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August 13, 2012

Mark Bouris

pension 030309 photo Greg Newington Generic, pension, superannuation, retirement, age, elderly, medical, hospital. Wheelchair.There are more benefits than simple dollar gain when hiring staff with a disability. Photo: Greg Newington

A FRIEND who is disabled recently asked me why I don’t have anyone with disabilities working in my business. I had no answer and thought maybe I should make my business more accessible to people with disabilities looking for work. Is there a process to go through? I am completely in the dark about this and would love any guidance.

THIS is a good question and I thought it would be best to speak to my friends over at Nova Employment in Caringbah, New South Wales, to get some advice.

Chief executive Martin Wren told me that more than 720,000 people receive the disability pension and many are keen, skilled and more than able to deliver on the job.

He says that each day at least five people who started as welfare dependents end up taxpayers, and that most remain effective employees with retention and productivity rates that exceed the general workforce.

Martin says that when a person with a disability starts working with a new business, there are plenty of aids to make the integration as smooth as possible – technological support, physical adjustments to the workplace and extensive post-placement support that can continue indefinitely.

These are all ”no charge” options that can be utilised to quickly settle a new worker in and there are some significant wage assistance packages available should they be needed to further sweeten the deal.

Martin told me the number of Australian business owners hiring a person with a disability is increasing, and more people are realising it isn’t an act of charity but a sound business decision that brings flow-on benefits far beyond a simple dollar gain. There are plenty of agencies you can speak to in order to get more information and find out the requirements for your business.

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August 13, 2012


FAIR Work Australia’s monumental rebuff to the Transport Workers Union in its dispute with Qantas strikes a blow to the credibility of claims the Fair Work Act is some kind of conspiracy against employers.

The commission (which is what Fair Work Australia is in all but name) had no choice last week but to support Qantas management because, in both its tactics and its demands, the union was being so bloody-minded.

That’s true even though, by grounding its planes worldwide and locking out all its staff last October, Qantas management could come up with no more creative solution to its bargaining problem than to be as bloody-minded as some of its unions.

This was not so much a win for ”managers’ right to manage” as the commission’s commonsense judgment that allthe industrial parties needed to face up to the harsh commercial realities threatening the survival of their business.

Here we had a union demanding 5 per cent annual pay rises at the same time it was fighting to prevent its employer from turning to cheaper sources of labour. That makes sense?

It will be a pity if the commission’s refusal last week to split the difference in the old way encourages other militant employers to seek to resolve disagreements with their workers the chaos-causing Qantas way. Even so, the commission’s refusal to go anywhere near splitting the difference provides powerful evidence it can be trusted to adjudicate issues sensibly in a system that hasn’t swung the balance too far the unions’ way.

Perhaps this explains why the national dailies – which, in their campaigning against the evils of Fair Work, seem to find another story about union atrocities for the front page most days – were not excited by the employers’ big win last week.

Read too much of their stuff and you come away thinking the union movement has risen from its death bed to pose the greatest threat to our continued prosperity. Remember, union membership is down to 18 per cent of the workforce (from 50 per cent in 1982) and 14 per cent of private-sector workers.

Another figure to keep in mind when you read about the union monster poised to eat the economy’s lunch: more than 80 per cent of enterprises don’t have a union presence.

Two labour lawyers, Dr Anthony Forsyth, of Monash University, and Professor Andrew Stewart, of Adelaide University, note in their submission to the Fair Work review that ”the concerns about union activities that so animate certain employers in the resources, manufacturing and construction sectors are very far removed from the issues confronting businesses in other parts of the economy”.

”For the small to medium enterprises that predominate in sectors such as retail and hospitality, both unions and, indeed, collective bargaining are largely absent. Their concerns are much more likely, in our experience, to revolve around the costs and ‘inflexibilities’ imposed by the award system, and the renewed exposure to unfair dismissal claims that the Fair Work Act has brought.”

So far, Fair Work has failed in its aim to greatly increase the extent of collective bargaining, with the proportion of employees covered by collective agreements increasing from 39.8 per cent of the workforce in 2008, to just 43.4 per cent in 2010.

Dr Forsyth and Professor Stewart argue many of these new agreements are effectively non-union instruments drafted by employers to replace the individual workplace agreements formerly available under Work Choices.

Genuine collective bargaining is likely to be confined mainly to large, unionised workplaces in the public sector and to some sections of the private sector.

Much of the bitter complaint about Fair Work comes from the miners. The labour lawyers say what some employers in the resources sector are seeking is a capacity to manage their businesses without the involvement of unions, and to undertake projects entirely free of any threat of industrial action.

‘These aspirations are simply not compatible with the principle of freedom of association … Indeed, to allow them to be fully realised would involve restrictions on the taking of industrial action, or on union rights of entry, that would go far beyond anything envisaged by the Howard government, even during the Work Choices period,” they say.

