Recruitment Tips, Employer Trends, and Hiring Insights from CareerBuilder

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Is the World’s Oldest Profession Going Away?…And More From This Week’s News

While you were busy buying the ingredients for True Grits, Winter’s Boneless Buffalo Wings and 127 Layer Dip, suddenly having a new appreciation for your own parents, and seeing this bit of news coming a mile away, here’s what was happening in the world of workforce management this week…

  • Where is Sally Field when you need her? With anti-union efforts cropping up in many states now, protests are being planned nationwide to protest these efforts, something that experts fear will weaken the struggling labor movement even further. (NPR)
  • Well, at least we didn’t name our children ‘Facebook’… The U.S. now has the distinction of having “the most family-hostile public policy in the developed world,” according to reports this week that we are one of only three nations – out of 181 studied by Harvard and McGill universities – that don’t guarantee working mothers leave with compensation. Our mothers would be so proud if they weren’t so busy working. (Bloomberg)
  • America’s CEOs decide to switch it up a bit. In an effort to generate fresh ideas without hiring new management, many U.S. companies have begun asking executives to take on unfamiliar roles within the organization. It’s like “Wife Swap” but with more power suits and fewer tears. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Pension envy divides private and public workers. Private workers who want the same benefits as public employees may find less to complain about as state and local governments struggle to continue offering these benefits. (NPR)
  • Charlie Sheen manages to show up every employee who’s ever only bashed his boss on Twitter. After “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen made a series of very public criticisms about his boss, Chuck Lorre, CBS announced that it is halting production on its top show. The incident highlights the dilemma many employers face when star employees start showing erratic behavior. (AdAge)
  • Rhode Island finds all-new way to drag down employee morale. In what is sure to be the least fun surprise ever, the nearly 2,000 teachers in Rhode Island who received termination notices this week will have to wait until the end of the school year to find out if they have a job next year. (CNN)
  • Businesses seem to be doing quite well for themselves, thankyouverymuch. In what seems to be a hopeful sign for the job market, a new survey from Towers Watson shows that many large and medium-sized employers are doing away with hiring freezes and plan to give workers their highest wage increase in three years. (CBS MoneyWatch)
  • Be careful when hating on the world’s oldest profession. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to ban prostitution in Nevada, saying it is hurting that it is bad for the economy. Shockingly, not everyone is keen on this idea. (

By in In Review, Insights & Trends

Employee running to get to work

Bees, Botox and More: The Strangest Late-to-Work Excuses

Employee running to get to workHow many alarm clocks would it take to demonstrate the number of times your employees have been late to work — or that you’ve been late yourself? Is it commonplace — or out of place — at your workplace?

A new CareerBuilder survey on worker lateness shows that 15 percent of workers are late to work at least once a week, though that number is down from 16 percent in 2009 and 20 percent in 2008. It appears the recession has been a likely cause of the downward trend in lateness — though it hasn’t made it disappear altogether.

For the most part, surveyed workers shared a variety of “standard” reasons for being tardy:

  • Thirty percent said they were delayed by traffic.
  • Nineteen percent said they were late because of a lack of sleep.
  • Nine percent blamed bad weather for their tardiness.
  • Eight percent said there was a delay in getting their kids to daycare or school.
  • Other common reasons included public transportation, wardrobe issues or dealing with pets.

Other workers, however, offered more creative excuses for being late to work — here are the best of the best (er, worst of the worst?):

  • Read between the (facial) lines | “My Botox appointment took longer than I expected.”
  • Feline fury | “My cat attacked me.”
  • The Keanu Reeves Defense | “I was delayed due to public transportation (employee produced a note signed by “The Bus Driver”).
  • No breakfast in bed that morning | “I didn’t get any sleep because my boyfriend’s wife threw me out of the house.
  • Channeling Nicolas Cage | “My car was inhabited by a hive of bees and I couldn’t use the car for two hours until bees left.”
  • D’oh Nuts | “I knew I was already going to be late, so I figured I’d go ahead and stop to get donuts for everyone.”
  • Ready to pull a Britney | “My hair was hurting my head.”
  • Karma Policing | “My Karma is not in sync today.”
  • It’s not me, it’s you | “I’m not late — the company clock is wrong.”

