11 Things You Didn’t Know That Affect Your Job Chances

Job seekers will get rejected for many things.  Their lack of skills, their lack of experience, their height, weight, gender, race and so on.  I have blogged on these items extensively but here are a few items not often considered that affect a job candidate’s chances.  Some are within their control while others are not.

The time of your interview – When scheduling an interview avoid the lunch hour.  A pre-lunch interview could be cut short while a post lunch interview could delay you as you wait for your interviewer to return.  waiter-492872_640Also the last interview of the day is not a prime choice as your interviewer may be distracted by their evening plans.

Rainy days – If you can change the weather patterns try interviewing on a sunny day.  You may be rated more favorably.

Early, on time or late – Showing up late for an interviewer is obviously a negative and you can never go wrong with being on time but showing up early isn’t necessarily a plus. Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert says that arriving too early can make you appear too anxious and put pressure on the interviewer.

How you treat staff – Be good to those around you! The CEO of Panera bread once rejected a candidate because they were rude to a worker cleaning nearby tables.  Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, will ask the airport shuttle driver if his job candidates were rude or impolite.  “If our shuttle driver wasn’t treated well, then we won’t hire that person,” Hsieh remarked.

Sitting too early – Stand until your interviewer sits or offers you a seat!

Looking at your cell phone or watch – The hiring manager deserves your attention! Don’t be rude!

Where you grew up – Interviewers are often sub-consciously biased but sometimes in a positive way.  If the job seeker shares similarities with the interviewer such as in where they both grew up, this may benefit the candidate. The similarity attraction hypothesis suggests that people are drawn to those who are similar to them in some aspect.

Smiling – Smiling people are more engaging and approachable but according to one study, excessive smiling does not benefit all professions. Most notably manager candidates were less likely to get the job.

A foreign accent – Another item about which candidates have no control is a foreign accent and for executive positions employers are seemingly biased against it.  According to research, employers believe foreign speaking candidates have less political skill.

Obesity – A study found that candidates were rated as less competent when photos of their non-obese bodies were compared with digitally altered photos that made them look obese.  Is this discrimination? Of course it is and unless you live in Michigan, there is no law to protect you.

Your handshake – This one is perhaps more spoken of than the others but an issue people may commonly neglect.  Strong handshakes usually indicate confidence while weak handshakes, according to one study, indicate shyness and neuroticism.

As a job seeker, if you can eliminate all the potential resume pitfalls, and get past the computer gatekeeper, your chances will improve drastically if you heed the data above.

Can You Hire Top Talent in Only 10 Days?

Last year the national average for filling an open position reached 29 days which was a record.  Believing that recruiters are simply dragging their feet and waiting for a purple squirrel is a common assumption time-481444_640and true to some extent.  To be fair though to recruiters and hiring managers, the number of measures that must be taken the moment a position becomes vacant needs to be considered.

Recruiters must:

  • Advertise the position
  • Identify acceptable candidates
  • Conduct interviews
  • Complete background and reference checks
  • Extend an offer
  • Wait for the candidate to accept the offer

When you consider all of this, 29 days doesn’t seem so long but it is!  According to some statistics, top talent remains on the market for only 10 days!  Additionally, during that 29 days, as the position remains open, productivity, revenue and morale drops among your employees.  The solution seems simple.  Speed up the hiring process! Weed out candidates with an ATS.  Conduct more interviews in less time with video interviewing!  Even with those measures in place, is ten days to fill a realistic goal?

Recruiting in the business world isn’t like recruiting in the sports or entertainment industry.  My team has an open position at quarterback and Cam Newton is available?  You’d better believe we are going after him! He’s a proven star!  Carmello Anthony is a free agent and I need a forward?  My VP of People Operations is calling up Carmello’s agent.  My movie’s director just dropped out?  Let’s see, is Scorsese Spielberg or Christopher Nolan available? No?  What about Alejandro Inarritu?  He’s been nominated twice in the last two years.

Within these fields top talent can easily be identified.  Right from the start a short list of stars to fill the open position is formed.  In the corporate world unless you are poaching executives at the “C” level from high profile companies such as Amazon, Apple or Google, most top talent is relatively unknown.  You don’t know that you have a potential Steph Curry, Odell Beckham Jr., or Cate Blanchett applying for your open position.  At least not from the start.

