What is in your life bag? (An evaluation of your life balance)

This is a personal evaluation of your life.

As you look at your career, family, social life, health and fitness, are you in a place you want to be?

We are in unprecedented times of change and challenge. Now is the time to look closely at our lives, dissect them and determine if we are on the correct path. Let this tool serve as a guide to your personal life balance.

Link to presentation:

What is in your life bag?

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Transforming Human Resources in China (Q&A)

by Jenny Li, Piotr Bednarczuk, Sharon Li, Matt Badger, Pete Sanborn (Provided by http://www.hewitt.com)

We’ve asked several Hewitt associates to answer questions about positioning Chinese companies for global success through HR. If you’d like to ask a question about this topic, or about any other pressing human resources challenge you might be facing, e-mail us. We’ll share responses to select questions on a regular basis.

Fueled by a 10-year period of explosive growth, China has successfully flexed its economic muscle and transformed its role in the global economy. Today, China has expanded beyond manufacturing and emerged as a formidable player in the information age, adding software, hardware and service solutions to its well-honed manufacturing capabilities. No country has successfully undergone such a radical transformation in such a short period of time.

The fast pace of growth and change brings with it unique challenges — particularly for the Human Resources (HR) function. To keep up with rising business demands, the HR function in China has begun undergoing a transformation of its own.

Hewitt has been working with Chinese companies for almost 20 years and is recognized as the leading HR Consultancy in China*. We provide a wide range of consulting services to State Owned Enterprises (SOE), Privately Owned Enterprises (POE) and multinational companies doing business in China.

Hewitt recently helped a large global technology company (POE) begin the HR transformation process in what is the largest HR transformation project ever undertaken by a Chinese company. The company has experienced explosive growth, tripling in size over the last five years, causing a number of organizational growing pains and opportunities, particularly within HR.

To share our perspectives, we’ve assembled a group of experienced Hewitt consultants with extensive expertise in helping companies transform HR in China:

Jenny Li – China Market Leader
Piotr Bednarczuk – China HR Effectiveness and Corporate Transactions Leader
Sharon Li – Senior Consultant
Matt Badger – Principal and Senior Consultant
Pete Sanborn – Global HR Effectiveness Leader

The following Q&A is a collection of their thoughts on the evolving role of HR and how it can deliver greater value to the business.

Question: How has HR’s role changed over the past 10 years?

Answer:
Jenny Li: The first wave of HR transformation really began in 2000, as Chinese companies began to realize the importance of people management systems, talent attraction and retention. A number of Chinese companies went public in 2001, and companies began focusing on HR program design.

The second wave of HR transformation occurred between 2006 and 2008, and was focused on program implementation. More Chinese companies expanded, and the movement of talent across various industries grew common. This period also saw the rise of a more performance-driven culture in China. Today, Chinese university graduates have a wide array of opportunities at SOEs, POEs and multinationals.

We’re currently in the midst of the third wave, which is focused on business performance improvement, product and employer branding, and attracting a more diversified, mobile, global workforce. In the future, we expect to see the HR function move into driving the business planning and strategy process. Weathering through the downturn, business leaders from Chinese companies fully accept the fact that the ability to attract, motivate and retain top performers has moved beyond a mere catch phrase to being the key to competitive survival and a critical differentiator in future business success. They now focus more on alignment between their customer and investor value propositions and the capabilities that exist in the organization. And they pay careful attention to how the organization harnesses the knowledge and creativity of the diversified workforce.

Pete Sanborn: The role of HR is definitely evolving. Historically, HR in China has been viewed primarily as an administrative role, and it wasn’t even considered a true profession. Today, HR is beginning to be seen as a critical role as China migrates from a manufacturing to an information economy. Company leaders now recognize that they need to think more strategically about talent. More companies are focusing on attracting and retaining the right high-quality talent in the organization — providing HR with a real opportunity to drive value.

Question: What is the primary role now of HR in China?

