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My HR and recruiting brethren are flummoxed. The biggest problem with the job market isn’t stagnant wages or a crisis in leadership. It’s that candidates are ghosting right now.

Ghosting! Like we’re teenagers!

Corporate leaders tell me it’s impossible to find capable people to fill open job requisitions or even show up for interviews. When they extend an offer and agree on a starting date, candidates never show up for the first day of work.

They call it ghosting, and it’s a lie.

I’m sure this version of “candidate ghosting” has happened a few times because people are awful. However, ghosting mostly occurs when recruiters and hiring managers bring candidates in for a job interview and never follow-up after the meeting.

Regardless, the recruiting-industrial complex®™ wants you to believe companies are working hard to put Americans back to work, but Americans just don’t want to work. They want to do opioids and ghost. But don’t be fooled. These are handy narratives that indolent corporate professionals use to justify all kinds of behaviors from ageism to bigotry to indifference.

“We can’t find candidates. People are ghosting us.”

They’re whining like a bunch of middle-school girls about how life is unfair. Also, mom won’t let me get an Instagram account. I could die.

So, it’s my full-time job to tell you not to believe the hype around ghosting or “the ongoing war for talent.” Instead, get smarter. Here’s what’s truly happening in the job market.

1. Companies don’t want to hire anybody. People are an expensive hassle, and, even though we’re facing record unemployment, companies are risk-averse and would instead leave a position vacant — and interview 1000 candidates — instead of taking a chance on someone new.

2. Companies only want to hire young people without defects. I can’t tell you how many times recruiters and HR professionals use the word “unemployable” to describe applicants over the age of 35. You are unemployable if you’re older, expensive, opinionated, ornery, fat, disabled, short, gay, transgender, have natural hair, wear the wrong clothes, not far enough along in your career to justify a recruiter’s attention, too far along in your career to seem loyal, or look anything like “trouble.”

3. Companies simultaneously hate younger workers. Young Millennials and Gen Z workers are spoiled, impatient, taught by a broken public school system, illiterate, and obsessed with celebrity culture. They lack the maturity needed to get work done, so positions stay open.

4. Everybody is way too judgy. Recruiters don’t look at resumes for long, and, when they do, they judge you based on font and presentation instead of the content of the CV. Hiring managers still use interviews to screen for culture and fit without having a consistent definition of what those two words mean. We assess candidates on personality, a tone of voice, smell, enthusiasm, articulateness, and values without benchmarking what success looks like in an organization. And we get it wrong all the time and hire people who blow it. Or we get it right and hire someone who is awesome, but we’re still surprised and disappointed when employees act like capitalists and quit for more money or more compelling work.

What a mess. And nobody — and I mean nobody — is being honest about what’s happening inside HR departments and recruiting shops.

Do you never want to hear the word “ghosting” again? Looking for solutions besides getting rid of recruiters and staying out of the job market? Here are my thoughts.

1. Support universal health care and basic income. Let people contribute to our society based on aptitude and not a desperate need to feed their families. There’s more than enough to go around.

2. Fix your finances. Improve your money so you can live on less and chase your dreams — or chase your kids in the park on a Tuesday afternoon — instead of chasing the almighty dollar. It’s not about the four-day workweek. It’s about the no-day workweek. You have autonomy when you don’t have debt.

3. Know better, do better. If you work in HR or recruiting — or if you’re a corporate professional who leads a team — step up and don’t work for companies that keep jobs open for six months and then complain that they can’t find someone. Got a job opening? Fill it. Find an older worker or a veteran. Find a student or a non-traditional worker. Don’t have the power or influence to change your company’s behaviors? Improve your communication skills, or quit that job. We’ve got record unemployment. Go work for a company that’s doing it right.

What’s wrong with the job market has been wrong since the early 2000s: companies are powerful, cheap, and hoarding profits at the top. Workers are risky, expensive, and impede profitability. There is no skills gap. There isn’t a shortage of talent. There is tension in the job market because companies won’t pay what people are worth, won’t stop discriminating, and won’t share their profits with the people who make it happen.

Anybody who tells you otherwise has got it wrong.

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Back in 2004, nobody knew anything about the social internet.

I started blogging at Blogspot under an assumed name, and it was a grand old time. Then, around 2007, I launched Punk Rock HR. Although I used my real name on the website, times and trends were weird. A catchy alias was still very important to establish a character and brand.