Though your job candidate’s resume may scream success up front, you certainly want more than a few days to determine the validity of their credentials.  Assuming an organization is lucky enough to find their dream candidate within seven days of posting a job, recruiters are left with only three days to interview the candidate, verify references and negotiate an offer before the candidate accepts another.  Careerbuilder released a survey a few years ago and the results showed that 41% of employers believed a bad hiring decision cost them upwards of $25,000 and 43% of them blamed their bad hires on a rushed hiring decision.

Organizations face a problem. Move too quickly during the hiring process and they risk hiring the wrong candidate.  Move too slowly and they risk a great candidate getting away. Move slower still, 29 days slow, and they risk losing not only the good candidates but all of the rest.  Hiring managers can ill afford to hold out and wait for a Steph Curry or an Adrian Peterson.  As Dr. John Sullivan points out, “…it’s mostly luck if the most desirable candidates decide to enter the job market precisely when you coincidentally have a job opening.”

So can you hire a great candidate in ten days?  Yes, but only if luck is on your side.  Generally you shouldn’t try because your rushed hiring decision could produce a bad hire.  However if you drag your feet too long waiting for the perfect candidate, your luck will turn to misfortune.  That is if you believe losing revenue is unfortunate.

Raise Your Employees Like You Should Raise Your Children.

I recently read through two lists regarding how to raise children.  “Science say parents of successful kids have these 11 things in common” and “How to Raise Happy Kids: 10 Steps Backed by Science.” family-1237701_640 “Science” was the word that most drew my attention because obviously science implies that these tips are more than just suggestions, they are backed by research.

As I scanned the list I contemplated how many of these could be applied to how we should raise our employees in the workplace. Here are a few of the following traits that parents of successful children have in common.

  • They have high expectations.  The Pygmalion effect states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Parents who expected more of their kids had children who showed greater success on standardized testing. Could we not expect the same results when expecting more from our employees?
  • They have healthy relationships with each other. Children with parents who maintain a great relationship with one another whether intact or divorced fare better than those surrounded by high conflict relationships. Managing our employees in an atmosphere of minimal conflict should produce the same effects.
  • They develop a relationship with their kids.  Why not reach out to your employees?
  • They’re less stressed. Emotional contagion is a psychological phenomenon where feelings spread from one person to another like a cold. Stressed out managers, especially in cube farms common in many office spaces, will spread their stress like the plague.
  • They value effort over avoiding failure.  I once worked with a company whose owner would frequently say, “Don’t confuse effort with results!” He lost a lot of good employees!  Science backs up the suggestion that we should focus on effort.  Telling your employees they succeeded because of their effort teaches a “growth” mindset and as a result your workers will accept more challenges and will embrace failure as an opportunity to improve.

Happier kids are more likely to grow into successful adults and so common sense suggests that happy employees too should be more primed for success.  Here are a few of the suggestions on how to raise happy kids from the article mentioned above.

  • Get happy yourself!  As discussed above, feelings spread. As a manager you can choose to spread good will or bad will.
  • Teach them to build relationships.  Your employees aren’t too old to be taught how to better interact with and encourage one another.  Lead by example!
  • Expect effort, not perfection.  From the book, Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, “Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other kids.”  Depression causes 200 million lost workdays and billions in lost productivity according to the CDC. As noted in the first set of bullet points, focusing on an employee’s efforts allows them to better embrace failure and can reduce depression.
  • Teach optimism. Optimists are more successful at work, healthier and have fewer bouts of depression.  Teach it and live it!
  • Teach emotional intelligence.  Read my post “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Trumps all other traits” and you will learn why this is the one trait to rule them all.
  • Eat dinner together.  Eating dinner together is great for families but while I’m not suggesting you invite your employees to your home for taco Tuesday, joining them at lunch or in the cafeteria if you have one, will help you establish healthier relationships with them.

We place a lot of emphasis on raising successful children but perhaps not enough on raising successful adults.  Why not, when our success greatly hinges on the success of the people with whom we spend as much time as our children?