Talk of Fair Work having unnecessarily bolstered ”union power” should not only be kept in proportion but understood in the context of a broader ideological agenda that is profoundly antithetical to the principle of collectivism, they conclude.

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(an oldie but a goodie in need for further research…)

By Barbara Kiviat Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009
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Get ready for a closeup: your next job interview might be on webcam. Looking to save time and money, companies are turning to video-chat software as a cheap, low-hassle way to vet job candidates. That means a growing number of people looking for work are meeting their prospective new bosses not at the office but in the comfort of their own home.

Naturally, the transition from in-person to online isn’t without its hiccups. Fuzzy transmissions, dropped calls (especially on wireless networks) and unusual disruptions are all par for the course. Tip No. 1: Get your dog out of barking range before you start the interview. (We’ll return to the pointers in a bit.) (See pictures of the history of the cell phone.)

What’s the draw? Largely money. Last year, as executives at online retailer looked to cut expenses, they noticed how much the firm spent on travel. In HR alone, it easily cost $1,000 a pop to fly out job candidates and put them up for the night. The firm had used Skype internally, so about six months ago, recruiters started trying it for interviews. (Watch TIME’s video “How to Ace a Job Interview on Skype.”)

Their opinion: a video link does a pretty good job of replacing an in-person meeting — and in a way that a phone call can’t. “If you see facial expressions and body language, you have a different sense of what a person is saying,” says recruiting manager Christa Foley. Now, instead of flying out 20 finalists for a job, the company first screens with Skype and then brings in only the best two or three candidates. (See 10 ways Twitter will change American business.)

Job seekers are hopping on board too. Last spring, after Stephen Bhadran got laid off, he quickly realized there were more openings for computer programmers in Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles than in South Florida, where he lived. So he cast a wide net — and got a bite from the University of California, Los Angeles. The university wanted to interview him but wouldn’t pay the airfare. “I was laid off and running out of funds,” says Bhadran. “I couldn’t fly on my own dime.” He suggested interviewing by Skype. He got his request — and the job. (See the best social-networking applications.)

Things don’t always run smoothly. Bobby Fitzgerald, a restaurateur who has been interviewing job candidates by Skype since March, has had his share of amusements. For instance: the candidate who leaned forward while he spoke, giving Fitzgerald an intimate view of his nose. Another, a college senior, didn’t bother cleaning up his dorm room before the interview; the mess was painfully visible in the background.

And then there was the dog that wouldn’t stop barking. Fitzgerald cut the interview short and said he’d have to reschedule. Did the disruption influence his decision? “Well,” he says, “a big part of management is handling problems as they arise.”

Still, webcam interviews are entirely worth it, he says. Fitzgerald runs restaurants in four states and likes to hire from the nation’s top culinary and hospitality schools. It’s rare that he, the job candidate and the job are all in the same time zone. And the benefit of video-interviewing for him isn’t just saved money — it’s also saved time. “More than once, I’ve flown someone in and within an hour, I realize it’s not a fit,” he says. “But I’m stuck with that person for six more hours.” (See 25 must-have travel gadgets.)

So what should you do if you’re asked to interview by Skype — or even brave enough to suggest it yourself?

First off, realize that we perceive people differently through a camera than we do in person. Bill McGowan, a former news anchor who now trains people to go on TV, starts his list of pointers with lighting: whether you’re sitting in your kitchen or an office borrowed from a friend, make sure there’s no bright light (like from a window) behind you. That will only darken your face. When your interviewer is talking, it’s fine to look at his image on the screen, but when you answer, look at the camera. That’s how to make “eye contact.” Avoid wearing patterns and the color white, since we notice white spots on a screen first — you want your interviewer drawn to your teeth and eyes, not to your shirt. And don’t forget that what’s behind you is visible too. “It’s best to put away the Mad Men bar,” says McGowan.

Next, think about framing. Sitting flush with a plain white wall will make you look like you’re in a police lineup, so angle your knees to the corner of your computer screen, and then turn your head slightly back to look at the camera. Sit tall in your chair, but not too close to the camera: the first three buttons of your shirt should be visible, or else you risk looking like a floating head, counsels Priscilla Shanks, a coach for broadcast journalists and public speakers. Most important, do a dry run with a friend to check your color, sound and facial expressions — neutral often comes off as glum onscreen. (See pictures of vintage computers.)

After all that, don’t forget that this is still a job interview. Even though you’re not meeting face to face, dress as though you are. When you “walk in,” have your résumé ready — this time, as an e-mail attachment. And don’t forget to do all the standard prep work. Are you ready to talk about your greatest weakness? “This adds another layer, but people will still expect you to be prepared to have a conversation with them,” says career counselor Judith Gerberg.

