Category Archives: Talent Acquisition

Carmen’s Hot Jobs, Vol 1, No. 8

By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations

Writing this blog every week has given me a whole new perspective on what my job is all about and on the value that Q4B brings or should bring to our client companies and our candidates. And since this blog is primarily candidate focused, it is my perspective on our relationship with our candidates that has begun to change.

Each time I write and post this blog I begin thinking about the next blog that I want to write. I have become more and more aware of trends in the recruiting industry, topics that are discussed on the various social media channels that we monitor, and the responses that those discussions solicit from the various group members who are engaged. I look for information, articles, other blogs, Tweets and books on any thing recruiting, talent acquisition, hiring and retention related.

Before I began to blog about the candidate experience, treating candidates as customers, promoting job ads that don’t suck and touting the various Hot Jobs that I highlight each week I felt that I was a passionate, experienced, dedicated recruiter who had been there and done that, who had seen the recruiting process work, who had done some things and seen others do some things that didn’t work and learned from those experiences good or bad.

I now know that as much experience in recruiting that I have, as much knowledge of the recruiting process that I know that I have there is so much more that I can learn about this business. And the more that I learn, the more that I can share with and pass on to the rest of our staff, the greater value we can offer our client companies and our candidates.

I have started asking myself and my staff the following questions as part of our debriefing when we close a job assignment, successful or not.

  • Did we have enough information from the client in order to conduct a successful search?
  • Did we have enough information from the candidate in order to properly screen and successfully present to the client?
  • Did we prepare the candidate for a successful interview?

Getting answers to these questions is how we get better, it is how our newer recruiters, sourcers and screeners learn and it is how with each engagement we become that much more of an asset to our clients and candidates. It is also how we insure that as much as possible we are not surprised by the results of our recruiting efforts going forward.

And now the information you have been waiting for, our Hot Jobs for this week!

  • Oracle EBS Manufacturing Consultant – And you thought you would have to join the Navy or become a long distance truck driver to see this much of the USA. Travel, Travel, Travel and a lot of emphasis WIP, BOM and WMS if you know what I mean.
  • Software Configuration Manager – This job is so HOT that I have mentioned it More than once in previous Hot Jobs Blogs. But remember if interested in this job get ready to explain what CTFL, ISTQB, CSQA and CSTE stand for.

So that is it for another week. I have already begun to think about next week’s blog. It may have something to do with interviewing and what our successful candidates always have with them.

No, not my cell phone number, but that is not a bad idea!

Til next week.





Putting It All in Perspective

By Jennifer Brownell, Managing Director, Q4B

I spent the first two weeks of July on a road trip with my two daughters and some close friends traveling back to Michigan, where I grew up. We spent some time with family, friends and visited Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, OH, the home of the greatest roller coasters in the world.

The trip was fun and exciting and I know that it created lasting memories that my daughters will have forever. I was also able to keep up with work on a daily basis thanks to technology, connectivity and even land lines when necessary.

I intended to use this trip, the experiences I shared with my daughters and my family, the places we visited, the roller coaster rides as the basis for this blog, hopefully, as a metaphor for the recruiting and talent acquisition business.

Late last week my plans changed. They changed because of what happened in Aurora.

I know that we live in a world where random acts of violence occur, where bad things happen to good people and where sometimes we are just at the wrong place at the wrong time. But this was close. I live and work just south of where this occurred in Parker, CO. One of my daughters knows one of the young persons who was shot and who is now in ICU and in critical condition. She just as easily could have been in attendance at this event.

Over the weekend I thought about this horrific event as a mother, as a neighbor to one of the victims, as a concerned citizen and as someone in the business of finding great jobs for people.

We work to make a better life for ourselves, for our families, possibly for generations to come. We work to enjoy life, hobbies, passions, interests. As recruiters we help people find better jobs, better opportunities that will allow them to enjoy their lives outside of work.

The tragedy of Aurora is that those who died will never be able to live their lives as they were meant to be lived, to experience success, to enjoy the pleasures and joys of life outside of work, to make a contribution to our society. They will be missed.

When something like this occurs people react in different ways, some become more cautious, more protective, more suspicious. On the other hand, some become more aware of the time that we have here on earth to live our lives as best we can, to live everyday to its fullest, to cherish family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and to accept the fact that we can’t control everything.

