5 Ways For Recruiters To Engage Talent Pools – Without Looking Like Complete Stalkers

Wanting to build a stable of passive job candidates and actually doing it are sometimes at odds. Separating true interested job-seeker from the window-shopper is a consistent challenge, and then there’s the balancing act of keeping the “pool” engaged ~ are they really a “candidate” if they aren’t interested in the jobs you represent?

As it happens, Fistful of Talent (with an assist from our friends at Jobvite) is here. Addressing the pain described above, FOT created our October webinar entitled 5 Easy Ways For Recruiters to Engage Talent Pools – Without Looking Like Complete Stalkers to help solve the problem.  Join us on October 3, 2013 at 1pm EST and we’ll hit you with the following:

  • A simple definition of what a talent pool is, how you organize it in your ATS, and how to manage the concept of “opt-in” to the people you include in that talent pool.  The definition of who gets included and “opt-in” is important, because you’re going to broadcast a bit over time– which will feel different (in a good way) to candidates included in the talent pool.
  • A checklist of information (you already have access to) that those passive talent pool candidates would love to hear about.  It’s a checklist!  All you have to do is go find the info we list and you’re golden, Ponyboy.
  • Data on best practices in thinking like a marketer (do you use email, LinkedIn, snail mail, text, etc.) to engage your talent pool – without looking like a stalker.
  • Grand Finale, we’ll deliver the top 5 ways to engage talent pools – and for each engagement method, we’ll list what the communication looks like, where to find the information and why doing it the way we recommend is the best practice.

Special Bonus: we’re even going to give you a monthly calendar of what to do and when to do it related to our list of 5 ways for you to engage your talent pool. It couldn’t be simpler than that.

It’s time to make the talent pools you’ve built in your ATS actually like you and your company.  Join us on for October 3, 2013 at 1pm EST, “5 Easy Ways For Recruiters to Engage Talent Pools – Without Looking Like Complete Stalkers” and we’ll show you how.

Get Out There and Fail!

See if you can spot the error in this scenario…

“Call me crazy, but I’m going right.”

While working for a company dependent upon a robust and innovative Research & Development contribution, it was whispered that the “C- level” leader of that particular business unit was intolerant of mistakes.

“Knock knock.”

Who’s there?


Donut who?

“Donut expecta to succeed ifa you afraida of failure.” (Sorry, I have kids, I’m a purveyor of bad jokes.)

So, to recap, you have the leader of a group of highly intelligent and creative people who inadvertently created a culture where “mistake free” work is the goal. Predictably, within five years, the product pipeline had all but dried up. Unable to produce new products, the growth strategy of the company became focused on buying or brokering the products of others. Immensely talented R&D professionals began to jump ship (it’s always the strong swimmers first, remember?), looking for opportunities to fail.

Talented people seeking an opportunity to fail? Yep, that’s not a misprint.

An environment that values innovation must also recognize the value of failure; how many times have your heard a manager encourage his people to fail? I’ve worked for companies that professed an affinity for risk…at least that’s what they say…until someone makes a mistake.

As a leader in your company, your reaction to mistakes will send a strong message to those around you. Blame, finger-pointing, admonishment – these are the tools of soul-crushers. It may sound counter-intuitive, but celebrating those big ideas that failed will only encourage the ideas that succeed.

Now make me proud – get out there and fail.

 John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer); like this post? Try this one, this one, or even this one….go ahead, don’t be chicken.





Explosion or Erosion

Change” is a funny thing. We don’t like it, some fear it, some try to avoid it, but we all realize it to be ultimately inevitable and unavoidable. For the most part, we learn to adapt as needed after some level of resistance.

It’s a natural, primal reaction, but we adapt to as an end to the means we are asked to accomplish. Processes, procedures, plans – we can adapt. But culture? That’s a different story.

So, as a business leader, when a change of culture is enacted, it’s time to make an early decision.


"or perhaps a mixture of the two.."
“or perhaps a mixture of the two..”


Do you charge the hill and see who follows? Or, do you wait for the natural processes of attrition and integration to make the eventual changes? Consider these simple terms, and know your direction before you make a decision:

  • Grandfathering ~ All or nothing. Titles, pay structure, etc. Are you making the change or allowing for a gradual weaning. 
  • Swimming Skills ~ “Strong swimmers are the first to jump ship.” Make sure your critical performers are given immediate attention. If they jump, you’re left with deck chairs.
  • Stomach for the Fight ~ Simple to understand, are you up for it? Can you take a combination of blows to the body without tapping out?

You can blow it up, shake the very Earth, but risk a seismic (see the metaphors just flow?) disaster if the survivors are the cockroaches.

You can wait for a gradual and user-friendly process to take hold, but risk disengaging those who are asked to tolerate a “weak” approach for needed change.

Your move – Explosion or erosion?

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer); like this post? Try this one, this one, or even this one….go ahead, don’t be a weenie.


Watch Your Ass – Aesop Paraphrased

Fridays posts always have a different tone – hopefully the “ass” didn’t scare you off.