Answer:
Piotr Bednarczuk: In general, Chinese business is more mature than the HR function in China. HR has a great opportunity to not only provide incremental value, but to play an important role in transforming and globalizing the business. For example, while Chinese companies have been very successful to date, there are currently few global Chinese brands. Most Chinese companies have global aspirations, and we are seeing many Chinese companies setting up their operations on a global level. This creates new challenges and opportunities for HR. Executives are beginning to realize the cost of not strengthening the HR function. They realize that a weak HR function could impede future growth.

Sharon Li: Human capital in China is growing increasingly important, giving HR a larger role in the business. In the past, leading companies were profitable due to a good opportunity, the right strategy, or a special relationship. As the market matures, companies will compete based on the quality of their human capital.

Question: How does Chinese senior management typically view HR?

Answer:
Sharon Li: That depends on the company, but one way to get a sense of how senior management views HR is to look at the percentage of senior HR leaders that have a seat at the management table. Currently, about 30 percent of HR departments are part of the senior management team; the remaining 70 percent define their role primarily through service and administration, making it more challenging for them to be viewed as strategic.
Piotr Bednarczuk: What sets those 30 percent of strategic HR departments apart is that senior management is taking a broad look at the business and seeing their organization’s limitations, possibly for the first time. As soon as corporate leaders recognize the potential impact that their HR function can have on future growth, they immediately want to help HR evolve and actively drive that change.

Question: What can HR do to become more of a business partner?

Answer:
Piotr Bednarczuk: First, HR has to get out from under the mountain of administration they perform and provide greater value to the organization. That’s easier said than done, but HR transformation is an increasingly popular topic at Chinese companies, and we’ve helped many of them do just that. It’s extremely difficult to be proactive when the administrative demands placed on HR continue to escalate, but HR needs to dig deep and transform their role in the organization, implementing a clearer division of tasks between Centers of Expertise, Business Partner and Shared Service Center functions, supported by investing in technology platforms and outsourcing solutions that can free their team to be more strategic. Without the room to do strategic work, HR will never be included at the management table.

Jenny Li: HR cannot transform itself — it needs the support of senior management. HR transformation is much more successful when the executive suite is a champion and sponsor. In addition, HR professionals need to have stronger business acumen.

One of the other keys to success comes down to shifting the organization’s mindset. Once business leaders understand how HR can contribute to improved business performance, they invest in transforming HR into a value-generating center. It’s about providing greater value — not more programs.

Question: How do the HR trends differ between SOEs and POEs?

Answer:
Jenny Li: It’s difficult to generalize since there are marked differences across industries. We have seen some SOEs with very advanced management teams and some POEs that are not as globally focused as you might expect. China has a history of preparing their industries for success and then opening them up once they can compete effectively on a global stage.

Sharon Li: Although both sectors have much in common, in my experience, SOEs tend to be more focused on system-related HR issues, such as transforming HR systems to be more performance and market driven. At POE’s, HR tends to be more focused on workforce-related issues, such as talent acquisition and leadership development.

Question: What are the HR implications of the increasing globalization of Chinese companies?

Answer:
Pete Sanborn: As in many other areas in the world, Chinese companies are rapidly globalizing; and as they globalize, they need to hire, retain and engage people on a global level. That fact is leading them to think much more strategically about employment, policies, and their overall employer value proposition. They are recognizing that their reputation as a great place to work is a key business advantage. They need to make talented people feel like they are a part of the company, regardless of their location.

Sharon Li: This means that HR programs, policies and infrastructure need to support globalization. In early stages of globalization, expatriate programs need to be carefully designed to motivate Chinese employees working abroad. Also, having a global leadership program is critical to improving the global view and cross-cultural management skills of the leadership team. Later on, before localization becomes the top priority, HR policies, programs and the employer brand need to work together to attract, retain and motivate local talent. Finally, the HR infrastructure (including the HR governance model, roles, structure, processes and systems, etc.) should meet local needs, while simultaneously ensuring global consistency so that HR can enable the company to be truly global.

Piotr Bednarczuk: To compete globally, Chinese companies will need to build stronger brands internationally, and that will require hiring a global workforce, creating a company culture that embraces different points of view and translating Chinese values into an international setting. HR can play a significant role in creating that culture and establishing the policies and procedures that support a truly global enterprise.