Though that’s not to say you can’t acknowledge the medium. This past summer, Deanna Reed, principal of the Marie Murphy School in suburban Chicago, started doing Skype interviews and has already considered candidates from as far away as Asia. “The time difference was so great, it was like 1 in the morning for him,” she says about a teacher in Japan. “I said, ‘Oh, you had to get on your suit in the middle of the night?’ And he said, ‘No, I have my pajamas on the bottom.’ He was fun — he had a real sense of humor.” Even over video, it’s possible to make a great first impression.

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August 10, 2012

Peter Martin

Australians have banking economists stumped.Australians have banking economists stumped. Photo: Michele Mossop

AUSTRALIANS have banking economists stumped.

They thought they knew what we would do when in 2009 the Reserve Bank outlawed largely hidden payments between financial institutions that were usually passed on to us as account-keeping fees whenever we used a so-called ”foreign” teller machine owned by another bank.

They thought we would do nothing.

In place of the indirect fees were direct fees in which the owner of each foreign ATM took the money directly from our accounts each time we made a foreign withdrawal.

But the size of the charge, typically two dollars, didn’t change. All of the economic models – including the Reserve Bank’s own model – suggested we would use ATMs pretty much as we had before. The incentives were much as they had been.

Instead withdrawals from foreign machines dived from around half of all ATM withdrawals to just 40 per cent. Among senior citizens the proportion fell to less than 10 per cent. The group the Reserve Bank had thought would be the least able to shop around turned out to be the keenest to drive across entire suburbs to avoid the two-dollar charge.

A Reserve Bank study released yesterday says it’s behaviour that ”cannot be accounted for by the model of ATM fees presented in this or any other existing paper”.

To work out why, it has turned to research on retailing and a finding that point-of-sale displays can change purchasing decisions even when they convey no new information.

It says one of the reforms it introduced in 2009 was effectively a ”point-of-sale prompt”. Since then every foreign user attempting to complete a transaction has been presented with a message reminding them of the fee and asking them to press a button to either continue or cancel. An astonishing 10 per cent of us confess to cancelling at least once in the past month.

The RBA’s tentative conclusion is that it is not the fee that is frightening us, it is being continually told about it.

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Posted July 26, 2012 15:36:52

It’s a pity about the timing of last weekend’s Melbourne by-election. It’s a pity it wasn’t being held this weekend, and in a seat where the governing Liberal National Party was forced to contest.

While it was useful academically to get a sense of the relative strengths of the ALP and the Greens in inner-Melbourne, it would be far more illuminating right now to get a steer on how the electorate feels about the near collapse of the disability insurance system.

On the face of it, the failure of the richest states to cough up a relative pittance towards the trials appears to be the dumbest – and meanest – act by leading politicians in a very long time.

Perhaps there is a plausible explanation to the intransigence of Barry O’Farrell, Ted Baillieu and Campbell Newman; perhaps it does go beyond the suspicion that they are merely playing a political game, denying the Prime Minister a “win” no matter what the issue.

If it does go beyond that, then so far the premiers have done a lousy job of putting the record straight.

The most offensive contribution came from Premier Newman, pleading poor while presiding over resource-rich Queensland. Even at its most basic – the argument that they don’t want to lock themselves into a future funding model that will become unaffordable when it is extended – doesn’t hold water.

What’s wrong with a separate arrangement simply allowing trials to go ahead, with a view to thrashing out the longer term deal down the track, especially given that everybody agrees the scheme is first class and essential?

Make no mistake, the politics of this are all negative for the state premiers. This is not a situation like asylum seekers, or the mining tax, where the competing parties can at least make an argument on policy direction. There is no dispute here, no issue and no alternative proposals being put.

Now, whenever a state premier spends $10m or more, and they often commit to these sorts of sums between budgets, that money will be lined up against money for the disabled. The premiers’ priorities will be put to the test every time: no matter whether it’s money for public events like a grand prix, money for lobbyists or overseas trips, the comparison can and will be made as a regular test of the values of the government.

Here’s one hot off the press. Just this week, the Baillieu Government committed to spending – according to media reports – $5m to install automated boom gates at a level crossing in well-off Brighton. That was after spending $2m on a feasibility study.

The politics are baffling to say the least, but not inconsistent with the level of public discourse that the country has been enduring for some time now.

What on earth drove the premiers to think they could go down this path and emerge unscathed politically?

The alarm bells would surely have been ringing if advisers were listening to 2SM’s John Laws as he interviewed the Minister for Families and Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin.

After listening to her presentation, he said: “I really don’t understand how anybody could argue with that …”, and again after a pause, “I really do not understand.”

“It’s a tragedy,” he said, “because, I mean, as Australians … we are a very compassionate race of people … we should be looking after people who simply can’t look after themselves.

“This place is not Bangladesh, it’s Australia; one of the greatest countries – the greatest in my mind – in the world, yet we can’t look after people properly with disabilities.”