A man and his son were walking the family donkey to market when they heard an onlooker chastise them, “Fools, why walk when you have an animal to ride?” Hearing this, the two mounted the donkey and began riding into town, only to hear two passerby’s whisper “Look at that, two healthy men riding that poor animal.” The father quickly dismounted and began walking aside the animal,while his son continued to ride – at that point a man watching them muttered, “The shame…a son rides while his elder father walks.

“laugh it up old man, laugh it up…”

The men switched places, and now the father rode the donkey while his son walked alongside. A woman villager saw this and was compelled to comment,”What lazy man rides while his poor young son is forced to walk?

As they approached the bridge leading into the market, their options were almost exhausted. Incredibly, the man & son decided to carry the donkey, hoping to avoid the disdain of anyone else. They tied the donkeys fore and hind feet to a pole, then lifted the beast and began the tedious journey across the bridge.

It wasn’t long before the donkey, scared and somewhat confused, began to kick and thrash about, causing the boy to lose his grip on the pole. The animal fell into the river below, and, unable to unbind his feet – he soon drowned.

Aesop’s Moral – “Please all and you will please none.

Hardball Interpretation – “If you try to please everyone, eventually you’ll lose your ass.


Ball 4 – Lauren DiChiacchio

Long live Jaworski!
Long live Jaworski!

Every couple of weeks, I thought it might be nice to dig a little deeper into the mindset of one of our HR colleagues. This month, it’s recruiting maven Lauren DiChiacchio.


1. So, you’re going to give advice to 22-year old Lauren about a successful career in Staffing; what do you tell her?

“Networking is extremely important to be a successful recruiter. This industry is all about who you know.  The more people you know, the more potential candidates you have access to.  Someone you know may not be looking to make a career change; however, they may be able to connect you with the right person.  Networking is key.”

2. Looking at the future of recruiting, what keeps you up at night?

“When I was a graduate looking for a position after college, I didn’t have to worry about social media exposing my personal life for anyone to see.  Silly college decisions were left in the past not posted on the world wide web for anyone to pull back up years later.  Now, the space between professional and personal life has grayed.  People do not apply the right privacy settings on their social media accounts allowing them to be accessible to anyone.”

“This lack of a “filter” will have a negative impact on the candidacy pool as it opens them up to public judgement (whether right or wrong) by simply googling their name.”

“If you are going to invest in your public profile, candidates should focus on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.  LinkedIn allows people to connect with each other on a strictly professional level and can get a candidate’s name out there whether they are actively, passively or not looking for a job.  It can highlight their specialties, skills, and experience.”

3. If LinkedIn had the ability to play a theme song whenever someone viewed your profile, what song would we hear when accessing yours?

That is a good question.  Being that I am born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I would have to say the theme song to Rocky “Eye of the Tiger”.  This is twofold – first, it is the opening song to the Eagles games (E-A-G-L-E-S!!!!) and second, is because it exemplifies the idea of never giving up.   Plus, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love this song?!

4. What’s the story with that St. Joseph’s Hawk – why the flapping?

“Obviously I am very biased but I think the St. Joe’s Hawk is the best mascot out there.  The tradition is that the Hawk must flap its wings throughout an entire basketball game, never stopping (even during halftime) until after the game is over.  This compliments our motto, “The Hawk Will Never Die”.

If someone wants to connect with you, where do they find you?


610.525.4000 x270

Monday Morning PSA – Calling All Rock Stars!

This is a Public Service Announcement

Like any good vigilant Human Resources miscreant, occasionally I find it my duty to point out when a “pet” term has outlived its usefulness.  Spoiler alert ~ the title of this post is no accident.

When the hell did “Rock Star” become synonymous with ideal job candidate and/or superstar employee? Don’t get me wrong, I’m like everyone else – someone calls me a rock star, and I’m prancing around like Paul Stanley hopped up on goofballs. But why?

I’m here about the sales position

For people in my demographic (let’s just say it’s North of 30), “Rock Star” meant Zeppelin, KISS, The Stones, Sabbath, AC/DC, Judas Priest, The Eagles, Ozzy, Motley Crue and the like. These were people who snorted ants and cocaine interchangeably, destroyed property, ear drums, teenage celibacy, and, ultimately themselves. Hotel chains banned these people, parents feared these people, and we, of course pasted our walls with billboard-size posters displaying our undying fandom (btw, I’m teetering on the edge of too much self-disclosure.) That’s the way it worked, am I wrong? Since Elvis shook that naughty pelvis of his on the stage, “rock stars” have been outlaws, not ideal employees.

So why in the world would we want to hire these people? I can’t help but chuckle when I hear the term used in a recruiting search – instead of “rock star” juxtapose with “over-indulged, over-medicated, over-sexed binge-drinker with a 3-year productivity life span.

I get it, we want to hire someone supremely talented ~ but are we more inclined to value the big hair and make-up (sadly, I’m still referring to men) rather than musical chops?

