Do They Really Not Make Things Like They Used to?

My Samsung flat screen TV, three years old, has begun a slow downward spiral toward the end of its life – blurs and double vision and lines on the screen. My Apple Macbook Pro, also 3 1/2 years old, is almost ready for hospice and I can run a quarter-mile while it boots up. Other appliances of mine that have broken significantly the last year and a half: my washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher, hot water heater, air conditioning, and pipes.

“Not surprising,” I was told by someone the other day, “they don’t make things like they used to.”

I don’t believe that. They make things way better than they used to. 

Washing machines can be controlled remotely and air conditioners are more efficient and hot water heaters can be tankless and on my Macbook I edit videos, create podcasts, and talk to people overseas on Skype.

I just don’t see how products are worse. They’re mostly all better, and most didn’t even exist when we were kids. 

It really wasn’t that long ago people were scanning in resumes they’d get on paper (and some still do), and systems did not exist for companies to manage their job candidates and their candidates’ friends of friends; sophisticated online employer-employee matchmaking tools and workforce planning software and were yet to be invented; and working from home sounded like an oxymoron, for the tools for doing so simply didn’t really make it make sense.

I guess we so easily forget what we didn’t once have. For example — an example I’ve heard before, so it’s not mine originally: service stations. They used to so ubiquitious, because cars were more hassle. Now they’re called gas stations, and they are fewer, as we barely service our cars for tens of thousands of miles.

The thing is — a lot of items, a lot of gadgets, they’re more complicated now. And so they don’t last as long. Sometimes, they’re more complicated than they need to be; sometimes the simple and less-breakable is the way to go when we don’t need Internet-enabled toasters. My daughter’s toys seem to break much more quickly than I recall them breaking when I was a kid; then again, I’m not sure that means “they don’t make things like they used to” — unless you really miss lead.

It made its rounds on Facebook a couple months ago, but perhaps it’s a good time to bring back that Louis CK video, below ..


Not a Bad Auto-signature

Sure, a lot of recruiters who email me have something in their auto-signature about their career sites, like “find us at” or whatever (substituting their company name for ERE).

But not often do I see them telling people to go their communities. 

What you think of this whole concept of a talent community is a whole issue itself, discussed by, among others, Raghav Singh and Lou Adler

But as long as you have one, or you at least have a database you call a community, it seems to me that a banner in your emails, like the email sent to me today from Rick Garbett, the senior operations manager of talent acquisition at a company called Informatica, is a pretty good idea. It leads to the company’s careers page, one that has a quick way to enter into its Jobs2Web-powered database.

Magic Heroes

I’ve seen Magic Johnson speak twice, and though each talk was very similar, and each great, today’s felt different.

Several years ago, Magic as a hero seemed normal. It seemed natural. I grew up with Magic and Walter Payton and others as heroes and I just figured they would always would be. I think I would have traded the Mona Lisa for a Sports Illustrated poster of either of those guys. No — I don’t think — I know. 

But this is the era of cynicism, of distrust. And sometimes it feels like no one has heroes any more. Even Payton was the subject of a new biography that left me scratching my head, thinking: “Do I really need to hear this?”

But today, to see 40-year-lady after 40-year-old lady star-struck over a hero, in awe, smiling in ways you don’t often see, giving standing ovations and nodding and looking up, way up, literally and figuratively, to Magic — well, that was nice today, and more today than ever.

Passion: a 2-Way Street

Passion is everywhere in recruiting nowadays. It’s almost a required word in job postings. It’s in blog posts. It’s a part of performance reviews. It’s talked about on Twitter. Now, it’s the topic of a Forbes column.

Generally, I get it. I like the idea. Passion – we need that. We need people with it. It works – in business, in sports, in politics, in deciding who you want to be around. You want to be surrounded by passion.

But too little is made of how fleeting passion is; how much it can wax and wane, be created and destroyed, how it is not just something we have or don’t have, but something we have one day about one thing but not the next day about another.

