Big Ben and Tim Tebow

Likely, you’ve heard or read about what’s happened in football this month. After one quarterback, Big Ben, got a sexual assault complaint against him, he got suspended. And you probably know what happened next:

NFL Discovers Character

The Danger of Playing the Character Card

This Will Be Remembered as the 2010 Character Draft

Character Counts

The stock of Tim Tebow, a good football player, rose because he’s perceived as a good guy, especially because Big Ben is perceived as not.

I’m curious how often character comes into play in recruiter and hiring manager decisions outside of sports.

Perhaps because Tebow’s in the public spotlight big time, what he does off the field may make more of a difference to an NFL franchise’s bottom line than what an IT employee, an accountant, sales rep, designer, attorney, or custodian, or someone else does when not at work.

Does a record of charitable work and involvement in organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs and Rotary, or campus organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, make you more likely to favor a candidate? Or is doing the job well all that matters?

A New Meaning to the Phrase Hot Jobs

From the apparently-this-is-not-a-late-April-Fool’s-Day-joke-department comes a job site for the good looking.

Five postings, and 250 resume views, is $250. You can post a single job for free, and rate the appearance of a job seeker for free. 

I don’t know much about the company. I left a message with them, and think they may be based in the Netherlands because of their domain name registration and because one of their contacts has a .nl email. I also did a little digging into the site’s owner, and if I’ve got the right guy, he has tried his hand at a dating website for environmentalists, and another dating website for soccer fans.

Jobs currently listed for those easy on the eyes: sales jobs, legal jobs, contracts administration, and more.

Obviously, if your contract manager was ugly, they simply couldn’t get the job done. 

Convince Employees and Candidates to Trust You? Good Luck

There’s a group of people, I’m not sure how numerous, who don’t seem to trust anyone anymore. I wonder how this lack of trust in companies and organizations will affect employers’ ability to get job candidates to believe what they’re telling them. I also wonder what’s happening to employee engagement if employees don’t believe what they’re told.

A lot of people now distrust the government, banks, large companies, unions, and the media, according to new Pew Research Center data. If you still trust research center data, that is. 

Folks don’t seem to trust the government’s attempt to reduce unemployment rates. Then again, some people don’t even trust unemployment rates anymore. I guess between birth/death adjustments, seasonal adjustments, and later revisions — the numbers are just too confusing and too malleable.

Sometimes you see this deep skepticism on ERE. When we write something positive about a vendor, a few readers think that it’s because they’re an advertiser; if we write something negative about a vendor, they think we’re getting a fistful of fifties from that vendor’s competitor.

You hear it on conservative talk radio, where a seemingly endless number of commercials tell you to buy gold — commercials sometimes given by the talk-show hosts themselves — implying that gold’s the only currency you can trust. Perhaps if you don’t trust banks (money market funds), corporations (stocks), or the government (bonds), that leaves the space under your mattress. This must make the job of human resources/benefits administrators who handle 401(k) plans that much harder.

I wonder if the people who are buying these gold bars trust that it’s actually real gold. Apparently, it’ll be well-protected gold, as I hear that conservatives are buying many more guns now, because they don’t trust that the government will uphold the Second Amendment.

You feel the negativity in the mainstream/leftist media, too, where some seem to imply the U.S. military (which does most anything to spare civilians) targets civilians; that American medical care (arguably the world’s best) is like the third world’s; that drug companies are out to make a buck at anyone’s expense; that our environment (which has gotten cleaner in recent decades) is on the verge of implosion, and on and on and on and on. They ignore our incredible progress and focus on an endless list of silly bogeyman-type evils, like BPA, vaccines, cell phone towers, and strangest of all, the infamous MSNBC report on hot dogs.

If you work for one of these companies — say, a drug company or cell phone provider — I wonder if you’ve come across job candidates questioning your corporation’s motives.

One friend of mine, a professor who is a self-proclaimed liberal feminist vegetarian, no longer trusts the president. He feels the president pushed through a healthcare bill that my friend sees as exacerbating the shortage of primary doctors, increasing costs, and expanding bureaucracy. 

People used to respect Goldman Sachs, but I don’t know if they will anymore. I hope so. I wonder (and am working on finding out) what reactions Goldman Sachs recruiters are getting from candidates. 

I’m car shopping and someone said to me, “just don’t get a Toyota.” I guess people don’t trust Toyota now either. I hope that’s not the case, and I wonder what questions job candidates are asking Toyota recruiters. 

At a birthday party last Sunday night in Santa Monica, a young lady said to me, “when you go to the car dealer, don’t believe anything they say.”

Wow. I certainly don’t believe everything a car dealer says. But she’s saying I shouldn’t believe anything they say!

You’ve got a few cynical candidates applying for your jobs.