Then again, it could be much, much worse.

It could be “Pop Stars.”

  John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer); like this post? Try this one, this one, or even this one….go ahead, don’t be a weenie.





Could You Fire Johnny Football?

“Can you fit a helmet in that box?”

For Texas A&M, it had been much too long residing outside of the football elite. Making matters worse, in 2012, A&M prepared to enter the SouthEastern Conference, home of the big boys. Aggie-haters rubbed their hands waiting to witness the weekly sacrifice to LSU, Alabama, Georgia, et al. But then……………….Johnny Football happened.

In 2012, Texas A&M unearthed a living, breathing football savant. In a sport that can feature 90+ players on a squad, ONE kid carried an entire football program on his shoulders. Aggie fans and alumni will forever cherish the glorious ride they shared with Johnny in 2012 ~ a Heisman winner, a win over Alabama, and a sign of glorious days to come; “Johnny Football” (coolest nickname ever?) was/is bigger than life, and never had an Aggie been so beloved. And then………..(*sigh*) the football season ended, and the silly season began.

When a person gets drunk, you see the extremities of their true personality without inhibition. For Manziel, the intoxication of fame and a little gold man exposed the warts caused from a lifetime of privilege, arrogance, and entitlement. In short, we found out that Johnny Football is kind of an a-hole. But man, that a-hole can ball.

When you have one performer who is so clearly responsible for the success of your operation, how much slack in the line do they deserve? And at what point do you pull the plug & make the highly dubious decision to remove a “star” from the team?

This is the dilemma of Kevin Sumlin, head coach at Texas A&M. He seems to be a man of principle (slowly becoming an extinct quality in college athletics), and he seems to be a man who has had his limits stretched to a point of breach. But how in the hell can you fire Johnny Football? For that matter, could you even make that decision, or would boosters and other muckety-mucks make that impossible? This kid, warts and all, is the bell cow – his Heisman run alone has been valued at $30M+ for the university. That puts a few bricks in the building, as they say.

Have you ever had this discussion with upper management? Could you have that discussion? A bonafide all-star performer with the ability to make or destroy an entire program. There’s no better example right now – Manziel is a gifted athlete and competitor looking for a fight with the world…eventually, he’ll lose that fight, but how long do you ride his wave of success?

It seems to be a matter of “when,” not “if” Johnny self-destructs – as he continues his frustrating combination of buffoonery and brilliance, his loyalists will begin to wane and a good man (Sumlin) may feel tempted  to do what seems utterly impossible – fire Johnny Football.

 Like this post? Try this one….no? How about this one?

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer)

“Always Drink Upstream from the Herd”

Always drink upstream from the herd.” – Will Rogers

Did you know that in a corporate HRBP role, you can actually run into the complication of being too damn friendly?! Truthfully, it can be a problem; “going native,” or “Stockholm Syndrome,” or imprinting, or whatever you want to call it – we have to remain at arm’s length from the people we support. “People” (“they’re the worst”) being the trickiest of all of God’s creatures, you risk compromising your objectivity at a time when it is needed most. This means, future Generalist, that we have to remain friendless – I realize the punchline here, that for many of us that really should be no problem, but still…

“I dunno, you just seem….different.”

Like a lot of you, I “grew up” with a company as I honed my professional chops. Initially in a recruiting role, I took great pride in the advancement and success of the people I helped bring into the company. Not only do you have a bond with the new hire, you earn a chip with the hiring manager as he/she begins to rely on you to acquire the best talent for his or her respective team. Yessir, when you’ve had success in a staffing role, you can end up with a whole lot of buddies in the hall. Then, you get tapped on the shoulder, brought upstairs and given the golden scepter in HR ~ the “Business Partner.” Except that’s a misnomer. “Partner” implies “friend,” which does not accurately define your new position. Remember those hires you made? Now, these same people may be on the receiving end of an investigation, a performance improvement plan, or a termination – and that can be a problem.

Sadly, your days of having “friends” are over. For we, the strategic advisors to the throne, are on an island in the corporate ocean, several degrees removed from the mainland where the employee population resides. When we’re called in to provide guidance on an employee relations issues, our objectivity is critical and is expected by employee and manager alike. Those same “buddies” you had from your days of talent acquisition are now in the same category as everyone else, i.e. “potential E.R. subject.” That’s not harsh, it’s just reality.  That means we are privy to (or exposed to) a lot of activity that takes place behind the curtain; and sometimes, that includes your friends.

As I’m typing this, I realize the ridiculous tone of my post – “…can’t have friends????? Isn’t that part of the problem with HR?”  Well, maybe – but there’s a difference between being friendly and  being “friends.” Finding the line of separation can be tough, especially for someone who may have spent a large chunk of their professional life with one company. You can have colleagues, peers, collaborators, mentors, associates, and clients; but “buddies” can be a liability for you and the company.

Like my old man used to say,”stay close, but don’t get close.”

(Originally posted on Fistful of Talent, July 31st, 2013. What, you think I’m working on Labor Day??????)