I know that I will look at things differently, that my perspective about life, business, and my career has changed.

And it changed because of what happened in Aurora.

Our prayers are with all of the victims, their families and friends.

So What Is Your Hyphenate?

By Jennifer Brownell, Managing Director, Q4B

In the current issue of Fast Company that features the 100 most creative people in business (and no I did not make the list for the fourth year in a row) the word hyphenate was used to describe Ceelo Green and defines it as a “trendy marker for success, a strung-together mash up of titles made mandatory when no single job description suffices to describe a certain someone’s magnificence.”

After reading this definition I started to think about my job and then about the job of recruiting. Recruiters have a problem when it comes to telling people what they do. If you tell someone that you are a recruiter you can expect to hear”Oh, you mean you’re a headhunter.” Or, you will be asked, “Can you find me a job?” And too often you end up explaining the type of work you do, the types of people you recruit and how you earn a living. All of this falling on deaf ears when you did not immediately tell the person that you indeed could find him a job.

Some recruiters have dealt with this issue by referring to themselves as consultants, executive recruiters, search consultants, talent acquisition specialists all to no avail. None of these titles adequately describes what recruiters do. None.

Think about everything that recruiters do. We sell opportunities to our candidates and solutions to our client companies. We solve problems, since the only reason that a company is hiring is that they have a problem. We contribute to the success of our client companies as well as the candidates we place. We coach both our clients and candidates. We mentor. We negotiate. We provide market intelligence, competitive analysis and up to date business and career advice. We facilitate offers and negotiate realistic compensation packages and help close deals. We develop long term relationships with clients and candidates. We hand hold. We hold both clients and candidates accountable. We source, screen and help select the best fit candidate for our client’s positions. We check references and use the referenced information as part of our presentation to the client if appropriate. And we do this for every position that we are working to fill.

Wow! I think that you can now see how inadequate the word recruiter is in describing the great job that we do.

I am going to work on my hyphenate so that the next time someone asks me what I do, I can respond and leave little doubt as to how much I do and how important it is that I continue to do it.

I do know one thing though, that in my hyphenate the word serendipitous will certainly appear.

Can Your Business Strategy Pass the Test?

“Your strategy should be reviewed and updated on a quarterly basis.  Of course, that assumes you went through a disciplined thought process and have a real strategy to start with!”  – Stephen Lynch, COO,


Does your company have a strategy? Do you know if the clients that you work with have a strategy for their business? If your company does not, then you may want to take Stephen Lynch’s advice and go “through a disciplined thought process and develop a real strategy” before you continue reading the rest of this blog.

As to whether your clients have a business strategy, I doubt that any of us in the talent acquisition and recruiting business could answer that. We may assume that most do have a strategy, since we only prospect for clients who have a need for our services, have the dollars to spend for our services, and have a demonstrated track record of success. Surely that would indicate that they have a strategy for their business. Maybe, but how good it is, is another issue.

In a recent blog post on, Stephen Lynch presented a 10 point pressure test for a company’s business strategy devised by McKinsey – who maintain that most companies can barely pass more than 3 of these tests. Hopefully your company and your client companies can score better?

Here is the test:

1. Will your strategy beat the market?
Perform a thorough industry analysis (at least once per year) to get a clear picture of how the competitive forces in your industry are likely to play out. To beat industry average growth rates you will need a meaningful point of difference that can’t be easily copied or nullified.  Mindlessly copying your competitor’s innovations is not a strategy – it is a recipe for mediocrity. Do you really have a winning strategy?

2. Do you have a sustainable competitive advantage?
How will you make money in the future?  Do you have a unique strategic position – a concept that you “own” in the minds of your target customers?  Do you have special capabilities that can’t be easily copied?  Remember that nothing lasts forever.

3. Are you focused on the bulls-eye?
Push for the narrowest possible segmentation of your target market. Clearly defining and understanding your ideal target market customer is one of the most powerful things a company can do to improve its strategy.

4. Does your strategy put you ahead of trends?
Many strategies place too much weight on current trends. But as Peter Drucker said, it is not the trends, but “the changes in the trends” that leaders must keep on top of. These changes creep up so slowly that most companies fail to respond until it is too late to mount an effective response to take advantage of it.  They delay taking action; held back by cost concerns, an unwillingness to cannibalize a legacy business, or an attachment to yesterday’s formula for success.
Always look to the edges. How are your early adopter customers acting?  What are the small, innovative new entrants doing?  What innovations could change the entire industry?