Question: How will the increase in M&A activity in China affect HR?

Answer:
Piotr Bednarczuk: Until recently, most growth was organic. But now, we’re beginning to see more deals. One example that comes to mind is the acquisition of Volvo by the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. In that deal, they saw an opportunity to acquire a global brand, technology and know how. The Chinese clearly have their sights set on establishing their own global brands, and we expect to see them acquire more global companies in the future, which will create new challenges and opportunities for HR.

Pete Sanborn: Chinese companies that are “flush with cash” are now acquiring large global firms. HR will play an important role in conducting the due diligence, setting up the organizational structure, and managing the organizational integration.

Question: How will the war for talent and growing skill shortages affect HR’s priorities?

Answer:
Matt Badger: Talent — or the lack of available skilled talent — will inhibit the growth of Chinese companies. The global pool of skilled talent is limited and Chinese companies will compete globally for this critical talent. This is leading to a rise in turnover, which negatively affects the bottom line. As a result, talent attraction and retention has become a corporate priority and organizations are realizing that investing in HR transformation can help them gain a competitive advantage.

Jenny Li: We see skill shortages across China in key skill areas, such as leadership and managerial talent. Developing and attracting the best leaders and deploying them for the right situations will be a huge challenge. Chinese companies need more and more leaders who can run a global business, understand the differences in leadership rhythms through different market conditions, inspire a diversified workforce with a clear vision and defined expectations, and who can always see opportunities and can challenge assumptions.

Weathering through the downturn, leaders in Chinese companies had a stronger bias for developing talent and organizational capability. The war for talent will intensify during the recovery. Business leaders realize that future profitable growth relies on a seamless human capital supply chain to ensure the organization has a ready supply of key capabilities. Recently, a large number of our projects have been talent and capability related, ranging from helping organizations conduct strategic workforce planning by redesigning the sourcing, assessment, selection, and on-boarding processes to key talent retention and engagement. Developing critical management capabilities to fulfill domestic and global growth aspirations is another hot need in the market.

Piotr Bednarczuk: Increasing labor costs are beginning to cause pain for Chinese companies. The era of cheap labor that once gave China a competitive advantage is coming to an end, and workers are going on strike as they seek higher pay. China is moving away from being the low-cost provider, and now focusing on automation and value creation. Chinese companies are beginning to recognize the need to be more efficient and effective with the current talent in place.

Question: How does HR maximize its value within China today?

Answer:
Pete Sanborn: First and foremost, HR needs to get the fundamentals down and build a strong foundation, including efficient HR processes, a solid technology platform and HR shared services. Traditionally Chinese companies have added people to fix inefficiencies, rather than identify the needed outcomes and develop the needed HR processes and capabilities. Once the fundamentals are mastered, HR can provide on-going value by supplying the right talent and engaging and developing the talent needed to make their organizations successful.

Sharon Li: Until recently, most Chinese companies have typically hired new graduates from universities, and then promoted them from within. These graduates tend to be younger and less experienced than their counterparts in other countries, and HR therefore needs to be able to provide strong training and development to help them evolve.

Now, many of these companies are also recognizing the need to hire more experienced professionals, and that need places different demands on HR and the employer brand. HR can increase their value by addressing these demands.

Question: What do you see as the greatest challenges that HR has to overcome to make a bigger business contribution in China?

Answer:
Jenny Li: One of the biggest challenges is the lack of skilled HR talent. Organizational Development professionals are currently in very high demand, and it will take some time for the supply of skilled HR professionals to catch up.

Pete Sanborn: In addition, HR needs to build greater depth in business acumen, and HR functional knowledge particularly employee engagement and total rewards. HR also needs the consultative skills and the ability to translate business issues into HR issues.

Matt Badger: Another challenge is the sheer speed with which all of these changes are taking place. That speed can be distracting, and many companies still need to focus on mastering the basics.

Question: Are there any other learnings you’d like to share?

Answer:
Jenny Li: Addressing the HR component early on is a key driver of success. The right time to address HR transformation is when companies are putting their business globalization plans in place, not after the plans are completed. Companies need to remember to think about the HR implications.