What’s your attendance style?

Although the excuses above are “outrageous,” that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not true. Either way, 1) tardiness issues appear to be on a downswing, and 2) most bosses understand that life sometimes gets in the way of work — though 32 percent of employers surveyed said they have terminated an employee for being late. Are you one of those bosses?

By in Survey Results

Sid Brown CEO

CareerBuilder Leadership Series: Spotlight on Sidney R. Brown, CEO of NFI

CareerBuilder recently sat down with Sidney R. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of NFI, to discuss his leadership philosophy. In the following excerpt, Brown discusses the importance of having an open-door policy, being flexible and knowing when to ask for help.

WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY AS IT RELATES TO PEOPLE AND THEIR IMPACT ON YOUR DAILY BUSINESS? You can have all the tractors, trailers and warehouses in the world but if you don’t have people running them and doing it right, it doesn’t matter how much you have invested in assets. In my opinion the most valuable asset you have is your people, and then you can always get the other things behind it. What differentiates one organization from another is how those people execute in a manner that provides a service to the customers or to their fellow employees. It is all about managing the dynamics of the human resources in your organization and getting them to go on the same page. If you do not do that, nothing else counts.

HOW DO YOU ENGAGE WITH AND RELATE TO YOUR EMPLOYEES? I have an open-door policy. Every time I travel around the country, I always make it a point of stopping in and seeing one of our operations. It is important for those people to understand and meet ownership, make sure that we are all on the same page and that we care about the job that they are doing out there. I usually get some pretty good insightful things from meeting with the people on the firing line that sometimes does not filter up to the CEO’s office. We also have something called ‘skip-level’ meetings. We have done this a couple times over the last couple years where key executives will meet with people who report a few levels below me. We hold a roundtable discussion where we just see what is going on, what they are thinking about and what ideas they have. Some pretty good ideas bubble up from those kinds of meetings that provide some insight as to what is going on in the organization.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE NFI’S CULTURE? Entrepreneurial. We give people a lot of opportunities to try new things to see how they work. I think that we are flexible in our ability to respond to our customers, and I think we have held our people accountable for the results. If they’re not doing the right things, then we try to figure out with them what the right answers are. When you sit in the top job, a lot of people expect that person to have all the answers, and that person definitely does not have the answers. In the last two years, we went through some of the most difficult times in our lifetime in terms of the economic situation and there is no book there to tell a CEO what to do when he walks in the door. So you have to figure it out, but you have to figure it out with the help of a lot of the people working for you because you do not necessarily have all the answers. That is where you try to bubble up ideas, thoughts and processes from the team to figure out what we can do to make things work.

By in Leadership Interviews

The One Thing Every Great Leader Must Do

Jim_Welch“One of the things I believe is important to being a true leader is that you connect emotionally to your employees,” says Jim Welch, president and founder of The Growth Leader, Inc.

It should come as no surprise that emotional connections are at the forefront of Welch’s leadership philosophy. After all, Welch was once Senior Vice-President of Marketing at the company that has built a business around helping people foster emotional connections: Hallmark.

Now a principal owner of LeaderFuelNow, LLC and author of the book Grow Now: 8 Essential Steps to Flex Your Leadership Muscles, Welch is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant on the subject of leadership and growth culture. Next month in collaboration with CareerBuilder, Welch will lend his expertise to the masses for a special webinar titled, “Real World Employment Branding: A Blueprint for Success.”

When I spoke with Welch over the phone recently, he gave me a sneak peek into what he planned to cover in the webinar, including what it means to connect emotionally with your employees, what it means to build a strong employment brand, and why it’s essential that great leaders do both.

