Human Resources Today

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John Sumser

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Big Data Employee Style: The 4 Kinds of Workforce Data You Really Need

Big Data Employee Style: The 4 Kinds of Workforce Data You Really NeedIn my experience, HR is usually a year and a half behind the curve for many business trends. From TQM in the 1980's, balanced scorecard in the 1990's -- we're usually behind the curve. When I was in HR for a F500 company in 2007 and first started talking about using social media in HR, people thought I was nuts. It took a two years to bring it to life.

Enter Big Data. Sure, HR prognosticators like John Sumser get it. He's been writing about Big Data for awhile and was the only HR representation on a Forbes list of the top 20 influencers in Big Data last year. But in true HR fashion, the idea of using Big Data to look at workforce data is only picking up steam as of late with conferences, skeptics, and predictions that Big Data will be, well, a predictive tool for HR.

But while The New York Times focused earlier this year on the power of all of this collective data, I care more about what this means for you, for your startup or your high-growth company. Whether you have five employees or 500, what kind of workforce data do you need on your employees and why?

1) Demographics

There's no doubt you need to know plenty about your workforce, including the range of ages, percentage of each gender, time in position and tenure with the company. But this data is so simple to collect we often forget we have it or what we can do with it.

Gender and age data can help manage recruiting and discrimination risks (especially if you have federal contracts). Age data can also help you better manage the workforce. If you're a Gen X founder, its helpful to get a sense of where the Gen Y pockets are and where challenges exist.

Tenure demographics help you pinpoint where turnover is happening and where progression is happening. You may think you know (especially if your team has fewer than 30 people), but are you tracking these trends over time? They can have huge implications on your workforce.

2) Performance

Even if you're a team of five, hopefully you have some sort of performance management system in place. You don't have to use a stodgy, corporate form, but you do need to set goals for employees and measure performance against those goals.

What you can do with that data is powerful. As you grow, correlate that data with demographics. Again, it will help you avoid risk and also isolate where there are management issues on your team and with certain pockets of employees.

3) Climate

I know, the employee opinion survey is dead. In its traditional form, sure. But it is important to get a pulse on how your employees feel at any given moment. What's working for them? What isn't? How are they reacting to a recent pivot, news, departure of a key leader?

Don't rely on the grapevine or what you think you hear. Gather more formal data on a regular basis and compare over time how employees really feel. Then use the data to help better your communications and your decision-making.

4) Culture

Finally, the holy grail of  internal workforce data is doing a deep dive on culture. The qualitative perspective is hugely important -- especially if you can bring in an unbiased partner to get the real skinny from employees.

How leaders define the culture and describe its existence is never exactly how employees describe it. And it's important for leaders to understand who their employees are -- what they are passionate about, what their lives are like and how work fits in.

This kind of data helps to evolve your workforce and your business to be the place you want it to be. Culture data is anthropological -- marketers go to a great extent to learn who their customers are. Imagine the value of doing this for your employees.

Big Data and Your Workforce Data

Sure, the trend of the collective data is compelling -- and you shouldn't ignore the implications for your business. For example, if you're in marketing, you can't ignore Leslie Bradshaw's presentation on engagement through Big Data. If you're an HR Technology companay collecting data, you can't ignore John Sumser's primer on Big Data as you explore the future of your product.

But for you, for your company, for your people, your workforce look inward first. The value of Big Data to your workforce is how you can use data on your own people to drive culture, engagement and productivity.

Note: there are a ton of technologies to help you here. Check out our weekly roundup highlighting a few.

exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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The Future of Social Recruiting in a Nutshell

Where's social recruiting really  headed? Bullhorn Reach asked 20 recruiting thought leaders for their thoughts on the future of social recruiting. Here's mine: “Marketers use social media to get instant feedback, engage with customers, and extend a brand in one click. The future of social recruiting is using social channels the same way marketers do. Savvy leaders will use social channels to learn more about their candidate base and turn that data into rich, powerful insights. Sourcers will tap into conversations for evidence of performance and smart recruiters will use that insight to save time by encouraging wrong-fit candidates to self-select out, and right-fit candidates to find their way in quickly. It’s not just the channels — it’s the rich data the channels provide when used in innovative ways.”

Read nineteen more great perspectives here.

