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

by
Dr. John Sullivan
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
Dr. John Sullivan
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
Dr. John Sullivan
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
Dr. John Sullivan
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
Dr. John Sullivan
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
Dr. John Sullivan
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…

The Government Shutdown Provides a Great Recruiting Opportunity

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 11, 2013, 6:24 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 2.55.58 PMIt’s hard to miss the troubling news about the “government shutdown” and the “debt default crisis,” but what has not received a lot of press attention is that these negative events have unwittingly created a powerful recruiting opportunity for hiring away top government workers. keep reading…

Implementing Actionable Predictive Analytics in Talent Management

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 7, 2013, 5:01 am ET

metrics scanI’ve been espousing the need for predictive metrics in HR for over 20 years, so I am pleased that more talent leaders are now beginning to realize their value. Unfortunately, most of what is written on the subject tends to be very general and instead what is really needed are some how-tos and some implementation tips.

In my first article on the subject, I covered the benefits of predictive metrics and the need to add actionable components, so that predictive metrics drive action and actually improve people-management decisions. In this article I will outline those actionable components and highlight the specific areas where you might need predictive metrics. keep reading…

Actionable Predictive Analytics — the Next Big Thing in Talent Management

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 30, 2013, 4:27 am ET

Every leader wants to know what is the “next big thing” in talent management? Well in my book, it is the forward-looking talent management approach known as predictive analytics. If you are unfamiliar with the term, predictive analytics are simply a set of decision-making metrics or statistics that alert or warn decision-makers about upcoming problems and opportunities in talent areas like recruiting and retention. Predictive analytics are clearly superior to traditional HR metrics, which simply tell you what happened last year.

What happened last year is unlikely to be an accurate indicator of what will likely happen this or next year. For example, last year with high unemployment rates and a weak economy, turnover rates were low. But it would be a fatal assumption to assume that those low turnover rates would continue in an improving economy.

Without Action, Big Data Is a Big Waste keep reading…

A Quick Guide on How to ‘Talk Strategically’

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 23, 2013, 6:45 am ET

Many in business and most in talent management fail to realize that as soon as you open your mouth, it’s immediately obvious to almost all leaders and executives whether you are “strategic” and “know the business.”

If you have ever been a CEO or senior executive (as I have), you already know that strategic individuals use a completely different language than the tactical “doers” who populate the lower levels of the organization. If you are satisfied with being a tactical person, that’s okay, but if you expect to get promoted and to quickly take a leadership position in management, at some point you have to learn how to think and talk strategically.

Talking strategically means using language from each of the seven strategic business “dialects.” These dialects or components of strategic speech can be labeled as…

  1. Dollars to show impact
  2. Corporate goals focused
  3. Knowing with data
  4. Building a competitive advantage
  5. Being forward-looking
  6. Being customer focused
  7. Emphasizing innovation

I will highlight the focus of each of these dialects, as well as the key strategic words to use under each of them in order to come across as strategic. keep reading…

A Case Study of Facebook’s Simply Amazing Talent Management Practices, Part 2 of 2

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 16, 2013, 5:56 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 12.00.32 PMIn part 1 of this series I covered the first 24 amazing talent management practices at Facebook. In this part, I will cover the remaining unique 21 best practices that you can learn from.

If you’re not aware of Facebook’s success, within 15 months of its IPO, its average employee produces over $1.3 million in revenue and $120,000 in profit each a year. Glassdoor.com has rated the firm No. 1 for employee satisfaction and its employees rate its CEO No. 1 with an almost perfect 99 percent approval rating. My primary contribution in this case study is to provide insight into the business reasoning behind each of its unique practices. The 45+ features are separated into 10 different categories. As you scan through these best practices, see if you don’t agree that they are unique. If you would like to learn from what I can only call simply amazing and results generating talent practices, read on. keep reading…

A Case Study of Facebook’s Simply Amazing Talent Management Practices, Part 1 of 2

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 9, 2013, 6:32 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 10.33.24 PMAlmost everyone is aware of Facebook. Usually that knowledge comes from either using its social media product or by reading about its CEO. However, the unique aspects of the firm that almost no one is aware of are its distinct and powerful talent management practices.

In most cases, it takes literally several decades to develop an exceptional company that has a unique set of talent management practices that produce phenomenal business results. But occasionally there are exceptions. Apple became exceptional again in little more than a decade after the return of Steve Jobs. Google developed exceptional people management practices and business results in much less than a decade. But Facebook has gone from a college dorm room idea to an undisputed social media dominance in literally less than a handful of years. I’ve previously done case studies on the amazing talent management practices of both Google and Apple ) and now it’s time to cover the amazing talent management practices at Facebook that result in breathtaking workforce productivity levels. keep reading…

The Top 10 Best Approaches for Winning The ‘War For College Talent’

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Aug 26, 2013, 6:00 am ET

3381_Wyatt Hall WindowStudents 2011College recruiting has been in the doldrums during most of the economic downturn, and as a result there have been few strategic changes in it, even though the rest of the recruiting function has undergone major shifts during the downturn. And just in case you haven’t seen it yourself, I am predicting that college recruiting demand is about to explode and the competition will soon reach previous “war for college talent” levels.

This resurgence of interest in college hires is due to a reviving economy but also because of the urgent need in a VUCA world for employees who are creative, innovative, fast-moving and who are comfortable with new technology.

If you are one of the corporate talent leaders who want to get and stay ahead of the competition, the time is ripe for re-examining your college program to see what needs to be done to update it. Start with the college recruiting staff. Make sure that it is staffed with data-driven, experienced recruiting professionals prepared for real change, rather than simply enthusiastic young people whose primary qualification is that they themselves are recent college grads. I’ve put together a list of the top 10 categories of strategic change that could literally propel your program into dominance. They are listed with the most impactful strategic changes appearing first.