“The need for emotional connection is your brand.”
“Emotion” isn’t often a word you see in business books; yet in Grow Now – as well as in daily conversations with clients – it is the central topic of discussion. “In the business world, emotion gets a bad rap, but the fact is an emotional connection – whether it be with your customers, your employees or your peers on the team – is critical,” Welch told me. Critical, because without that emotional connection, employees easily become disengaged from their jobs, their leaders and the companies they work for. They have no motivation to put forth more than the minimum amount of effort required of them – and no motivation to stay when better opportunities come along. Thus, today’s leaders need to work to ensure that emotional connection is there.

That emotional connection, Welch explains, starts with trust. “There has to be a culture of trust created where employees can give feedback…openly and without any reprisal or negative repercussion for their career or personal growth within the company.”

He recommends having regular small group meetings – such as monthly roundtable discussions – where employees are not only able, but encouraged to speak candidly about their concerns. Not only do these types of discussions establish trust between employees and leaders, but it’s better for business. After all, issues that are important to employees are important for the organization overall. But because leaders are all too often disconnected from their employees, they fail to get the information they need to make crucial organizational decisions.

“As you move up in an organization and get more and more senior, you actually get less and less given to you in a straightforward manner. There’s a real danger that by the time you become CMO or CEO or whatever that you’re too far removed, and you end up making decisions without getting all the answers,” Welch says. For this reason, it’s crucial that leaders have meetings to check in with their employees in order to stay engaged in what’s going on in the organization.

“You need to break down through those levels in the organization and talk to the people who are doing the work and out on the frontlines every day and find out what their issues are. And you need to do that in small groups,” he says.

Another good practice, Welch says, is simply blocking off time in your calendar each week just to walk around the organization and have conversations with people, something he used to do as chief marketing officer at Hallmark. “I’d talk to administrative assistants, I’d talk to catalog coordinators, whomever, and just ask them open-ended questions like, ‘What are we doing that’s working? What are we doing that’s not working? Is there something we’re not doing that we should start doing?’ And people would really open up.” Welch says the practice not only kept him aware of important organizational issues, but helped him establish connections with his employees as well.

“You’ve got to be transparent with people.”
“How many times have we heard, ‘Well, people are just happy to have a job right now’? Well, the key part of that sentence is ‘right now,’” Welch says when we get on the subject of succession planning. The recent finding that only 35 percent of companies have a succession plan in place doesn’t surprise Welch, who says in his book that leaders fear succession planning because they want to avoid making promises to top performers and causing average achievers to overreact.

And while there may be risk in being transparent with people about succession planning and where they stand in the organization, it’s far more dangerous to stay quiet. “If you don’t talk to people, they assume the worst possible case scenario…People leave an organization because of that.”

Failing to discuss succession planning with your employees is especially risky now, when employers are most at risk for losing top performers. “It’s a proven fact that whenever an economy turns around, or whenever an organization goes through change, it’s the top performers who leave first,” Welch points out. “At that point, anything you do [to try to keep those employees from leaving] seems disingenuous because you didn’t demonstrate that back when they were ‘lucky just to have a job.’”

“Employment branding isn’t nearly as top of mind as it needs to be.”
One of the determining factors in retaining that top talent is the strength of one’s employment brand, something that Welch believes employers place far too little emphasis on as a business strategy. While you’d be hard-pressed to find a company that names employment branding as a top priority, he says, the majority of companies do believe that recruiting and retaining top talent is a priority. What many companies fail to understand even today, however, is the connection between these two concepts.

An employment brand is essential to be able to recruit and retain top talent. And that entails understanding how you as an employer are perceived through the eyes of employees. According to Welch, the key to retaining great people is to establish connections with them, which only happens when they feel appreciated, that their opinion counts, that they have the freedom to do what they like and the resources to be successful, that they get frequent, valuable feedback from their leaders, and that they have a future with the company.

All too often, leaders are too far removed from their employees to know for sure how their employees really feel about them. Assuming simply isn’t enough. “People want to stay with organizations they believe in and they share common values and they connect with their leaders. People leave organizations because they don’t feel emotional connections to the boss and they don’t feel a connection to the organization in total.”