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8 People Who Changed My Life in 2011

I could and should be looking ahead and making resolutions for 2012. But before I do, I’m looking back. And for good reason. I’m about to return back to my entrepreneurial roots as a talent strategy and brand consultant.  Like any brand shift, it happened slowly and evolved over time as I thought about where I can best make an impact in a way that fits my talents and work style the best. But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And as I look back over 2011—a year of many firsts for me, I realize there are some key people who’ve had a serious impact on my life, my thinking and my work. These are people you should watch, follow, listen to and take note of. They’ve changed my way of thinking and can impact your world too.

Francisca Martinez

Her official title is Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Marriott International. But for the past five years I’ve known her as my boss. A driver, Francisca isn’t about pushing for the best, she’s focused on pushing for the best in you. While most executives want to remind you how much they know, Francisca’s all about finding out what she can learn. When I first brought up social media five years ago while we were working together at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, she didn’t balk or see it as a fad. She asked me to tell her more, share more and then carefully helped me educate other executives and make our case. Four years later, in Summer 2011, as I watched her give a Spanish interview with Univision on our new social recruiting game, My Marriott Hotel™, I sat back in awe. While I had no idea what she was telling the reporter in Spanish, I knew that her style, leadership and focus—being a driver—worked for us both. I can’t wait to see what she (and the team) do next.

Rehan Choudhry

I first met Rehan in business school. He was a technology and government consultant looking for something new and better. Now, almost five years after we finished those MBAs, Rehan’s leading the brand activation charge at the country’s coolest and most popular hotel: The Cosmopolitan. As the hotel’s Director of Special Events and Entertainment his Facebook photos rotate between posing with Adele and Mumford and Sons. I’ve watched his meteoric rise and along the way provided him some humble advice on brand strategy. And this year I’ve marveled at this amazing career change and success he’s had in such a short time. He’s a complete reminder that anything is possible if you work really, freakin’ hard.

John Sumser

Have you ever met someone who makes you smarter every time you talk to them? That’s John Sumse rfor me. I might call him the leading “independent HR technology and recruiting analyst” or really just refer to him as the smartest guy I know in recruiting who doesn’t take any BS from me.  The founder of HRExaminer, John’s unique combination of innovation and honesty and beyond appealing. Rarely do you meet someone who really gives you frank advice and feedback because he wants to see you succeed. Rarely do you meet someone who makes your brain hurt. In a really good way. In 2011, John’s done that for me.

Andy Goldman

Earlier this year, I spoke at Media Bistro’s Career Circus and I was struck by the guy who spoke after I did. Andy Goldman, Vice President, Program Planning and Scheduling for HBO had a bright smile, a strong presence and a great message. Sure, I’m HBO-obsessed. But after that day I couldn’t stop thinking about Andy’s gracious and selfless style. Here’s this important executive for an incredibly popular brand, and he couldn’t be more interested in just helping people. He graciously agreed to a brand interview for my blog in which I learned that his altruism was as genuine as it gets. Sure, he’s busy, but he’s so open with his candor and advice you can’t help but marvel at how he stands out in a dog-eat-dog industry. We should all be at least, a little like this.

David Kippen

One Tennessee afternoon in 2006, I cold-called David Kippen. I was living in Nashville for business school and decided the hybrid of HR and marketing was something really intriguing. I Googled “employer brand” and the results were all David. He was the guru, the expert. He took my cold call that day and opened his doors and his mind to me. His eloquence and gracefulness of thought introduced me to the strategy and research behind employer brand that so many people overlook. Over the next several years we stayed in touch and —I became his client and his fan. As I worked with him on multiple projects through his firm, Evviva Brands, in 2011 I was keenly reminded, no one knows or does employer brand strategy better. No one.

Christa Avampato

I met Christa in the summer of 2006 when we both started working at The Home Depot’s corporate office. We bonded over many things that summer, but I was in awe of her deep focus and passion to do something with meaning. In 2011, I wasn’t surprised when she started writing every day, (for 364 days as of today) focused on curating a creative life. I’ve been inspired by her daily musings and passionate pleas to find the best life has to offer. It culminates in reaching an aspiration of her own—founding the non-profit Compass Yoga providing yoga and wellness programming to people who have mental or physical health challenges. Not only did reading her blog encourage me to take up yoga again, but her ‘breath-of-fresh-air’ writing is just what a girl like me needs.