A test of the State Government’s strength in Victoria would have been interesting even before the rejection of the disabilities insurance scheme.

Even though the Baillieu Government won just a single seat majority at the November 2010 election, the shock of the defeat of a well-established Labor Government had most pundits assuming the LNP would grab incumbency by both hands and consolidate for years to come. Few of them believe that any more.

The decline started with the virtual neutering of one of the government’s finest performers, the deputy premier, Peter Ryan, over the plot to get rid of the chief of police, Simon Overland.

Along the way there were extremely messy pay negotiations with well-regarded public sector workers like teachers and nurses.

Then the coup de grace: the budget decision to cut into TAFE in some of the most politically sensitive regions in the state.

Now the momentum is running against the government and the opposition leader, Daniel Andrews – considered by some up until now as a stop gap leader – is re-energised and hitting targets.

None will be as easy to hit as the one erected when the premiers of the biggest states shirked their responsibility to the disabled.

Barrie Cassidy is the presenter of ABC programs Insiders and Offsiders. View his full profile here.


by Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. McDonald | 7:00 AM July 20, 2012

In just a few years, social media has come to dominate many of our personal communications. We collaborate daily, sometimes productively, sometimes not. Most organizations, however, still view social media as a threat to productivity, intellectual capital, security, privacy, management authority, or regulatory compliance. In fact, this is the most common attitude among the more than 250 organizations that have taken our Social Readiness Assessment.

We’re not surprised. When we first wrote about The Six Attitudes Leaders Take Towards Social Media, our analysis showed that most organizations had yet to embrace a positive attitude towards using social media for true business value. Results of the Social Readiness Assessment reflect this continued struggle. But they also show progress. Overall, respondents were split 50/50 between a positive and challenged attitude towards social media with many indicating that they recognize the potential for social media to address strategic needs and generate durable change.

The figure below shows the distribution of the six social media attitudes we identified.

bradley 1.png

Fearful, folly and flippant attitudes keep organizations from realizing the benefits of mass collaboration. Simple social media solutions that generate ‘likes’ may be easier to embrace but they offer little in the way of meaningful change.

The trouble with a fearful attitude is that an organization often doesn’t take a specific stance: it discourages and even prohibits the use of social media. While this approach reduces the potential for undesirable behavior — that’s the reason for restriction — it also stifles any business value that might be derived from grassroots use of social media.

In companies with a formulating attitude, organizational leadership recognizes both the value of community collaboration and the need to be more organized and strategic in its use. They actively plan how to use it with well-defined purposes. They are no longer fearful of its misuse nor flippant about its potential to drive results back into the organization.

bradley 2.png

Progression Path to Becoming a Social Organization
Source: The Social Organization

Moving Beyond Fear
Social media sponsors who want to move beyond the three negative attitudes tend to build their social media capability in one of two ways: They either use it to demonstrate executive support and build confidence throughout the organization, or they start small with a narrow and specific purpose. Note that this is different than starting with a pilot. Social media pilots don’t work because they might limit the initial audience, which needs to grow organically and aggressively for success; or they tend to launch with a half-baked scope or technology that doesn’t inspire the community to participate.

The large grocery retailer SUPERVALU provides a good example of how to overcome fear in an organization by demonstrating executive support. CEO and President Craig Herkert saw social media as a way to respond faster to market needs, create a flatter organization, and share ideas and innovations, according to Wayne Shurts, the company’s CIO. To this end, Herkert uses social media both to communicate with the company and also to respond to questions and comments directly and quickly. He encourages his executive team to participate and even assigns comments and action items to them via social media where everyone can see. This creates a cultural intimacy in a company with multiple brands and acquired chains.

SUPERVALU’s executive team’s use of social media has encouraged the formation of collaborative communities across the stores and departments. Whereas ideas and experiences were previously kept within local store brands, now collaborative communities have formed based on commonalities that exist across the store brands. For example, a grass roots “Shores Stores Group” formed among the more than 100 store managers with stores located in vacation communities. These stores face unique challenges from staffing during the busy season to handling peak demand during the summer months. The tools, techniques, and approaches to handling these issues are unique to this type of store and social media provides a platform for sharing ideas.

The second option to overcome fear entails defining a purpose that engages people without threatening the organization. For example, instead of deploying a social network for all its employees to collaborate more effectively (but only starting with a pilot for the “western region”), a company can build a social media solution for sales people to network specifically on how to successfully identify and overcome the top three sales objections.

In other words, consider a starter set of social media purposes that are highly magnetic to individuals to attract them into collaborative communities. Purposes related to employee health and safety, customer support, or even organizing the company picnic have all been used to move beyond fear and into action and experience.

Any organization can get lucky and have a single successful implementation of social media. Social leaders, on the other hand, build collaborative capability through a learning process that starts with understanding their current attitude and taking the steps required to building confidence and trust. This turns a single social media success into a sustained source of competitive advantage.


