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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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The Top 10 Thought-provoking CFO ‘Questions From Hell’ for Recruiting Leaders

by Apr 13, 2015, 5:02 am ET

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 1.19.50 PMRecruiting questions from hell that most recruiting leaders can’t answer 

May I suggest that this may be the most thought-provoking recruiting article that you read this year. It is thought provoking because it covers mind-numbing questions that you are likely to get covering the business impacts of recruiting.

Answering tough questions is becoming more critical, because as the business world becomes more highly competitive and thus data driven, it has become increasingly more common for senior executives to literally grill functional leaders who are requesting continuing budget support with scary and difficult-to-answer questions. I call these inquiries “questions from hell” and in recruiting they include questions like “Show me the ROI of recruiting?” or “Show me how recruiting provides us with a competitive advantage?”

Some also call them “bone-chilling questions” because they can create instant panic in leaders when making budget or new program presentations. Executives from finance, marketing, customer service, and supply chain routinely come prepared with great answers to these tough questions. However, during my many years of researching and practicing recruiting, I have been continually disappointed in the level of business acumen and the ability of many recruiting leaders to answer these “questions from hell,” when they are posed by their CEO, the COO, or the toughest questioner of all, the CFO.

What CEOs, COOs, and CFOs Want to Know About Recruiting And Its Impacts keep reading…

Increased Recruiting Spending Gets You in the NCAA Tournament and Improves Business Results

by Apr 6, 2015, 5:53 am ET

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 12.58.03 PMThe data is in and it’s clear that heavy spending on recruiting is critical if a university wants to get into the men’s NCAA tournament. This positive correlation between recruiting spending and success in sports should be noted by corporate recruiting leaders because it could help support their business case for increased corporate spending on recruiting.

The impact of heavy spending on recruiting in men’s basketball is clear and hard to refute. The eight teams that have gotten into the tournament each year over a five-year period spent an average of three-and-a-half times more on recruiting than teams that never made the tournament over those same five years. The top three schools that spent the most on recruiting each spent approximately $2 million per year (Kansas, Louisville, and Kentucky), which was more than 30 times the average recruiting budget of the schools that never made the tournament. An excellent analysis conducted by USA Today “found a correlation between schools that spend big on recruiting and schools that had success making the NCAA tournament from 2010 to 2014.”

Additional Indications of the High Impact of Recruiting keep reading…

Revealing the ‘HR Professional of the Decade’ – Laszlo Bock of Google

by Mar 30, 2015, 5:45 am ET

LaszloBock576GreenA Case Study Compilation of the Amazing HR Practices That Make Google the Benchmark to Learn From

Using any set of assessment criteria, Laszlo Bock of Google has been in the vanguard in creating revolutionary change in the profession of HR to the point where he has earned the title of “HR professional of the decade.” Under his leadership, Google has literally led the way in innovation in all aspects of HR and it has become the world’s only data-driven HR function. Its willingness to continuously try completely unique approaches has resulted in Google being rated the No. 1 best place to work by numerous independent groups (Fortune six times, Fast Company, Glassdoor, Universum, and LinkedIn).

Working at Google has such a powerful employer brand draw that it receives an unparalleled 3 million applications a year, even though applicants only have an estimated 0.2 percent percent chance of getting hired.

But it’s more than just image that Mr. Bock has helped to create, because Google’s workforce productivity is simply amazing at $1.23 million per employee each year.

Not only has he molded the HR function at Google in nine short years into the benchmark model that everyone admires, but he has been extraordinary in his willingness to share his knowledge with both HR professionals and potential job applicants. Even though I have been writing and speaking in the HR field for three decades, I have never come across a leader who deserved the title of HR professional for an entire decade. HR is a unique field where very few corporate HR leaders are known by name throughout the profession but Laszlo Bock is clearly the exception, primarily because he openly shares what he has learned, even when it runs counter to standard HR thinking.

An Overview of the Amazing People Management Practices at Google keep reading…

The World’s Most Effective Referral Approach – Give Me 5!

by Mar 23, 2015, 5:23 am ET

davita_way_bridge-_contact_us An effective referral tool that takes advantage of “memory retrieval cues”

Most already realize that employee referral programs routinely produce the highest quality of hires, but few know that the “Give Me 5” program produces the highest-performing hires of any individual referral approach.

The “Give Me 5 Names” tool is easy, fast, and free. You start by proactively approaching individual top performers in the target job area, but instead of asking them the standard question “do you know anyone?” (which usually draws a blank), you instead stimulate their recollection by using an effective memory stimulation trick known as “a retrieval cue.”

You stimulate the employees memory by asking them a more targeted question like “name the best innovator who you know in this field.”Almost without exception, providing that “cue” (innovator) will result in them providing you with the name of an innovator who they know. You then continue asking them for names in up to four additional categories like best manager, best problem solver, best team player, and best under pressure, until you have five great names (which is why the program is called Give Me 5). And then because the employee will likely personally know each individual, you ask them to help you to contact them and to convince them to consider working at your firm.