Will You Be Replaced By A Robot? Here Are the Predictions.

More and more I see articles and posts adorned with pictures of the Terminator, sans flesh, with titles half-jokingly warning us of the day that robots will take our jobs away, as though robots are angry and want calculator-695084_640our menial jobs.  Should we be concerned? Here are a few of the numbers for you to decide.

  • In February White House economists warned us that low-wage workers, those making less than $20 per hour, are at an 83% risk of losing their job to a robot in the “years ahead”.  How far away “years ahead” is, I am not certain.
  • According to a study by Deloitte, eleven million jobs in the UK are in danger of being automated by 2036.
  • The World Economic Forum predicts that robots will steal over 5 million jobs globally over the next five years.  This survey was based on 371 global companies with a total of more than thirteen million employees.
  • One out of every four full-time workers in an Amazon warehouse is a robot.
  • Gartner predicts that by 2025, one-third of all jobs will be replaced by software or machines.
  • University of Oxford researchers released a report in 2013 suggesting that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated by 2033.

Most of the jobs seized by robots will be in the office and administrative sector which will greatly affect women.  Though this coming storm of automation will create jobs, women will lose far more than will be created.  Five jobs will be lost for women for every one gained while for men the ratio is three jobs lost for every one gained.

The news doesn’t look good especially for those in lower paying jobs.  Workers complaining about their minimum wage salaries may not have any salary at all in the coming years. So should we go “Sarah Conner” on the factories churning out these automated machines and robots?

Put away your M-16 and plasma rifle for now.  The VDMA Robotics and Automation Association released an interesting study that demonstrated increased usage of automation in the German automotive industry coincided with employment increases.  According to the CEO of VDMA’s robotics arm, “New approaches at smart factories actually look into using human strengths and the machine’s strengths in an intelligent combination, so it doesn’t look like we are running into a situation where we will massively lose jobs.”

Sadly though if the robots do want to launch a revolution, we humans are primed for an overthrow.  A recent study by Pew Research Center revealed that 80% of Americans believe their job will exist in 50 years.  This belief does not jive with the predictions above.  Is the human race in denial or even worse….in jeopardy?

Hasta la vista, humans!

Productivity is on life support: Blame the Millennials and the Baby Boomers

As we likely all know, U.S. workers have not been enjoying much in the way of rising wages for some time. The economy’s health as far as bringing workers ever increasing prosperity is a function of ever increasing ekg-158177_640worker productivity.  

Labor productivity is defined as the amount of output produced per hour of labor. Productivity is affected by new technology, capital investment, the organization of production, managerial skill, and the characteristics and effort of the work force. The more you produce per hour the more your employer profits. The employer hopefully shares the profits of your labor with you, the worker, through higher wages.

But productivity growth has been lagging. During America’s post World War II boom years of 1947 through 1973, productivity enjoyed a 2.8% annual growth rate. This sharply contrasts with 2007 through 2015 when productivity grew just 1.2% per year, a drop of almost 60%.

So why is productivity not increasing faster?

First of all, we’re all busier than ever but are we getting more work done?  The problem is the things we’re busy at are not necessarily resulting in higher productivity. For example, just think about how much time you spend cleaning up your email box every day. Sure, email has made communication more efficient, but has it made it more effective?  We don’t have to play phone tag so much anymore, but email has also brought us spam. But it’s not just email. Think how Facebook and Twitter and Snap Chat and Instagram and Youtube, etc., all take their toll on productivity.

Economists are arguing over whether succeeding waves of new technology necessarily deliver less and less in the way of productivity gains.  I’d argue that some technology gains deliver productivity loss.

Second, the gig economy and the celebration of entrepreneurship means many workers, and in particular millennials, are working on their own projects even if they have a fulltime job, and often while they’re at that fulltime job. As a manager I’m astounded at how much time millennials at work spend not working on their employer’s agenda, but rather on their own. In a discussion with a high level corporate executive, he told me that their company was formulating a policy that their workers would be required to spend at least 75% of their time on the job working on the employer’s assigned tasks, allowing them to work 25% of the time on their own projects.  Say what? His rationale was that their millennial workers would just quit otherwise. This is a clear case of corporate insanity sabotaging the company’s own productivity growth.

