the limited scope of the metrics that they revealed do not provide the necessary information that STEM women need in order select which firm to join or the right information needed in order to encourage them to actually apply for a different tech job.

High-tech firms have two basic reasons for attempting to hire and retain more STEM women into key roles. keep reading…

Retention — The Top 10 Ways a Manager Can Identify Who Is About to Quit

by Jul 28, 2014, 12:49 am ET

There are few things that are more shocking to a manager then to have one of their top-performing employees suddenly quit on them. Some managers have described it as the equivalent to a “kick in the gut.” It is a shock not only because losing a key employee will damage your business results, but also because managers hate surprises, and as a result, they frequently wonder how they missed the signals that this person was going to leave.

Employee turnover is always an important issue, but most managers are unaware of the fact that overall, turnover rates went up 45 percent last year. And because I am predicting that they will go up at least 50 percent this year, individual managers should be aware of the precursors or warning signs that can indicate that an employee is considering looking for a job, so they can act before it’s too late.

After 20+ years of research on predicting turnover, I have found that if you approach the problem systematically, you can successfully identify which individual employees are likely to quit with an accuracy rate of over 80 percent. Firms like Google, Xerox, and Sprint, as well as several vendors, have developed processes for identifying who might quit. But for most managers, you must realize that you will simply have to develop your own identification process. So if you know of a manager who is worried about turnover, pass this list of turnover predictors to them so they won’t be surprised when their next employee announces that they are quitting.

The Top 10 Ways a Manager Can Determine if an Employee Is Considering a Search for a New Job keep reading…

The Last Strategic Recruiting Frontier — Sourcing Using Consumer Data

by Jul 21, 2014, 12:08 am ET

Recruiting leaders are constantly looking for strategic opportunities, which admittedly are rare in this progressive field. There is only one big missed opportunity in strategic recruiting and that is …  keep reading…

15 Ultra-bold Recruiting Practices — Are You Falling Behind Your Competitors?

by Jul 14, 2014, 12:29 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 3.10.08 PMby Trena Luong and John Sullivan

In case you haven’t noticed, the world of corporate recruiting has become so intense that formerly rare aggressive and ultra-bold recruiting practices are now becoming mainstream. Of course as a professional, you know that you have an obligation to keep up with the latest practices, but your outdated recruiting approach is damaging your firm. Are you willing to explain to: your managers why you can’t hire top performers?;  your employees why they can’t work alongside the very best?; your customers why your products have outdated features?; and to your shareholders why your company can’t grow because of its inability to recruit top talent?

For a busy manager or recruiting professional, realize that the recruiting bar is being raised every day. Because we specialize in advanced recruiting practices, we have put together a quick list of examples of ultra-bold recruiting practices in order to demonstrate just how aggressive and bold recruiting has become. Each bold practice takes only a minute to scan and we assure you that most will be startled with how much recruiting has changed.

The Top 15 Ultra-bold Recruiting Practices keep reading…

End the Shortage — Recruit STEM Women Who Are Working at Your Competitors

by Jul 7, 2014, 5:03 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 3.30.03 PMI almost broke out laughing when I came across an article in Fast Company magazine entitled Why You Can’t Find Women Engineers. This title reflects a common misconception among business executives about the shortage of technically qualified women at their firms.

This often-repeated “shortage statement” is only partially true, and if you believe it, you will never fill your firm’s diversity recruiting targets.

Let’s examine this shortage issue from a different perspective. keep reading…

Always Open ‘Evergreen Jobs’ Can Improve Your Chances of Recruiting Top Talent

by Jun 30, 2014, 12:22 am ET

treesAs the war for talent continues, it’s time for recruiting leaders and hiring managers to shift to more creative and innovative recruiting solutions. A bold approach that I have been recommending since 1999 is the creation of “evergreen jobs.”

Simply put, these are the one or two most critical corporate jobs where you literally continuously search and hire every more-than-qualified applicant who fits the culture in order to ensure that you always have enough talent in these critical positions.