Action Steps to Win “the War for College Talent” in 2014 keep reading…

Don’t Forget the Critical Role That Healthcare Benefits Play in Recruiting and Retention

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Aug 19, 2013, 6:06 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 9.24.26 AMFrom the employer’s perspective, most of the recent publicity relating to offering health care benefits has been focused on the added cost and burden of providing those benefits to a firm’s employees. However, many employers and especially small businesses seem to have failed to realize that offering healthcare benefits is one of the most powerful attraction and retention factors on the planet. As a result, not offering healthcare benefits may turn out to be a costly business decision, especially when it drives away top potential applicants and results in the loss of your top lower-paid employees to other businesses that have suddenly become more attractive by offering it.

You can’t ignore the importance of benefits in recruiting and retention because recent surveys about “what candidates want in a job by Glassdoor and Randstad both reveal that employee benefits (along with salary) are the No. 1 attraction fact. keep reading…

Is it Time to Adopt a Targeted Recruiting Effort Focused on Gay Candidates?

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Aug 12, 2013, 6:45 am ET

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you can’t have missed the fact that much of the world has recently become more tolerant of gay men and women. However, despite all this recent societal change, there has been no corresponding change in the corporate recruiting function, which seems unwilling to redesign its programs so that they can effectively recruit from the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender). keep reading…

The Many Perils of Interview Handshakes — and Why They Cause You to Lose Top Candidates

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Aug 5, 2013, 6:15 am ET

You’ve probably had it happen to you at the start of an interview. You extend your hand and in return you get a wimpy handshake, a “fist-bump” substitute, or a wet clammy handshake that is an intermediate turnoff. Although weak hiring handshakes are quite common, to most they may seem like an insignificant part of interviewing. But everyone involved in the hiring process needs to take notice and be aware of the high negative business impact of handshake bias.

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 11.17.29 AMAssessing a candidate based on their handshake is a major problem because we know that many interviewers make an initial decision on a candidate within the first two to three minutes, and we know that the handshake and their appearance are the two most powerful elements that contribute to that powerful first impression. The fact that assessing handshakes is a major hiring decision factor is not just conjecture; research from Greg Stewart of the University of Iowa demonstrated that those with the best handshake scores “were considered to be the most hireable by the interviewers.” Handshakes also proved to be more impactful than “dress or physical appearance.”

Handshakes become a high-impact problem because handshakes occur in every interview, and a single bad handshake can immediately eliminate a top candidate, especially in entry-level jobs. You should also be aware that handshakes with women candidates leave a bigger impression and have their own unique set of biases. No one has ever been sued over handshake bias but the loss of top candidates as a result of it is real. keep reading…

Sacred Cows and Silly Practices Die Slowly in Recruiting

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jul 29, 2013, 6:11 am ET

Recruiting is full of practices that seem to last forever. Unfortunately, many practices endure for years despite the fact that they add no value to the hiring process. I call these well-established practices “sacred cows” because many lon-gtime recruiters and hiring managers vigorously defend them even though both company and academic data shows that they should be discarded.

The need to identify and then kill these sacred cows was reinforced recently by some compelling research data revealed by Google’s head of HR, Laszlo Bock. For example, extensive data from Google demonstrated that five extremely common recruiting practices (brainteaser interview questions, unstructured interviews, student GPAs or test scores, and conducting more than four interviews) all had zero or minimal value for successfully predicting the on-the-job performance of candidates. But despite this hard data, practices like brainteaser interview questions will likely continue for years.

Recruiting Has a Long, Checkered History of Silliness keep reading…

Is It Finally Time for Corporations to Provide Applicants With Feedback?

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jul 22, 2013, 6:15 am ET

One of the most powerful unanswered questions in recruiting is “Why are ‘not hired’ applicants and rejected candidates not provided with feedback?”

Providing individual feedback in recruiting is almost nonexistent, even though giving feedback is a widely accepted practice in business. Firms take pride in providing feedback to their customers, vendors, and even their employees, but there is no formal process in most corporations for providing direct feedback to applicants/candidates covering why they were rejected or what they could do to improve their chances if they later applied for another position.

After my extensive research on the subject, I estimate that 95 percent of all corporations would get an “F” score on providing routine formal actionable feedback to their job applicants, mostly because providing feedback is an individual decision and that feedback is not monitored. In fact a 2012 survey by the Talent Board revealed that only 4.4 percent of candidates received the gold standard of … receiving specific individualized feedback and having their questions answered by hiring managers or recruiters.

Obviously all applicants, but especially those who have gone through interviews, have invested a great deal of their time in response to a company’s request for applicants, so on the surface at least it would seem that they have earned the right to something more than a canned email rejection note. If you are a corporate recruiting leader, perhaps now is the time (before the war for talent vigorously returns) to revisit this controversial issue. keep reading…

What Are You Doing To Hire Idea People? Probably Nothing!

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jul 15, 2013, 6:23 am ET

Innovation = Ideas + Collaboration + Execution

As a result of the dramatic business successes of firms like Google, Apple, and Facebook, almost everyone has become aware of the tremendous economic value that comes from continuous corporate innovation. But unfortunately executives at most firms have failed to realize that they can dramatically increase their corporate innovation rate by simply focusing on hiring and retaining more “idea people.”

Ideas Start the Innovation Process keep reading…

A WOW Recruiting Opportunity — Micro-Videos on Twitter and Instagram

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jul 8, 2013, 6:39 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 11.57.03 AMBy now everyone knows that the future of recruiting will require the effective use of both the mobile phone and social media. However, you may not be aware that new features on social media giants Twitter and more recently on Instagram now provide the opportunity to effectively sell recruits with short micro-videos that are sent to their mobile phones. keep reading…