When New York career coach Sarah Stamboulie was working at financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald in the human resources department some years ago, she was about to hire a support staffer. At the final stage in the process, she called the woman’s last employer, expecting to hear a glowing recommendation. Instead, the employer spoke haltingly and without enthusiasm. “It was totally damning with faint praise,” says Stamboulie. “They were basically saying this person never showed up and their attendance was bad.” Stamboulie, who has also worked in human resources at Morgan Stanley and Nortel Networks, before a stint in Columbia Business School’s alumni career services office and then in her own coaching firm, says she has seen this problem frequently over the years. Job candidates give out references who only grudgingly endorse their qualifications.

That’s just one of the frequent mistakes job applicants make during their search. I interviewed Stamboulie, and two other New York coaches, Anita Attridge, who is affiliated with the national career coaching group, The Five O’Clock Club, and Ellis Chase, a coach with more than 30 years of experience, and they shared some of the most common, and egregious, job-searching errors.

Often candidates scotch their chances early in the process with an illegible résumé. Stamboulie says that even at a time when it’s easy to change type styles and design layouts, too many candidates use such a small font that it’s tough to read. Attridge and Chase see this too. “There’s something about trying to get everything all on one page,” says Attridge. “They forget about readability.”

Chase, who worked inside Chase bank, and as a managing director at staffing firm Right Management before starting his own coaching practice fifteen years ago, says another common mistake is that job seekers belabor their résumé for days and even weeks on end, while telling themselves they are working hard on their search. “On my list of important things to care of, the résumé is about no.23,” says Chase. “It can create an enormous waste of psychic energy.”

Once candidates have landed an interview, they make several frequent errors. One is a failure to muster enthusiasm about their former employers. “People don’t realize how positive they have to be to be positive,” says Stamboulie. Being neutral doesn’t suffice. Also, say the coaches, candidates are misguided if they think they need to be totally frank about their perceptions of their employers’ missteps. “The hiring manager doesn’t identify with the candidate; he identifies with the old boss or old management,” explains Stamboulie. Was your division cut in a move that you think was unwise? Better to say that it was a decision the company realized it had to make and that the change helped streamline operations.

Along similar lines, candidates too often tell grim stories about themselves in interviews. One of Chase’s clients, a private equity professional who needs to find a new job because his niche venture is failing, was talking about himself in an utterly self-defeating way. “He was representing all the work he’s done for the last two years as a failure,” says Chase. “There is a much better way to frame it.” The candidate should talk about his venture’s successes and achievements, and play down the weaknesses.

Another interview problem, says Attridge: talking too much at the start, instead of demonstrating curiosity about what the hiring manager needs. A client of Attridge’s, who was interviewing for a marketing job, launched into a lengthy description of why her skills matched the job description, only to learn halfway through the interview that the open slot emphasized different skills. “She found herself backtracking,” says Attridge. “She hadn’t realized that digital experience was a critical part of the job.”

One more interview mistake job-seekers make: talking about how tough it is to find a job and how long they have been looking. Though the media has been full of reports about long-term unemployment, hiring managers don’t want to hear about it. Stamboulie says it’s important to come up with a story with a positive spin, like saying you decided to take a sabbatical and that you’ve been having a lot of meetings over the last few months.

Yet another common interview mistake: being honest when the hiring manager asks about your weaknesses. One of Chase’s clients, who worked in pharmaceutical marketing, admitted to him in a mock interview that he was impatient and didn’t like to spend time with subordinates who were slow to catch on. “I said to him, ‘you’re applying for a senior management job and you’re telling us you’re a lousy manager.’” Instead, the candidate should have kept that to himself and talked about an accomplishment from his previous job.

One more common interview pitfall: bringing up salary prematurely. “He who brings up salary first, loses,” says Chase. Many candidates think they need to resolve the money issue early on, when it’s best left for the final stage of negotiations. It’s also a mistake to answer questions about how much money you want to make. If you are asked your salary requirement, try saying, “money is very important to me but at this point in my career, the fit is the primary issue. Toward that end, could we talk about this a bit later on, when we’ve established there’s a good fit?”

As the job interview and vetting process goes on, Stamboulie says that many candidates make the mistake of becoming impatient and pestering recruiters and hiring managers too frequently, especially by phone. It’s a good idea to follow up and stay in touch, but know that the process can take time. Impatience or testiness will only alienate your potential employer.

Finally, I have to mention the most common and worst mistake job seekers make: Spending all their time answering ads, or sending out their résumé to blind contacts, instead of making meaningful connections and doing face-to-face networking. “It’s the number one, catastrophic job search mistake,” says Chase. “It fools people into thinking they are doing a pro-active search when in fact it’s very passive.” Stamboulie and Attridge agree. “More than 50% of jobs are never posted,” notes Attridge. “Eighty percent of jobs are found through networking or direct contact.” We’ve written it many times but it bears repeating.


