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Talent Management Lessons From the Super Bowl for Corporate Leaders

Dr. John Sullivan
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…

Oil and Pregnancy Don’t Mix, But Apples and Berries Do

John Zappe
Oct 18, 2013, 6:33 am ET

apple blackberryMaybe not so much for apples and oranges, but BlackBerrys and Apples do indeed mix.

Within days of last month’s announcement of 4,500 upcoming layoffs by the sinking ship that was once BlackBerry, Apple threw a “career event” in a hotel a few minutes from the firm’s Canadian headquarters.

Sifting through the LinkedIn profiles of the mobile device maker’s engineering and operations professionals, Apple sent out personal invitations. The pitch: keep reading…

The Government Shutdown Provides a Great Recruiting Opportunity

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…

A Look at the Retention and Attraction Competition Between 7 Tech Companies

Harpaul Sambhi
Jul 24, 2013, 5:59 am ET

Dublin atriumHeadhunting from your competitors is a great place to start recruiting, and a strategy that everyone employs. So this must also be the case when companies are looking to recruit recruiters.

Our analysts at Careerify were hungry to learn more about this by observing one of the few honest things we have left in this world: numbers. To make this a more manageable task, we focused on seven of the larger tech companies in the world: Oracle, IBM, SAP, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple. By aggregating data available via social networks, and data collected by Careerify over the years, the objective was to learn more about HR/recruiters who are either currently working, or have at some point in their careers worked at one the seven companies to depict their journey to and from the companies.

We’ve broken down the findings into four main categories: Retention, Attraction, Executive Development, and Surprise Findings. Below is an infograph as a summary of our findings. Click on it to enlarge it. keep reading…

Comparing the Competencies Between a “RINO” and an Exceptional Recruiter

Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 3, 2013, 6:44 am ET

Recruiting is a unique field because it has no entry barriers. Unlike most professions, you can become a corporate recruiter without any formal certification, registration, recruiting experience, or even a college degree in the discipline. Because becoming a recruiter requires no formal qualifications, you probably won’t be surprised to find out that in practice, there is a wide variation in the capabilities of individuals who hold the corporate title of “recruiter.” Many corporate recruiters are truly outstanding, but unfortunately in some corporations, many other recruiters can only be classified as what I call a “Recruiter In Name Only” or a RINO (pronounced as rhino). keep reading…

USC Lures Two Top Scientists: A Case Study in Recruitment Poaching

John Zappe
May 27, 2013, 6:16 am ET

USC trojansAfter years of unsuccessfully courting two of the world’s preeminent neuroscientists with offers of more money, bigger and better facilities, a larger budget, and almost anything else they wanted, the University of Southern California finally closed the deal last month when its top recruiters sold them on lifestyle.

Poaching Arthur Toga and Paul Thompson and practically the entire staff of their Laboratory of Neuro Imaging from crosstown rival University of California/Los Angeles came down to things as hard to predict as a senior school official greeting janitors and doctors alike, and as hard to control as a commute.

How USC finally lured Toga and Thompson is a case study in recruiting world-class talent, showing the importance of every part of the process; from building and maintaining a relationship, to encouraging employee networking, involving the most senior people, and creating a culture where deans know janitors as well as they know their medical school faculty. keep reading…

Don’t Blame The Headhunters — Get Better at Keeping Your Employees

Fraser Hill
Jan 29, 2013, 5:02 am ET

iStock_000016676143XSmallWhile working in-house as a headhunter (the real market-mapping and cold-call headhunting “headhunter”) I often got asked the question about the ethics of direct headhunting from competitors. When I was giving a talk on the value of in-house headhunting at the 2012 Fall ERE conference in Miami, someone in the audience actually asked me this very question, “Do you think it’s ethical to headhunt from competitors?” keep reading…

Acqui-hiring: A Powerful Recruiting Strategy That You’ve Never Heard of

Dr. John Sullivan
Dec 10, 2012, 5:49 am ET

The war for technical talent is so intense that a handful of firms like Google, Facebook, Cisco, Apple, Twitter, and Zynga have shifted to a powerful but rare recruiting sub-strategy known as acqui-hiring. It involves established firms acquiring startup firms not for their products (only Facebook admits it) but instead primarily to capture an entire team of talented engineers and designers at once.

