#HREvolution 5 is Coming

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In a little over 2 months, the fifth iteration of HRevolution will take place in Chicago on October 7 at the McCormick Place.  Hotel rooms have been secured, and tickets have already been sold.

So, what's new?  The agenda has started to be released.  If you head to the Eventbrite page, you can see what some of the topics and who some of the speakers will be.

And, don't forget, after you register for HRevolution you get a whopping $600.00 discount off the HR Technology® Conference on-site rate. Look for the savings promo code at the bottom of your HRevolution confirmation email.

Check it out.

Why I'd Hire A Penn State Football Player

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, July 26, 2012

If you watch any college sports, I'm sure you've seen a variant of this video:

The message resonates: There are more than 380,000 student-athletes and most of them go pro in something other than sports.  They put in time, energy, sweat, tears, body and soul into serving the sport, their coach and peers, and fans.  Yet, for most, the end result is not a lucrative sports contract.

Imagine, then, you are a football player at Penn State University.  Sanctions have just been announced that effectively cut off many of the benefits of the "job" you currently have undertaken.  No bowl game at the end of the season to reward good performance...having to do more with less as scholarships have been taken away...reputation of your organization dragged through the mud.  You've been "punished" for a very serious crime for which you had no knowledge of or involvement.

A lifeline has been offered...you have the opportunity to transfer to another academic institution and get immediately playing time (instead of having to sit out a year).  Do you take it?

Soon after the sanctions were announced, approximately 25 players at Penn State made a statement that they are sticking with their commitment.  Senior Michael Mauti stated, "“This program was not built by one man and this program is sure as hell not going to get torn down by one man."

If they are willing to stick to their organization, despite the sullied brand and lack of tangible rewards (outside of their scholarship and education) for the next few years, wouldn't that be an asset to be cherished down the road as you look to fill a position for which that former football player is qualified?

Recruiting 101: Sorority Rush

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is that PTO I see in the upper left?

If you feel your career as a HR recruiter is going nowhere, why not go into....prepping "chicks" for sorority rush.  Yesterday's New York Times featured three women who, after seeing the trials and tribulations their daughters went through, have put together a consulting firm called "Rushbiddies" to help prepare girls for that all important decision of which sorority to choose:
About 50 mothers and their “chicks,” as the Biddies affectionately call them, attended one of their two-day workshops in April ($100 a couple), complete with mock rush party, wardrobe hints and paperwork prep.
And there is a mound of it. The smart rushee, the Biddies advise, will have a résumé stressing community service, leadership, academics and teamwork, letters of recommendation from alumnae of each chapter, preferably on the campus in question, and reference letters.
Also, featured was Rachel Lewis, author of  “Recruitment 101: an Insider’s Guide to Sorority Recruitment.”   In her e-book, she preps women with a number of critical questions:
Why should you choose sorority life?
  • What does it mean to be a sorority sister?
  • How is the campus impacted by sororities?
  • What are the future benefits you will have as a result of being in a sorority?
What exactly is “sorority recruitment?”
  • What is the process that you will go through?
  • What is expected of you?
  • What should you expect from the sororities?
How to prepare for the recruitment process?
  • What research should you do?
  • How do you choose which sorority is right for you?
I will also give tips that will give you an upper hand over the competition. Information like:
Recommendation letters
  • What are the they?
  • Why are they so important?
  • Where do you get one?
Suggestions for conversation
  • What do you talk about?
  • What are proper questions?
  • What are some of the most important things to discover about the sororities?
Your appearance
  • What should you wear?
  • What can you do to stay comfortable throughout the process?
Subsitute "Sorority" for the name of your organization, and is it any different than what you would expect an applicant to be doing as they prepare to find a job? Would this book be much different than what you would find in the business/management section of Barnes & Noble?

As much as I want to mock this whole thing, my guess is that the women who go through this preparation might actually be fantastic interviewees when it is time for the search for their full-time job.

What's Your Most Memorable Phone Call?

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, July 13, 2012

One of my favorite movies is "Night Shift," directed by Ron Howard, and starring Henry Winkler, Shelley Long, and Michael Keaton (pictured above).

Keaton has been all too absent from movies the past few years or so (just check out his imdb.com resume), so I was intrigued to see a new interview with him on Grantland.com this afternoon.

It's a nice interview, and it's good to catch up with Keaton, but it also contains one of the more intriguing questions that you'll see (it even took Keaton aback):

(2) How about the most memorable telephone call of your life?
Michael: Wow. That's a really good one. Well, there's one that's not good, I won't talk about that one. Most memorable phone call … wow, that is really good. I have to come back to that one because I'm thinking, I'm remembering a lot now. Uh, you can't say the birth of your kid because I was literally there. Nobody had to call me.
Daniel: Any one life-changing phone call?

Michael: Well, yeah, one, unfortunately, I was informed of somebody really, really close to me, you know, was extremely sick.

That's sort of the bad part of that question, I guess.

Michael: Yeah, because that's the truth, though. I guess I'll just answer you honestly instead of trying to be funny. Unfortunately that didn't happen all that long ago. That was a life-changer, that was literally a life-changer. That was huge. But there were happy ones — a lot of happy ones.

Daniel: Sure.

Michael: Boy, was that a great question, though. Have you asked that question before?

Daniel: No.

Michael: Boy, you can hang your hat on that one. You ought to ask that one a lot, because that really makes you think. I've never been asked that. That's rare, that there's a question I've never been asked.

