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International Women’s Day: How Far Do Women Have to Go In the Workplace?

The world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th.  In addition to celebrating all the various achievements of women, this day serves to raise awareness regarding the lack of gender equality.  The day is intended to celebrate the need for equality and yet ironically the day itself perhaps does not receive the equal treatment it deserves.  I must admit I had never heard of Women’s Day until after the day had passed.  The first Women’s Day occurred in 1911 in Austria and since then it has popped up here and there around the world as spikes of renewed interest in advancing gender parity took the form of rallies and women’s marches. 

How far have women come in recent years to achieving workplace equality, particularly in the US? Is a push still warranted?  Grant Thornton, a global tax, auditing and advisory firm has been tracking the progress women have made into senior leadership roles since 2004.   Globally, in 2004, women held 19% of the senior executive leadership roles while in the US, for that same year, women represented 20% of those roles.  In 2017 women’s global representation has gained ground and stands at 25% while the pace in the US has slowed a bit and now stands slightly below the global average at 23%.  Despite the increase, gains have been very modest in the last thirteen years. Perhaps more startling is that in 2012, 30% of companies in the U.S. had no female senior leaders while in 2017 that number has not decreased but increased slightly to thirty-one percent.  Advances are slow or even non-existent in areas.  Furthermore, women have not broken through in many other areas of business and government.

Following are 15 jobs women have yet to hold in the U.S.:

·         President of the US

·         Vice President of the US

·         Head coach of a major big 4 sports team

·         Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

·         FBI or CIA director

·         Senate Majority Leader

·         Member of the Joint Chiefs

·         Secretary of Defense, Treasury and Veterans affairs

·         Governor in 23 US states

·         CEO of a top 5 Fortune 500 company

·         Secretary General of the UN

Presently women on average earn only 80 cents for every dollar that men earn, however women do out-earn men in some professions.  The top five are:

·         Physician advisor

·         Purchasing specialist

·         Research assistant

·         Merchandiser

·         Social worker

These are however not the occupations in which women earn the most.  The top 5 and their median pay are as follows:

·         Corporate counsel – $115,000

·         Pharmacist – $119,000

·         VP of Marketing – $123,000

·         General pediatrician – $152,000

·         General practice physician – $173,000

Women are obviously successful and though one hasn’t piloted a top five Fortune 500 Company, Mary Barra currently helms #8 GM.  Yet the gains women have made are barely measurable from year to year.  A woman’s desire to manage both work and family is a frequently offered explanation.   Catherine Hill, The American Association of University Women remarks, “Yes, the choices we make are a big part of it, but it’s also the choices people assume we’re going to make.”  Meaning that yes, many women’s careers suffer when they take time off to care for children or family members but those who have no such aspirations are still penalized.

Mark your calendars for next March.  Women’s day will be coming back around and we all have the opportunity to celebrate women’s gains or lack thereof with a blog post or at the very least, a shout out on Twitter. 

Millionaires: What Do They All Have in Common?

Undoubtedly you recall the show, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” but in our society or really any, the more appropriate question might be, “Who Doesn’t Want to Be a Millionaire?”  Below are several facts andmoney-1090815_640 insights gathered together by individuals who have studied and found commonalities among the rich.

Thomas Corley spent five years studying the rich and in his book, “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals” points out eight daily rituals the rich share:

  • They have a daily must-do list
  • They don’t watch TV
  • They read the financial times
  • They are healthy eaters
  • They never stop learning
  • They rise early
  • They prioritize self-improvement
  • They exercise

Steve Siebold interviewed over 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest people and in his book, “How Rich People Think” he details seven truths that millionaires hold about money.

  • Money can solve most problems
  • Your level of education is not the key to getting rich
  • Do what you love and the money tends to follow
  • You don’t need money to make money
  • If you want money, you have to go after it
  • Self-employed people determine the size of their own paycheck
  • They start thinking like a rich person

In his book, “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life”, Thomas Corley points out that rich people make a daily choice not to follow the herd.  Corley suggests, “failure to separate yourself from the herd is why most people never achieve success.  You want to separate yourself from the herd, create your own herd and then get others to join it.”

Steve Siebold seems to echo this belief by suggesting the average person has trouble breaking free from their comfort zone.  “Physical, psychological and emotional comfort is the primary goal of the middle class mindset,” but he says that world class thinkers, “…learn to be comfortable while operating in a state of ongoing uncertainty.”

Perhaps the most significant trait that the wealthy share in common according to Corley is positivity.  “Long term success is only possible when you have a positive mental outlook.”  The majority of the people in Corley’s study limited their contact with pessimistic individuals while eighty-six percent regularly associated with success-minded individuals.