But I wasn’t all that punk rock. The title of my blog was just an insult — I wore Doc Martens to work in 1995, and my boss said something like, “Who do you think you are? Punk Rock HR?”

And I was like, “You look warm. Why don’t you take off one of those eleven fancy scarves tied around your neck before you pass out from a hot flash?”

HR bitches always be hatin’!

Thanks to horizontal envy and female-on-female competition, an identity was born. However, it wasn’t an identity that could sustain itself throughout my 30s. So, I started blogging under The Cynical Girl because that’s what my high school boyfriend called me.

Finally, in 2012, I was like — enough of this nonsense. My friend Josh called me Laurie Fucking Ruettimann while making fun of my diva-like qualities, and I decided to drop the middle initial and just start writing under my real name.

I’m here to tell you that it was the best thing I’ve ever done for my professional career.

Catchy names and identities are cute, and they are the hallmark of early writers and content creators who are feeling themselves out. What’s your tone? Who’s your audience? Why do you write? You can do that under fake identities and funny personal brands.

But you can write about HR, recruiting, talent, benefits, relationships, communication, leadership, AI, technology, blockchain, RPO, organizational development, organizational effectiveness, and executive compensation under your own name. In fact, you should.

While you’re being insecure and assuming an identity, people who are less interesting and less funny than you are mopping up the market with articles about the future of work. And while you think you’re being catchy and creative with your hokey identity, you’re not.

You’re being ignored by people who should know your name.

So, it’s fine to be a newbie and create memes and blogs and movements under an assumed or secondary identity and with 72 other social media accounts. But don’t do it for long. The world is waiting to be entertained and educated in your authentic, honest voice.

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I’ve got a nice little community at Patreon where we’re building the future of Let’s Fix Work while also having a little fun.

This week, we’re talking about taking the day off. I’m still in my pajamas. It’s glorious.

We’d love you to join our crew. Any contribution opens the door to conversations about the future of work, and I appreciate your support.

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I’m known for giving direct feedback and advice. Doesn’t always feel good to hear it. However, if you ask for my thoughts, I’m not gonna waste your time. On the other hand, I don’t take feedback very well unless it comes from people who hate me or rivals. Neither constituency has a vested interest in propping up my ego, which is why the comments are always honest.

Last week, I sent out a survey to friends and asked them for input on how I can monetize Let’s Fix Work.

(You can take it here. I’m like — should I do an e-course? Coaching? How about a revenue share?)

Over the years, I’ve learned that my colleagues have a different feedback style than mine. Buried in their gentle praise and encouragement? The truth. Takes a while to get there, and I’m impatient, which is why I sent the survey to people who don’t like me — fellow HR bloggers, rival speakers, consultants who are in my industry but talk shit about me — and asked for their honest insights, too.

One of them picked up the phone and said, “Laurie, why are you wasting my time with this shit? Finish your book, get connected with speakers bureaus, and go big. Television networks, NPR, a regular column in USA Today. Then it’s time to write your memoir.”

And immediately I regretted asking for feedback.

He said, “Remember when you wrote about running, food, your cats, and travel? Remember when you wrote about your family? We tolerate HR and ‘Let’s Fix Work’ to get to the good stuff.”

Thank you, I’m dead. Are you sure you wouldn’t buy an e-course from me?

“There is a business model for e-courses and online coaching. But that’s not your model. And you’re three years behind the market, anyway.”

Whoa, okay, fabulous.

“You’re sitting on a million dollar business of being yourself. Get your head right, level-up, and go all in on your life. Tell us those stories. What are you waiting for?”

Hm. I guess was waiting for this conversation.

So, that felt great. But I’m finalizing the Let’s Fix Work proposal, this week, and not creating an online curriculum to help you land your dream job. And that’s fine because awesome women like JT O’Donnell, Alison Green and Cy Wakeman are on that path.

You gotta love feedback from people who are detached from your drama. The best advice you can receive is a collection of wise words from someone who doesn’t give a shit. While it doesn’t feel good to be on the receiving end of pragmatic feedback, it’s good to know there are people in the world who will give-it-to-me-straight so I can continue to do that for you.

That’s what my entire career is all about.

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The world is small and good. Social media and the internet is pretty great.