Keep reading to learn about the 8 Cs of The Practical Growth Leader

By in Employment Branding, Leadership Development, Small Business, Talent Acquisition

An upset airline passenger

“I Just Had a Baby. On a Plane.” — Employees’ Most Unusual Business Trip Experiences

We’ve all had a weird transportation experience at one time or another (some of us more than others.) From a guy on a bus jumping up and turning around in his seat to “scare” me with fake bloody teeth, to sitting next to a woman chanting incessantly next to me as the plane took off, to witnessing luggage fights with the flight attendants, I’ve had a few odd experiences myself. Continue reading >>

By in Benefits, Employee Wellness, Survey Results, Talent Management

Yoga Is The New Happy Hour…And More News From This Week

While you were busy welcoming our new computer overlords, sending your deepest sympathies to Cousin Jeffrey or possibly being inspired by Madonna, here’s what was happening in the world of workforce management this week…

  • Full-body scanning is no longer the biggest security checkpoint nuisance. Theft is. A TSA supervisor admitted to stealing money from passengers at security checkpoint and accepted bribes and kickbacks from a colleague. Bon Qui Qui would have none of this. (Daily Mail)
  • Female veterans aren’t even asking to break the glass ceiling…They just want to get into the building. According to new government date, female veterans, who are struggling to find jobs, are twice as likely to become homeless as women who never served in the military. Do I smell a sequel to G.I. Jane? (I hope not.) (USAToday)
  • Colleagues who say “Namaste” together stay together. For some New York City workplaces, yoga is gaining ground on happy hour as the best place for employers and employees to bond outside of work. (Guess this is one instance where it’s okay to do the downward dog with your employees – hey-o!) (New York Post)
  • Depending on how old you are, this article will inspire or depress you. Forbes Magazine profiles America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 and Under. Read it to learn the secret of their success. Or just go see The Social Network. You’ll get the gist. (Forbes)
  • Business schools take a page from their own books. Faced with a need to cut back on spending, many business schools are practicing what they teach by finding more creative ways to trim their budgets and avoid layoffs. (BusinessWeek)
  • Suspended teacher is a quieter, more social media-savvy Steven Slater A high school teacher in Pennsylvania has been suspended from her job after calling her students “disengaged, lazy whiners” on her blog. Similar to when a Jetblue flight attendant famously told off a rude customer last year, the incident has drawn a lot of media attention, with many defending the outspoken teacher. (MSNBC)
  • The Feds are coming (and it’s not to deliver good news, if that’s what you’re thinking). As many as 1,000 businesses suspected of hiring illegal immigrants will be forced to turn over employment records for inspection, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Hopefully, that shouldn’t affect anyone reading this. (
  • Marc Jacobs is as hip of a recruiter as he is a designer. It only makes sense that designer Marc Jacobs would turn to Twitter for help filling an open social media manager position. (The media attention probably doesn’t hurt his recruitment efforts, either.) (OUT)
  • The President, the Facebook guy and the brains behind Apple have joined forces to save the world. President Obama met with 12 American technology leaders – including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Steve Jobs – to discuss ways to promote industry growth. (Bloomberg) And finally…

By in In Review, Insights & Trends

Silhouette of employee walking through airport

Have Fewer Business Trips Negatively Impacted Your Business?

Silhouette of employee walking through airportIf you’re like many companies, you, in the spirit of budget-cutting, slowed down employee travel in 2010 — or even halted it altogether. According to a new CareerBuilder survey among more than 2,400 U.S. employers and more than 3,900 U.S. workers, 30 percent of companies say they cut back on business travel last year — and it wasn’t such a good move for many of them. Of the companies who cut back on travel, more than one-third (37 percent) said it negatively affected their business. Have you had a similar experience?

Lack of business trips and the bottom line

Budget cuts can often have ripple effects in other areas of the business. Many businesses who cut back on travel in 2010 had fewer opportunities for face-to-face meetings, leading to communication issues, hurdles in fostering client relationships, and, ultimately, fewer sales. When asked how fewer business trips affected their bottom lines, companies reported the following results:

  • Less effective internal communication: 12 percent
  • Fewer sales: 11 percent
  • Less effective execution on internal business initiatives: 10 percent
  • Less customer loyalty: 8 percent

How will this year be different?

