Are We Killing Potential?

I recently spoke at Keiser University-Fort Lauderdale campus on “Understanding Soft Skills” and “How to Sell Your Soft Skills.” The university provided PowerPoint slides that they recommended I teach from, which I did.  However, I also incorporated real world scenarios and feedback that I hear from hiring managers as to why candidates are not getting the job.

The students at Keiser were a bit apprehensive at first.  No one wanted to answer questions or volunteer to role play. As the lecture went on there many things on the PowerPoint slide I didn’t agree with. One slide highlighted the old theory of “do not discuss salary.” I openly expressed to the students why I disagreed with this antiquated taboo, and why I always discuss salary up front with any candidate that I am interviewing.

Discussing salary becomes a matter of respecting the candidate’s time. At the root of it people work to get PAID, bottom line.  I could see every eye and ear perk up once I made my statement. I then disagreed with another slide point about patiently waiting for more than 30 minutes for hiring managers to conduct interview. Again, it becomes a matter of respecting the candidates time. I explained to the class that their time is just as valuable and that the interviewing process is a two way street. Candidates should also be interviewing potential employer!

Hire Me

As the lecture went on the students were far more willing to ask questions and participate in role plays. One great question a student asked was “how do I gain medical industry experience if employers won’t give me a chance?” I recommended volunteering at medical centers or a hospital.

She then made a face as though she’s heard that before. Her rebuttal was “why should I just volunteer if I paid for an education and have all required certifications?” I was proud of her for pushing back. All I could tell her was good point.

Later on that night I thought about all the obstacles candidates are faced with in today’s market. I contemplated more on why that young lady couldn’t find employment after doing all the necessary steps.  New grads are energetic and the most un-obligated, but yet they have the most obstacles to entering the workforce.  I can’t help but wonder, as a society are we killing their potential?


How To Be Your Own Recruiter: 7 Tips on Face to Face Interviewing

As an employment specialist I regularly give interviewing tips to candidates on how to nail an interview. But from time to time I also coach employers on how to conduct an interview, how to catch red flags, and what NOT to say.

Interview in progress

   1.  Be respectful of the candidate’s time. Put yourself in the candidates shoes, would you enjoy waiting 20 or 30 minutes after your scheduled time? Keep in mind this is also a reflection on your company.

2. Do NOT ask questions related to Age, Sexual Orientation, Religion, or Race.  Don’t even try to ask the cleverly disguised questions, “When did you graduate from high school” or “Will you need time off the day before Christmas?” It’s not worth the legal liability should I candidate feel offended so be sure to follow EEOC guidelines.

3.  Be aware of body language.  Pay attention to a candidate’s body language more so than what they say. Signs like slouching in their chair or diverted eye contact usually indicate a candidate’s lack of interest.

4. Ask for examples relating to “Soft Skills.”  Candidates often describe themselves with typical answers such as “hard worker,” “willing to work late,” and “people person.” To avoid this ask for very specific examples.  Ex. “Describe a time when you had to work past your shift?” “Why did you have to work past your shift?” “How did it make you feel?” Asking open-ended questions to keep the candidate talking.

5. Be conversational.  Make the candidate feel comfortable.  You will get more genuine answers.

6.  Try to interview candidates without a table or barrier between the two of you. This is a very effective tool I learned early in my recruiting career. Removing barriers helps you to better view candidate’s body language and makes candidates feel more relaxed.  Again, this will also allow you to get a more genuine personality assessment from candidate.

7.  What does your gut tell you? I call this feeling my staffing sixth sense.  Others may call it “an eye for talent.” Whatever you call it just remember to trust your instincts.  If it doesn’t feel, right don’t hire. However, if the person doesn’t quite fit the job but would fit into your company culture than make the hire.  You know your business, customers, and needs so trust yourself!

The Purple Unicorn

Employer: I need a temp

Recruiter: I’ll be happy to get this off of your plate.  What type of temp are you looking for?

Employer: I just need an Admin

Recruiter: Okay, what are the key job functions you would like the Admin to perform?

Employer: Answer the phones mainly but advanced knowledge of QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel, and if the person knows photoshop that’s a huge plus.  Oh and the person needs to be fluent in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

Recruiter:  What is the pay rate you are willing to offer

Employer: $12.00 per hour

Purple Unicorn


Not surprisingly, this scenario is very common. Many small business owners and even large corporations try to find that “All in One” employee.  What the employer is really saying in the scenario above is that he is looking for an Administrative Assistant, Receptionist, Marketing support, Bookkeeper, and Bilingual Customer Service person.

Perhaps your budget can only support one additional staff member right now, that’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with being efficient and combining roles. However, you have to understand pay scales, job titles, and your local job market.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Which position or role is more critical to growth of company?
  • Which position or role allows my key revenue generators to focus on their job?
  • What is the average pay scale that administrative assistant are earning in my local market?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you decided what role to hire for first so that you’re not searching for a purple unicorn. i.e. someone who doesn’t exist.

