Hello my name is Bad Hire

Screenshot 2015-06-05 23.07.31

One of my favorite idioms is “think per pound not per penny.”  In my previous post (https://liuangel.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/outsourcing-your-companys-recruiting/) I talk about the hidden costs of not investing in outsourcing services outside of one’s specialty.  Today, judicious outsourcing is arguably a responsibility to uphold.

The majority of us adhere to a risk-minimalist investment approach: diversifying financial portfolios, bundling up investments, conferring with legal team, etc.  And, yet, in the recruiting and hiring arena, we often end up the high-stakes roulette player– not realizing the bet we are making against ourselves and what we are putting up as our giveaway items in the event of a likely loss.

Dry statistics (10% to 250% monetary losses):

Other costs:

  • Take 1 minute to Google “cost of bad hire” calculators. You’ll find quite a few options that funnel out into cost sub-categories such as time/$ spent on ad placements, sourcing, interviewing, onboarding, offboarding, training, HR-admin resources– stuff you may or may not have thought about in the cost-scheme of things but that all aggregate into a rearing lion’s head type of number.

You are Superman in technical project delivery, or cloud architecture, or whatever.  But you are human, and your superhero value-add does not extend to every area of your work or life.  You are a human hero at best– not a God.  The cost of trying to do everything is…everything, if not close to everything.  Just look at the numbers.

And, again, look at Economics.  I tagged this as a comment to previous article but felt it important enough to re-bubble up a seven minute introductory video on “Comparative Advantage:”


(If short on time or attention span, skip to 3:27 and stop at 5:00.)

“The more different we are from each other, the more we benefit from trading with each other…Do you know what you are comparatively good at? What you get paid for at your job tells you that. Comparative advantage is the main force driving us to use our talents in those jobs that we do best…Specialization plays a key role in the move from poverty to prosperity. “


Outsourcing your Company’s Recruiting

outsource stress

Specialize.  Delegate.  Outsource.

I specialize in recruiting, career consulting, resume writing, staff augmentation consulting, and blogging.  I delegate or outsource the rest:  taxes to my CPA, domestic duties to the maid, landlord duties to property management firms on my rental estate, and so forth.  The point is not what I’m outsourcing (nor that I’m criminally lazy in certain areas of my life)  but that I am recognizing where my strengths and subsequent best ROI lies.

Let’s say, your company or team specializes in PaaS solutions delivery and you, the team lead, specializes in the architecture and management of the actual implementation.  You may or may not be also skilled in recruiting and hiring but this is not your bread-and-butter area.  What’s the difference in ROI between time spent in your specialty or time spent outside of that?  Answer seems intuitive.

I’ve talked with directors, TPMs, and C-Level execs trying to wear multiple hats (hats off to them); during these late night calls to catch up, I can hear their fatigue.  I was gunning for one ‘rockstar’ DevOps director who was perfect for one of my openings and he himself was interested.  The problem was, I wouldn’t be able to have him as a candidate until he had his own internal openings filled.  Another director told me he spent at least 4 hours daily (totalling an average workday of 15-18 work hours) to sift through resume applications.

For the company who has never dealt with outside recruiters, the thought can be scary.  First thing one might see are the dollar signs; we don’t want to hemorrhage money when we are a startup struggling to bloom and see revenue, or even a medium to large company struggling to re-org overhead, operational costs and get lean. (The smaller shop or startup may argue that the risk and cost of outsourcing recruitment is on a different, harder scale than that of a big firm.  While I agree, I also want to point out that there are recruiters with the flexibility to adjust their cost models to absorb more of the risk burden in order to support a business.)

Here’s a different game-changing way to look at outsourcing recruitment efforts.  It’s more often that you can’t afford NOT to outsource than it is whether you can afford to outsource.  I’m going to get more granular on the following items in my next article but some example costs of not outsourcing recruitment efforts are:

  • Time away from revenue-generating activities and productivity.  If I’m aforementioned DevOps director, the hours I spend recruiting are hours I could have been managing my technical initiatives instead.  And, sure, I may play the role of Superman for a time– doing my full core working hours and, then, burning the midnight oil to play HR/recruiter.  Long-term trajectory that’s unfolding?  I’m getting burnt out.  Even if I don’t know it, there’s a brain-drain happening that’s detracting from my ability to give my all to my specialty.
  • And even if I, the DevOps (or whatever) director can proudly allocate 4 extra hours daily to recruitment, the specialists in this area can usually scale up much  more quickly in terms of time, reach, and resources.  They can shell out the expenses for ad postings, market and trend data and analysis, technical screenings, and other costs.  They have the time and focus to do everything to mitigate bad hiring decisions which can end up costing a company a figure 30% to 150%.  They are able to take a step back as an objective outsider and understand gaps in hiring processes or vision, and bring you both individual talent and enterprise staffing solutions.

