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Ronald Katz

Ronald M. Katz, SPHR is the president of Penguin Human Resource Consulting, LLC and a speaker at the 2012 ERE Expo in San Diego. Penguin HR helps organizations to achieve their business goals by showing them how to manage and motivate staff so that they give their best efforts to the enterprise. Ron has delivered training to human resource staff and line managers of a wide variety of industries. He provides consulting in interviewing skills, performance management, diversity, and sexual harassment. He is an accomplished public speaker and has spoken nationally on human resources issues.

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Would You Hire Meryl Streep?

by Mar 2, 2012, 5:11 am ET

Would you hire Meryl Streep?

She’s 62, you know. And sure, she’s been nominated for 17 Academy Awards, but prior to winning this year for her brilliant portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” she had a pretty questionable track record. Only two awards out of 16 opportunities. That’s barely better than a 10% success rate. And did I mention that she’s 62? She has been making movies since 1977. Half the time she doesn’t even get nominated!

She once went five years without a nomination back in the 1990s. It has been two years since her last movie came out. I think she might be losing her edge. Unemployed for two years … do you really want to take a chance on her? Maybe the times are passing her by? Maybe she can’t keep up with younger actresses? What if she can’t adapt to all the new technologies? What if she’s uncomfortable working with directors who are younger than she is? That could be a problem. And you know she was unemployed before she got this part. Can’t we find a currently employed actress for our next film?

Sound ridiculous? Of course it does. Any producer or director would give up a reservation at Chateau Marmont to work with the woman who is arguably the finest screen actress of the past 50 years and the acknowledged successor to the brilliant Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn. Yet we hear these same arguments every day in conversations with recruiters and hiring managers. All the myths that exist about people who are unemployed — particularly those who are on the other side of age 50. keep reading…

What’s So Great About Passive Candidates?

by Dec 9, 2008, 5:37 am ET

Groucho Marx once said, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.” Some recruiters feel similarly about candidates. They don’t want anyone who shows the least interest in joining an organization like theirs. They reject these applicants out of hand while searching out the true gems. These recruiters bypass “active candidates” while concentrating on those ever sought after, much-prized “passive candidates.” The question I have to ask is, what’s so great about passive candidates?

We spend so much time pursuing the passive candidates that we overlook the ones knocking on our door. Something about the stigma of someone who’s out there looking. But in this time when literally tens of thousands of people are losing their jobs, it’s crazy to assume that everyone who is out there looking for a job is “damaged goods.”

Some people I’ve met even look for reasons to devalue the candidacy of active candidates who are still employed. I’ve heard recruiters question why people are responding to ads while they still have a job. This train of thought goes something like, “In this day and age if you have a job, why would you be considering making a move? Are you about to be fired or laid off?” What is it that makes us question the motives of people looking for jobs? Aren’t we making our jobs harder by only looking for the flaws in active candidates? I’m all for screening applicants, but lately I’ve seen recruiters time after time shooting themselves in the foot.

Are we back in high school playing “hard to get”? As Todd Raphael put it when we were discussing this topic, “It’s a silly game where a candidate is supposed to be pretending they’re not looking.”

And what makes someone a passive candidate anyway?

keep reading…

Recruiting the Best People You Already Have

by Oct 17, 2008, 5:25 am ET

Everywhere you look today, you see the elements of another “perfect storm” for recruiters. The economy is in a free fall. Companies are looking at ways to reduce headcount. Recruiting budgets are frozen. Those sought-after “passive candidates” are hunkering down to try to weather the storm, so they’re not taking your calls, if you’re even making them.

What’s a recruiter to do?

keep reading…

Never Stop Recruiting

by Sep 10, 2008, 5:53 am ET

A couple of weeks ago there was an ERE article comparing recruiting to dating. I recently had an experience of a different nature. I was on a plane returning from an engagement and a man named Ted sat down next to me. He spent the next 90 minutes trying to save my soul.

This was a waste of time.

Not that my soul isn’t worth saving. But it was a waste because I am very firm in my religious beliefs and am not about to change them because of a 90-minute conversation with someone.

It was not an unpleasant conversation. He seemed like a delightful man and we laughed at times as we talked. He was not going to change my mind, but I did respect his commitment. His dedication. He did not let go. Our flight took off at 5:45 in the morning and he was in full swing. He started the conversation before he had his seat belt buckled and he kept it up even as people were deplaning.

He was recruiting.

I was impressed with his zeal. Then again, he is recruiting for a very important cause. It occurred to me that he probably started up these conversations whenever he traveled. He was always looking for recruits, and to put this in recruiting parlance, he is frequently looking for “passive candidates.” He never rests in his search, as there are always openings in his organization. Was he effective? Not with me, but I wonder how many people he has successfully recruited. Lots, I would guess, from the extent of his travels. He has been all around the country and all around the world. He finds people wherever they are. That’s his mission, and that’s what his organization needs.