How To Be Your Own Recruiter: 7 Resume Red Flags

As an employer, you’ve paid anywhere from $500 to $800 for that job posting.  Now it’s up to you to be your own recruiter!


Being a recruiter takes years of experience, people skills, and what I like to call a “staffing sixth sense.”  After several years of listening to candidates lie, oh I mean tell you about themselves, you kinda just know who’s got what it takes. However, here’s a crash course in recruiting/sourcing:

1. Number of years at each job: anything less than one year at ALL jobs he/she has ever worked… MOVE ON!

2. Grammar & Spelling: pay attention to vocabulary.

3. Does it appear to be TOO well written? The person may have hired a professional resume writer- nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t provide a true writing sample from the candidate.

4. Highly educated but consistently underemployed.  Example: has a law degree but only works as a paralegal.  This person may have more brain than brawn.  Meaning they are not a Do-er, just book smart.

5.  Someone whose career appears to be spiraling downward. Meaning they were Controller or Accounting managers at one point but applying for an accounting assistant/staff accountant job.

6.   Job title doesn’t match description. Example: Job title: Bookkeeper, Job Description: Answered phones, Faxing, Filing, Mail out checks, Accepting payments.  That’s not a Bookkeeper.

7. Several gaps in employment.  This isn’t a total deal breaker but candidate must provide compelling reason as to why.

Keep in mind:  If you are on the fence about a particular candidate then just take the chance and call the person! Recruiting is not an exact science.  People are often better over the phone or in person.

Good Help Is STILL Hard To Find

Written by: Tamar Lucien

I so often hear employers and/or hiring managers say “unemployment is high so there should be plenty of people who can do this job” or “It should be easy to find someone at that (very low) pay“.

From experience as a professional recruiter for over 7 years, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yes, the national unemployment rate is balancing between 7 and 8 percent [Go to for current info]. Yes, the economy is still unpredictable, but guess what folks unpredictability is our “new normal.” Just think about this for a moment, as a hiring decision maker if you had to let someone go due to company cutbacks  would you lay off your ‘A’ players or anyone in the top 15% of performance?

I’ll willing to be that most of you answered “No.” I know this because not only am I an employment specialist, but I am also about 50% psychic (just kidding about the psychic part).  But the same rationale goes for all decision makers nationwide which means the BEST potential candidates are gainfully employed and not immediately available to fill your urgent job opening.  This is why staffing agencies, recruiters, and executive head hunters STILL charge a pricey premium for their services.

I know what you’re thinking now…”So people who are currently unemployed are not worth hiring?” Not true! Many people fall victim to their local economic conditions.  Unemployed candidates can still be GREAT employees.  However, what I am saying is that quantity in the candidate market does not equal quality. Too often I see hiring managers find the right candidate (with my help of course) and say “Well, do you have anymore candidates so I can compare?”

So keep an open mind when looking for additional staff on your team.  If you still are experiencing some trouble look into other staffing providers or recruiters in your local area.

Don’t Make A Desperate Hire!

Urgent staffing needs happen as your business grows or during peak seasons, but making a shotgun hiring decision can be costly! Especially if there is turnover and/or overwhelming pressure on the manger/person who has to conduct the training during this “busy” time.

The new hire is also put at a disadvantage in this situation because he/she may have been rushed through the on-boarding and training process.  Just as you create strategies for budgeting, targeting customers, and your product/service (the WHAT of your business), it’s essential to also build a strategy for the WHO of your business (the ideal team of employees)!

Here are 10 suggestions on how to keep a good pool of quality candidates:

1.  Ask your staff/teammates – they are your best resource!

2. Find local & free venues/job boards to post key positions – colleges and social media are a great place to start

3. ALWAYS accept resumes. Create a file to keep them for when they’re needed.

4. Never be too busy to meet someone who walks in, try to give them just 5 minutes!  Candidates who take the initiative to go out and meet prospective employers face to face show courage and an extrovert personality.

4. Attend local job fairs

5. Register with local unemployment office

6. Create an on-boarding strategy: hiring, orientation, and training

7. Register with local military recruiter offices

8. Consider bringing on & training an intern that has an interest in or is pursuing an education in the field/industry you are involved in.  Interns are a great hiring option for startups & small businesses.

9. Look for the job skills sets you need for your business in other industries. For example: if you are looking for a customer service rep for your insurance company consider accepting the resume of someone who has been a waiter or waitress.  Wait staff share the same “people skills” as a customer service rep. Totally different industries but similar roles.  Doing this will deepen your candidate pool!

10. Consider hiring someone as a temp to ensure they will be a good fit for your business’s environment.