Although I think that the discussion here is a little exaggerated (some businesses have asked me to help recruit graduates without feeling the need for such things as a position description, selection criteria and pay rates…), clearly some innovative businesses are exploring new ways of signalling their style to attract the right candidates…


that the discussion of the

For proof that recruiting has entered a new era, one need look no further than an exceptionally novel internship application submitted this summer by Shawn McTigue. This playful 2:50 video by Shawn was a response to Mastercard’s call for applicants to creatively promote the benefits of a “cashless society.” It was his take on the “something creative” all interns were required to link to as part of the application. The rest of the process involved engaging on MasterCard‘s Facebook page, uploading a resume via LinkedIn, and following MasterCard on Twitter for further directions. The campaign represents the future of recruiting, where the process demands that applicants showcase their skills –and in the process makes them stronger candidates.

Forget the resume; today, employers pay more attention to candidates’ web presence, like their top Google search results, their Klout scores, their number of Twitter followers or the number and quality of recommendations they have on LinkedIn. Companies are looking at how individuals build their personal brand and contribute to that brand on a daily basis. And when it comes to job candidates, the ability to leverage YouTube and Twitter is just the beginning. Applicants are increasingly required to demonstrate creativity and innovation while addressing a company’s business challenge posed during the recruiting process.

Today, most companies have managed to integrate social media into their recruiting function. A recent survey conducted by recruiting platform Jobvite found that 92 percent of U.S. companies are using social networks and media to find new talent in 2012. But this has become the bare minimum expectation for competitive employers. To stand out, recruiters and Chief Human Resource Officers must go beyond simply leveraging social media to recruit talent; they must build a process that creates a more professional candidate; a process where candidates have an opportunity to showcase their innovation and creativity.

In considering the best ways to re-imagine recruiting, I used Spigit’s new crowdsourcing innovation platform, ICON, to do some crowdsourcing of my own. I asked users how they thought companies should build innovation into the recruiting process. Many responses suggested posing business challenges to candidates and asking them to compete on finding solutions.

So how can your company re-invent recruiting in a way that demonstrates openness, transparency, fun, collaboration and innovation?

1. Democratize the talent pool
Use contests and games to allow applicants to set themselves apart by way of their ideas and contributions rather than the standard, one-dimensional credentials presented on a resume. Performance in these contests reveals aptitude rather than education or experience, and that’s where the job market is going. After all, as profiled in my book, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today, a study by University of California at Berkeley estimates that knowledge doubles every two years and in some fields every six months.

Contest-driven hiring makes for smarter candidates, not only because the brightest applicants will come out on top. Just as importantly, those applicants will have received an education in the company’s priorities, goals, and mission during the recruiting process.

2. Run Time-Bound Business Challenges
MasterCard’s “Cashless Society” campaign yielded over 350 qualified applicants this year, compared to the 20-30 applications the company has traditionally received upon advertising a job.

Applicants were asked to use a third party social media site to explain what a “cashless society,” meant to them, and given four weeks to complete this challenge. Some, like Shawn, created videos; one successful campaign came in the form of a Tumblr blog, called “Cashless ’til May.”

The application process itself is becoming part of the interview as forward-looking companies see the opportunity of creating a more professional candidate. Social recruiting is now morphing into social interviewing, as companies require candidates to showcase their skills, knowledge and competencies in a public manner.

3. Recruit for Impact
In addition to cultivating a workplace family, companies must build a strong employer brand that resonates with potential employees. In the same way that social media now throws a spotlight on candidates’ personal brands, it forces companies to be vigilant about developing their employer brand as a way to attract top talent. They must use social media not only to gain and maintain a following, but also to cultivate a brand that resonates with what young workers (Millennials and beyond) are looking for in an employer.

The research on this may surprise you. In a survey of 1,726 college students conducted by the firm Net Impact, researchers found that 58% of the student population would take a 15% pay cut to work for a organization whose values matched my own

This is giving more organizations the incentive to build their commitment to corporate social responsibility into the recruiting process.

4. Make innovation a requirement
In a business environment fraught with uncertainty, a survey of 1,500 chief executives conducted by IBM‘s Institute for Business Value (IBM), identified “creativity” and “innovation” as critical leadership competencies for the enterprise of the future.

But companies are not waiting until an employee’s start date to begin training for innovation. Instead, they are building innovation aptitude into the recruiting process.

Increasingly we will see companies during the recruiting process ask applicants to solve a business challenge, provide input design on a new product or service, pitch an idea, or defend their analysis of an obstacle the company faces. These types of challenges are created to identify candidates who can demonstrate both innovative thinking, as well as T shaped skills, meaning a depth of knowledge in one area combined with as the ability to collaborate across disciplines.