What’s your mission? Professionally speaking, what are you trying to accomplish? There’s a lot we can learn from Ted. Are you constantly recruiting? Do you strike up conversations with people on planes, in malls, or at events? Are you always trying to meet new people? In the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” the sales manager says selling is as simple as ABC: Always Be Closing. There are lots of similarities between selling real estate and recruiting, but that’s for another article.

Perhaps we need to create acronyms to remind us how to be successful recruiters. Maybe, if you’ve been finding yourself lax in the networking department, your ABC is “Always be connecting.” If your pipeline is drying up and you’re feeling frustrated, JKL – Just Keep Looking! Or NOP – Never Overlook Possibilities. But don’t compromise your standards. Remember PQR – Persistent Quality Recruiting. But be sure to MNO – Make Numerous Overtures if you’re going to EFGH – Effectively Find Good Hires. OK, I mean, okay, maybe I’m getting carried away, but we do need to remember that candidates don’t always present themselves neatly at our office door. We find them when and where we least expect them.

keep reading…

I Don’t Have Time to Interview!

by Jul 14, 2008, 4:27 pm ET

pretending this interview is fun for meHow many times have you heard a manager complain, “I don’t have time to interview people! I’m swamped and understaffed and have to spend every minute and then some just to get my real work done!”

This is the one of the classic responses we get when we try to partner with managers to fill their positions. Filling jobs is HR’s job. “Can’t you just find me someone?” the manager will say. “And better ones than you found last time? The last one didn’t stick around very long. I don’t think he even lasted a year. Left after eight or nine months.” Sound familiar?

To effectively fill jobs today, we can’t just keep “throwing spaghetti at the wall” hoping that it will stick. We need to establish a partnership and a process for working with the managers we support to insure that we are finding the people with the correct skills mix who will be successful in our organization’s environment.

Many organizations have clear, well-defined processes for both recruiters and hiring managers to use when staffing. Whether it means using a sophisticated applicant tracking system or some homegrown system using e-mails and online requisitions, the process involved in getting new staff on board is usually well defined. All too often, the hard part is getting our managers to work with us to achieve the mutual goal.

Too many managers are unwilling or unable to actively participate in the hiring process, thereby dooming it to fail. Hiring new staff is too important a task to leave to human resources. This is not to demean HR. But to really make sure we are bringing in the staff with the skills and talent we need, who will be able to get the job done in our organization, we need the involvement, the support, and the active participation of the hiring managers. The first thing to do is to try to figure out why the manager is reluctant to commit their energy to partnering with the recruiter in this crucial process.

Why don’t managers get involved in hiring? How much time have you got? The reasons I’ve heard are as numerous as the excuses terminated staff give for why they were fired. But the majority seem to fall into five categories.

• The insecure manager who is unsure how to hire (“I don’t know how.”)
• Managers who have been burnt in their hiring efforts before (“I’m not good at this.”)
• Managers who are constantly fighting the clock (“I don’t have time.”)
• Managers who think its HR’s responsibility (“It’s not my job.”)
• Managers who are unfamiliar with the software (“I don’t know your system and don’t have time to learn it.”)

Each of these require us to take a different approach to resolve the problem, reassure, and engage the manager, and find a way to make the hiring manager our partner.

keep reading…

You Didn’t Pick Things Up Quickly Enough

by May 22, 2008

My friend was released after just 20 days on the job.

She was given work assignments to complete that had never been discussed in the interview. At her exit interview, her manager admitted he had overestimated her technical skills in the interview. She had not professed extensive technical skills in the interview. She was given no notice that she was to be terminated, just asked to come to the conference room at 3 pm on what turned out to be her last day.

keep reading…

Uncertainty and Doubt Can Dominate a Job Search

by Nov 7, 2007

Uncertainty is a constant companion during a job search, and it often follows us on the job.

When you’re out of work, you are frequently plagued with doubt and the fear that you’ll never find the job that’s right for you. Then you see an ad and get excited. This is not only a job for which you are suited, but it’s something that you’d actually be excited to do 40 (or more) hours a week. It looks like a good company and the salary they advertise fits your budget. You sit down and start to crank out a cover letter.

keep reading…

Results-Focused Interviews

by May 9, 2007

While researching a project on stress, I caught sight of a forum thread on an HR website that said “Interview Questions.” As I said, I was researching stress, so this would naturally pop up in my search. After all, we know that interviews can be stress-inducing situations.

This site was asking recruiters to share some of their favorite interview questions. Having spent a number of years in corporate recruiting and having trained countless recruiters in how to interview, I thought, “Okay, let’s see what new and creative questions people are coming up with.”

keep reading…