Finally, the baby boomers aren’t capable of delivering strong productivity growth. Research shows that worker productivity slows down after age 45, at least in some industries.  Forty-five plus old individuals make up about 44% of all employed workers, and of course most of these are baby boomers, the youngest of whom are now 53 years old. I’m not saying baby boomers don’t contribute. Science says our analytical skills continue to develop as we age, even if our memories degrade. But baby boomers are not going to be delivering the productivity gains needed to fuel significantly growing worker incomes.

The best hope is the millennial generation, which is even larger than the baby boom. But unless they get focused on being more productive for their employers than they have been we may have many more years of sub-standard productivity and wages.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Trumps All Other Traits

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a person’s ability to be aware of and monitor their own behaviors and emotions.  Individuals with high EQs better understand their strengths and weaknesses, have more self-control girl-990585_640and exhibit more initiative. 

In a previous post, “Skills vs. Attitude: What Lands the Job?” I noted that cosmetics giant, L’Oreal found that their sales people with a high emotional intelligence score outsold their peers by $90,000 per year.  Further corroborating the benefit of emotional intelligence, at least among sales people, a study of over 40 Fortune 500 companies indicated that sales people with high EQs performed better than those with medium to low EQs by 50%.  The same study showed that technical programmers with EQs in the top 10% produced software three times faster than those outside this range.

The benefits of high EQ are not limited to increased productivity. Studies have shown that workplaces with lower average EQs, in addition to experiencing lower productivity, also report higher rates of burnout and turnover.

The vast benefits of high EQs don’t end with high productivity and lower turnover.  Studies also show that those with lower EQ scores experience twice the rate of anxiety, depression and substance abuse all of which lead to increased absenteeism from work.  Individuals suffering from depression are better than twice as likely to take sick days.  Lost productivity and increased medical expenses as a result of depression costs businesses more than $83 billion dollars each year and these expenses occur year after year.

Depression aside, stress and anxiety suppress the immune system making one vulnerable to illness which of course leads to increased absenteeism.  Since high EQ individuals are less prone to bouts of stress and anxiety, their ability to better fight off infection and remain at work is superior.  Even more impressive is the research that suggests emotional intelligence can speed up the recovery of major illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.  Studies have shown that men and women recovering from cancer or heart attacks were able to reduce their levels of stress, keep a better diet and build a stronger immune system when developing emotional intelligence skills during recovery.

In short, employees with high emotional intelligence produce more, handle stressful situations better and work more often than their low EQ counterparts.  I suggest you hire them!  

If you are a high EQ employee, don’t worry, there are benefits for you too.  Since individuals with higher EQs are more productive they naturally make more money.  Studies show that every extra point of emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an individual’s annual salary.  This is true in any part of the world, in any industry and at any level!

The bottom line is that cultivating emotional intelligence is good for your business, good for your health and even good for your wallet!

Job Seeker: 7 Annoying Things To Expect From Your Job Search

Looking for a new job can be a daunting, draining, soul crushing experience. However if you establish realistic expectations you can approach the rejection and struggle philosophically rather than personally and alone-62253_640hopefully not succumb to depression.

Please consider the following before you start pounding the pavement so that you don’t start pounding your head against it.

You might suffer through a long application process – So you’ve just found a great job online you feel is perfect for you? You apply and find that you’ve entered an arduous process that little helps your job seeking fatigue.  Fifty-four percent of HR professionals report that their organization’s application process takes over 20 minutes to complete!  Keep in mind that on average every online job posting receives about 200 resumes.  Before you enter into 20 minutes of online hell and compete with 200 other blokes, ask yourself, “Do I really want this job?” and “Am I really qualified for this job?” If you can’t answer “yes” to either of those, then don’t waste your time.

You probably won’t find a job online – The majority of open positions aren’t advertised online and according to a 2014 survey by CareerXroads, only 15 percent of jobs were filled through job boards.  Most candidates are sourced from within or from referrals.  Networking therefore may be a better use of your time.