Daniel: Well, I'm flattered.

Michael: Hang on to that one.
An intriguing one to ask during a job interview, huh? Have you ever asked or been asked that one?

For me, the most memorable would be the news that our faculty personnel committee would be recommending to the President that I would be granted tenure.  Of course, I had been traveling that day and missed it entirely when our Associate Dean was calling to deliver the good news.  I thus learned about it on voicemail.

So, what's your answer to the question?

Lying on one's resume and the case of Mitt Romney

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, July 12, 2012

In 2001, five days after being hired at Notre Dame, George O'Leary resigned from the head coach position.  Why?  O'Leary stated he had played three years of college football and had a Master's Degree on his resume, but background checks showed it wasn't true.

Flash forward 11 years, and we have the case of former CEO of Yahoo Scott Thompson, who stepped down when it was learned he had made a false claim on his resume. Thompson claimed he received degrees in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College near Boston, but Yahoo's largest outside investor revealed earlier this month that the accounting degree was the only one he earned.

Now, we have an applicant running for one of the most important jobs in the world - President of the United States - who lied about his employment record.  In today's Boston Globe...

Romney has said he left Bain in 1999 to lead the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, ending his role in the company. But public Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed later by Bain Capital state he remained the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.”
Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.
Given that O'Leary and Thompson could not retain their positions based on their resume transgressions, should Romney's fib eliminate him from consideration from the position? If a candidate lied on his resume as Romney appears to have done, would you hire him or her for your organization?  What separates Romney from O'Leary and/or Thompson?

What say you HR peeps?

True Commitment - Marina Abramović

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, July 5, 2012

Been Galluped to death on engagement?  Think you are committed to your work and organization?

Meet Marina Abramović, the first performance artist to have her work featured at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

On July 2, HBO premiered "Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present," a documentary about her 2010 show at MoMA along with a retrospective, and "re-creation" of some of her performance art.

As a proponent of "ordealism,"much of her earlier work focused on pain and self-abuse:

  • In Rhythm 10, using twenty knives and a tape recorder, she played the Russian knife game (featured in Aliens) where rhythmic jabs are made between splayed fingers.  When she cuts herself, she picks up a new knife and begins again.  When she has gone through all 20 knives, she listens to the tape recorder and tries to recreate the experience again.
  • In Rhythm 0,  she placed 72 objects (such as a rose, scissors, or a whip) that the audience was allowed to apply on her body.  The show lasted 6 hours, and the audience soon fell into two categories - aggressors and protectors
  • In Imponderabilia, she, and her collaborator Ulay, stood nude face-to-face in a doorway, and audience members must squeeze between them deciding which way to face.
The documentary closes on her major performance piece at MoMA, The Artist is Present, where, "all day, every day, from early March until the end of May, 2010, she will sit at a table in the museum's atrium, in what she describes as a "square of light." Members of the audience will be invited to join her, one at a time, at the opposite end of the table. There will be no talking, no touching, no overt communication of any kind. Her objective is to achieve a luminous state of being and then transmit it­­––to engage in what she calls "an energy dialogue" with the audience."

For 77 days, 8+ hours a day, she sat impassively on a hard wooden chair, wearing a red, white, or blue gown, and stared at each person for as long as the person was willing to sit there, whether for a few seconds, or all day.  At first there was a table between Marina and the audience member; later, the table was removed.   Reactions ranged from bemusement to sadness to laughter (as well as a great Tumblr account - Marina Abramović Made Me Cry).  MoMA put together an album on Flicker that has portraits of each person who sat across from her (though the documentary is much more moving).

So, you might think you are committed to your work, but, you are likely no Marina Abramović

Why "Magic Mike" is the Workplace Movie of the Year

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Yes, a movie about male strippers is the workplace movie of the year.

Its a perfect parable for these times.  "Magic" Mike (Channing Tatum) is a budding entrepreneur working a roofing job, and stripping on the side with the hopes of raising enough capital to overcome his poor credit score and poor housing market to run his own custom furniture business.    He meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a former college football player, who is down on his luck after getting into a fight with his coach and deciding college is not for him.

All the characteristics of a good workplace movie are there.  Its got...

Recruiting - Magic Mike recruits Adam to work for the strip club.

Orientation - Adam is shown around backstage, meets his fellow employees.

On-the-job training - On his first night, he's thrown to the wolves, so to speak, as he gets on stage to strut his stuff.   While he shows all the grace of a marionette, Club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) sees something in him.  Later, we have the inevitable training scene where Dallas shows him the proper dance moves.

Compensation - Adam is surprised to see how those $1 bills pile up, and Dallas has big plans to open up a big strip club megaplex in Miami, where the strippers hope to get equity as a benefit.

Health and safety - We see on-the-job injuries as Richie strains his back lifting a heavyset woman.  It also deals with the downside of stripping and nightclub life...coping with drugs and depression.    

Employee Relations - It wouldn't be a drama without a little conflict.  Adam starts dealing drugs, loses his stash, and Mike has to cover for him so Adam won't get hurt.  Would you do that for a co-worker?  Similarly, Mike and Dallas clash about the future direction of the business

Career paths - The allegory of the movie, of course, is that people often make a choice between money vs. satisfaction and fulfillment.  Here, as in most jobs, whatever benefits you receive at first (money, easy access to women) outweigh the negatives, but, over time, it is hard to enthusiastic about a job solely for the cash.

So, check out Magic Mike...though it is highly unlikely I will be showing it in my HR class anytime soon.