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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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Recruiting High School and Non-degreed Top Talent — A Missed Corporate Opportunity

by Mar 3, 2014, 5:43 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 12.55.50 PMIn case you didn’t hear about it, college football powerhouse Alabama recently offered a scholarship to eighth-grade football player Dylan Moses and LSU offered a scholarship to a ninth grader. Before you react in shock as a parent might, consider the fact that teenage talent may be the last remaining untapped corporate recruiting pool.  keep reading…

Facebook’s Billion-dollar Hiring Lesson — the Business Case for Eliminating Missed Hires

by Feb 21, 2014, 5:56 am ET

whatsappThe most costly recruiting error in recent history was revealed last week.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced its nearly $19 billion purchase of the instant-messaging firm WhatsApp. But the real news about the acquisition relates to the colossal recruiting failure that occurred a handful of years earlier (as reported by Forbes) when both WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton applied for a job at Facebook and were rejected (Acton was also rejected by Twitter).

As Brian Acton put it ,“We’re part of the Facebook reject club.” You could easily argue that this colossal “hiring miss” cost Facebook billions, and as a result, this hiring error has to rank near the top “not hired” errors, only rivaled by HP’s rejection of Steve Jobs for not having a college degree. If you are a corporate talent manager, this and similar errors should now become a critical part of your business case for fully funding an effective recruiting team and flawless hiring process.

The Top Eight “Billion-dollar Hiring Miss Lessons” for Talent Leaders keep reading…

The Top 20 Reasons Why Recruiting Is an Exciting and High-Impact Job

by Feb 17, 2014, 5:01 am ET

As a professor in a large business school, I am frequently asked, “What is the most exciting and impactful job in the corporate world?” While others may answer differently, to me the most exciting and impactful job is clearly recruiting.

It is full of excitement because every day as a recruiter you are in a head-to-head competition to attract top talent, and fortunately you know definitively within 90 days whether you have beaten the competition. The impact of a recruiter is twofold: first, you can literally change the life of an individual by placing them in their dream job, and second, you can effectively change the direction and the success of a corporation with a single great hire in a key job (i.e. recruiting LeBron to your NBA team).

So if you’re a college student ready to select a career or someone who is considering shifting into a new career field, I have compiled a list of the many reasons why you should consider becoming a corporate recruiter. keep reading…

‘Friends of the Firm Referrals’ — Expand Referrals to Non-Employees

by Feb 10, 2014, 12:27 am ET

There is an emerging recruiting trend where traditional employee referral programs are being expanded to allow non-employees to submit referrals. I call these variation “friends of the firm” referrals (FOF) because it expands the number of individuals who are looking for top talent for your firm beyond the traditional employee base. So that those looking for talent now include family, vendors, and other individuals who both like your firm and understand its talent needs.

Benefits of a “Friends of the Firm” Referral Program keep reading…

Talent Management Lessons From the Super Bowl for Corporate Leaders

by Feb 3, 2014, 6:36 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.43.50 AMA couple years back I was asked to outline “the future of talent management” in a talk at Google headquarters. Then as now, I predicted the future of talent management will follow the “professional sports model,” which many of you undoubtedly witnessed during yesterday’s Super Bowl.

Some in HR carelessly make the mistake of instantly dismissing sports analogies as irrelevant, but those individuals fail to understand that the NFL and its teams are multibillion-dollar businesses with the same economic bottom line and the need to dominate competitors as any other corporate businesses. So if you want some talent creds, tell your boss that you watched the Super Bowl not just for enjoyment, but also in order to learn some valuable talent management lessons. My top eight talent management takeaways from the Super Bowl are listed below. keep reading…

These Strategic Goals Can Help to Focus Your Recruiting Function

by Jan 27, 2014, 12:04 am ET

What could be more important than having everyone on your team focused and on the same page?