RecruitDC

Nothing sparks passion like seeing a grassroots initiative come to fruition. And over the past year, I’ve been thrilled to watch RecruitDC take serious shape here inWashingtonDC. Led and influenced by Ben Gotkin, Kathleen Smith, Kelly Dingee and numerous others, the grassroots designed to create networking events for recruiters by recruiters here in DC has already had numerous, sold-out events. I’m constantly motivated by people who want to advance their field or industry in an unselfish (and unpaid!) yet important way.

Peter LaMotte

Full disclosure here—Peter’s my better half. But when I think about my work in 2011, his creative and genius leadership of the aptly-named GeniusRocket (GR), had an incredible influence on my thinking. Peter joined GR, a creative crowdsourcing agency, only a few years ago as their Director of Marketing. And as their President in 2011, he’s completely turned the business on its head. Peter takes customer, client and partner feedback in a way like no one I’ve ever seen. He was nimble enough to turn that feedback into a completely new type of model with a new name: curated crowdsourcing. Having a vision like that and a belief in that vision is something I can only aspire to.

And that’s my goal in 2012. Continue to work, partner, learn, meet and connect with people who help energize me to make my aspirations a reality. That transition, that change, that’s what works all about. Happy new year, people.

------------

Follow List for this post: @JohnSumser | @RehanC | @ChristaNYC | @PeterLaMotte | @David_Kippen | @RecruitDC

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8 People Who Changed My Life in 2011

I could and should be looking ahead and making resolutions for 2012. But before I do, I’m looking back. And for good reason. I’m about to return back to my entrepreneurial roots as a talent strategy and brand consultant.  Like any brand shift, it happened slowly and evolved over time as I thought about where I can best make an impact in a way that fits my talents and work style the best. But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And as I look back over 2011—a year of many firsts for me, I realize there are some key people who’ve had a serious impact on my life, my thinking and my work. These are people you should watch, follow, listen to and take note of. They’ve changed my way of thinking and can impact your world too.

Francisca Martinez

Her official title is Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Marriott International. But for the past five years I’ve known her as my boss. A driver, Francisca isn’t about pushing for the best, she’s focused on pushing for the best in you. While most executives want to remind you how much they know, Francisca’s all about finding out what she can learn. When I first brought up social media five years ago while we were working together at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, she didn’t balk or see it as a fad. She asked me to tell her more, share more and then carefully helped me educate other executives and make our case. Four years later, in Summer 2011, as I watched her give a Spanish interview with Univision on our new social recruiting game, My Marriott Hotel™, I sat back in awe. While I had no idea what she was telling the reporter in Spanish, I knew that her style, leadership and focus—being a driver—worked for us both. I can’t wait to see what she (and the team) do next.

Rehan Choudhry

I first met Rehan in business school. He was a technology and government consultant looking for something new and better. Now, almost five years after we finished those MBAs, Rehan’s leading the brand activation charge at the country’s coolest and most popular hotel: The Cosmopolitan. As the hotel’s Director of Special Events and Entertainment his Facebook photos rotate between posing with Adele and Mumford and Sons. I’ve watched his meteoric rise and along the way provided him some humble advice on brand strategy. And this year I’ve marveled at this amazing career change and success he’s had in such a short time. He’s a complete reminder that anything is possible if you work really, freakin’ hard.

John Sumser

Have you ever met someone who makes you smarter every time you talk to them? That’s John Sumse rfor me. I might call him the leading “independent HR technology and recruiting analyst” or really just refer to him as the smartest guy I know in recruiting who doesn’t take any BS from me.  The founder of HRExaminer, John’s unique combination of innovation and honesty and beyond appealing. Rarely do you meet someone who really gives you frank advice and feedback because he wants to see you succeed. Rarely do you meet someone who makes your brain hurt. In a really good way. In 2011, John’s done that for me.

Andy Goldman

Earlier this year, I spoke at Media Bistro’s Career Circus and I was struck by the guy who spoke after I did. Andy Goldman, Vice President, Program Planning and Scheduling for HBO had a bright smile, a strong presence and a great message. Sure, I’m HBO-obsessed. But after that day I couldn’t stop thinking about Andy’s gracious and selfless style. Here’s this important executive for an incredibly popular brand, and he couldn’t be more interested in just helping people. He graciously agreed to a brand interview for my blog in which I learned that his altruism was as genuine as it gets. Sure, he’s busy, but he’s so open with his candor and advice you can’t help but marvel at how he stands out in a dog-eat-dog industry. We should all be at least, a little like this.