Marissa Mayer

If in the past after reading about an announcement of an acquisition you’ve wondered to yourself why a technical giant was bothering to buy a startup with no profit, a seemingly unrelated product, and a product that was in a completely different field, now you know why. The strategy has recently received some added publicity because Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer recently announced that she was going to adopt the strategy used by her former employer Google, a king of acqui-hires. Mark Zuckerberg has boasted that “Facebook has not once bought a company for the company itself. We buy companies to get excellent people” (“Engineers are worth half a million to one million” — V Smith).

Acqui-hiring (acquisition hiring) is in direct contrast to most traditional corporate hiring, which simply doesn’t work when you are recruiting innovators who prefer startups over what they consider to be onerous “corporate jobs.”

The Benefits of an Acqui-hire Strategy keep reading…

‘Tis the Season for Recruiting — 20 Reasons Why December Is a Powerful Recruiting Month

Dr. John Sullivan
Dec 3, 2012, 5:23 am ET

If you work in an office, you realize that many times the Christmas season can be a less hectic and even a slack period. In most cases everyone, including recruiters, gear down and change their work patterns for the holidays.  But if you’re a corporate recruiting leader, December should be viewed instead as a golden opportunity. It is a prime recruiting month (along with January and June) because many employed prospects have free time to consider a new job due to their own reduced workloads.

The end of the year is also a time where many individuals are reevaluating their current work and life situation and planning for the future. You may be skeptical but in this article I provide more than 20 reasons why corporate recruiting leaders should actually ramp up recruiting during the holiday season.

The Top 20 Reasons Why December Is a Powerful Time to Recruit keep reading…

Another Recruiting Lawsuit: This Time EBay

Todd Raphael
Nov 16, 2012, 6:09 pm ET

There was that Kixeye-Zynga battle I mentioned this week. Now, the U.S. government is suing Ebay, saying it agreed with Intuit not to hire from each other.

More on that here.

For its part, you may remember Intuit has been part of a legal case like this before.

Kixeye-Zynga Fight Continues

Todd Raphael
Nov 14, 2012, 6:08 pm ET

Remember that cover-your-kids-ears video I mentioned back in August? That was from the gaming company Kixeye, who’s apparently involved in a countersuit against Zynga, involving a Zynga lawsuit against Kixeye.

More about the case where “Kixeye is asking the court to prohibit Zynga from interfering in its right to recruit, among other things” here.

Assessing Whether You Have an Elite Strategic Recruiting Function — a Checklist

Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 15, 2012, 5:44 am ET

Corporate recruiting is a field where there are distinct and measurable differences between the average and elite functions. In short, what that means is that “elite” recruiting functions (defined as the top 1%) produce superior results and act in ways that are totally different from the average function.

I am frequently asked during corporate presentations to cite the difference between “good and great” recruiting functions. Well, as a former chief talent officer and someone who has spent years devoted to identifying what makes the handful of elite recruiting functions unique, I’ve come up with an assessment tool. It is a checklist that can be used by recruiting leaders as a self-assessment tool in order to determine how they compare “side-by-side” to the few firms that have reached this elite status. The 40 defining characteristics are broken into seven distinct categories and they are listed in a numbered format for easy scanning.

The 40 Defining Characteristics of an “Elite Recruiting Function” in 2012 keep reading…

The Bold Recruiters Toolkit — 50 Tools for Aggressive Recruiters (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 24, 2012, 5:28 am ET

If you’re going to be an effective recruiter, you need to continually change your mix of recruiting tools in order to stay ahead of the competition. Adopting new tools is critical because once any tool is used by everyone, it loses its effectiveness. In part one of this article, I provided a list of bold sourcing, referral, event, and college recruiting tools. In the second part, I continue the toolkit with advanced recruiting tools for the most aggressive recruiters, and bold closing tools for getting difficult to land candidates to say “yes.”