As journalist Napoleon Hill put it, “There is no hope of success for the person who repels people through a negative personality.”

So, who wants to be a millionaire?  Everyone?  Who really has the will and discipline to become rich? Very few!

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!

Four Problems With Amazon’s Arduous Quest for Purple Squirrels

“I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.

According to this recent article from Business Insider, Amazon has a notoriously hard Squirrel0001selection process.  Not only is the process full of thought provoking interviewing questions but potential employees may have to endure up to five interviews, each lasting a possible two to three hours.  Amazon has full time employees called “bar raisers” who spend 20-30 hours per week interviewing potential employees in addition to fulfilling their own regular work responsibilities.  These bar raisers come from various parts of the company and serve to prevent hiring managers from making hasty hiring decisions to fill an open position.  Each bar raiser has veto power and so if any one of them has an issue with the candidate at any point during the interview process, they can dismiss the application. Continue reading “Four Problems With Amazon’s Arduous Quest for Purple Squirrels” »

Five Lessons for Success We Can Learn from Children

My life doesn’t only revolve around hiring, video interviewing and recruiting.  I also Bourne - T-ballcommit a lot of time to coaching.  No, not coaching adults, coaching children.  As the father of a seven year old and a five year old, I have spent the last four years managing t-ball teams to success.  Yes, some of us more serious coaches privately keep score even in t-ball.  In addition, I have for the last year and a half helped manage a class of five and six year olds at church, so I have a lot of experience dealing with children.  Here are a few lessons we can learn from these miniature humans.

  1. They want to win perhaps more than adults – As of this post, my record over the last two years in t-ball is 26-1-1.  My key to success? I ask the children before every game if they want to have fun.  “Yes.” they reply.  I then ask, “Is it more fun to win or to lose?” “Win!” they shout.  That’s the secret.  Let them know that winning is important!  Early on I had my failures, too.  In my first stint at coaching I learned that every child wants to win whether they are playing Candy Land, a video game, or tag.  Their desire to win is so primal and fierce at times that we’ve convinced them that winning isn’t important so as not to hurt their little hearts when they lose.  Telling them there are no winners and losers, while designed to get them to solely appreciate game play, gives them no motivation to try harder and get better.  Children’s joy comes from winning the game more than playing it.  Sure many kids need to suck it up when they lose but how many of us adults need to be a little less content when we finish third or fourth?
  2. They know the squeaky wheel does get the grease – Not all children are the same.  Some ask politely for the things they want and when turned down, they accept your logic for denying their request and proceed quietly about their business.  Those are the children we respect.  Then there are children who will not take “no” for an answer.  They plead, beg and argue until you finally give into their demands simply because you don’t want to listen to them further.  You don’t love them for it and they realize you are annoyed but to them getting what they want far outweighs your opinion of them.  Though their selfishness needs some work, not worrying about what others think of them is a quality that helps them succeed.  Fear of criticism does not hold them back as it does many adults.
  3. They forget the past and don’t worry about the future – Children make mistakes but most do not dwell on them for days or even weeks as adults do.  They are blessed with short memories.  By not allowing past mistakes to spoil their present self-confidence, children are often willing to take more chances.  Additionally children live in the moment and don’t worry about the troubles of tomorrow that could rob their present day of its joy.
  4. Children keep on trucking – Similar to number three, children have the ability to get back up after falling and move on.  They don’t let broken arms, runny noses or sore throats stop them.  They don’t fill themselves with the “woe is me” attitude that so often plagues adults after years of being beaten down by life.  Have you ever remarked while watching a child run across a room, “Boy I wish I had their energy?”  Energy lands jobs.  Energy gets business deals closed.  Energy gets the worm!  Adults slow down and most of the time this results from a mental influence rather than a physical one.  Ignore your traffic ticket.  Forget about the dinner with your in-laws!  Stand up, brush yourself off, and attack life with the energy you wish you had!
  5. Children have friends – Do you remember when you had so many friends you couldn’t choose who to invite over to play?  As life takes over, adult friends take a back seat to work and other responsibilities.  Unbeknownst to us, with each friend that falls by the wayside, our opportunities and our energy dissipate a little more.  Why do children have enthusiasm?  Why do children want to win?  Why do children brush themselves off and keep on keeping on?  Because they have friends who motivate them to win, make them laugh, encourage them and open doors for them.  Friends introduce you to new opportunities.  Friends help land you jobs.  Friends pick you up when you are down.  Find your friends again and you will find your spirit to stand tall.