Based on 2010′s results, will companies alter business travel frequency in 2011? For the most part, it appears they won’t. The majority of companies (77 percent) report business travel levels will stay the same as last year. Eleven percent said their companies will take more business trips this year (perhaps to counter the negative effects of cutting back in 2010), while 13 percent said business travel will decrease.

Although frequency of travel may be “business as usual” in 2011, many companies have started taking a different direction to help cut unnecessary expense: Altering the way that employees travel.

“Business travel is an important part of many companies’ operations as it lets them stay connected with clients and employees across the globe,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “Some companies are revisiting their policies, though, to ensure they’re maximizing the effectiveness of their business travel initiatives.”

How are companies keeping a closer eye on travel expenses?

  • Taking out the extravagance: Nearly one-third (32 percent) of companies are placing specific restrictions on business travel for employees since the recession, asking them to fly coach, lowering entertainment budgets, and having them only travel domestically.
  • Virtual meetings: Forty-two percent of companies said they rely more on phone/Web conferencing now to conduct business with clients, with 31 percent saying they get just as much out of virtual meetings as face-to-face meetings.

Tell me — has your business cut down on employee travel, or otherwise changed policies around travel to cut costs? What has worked well — and what wouldn’t you do again?

By in Benefits, Economy, Employee Wellness, Survey Results, Talent Management


CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson Discusses Hiring Outlook on CNBC Power Lunch

CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson appeared on CNBC Power Lunch late last week to discuss findings from the Young Presidents’ Organization’s Global Pulse CEO Confidence Index, a survey gauging opinions of CEOs on the future of the economy. He also talked about changes in job activity on CareerBuilder’s site and answered questions about job creation for 2011 and which industries and regions are doing the most robust hiring right now.

YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), a global network of 17,000 CEOs under the age of 50, surveyed 2,256 CEOs across the world representing companies of all sizes (1,144 respondents were in the U.S.) to measure economic sentiment. The Global Pulse CEO Confidence Index found, among other things, that the hiring outlook is improving both here in the U.S. and abroad.

Watch Matt’s full interview on CNBC Power Lunch:

Let’s take a closer look at a few key findings from the YPO survey:

1. CEOs are more growing more confident in the economy.

  • Global confidence rose 2.8 points to 64.7. The U.S. index rose 3.6 points to 63.5, the highest since the survey began in July 2009.
  • 61% of CEOS said economic conditions have improved compared to six months ago, up from 46% last quarter.
  • 67% expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months, up from 60% last quarter.
  • The emerging markets are the most bullish while the European Union has been the least optimistic, though confidence levels are rising there as well. Lower confidence levels in countries like Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal are tied to sovereign debt problems. Latin America is the most optimistic.

2. The hiring outlook is improving domestically and internationally.

  • The YPO employment index rose 1.9 points to 59.0 in the U.S. Hiring expectations were positive across all sectors, including construction, which prior to this point has lagged production and services.

3. Companies expect stronger sales this year

  • The sales confidence index for the U.S. rose to 68.5 from 49.2 in July 2009. Production and services companies remain enthusiastic about the pace of the sales in 2011. Construction is growing more confident.

4. Firms of all sizes expect to boost capital spending.

  • The investment confidence index for the U.S. rose 1.5 points to 59.7.

How do these results compare to what you’re seeing at your own organization?

