Is the War for Talent really happening?

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Are you able to find the right people for your company?  Is talent getting to be hard to find?

the war for talent requires seasoned knights

For years the recruiting industry has talked about the “coming war for talent”.  Are you finding this to be true?  We work in an industry that requires skilled, knowledge workers with initiative and creativity as well as the ability to take direction.  There never have been many of these people.  Your “dragons” need to be fought with seasoned knights, not the fresh from “knight school” squires.

The downturn of 2008 put many on the market.  LinkedIn and other social media suggested that it would be easy to find and hire the right people.  Have you found this to be true?

A couple of years ago it was said that 75% of people were hired because someone in the company knew them and that only 20% were found due to job postings.  Are you finding this to continue to be true?  Even at the manager level and above?

Our industry has continued to morph.  What was not ready for prime time in 2007 is now going gangbusters. The people who had skills needed then are no longer in high demand.

Are you doing internal training for the people you need?  Or are you dependent on those people who are currently looking for a job?  Do you have a way to reach out to the people who are satisfied with what they are currently doing but might be “tempt-able”?  Does the HR department or the hiring manager have time to do the things that would attract the right people?

Even among those who do submit applications, are you losing them to the black hole of your ATS because they have not chosen to use the words you put in the published position description?  How can you find them in there?

I’d love your responses to these questions.  I’ll publish the results (anonymously of course).

For help with finding your seasoned knights, email me at

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Disability Employment Awareness Month

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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

There are many different kinds of “differently-abled” people.  Some disabilities are invisible and you have people with these on your staff.  Some are easily seen or get revealed in interviews.

This month is a month of awareness about it.  What does your company do to abide by the ADA laws?

Many people have both skills, expertise and one or more disabilities.  There is an entire industry dedicated to making software to allow those with different disabilities to use computers and bring their sharp minds to bear on your problems.  But you might be putting unnecessary barriers in their way.

Or you may have employees who have acquired a disability in the time that they have been working for you.  Do you know about all the potential tools available to be able to keep them on the job?

In the SF Bay area you can contact the RET Project here: to find out more about assistive technology, office ergonomics and job accommodations.

RET project Logo 300x209


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Bereavement leave

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Elizabeth Forsyth McIntyre death card

Bereavement. We don’t like to think about it and yet, no one gets off the planet alive.

Does your company offer useful bereavement leave?  Time to sit with the dying person and then time to deal with the immediate paperwork and household work?  Are allowances made for the grief-fogged brain?

My mother-in-law died last week and my spouse only got 5 days to take care of everything.  The rest had to come out of personal time off.  And what about the people who get paid the least but still have these sort of responsibilities?

The sandwich generation is being squeezed even more by the death of their elders.

What does your company do to make things easier and not lose your investment in the employee?

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Temp vs Search

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Temp Staffing vs Search Services

Bersin where do employees come from

I frequently find that people confuse my services with those of a staffing agency.

Staffing agencies offer the services of individual contributors (mostly) on a temporary basis.  The agency is the employer of record and they “rent out” the services of the individual to their clients, usually on an hourly basis and usually for 1.65 times what they actually pay the employee. They are the ones who choose whom to send you and you rarely do any interviewing of the people who will be working for you.

I offer the services of a retained recruiter so that the person I find for you, usually manager-level or above or hard-to-find professional, can be hired directly by you.

A retained search firm identifies your competitor companies and the people doing the job you need to have done.  We then contact each one and sell them on the opportunity to work for you, gather resumes and referrals.  A fully retained search firm then sorts through the interested candidates, interviewing (perhaps in person), picks the ones they think would be the best and submits them to you. They then support the interviewing and salary negotiation.

A Search Services company can do all that a retained search firm does, or just those pieces you need or want to delegate.

It may be a subtle difference, but you have much more control with the Search Services model.

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Networking and your professional development

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Tweet: “Your career, and therefore your livelihood, depends upon two things: people and information.”