Thanks for your ear.  I’m off to line the field for one of my two remaining t-ball games.  I hope I didn’t jinx myself by stating my record.  Just remember, you can find inspiration even in children and once again rekindle your competitive spirit.

6 Ways to Tell if a Robot is Coming for Your Job

Technology has had a major impact on human labor for centuries.  For example, Pony Express Rider doesn’t exactly have a bullet next to it on the list of “hot jobs”.

Robotics is one of the more recent technological “revolutions” that has impacted the American workforce.  Some suggest that the stagnation in middle class wages is at least in part due to technology reducing the demand for labor, particularly certain unskilled and semi-skilled labor.  We know for example that while manufacturing output in the United States is growing, the manufacturing workforce continues its long term decline.  Industrial robots have taken on more and more repetitive, exacting tasks.Today, robotics enhanced with artificial intelligence are promising the robot invasion will continue into other areas of previously human-only endeavor.

So, what are the warning signs that a robot may be your replacement?

One, is a significant amount of your job made up of repetitive tasks?  This is a no brainer.  If you’re putting tab A into slot B, or collecting products X, Y and Z to pack and ship, you may want to think about how you can add more value to your labor.  Or at least get some compromising photos of the boss.

Two, is most of what you work with in digital form?  Once information is digitized it can be organized and managed by artificial intelligence, or at the very least distributed to those who add value to it to manage.  Does anyone remember there was once a job called “word processing clerk”?

Three, can “you” be replaced by a “digital you”?  There are no jobs for Orcs or goblins anymore, because they can be digitized in highly realistic 3-D.

Four, are many other people doing exactly the same job as you?  The more of “you” there are the greater the incentive to find a way to automate what you do.  Just 15 jobs account for 25% of the U.S. workforce.  The top 3 are retail sales clerks, cashiers, and office clerks.

Five, do you drive a vehicle for pay?   Well, Google has an automated vehicle that can drive in traffic.  I’m not sure they have tested it in Manhattan’s traffic yet, but you can see where this is going.

Finally, is your job extremely dangerous or risky?  The most dangerous jobs are fisherman, logger, pilots, refuse collectors, roofers, steel workers, farmers and (see number five) drivers.  As automation continues to improve organizations are incentivized to robotize these hazardous jobs where possible.  Doing so will eliminate the high insurance costs of employing people in these industries.

The debate continues about robots and their role on the labor force and the economy, good and bad.  Some economists believe we will have to design a whole new economic system to deal with the changeover from human labor to robot labor.  Others believe robots will usher in a new era of greater employment and higher wages.  But what doesn’t seem to be much of a matter for debate is the inevitability of more automation and the growth of robots in the workforce.

The Free Market Mostly Doesn’t Work for Healthcare

I recently visited my doctor for an annual checkup.  His practice had recently computerized their records.  As he was going through my medical history he started laughing.  Perturbed, I asked him to explain.  He said “of all my patients no one has had nearly as many diseases and conditions as you, particularly the unusual stuff.”

OK, so starting with birth I’ve endured circumcision, migraine headaches, having my tonsils out at age 10 and proceeding through 3 broken bones, mononucleosis, dysentery, malaria, a 5-inch splinter embedded in my foot, scrombroid fish toxin, shingles, 2 cancers (both cured by surgery), and the resorption of a tooth – and that’s just a partial list – let’s just say I’ve had a bit of experience with the healthcare system.  I’m here to tell you that the Free Market (cap F, cap m to denote the version worshipped by many of our fellow countrymen) just does not work for emergency healthcare.

Sure, the market works fine for elective healthcare like Lasik eye repair or cosmetic surgery.  That’s because these elective procedures, unlike emergency healthcare, meet the requirements of the free market model, characterized by this textbook definition:  “many buyers and sellers in the market and none of them having the capacity to significantly influence prices of goods and services.”  Free Markets are less effective when the buyer and seller do not have equal information or equal freedom of action.

When you’re faced with a medical emergency you just don’t have anything close to equal information or equal freedom of action.  Just wait until a doctor pops the news that you have aggressive cancer and require surgery within 90 days.  Suddenly shopping for the lowest price healthcare deal just isn’t a priority.  I doubt most people would have the presence of mind to ask their cancer surgeon “how much will this cost?” or “how do you get paid?”, the kind of questions you would want to ask as an actor in a truly Free Market.

Unfortunately for our Free Market principles, if you do ask “how much will my surgery cost?” almost no provider of emergency health care will be able to give you an answer.  I’ve started asking this question and by far the most common answer is, “no one ever asks that, I don’t know.”

