Category Archives: Innovation

Ask and You Shall Receive


By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B

Someone once asked me to give them some advice about the recruiting business and my thoughts on what it takes to be a successful recruiter. Most of the answers that I gave were pretty straight forward, namely, you have to be persistent, willing to take rejection after rejection; you have to know your market; you have to be creative; you must be able to make connections not just with people but with information about companies, candidates and how that information can best be presented; you must have a goal, have a plan and understand that the recruiting business is a numbers game. In other words you have to sell, yourself, your candidates, your client’s opportunity, your organization, your ability to deliver what you promised. You have to be a successful sales person.

Midway through my response to this individual I had the sense that what was being asked was not what I was answering. This individual was looking for the quick, easy answer and we all know that no matter what business you are in, there are no quick, easy answers to how to be successful.

Looking back on this incident I should have handled it differently. I should have asked the individual a question instead of immediately jumping off into giving my 30 second elevator speech answer. The question I should have asked was “Do you know how to ask the right questions?” Being able to ask the right questions is truly the key to success for recruiters, sales people in general and many other professions.

But just asking the right questions is not enough. In a recent blog post from Jim Connolly (one of the marketing thought leaders that Q4B follows) the suggestion is made that there are three additional components to be considered when seeking the best and most complete answers to your “right questions”. You need to ask the right people, you need to ask more questions and you need to question the answers.

Isn’t that what good recruiters do?

In our case, the right people are the hiring managers, the decision makers who can give us answers regarding the position that needs to be filled, why it is open, what the requirements are, the must haves, the performance expectations, the sense of urgency, the profile of the person who last held the position, the opportunity, the selling points for our candidates as to why they would want to work there and an understanding of realistic salary ranges for the position.

And based on the answers that we get from the above questions, we ask more questions in order to get a deeper and more complete understanding of the job order that we are working to fill, the type of relationship that we can expect to have with the client (cooperative or not) and the level of commitment on the part of the client to interviewing and hiring our candidates.

And we sometimes need to question the answers if they don’t ring true or sound too canned. Asking why is the position open and getting the answer that the company is expanding should prompt more questions that will in turn provide better and more complete information that can be used to sell our candidates on the opportunity. Asking what are the performance expectations for the position and getting a laundry list of requirements (see JATS) should elicit more questions about what the candidate needs to be able to do in the first 90 to 180 days and what the client will be evaluating the new hire on when it comes time for review.

There needs to be an understanding between recruiters and hiring managers and decision makers that both sides know that the only reason a company is hiring is that they have a problem. It could be a good problem or a bad problem but it is a problem. And any company that we contact should be asking us one question, their right question and that is “Can you solve my problem?”

So, what would your answer be?



Carmen’s Hot Jobs Vol 1, No.12

By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B

Over the weekend I had a chance to catch a few good college and pro football games since my home team was not scheduled to play until Monday night. I saw some good games, some close games, some well executed plays and some plays that were highlight reel worthy.

Whenever I watch football or any team sport for that matter, I almost always think about the old adage” there is no “I” in team.” Perhaps because the word “team” is used so often by broadcasters and subconsciously we think of that phrase when hearing the word team, we all know what it means.


However, even though there is no “I” in team, in order for a team to be successful there needs to be a whole bunch of “I” attributes that each team member should possess that would help the team reach its goal – to WIN.

Here are a few of those “I” attributes.

  • Individuality
  • Innovation
  • Intensity
  • Inspiration
  • Identity
  • Imagination
  • Impact
  • Impassioned
  • Impressive
  • Inclusive
  • Indefatigable
  • Indispensable
  • Industrious
  • Infectious
  • Influence
  • Ingenious
  • Integrity
  • Intelligent
  • Invaluable
  • Insistent
  • Italian

Ok, forget that last one. I just threw it in to see if I still had your attention. You can add to this list, subtract from this list or make up you own list. The point that I am making is about how many ‘Is” go into to making up a successful team and that contrary to popular belief, there are a whole bunch of ‘Is” in TEAM, especially successful Teams.