Years ago, my husband worked for Monsanto/Searle/Pharmacia. He made drugs. The entity was acquired by Pfizer, so we moved to Kalamazoo for his career. I also worked for Pfizer and had an office in Building 88 in Kalamazoo, which was a modernist gem. Didn’t spend enough time there because I traveled too much.

The building was torn down a few years ago, and I wrote about it.

Just yesterday, someone sent me this note:

What a joy to have found you. I was recently in Kalamazoo, MI driving along Portage Road. I looked out the window and said: “Building 88 is gone!.”

Today on the Internet I found your article about said building. My dad spent his entire working life employed by The Upjohn Company. He worked in the basement of Building 41 and was Vice President of Personnel. He started after graduate school, went into the Army during World War II, and then came back to Upjohn until his retirement in the 1980’s.

I was in Building 88 a few times, including lunch. It was ahead of its time and a tribute to the era of 1950 and 1960’s America. It would not appeal to all but it was done very well by the architects and builders.

Those were the days. Upjohn had its own fleet of buses for employee transportation to and from work.
They had barbershops, subsidized cafeterias, on-site pharmacy (you could buy a 16 oz bottle of vanilla extract for cooking purposes), an outdoor picnic area and so on. There was the veterinary unit, the agricultural unit, the expansion into Puerto Rico. The fleet of corporate aircraft. The Unipet dog treats in the ceramic bowl with bell ringing lid.

Many small and medium-sized cities are never the same after a local iconic company merges or is taken over by entities out of town.

Got any good Dorothy Dalton stories? How about Sue Parish’s pink WWII P 40 Warhawk?

One could not be a Kalamazoo resident and not have in their home a supply of Kaopectate and a supply of Unicap vitamins.

One last unique place and thing related to Upjohn. Brook Lodge

Thanks for listening. Best of luck with your career.

I love how the son of a VP of personnel found my blog and reached out. What a joy.

The internet is pretty great. Don’t let the naysayers tell you otherwise.

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I don’t believe in patting adults on the back for being adults, and I don’t believe in celebrating great places to work.

Are you a great place to work? Fabulous. Congratulations for doing the bare minimum. You’re not a great place to work? Close your doors. You don’t deserve to be in business.

You’re either a great place to work or you’re not.
Your employees love working there or they don’t.
Your working conditions are humane or they aren’t.

It’s childish to celebrate doing the right thing, and I’m done praising companies and leaders for adulting.

What’s worse are those “Best CEOs” lists. I’m especially done with CEOs who extoll the virtue of “culture” and pretend like they’re doing something right when they pay attention to employment issues like diversity, inclusion and the employee experience. Is it ever okay not to be a great CEO? Should I applaud you for doing your job? Are you three years old? Did you go pee pee on the potty? Do you want recognition for showing up?

Besides, those lists are biased. There’s advertising and consulting revenue behind the scenes that may or may not influence where a company is placed on those lists. We don’t know because the selection process is rarely ever transparent.

The world needs role models, but, as George HW Bush once said, the world doesn’t need to celebrate the soft bigotry of low expectations. I love it when companies and leaders treat their workers well, but it’s a sorry state of affairs when, in 2018, companies jump on those “best places to work” lists and make it into a marketing campaign.

Vomit.

Instead of celebrating great places to work, it’s time to flip the switch and use evidence to determine the worst places to work.

Who pays poorly? Where do women and protected minorities struggle to earn equal pay? What companies have the most EEOC complaints? Which hospitals in what part of the country are treating the most egregious safety-related injuries? Which companies and leaders have settled worker lawsuits? For how much?

One big database that tracks employee-related issues. That’s all we need to figure out the companies who are great and the companies who fail their workers.

Want to be known as a great place to work? Is your CEO one of the best? Don’t show us your lists, awards and accolades. Show us your data.

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Robin Schooling is ‘America’s HR Lady’ and has been Laurie’s dear friend for quite some time. Despite that, Laurie has been putting off the HR episode because, frankly, HR has a bad reputation for fixing work. It took someone like Robin, who is breaking stereotypes around the globe, to make this episode possible. In today’s episode, Laurie and Robin talk about a slew of HR-related issues, from discrimination to whether HR is really needed.