Pete Sanborn: China is a very complex and multi-layered culture, and it takes time to understand how business operates. While it is a long process to win senior management’s trust, once you build that trust, my experience is that it is a longer-term trust than is typical in many Western companies.

Piotr Bednarczuk: Listening and taking the time to truly understand the business and HR context is essential. The thinking is much more logical and sequential, and managers are looking for proof every step of the way. At the same time, Chinese companies are very nimble. They are thirsty for knowledge and implement very fast once they’ve made a decision.

Full Article Link:

http://www.hewittassociates.com/Intl/NA/en-US/KnowledgeCenter/ArticlesReports/ArticleDetail.aspx?cid=8945

Social Branding 2.0 – Personal Brand Strategy and Digital Footprint Development for Successful Professional Women

As women in today’s workforce balance their professional lives with family and personal time, it is evident their are becoming more and more like superheros every day.

Finding emotional balance and leveraging personal talent in the pursuit of leadership and fulfillment is a key in the mind of today’s professional woman.

This presentation provides insight and tools to help prepare for the networking and digital footprint component of that pursuit.

Facebook Places is now a Reality…Will it be without controversy?

Provided by PCWorld
Written by David Chartier, MacWorld

Another day, another compelling yet controversial Facebook feature. Wednesday evening, Facebook held a small press event to announce Places, its new feature that lets users “check in” to a location in the real world, post content about that place, and let friends find them more easily. On Thursday morning, the massive social network released a major update to Facebook for iPhone that adds the Places feature, more privacy control, and better iOS 4 integration.

Facebook Places is slowly rolling out to users in the U.S., and first to users who live in or near major metropolitan areas. Facebook 3.2 for iPhone and iPod touch adds a new Places icon to the app’s main screen, allowing users to check into locations and view their friends’s check-ins. However, even though I live in Chicago, I cannot check in yet, so this seems to be a slow rollout.

The new feature will likely need some shakedown time from users, as yet again, it poses new challenges for Facebook users who want to retain some privacy. For example, unlike other popular location-based networks such as Gowalla and Foursquare (which Facebook partnered with for this launch), Facebook Places allows users to check their friends into a place, unless said friends tweak their privacy settings.

Another problem is that, while new places users create are private by default, they can become public if enough users check into them. Even if such a place is your house or apartment, Facebook will automatically promote the place to being public after an unspecified number of check-ins. For now, there is no way to prevent your home address from becoming a public location on Facebook aside from asking your friends to not check in at your next party. If a sensitive location becomes public, the only way to attempt to remove it is to flag it for Facebook to review, and ask others to do the same.

Moving on from Places, another new Facebook 3.2 feature is a privacy option on status updates that brings the same control from the Website to the iPhone. When posting a new message from your iPhone or iPod touch, you can finally choose between making it public, restricting it to friends, or only posting it for a specific list of people that you’ve created. You can also now view all recipients of a Facebook message in your inbox, and the “pull to refresh” feature popularized by Tweetie, which was bought by Twitter and renamed as Twitter for iPhone, has been sprinkled throughout.

For avid media uploaders using iOS 4, the Facebook app finally supports background photo and video uploading. A handful of bug fixes for commenting, notes, and news feed reliability round out this release. If you’re an iPad user waiting for a universal version for iPhone and iPad, I hope you haven’t been holding your breath; this is still just for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Facebook 3.2 is available now for free in the App Store, and it requires iOS 3.0 or later.

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/203675/facebook_app_gets_places_background_uploading.html

Finding My Home on the Road – A Journey of Discovery

As the top went down and this father and son team let the sun race down through the glare of our sunglasses, we began a journey with the backdrop of the New England coastline as our guide to an awakening.

Over the next few days we embarked on an excursion blended with culture, history and reunion in this journey taken from the lyrics of a true journeyman to the music of the wind.

Feeling the spirit of our forefathers and the authors of our nation’s history, we walked in Walden’s Pond, followed the Freedom Trail where Paul Revere rode, saw the whites of their eyes at Lexington and Concord, stood on Old Ironsides, sat in Boston Common, had coffee in Portsmouth, NH, felt the academic genius of Harvard University, soaked in the generations of Italians on the North End and trailed the hills of Providence, Rhode Island.