Advanced recruiting tools and approaches keep reading…

Recruitment Value Insourcing Delivers Where RPO Fails

Fraser Hill
Sep 3, 2012, 5:18 am ET

In recent years issues with the RPO model have been well documented. It’s not so much the model itself because the theory is sound, on paper. It’s the execution of the model and competition driving cost-saving promises which can’t be met unless corners are cut or high volumes of lesser-experienced RPO recruiters are hired to fulfill demand.

Whether it’s an RPO model or simply an in-house direct recruiter model, the same conundrum exists. keep reading…

Forget About the Cost — Modeling the Real ROI of In-house Headhunting

Fraser Hill
Aug 28, 2012, 5:18 am ET

It’s no secret to any of us that the appetite and shift to more direct sourcing is driven to a large extent by the focus on cost savings. Agency margins have been driven down to within an inch of their life over the years and so the next natural step was always going to be to “do it ourselves.” Internal recruiters have been around now for years, some under the guise of the RPO model.

Internal headhunters (I differentiate from internal “recruiters”),  taking time to do full market mapping and cold call headhunting, are still very rare though. Mapping out competitors and building market intelligence takes time, and time is of course expensive. Whereas an internal recruiter may work on upwards of 100 vacancies per year (the numbers hugely fluctuate from company to company influenced by seniority of role, etc.), an internal headhunter doing the full lifecycle process may work on as little as 15 to 20 searches per year.

There’s also the issue of skillset required to do both roles. It’s very different asking a recruiter to sift through 100 resumes received in an inbox from a job posting than it is to ask a headhunter to start with a blank sheet of paper and map out the firm’s top six competitors and cold-headhunt call everyone at those firms who may have a relevant skillset. In my time spent heading up an executive search function at J.P Morgan, I never once posted a job advertisement. My role was purely to headhunt top talent in the market.

An internal headhunter is of course a role that should be used only for particular vacancies. It may be the most senior roles, or for niche roles, where typical channels to market aren’t satisfying the requirement.

So how do you convince the budget holders to invest in an internal headhunter who costs more than a typical internal recruiter, but who works on far fewer roles? keep reading…

The Strategic Recruiting of Purple Squirrels, Innovators, and Gamechangers

Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 18, 2012, 5:18 am ET

There is no more valuable recruit than a “Purple Squirrel.” In fact, a single Purple Squirrel recruit may be more impactful than all of your other hires combined during a single year. If you’re not familiar with the term, a Purple Squirrel is the moniker that denotes an extremely rare and talented recruiting target. Purple Squirrels are valuable because they are extreme innovators. Once hired, they can change your firm’s capabilities, direction, and marketplace success almost instantly.

The benchmark Purple Squirrel was Tony Fadell, who conceived of the concept of the MP3 player while he was at Philips. But Apple recruited him away, allowing them to dominate and make billions in a product area (the iPod) where they had little expertise before recruiting him. This single Purple Squirrel acquisition made Apple billions and set the expectation for future market dominating innovations at Apple!

The most stunning thing, however, about Purple Squirrel recruiting is the fact that there is literally a zero chance that these valuable game-changers and pioneers can be recruited using the existing recruiting process at 99.5% of the world’s major corporations. For example, everyone would agree that Steve Jobs, even in his youth, was a Purple Squirrel, but the fact is that he was rejected by the recruiting process at HP, despite all his talent, simply because he had no college degree.

These purple squirrels are true pioneers with the capability of not only coming up with original ideas but also in successfully implementing them. Purple Squirrels are generally not senior executives, but instead, they are often mid-level employees in product development, technology, mathematics, social media, or the monetization of products and services. Each of these areas are essential for market domination.

Why You Should Develop a Process for Recruiting Purple Squirrels keep reading…

25 Ways That “No-recruit” Secret Agreements Can Damage Your Firm

Dr. John Sullivan
Feb 6, 2012, 5:36 am ET

This “think piece” is part of a series of articles I wrote to expand your thinking about strategic HR.

