Accidental Technologist

Do you ever sit down to write about something that you know you are “supposed” to write about and find yourself composing a different post? Well, my friends, that is how this posting began. Lately, I have been deluged with a lot of messages, posts, tweets, and Facebook statuses about back to school. Everyone in my life seems to be …

Do you ever sit down to write about something that you know you are “supposed” to write about and find yourself composing a different post? Well, my friends, that is how this posting began. Lately, I have been deluged with a lot of messages, posts, tweets, and Facebook statuses about back to school. Everyone in my life seems to be ...

Saga of a Small Business Owner: Perfect Pitch

Charades - Talent FrontRecently, I played a vigorous game of charades with a group of friends. The players’ acting abilities were worthy of an Oscar — ridiculously creative, intuitive, and skillful . . . with the exception of one of us who told us in advance that he did not want to play because he was terrible at the game. I thought he was kidding. After all, who’s bad at charades? However, without running his overall gamesmanship into the ground, I have to agree with him — he definitely needs to stick to bridge.

Why was he so bad? For starters, when he acted out a clue, he came up with one image/plan and stuck to it. For example, for the Life of Pi movie, he drew an apple pie in the air and kept drawing it with his hands until he ran out of time. Despite the fact people were shouting circle, globe, or anything even remotely round, he continued in exasperation to make the same circular motion ignoring the fact that his team is totally off base. When it was all over and the movie title disclosed, we bombarded him with comments like “Why didn’t you try to act out the other words? How come you didn’t try to show someone doing math? How about acting out a lion?” He sat down with “I told you so” written all over his face. Our team was hopeful that we would make up the loss on the next clue. Better luck next time.

When I started this business, I had a similar experience. My elevator pitch was horrible: someone would ask me what I did and I would say “recruitment process outsourcing or RPO.” Dead space. I wouldn’t add any additional information; I’d just wait for the next question. I’d think, “Why should I try to improve upon the exact right answer to the question? I’d just succinctly said what I did. What more should I say?” There never was a follow up question. Not good. Talk about missing a clue!

After three or four of these occurrences, I started to register the confusion in the eyes of my audience. A big “Huh?” hovered over their heads and their eyes would lose contact with mine for a nanosecond. Thankfully, one day, someone was bold enough to ask, “I’m sorry, but what does that mean exactly?” Oh great, I had a communications problem.

Because I don’t believe I’m the only one out there with a “pitch” problem, here are some practical thoughts on how to develop an elevator spiel that is actually heard and acknowledged by your audience.

Technically right, practically wrong. Actually, there is nothing wrong with my saying RPO because that is technically what I do. I work with organizations on their recruitment operations – creating a recruiting strategy, providing resources to support that strategy, and finding people to fill their roles. However, as I quickly realized, no one outside of the recruiting/talent acquisition world has a clue what that means. And, even within the recruiting industry, RPO providers define their services very differently so confusion exists within the bounds of my sector as well. The bottom line: be wary of industry jargon, especially acronyms.

Practice makes perfect. Although I had worked on my answer to the question, what does your business do? I did not try it out on anyone before I used it in a business context. What would have happened had I tried my pitch out on a couple of willing colleagues? How hard would that have been to ask a few people for their impressions? Not hard at all. In fact, they would have been outright happy to be asked.

Stay current. The colleague who asked me to describe what I meant when I said RPO, also helped me develop a new line. We decided to describe my business in the context of a more popular outsourcing model — human resources outsourcing or HRO, the practice of hiring experts in HR to either consult with your business or take on your HR challenges virtually. So what do I do? TalentFront focuses on providing outsourced HR support specifically in recruiting or talent acquisition. Although this resonates in meetings I’m having now, I constantly remind myself that a decade ago, no one knew what HRO was either. Gradually, people will know what RPO means and I’ll learn to use that term again or better yet, we’ll evolve to a new level and invent more language to describe the field. Remember: what works today might not work tomorrow so we entrepreneurs need to continue to refine your pitch over time.

At the end of the day, I circled back around to all of those people I met who looked at me quizzically. Their response was overwhelmingly positive and has led to referrals for new business, candidates for opportunities with my clients, and general well wishes. It hasn’t led to any additional opportunities to play charades, but who knows? The year’s still young and I’m a much more empathetic teammate.

Marcia Call has worked in the human capital/staffing arena for more than a decade. Most recently, she founded the firm, TalentFront, to serve the needs of companies and organizations seeking support in the development and implementation of recruiting processes.

Job Matters: Wonder Woman to the Rescue!

Wonder WomanIn today’s somewhat fragile economy, there still are some companies out there that are hiring. If you are, congratulations!

If you are hiring, you probably have a corporate recruiter/human resources manager who is working diligently to find the best person for your jobs. Maybe the role is so important you’re doing the hiring yourself. Either way, interviewing is very stressful for both the interviewer and the interviewee. For the candidate, being grilled is frightening, right up there with having to give a speech, but it’s not a walk in the park for the recruiter either. For the interviewer, it is maddening to see a picture-perfect candidate self-destruct before your very eyes. Instead of the calm, self-assured candidate you hope to meet, you are faced with someone who cannot relax and enjoy the conversation as it unfolds. Instead, the candidate panics and that feeling overwhelms the interview. As a result, the candidate leaves the interaction empty-handed, and you are disappointed.