The term evergreen comes from the fact that the jobs are always open, just as an evergreen tree is always green. Now it might initially seem crazy to hire when you don’t have an open job, but the approach has proven to be quite effective. Imagine if you were an NBA basketball team and LeBron James suddenly became available. Would you hire him immediately, even if you didn’t have an open job or requisition? Of course you would. That’s the concept behind evergreen jobs. Evergreen programs frequently cover jobs with high turnover, including nursing, retail (i.e. REI), and call centers. But they work even better in high-impact mission-critical jobs at growing tech firms with large campuses. 

An Evergreen Job Program continually sources top talent in a mission-critical job. But rather than stopping when you create a pipeline of reserve talent, it continuously “over hires” each of the “more-than-qualified” applicants, in order to create a talent surplus in this critical job.

The Top 10 Reasons Why the Evergreen Job Approach Is So Impactful keep reading…

Diversity Recruiting – What’s Wrong With It? Pretty Much Everything (Part 2 of 2)

by Jun 23, 2014, 12:53 am ET

carousel_business_osdIn the first part of this series, I highlighted how a weak business case, not being data-driven, failing to segment your recruiting targets, and failing to effectively use employee referrals can severely reduce your diversity recruiting results. In this part II, I will complete the list of the common diversity program design errors and briefly highlight some recommended actions.

The Remaining 12 Most Common Diversity Recruiting Errors keep reading…

Diversity Recruiting – What’s Wrong with it? Pretty Much Everything (Part 1 of 2)

by Jun 16, 2014, 12:38 am ET

DOT diversityIn case you missed it, there was a great deal of publicity generated recently when Google’s Laszlo Bock openly announced Google’s diversity numbers. Even Google was disappointed in them, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. Almost every major corporation struggles with meeting their diversity goals as a result of a poorly designed diversity recruiting effort that hasn’t changed much since the 1970s.

As a corporate recruiting expert, I continually analyze recruiting approaches of all types, and in my experience, diversity recruiting is the worst-performing one among all recruiting sub-programs. In fact, when people ask me “what’s wrong with diversity recruiting?” I quickly respond with “pretty much everything.” It’s sad that such a high-impact and well-intentioned effort simply has little chance of success because of its many design flaws.

These design flaws are numerous and the top 10 most impactful ones are listed below. The remaining 10 high-impact design flaw factors can be found in part two of this series.

The Top 10 Highest-impact Diversity Recruiting Errors keep reading…

Do a Snapshot Assessment of Your Talent Function With These Powerful Business Impact Metrics

by Jun 9, 2014, 12:02 am ET

icon_retail

In a world where it’s easy to get a “snapshot assessment” of your personal physical health or your organization’s financial or IT security effectiveness, what could be more valuable than an easy-to-conduct executive level “snapshot assessment” of talent management and HR?

Unfortunately I have found that most in HR are satisfied with a subjective or low-level tactical assessment, which instead of business impacts, covers spending efficiency, lean staffing, and whether managers and employees are satisfied with us.

In order to be considered as credible, instead this snapshot must be strategic, and it should mirror the executive snapshots that are available in finance, customer service, and IT. In order to assess how well you’re doing, a benchmark number must also be provided so that you can compare your results to your direct competitor firms. I have included six simple measures that by themselves are enough to give you a snapshot but accurate view of talent’s business impact. keep reading…

Examining Zappos’s ‘No Job Postings’ Recruiting Approach — Innovation or Craziness?

by Jun 2, 2014, 12:01 am ET

Inside Zappos profile pic - updatedThe new recruiting “no job postings” website of Zappos is truly unique.

First off, you have to give the Zappos team credit for eliminating anything in recruiting, because we have a long history in recruiting of adding but never subtracting approaches.

The new talent community declares the end to job postings and the painful transaction between applying for a specific job and getting a cold rejection. It further offers the opportunity to become “a corporate insider,” where you join the firm’s exclusive “talent community,” made up of interested prospects and applicants. In essence its own social network that the firm can use to keep in touch with applicants over time. It can also use the information that you provide during the increased interactions with recruiters to find the right job for you, even if it’s outside the typical jobs that you would have applied for.

This article critically analyzes this new approach in order to highlight possible advantages and problems with this approach for others that may be considering a similar move. keep reading…