5. Does your data give you privileged insights?
It is easy to be overwhelmed with data – the key is to make sense of it all and obtain actionable insights.  Don’t rely on the same data your competitors use.  Do you really understand your customers? Companies who go out of their way to experience the world from their customer’s perspective will develop better strategies.

6. Does your strategy embrace uncertainty?
Prioritize all your current threats (things that could derail your strategy) as part of your SWOT analysis, and consider what action you would take if these worst case scenarios came to fruition.  Could you handle it?  Do you have a plan B ready to roll out?

7. Does your strategy require commitment and tradeoffs?
Hedging your bets is not a strategy.  A full commitment to defined course of action is the only path to sustainable competitive advantage. This requires tradeoffs – you can’t be all things to all people. What are you not going to do?

8. Is your strategy contaminated by bias?
Are there certain assumptions that your business leaders have made and are making regarding you products, services, customers, pricing, market share, customer experience, etc, that will keep you from fully implementing a successful strategy? If so, then get rid of them. Bias has no place in business or in your business strategy.

9. Is your leadership team fully committed?
Many good strategies fail to be executed because of a lack of commitment among the leadership team, where just one or two nonbelievers can strangle a strategic change at birth.

10. Have you translated your strategy into a strategic execution plan? Clearly define where you are going, and make sure everyone knows the specific actions they need to take to play their part.  Ensure your budget and resource allocation is aligned with your strategy. Strategy comes first!  Effort spent aligning the budget with the strategy will pay off many times over.

So how did your company do? Regardless of how well or poorly your company did, this exercise should provide successful business leaders with many unanswered questions and areas for improvement that will help their companies grow and be profitable.

For those of us in the talent acquisition business this exercise presents us with some unique opportunities.  Asking these 10 questions of our prospective clients, as part of our needs analysis process, can provide us with a great deal of information about the opportunity and positions us as a true valued partner in helping our clients grow and succeed. Helping our clients address some of these questions, will give us a much better feel for the type of talent required to implement and manage the business strategy.

Your business could have the best business strategy, one that passes the McKinsey pressure test with flying colors, but without the right people, in the right places, without top talent, without “A players” your strategy is not worth the paper that it is printed on.

And companies like ours can help find that talent.

The Most Important Questions You Have Never Asked

“Building a great team in business takes clear thinking, a strong strategy, and an understanding of the big picture. All these factors are necessary and important, but if you can’t assess candidates in the job interview, you’re not going to put that understanding into practical application, day-today, year-to-year. There is no more important business decision – not one – than who to hire.”–   Doug Hardy,

You have done all the hard work. You have gotten a great deal of information about the position you are trying to fill. You know the requirements, the experience, the education and the personality of the ideal candidate. You have covered the compensation package and know that it is reasonable. If you are a 3rd party recruiter you have cleared the fee. You have sourced, screened, selected and interviewed numerous candidates and presented a slate of qualified, interested and available candidates to the hiring manager. The interviews take place and none of your candidates are made an offer.

Sound familiar? This ever happened to you?

You then begin to question your work, your understanding of the position, your ability to recruit the right candidates for your client. Even the feedback from the hiring manager doesn’t quite mesh with what you knew about each candidate and the position. Something went wrong in the interview, and you had no control of that part of the hiring process.

The truth is that you have no idea how good the hiring managers, the decision makers are at interviewing. Most hiring managers dread the interview. They dread it because they have little or no training in how to effectively perform the task. And study after study has shown that most hiring decisions are made within the first two minutes of the interview.

And yet there is no more important business decision than who to hire.

In a book entitled “Boost Your Hiring IQ” author Carole Martin, the Interview Coach, offers up a simple 50 question test to rate your interviewing skills and help you see where you need to strengthen your skills and your ability to ask better questions.

Martin’s contention is that most candidates, especially those coming from recruiters, are much better prepared for the job interview than are the people conducting the interview.

Based on the type of information the interviewer is seeking, the test offers up three questions. The interviewer then picks what he/she considers to be the strongest question. The questions are then rated as strongest, mediocre, weakest and depending on which question was chosen the interviewer gets points, 5 points for the strongest, 3 points for the mediocre and 0 points for the weakest. Add up the points at the end of the IQ test and your score range gives your Hiring IQ.