David Kippen

One Tennessee afternoon in 2006, I cold-called David Kippen. I was living in Nashville for business school and decided the hybrid of HR and marketing was something really intriguing. I Googled “employer brand” and the results were all David. He was the guru, the expert. He took my cold call that day and opened his doors and his mind to me. His eloquence and gracefulness of thought introduced me to the strategy and research behind employer brand that so many people overlook. Over the next several years we stayed in touch and —I became his client and his fan. As I worked with him on multiple projects through his firm, Evviva Brands, in 2011 I was keenly reminded, no one knows or does employer brand strategy better. No one.

Christa Avampato

I met Christa in the summer of 2006 when we both started working at The Home Depot’s corporate office. We bonded over many things that summer, but I was in awe of her deep focus and passion to do something with meaning. In 2011, I wasn’t surprised when she started writing every day, (for 364 days as of today) focused on curating a creative life. I’ve been inspired by her daily musings and passionate pleas to find the best life has to offer. It culminates in reaching an aspiration of her own—founding the non-profit Compass Yoga providing yoga and wellness programming to people who have mental or physical health challenges. Not only did reading her blog encourage me to take up yoga again, but her ‘breath-of-fresh-air’ writing is just what a girl like me needs.

RecruitDC

Nothing sparks passion like seeing a grassroots initiative come to fruition. And over the past year, I’ve been thrilled to watch RecruitDC take serious shape here inWashingtonDC. Led and influenced by Ben Gotkin, Kathleen Smith, Kelly Dingee and numerous others, the grassroots designed to create networking events for recruiters by recruiters here in DC has already had numerous, sold-out events. I’m constantly motivated by people who want to advance their field or industry in an unselfish (and unpaid!) yet important way.

Peter LaMotte

Full disclosure here—Peter’s my better half. But when I think about my work in 2011, his creative and genius leadership of the aptly-named GeniusRocket (GR), had an incredible influence on my thinking. Peter joined GR, a creative crowdsourcing agency, only a few years ago as their Director of Marketing. And as their President in 2011, he’s completely turned the business on its head. Peter takes customer, client and partner feedback in a way like no one I’ve ever seen. He was nimble enough to turn that feedback into a completely new type of model with a new name: curated crowdsourcing. Having a vision like that and a belief in that vision is something I can only aspire to.

And that’s my goal in 2012. Continue to work, partner, learn, meet and connect with people who help energize me to make my aspirations a reality. That transition, that change, that’s what works all about. Happy new year, people.

------------

Follow List for this post: @JohnSumser | @RehanC | @ChristaNYC | @PeterLaMotte | @David_Kippen | @RecruitDC

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8 People Who Changed My Life in 2011

I could and should be looking ahead and making resolutions for 2012. But before I do, I’m looking back. And for good reason. I’m about to return back to my entrepreneurial roots as a talent strategy and brand consultant.  Like any brand shift, it happened slowly and evolved over time as I thought about where I can best make an impact in a way that fits my talents and work style the best. But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And as I look back over 2011—a year of many firsts for me, I realize there are some key people who’ve had a serious impact on my life, my thinking and my work. These are people you should watch, follow, listen to and take note of. They’ve changed my way of thinking and can impact your world too.

Francisca Martinez

Her official title is Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Marriott International. But for the past five years I’ve known her as my boss. A driver, Francisca isn’t about pushing for the best, she’s focused on pushing for the best in you. While most executives want to remind you how much they know, Francisca’s all about finding out what she can learn. When I first brought up social media five years ago while we were working together at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, she didn’t balk or see it as a fad. She asked me to tell her more, share more and then carefully helped me educate other executives and make our case. Four years later, in Summer 2011, as I watched her give a Spanish interview with Univision on our new social recruiting game, My Marriott Hotel™, I sat back in awe. While I had no idea what she was telling the reporter in Spanish, I knew that her style, leadership and focus—being a driver—worked for us both. I can’t wait to see what she (and the team) do next.

Rehan Choudhry

I first met Rehan in business school. He was a technology and government consultant looking for something new and better. Now, almost five years after we finished those MBAs, Rehan’s leading the brand activation charge at the country’s coolest and most popular hotel: The Cosmopolitan. As the hotel’s Director of Special Events and Entertainment his Facebook photos rotate between posing with Adele and Mumford and Sons. I’ve watched his meteoric rise and along the way provided him some humble advice on brand strategy. And this year I’ve marveled at this amazing career change and success he’s had in such a short time. He’s a complete reminder that anything is possible if you work really, freakin’ hard.