Unfortunately, in my interactions with corporate recruiting leaders, I am frequently surprised to find that they don’t have a formal set of strategic goals for their talent acquisition function. That’s a major problem because you certainly can’t be strategic unless you have a formal written strategy (most don’t) and a corresponding set of goals to make it clear to everyone what you’re trying to accomplish.

Not having clearly defined, measurable, and communicated strategic goals can add to the confusion about what is important and what is less important. While having goals provides focus and direction, their absence can cause team members to “wander” and to waste time and resources in low-value areas. So if you want your team to be laser focused on the important things, have clear goals that clarify your purpose and that specify what you’re trying to accomplish and what great results would look like.

In that light, this article provides a list of the strategic goals that truly effective corporate recruiting leaders can choose from. keep reading…

Unless You Segment Your Recruiting Messaging, You Won’t Attract Top Performers and Techies

by Jan 20, 2014, 5:45 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 10.35.36 AMUnless you tailor your bait, you’ll never attract the very best prospects

It might sound silly on the surface, but fishing and recruiting have a lot in common. Any seasoned fisherman or woman would tell you without hesitation that the same bait that effectively attracts small fish simply would have no impact on attracting the harder-to-land big fish.

In recruiting, the need to match your “bait” or attraction features to your target is no different. The job and company features that would attract the average Joe to a job (I call them “paycheck jobs”) would barely get the attention of top performers, techies, and innovators. For example, the average Joe might be excited about the fact that you have good benefits while an innovator may be more interested in how often you take risks and fund innovative ideas.

There lies the problem in corporate recruiting. Almost all the information provided by corporate recruiting is designed to be general to meet a larger audience. But unless there is a separate message on your site or external to it that has “bait” that is tailored to attract this more desirable and harder to land target, they will never view your firm as desirable. keep reading…

Calculating the Tremendous Dollar Value of a Top-performing or Innovative Employee

by Jan 13, 2014, 12:53 am ET

Lionel MessiIn professional sports, almost everyone readily agrees that a top-performing athlete is worth their weight in gold. That value is clearly reflected in their compensation, where for example a top-performing NFL quarterback can get paid 10 times more than the third-string quarterback on the same team. The value of adding a LeBron James, Peyton Manning, or Lionel Messi to your team can easily exceed hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The same is true in entertainment, where adding the right actor to a film or rock star to a concert can easily double the gross over an unknown performer.

Unfortunately in the corporate world, the HR function has failed to come up with a credible method for quantifying the “performance differential” between an average employee and a top performer in the same job. And as a result of not having this economic justification, executives have all too often been reluctant to fund the leading-edge recruiting, retention, and management processes that are required in order to successfully attract and retain these highly desirable top performers and innovators. In last week’s article, I demonstrated how to calculate the negative costs associated with hiring and keeping weak performers, and in this companion article, I highlight how to calculate the performance multiplier of top performers.

Calculating the Performance Multiplier of a Top Performer keep reading…

Calculating the Dollar Costs of a Bad or Weak-performing Employee

by Jan 6, 2014, 5:43 am ET

Almost every manager, when asked, readily agrees that weak employees underperform average employees by a significant amount. We certainly know from sports teams, where performance is easily measured, that there is a huge performance differential (often double or triple) between the below average, average, and top performers in the same position.

From a talent management perspective, if the “performance differential” between the average employee and the worst employee is small (less than 5 percent), it doesn’t make much sense to spend a lot of money on performance management programs. However, when weak performers produce more than 33 percent below the average, it makes clear business sense to invest in great performance management and recruiting in order to fix or replace weak performers.

And when your calculations reveal that employee actions can have a multimillion-dollar impact (in the negative direction, with the Edward Snowden NSA document leaking case, or in the positive direction, with the US Airways Sully Sullenberger safe landing on the Hudson River), you quickly realize the need to quantify the dollar impact of these bottom- and top-performing employees.