The one-sided nature of our emergency healthcare market has opened the door to too many situations where healthcare providers have taken advantage of their unequal market power to charge unconscionably high prices on what is known as “fee for service”, with the fee set by the doctor.  The greed engendered by the uneven playing field in emergency health care has even seen doctors corner the market as providers of over-priced medical tests like MRI’s, which they then turn around and prescribe even when not necessary.  Certainly there are providers who do not participate in the market on a “fee for services” (which translates into “charge as much as I possibly can”) basis, but all too many do.  A number of national commentators have called for reforming, or even doing away, with fee for service.

Now, when I “shop” for emergency health care services I look for doctors who are paid a salary by the hospital systems for which they work, rather than enrich the pirates of fee for service.   I urge you to be aware of the difference and do the same.

Establishing Trust: The True Beauty of Video Interviewing!

If you are in sales I am sure you have heard the mantra that people buy from people they like.  Successful selling is not always a matter of superior features and benefits but is rather the result of building a rapport with the buyer.  Getting people to like you is gained by looking them in the eye, smiling, joking, and finding common ground to which you both can relate.  In short, successful selling is accomplished by establishing trust.  To establish trust we like to “look ‘em in the eye”.

Think about it.  Would you be more willing to buy a car or used electronic device from a guy over the phone or from someone you can see in person?  Seeing an individual tells you so much more about that person and also about what they are selling to you.

Interviewing really isn’t any different.  As a candidate you long to land the face-to-face job interview because you know you can win over your potential employer with your charm and charisma in a manner not easily accomplished through a phone interview.  As the interviewer you decide within the first five minutes of meeting the candidate whether you can trust the candidate to work alongside you and your colleagues.

Now in my educated opinion video interviewing with all its many benefits like efficiency, cost savings and the ability to make a more informed hiring decision still demonstrates most of its value as a tool that establishes trust.  Consider the following statistics:

  • More than 53% of individuals lie about their resume in some way. (SHRM)
  • According to a survey by Forensic Psychology, 31% of candidates lied on their resume.
  • Percentage of surveyed college students who would lie on a resume to get a job they want: 70% (SHRM)
  • There are websites which actually help job seekers learn how to lie on their resumes.

With all these misleading resumes floating around you hardly know who you are hiring.  You aren’t merely buying a used laptop from some unknown buyer on eBay, you are investing in a human being whose efforts could make or break your company.  Hanging your hat on an untrustworthy phone screen is a waste of time. Video interviewing allows you to pre-screen your candidates and learn so much more about them just by viewing their attire, enthusiasm, body language, and overall professionalism.  Basically you’re going to know within five minutes of viewing the video interview whether the candidate might be someone you can trust.

As for candidates, the ability to sell yourself has never been easier with video interviewing.  This is your chance to show off who you really are!  Trust me!

4 Things Candidates Need to Know before the Big Interview!

As a job candidate, to have more success in landing a job you need to understand what it is the recruiter/hiring manager really wants to know.  Recent surveys of recruiters, search professionals and so on suggest that there are only four main questions to which hiring managers want answers:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you like the job?
  3. Will you like working with us?
  4. Will we like working with you?

All other questions asked during the interview are designed to reveal the answers to the four questions above.  Let’s break down each question and see how you can best tackle these obstacles.

Can you do the job? – Can you?  I mean can you really do the job?  If not, then don’t apply for the position.  There is no kind-hearted old woman on the other side of the application process just waiting to take a chance on inexperienced little ole you.  Organizations are employing applicant tracking systems at an increased rate to filter out the hundreds of unqualified candidates who apply for their positions.  If you can’t do the job then their computer program will kick you out.  Please don’t pepper your resume with keywords so that you make it through to the video interview if you aren’t actually qualified.  You are wasting your time and the organization’s.

If you can do the job and your resume is legitimate then let that shine in the interview.  Thoroughly research the position and company before the face-to-face so that you can speak about how your skills and accomplishments ideally suit the position.

Will you like the job? – You have to show enthusiasm in the interview and you must speak directly to why the job is a good fit for you.  If you are unable to do this through lack of excitement then the hiring manager will catch on.  As a recruiter we often finished our interviews with the candidate by asking: “What is your interest level and enthusiasm for this opportunity?”  We wanted to make sure the candidate wasn’t just trying to get a paycheck.  If we placed the candidate into a position in which they weren’t really enthusiastic, they might leave within three months and we would be required to replace them for free.  Asking this question enabled us to determine if the candidate was truly interested, or if they were a poser. If you are not interested in the position then don’t waste the hiring organization’s time or that of other job candidates who truly are passionate about the position.