We were exhausted with life.

Each day a new journey, each encounter a memorable exchange.

Katie reinforced that dreams are always attainable
Dana always knows how to make smile.
The staff at In a Pickle in Waltham defined true teamwork and contentment.

The locals know how hard the winters are and the dangers of a fisherman’s life but also bask in the simple pleasures of small town America.

There is a warmth in New England that is difficult to put into works. A simplicity as soft as the waves complimenting the sunrise.

With Dad it was reflecting on World War II, the Civial War, Korea and the the Great War. Each stone etched with names and events. Outside of Quincy Market a reminder of the devistation of the Holocaust while the market allowed the city to give back to the farmers.

Even during recession small business owners survive keeping the traditions of what made this country great intact.

Providence, Newburyport and Portsmouth, each decorated with a unique design culivated over 250 years. The rich colors and structural foundation a standing salute to our forefathers.

Whether the goal was to find out the true meaning of defending the honor of this country, finding inspiration through Henry David Thoreau, meeting people you admire, enjoying the richness of Italian culture and food, seeing a part of the United States that still honors its founding woman and men or just a a trip with your Dad, this road trip gave me much more than I gave to it.

Some Firms Struggle to Hire Despite High Unemployment (Provided by WSJ.com)

Written by Mark Whitehouse, Wall Street Journal Online

In Bloomington, Ill., machine shop Mechanical Devices can’t find the workers it needs to handle a sharp jump in business. Job fairs run by airline Emirates attract fewer applicants in the U.S. than in other countries. Truck-stop operator Pilot Flying J says job postings don’t elicit many more applicants than they did when the unemployment rate was below 5%.

With a 9.5% jobless rate and some 15 million Americans looking for work, many employers are inundated with applicants. But a surprising number say they are getting an underwhelming response, and many are having trouble filling open positions.

“This is as bad now as at the height of business back in the 1990s,” says Dan Cunningham, chief executive of the Long-Stanton Manufacturing Co., a maker of stamped-metal parts in West Chester, Ohio, that has been struggling to hire a few toolmakers. “It’s bizarre. We are just not getting applicants.”

Employers and economists point to several explanations. Extending jobless benefits to 99 weeks gives the unemployed less incentive to search out new work. Millions of homeowners are unable to move for a job because the real-estate collapse leaves them owing more on their homes than they are worth.

The job market itself also has changed. During the crisis, companies slashed millions of middle-skill, middle-wage jobs. That has created a glut of people who can’t qualify for highly skilled jobs but have a hard time adjusting to low-pay, unskilled work like the food servers that Pilot Flying J seeks for its truck stops.

The difficulty finding workers limits the economy’s ability to grow. It is particularly troubling at a time when 4.3% of the labor force has been out of work for more than six months—a level much higher than after any other recession since 1948.

Some economists fear the U.S. could end up with a permanent caste of long-term unemployed, like those that weigh on government budgets in some European countries. “It is a very worrisome development,” says Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “It leads over a long period of time to social alienation as well as economic hardship.”

Matching people with available jobs is always difficult after a recession as the economy remakes itself. But Labor Department data suggest the disconnect is particularly acute this time around. Since the economy bottomed out in mid-2009, the number of job openings has risen more than twice as fast as actual hires, a gap that didn’t appear until much later in the last recovery. The disparity is most notable in manufacturing, which has had among the biggest increases in openings. But it is also appearing in other areas, such as business services, education and health care.

If the job market were working normally—that is, if openings were getting filled as they usually do—the U.S. should have about five million more gainfully employed people than it does, estimates David Altig, research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. That would correspond to an unemployment rate of 6.8%, instead of 9.5%.

Of course, many jobs remain easy to fill. Companies offering middle-skilled jobs can be flooded with applicants. Laquita Stribling, a senior area vice president in Nashville for staffing firm Randstad, says she received several hundred applications for a branch manager job that might have attracted a few dozen candidates before the recession.