If you haven’t seen it in the news lately, there has been an uproar over the practice of secret “no-recruit” agreements between major corporations. A significant number of notable firms including Google, Apple, Intel, and Pixar have been accused of restraining the movement of employees between firms. But don’t be misdirected by all of the legal issues.

The real damage that these agreements can have is on your firm’s business results, and at a large firm, these damages could reach hundreds of millions of dollars. If you work in HR or recruiting, you need to be able to advise senior managers of the unintended consequences related to these agreements. If you currently use no-recruit agreements or you are considering one, this article covers the numerous potential business problems and impacts associated with them.

Potential Problems and Issues Related to Using “No-recruit” Agreements

The 25 problems are broken into two categories, 1) ways that these agreements can hurt your firm and 2) reasons why the agreement may not even work. keep reading…

Recruiting’s Most Strategic Role — Leading a Corporate Turnaround

Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 27, 2011, 5:55 am ET

Few roles could be more important in an organization with deteriorating performance than the roles responsible for crafting a new strategy and the roles responsible for securing the talent that will make that strategy successful.

Climbing wall at Google - Boulder

Firms that have successfully overcome negative momentum and turned their performance around often select new leadership with a proven ability to operationalize a much narrower strategy. They also accept that the talent that was with the organization going into decline may not be the best talent to help pull the organization back up.

Turning around an organization is a tremendous feat, one that involves numerous cultural battles. It’s illogical to assume that any organization in a state of decline could transform itself into the next Apple, Google, or Facebook without dramatic changes to every aspect of its culture. keep reading…

On-the-Spot Hiring

Maureen Sharib
Jun 16, 2011, 2:08 pm ET

(In this article @ before a name denotes a person’s Twitter name.)

@ValentinoBenito guested on the Recruiting @Animal Radio Show on Wednesday, June 15 and he was regaling the crowd with tales of his past recruiting successes.

Early in the interview he made the broad statement that “Recruiting is pretty straight-forward.”

Uh-oh,” I thought. “He’s going to rile some up in this crowd.”

What I didn’t expect was for him to explain what he meant so succinctly.

Usually, guests who come on the show and blither on and on about how successful they are get ripped to shreds and given low scores in the one half hour AfterShow that @Jerry_Albright hosts.

That didn’t happen with “Tino.”

It seems a ways back he was tasked to hire engineers on an historically large defense project and one of the companies the customer wanted to see lots of engineers out of was Boeing.

The great need meant that he couldn’t be too picky — he was grabbing engineers with generally correct experience by the bushel.

The customer knew the correct experience resided at Boeing.

They were smart because they were competing for people with other firms who were working on the same huge defense project and they recognized that they were in the midst of a war for talent in which speed was essential to beat the competition.

He was given the green light to offer people (from Boeing) jobs ON THE SPOT. keep reading…

Did Apple Mastermind Anti-Poaching Deal? Lawsuit Says it Did

John Zappe
May 6, 2011, 1:58 pm ET

The other shoe is dropping in last year’s anti-poaching case the U.S. Department of Justice brought against six big-name tech firms, and it is falling most heavily on Apple.

The six firms — and a seventh,  Lucasfilm — are facing a class action suit claiming their agreement not to pursue each other’s employees depressed wages and was a violation of California antitrust law.

According to the suit filed Wednesday, Google, Adobe, Intel, Apple, Pixar, and Intuit (the six firms, which were sued and settled with the DoJ), and Lucasfilm agreed not to cold-call each other’s skilled workers. Doing so, the lawsuit alleges, denied workers information about job opportunities, pay scales, and reduced their ability to negotiate.

That much the Justice Department claimed when it settled with the six companies it sued. But it alleged then that the conspiracy was a series of interconnected agreements negotiated between companies. Now, the suit suggests Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs was behind the scheme. Claims the suit:

Defendants’ conspiracy consisted of an interconnected web of express agreements, each with the active involvement and participation of a company under the control of Steve Jobs (currently CEO of Apple) and/or a company that shared at least one member of Apple’s board of directors.

keep reading…