You probably won’t hear back from the employer – A Careerbuilder survey suggests that three-fourths of job candidates never hear back from the employer after applying or they receive no more than an automated response after hitting “submit”.  Yes, though this lack of employer action may be unprofessional, you should not take it personally. If you are holding your breath with crossed fingers and refreshing your inbox repeatedly, you will be disappointed if not frustrated.

You weren’t rejected because of who you are – Automated systems often filter out about 75% of the candidates who apply through them and much of this rejection is based solely on the lack of keywords in your resume. If a company shows no interest in your online application, don’t take it personally. Chances are a human never saw your resume to begin with and even if they did, they spent on average only six seconds getting to know it.

You may not have been rejected for lack of skill – You may have all the skills in the world but today, as unfair as this sounds, cultural fit is given more consideration during the hiring process.  A study of 500 organizations found that 82% felt cultural fit was an important measure in the hiring process while seventy-five percent of respondents believed cultural fit was a good predictor of success.  Understand though that fit is a two-way street.  If they don’t feel you are a fit for them, they may not be a fit for you either. Learning that up front is perhaps best for your career.

Hiring managers barely look at your resume – Hiring managers and recruiters look at your resume, as mentioned above, for a mere six seconds.  During that time they only look at your name, current position, previous position and education. Make sure your resume is formatted in such a way that this information can be accessed quickly to best maximize the time they spend on you.

You may be requested to take a video interview – Dozens of video interviewing providers now litter the hiring landscape as employers seek to hire more efficiently and effectively. If you are invited to take a video interview, do not panic and certainly do not feel slighted you weren’t immediately invited into the office.  You have been invited because your resume interests them.  You have passed the skills audition and the video interview is your chance to let your personality shine.  Read, “4 Reasons Why Job Candidates Should be All Over Video Interviewing.”

A job search is more a marathon than a sprint. Understand these six points and you just may have the endurance to make it to the finish line.

We Determine A Person’s Trustworthiness Pretty Darn Quickly!

New research out of Columbia Business School suggests that you can predict someone’s trustworthiness just by looking at their face.  This may seem shocking to some while to others they have read research girl-102829_640like this for years, but the reason why we have such an ability will surprise many.  According to the findings we act the way we are perceived.  One of the researchers suggests that individuals have an awareness of how people will judge them, they then internalize these expectations and behave accordingly.  In short, if you are perceived as trustworthy you will tend to act in a trustworthy manner.  On the flip side, if you are perceived as untrustworthy, you will behave as untrustworthy.

Though the study focused on and only measured trustworthiness, I wonder how many other behaviors are affected by people’s perceptions.  “Thin slicing”, as psychologists call it, is the process by which individuals rate people for numerous attributes within seconds of meeting them.  In some instances the predictions are fairly accurate while in others, not so much, but the perception still persists.  For instance men with shaved heads are perceived as dominant.  This does not mean that all men or even the majority with shaved heads are indeed dominant just that most people believe they are.

My question is, if we become more trustworthy when perceived as such, might not we also internalize other perceptions and act accordingly?  If someone perceives me as dominant for example might I not recognize this and behave in a similar fashion?

Following are a number of assumptions made about us within seconds.

  • Trustworthiness
  • Economic status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Intelligence
  • Dominance
  • Level of success
  • If you are adventurous
  • If you are aggressive
  • If you are religious
  • Your competence
  • If you are conscientious

Surely a few of these like economic status and level of success can be faked with a nice suit and expensive watch or jewelry but many others cannot.  Deion Sanders, the Hall of Fame NFL defensive player, was once asked why he wore such nice suits to the games.  He replied, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good.  If you play good, they pay good!” His statement makes sense.  If fancy clothes help us to feel better about ourselves so too would other people’s notions of us.  If another considered me as successful, might I not take on an attitude that exudes success?  Likewise with intelligence, competence and conscientiousness, these traits too could manifest themselves in an individual who is perceived to possess them.   Conscientiousness is, as I have written before, the personality trait that best determines success.

With at least trustworthiness Columbia has provided data showing how our perceptions influence others.  As an interviewer how then do you relate to your job candidates?  Are we unwittingly influencing their behaviors for better or worse during job interviews?  If we treat them good during the interview will they always feel good and play good on the job?  Are we really seeing the true candidate or just the candidate we perceive them to be?