As you ready yourself for your next round of interviews, I’m going to let you in on a trade secret. Candidates do not understand that you want them to ace the job interview. They don’t realize that we want them to bring their A game and blow us away. The better they do, the easier our job is. The worse they do, the more candidates we have to interview before we can make a credible recommendation to our client’s leadership on whom to hire. So in the interest of helping candidates help you, I want to offer you a practical tip that you can forward to all of your interviewees ahead of time. This tip is guaranteed to improve the quality of your/my/our interviews.

Recently, Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy spoke to the TED network about body language. In the twenty-minute talk, Cuddy, a well-known social psychologist, discussed her game-changing research on the impact your poses have on the way you view yourself — yes, the way YOU think about YOU, not just the way others think about you. SPOILER ALERT! Your body language has a definite impact on your body’s levels of testosterone (good — boldness) and cortisol (bad – receptivity to stress). For example, a powerful pose like standing with your hands on your hips a la Wonder Woman increases testosterone and decreases cortisol. This chemical reaction leaves you feeling on top of the world, which, in turn, translates favorably to your audience – whoever that might be and whoever you might be.

Okay, I got it. You’re wondering what does this have to do with recruiting. Well, if you really want to help your candidate knock one out of the park, send them the link to the Cuddy video. Not only will they realize that you are pulling for them, they will learn something that will translate into an all-around better interviewing experience for both of you. Maybe then, instead of being huddled over their mobile phone trying to glean the last shred of intel on you before the interview, they’ll be waiting in the lobby hands on hips ready to tackle this conversation together.

Now, wouldn’t that be an interesting change of pace? Please take this suggestion all the way to the boardroom. I’m counting on you.

View Amy Cuddy’s TedTalk for yourself.  

Marcia Call has worked in the human capital/staffing arena for more than a decade. Most recently, she founded the firm, TalentFront, to serve the needs of companies and organizations seeking support in the development and implementation of recruiting processes.

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Perfect Pitch

Recently, I played a vigorous game of charades with a group of friends. The players’ acting abilities were worthy of an Oscar — ridiculously creative, intuitive, and skillful . . . with the exception of one of us who told us in advance that he did not want to play because he was terrible at the game.  I thought he …

Recently, I played a vigorous game of charades with a group of friends. The players’ acting abilities were worthy of an Oscar — ridiculously creative, intuitive, and skillful . . . with the exception of one of us who told us in advance that he did not want to play because he was terrible at the game.  I thought he ...

Wonder Woman to the Rescue!

In today’s fragile economy, some of you may be working diligently on getting yourselves hired. If you are, you are probably talking with a corporate recruiter/human resources manager like me whose job it is to help organizations determine who is the best fit for their vacant positions.  We all know that interviewing is very stressful – right up there with …

In today’s fragile economy, some of you may be working diligently on getting yourselves hired. If you are, you are probably talking with a corporate recruiter/human resources manager like me whose job it is to help organizations determine who is the best fit for their vacant positions.  We all know that interviewing is very stressful – right up there with ...

If Mama’s Happy, Everybody’s Happy!

After two months of running around metropolitan DC in my beloved gas-guzzling Chevy Suburban, I decided it was time for a change. With my miles-per-gallon topping 17 on a good day – a drive to Gainesville and back, I wanted one thing – relief at the pump. I was determined to settle for nothing less than 28 miles to the …

After two months of running around metropolitan DC in my beloved gas-guzzling Chevy Suburban, I decided it was time for a change. With my miles-per-gallon topping 17 on a good day – a drive to Gainesville and back, I wanted one thing – relief at the pump. I was determined to settle for nothing less than 28 miles to the ...

Red Hots Wanted!

A few merry Christmases ago, my friend Jenny introduced me to a marshmallow cornflake no-bake concoction that requires three cinnamon Red Hots as trimming.  The addition of the candy transforms the green gooey mess into a precious holly fragment and the dessert of choice for the younger set.  Since then, I’ve been whipping these up with the help of my …

A few merry Christmases ago, my friend Jenny introduced me to a marshmallow cornflake no-bake concoction that requires three cinnamon Red Hots as trimming.  The addition of the candy transforms the green gooey mess into a precious holly fragment and the dessert of choice for the younger set.  Since then, I’ve been whipping these up with the help of my ...

Hello, World!

This company, TalentFront, was officially conceived when I found myself verklempt at a routine end-of-year staff meeting at my old firm. Our company had had a very good year . . . no wait, we had had arguably the best year in our corporate history. Our…

This company, TalentFront, was officially conceived when I found myself verklempt at a routine end-of-year staff meeting at my old firm. Our company had had a very good year . . . no wait, we had had arguably the best year in our corporate history. Our president and CEO, a remarkable leader with an incredible talent for public speaking decided ...