Will you like working with us? – In our past recruiting efforts we often showed a video interview we conducted with the hiring manager to the candidates prior to the interview.  For one, this allowed the candidates to provide better answers during the interview by touching upon information the hiring manager communicated during their interview.  The second reason was to determine if the candidate felt they could work for the hiring manager after learning a little bit more about their management style.  Again, we didn’t want our candidates jumping ship soon after reporting for work.  Research, research, research!  Learn about the company to which you are applying, find out if they represent your values and then explain again why your personality and goals gel with their organization.

Will we like working with you? – Even if you handle all the other steps above brilliantly, you are still likely to fail this last question which of course a hiring manager will never ask you directly.  A recent survey of over 1,700 hiring managers revealed that 88% of them will choose a candidate for personality over skills.  Yep, odds are your PhD in Meteorite Laser Drilling will do you little good if the hiring manager’s gut feeling tells him/her that your personality just isn’t going to match up with them or the organization.

Fitting in is something you pretty much can’t fake nor do I suggest you try.  If you attempt to be something you’re not, chances are they might have liked the person you really are rather than the person you are trying to be.  Reasons why they might discriminate against you are numerous but don’t let it be for something within your control like an overpowering smokers smell.  Follow the steps above in addition to representing yourself professionally.  A few services allow you to practice interviewing online.  Additionally there are numerous articles on how best to carry yourself during the interview.

Here’s to success in finding a great job!

Looking for a Job? 7 Biases Choking Your Chances!

Looking for a job?  Your super-duper resume, your academic pedigree, your pristine video interview, your years of experience and your vast list of gratuitous references count for little against the hiring manager’s bias.

What bias you say?  Have you ever heard the expression, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just good business.”  Yeah that usually happens in a movie right before someone is double crossed or screwed over.  If there is something wrong with you that the hiring manager believes is either not going to make them money or will cost them money, your fancy portfolio accounts for little.

Here are a few reasons why you might not be getting the job.

You are obese! – According to studies conducted by the National Journal for obesity, men were discriminated against twice as often for their weight as for their race, and for women this number was four times as often..  Why are companies doing this?  They believe the health status of their employees either reflects positively or negatively on them.  Google “VictoriaHospital inTexas” for an example!  Additionally organizations understand that obese people cost more to insure and often have higher rates of absenteeism.  In short they are worried about their bottom line.

You stutter! – Sorry Porky Pig but a survey by the National Stuttering Association shows that 40% of stutterers have been denied a job or a promotion.  The reason is basic.  If you stutter the feeling is you just can’t handle jobs as well as non-stutterers.

You are bald! – I will be bald in a few years and if it isn’t all gone by then I might just shave it off.  Discrimination is easing up on this front but most people prefer lustrous hair to barren, misshapen heads.  So sorry about your 4.0 GPA you bald loser!  Sven, the golden maned Nordic model with the 820 SAT score just took your job.

You have red hair! – Honestly I never understood this one but evidently “Gingers” as they are called, are discriminated against especially in theUK.  Does being Ginger somehow affect the company’s bottom line?  I can’t say that it does, so chalk this up to good old fashioned bigotry.  After all when is the last time you heard someone say, “like a ‘blond’ headed step child”?

You talk like a redneck – Ever heard of “linguicism”?  This term, coined in the 1980’s, describes the judgments people make about you based on your language skills.  To put it another way, if you speak with a country bumpkin accent, people may assume you’re either poor, uneducated, or of low social status.  I mean c’mon, does anyone think Larry the Cable Guy is smarter than Anthony Hopkins?  Look who they got to host “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?”  Nuff said. 

You’re ugly/You’re pretty – Yep if you’re ugly you are screwed both socially and often in the workplace because let’s face it, people like to date and buy things from pretty people.  However when attractiveness wasn’t necessary for the job, attractive women were often passed over according to a study by the Journal of Social Psychology.  Additionally, women, especially in HR, often grant fewer interviews to attractive women mainly for reasons of jealousy.  Meow!

You’re short! – A University of Pittsburgh study showed that graduates over 6’2” made an average salary 12% higher than those under six feet. A survey of 140 recruiters showed that three-fourths of them would choose a candidate who was 6’1” over a candidate who was 5’5” even if they were equally qualified.  That’s right, hit the road Napoleon and take your Under Roos and MBA with you!  Sven not only has hair but he’s tall too!

The good news: Most of the job candidates you’re going up against are likely to have one of these attributes which essentially washes out your shortcomings.  The bad news: You might also be old, pregnant, a minority, unemployed, or smoke.  But hey, when you get discouraged think of George Jefferson.  He was short, black and bald, yet he finally got his piece of the pie!