How Google Plans To Conquer Its Unconscious Biases

Google’s diversity numbers in 2014 were less than impressive.  Overall 70% of the company was male and 61% was white.  Asians made up 30% with African-Americans pulling up the rear in a tiny 2% caboose.  To increase the thin number of minorities, Google is having an estimated 60,000 of its employees undergo training to combat the unconscious biases that plague us all. google-485611_640

Business Insider was permitted to publish the slide deck for Google’s diversity training.  Here are a few key takeaways.

  • We consciously process only 40 bits of the 11 million bits of information we receive every moment
  • 99.99% of information we receive is unconsciously processed.
  • Companies with higher proportions of board directors that were women outperformed others by 53%
  • Diverse teams out perform others, especially when handling complex problems
  • Structured job interviews increase fairness, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Traits for good managers are overwhelmingly associated with men than with women.
  • Asking for feedback on hires or promotions can increase diversity
  • Socializing with a more diverse group increases the amount of information to which you have access
  • We all have biases.

The overall picture is that diversity is good but we are pretty bad at recognizing and ignoring our unconscious biases. Google recommends the following to their employees to combat this.

  • Use structured interviews which give all job candidates a fair shot. As a proponent of video interviewing, I have seen personally how video interviewing’s structured interview process reduces discrimination.
  • Collect data to measure progress and spot patterns of bias. For instance in 2013 Google discovered that 77% of its homepage Doodles celebrated the birthdays of famous male leaders and innovators.  In 2014 they made sure to evenly split their celebrations of men and women.
  • Hold yourself and others accountable.  Get feedback on your decisions. Call out others’ decisions.  Make decisions as a group.  A good example of group decision making is collaboration on reviewing the video interviews of job candidates during the hiring process.  This allows other genders and ethnicities to voice their opinions.

Research is continuing to prove that a more colorful workforce is better than any one color alone.  Look outside your office window!  Notice anything missing?

Shocking! Research Reveals We Aren’t Happy At Work.

Well I can’t really say “We” since this study focused on Brits and I’m a Yank but in terms of work attitudes we really aren’t so different from our neighbors across the pond.  A five plus year study of tens of girl-1064659_640thousands of British people which included over a million responses revealed that the only thing we like less than work is being sick.  According to the study people hated working more than doing housework, commuting, or even waiting in line.

University of Sussex economist, Dr. George MacKerron, explains, “Although we may be positive about our jobs when reflecting on the meaning and purpose they give us, and the money they provide, actually engaging in paid work comes at a significant psychological cost.”

Researchers found work to be so painful that our happiness decreases by 7% to 8% compared to when we are not working.  Ouch!  Admittedly I might rather be at the beach than writing this post but I can’t say I’d rather be standing in line.

Since 2000, Gallup has been tracking employee engagement in the U.S. and for the past 15 years our engagement has remained low.  According to their survey, engagement, meaning the worker is enthusiastic and committed to their work and workplace, stands at 32% for 2015.  This is up a staggering half percentage point from 2014.  Worldwide engagement rests at only 13%.  Workers outside the U.S. must either have deplorable work conditions or their leisurely activities in which they’d rather engage must be way better than ours.

So if we make an assumption that happy employees tend to be more engaged, and evidence suggests this is true, then we shouldn’t be surprised to see such low engagement numbers if sitting in traffic is considered more fun than working.

Could happiness have a downside though? According to this article happiness provides several drawbacks:

  • Pursuing happiness can leave us unfulfilled when we don’t achieve it.
  • Happy people are worse at picking out acts of deception
  • Happy people aren’t as good at negotiating
  • People happy with their jobs are more devastated when they lose them
  • Research shows that happy people act more selfishly

The bottom line here is that not everyone feels fulfilled by their job and you can’t make all the workers happy all the time.  Even if you could, research suggests that constant happiness sometimes puts one at a disadvantage.

Are you really happy worrying about your employees’ happiness or would you be happier thinking about something else?  That’s right, doing something else.  Work is called work for a reason.  We aren’t necessarily supposed to be happy while doing it, but happy with what it gives us.