John Sumser

Have you ever met someone who makes you smarter every time you talk to them? That’s John Sumse rfor me. I might call him the leading “independent HR technology and recruiting analyst” or really just refer to him as the smartest guy I know in recruiting who doesn’t take any BS from me.  The founder of HRExaminer, John’s unique combination of innovation and honesty and beyond appealing. Rarely do you meet someone who really gives you frank advice and feedback because he wants to see you succeed. Rarely do you meet someone who makes your brain hurt. In a really good way. In 2011, John’s done that for me.

Andy Goldman

Earlier this year, I spoke at Media Bistro’s Career Circus and I was struck by the guy who spoke after I did. Andy Goldman, Vice President, Program Planning and Scheduling for HBO had a bright smile, a strong presence and a great message. Sure, I’m HBO-obsessed. But after that day I couldn’t stop thinking about Andy’s gracious and selfless style. Here’s this important executive for an incredibly popular brand, and he couldn’t be more interested in just helping people. He graciously agreed to a brand interview for my blog in which I learned that his altruism was as genuine as it gets. Sure, he’s busy, but he’s so open with his candor and advice you can’t help but marvel at how he stands out in a dog-eat-dog industry. We should all be at least, a little like this.

David Kippen

One Tennessee afternoon in 2006, I cold-called David Kippen. I was living in Nashville for business school and decided the hybrid of HR and marketing was something really intriguing. I Googled “employer brand” and the results were all David. He was the guru, the expert. He took my cold call that day and opened his doors and his mind to me. His eloquence and gracefulness of thought introduced me to the strategy and research behind employer brand that so many people overlook. Over the next several years we stayed in touch and —I became his client and his fan. As I worked with him on multiple projects through his firm, Evviva Brands, in 2011 I was keenly reminded, no one knows or does employer brand strategy better. No one.

Christa Avampato

I met Christa in the summer of 2006 when we both started working at The Home Depot’s corporate office. We bonded over many things that summer, but I was in awe of her deep focus and passion to do something with meaning. In 2011, I wasn’t surprised when she started writing every day, (for 364 days as of today) focused on curating a creative life. I’ve been inspired by her daily musings and passionate pleas to find the best life has to offer. It culminates in reaching an aspiration of her own—founding the non-profit Compass Yoga providing yoga and wellness programming to people who have mental or physical health challenges. Not only did reading her blog encourage me to take up yoga again, but her ‘breath-of-fresh-air’ writing is just what a girl like me needs.

RecruitDC

Nothing sparks passion like seeing a grassroots initiative come to fruition. And over the past year, I’ve been thrilled to watch RecruitDC take serious shape here inWashingtonDC. Led and influenced by Ben Gotkin, Kathleen Smith, Kelly Dingee and numerous others, the grassroots designed to create networking events for recruiters by recruiters here in DC has already had numerous, sold-out events. I’m constantly motivated by people who want to advance their field or industry in an unselfish (and unpaid!) yet important way.

Peter LaMotte

Full disclosure here—Peter’s my better half. But when I think about my work in 2011, his creative and genius leadership of the aptly-named GeniusRocket (GR), had an incredible influence on my thinking. Peter joined GR, a creative crowdsourcing agency, only a few years ago as their Director of Marketing. And as their President in 2011, he’s completely turned the business on its head. Peter takes customer, client and partner feedback in a way like no one I’ve ever seen. He was nimble enough to turn that feedback into a completely new type of model with a new name: curated crowdsourcing. Having a vision like that and a belief in that vision is something I can only aspire to.

And that’s my goal in 2012. Continue to work, partner, learn, meet and connect with people who help energize me to make my aspirations a reality. That transition, that change, that’s what works all about. Happy new year, people.

------------

Follow List for this post: @JohnSumser | @RehanC | @ChristaNYC | @PeterLaMotte | @David_Kippen | @RecruitDC

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The University of Sumser

Class is in session at the University of Sumser where the Dean is opposed to idea that there is a quick fix to everything. If you’ve taken a class here before, you know that staunch opinion and firm beliefs always make an appearance. But there’s always an interesting discussion in the works. Next week, John Sumser takes his thought university on the road to keynote recruitDC, the region’s premiere recruiting conference and meet-up, for a course on localizing recruiting.  The king of industry analysis, John’s been diving into all things recruiting and technology for much of his career. His recent leadership in the field includes a deep look at social technology in recruiting and HR, a multi-year investigation of influence in HR and a number of engagements with recruiting operations, employer brand initiatives and product designs. I snagged John on his virtual campus to talk a little bit about his upcoming class, his history and ironically, his own influence.