One parent told me last weekend she doesn’t put photos of her children on Facebook, even with strict privacy settings, because, she says, “I just don’t trust that the privacy settings will work.” And this relates to a tech company, which, Pew finds, are among the few institutions (along with small businesses, and churches) that are still well-liked.

The entertainment industry often contributes to all this, somewhat randomly injecting anti-American, or just negative, comments into movies and TV. (Not surprisingly, the Pew research shows people don’t like the entertainment industry anymore either.)  In a recent episode of the television show Parenthood, one character referred to the economy as being in the “crapper.” The cast lives in big houses, drives new cars, attends private schools, has personal therapists, nice clothes, swim lessons, lush baseball fields, prestigious law firm jobs, gorgeous parties in the backyard, and … well, if you turned on that show from Bangladesh, you might think, “Honey, we should move to the crapper.”

Maybe this isn’t new. Maybe there has always been a group of people, mostly young people, who didn’t believe anything they read or saw. After all, we’ve heard 100 times that people didn’t respect or trust authority in the 1960s. (Or so we’re told; trust in the Kennedy/Johnson Administrations, to take one data point, was actually pretty high.)

But even if cynicism has been here before, employee engagement and employment branding efforts weren’t such big things in decades gone by. As part of the intense competition over talent, the ongoing rivalvry over the limited pool of coveted skilled employees companies are fighting for, employers are trying hard to get candidates to believe the messages they’re telling them about how great their workplaces are. And employers from the U.S. to Europe are trying to get current employees to trust them, to believe in their company missions. It’s not going to be easy. Trust me.

Utilize Your Robust Words Wisely

Question for you: Is it OK to end a sentence in a preposition like the word “for”?

Here’s another question: Is it OK to say things like “I’m going to aggressively recruit Susie” — or are the words “to recruit” supposed to stay together, to avoid the “split infinitives” we all learned about as kids?

The answer: who cares? Well, OK: sometimes those things above matter. Other times, there are more important things to think about.

But words can matter. 

The incorrect use of “its” and “it’s” which has seeped into so much advertising and other writing can make people look dumb when they’re not. That matters.

Whether you use the word “employee” or the word “worker” matters. Using the word “employees” sounds a bit more dignified — like you’re not talking about bees. Using the word “workers,” however, may be more accurate if you don’t want to refer to an independent contractor or temp as an employee.

That reminds me: Using the word “temp” in the office for a temporary employee can be degrading. (“Has anyone see the temp?”) Temps have actual human names like Jennifer Johnson, just as other employees. Other workers, I mean.

A lot of recruiting articles that people send me include the word “leverage,” as in, “We were able to leverage a number of social media tools.”

As far as I can tell, the writers actually mean the word “use,” but for some reason they use a longer word.

Some people have also started to say “utilize” for “use,” as in, “We were able to utilize a number of social media tools.” 

Again, as far as I can tell, they actually mean “use.”

The way you use words online — like in career websites –matters. Have you ever seen something like the following?

Check the box if you’d like us to remember your computer, so that you don’t to have to submit your resume/bio next time.

When a candidate reads the above from a mobile device, she subtly and subconsciously thinks, “Computer? I’m not using a computer!”

This isn’t a big deal. She gets what you’re talking about even though she was using an iPhone or whatever mobile device. But “computer” in the example above makes her subconsciously think she’s dealing with a 2005 company, not a 2010 company.

The word “robust” is creeping into a lot of recruiting articles too. Everything seems to be robust. 

I used to dislike the word “synergies” even more than I dislike the words “leverage” and “robust” in recruiting articles. But I’ve started using “synergies” more than ever lately when talking, as it so often describes what I want to say.

Some words that recruiting and HR professionals use mean so many things to so many people that they no longer mean anything. A recruiter for a large southern California-based restaurant chain asked me today if I knew of companies that were good at diversity recruiting. The word “diversity” has meant so many things that I had to really narrow it down with her: Do you really mean minorities? If so, that excludes women — right, since they’re not a minority? Or no? Do you mean people with disabilities? Do you mean gay candidates? Or does skin color and the other above categories not matter, because you mean diversity of thought — people who don’t all think the same?

Some companies actually mean “minorities” when they say “diversity” — but others mean “specifically those minorities that I employ too few of, and not all minorities.”

And then there’s the odd, new use of the phrase “a diverse candidate.” How an individual can be diverse is beyond me. 

I wish people used more words sometimes. I like details. When you ask a grocery store employee where the grape juice (or other food item) can be found, they sometimes answer only with “Aisle 5” rather than “Aisle 5 and Aisle 8” — directing you to some grape juice and not the healthier grape juice, often in a second place.

Sometimes I find that people use too many words. Someone recently told me about an “African-American janitor at Borders” who was very helpful, and seemed to know more about books than a lot of the other employees. I couldn’t figure out why the person telling me this pointed out his race. Would they have said: “I met this really smart white janitor at Borders”?