by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, April 15, 2010

What do the following have in common?

  1. Jay Leno
  2. Sinbad
  3. Wayne Brady
  4. A trip to Epcot
  5. The Doobie Brothers
  6. Hall & Oates
  7. Gladys Knight
  8. Michael McDonald
  9. Lionel Richie
  10. Sheryl Crow
A bad road trip? A radio station gone awry? Several posts from "Stuff White People Like?" No...its been the Tuesday night entertainment at the SHRM Annual Conference for the last 10 years.

As someone who has served on our state HR conference planning committee for 4 years (including one stint as Conference Co-Chair), I know the difficulty of finding suitable entertainment. You want to find someone who will serve as an attraction to individuals thinking of attending your conference so it might serve as the tipping point in making the commitment. At the same time, you do not want to alienate any segment of your audience (comedians are a particularly tough call since humor is so subjective. In my co-chair role, we went with the BoDeans).

So, who does SHRM go with in 2010? Hall & Oates! Really? Hall & Oates? Again?!!?!?

Are they inoffensive? Yes. Have they had a number of hit songs? I suppose. Were they the highest rated Tuesday night entertainment show in SHRM history? According to China Miner Gorman, Chief Global Member Engagement Officer at SHRM, yes. Would it be painful to see them once? Probably not. But, to bring them back again after having played so recently...too much to ask. Its not that I don't want to see Hall & Oates....its that I do not want to see Hall & Oates AGAIN.

Are you telling me that are not other musical groups out there who might also be highly rated that could have been chosen? One could go to iTunes and find thousands upon thousands of artists, and SHRM went with one that has already played in the past 6 years. Even if we eliminate 98% of those artists due to fit (somehow I don't see the SHRM demographic singing "Ace of Spades" along with Lemmy of Motorhead), there aren't other groups who haven't played the SHRM circuit that would be enjoyable to see?

If we are going with the 70s/cheesy 80s vibe, why not....
  1. Pet Shop Boys. Hall & Oates instead of the Pet Shop Boys? What Have I Done to Deserve This? Given they were touring the U.S. this spring, It's a Sin they weren't chosen.
  2. Morrissey. Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now that the Smiths frontman wasn't chosen
  3. Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time she has been shown to be a classic\
  4. ZZ Top - there is a group with Legs.
  5. Cheap Trick - I Surrender. I want SHRM to want them.
  6. Duran Duran - Is There Something I Should Know about why they weren't picked?
  7. Styx - Who wouldn't want to see Lon O'Neill sing along to Mr. Roboto.
If you had the choice, who would you have preferred to see as the Tuesday night entertainment at the SHRM Annual Conference?

State of the Nation

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, April 5, 2010

As spring commences, two of a professor's less desirable job requirements come to fruition: ordering fall books, and writing letters of recommendation (LOR) for students. One of favorite web sites, Rate Your Students, recently discussed the topic of letters, and a colleague was ruing the demand that would be placed upon him.

I told him that I have basically created a "Mad Libs" LOR form:

  • In the first paragraph is the student's name and how I know him/her (usually from the classes they have taken from me)
  • In the second paragraph, I discuss in a sentence or two what each class required, rank the student compared to others I've taught (as I think that telling the employer/grad school that someone is in the top 5% is different from the top 25, 30, or even 50% of students I have ever taught), and try to tailor a couple sentences toward a specific job/grad school application
  • In the final paragraph, I recommend/highly recommend the student and urge you to consider interviewing him/her for the position
So, HR peeps...I know you are busy and do not have a lot of time to pore over many letters of recommendation. So, to save the both of us a lot of time (in both reading and writing the letter), what three things should we academicians REALLY include in that letter of recommendation?