For Shawn McTigue, Mastercard’s #InternsWanted challenge was the motivation he needed to get the creative juices flowing. “It told me that MasterCard was not looking for the same old thing,” Shawn said. “They were looking for exactly what they asked for, which was creativity and someone that would go outside the boundaries.” As a result of the contest, MasterCard selected Shawn for an in-person interview – however, he had in the meantime landed a full-time summer job elsewhere.

5. Build Gamification Into The Recruiting
Professional service firms like Deloitte, Accenture and PwC are the earliest adopters to re-thinking recruiting, and PwC is now building competitive games into the recruiting process in order to train applicants in critical thinking, teamwork and communication – key skills needed for success at the firm. The company’s platform, xTREME Games, is designed to build a range of business skills needed for success among undergraduate accounting students.

So readers, what are you experimenting with in your company to source talent in new and innovative ways?



There was a time, not so long ago, when I was busy, busy, busy. At least I thought I was.

I told people I worked 60 hours a week. I claimed to sleep six hours a night. As I lamented to anyone stuck next to me at parties, I was basically too busy to breathe. Me time? Ha!

Now I work 45 hours a week and sleep close to eight hours a night. But I’m not getting any less done.

About the Author

[Vanderkam] Mark Bennington

Laura Vanderkam is the author of “168 Hours” and the forthcoming “All The Money In The World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting And Spending” (Portfolio, March 1). Ms. Vanderkam lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

My secret? I started keeping track of how I spent my time, logging how many hours and minutes I devoted to different activities such as work, sleep and chores.

I soon realized I’d been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn’t even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing.

I’m not alone in this time fog. If you believe results from the American Time Use Survey, done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other studies, plenty of Americans have faulty impressions of how they spend time in our “too-rushed-to-breathe” world.

We all have the same 168 hours per week — a number few people contemplate even as they talk about “24-7” with abandon — but since time passes whether we acknowledge it or not, we seldom think through exactly how we’re spending our hours.

We also live in a competitive society, and so by lamenting our overwork and sleep deprivation — even if that requires workweek inflation and claiming our worst nights are typical — we show that we are dedicated to our jobs and our families. Being “busy” and “starved for time” is a way to show we matter. Put another way, it makes us feel important.

[0214subway] Getty Images

 But if you think about it, complaining about a lengthy to-do list is not only boring, it’s a sad hook for one’s self-esteem. Owning up to how we spend our hours gives us more control of our time, and ultimately, of our lives.

Here’s how to do it:

Keep a time log. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you may have tried keeping a food journal. Sure, you’re eating grilled chicken for dinner, but the eight M&Ms you grab from the receptionist’s candy jar add up, too.

Like tracking meals, tracking time keeps us from spending it mindlessly or lying to ourselves about what we do with it. Write down what you’re doing as often as you remember for at least a week. Add up the totals. Checking Facebook five times a day at six minutes a pop adds up to two-and-a-half hours in a workweek — curiously, the exact amount of time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we exercise.

Be honest. While Americans claim to sleep six to seven hours per night, time logs show we sleep more than eight. One study tracking people’s estimated and actual workweeks found that those claiming to work 70, 80, or more hours were logging less than 60.

Ask yourself what you’d like to do with your time. Claiming to be busy relieves us of the burden of choice. But if you’re working 50 hours a week, and sleeping eight hours a night (56 per week) that leaves 62 hours for other things. That’s plenty of hours for a family life and a personal life — exercising, volunteering, sitting on the porch with the paper, plus watching TV if you like. Set goals — maybe three hours of exercise and swapping out two hours of TV for reading — and see where in your 168 hours you could make that happen.

Change your language. Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.


July 24, 2012
The Watcher

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The tap on the shoulder is happening in all departments. Most organisations have used the past month or so to plan their restructures. That means they have a list of services that need to be cut. They will have a list of positions who are no longer going to be part of the “renewal journey”. But sackings are about real people – not positions, services or faceless bureaucrats. They are people with partners, children, responsibilities, bills and dreams. Many of those have been crushed. Not because they were bad at their job but because someone decided to undertake debt reduction through sackings.

Nobody wants to take a deployee into their work unit. In some areas the deployee list is referred to as the exit lounge or God’s waiting room – a form of slow professional death.

Here are two personal stories of staff that come from opposite ends of the “renewal” process:

35-year-old mother of two, “Wendy” had worked in the public service for nine years:

“We’d been told the week before that the cuts were coming but when the manager asked me if I had a few minutes to spare and to come into her office, my legs went to jelly and I could feel my chest tighten. At that moment I knew for sure she was going to tell me I had to go, and she did. It wasn’t about the quality of my work or my work ethic, I was told, it was all about delivering a set number of sackings for the government. I remember feeling sorry for her having to do the dirty work, and being determined not to cry. (But) I left the office feeling more humiliated in front of my work colleagues than I did walking into the office. I left the building to catch my breath and then it hit me that I was out. OMG what about the bills, the mortgage, my husband’s temporary job…

“There is still a choice to be deployed elsewhere, and there is a lot being made of that, but the brutal truth is being a “deployee” would be the most humiliating of all. Nobody wants to take a deployee into their work unit. In some areas the deployee list is referred to as the exit lounge or God’s waiting room – a form of slow professional death.