  • What does it take to get the title, ‘America’s HR Lady,’ from Laurie? Robin has been in the HR profession for a long time. During her two decades of HR experience, she worked across many fields: healthcare, academia, banking, gaming, and that’s just to name a few. In other words, she’s pretty much done it all. And when asked how to fix work, Robin’s first question was how we would fix HR.
  • Robin has a fantastic analogy on the state of work – it’s a hemophiliac who has fallen down too often and gotten too many bruises. Work might be broken, but it’s in the ER and needs urgent care if it’s going to be saved. Robin shares how she thinks we got there, based on her wide breadth of experience. She also dives into the power shift happening between job seekers, employees, and employers. The day of reckoning is at hand.
  • Robin admits that HR is certainly part of the problem of work being broken, and the reason she gives is that HR as a department isn’t really sure where to place itself in the conversation. It started out as being very insular, and over the years, things have improved. But not enough. While HR departments have come to understand business, the next step is for them to understand the world. And what does that mean exactly? Robin explains.
  • There’s also a fine line that many HR people must straddle: the needs of the employees and the needs of the business. Sound familiar? Robin says it’s a ‘cop out’ in many ways. Sure, there might be a bit of truth in it, but ultimately, being an advocate for both the business and the employees isn’t mutually exclusive. It’s not one or the other, and that’s where many HR people struggle.
  • You’ve heard it many times – employees are fighting HR to get something they need. So why should anyone care about HR? Robin reminds us all that HR isn’t a faceless mass out to get you. They are your co-workers and they are people, too. In fact, Robin’s experience with other HR people is that they got into it for the right reasons and with a good heart.
  • Recruiting is a huge part of human resources; it’s one of the happiest times for both HR and employee. But according to Robin, those good feelings don’t carry over. She offers the great idea of doing the same with employees as they navigate within the company, whether it’s handling health care, mediating disagreements, or even changing positions within the company. Ultimately, this little-by-little change is fueled by people caring for one another. And equally as important, HR people need to bring the stories of employee realities to leaders.
  • Laurie asks if she’s naïve for believing that if we fix ourselves, we wouldn’t need HR, and Robin’s reply is priceless. In truth, HR as we know it will always be there. It has to be to ensure things are done according to legal requirements. Even with the automation that is becoming far more common, and Robin talks about why humans will always be needed in human resources.
  • What is the future of HR? Robin sees it splitting into two separate departments or having two divisions within the same department: administration and people. The administration side deals with compliance, payroll, PTO, and the other dry things, while the people department works with employees to help them understand what’s happening, as well as growth and development.
  • Are businesses and their HR departments ready for the reckoning that is coming? In fact, Robin believes that HR, at least, is poised for the shift. So what positions are in danger? Is the generalist here to stay? What about the firefighter? Robin shares her thoughts on who had better be ready to adapt to new roles and dive into specialties in the near future.
  • So what does the future of HR look like? Robin has settled on a phrase: she is an advocate of the workplace revolution. It’s time to change – not only should you be an advocate and ally of the people who hired you, you should also be an advocate and ally to those who come to you with their work-related issues. It sounds simple, right? Robin reveals what it actually entails.

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

Robin Schooling

Website

LinkedIn

Twitter

Carnival of HR

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Ever wonder what it’s like to be an influencer and someone who is important to an industry? Me too. Sometimes, people and companies want to talk to me about work-related technology and trends. More and more, I say no.

A few months ago, I got a call from Microsoft. They wanted to meet with me at the 2018 SHRM conference in Chicago to talk about their analytics product. They offered to pay for airfare, hotel, and a conference pass if I would take a meeting and learn more about their Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics tools. They also asked me to share my thoughts on my blog.

The influence game is a weird one, and I was on the fence. There are a lot of great HR bloggers out there, and I’m hardly as influential as most of them. But I’ve done work with Microsoft in the past and even keynoted a big event in Seattle with Steve Ballmer. It was a great experience.

So, I flew to Chicago for one day and had a meeting with a woman named Dawn Klinghoffer. We met in a hotel suite above McCormick Place, and she told me about her job.

Dawn is the General Manager on the HR Business Insights team, who use MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics in their day-to-day work. Those products use the data left behind when you go about your everyday work in Office 365 — like time in meetings and email — to help companies and people make better decisions about how they spend their time at work.