Begin Working With the King of Metrics keep reading…

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Strategic Talent Leaders

by Dec 30, 2013, 1:22 am ET

The New Year is the perfect time to reexamine and refocus your talent efforts. The coming year will see a surge in economic growth, but it will occur in a business environment with continued volatility. Succeeding in this environment will require a new approach. So before all of the activity that accompanies any new year begins, take at least an afternoon off for some “strategic thinking and planning time.” In order to guide your thinking, I propose 10 talent resolutions or focus areas which are likely to have high strategic and business impacts.

10 Strategic Action Areas in Talent Management keep reading…

Who Are the Despicable Mes in Recruiting?

by Dec 23, 2013, 5:56 am ET

Bits of carbon on a white background (carbon totem)The combination of the popular “Despicable Me” movies and the Christmas season made me think about who in the recruiting process should get “a lump of coal” in their stockings for their naughty behavior. Obviously any list like this that identifies problem-causers involves some generalizations, because there are always some individual exceptions. However, in any field there are individuals who hold certain job titles that all-too-often remind me of the lead character Gru in the Despicable Me movies.

Those who qualify for the Despicable Me label on my list include recruiters, other individuals who impact recruiting, and even a few recruiting tools. I’d like to open what I hope is a continuing discussion with my personal “Despicable Me top 10+ list”. The list is broken into two categories: recruiters and those who contribute to the recruiting effort.

You May Be a Despicable Me Recruiter If You Are … keep reading…

The Top 25 Recruiting Trends, Problems and Opportunities for 2014, Part 2 of 2

by Dec 16, 2013, 1:39 am ET

If you are looking for a comprehensive list of the corporate recruiting trends and predictions for 2014, this two-part article covers the top 25 most likely trends. Part 1 included the first 14 trends that covered new recruiting opportunities and continuing recruiting trends. In this Part 2 of the series, I cover the 11 remaining trends, including recruiting challenges/problems that corporate recruiting will likely encounter during 2014 and some recruiting areas that will likely continue to diminish in importance. I have also included a separate section covering eight developing areas that have yet to peak. 

Section 3: The Biggest Strategic Recruiting Challenges keep reading…

The Top 25 Recruiting Trends, Problems, and Opportunities for 2014, Part 1 of 2

by Dec 9, 2013, 6:17 am ET

Even if you work in a corporate recruiting function with low resources or minimal expectations for change, every recruiter still has a professional obligation to maintain their awareness of the latest trends and predictions. I have grouped 25 predictions of the leading corporate recruiting trends for 2014 into four separate sections. Part 1 includes two sections that cover 14 new opportunities and continuing current trends. Part 2 (to be published next week) includes the final two sections, which cover 11 remaining trends that cover new challenges and areas that will continue to diminish in importance.

Section 1: The Hottest Recruiting Opportunities for 2014 keep reading…

Stay Interviews: an Essential Tool for Winning ‘the War to Keep Your Employees’

by Dec 2, 2013, 6:09 am ET

The complete guide on how to use stay interviews to improve retention

Many firms use exit interviews to find out why employees are leaving their jobs. Unfortunately, asking an employee on their last day “why are you leaving?” doesn’t provide useful information in time to prevent the turnover. A superior approach that I’ve been recommending for over 20 years is a “stay interview.” I alternatively call it a “pre-exit interview,” because it occurs before there is any hint that an employee is about to exit the firm. A stay interview helps you understand why employees stay, so that those important factors can be reinforced.

Definition: A “stay interview” is a periodic one-on-one structured retention interview between a manager and a highly valued “at-risk-of-leaving employee” that identifies and then reinforces the factors that drive an employee to stay. It also identifies and minimizes any “triggers” that might cause them to consider quitting.

The Many Benefits of Why-do-You-Stay? Interviews keep reading…

Remote College Recruiting — Capturing Top Students From Schools You Don’t Visit

by Nov 25, 2013, 6:45 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 8.02.32 AMMany exceptional students probably do not attend the schools that you visit

If you assume that the best students only attend the top ranked schools, you are making a big mistake. keep reading…

College Recruiting — Capturing ‘Passive’ Students Who Don’t Visit the Career Center

by Nov 18, 2013, 6:46 am ET

How Your Current College Approach Misses Top Talent 

Unlike modern “experienced hire” recruiting, most college recruiting is neither scientific nor data-driven. A majority of college programs run on tradition, which means that they rely almost exclusively on students attending information sessions and then interviewing students through the campus career center.