(Thanks to my colleague Judson Walsh at Career Path Strategies for this clarity) I have said that you can sell your knowledge, your time, or your strength. But that being said, you still need information and people. Your professional development is dependent on who knows you and what you know.


The job seeker needs between 40 and 50 hours a week for a number of weeks to find a new job. One of the tasks is face-to-face networking, and that does not include interviewing. It’s been said that if you simply send out a resume to an online job posting you need to send it to at least 200 companies and even then will only have a 2% chance of getting a phone screen.

If you do a targeted job search, in which you use the power of personal face-to-face networking, then you only need to meet with 30 people, one from each company, to begin with. A face-to-face coffee date can take about two hours. If you could do more than four of these in a day, you are younger and stronger than I am. So if you’re meeting 30 people it will take you 60 hours divided by four or 15 days or more. This is of course way too much if you are currently working. But do you even take time once a week to meet with colleagues, friends, mentors, related career acquaintances?

Networking is not begging for a job.

It’s not asking for anything. It’s finding out how you can be of help. And, in return for that, you get information and are liked more by the people you meet with.

What information would be useful for you in your current job? Who has that information? Who needs that information? Have you discovered a new way to find employees? Or use your ATS system? Or sort through the piles of resumes you have to go through in order to find the right person for your team? Or do you simply need to find a knitting mentor? Even in this day and age of Google and YouTube, real people helping real people is a much more satisfying way to learn new things.

Networking with an eye towards your next job, way before you need it, is the smart career development move. You can find out what’s new and interesting to you. You can be known by people in the companies, or departments, you might be interested in working in, or find out if you’re interested in that company at all. Jobs don’t last forever but friendships can. Who are your career friends?

How do you keep track of the people in your network? We used to use Christmas card lists, long, long ago. Then PDAs came on the market (remember those?), then cell phones, and CRM software programs. I especially like and I can get you a discount if you want it. This one puts people in “buckets” with a time frame on each so that you can keep in touch regularly. What do you use?

I also like to use LinkedIn> connections> keep in touch. It allows me to say Happy Birthday, Congratulations on your work anniversary or on your new job with practically no effort at all. Are you using this feature?

Full out posting on Pulse or in the LinkedIn groups or on your company website or your own personal blog can seem overwhelming, but it is a way to develop more connections, your personal brand, and gain the respect of your peers. Setting aside 15 minutes a week to do this can go a long way towards being known by the people in the departments and companies you are interested in, including the one you currently work for.

Do you have any questions about this? Please do email me at I’d also love your comments on this blog at

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New to the industry PostDocs: What do they need to know?

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You have openings in your R&D team that require a PhD.  You would be fine with recent PostDocs, if only…..

hiring postdocs

We know that the current recruiting methods are not really very good.  Lots of information is lost between the needs of the department, the hiring manager’s articulation of them, the HR person’s written job description and the hopes of the potential candidates, especially those looking for their first job after academia.

I’ve been in this business long enough that we went from the time of finding people from academia (with nine papers in something obscure) for R&D spots to now when hiring managers and HR people really would prefer someone with at least 2-3 years of industry under their belts.

Of course this frightens the newly graduated and may eliminate the very people who can take a company to its next big product.

So why is this?

What I have heard from hiring managers is that the pace of work in industry is simply much faster than academia and does not allow for the exploration of all of the possibilities of a lead molecule or protein.  They say that it takes some experience and time for a newly minted PhD to realize that the clinical, product and marketing endpoints are much more important than knowing “everything” about a molecule or protein.

Is this all that it is?  What else makes the “veteran” of a few years in another company “better than” the fresh from school PhD?

Are you hoping to get some inside information from the other company?  Process expertise?  Simply less “wetness behind the ears”?

What advice would you give the person currently prepping for their PhD defense and looking for their first industry job?

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Hiring Tip #31: Consistency in the questions

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Hiring Tip #30: When to mention salary ranges

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Hiring Tip #29: How do you pre-screen?

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Hiring Tip #28: Do you depend on the resume?

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