Jody Phillips

Hirevision Career Coach


Weapons of Mass Distraction

English: Exploding Planet with The Gimp 2.4.6 ...

Exploding Planet

Whether you’re a conspiracy theorist or not  (think Boston) consider the spectacle that is the reporting of these violent events.

An ever-increasing media addicted society means there’s nothing easier (or perhaps more sinister) than becoming one with the slick dramas we’re brainwashed by daily.

And episodic drama it is! Journalists as actors. Politicians and government officials coached to academy award winning performances. All broadcast through technology so advanced it’d inspire jealousy in an alchemist! These are the ingredients of a potent propaganda soup.

Now I’m not qualified to say whether what is being dished out is true or false, good or bad. But there’s no doubt the versions of events plated up for us to swallow are so biased that fact finding is as fraught with illusion as Dorothy’s skip down the yellow brick road or Alice’s launch down the bunny hole.

What fascinates me is how our response to viewing these events affects careers and job searches, our work.

Our brain waves change to alpha level when watching videos online or TV. That’s an almost semi-hypnotic state, where we’re sponges for whatever is proffered up and absorb information more potently.

If you’re unemployed your psyche may already be disenfranchised. The unknown is what you wake up to daily, a vacuum of uncertainty that is easily filled – positively or negatively.

Who’s most successful on job hunts? Those who are confident, positive, clear and focused. In short, the antithesis of the state you may unknowingly slip into when watching storm troopers evict people from their homes.

When our brains buy into fear and confusion (which they inevitably will when we’re glued to a screen) we’re rendered less powerful. It can paralyze at worst and be a negative state changer at best.

The remedy? Turn it off. Redirect your thoughts. Ask yourself what constructive difference it’ll make if you watch the same violent video loop a million times.

Then ask what difference it’d make if you sat silently imagining your career – as you’d like it to be. Or what would result if you focused on order and possibility? What would happen if you ruminated on (and believed in) solutions rather than the uncontrollable?

I’m not proposing we become ostriches, heads in a dune, unaware of world events. I am suggesting that overexposure is not only counterproductive it’s unhealthy.

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The Myth of the Purple Squirrel

3d red-blue anaglyph Squirrel Kensington Park ...

A Blue-ish Example of the Breed

HR’s biggest tangle? My clients tell me it’s talent acquisition. Common wisdom attributes it to employers who’re screaming for ‘purple squirrels’.

Tight niches demand highly specialized talent with complex qualifications. Exotic and rare creatures with unusual markings. Innovative thinkers with strings of  designations who are deft with in-house politics. Add years of exacting experience, say for example, toying with algorithms and models – analyzing then predicting the future with more zeal than a psychic. This is the stuff of today’s job market.

Remarkably, I don’t believe it’s attracting talent that creates HR’s nastiest issue – no matter how rare the squirrel they’re hunting. I find extraordinary folks every day – and yes – they’re mostly P.S. searches.

The culprit is a clogged hiring process. A Consultant from Mercers recently presented their findings on the number of interviews required to generate optimal hires.  Common practice is three to six (HR/Hiring Manager/Executive/Panel/Peer etc.).

The research proved otherwise. The magic number is, are you ready? One. That’s right – ONE interview/er is most successful. And they found that hiring managers have the highest batting average for picking best pup (or squirrel) in show.

Why is that? Well because consensus-based-hiring demands the impossible. Consider the analogy of six people going out for a meal. They need to agree on where to go, who lands in who’s car (both directions), what to order and who’s grabbing the tab.

Inclusion of every branch of the organizational tree fails. Too many blessings required. It’s easy to screen folks out when your performance isn’t assessed on theirs. Ego issues muddle. Peers feel threatened. Execs demand a perfect qualification set, when bagging one lavender squirrel is often as good at it gets (selecting from three contenders is unlikely when hunting royal purples).

The most viable prospect is often lost because consensus stretches the timeline – sometimes to a year. The prospective employer’s only contending purple may be wooed by a competitor that offers career trajectory, more money, but most importantly, speed. Immeasurable work is zapped and time lost when said squirrel accepts a position elsewhere.

The solution is at the top. A cogent case must be made to CEOs, COOs and and others with ‘C’ in their titles. Whack back the hiring process. Simplify. Create an organization that moves smartly while remaining diligent. It’s a very profitable choice. As an HR professional would you champion the cause?








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