Unfortunately, relying primarily on the career center will cause you to miss out on as much as 50 percent of the undergraduate campus population.

ohio unionThe reason that the traditional approach now misses so many students is because the nature of college students and the college experience have changed dramatically over the last few years. Students are no longer a homogenous group where everyone is actively seeking a job. What is needed instead is a modern “segmented recruiting approach” that is designed to capture the many students who the career center model will miss. This ignored group includes “passive” non-job seeking students, those going to grad school, entrepreneurs, students getting online degrees, older students who feel out of place in the career center, night students, students at campuses you can’t afford to visit, and fresh/sophomores who are not yet eligible for CCC interviews.

This article describes how you can dramatically improve your college recruiting results by also targeting these “passive students” who, because they are not actively seeking an immediate job, cannot be identified or recruited through the campus career center. keep reading…

Speed Doesn’t Kill … Slow Kills Organizations

by Nov 11, 2013, 6:11 am ET

You could accurately call me Dr. Speed because I love speed. I don’t mean the speed associated with fast cars, but instead, organizational speed. I really admire large organizations that have a track record of doing everything really fast.

Organizational speed means that as a result of purposeful actions, the organization does all important things measurably faster than its competitors. Many don’t realize it but one of the constants since the beginning of human life has been that everything that man has touched has continually gotten faster. Everything, including cars, airplanes and even Olympic athletes get faster each and every year. And now organizations are also becoming part of this speed movement. keep reading…

6 Talent Management Lessons From the Silicon Valley

by Nov 4, 2013, 6:42 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 12.32.22 PMNo matter where I travel around the world, people are extremely curious about the unique talent management practices of Silicon Valley. Over my 30+ years of working in the Valley, I have tried to distill the best talent management practices of great firms like Facebook, Google, and Apple (as well as the practices of many of the startups) into what I call “the Six Drivers of Talent in the Silicon Valley.” If your firm wants to innovate and move fast, you should consider adapting at least some of these talent drivers in your own firm. keep reading…

Get Rid of Your Bad Hires Quickly With a ‘No-fault Divorce’ Process

by Oct 28, 2013, 8:00 am ET

upset couple - from NIH's websiteEveryone knows that the average hiring process is less than perfect. In fact, most selection processes have high failure rates (i.e. even after months or even years of “assessment,” nearly 60 percent of the marriages in California end in divorce).

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that as many as 46 percent of new hires fail within 18 months, according to Leadership IQ. Research also reveals that 61 percent of new hires are unhappy because they feel that they had been misled during the hiring process, according to Harris Interactive. The Recruiting Roundtable similarly reports that 50 percent of the hiring organizations or the new hires themselves regret the decisions they made. Shifting to non-exempt workers, research by Humetrics reveals that 50 percent of all hourly employees quit or are fired within their first six months.

Given this high rate of mishires, it’s surprising that most corporations don’t even track mishires who must be terminated or encouraged to resign. Even fewer organizations have a formal “early release process,” like a no-fault divorce for identifying bad and frustrated hires and releasing them as soon as possible.

Why You Should Release Weak Hires and the Disgruntled as Soon as Possible keep reading…

Winning ‘the War to Keep Your Employees’ Requires Re-Recruiting Your Top Talent

by Oct 21, 2013, 6:28 am ET

If you expect to win “The War to Keep Your Employees,” you must continually assure that the best offer that a top performing employee receives comes from inside your own firm.

In order to assure that, management must periodically approach top talent and recruit them again (re-recruit) just as if they were a new external prospect. Although I coined the term “re-recruit” more than 20 years ago, it is still an effective retention tool today. keep reading…