Susan: You create these great influencer lists sharing great leadership examples across multiple disciplines. And yet, you’re actually a key influencer yourself. Where did all of this begin?

John: I’ve always worked in sales and influence to some extent. At eight years old I was selling magazines. When I made my way to college I decided to major in philosophy, which entitled me to be a door-to-door Santa Claus. It’s a great story actually. Polaroid had just developed an instant movie camera and for $1500 you could get an instant movie and Santa would come to your house for a party. But it was the same year that Sony introduced Betamax for $100 less. So technically my first post-college job was a bunch of Santas sitting around an office, smoking cigarettes and waiting for phone to ring. I think I was terrified that was going to be my life.

S: Santa to recruiting is a pretty big jump. I imagine there’s something in between?

J: There was. I cut my hair and then moved into the defense industry in Washington, DC and became the lowest paid employee in all of Westinghouse. As a copy boy I made $19,000 but surprisingly, really liked it. So over the next five years I [complemented that philosophy degree] with certificates in organization development and engineering. And I learned how to code.

S: And then you went from coding to recruiting?

J: Not quite. I became a technical writer and then a trainer. I didn’t even know half the stuff I was training on, but I had a mentor who told me “all that matters is that you’re an hour ahead of the class at the end of the day.” So I taught all day (crazy subjects like teaching the Chinese Navy to make frigates—don’t ask) and then I learned at night.

S: Fast forward some technology projects and proposals and then what?

J: I ended up as the VP of R&D. I had become the guy who was interested in the [new thing called] the Internet and the future of publishing. I stayed there 15 years.

S: It makes sense that they’d want someone interested in the future to be steering the future of the company, namely, research and development. But I still don’t get the connection to recruiting.

J: It came through technology really. I moved from Westinghouse to run a non-profit. But it was staffed by a bunch of hippies and I ran it like an engineer. I got fired. Since times were tough and the non-profit was ground zero for the commercialization of internet, I got three T1 lines for my severance. I used them to start to look for a job online in old usenet groups but it was boring and it wasn’t working. Then I decided to see how many jobs I could apply for. I applied for 70 jobs a day for 17 days straight before I needed a break which got me wondering--how long would it take to apply for these all at once?

S: And that’s how you became an analyst, delving into statistics and trends in recruiting?

J: That’s right. I founded interbiznet in 1994 because I had the statistics. I became an analyst for an industry by default. Many people then know the rest of the story. I sold it in 2006, edited recruiting.com for a year, worked with Jason Davis to build recruitingblogs.com and then started HRExaminer.

S: I know there were other things in there too—you started Salary.com and also played a role in the Jason Davis versus Jason Goldberg blogging controversy. In fact, it seems you gravitate towards controversy.

J: Look, I’m an analyst for an industry who evaluates technology and trends and in the world I operate in, (the world where you evaluate for a living), the truth is a scarce commodity. The culture craves big dramatic solutions.  It’s normal for vendors and consultants to paint their products and services in very stark relief as if that was how one solved problems. Most real world answers are nuanced and subtle. I stay neutral and honest. I have a habit of noticing that the emperor is naked.

S: It’s funny how honesty can build and burn bridges at the same time.

J: Yes. I’ve often positioned myself as the guy who knows how the game ought to played and people don’t always want to hear that.  But that’s fine. I’m okay with people being mad at me. I think high performance teams prefer candor. But high performance is not what everyone wants. Candor and civility are not always compatible.

S: Because of, or, in spite of the controversy, you’re clearly influential. What role or experience has had the most influence on you?

J: I learned as much from mowing lawns and selling magazines and bartending, so I am not sure. What I do know is that showing up and doing shit has an amazing effect.  Showing up and talking doesn’t get you anywhere.  But talking (which I learned as a bartender) is important while you’re doing stuff.

S: Is that part of the analysis? You’re talking out a solution, learning as you go?

J: Learning as you go is. I really didn’t know anything until I was out of work and started a company. There’s nothing but you and the cash flow and you have to decide between a ream of printer paper and a box of mac and cheese for dinner.  The bottom line is I bore easily and am really curious and I’m capable of getting interested in what’s right in front of you.