By in Survey Results, Talent Acquisition

Ain’t No Party Like a ‘Sorry You Got Laid Off’ Party…And More News From This Week

While you were busy learning more than you ever thought you would about Egyptian politics, defending your $3 billion or so investment or showing that you’ve clearly learned nothing from the likes of Brett Favre, Kwame Kilpatrick, Mark Foley, etc., here’s what was happening in the world of workforce management this week…

  • There’s a Reason Party City Doesn’t Have an Aisle for This Some companies have taken to throwing farewell parties for laid off employees, but the practice is getting some criticism from career experts who say it’s insensitive. (ABC News)
  • The 21st Century’s Answer to “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You…” “Ultimately, winning the future is not just about what the government can do to help you succeed. It’s about what you can do to help America succeed,” Obama told American businesses on Monday, urging them to tape into their reserves and invest in hiring. (New York Times)
  • Jobs Defies the Old “There Are No Good Work at Home Opportunities” Stereotype The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has stayed very much involved in the company’s business initiatives since taking medical leave three weeks ago and working from home. (WSJ)
  • Bosses Who are Sensitive to Employees’ Facebook Comments May Be SOL The “landmark case” highlighting workers’ rights regarding social media has been settled. The company with whom the NLRB filed a complaint for firing a worker after she posted negative remarks about her boss on Facebook has agreed to revamp its rules to ensure they don’t restrict workers’ rights. (WSJ)
  • Smokers Need Not Apply More hospitals and medical businesses in many states are adopting strict policies that make smoking a reason to turn away job applicants, saying they want to increase worker productivity, reduce health care costs and encourage healthier living. (New York Times)
  • Technically Speaking to Qualified Applicants Proves Difficult While companies have slowly begun to hire again overall, finding qualified talent for technical positions still eludes many employers today. (BARRON’S) And finally…

By in In Review, Insights & Trends

Man balancing on a tightrope

Is it Your Responsibility to Make Work/Life Balance Work for Your Employees?

Man balancing on a tightropeIf you’re asking author, advertising CEO and performance coach Nigel Marsh, the answer would be an enthusiastic (and Aussie-accented) “No.” In Marsh’s TED talk (you can watch the video at bottom of this post), in which he shares his thoughts on work/life balance and asks the oft-raised question, “What does a life well-lived look like?”, he argues that it’s not up to corporations or outside interests to determine employees’ work/life balance — it’s up to the employees themselves.

Work/life balance (or whatever phrase you want to use to refer to the idea) is often on the minds of employers and employees alike, and it’s an idea that continues to evolve as technology seeps into more and more aspects of our existence and workplace/personal lines are getting even blurrier. Marsh tells the story of his own transformation from a “classic corporate warrior” who was eating, drinking, and working too much and neglecting his family, to someone who turned 40 and decided to turn his life around and spend a year at home with his family — to a man who has, for the seven years since, spent his time struggling with studying and writing about striking a balance between “work” and “life.”

Marsh’s observations during the last seven years have led him to make four observations about work/life balance:

1) If society is to make any progress on this issue, we need an honest debate. The problem, Marsh says, is that all of the discussions about work/life balance involve people complaining about the phrase itself. He also argues that discussions around perks like flex time and dress down Fridays only serve to mask the core issue: That certain career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day-to-day basis with a young family. According to him, we need to start acknowledging the core issues and thinking about the issue on another level if we really want to see change.

2) We must be responsible for setting and enforcing the boundaries that we want in our lives. We have to take responsibility for the type of lives we want to lead, Marsh argues — not rely on others to do so. In his words, “If you don’t design your own life, someone might design it for you — and you might not like their idea of balance.” Translation for employers: it’s the job of your employees (and, in your own career, yours) to decide the boundaries needed to make work and personal lives work in harmony — and that formula is going to be different for everyone.

3) We have to be careful (read: realistic) with the time frame upon which we choose to judge the balance in our life. We need to elongate balance, Marsh says, without falling into the trap of, “I’ll have a life when I retire” – or of “I’ll do everything in a day.” It’s not realistic — we must find the middle road, Marsh says. We can’t necessarily achieve everything we want to in a day, but at the same time, we can’t wait until our personal lives have fallen apart because of work to find that perfect balance. And speaking of finding that perfect balance…

4) We need to approach balance in a balanced way. We must attend to various aspects of our lives, including the intellectual, emotional and physical. And the great thing is, Marsh points out, it doesn’t always take a major overhaul to strike more of a balance in our lives — small changes can radically transform the quality of our relationships and of our lives.

By in Benefits, Employee Wellness, Retention, Talent Management

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