“The talent pool has swollen to the point where it’s almost overwhelming,” says Ms. Stribling.

But other employers with lots of applicants say the pool of qualified workers is small for specialized jobs. Carolyn Henn, head of hiring at environmental consultancy Apex Companies, says she recently received about 150 applications for an industrial hygienist job paying as much as $47,000 a year, which requires special certifications and expertise to oversee projects such as asbestos cleanups. That is about three times the amount she received for similar jobs before the recession. But she says the number of qualified applicants—about five—is less than she got before.

“We’ve always been looking for a needle in a haystack,” she says. “There’s still only one needle, but the haystack has gotten a lot bigger than it was before.”

Longer-term trends are at play. For one, the U.S. education system hasn’t been producing enough people with the highly specialized skills that many companies, particularly in manufacturing, require to keep driving productivity gains. “There are a lot of people who are unemployed, but those aren’t necessarily the people employers are looking for,” says David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Manufacturers of high-precision products such as automobile and aircraft parts are in a particularly tough spot. Global competition keeps them from raising wages much. But they need workers with the combination of math skills, intuition and stamina required to operate the computer-controlled metalworking machines that now dominate the factory floor.

At Mechanical Devices, which supplies parts for earthmovers and other heavy equipment to manufacturers such as Caterpillar Inc., part owner Mark Sperry says he has been looking for $13-an-hour machinists since early this year. The lack of workers is “the key limitation to the growth of our business and to meeting our customers’ expectations,” says Mr. Sperry. He estimates the company could immediately boost sales by as much as 20% if it could find the 40 workers it needs.

Trips to several job fairs yielded almost nothing, so the company set up a 10-week training program to create its own machinists. Out of the first group of 24 trainees, 16 made it to graduation.

Mr. Sperry sees extended jobless benefits as one of the main culprits behind his company’s hiring difficulties. Many of the applicants he saw at job fairs, he says, were just going through the motions so they could collect their unemployment checks.

[See 7 New Skills Every Worker Needs]

Some workers agree that unemployment benefits make them less likely to take whatever job comes along, particularly when those jobs don’t pay much. Michael Hatchell, a 52-year-old mechanic in Lumberton, N.C., says he turned down more than a dozen offers during the 59 weeks he was unemployed, because they didn’t pay more than the $450 a week he was collecting in benefits. One auto-parts store, he says, offered him $7.75 an hour, which amounts to only $310 a week for 40 hours.

“I was not going to put myself in a situation where I was making that small of a wage,” says Mr. Hatchell. He has since found a better-paying job at a different auto-parts dealer.

Unemployment benefits, though, can’t explain the whole problem. Researchers at the Federal Reserve have estimated that the benefits could account for between 0.4 and 1.7 percentage points of the unemployment rate. That doesn’t cover the 2.7-percentage-point gap between the current jobless rate and what Mr. Altig’s analysis of job openings suggests the rate should be.

Some of the people who dropped out of the Mechanical Devices training program aren’t collecting unemployment benefits and offer other reasons why they couldn’t or wouldn’t do the work. Former truck driver Troy Arnett says the prospect of standing in front of a machine all day was just too restricting after a career spent making about $60,000 a year on the open road.

“I figured in these economic times you’ve just got to bite the bullet, and I couldn’t do it,” says the 42-year-old Mr. Arnett. He considers himself among the lucky ones: He has since found a job installing railroad crossings that he expects will pay about $50,000 a year.

Employers say getting people to move for work has been especially difficult this time. Often, that is a function of the mortgage and credit problems many potential employees face. In a recent study, Fernando Ferreira and Joseph Gyourko of the University of Pennsylvania, together with Joseph Tracy of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, found that people who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth are about a third less mobile.

At Emirates, four cabin-crew job fairs the airline held in Miami, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle attracted an average of about 50 people each, compared to a global average of about 150 and as many as 1,000 at some events in Europe and Asia. “I would have liked to have seen more and would have expected to see more,” says Rick Helliwell, vice president of recruitment.