S: I’ve been there—there’s no better learning experience than being an entrepreneur. You can make some serious mistakes and still come out the better for it.  Would you brand yourself as a learner? Is that what drives the influence?

J: I guess. I think I’m most like a university. The essence of what I do [as a leader in the industry] is teaching. But I also take pride in being a laboratory for ideas. And then I never let my assumptions go unchecked.

S: Because of that you’ve predicted a lot of recruiting and technology trends. It’s a real talent of yours. What’s one you were ahead of the curve on?

J: I still really believe in talent communities but I was writing about them 15 years ago. I guess I was exceptionally ahead of the curve there. But everyone’s still getting the idea of communities wrong. It’s not about you throwing it out there and letting people decide if they’re a member of your community. It’s honing in on who the target is and focusing there.

S: Have you ever hung your hat on something that was totally wrong?

J: Honestly, not really. I’m a scout and I like to be able to see things ahead of their time.  What helps is getting in early to understand it. There’s a great book, “The Timeless Way of Building” that talks about the only way you can really understand something in a way that matters is to get dirt under your fingernails and build it yourself.  I try not to ever, have an idea that I haven’t tried to turn into something. You have to figure out how to do it before you tell people it’s a good idea.

S: Before I let you go, let’s talk recruitDC. Coming on the heels of some cities that have a really strong recruiting community (like Minneapolis), DC is coming together stronger than ever. You’re keynoting the upcoming recruitDC conference. What advice would you give recruiting and TA professionals about working effectively within their local market?

J: Most people assume that the world is like the place they live in. But everywhere is really like a weird bubble. That’s why recruiting is local. But you can’t assume that everyone outside of your bubble is like you. What I’m going to talk about are the solutions that work in the world you operate in.  If your company is in Washington, you need to recruit in Washington.

S: So what’s next for you?

J: I’m actively looking for that next opportunity. I have a real interest in problems people have. I actually want to move away from controversy into something deep and new. That’s really the trajectory of my life as a whole.

S: Well then maybe it’s time for a university sabbatical of sorts? Teaching back to problem-solving and R&D? Sometimes it’s easier to be controversial when teaching – you can blame the school. Either way you can still be influential.

J: Isn’t that the truth.

============

Have a problem you want John to solve? Contact him www.hrexaminer.com or john@johnsumser.com.

This interview was compiled by Susan Strayer. Contact Susan at www.exaqueo.com.

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Solving the Jobs Problem

HR Examiner's John Sumser recently invited me to join the amazing group of folks on the Editorial Advisory Board. I'm thrilled to be in their company and to share my first post: Solving the Jobs Problem the Wrong Way.  If you're in HR and/or recruiting, and you don't know John or HR Examiner, you've been living under the proverbial Internet rock.  John's a legend in the industry and has something amazing to teach each and every time I return to HR Examiner.

Check out my first post and let me know what you think. Here on the Exaqueo blog, I focus on broader talent and brand topics, while over at HR Examiner I'll be diving into more specific recruiting and HR issues. What do you want to hear about and debate? Let me know in the comments below.

Comment

Comment

Solving the Jobs Problem

HR Examiner's John Sumser recently invited me to join the amazing group of folks on the Editorial Advisory Board. I'm thrilled to be in their company and to share my first post: Solving the Jobs Problem the Wrong Way.  If you're in HR and/or recruiting, and you don't know John or HR Examiner, you've been living under the proverbial Internet rock.  John's a legend in the industry and has something amazing to teach each and every time I return to HR Examiner.

Check out my first post and let me know what you think. Here on the Exaqueo blog, I focus on broader talent and brand topics, while over at HR Examiner I'll be diving into more specific recruiting and HR issues. What do you want to hear about and debate? Let me know in the comments below.

Comment

Comment

Solving the Jobs Problem

HR Examiner's John Sumser recently invited me to join the amazing group of folks on the Editorial Advisory Board. I'm thrilled to be in their company and to share my first post: Solving the Jobs Problem the Wrong Way.  If you're in HR and/or recruiting, and you don't know John or HR Examiner, you've been living under the proverbial Internet rock.  John's a legend in the industry and has something amazing to teach each and every time I return to HR Examiner.

Check out my first post and let me know what you think. Here on the Exaqueo blog, I focus on broader talent and brand topics, while over at HR Examiner I'll be diving into more specific recruiting and HR issues. What do you want to hear about and debate? Let me know in the comments below.

Comment