“I am hurt and sad but I can live with that and move on. The Director General sent a message that there is a free employee assistance scheme. This is their answer to thousands of public servants being dumped – go get counselling. In the meantime, this doesn’t get finalised until the end of August so now I get to sit in a work unit where I am not considered necessary with all the embarrassment and humiliation that goes with that.”

Long-term public servant Anne, 54, is very happy to be taking a redundancy package:

“I put my hand up for one and they agreed. I have had 25 years in the public service. I had planned to stay around for another five years but the last few months have taught me that enough is enough. I’ve been around long enough to have seen most things in the public service but the level of brutality and thuggery that I have witnessed all in the name of saving Queensland is absolutely horrifying. My heart goes out to all those losing their jobs who are not in a position to say ‘enough’ and walk out. I also feel for those left “intact” (for now) as they will have to wait for the next round of executions, and the next and the next and the next. I am disgusted and I don’t want to be part of it all anymore.

“The last straw was when some of those who were responsible for creating personal empires and pet projects – what we are now told we can’t afford – began getting promoted. Winners are grinners I guess and the rest of us pay the price. Yes I am very happy to be going; not because I hate working but because I hate what I am seeing and feeling. I am also very sad as this is not how I saw my “retirement”- 25 years ago.”

Numbers games
The Government has been deliberately evasive about how many are going, although the actual number is dribbling out a little at a time. The Together Union calculated the job losses at 10,000. That’s based on the number of public service jobs before Newman was elected compared with now. It will not end here. The Treasurer has written to every minister with a list of savings to be achieved over the years 2012–13 through to 2015-16. Critical to these savings is a three per cent reduction in non-frontline staff each year. So what if staff are facing are waves of sackings for the next three years? So much for builing an apolitical frank and fearless public sector and increasing permanency.

According to reports, staff at Transport and Main Roads are expected to learn their fate this week with their Director General and one-time Queensland Liberal party president Michael Caltabiano believed to be a strong supporter of a large (40 per cent) reduction in what is now euphemistically known as “back of house staff”. The Department of Community Safety is looking to chop about 230–240 staff over two years. There are rumours of major cuts at QBuild. The level of fear within departments is escalating as the body count increases.

The nepotism fiasco
Political messaging is largely about symbolism – and there could not have been a worse contradiction than sacking people because the state can’t afford them and the appointment of 25-year-old Ben Gommers – son of Arts Minister Ros Bates and former Toy R Us salesperson as the Departmental Liaison Officer for Transport and Main Roads. This is an apolitical public service position, and that’s a pretty important qualification. If ever there is a job in the public service that demands apolitical frank and fearless advice, it is this one. Being a DLO is also a position which requires extensive knowledge of the department; the policy areas; the ministerial system and, oh yes, the public service. We are assured Mr Gommers was appointed to a $100k position on merit. Well here’s a bit of frank and fearless advice for both Minister Bates and Minister Emerson. Firstly, if you’re going to appoint a member of your family, or a colleague’s family, there’s a couple of basic things you might want to look at. Don’t appoint them outside the Ministerial office – despite what the “that’s the way the world works Premier” may say, public service positions are subject to a closer scrutiny and can buy you a whole world of political grief. So while it’s nice to be proud of your children (many parents are – including those who lost their jobs last week), if you want to run the merit claim make sure you can (a) name who was on the selection panel, (b) be prepared to release the selection and assessment report; release at least the number of applicants – assuming there was more than one – and release the advertisement. Oh, and stop hiding behind privacy laws. Privacy laws have never inhibited a minister from releasing information if it suited their purpose. Invoking privacy laws is usually also used only when it suits the minister.

Some are travelling better than others
Politicians are not the only ones who seem to be disconnected from the renewal process. It seems that some of our senior bureaucrats are having a little bit of trouble with this thing called empathy. The recently appointed Director General of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games (and previous Associate Director General of Education), Richard Eden, is probably leading the way. His newsletters are prime examples of what not to do when you are trying to impose change. At a time when people are wondering who has jobs; what the future holds for the department, what the timelines are, what the structure will be, he spends his newsletters waxing lyrical about his eight-day trip to China with Minister Stuckey; his attendance at a Telstra Awards dinner and his attendance at a tourism function in Cairns. Frank and fearless advice for the Director General: there’s a big chance your staff are being offended rather than informed by your communications.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Jon Grayson, is reported to have told a group of directors general that he’s concerned the public service renewal process would not be seen in a positive light – can’t imagine why that might be.

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