Now here is this week’s Hot Jobs List. Each one of these great opportunities will require any interested candidate to possess most (75%) if not all of the “I” attributes mentioned above.

  • Network Information Security Manager – If being near the Big Apple excites you then consider this position. Or apply if you are a Frank Sinatra fan.
  • Mobile .NET Developer – A great contract position that will make you feel good because the company’s service helps others feel good.
  • SQL Server Developer – If you help develop more than one SQL Server does that make the first one you developed a PreQL? Apply and find out.

If you are interested in the Hot Jobs above click on the link and apply through our Talent Hub. We will respond quickly and we will value your time. At Q4B candidates are our customers too.

And remember after reading this blog be sure to Like, Retweet, Pin it, and +1 this post. You never know who is going to see the positions and think that it is the perfect position for them.


Next week I plan to discuss another favorite old adage of mine, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Til next week!



Talent Acquisition, Talent Management – What Do You Do?

For as long as I have been in this business, the business of sourcing, screening and selecting great talent for client companies, I have felt that more could be done. I felt that those of us who do this type of work were only being allowed to do just so much in bringing great talent to an organization, and that once the offer to a candidate had been made and accepted, our role ended. This is especially true for 3rd party recruiters, but is also true for those of us who provide a managed recruiting solution, RPO service or some portion of the recruiting domain (sourcing, screening, selecting, Candidate Pipeline Management) for our client companies. We do Talent Acquisition and once a candidate becomes an employee, they (our clients) do Talent Management.

Turns out we, all of us in this business, have always been doing Talent Management. Talent Acquisition is not a separate function, but rather a critical part of the whole Talent Management Process.

In the book, Talent: Making People Your Competitive Advantage, Edward E. Lawler III, suggests that Talent Management doesn’t start the day the new hire shows up for work. He goes on to say that “companies that want to excel (and which company doesn’t) need outstanding talent. And to have outstanding talent, a process or talent management system, needs to be in place that will attract the right talent and help them understand exactly what to expect from their work experience with the company. This process or system needs to also provide employees with the developmental experiences that build the organization’s key capabilities and core competencies. And help them retain the right talent.”

Lawler continues to explain. “Put another way, effective talent management systems don’t just acquire and introduce highly qualified people to an organization – they ensure that the fit is right between employee and employer. They also monitor and manage an individual’s relationship with the organization effectively for as long as it is in the best interest of the organization to have the individual as an employee.”

Here are some of the key components of an excellent talent management system that will help you attract great talent.

  • Employer Brand – What does your company do? Are you a manufacturing, customer service, financial, technology driven company? Then whatever it is that you do, it needs to be reflected in everything that a potential candidate would see or want to see. This includes your web site, job postings, marketing material, advertising, what your current employees say about your company etc.
  • Actual Job Information – Not the canned boilerplate job descriptions that are all too commonly used, but actual job performance requirements; what is expected of the candidate, what it is like working for your company, what your own employees say about working for your company, and if possible a day in the life video of your company and  the particular job.
  • Perks – If your perks and benefits are better than most companies and especially your competitors, then flaunt them. Not every perk will appeal to every candidate but if they are that good then let your candidates know.
  • Employment Contract – This is not a legal document, but rather a statement of what your company promises the employee and what in turn is expected of the employee. Nothing like having something in writing when it comes time for employee review. Did your company keep its side of the agreement? Did the employee live up to his/her part as well?
  • Critical Skills Alignment – Can you identify the most important positions in your company? If the success of your company is dependent on great customer service, then your talent management system should reflect the importance of those positions. The same would apply if your company’s success hinged on developing cutting edge, innovative products.
  • Making a Deal – What is most important to your employees? Some would say salary, some would say benefits (health), some would say flexible working hours, some would say training, opportunity for promotion etc. But not all of your employees would say the same thing. And what would make them take a job with a competitor or go elsewhere? If you want to keep your talent, you need to know what is most important to them and what would keep them from leaving. Make a deal with each one.