Honestly, I was skeptical when I heard the words “Microsoft” and “people analytics” in the same sentence. It seemed a little audacious to me because Microsoft isn’t known for much in HR beyond Office 365. If anything, they have four HR products — Outlook, Excel, Skype, and LinkedIn — and I don’t hear the market clamoring for more Microsoft HR solutions.

Can Microsoft do people analytics?

Dawn explained that Workplace Analytics aggregates and anonymizes employee data at a company level so leaders can look at broad trends across an organization. MyAnalytics allows individuals to measure and set goals to improve how they spend time at work, in meetings, and even how much time they spend on work after hours. She called it “a fitness tracker for work.”

(I was like — Can you send me notes on this stuff? I’ll never remember it.)

Dawn also told me about how her technical team works to help Microsoft’s HR team to drive better employee experiences within their own company. There are live events where leaders speak with employees through the platform, and Dawn’s team analyzes data to understand the behaviors of managers with the most engaged employees and the actions that create the most positive onboarding experiences for new employees.

(That’s pretty cool.)

She also told me that other companies use MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics to have more productive meetings, increase focus time, and understand the behaviors of the most productive sales teams.

(I didn’t get other company names, though, because I forgot to ask.)

So, that was a lot. I was tired, and my eyes were sore. Once the meeting was over, I went to a big lunch with Microsoft — where they gave me a free computer that I eventually donated to 22-year-old art student — and then I flew home.

•••

I’ve had a few months to reflect on the experience, and it’s not like I can tell you whether or not those Microsoft products and tools are any good. But I can tell you that I enjoyed meeting with Dawn because she’s a long-time Microsoft employee and we know some of the same people. It was fun to listen to her story and hear how she is passionate about her role in “fixing work” and improving the employee experience.

Dawn also described how she fell into her role in human resources and developed as a leader. Microsoft has supported her career journey as a woman, a mother, and a manager over the past 20 years. You don’t always hear those stories from big tech companies, and it stuck with me.

So, if you are curious, being an influencer is a lot like this:

1. You get flown to meetings.
2. People pitch you on stuff.
3. If there’s gold in anything you learn, you write about it transparently.

And there was some gold in that meeting.

I’m excited that Dawn is leading Microsoft’s charge into the HR technology space, and I’m hopeful that her team does great work. We need more seasoned women in the HR tech industry — serving as examples for future generations of people who want to fix work and improve the employee experience — and I want to help advocate for someone who is doing great work.

So, I’m glad I went to Chicago and met with Microsoft. If you ever cross paths with Dawn Klinghoffer or want to connect with her on LinkedIn, please tell her that I sent you. And feel free to tell her what you think about Microsoft’s entry into the HR tech space. Good? Bad? Uneventful? You’re as influential as I am, and I know she’d love to hear from you.

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If anybody is the “Voice of HR,” it’s Mark Stelzner.

Years ago, Jason Seiden and I worked with our buddy Mark to make magic happen with the #VoiceofHR brand. While we never made it work as a company, we had a booth and went to some conferences.

Isn’t that all that matters?

I have about 100 videos of Mark and I being dorks and looking like we’re in Talibani hostage videos.

Are we in trouble? Do we need help? No, we’re just at an HR conference.

Also, it’s hard to watch old videos. Sheesh, I’m insufferable.

Jason Seiden was smart and bounced from Voice of HR pretty early, but look at this old video where I talk to him about LinkedIn training.

Also, what?! LinkedIn training? And when was Jason so young?

Anyway, #VoiceofHR is now solely owned by Mark. Our collective careers have pivoted, but our friendships endure.

So, today, I wanted to wish Jason Seiden nothing but love and peace on his birthday. And I want to encourage you to donate to Human Rights Campaign, The True Colors Fund, or The Burning Limb Foundation in Elle Seiden’s memory.

The HR community is here for one another at conferences, and we’re here for each other in the real world. Take a second, donate, and remember that you are the voice of HR. You can make a difference when one of our colleagues is hurting.

Thanks for reading my nostalgic post about my friendships formed through blogging, and thanks for donating a few dollars to one of Elle’s favorite charities.

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Hey, everybody. Tomorrow is A Tribute to Elle, the day where we’re remembering Elle Seiden and honoring her father, Jason Seiden, who is our HR/recruiting colleague.

For more information on how to participate, check out the website or watch the video.

Raise awareness, raise your voices, and lift Jason and his family up. Let me know if you have any questions.

Love,
Laurie

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