The Many Advantages of Using a Give Me 5 Approach keep reading…

The Future of Predictive Analytics — the Next Generation of Talent Metrics to Consider (Part 2 of 2)

by Mar 16, 2015, 5:52 am ET

A comprehensive list of future predictive talent metrics

In last week’s part one of this article that was published on March 9, 2015, I highlighted the fact that the majority of current predictive metric efforts have focused on only a handful of basic metrics. I next provided a list of the top 18 metrics that should be developed during the second-generation of predictive metrics. This final part one covers the future predictive metrics that should be developed during the third generation.

The Third Generation Of Predictive Analytics keep reading…

The Future Of Predictive Analytics – The Next Generation of Talent Metrics to Consider (Part 1 of 2)

by Mar 9, 2015, 5:22 am ET

A comprehensive list of current and future predictive talent metrics

The use of predictive analytics is a hot issue and a developing trend in talent management. But unfortunately as a longtime thought leader in the area, most of the current prediction efforts are extremely shallow. And as a result, they will have a minimal impact because they only cover a few basic areas like predicting employee flight risk and identifying the selection factors that predict hiring success. What will eventually be needed is a broader array of second- and third-generation predictive metrics covering many more advanced talent management factors.

If you’re curious about what factors must be measured in the future, here is a comprehensive list of the predictive talent analytics/metrics that should eventually be developed by forward-looking talent leaders. keep reading…

Grow a Pair — Treat Other Firms as Your ‘Farm Teams’ and as Part of Your Talent Pipeline

by Mar 2, 2015, 5:24 am ET

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.46.04 PMI get frustrated with recruiting leaders that continually say that they want to be bold and strategic but they end up actually taking only minor actions. Well, if you’re feeling bold again, I have a strategic big idea for you to consider — build an inexpensive future talent pipeline of already trained and proven-on-the-job talent by identifying potential “farm teams” to recruit from.

Recruiting farm teams are slightly little less desirable or “one-level down” firms in your industry that you target specifically because their former employees have performed so well after joining your firm. Of course, you don’t get formal permission to recruit out of “your farm team,” but you don’t need it because their employees already dream of someday moving up to the next-up-level firm. keep reading…

Hire Like Google — Project the ‘Career Trajectory’ of Your Candidates

by Feb 23, 2015, 5:49 am ET

job movementI frequently get asked the question “What is the one thing that recruiting functions should be systematically doing, but for some unexplained reason, it doesn’t do it?”

Well, one quick answer to that question is “to project the career trajectory of potential hires.” Which simply means to assess whether a candidate, after they are hired, are likely to progress and develop at top speed, average speed, or below average speed in critical areas like learning, promotion, leadership, and innovation. keep reading…

The Best Sources for Identifying ‘Passives’ … or How to Find “Not-Looking Top Prospects’

by Feb 16, 2015, 5:14 am ET

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 3.16.14 PMIn a related companion article last week, I highlighted why using the term “passive candidate” or “passive job seeker” was inappropriate and I proposed a more accurate name, “not-looking top prospects.” In this article I highlight the best sourcing approaches that can be used to identify and eventually attract the highly desirable “not-looking top prospects.”

You Must Use the Best “Not-Looking Sources” And Approaches keep reading…

Passive Candidates — Valuable, Yes, but They’re Not Passive Nor Are They Candidates

by Feb 9, 2015, 5:55 am ET

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 2.02.01 PMWhy calling them “passive candidates” or “passive job seekers” is misleading

Using the term “passive candidate” is just wrong for so many reasons. First, these recruiting targets haven’t applied for anything, so they can’t be classified as candidates (the correct name for those who have not applied is prospects). Calling them “passive job seekers” is equally inaccurate because they are not in fact currently seeking a job. And finally, they can’t accurately be called “passive” because they are definitely not passive individuals. In fact they are frequently bold and aggressive individuals while on the job.

The only thing that these prospects are passive about is looking for a new job. First, they are disinterested because they already have a job. In addition, because they are also top performers, they are likely to have a good manager and to be treated well, which means they have no business reason to look for a new job outside their current firm.

Once you understand the proper name to call them, you still have a major problem because “not-looking top prospects” can simply never be reached through normal recruiting channels (because almost all of these approaches are designed for prospects who are “actively” looking for a job). There are four key realizations that recruiting leaders must accept if they expect to have any real chance to land these highly desirable “not-looking top prospects.” The realizations include: keep reading…

Sourcing Revelation — Work Anniversaries Are the Best Time to Recruit Employed Prospects

by Feb 2, 2015, 5:06 am ET

when employees leaveRather than being data-driven, I have found that most recruiters and sourcers contact employed prospects almost randomly on a trial-and-error basis. However, there are specific times when employees who previously said “no and stop calling me” actually change their mind and are fully receptive to a recruiting call.

So in case you didn’t realize it, the months immediately around an employee’s work anniversary are the time that they are most likely to quit and accept a new job at another firm. Yes, you have a much higher probability of getting a positive answer if you call the same recruiting target around their work anniversary date.

Why Their Work Anniversary Is the Time When the Most Employees Consider a New Job keep reading…

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…