Here is an example.

Learning why the applicant wants to work for your company you could ask;

  1. What is it that interests you most about the position/company?
  2. What attracted you to this particular job posting?
  3. How would you compare this position to your current or last position?

The strongest question is __________

Everyone in a position to interview candidates should have an Interview IQ score and periodically retake the test and continue improving those interviewing skills.

Martin then offers up five rules to improve your hiring process. After all you could be a good interviewer with a good IQ score but unless you follow these five rules you will be just that, a good interviewer.

The five rules are:

  1. Assess the job before the interview. What is the role of the job?
  2. Identify the job’s “key factors” for success.
  3. Prepare questions to ask during the interview.
  4. Include all interviewers in the plan/process.
  5. Objectively review the results and rate the candidate after the interview.

All of us in the recruiting and talent acquisition business have an opportunity to help our clients, our hiring managers get better at interviewing. The better they become at interviewing, more of our candidates will be hired and contribute to the success of the hiring company.

The questions that are never asked but should be asked at the very beginning of the engagement are,” How good are you at interviewing? What is your Interviewing IQ? Would you mind taking an Interviewing IQ test?” It is much better to get this information early in the engagement than to not get it at all and hope that all your hard work pays off. Yet, I wonder if any of us are confident enough to ask these questions. I for one intend to find out.

Now, what question did you feel was the strongest?  The strongest was C. Were you right? Then give yourself 5 points.

Talent Management – Is That What You Do?

In his groundbreaking book, Intellectual Capital, author Thomas Stewart writes “The management of talent, your human capital is part of an uncertain and complex endeavor that must deal with technology and competitors that won’t stand still, must formulate strategy and place multi-million dollar bets on the basis of highly imperfect information, and that adds to the mix the most intangible and least describable asset of all, plain old good business judgment.”

And we thought your job was easy! And maybe your boss did as well. Managing talent may be the most important and yet underappreciated job in any company. Rarely does a Talent Manager, HR leader or what ever title you use, have a seat at the table; rarely are they consulted on business strategy or rewarded proportionally for the success of the company. And yet most CEOs would say that “our people are our most important asset.”

The true leaders in Talent Management are all involved with establishing policy and implementing procedures for everything from sourcing, screening, selecting, on boarding, succession planning, retention, career advancement, training and when the occasion arises firing, downsizing and outplacement of the workforce. They are also directly involved in many cases in delivering the expected results of these processes, namely, top talent or A-Players.

So why the disconnect? Why is this critical role so underappreciated? The answers could be many depending on your point of view and your familiarity with the job requirement. Remember the old adage that in order to fully appreciate what a person does you need first to walk a mile or two in his/her shoes. Even if the shoes are bright red pumps in size eight and a half double D.

In my role as CEO of Q4B, I have had the pleasure of working with Talent Managers many of whom I would consider leaders in their field. I am also involved in growing and managing our company and managing our talent as well. I think this give me a unique perspective. My response to the question, why so underappreciated is that it is all about time, bandwidth and prioritizing.

If you are in a talent management position ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is your talent acquisition and retention process more reactive than proactive?
  2. Can your internal recruiting engine source and screen high quality candidates consistently?
  3. Is your internal process capable of reacting to a spike in hiring demand?
  4. Do your customers (hiring managers) work with you as an equal partner to help the company succeed?
  5. Do your bosses (C-level) consider what you do as strategic and critical to the company’s success and profitability?
  6. Are your processes aligned with the goals of the company?
  7. How much time do you and your recruiters spend on activity that is of low value to your customers (hiring managers and candidates)?
  8. Do you agree that “our people are our most important asset” or would you say that your talent pipeline is your most important asset?
  9. Do you wish you had more time to plan, analyze and improve your processes and deliverables?

Good talent management leaders, those who do have a seat at the table and who are appreciated by their company’s leadership team (C-level and board) have a keen understanding of their own capabilities, the capacity and bandwidth of their internal staff and are willing to bring in external resources in order to hire, promote and retain the best talent for their company. This willingness to utilize outside resources gives them the time they need to plan, analyze and improve those processes, thus making their contribution more valuable to the success of the company.

Good talent management leaders also have one other trait in common. It is that intangible and hard to describe asset that Stewart talks about, “plain old good business judgment.”

Do you have it?