Companies that want to excel need to have a talent management system that allows them to attract, hire and retain the very best talent. Take a look at your own company. Are you able to attract, hire and retain great talent consistently? Do you have a system in place that is always on, and not just on when you have an immediate need, or worse still when one of your key employees decides to leave?

Our company, Q4B – Quantum Solutions for Business, is in the Talent Management business with an emphasis on talent acquisition

I like the sound of that, don’t you?


Are You a Recruiter or an Experience Architect?

The “value added” for most any company, tiny or enormous, comes from the Quality of Experience provided.   –   Tom Peters

I just finished reading The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley the general manager of IDEO, the successful design consulting firm in San Francisco. IDEO as you can imagine is all about innovation and applying new and creative approaches not just to product design but to services and processes as well. Clients come to them looking for innovations in packaging, web design, advertising, interior office space layout, new product launch, employee training and much more.

Kelley suggests that the Ten Faces of Innovation are the roles or the personas that certain individuals within a company play in order to take an idea from, just that, an idea to successful product launch; to move a project that had lost its mojo to a wildly successful completion; to take a process or service offering that at best could be called ordinary, and make it extraordinary.

One of the ten faces that Kelley writes about is the Experience Architect. The person playing this role looks at a company’s products or services from the customer’s perspective. From the first time that a customer comes in contact with your company, through your web site, over the phone, entering your building or office space, was that experience ordinary or extraordinary?

IDEO has worked with hospitals to improve the patient experience; has worked with retail stores to redesign the store layout to make it more customer friendly, has worked with auto dealerships to improve the car buying process and has even worked with schools to improve the student-teacher relationship. In each and every case improving the customer experience has dramatically impacted the measurements that companies use to determine success namely more sales, happier healthier patients, better students.

Our company, Q4B, recently hired two very talented, experienced recruiters, both of whom will be working with two of our clients, managing an RPO engagement. Some of the responsibilities that each will have are:

–         Work as a liaison on a daily basis to ensure staffing goals are met through daily interaction and communication

–         Coordinate and facilitate process to open new requisitions; follow up as needed to gain appropriate approvals

–         Coordinate and facilitate process to ensure appropriate recruiting and sourcing support is assigned and monitor progress for candidate submittal

–         Facilitate interview process by greeting candidates, ensuring proper paperwork and/or forms are completed and collected, escorting candidates to 1st interview and closing out with candidate if needed

–         Ensure smooth on boarding process for new hires by coordinating and gaining approvals for offer letters, ensuring background checks and drug screens are performed and cleared, start dates are arranged and communicated, etc.

After reading Kelley’s book I felt that for each of our engagements, the recruiters that we assign could also play the role of Experience Architect. We could look at the client’s talent acquisition and retention process through the candidate’s (customer’s) eyes. Is the process ordinary or extraordinary? If ordinary we are in a position to make it extraordinary by fulfilling our responsibilities as listed above in an extraordinary way.

It is my belief that there are very few companies who could claim that their talent acquisition and retention process is extraordinary. There is enough evidence that suggests how improving the customer experience positively impacts the bottom line. Treating candidates as customers, looking at the hiring process through the customer’s eyes, improving the process, slowly but surely, to make it extraordinary, these should be part of the responsibilities of all internal recruiters, 3rd party recruiters, talent managers, just as they are now the responsibility of our great recruiters.

So if someone asks you what you do for a living you could say I am a recruiter, or you could say I am a recruiter AND an Experience Architect.

Try it sometime and read the book.

What Ever Happened to WOW!

“I think work and business can be creative and exciting, a hoot, a growth experience, a journey of lifelong learning and constant surprise. But, to be honest, I think such rewards will only be yours if you learn to approach your career and enterprise with the strategy I call…THE PURSUIT OF WOW!”

–          Tom Peters, The Pursuit of WOW!