Give people all the things every management and human resources publication and training course and college business class talk about, and the passion goes up. 

Appreciation. Thank-yous. Flexibility. Autonomy — the chance to do your work your way, your creative way, how and when you can do it best. The chance to learn new skills. The chance to grow. Money – give people more money, and voila, the passion rises.

I’ve seen people who seem miserable at their jobs get better bosses or different working conditions and almost overnight they’re far more passionate.

I’ve seen employees get new bosses, or become part of new (merged/acquired) companies, or get new policies, and become far less passionate.

It’s important to hire people who are passionate about what your company is doing. But it’s also important to understand how and why people become passionate, or less so.


Helping People Who Move for Their Spouse's Job

Several Michigan employers are involved in a new program to help employ the spouses of people who relocate.

In short, companies pay about $5,000 for each person in the program (and potentially more later if the person is hired). The spouse of a relocating employee gets career counseling and priority consideration for jobs.

Stryker, Eaton, Kellogg’s, Whirlpool, and others are involved. More here.

No Resume? Smart Move by TiVo

As I said before, we can talk until the cows come home about what this mysterious word community means — generally, though, to me, it’s an online or offline sense of belonging.

So I’m not yet saying this offering from TiVo and is a community. I don’t yet feel any sense of connection to the community managers, or the other participants.

But not requiring a resume? That tells me TiVo gets it. 

Requiring a resume — that feels like a job site. Not doing so: that feels like something else, something less immediate, something less commital, more for — oh, no, I’m using the overused phrase — the passive candidates.

I think it’ll raise some questions in people’s minds who are thinking of joining. For example, it makes it clear that your professional information is shared with TiVo and your personal information stays private. But, could that make a passive candidate wonder if their Facebook profile will be updated to say “Jane Doe has joined the TiVo community”? 

Anyhow, join the community, and you’ll be directed to a page, powered by Jobvite, that shows TiVo’s open jobs. And, TiVo will keep its eye on your profile — using the social media site you choose — to see how you may fit into its job openings in the future.

When Products Blur and Blend

Vendors, often startups, sometimes ask my advice about the human resources market. 

One company that I was in touch with July 4 had some interesting thoughts, some of which I thought I’d share here.

Her email reminds me of what I found last week in Las Vegas, at the SHRM conference (see here and here for my posts on the event): that many companies describe their products just like other companies describe their products.

One company will say it’s the first end-to-end solution in human resources, technology for all of the lifecycle of an employee, from candidate to former employee. “Talent management,” they say. Other companies make the same argument, and have for years.

Or, they’ll say they’re the only “fully integrated solution” — except for their competitors, who say something similar.

Anyhow, as mentioned at the outset, here’s the latest email I got, this one from a not-new seller of services to human resources and recruiting departments. Perhaps it’s a good summary of how others feel.

Todd, I am trying to follow the scene, which is confusing — everyone is “partnering” with everyone else to provide a “full solution.” So you have various technology solutions that seem to offer the same thing while everyone is claiming to be different … RPOs, recruiting technologies, sourcing platforms, CRMs, talent filters, job boards, social networking recruiting platforms, blah blah. Meanwhile everyone is on everyone else’s website (in the alliance or partner area). I assume that some of these offers are integrated right into the larger platforms — but I am not really sure. So, it is really hard to clearly delineate and differentiate between all the offerings – at least in terms of WHAT THEY DO (or claim to do) and under what heading/category.

Is it really as obscure and amorphous as it seems to me?

… EVERYONE and their grandmother has a social networking app to fit with their technology … and so forth. In terms of how each offering is indeed different is very confusing unless we are talking details.

So we (as “consumers”/recruiters) can’t separate what one company does SO DIFFERENTLY from the other. … Do you have a better solution? Am I missing something or is everyone selling the same thing while everyone claims to be different? The offerings just seem to blur and blend to the unpracticed eye (although I have been in this field for some years now)…”

I’d love your thoughts.