Several months ago, my parents told me proudly they spent XYZ hours hacking down a dead tree in their backyard.   Kudos to their self-sufficient and frugal nature which has served them well many a times.  At the same time, they are now quite well-off in the socioeconomic scheme of things and (I pointed this out to them, rather bluntly), they are getting old.  I’d rather have them reduce risk to their body and spend time on creating or sustaining value in other areas (for my Daddy, working on whatever OOP or dynamic language he needs to learn in latest software project, or, for my Mommy, her crocheting Etsy-worthy stuff).

Outsourcing should not inspire the image of some strange party weaseling its way into your business and funneling your hard earned funds away.  We are here to solve problems and let you focus on what you do best.

For more questions on outsourcing your company’s recruitment efforts, email liu.winghong@gmail.com .

Rumpelstiltskin: Spin Shit into Gold

gold shitI have mindfulness quotes on “failure”  all over my cyber-interiors: archived in automated daily Calendar reminders, bookmarking apps, my Google Drive work or self-health docs.  Basically, I’m housing tons of the stuff online in hopes of housing it as ubiquitously in my head.

Failure and adversity is awesome sauce– linked to  the stuff that makes Richard Bransons, Sergey Brins, Oprahs, and literally ANYONE who’s ever been ‘success stories.’   It’s ‘because of’ not ‘in spite of.’  It’s antibiotics, steroids and fertilizer for your inside guns.  You are shit out of luck without any crap in your life. It’s easy and logical to take all this to heart when the crap chute ISN’T shooting.

Human nature that, once the thing is going, our chutzpah dies away a bit. I’m struggling like hell right now with something so this is my crap chute shooting moment.   Time to put down on paper an example of how big time crap fests were responsible for ushering me into the best, next, new things in my life.  Or, not just the big time stuff…even any small nonsensical thing that led to a big thing showing me that everything has a reason and a way to move me forward if I receive versus resist.

Example 1:  Big, Bad Love Story

A decade ago, I was harping to a friend about some romantic fall-out and he encouraged me to go out to clear my mind.  Had I not taken his advice, I wouldn’t have that night and probably would never have met the man who would take over the next five years of my life in a technically terrible, doomed, ‘death by a thousand cuts’ relationship.

While in this dysfunctional relationship, he was my gateway into both good and bad things.  Due to his line of work, the nightlife industry became a huge topography in my daily life.  Out of all the clubs I rode around, I had my favorite– which happened to sit across the street from Robert Half Staffing.  Countless bawdy to more professional bar-side conversations later, I had gotten to know many of them.  One of them connected me to a company that I belong to, current-day, and introduced me to the world of recruiting.  It was all organic, back-door happenstance given that I was a teacher with no ties nor knowledge to this industry, and this position existed as a need but not on print in any company or job board posting.

Recruiting is one of those professions that no one ever expects or plans for.   Frankly, I didn’t start building a cogent concept of ‘recruiting’ until months after I was at the company.  And, then, I fell in love with the career.  Today, I love what I do.  If it wasn’t for a random night out, followed by poor choices and big bad love, my career might be something completely different from what it is today.

End – word: 

One day, your insides feel like it’s being shredded by heartbreak or the aftermath of an Oxycodine high. You  wake up in a jail cell or a hospital ward.  Your startup fails; your MVP (minimal viable product) flops.  Your wife leaves you.  Your sonofabitch business partners that are supposed to stand by you stab you in the back. You get sick.  You get into an accident.

Colossal shit. Storybook writing = problem –> solution.  There has to be bad apples at work before the rainbow.  The bigger and badder, the better.  It is hard if not momentarily impossible to appreciate the grander picture of things.  Like, did it really have to suck this much and this way for me to get a win?  And what kind of win?

But what’s the point of tearing up the shit to bits?  From http://www.thisamericangirl.com/ bloggist:  Whatever decision I made, and whatever decisions I will make throughout the rest of my life, will lead me to whatever experience I need to evolve my consciousness.”  Yes, yes to that.  Doesn’t matter the circumstance, either.  You are the artist.  You take that paper canvas or that stone slate and you put yourself on the material and get on with it.  Smile and rally the next time you bleed.  May sound fanciful but fuckit and it is actually feasible: Bezos, Icahn, Jack Ma..hell- Genghis Khan– will probably agree with me: Be that girl in the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale turning shit to gold.