I was re-reading Tom Peters 1994 best seller, The Pursuit of WOW! and I came across a list of what Peters called Values for the ‘90s. This was a list of 10 aspirations that the author felt would provide some guidance for any size company attempting to achieve business excellence as they tried to navigate the ever changing world of the last few years of the 20th century and beyond.

Here is the list. It is as appropriate today as it was when Peters wrote his book. As you read the list, ask yourself if any or all of the values apply to your company, and if some or all don’t, why not?

Here is the list.

1.    Do fabulous work and be known around the world for your innovativeness.

2.    Attract exciting people – more than a few of whom are a little offbeat.

3.    Raise hell, constantly question “the way things are done around here,” and never, ever rest on your laurels. (Today’s laurels are tomorrow’s compost.)

4.    Make sure that those who leave your company, voluntarily or involuntarily, can testify to having learned a lot, having had special experience, and having made fast friends while they were employed. (You shall be known by your alumni.)

5.    Have a collegial, supportive, yeasty, zany, laughter-filled environment where folks support one another, and politics is as absent as it can be in a human (i.e., imperfect) enterprise.

6.    Ensure that no question or innuendo ever surfaces about your ethics.

7.    Dot the “I”s, cross the “t”s, answer the phones promptly, send out errorless invoices, and in general never forget that the devil is in the details.

8.    Work with exciting customers (and other partners) who turn you on and stretch you, from whom you can learn, and with whom you enjoy associating (and who pay their bills on time, too).

9.    Take in substantially more money than you spend (where spending includes above-average compensation and a very high level of investment in the future).

10.                       Grow via quality services and customers, not via growth for growth’s sake.

So, how did your company do? Any values on this list of ten that you feel your company is not doing? Can you, owner, manager, business leader help your company improve in any of these areas?

I can think of a some companies that live these values each and every day, Zappos, Groupon, SAS, HEB, just to name a few.  I can think of far too many that only pay lip service to most of the listed values and many that don’t make any attempt to embrace them at all. You would think that over the last 17 years since the book was published, the vast majority of company leaders would read this list and say ”We do that. Those are our values. It is one of the reasons we are so successful.”

In this dog eat dog world of business today, are you pursuing the WOW! Or is the (Bow)WOW! pursuing you?

I + A = G, Your Formula for Success

“Only companies that can consistently bring imaginative, value-added products, services and value propositions to market will survive and grow in our rapidly-changing economy.”

–       Robert B. Tucker, Driving Growth Through Innovation

The current issue of Fast Company features the world’s 50 most innovative companies along with a Top 10 list of innovative companies in 21 key industries and 4 major emerging markets. The companies listed had all exhibited to some degree or another some level of creative thinking, implemented ingenious processes and offered intelligent products or services.

To no one’s surprise the list included Apple at number one, along with Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, Evernote as well as some more mainstream companies like AT&T, Nissan, IBM, Intel, Dow Chemical and Boeing. The list was so varied, from size of company to market sector to time in business, thus proving that innovation can be found anywhere.

In looking over the list I wondered if there was one common denominator, one thing that all the listed companies possessed regardless of size, market sector or time in business. I decided that every company has a culture of innovation, and without that culture, none of the companies would have made the list, some would no longer be in business or would never have existed at all.

If you are not sure if your company has a culture of innovation here are some questions you could ask.

–      How would you describe your organizations culture: its values, beliefs, behaviors?

–      What stories get told around your firm that encourage innovative behavior, and what stories get told that do the opposite?

–      How big a gap exists between what you believe to be your firm’s optimal climate for innovation and the one that exists presently?

–      Does your business unit or company have the right balance of people at all levels of the organization to ensure a culture open to innovation?

–      What barriers are responsible for blocking increased innovative output?

–      Do you have enough people who can champion ideas, who can lead teams to come forth with new products, services and business models?

Once you have the answers to these questions and think that you understand your company’s culture, you can consider the next step on your road to being an innovative company, bringing on innovative talent.

