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The Ampersand December 2017 – Brevity is the Soul of Wit

December 1, 2017

As often happens, our last edition of The Ampersand, How the Hot Dogs Are Made, garnered quite the response.  The comments were wide ranging and generally very positive.  My favourite, however, was this one:


“Well Said!  A little windy.  But, well said!”


Hard to argue with the critique.  By the time all was said and done, the post had ballooned to over 2300 words.  It is said one should “write without fear; edit without mercy.” I’ve got the first part nailed.


Alas, as The Bard himself said, “since brevity is the soul of wit and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief.” Herewith, ten recruitment related thoughts and observations for the holidays – in less than 100 words each!


  1. It’s about the money. We often hear from candidates that it’s not about the money. Yes it is. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We all need it and, as my 13-year old likes to remind me, money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you things that make you happy. We should not be embarrassed to admit we are motivated to earn a living. We’d just rather know that up front as opposed to when an offer is presented and we only learn then that it really was about the money. (93 words)


  1. Referring to yourself as a straight-shooter isn’t an excuse for being a jerk. The younger sibling to “I’m not racist, but…”, this common refrain, often heard by those of us who lead with our chin on the sell side of life, should stop. While it is true that you can be a straight shooter and not be a jerk, the euphemism is often a cloak intended to disguise the blow that’s about to come. (74 words)


  1. Read the spec. In a tough job market (and this still is one), if the position for which you are applying seeks, say, 10 required competencies, then you’d best have 12 of them. I get it; you can make the transferability of skills argument – I was once a pilot so how hard can it be to be a flight attendant? – but there are people out there whose vocation that is. Ask yourself: where can I add the greatest value to an employer given the skills I presently have, and go there. It’s dispiriting to apply for jobs you’ll never get. (100 words)


  1. What’s your current comp? If you’ve been out of work for a long time and you are seeking a new role and someone asks you what your current compensation is, the answer isn’t “in my last role I was earning $X”.  The answer is $0.  (45 words)


  1. If someone leaves your organization and the departure is actually a good thing, why didn’t you do something about it sooner? We hear it all the time from the jilted employer: “you know, really, this is a good thing…I mean, he wasn’t really that good to begin with…did us a favour, actually.”  Try to resist the urge. (57 words)


  1. Some companies have short memories. During the prolonged downturn, we worked with our clients in creative ways, usually without dropping our fees. Exactly two years ago, I wrote a piece in this space about the perils of undercutting and a race to the bottom on fees. Yet, now that things appear to be, ever so slightly, on the uptick, those markers are not easily called in. The ‘do-me-a-solid-on-this-one-and-I’ll-take-care-of-you-on-the-next-one’ seem difficult to monetize. (72 words)


  1. Generational differences matter. The days of the Bud Lite steaming cup of coffee are over. Why do you care if your people are in the office or not? As long as the work is done exceptionally well and on time, you can’t expect to arm your people with the mobile tools of your trade and then punish them for using them. (61 words)


  1. Time is undefeated. Not once in 17 years of doing this has time been my friend. If an offer is extended to a candidate and they ask for more time, they inevitably come back with a ‘no’. If a pitch is submitted and days go by with no response, it’s always a ‘no’.  Without fail, no news is bad news. Alec Baldwin may have delivered the greatest sales speech of all time in Glengarry Glen Ross but even he, I would submit, would be no match for Time.  (88 words)


  1. Recruiting humans is a very human endeavor. We are frequently asked about our views on psychometric testing as a tool in the hiring process. We think they’re fine as a management tool; as a means of better understanding the trigger points and motivators of the person you’ve just hired. But as a recruitment tool, there is simply no substitute for human intuition in the hiring process. ATMs, self-driving cars and on-line shopping may have enhanced the consumer experience by eliminating humans, but humans should always be the central figure in hiring other humans. Until, of course, the robots conquer earth. (100 words)


  1. It’s called a setback for a reason. Meriam Webster defines setback as “a checking of progress.” Sometimes you need to accept a lesser role than the one you had because it’s a greater role than the current one you don’t have. (41 words)


Sorry, I’m just being a straight shooter.


See you in 2018, where I predict tediousness and outward flourishes will abound. Until then, Happy Holidays!