The jobs require little more than a high-school diploma and fluency in English. They include free accommodation and medical care, and starting pay of about $30,000 a year. Mr. Helliwell speculates that Americans might be hesitant to move to Dubai, where the jobs are based. “Maybe they have less of an adventurous spirit” given the uncertainties they face at home, he said.

The obstacles to moving are aggravated because many employers no longer provide the same job security they have in the past. Temporary jobs, for example, have increased 21% since September 2009 as more employers—including Mechanical Devices—hire through staffing agencies to help control health-care costs and maintain flexibility.

David Denton, a 63-year-old quality-control expert, recently quit a temporary job at Mechanical Devices. He says the terms of employment simply weren’t attractive enough to make him pick up stakes and move. The one-hour commute from his hometown of Mt. Zion, Ill., proved to be too burdensome, he says, as the cost of gasoline cut into his $15-an-hour wage.

Like a number of older workers, Mr. Denton has decided to leave the work force rather than accept a lower-paying job. Mr. Denton says he plans to live on savings until he can collect full Social Security benefits at age 66. “I’m trying to hang on the best I can,” he says.

The disconnect between workers and jobs could constrain the economy for some time. It makes it hard for even small firms, which as a group typically account for an outsize share of job growth in a rebound.

Paul McNarney, owner of The Mower Shop in Fishers, Ind., says he has been looking for a good lawnmower mechanic so he can guarantee a one-week turnaround on repairs. He received only two responses to an Internet ad he placed a couple of months ago, even though the job can generate income of more than $40,000 a year, depending how many mowers the mechanic repairs. Similar ads he placed before the recession attracted more than a dozen candidates, he says.

“My thought was that in a cr— economy I could probably find somebody good because a lot of people were looking,” says Mr. McNarney, who has been in business for 13 years selling everything from simple lawnmowers to big riding models for large properties. “I didn’t find anybody.”

Why Interviewing Should be More Like A Dating Service

As we consider the reality of surpassing 400 million Americans by 2030, a global recession that continues to linger and a dramatic change in social lifestyle, the schematics of dating have taken on a new framework. Competition is higher and the quality of candidates has shrunken to some questionable lows. Mobile communication and Web 2.0 have reduced the percentage of time spent in actual intimate face to face settings and more and more of us are becoming desensitized to human contact.

What an awakening!

Relationship headhunters have found an opening and now is their time to find a lucrative hole as wandering souls search desperately for a connection.

When professionals, successful adults or individuals feeling the social scene has gotten them down hire a relationship agency, they are provided with a number of resources:

1.) Coaching and training on how to effectively date. How to read body language. Proper posture. How to maintain a strong dining conversation and what is the right and wrong thing to say when posed with traditional date questions.

2.) Match you up with potential mates based on a series of personality and lifestyle matches.

3.) Selecting locations that are most conducive of a comfortable conversation setting.

4.) Conduct initial background and credit checks on all potential clients.

5.) Organize meet and greet events to provide a comfortable social environment for clients.

6.) Follow up with metrics and success/failure stories on past relationships.

Now with a successfully formula of research, process, implementation and reporting, why aren’t talent acquisition teams utilizing a similar philosophy?

First, why don’t companies do background checks during the initial interview and not wait until the offer is extended? Are there legal reasons, cost issues or just an unwillingness to take a proactive stance.

Do enough companies really follow up with new associates and solicit real feedback or is it based on a generic questionaire that isn’t even tailored to the role, location, business unit or responsibilities?

Who follows the path of this person? Is it the strategic sourcer, the recruiter, the hiring manager, the unit supervisor or the administrative assistant that reports the metrics???

Is the match making one-sided? We know the company and the culture as talent acquisition specialists but do we really know the candidates and whether they “fit” the culture?

They have the right technical skills. True
They have the right cultural background. True
They have industry experience. True
They have the right leadership skills? True

But, are they good long term marriage potential or will we see a divorce in the near future?

It is time we look at each of our processes and put yourself on the other side.

As the client, is my relationship consultant there from start to finish?
Are they really understanding me and my needs?
Can I fall in love with the company or is this a short term romance?

I think all of us in talent acquisition can learn something from the match making world.