Here are some of the characteristics that innovative people seem to have in common. Innovative people:

–      Are creative: they ask questions constantly, like looking for solutions, exploring new areas

–      Have broad interests: are eager to learn, like exploring ideas with others, have hobbies, are multidisciplinary

–      Are problem solvers: have an experimental style, “do it first, explain later,” are not afraid to make mistakes, take multiple approaches to problems, willing to do the unexpected

–      Are self-motivated/energized: are self-starters/driven, results oriented, have a passion about what they do, take initiative

–      Have a strong work ethic: are committed, work in cycles, flexible, not structured work habits, are tenacious

–      Are resourceful: are able to network to solve problems and get information, are able to get things done through others. 

When we engage with our clients to provide some level of managed recruiting service we are always looking for talent that has the right combination of experience, attitude and ability and would be comfortable in the client’s environment, would fit the culture. Trying to put an innovative type candidate into a company that is not open to innovation is akin to putting a square peg in a round hole. It just won’t work.

Answering the questions about your company’s culture, deciding that your company would want to become more innovative and then putting in place a process that encourages attracting the innovative talent that you will need is not an easy task. It will take work. But think of the pay off, and the idea that someday your company could be on a similar list. Life should be so good!

So what about the formula, I + A = G?  It is Innovation + Action = Growth and thanks to John Jantsch with Duct Tape Marketing for sending it on.

Some Tips for Finding Innovators

Bloggers Note:  Some of my sources use the terms innovation, innovator, creativity and “outside-the-box” thinkers interchangeably. I will do the same in this blog.

“Innovation can be defined as coming up with ideas that bring value to your customers and then bringing those ideas to life.” says Robert Tucker, author of Driving Growth through Innovation. Sounds like the type of employee that every company would want to not only find but hire. Before you run off in search of your next Thomas Edison read on.

The October issue of INC. Guidebook offers up some good advice regarding finding innovators. I have creatively added my outside-the-box thoughts to the points that were made.

  • Decide which kind of creativity counts – Hiring for creativity starts with deciding how much of it you can tolerate. Many companies find it difficult to integrate true outside-the-box thinkers, true innovators.
  • Breadth of Creativity vs. Depth of Creativity – Understand the difference between the two. Breadth of creativity is ad agency, IDEO, Disney Imangineers whereas depth of creativity is looking for better ways, process improvements within one’s own job or department that when implemented add value to your customers.
  • Market your company to Attract Innovators – This starts with your web site, your career page or portal, job descriptions and the use of social media including Facebook, Twitter, employee testimonials on YouTube. Marketing to creative types does not exclude those candidates who are not creative. If anything it might attract a better quality of non-innovators.
  • Recruit from nontraditional sources – Realize that expertise can be acquired, creativity can not. If you are looking for outside-the –box thinkers then think outside the box!
  • Look for Career Adapters – Most companies would shy away from candidates who took a year off to trek the Appalachian Trail; who went to work for a non-profit  for little or no salary; who provided elder care for a dying relative. Look for experience, adaptability, passion, fortitude not just a certain number of years with a certain skill set.
  • Know how creative they are – It starts well before the interview. Whether or not your marketing efforts attracted a creative candidate, how they manage to get noticed by your company is the first clue to how innovative they may be. Did they respond in a non-traditional manner, was there contact with the company different than most other candidates? In the interview, were they able to handle the behavior based questions with more than rehearsed answers? Could they think on their feet when faced with puzzle type or what animal would you be type questions?
  • Build a Creative Culture – If you currently employ some innovators you want to keep them. If you are just looking to hire some creative types you want to make sure that they want to join your company and stay with you. Culture is everything. Building and maintaining a creative, innovative culture requires that the work inspires them, the compensation is more than financial incentives and the environment that they work in is a happy one that doesn’t squash their creativity.

A final thought, companies that innovate are often more successful than those that maintain a status quo. In order to innovate, you need to hire some creative, innovative, outside-the-box thinkers. And in order to hire these types your company needs to have a culture of creativity, of innovation.

So, what comes first the chicken or the egg, the creative culture or the innovative employee?

For me, I am now off in search of another box that I can think outside of.