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Staffing Advisors Blog

The Enduring Advantage of Remote Work

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 5, 2020

I recently discussed remote work strategies with our IT partner, Heinan Landa of Optimal Networks.

Lots of people have shared work from home productivity tips, but I invite you to think beyond "surviving" remote work, and instead use this time to gain a more enduring productivity advantage. We know from experience that productivity soars when you unshackle it from the synchronized everyone-in-one-place-at-one-time working formula. (But admittedly, your mileage may vary depending on who else is home with you.)

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Is This the End of In-Person Interviews with Executive Search Firms?

Posted by Bob Corlett on April 14, 2020

In-person interviews with executive search consultants are suddenly out of step with the times, but they have been out of step with the research for far longer. Years of research illustrates why this type of interviewing is far more likely to introduce bias than to predict success on the job. (See The Case for Evidence-Based InterviewingTM.)

The public health earthquake left behind a digital divide between people who can do their work remotely and others who cannot. We’re seeing massive unemployment rates for people who need to be somewhere specific to work, and a far smaller employment impact on people who can work from home. It’s likely to be a year or more until we can all go to our offices without periodic disruptions. Consequently, a digital divide is slicing through employers in the workplace--if you can achieve your mission with a predominantly remote workforce, you are far better positioned than a restaurant or retailer who cannot. But it's not always a binary choice. What about business models that blend location-dependent work with virtual work?

Executive search firms are only one example, but a familiar one to both candidates and the client organizations who engage them. The finding of candidates (sourcing and recruiting) has been almost effortlessly virtual for decades. But the interviewing process has remained stubbornly location-dependent for most search firms. Until a month ago, most executive search firms proudly continued a clubby tradition of interviewing candidates face-to-face in posh, expensive offices. This (flawed) approach has deep roots in the industry. And despite mountains of emerging research that the practice is counterproductive, the clients of search firms mostly accepted it as an integral part of the service. (Hint: it's not.) And while employers accepted it, I suspect very few candidates will mourn the end of face-to-face interviewing with search firms. They are notoriously difficult to schedule, rarely enlightening, and can occasionally lapse into the truly superficial.

Of course, face-to-face interviewing during a pandemic is next to impossible to deliver. So search firms who relied on it must reexamine that part of their service offering. Ideally, this change would entail moving away from relying on the personal opinion of the search consultant, and migrating to a more evidence-based approach to interviewing. To place their search firms on a stronger virtual foundation, the value of an in-person interview must be delivered in other ways, and there are far more effective approaches. Organizations with deeper expertise in remote work will simply be more effective now. But that sort of business model innovation is incredibly difficult work in the best of times.

As someone who has spent the better part of two decades reinventing the business model for executive search, I do not envy those who are just beginning the journey. It's difficult to challenge the conventional wisdom in any field of endeavor. It is supremely difficult to rethink the entire basis for how you create value for your clients, and then go on to hire the people, build the process, and implement the technology to support it.

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Career Advice in a Recession

Posted by Bob Corlett on April 1, 2020

When economic times are good, most people with common skills usually don't have much trouble finding and keeping a job. But in an economic downturn, it's far more important to be strategic about your career choices. Things are going to be very uneven in the job market, with some skills remaining in desperately short supply, and other skills enduring massive layoffs.

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Hire People Who Can Handle Ambiguity

Posted by Bob Corlett on July 13, 2015

Some people really like having rules to follow. Others can handle a bit of ambiguity -- they’re willing to experiment, but it’s outside their comfort zone. Only a select few are truly comfortable embracing the unknown. Yet that third group is vital when you’re launching a start-up, or staffing a new initiative. You want the people who willingly throw themselves into the fire.

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How to make your employees more entrepreneurial

Posted by Bob Corlett on November 29, 2013

I'm often in meetings with top executives who are frustrated their people aren't more innovative. Often they want to hire people with "more entrepreneurial spark."

But maybe hiring is not the right solution. Sometimes what looks like a people problem is really a process problem. Before you hire, it's worth looking at your budget process, or how you structure the work.

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5 Steps To Build A More Innovative Organization

Posted by Mitch Corlett on November 20, 2013

Are you struggling to get your new initiatives off the ground? Do you wish your organization was more nimble and entrepreneurial? Do you yearn to build a team of people who don’t need a rule-book ... people who can handle ambiguity? Do you daydream about having a team of fearless innovators who bring you great ideas, and then leap into action to make their ideas a reality?

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How to Hire an Innovator and Change Agent

Posted by Bob Corlett on November 20, 2013

Every week I talk with organizations who are looking for a change agent--someone with creativity and drive, and a proven track record of kicking new initiatives into high gear.

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How To Interview An Innovator

Posted by Bob Corlett on February 19, 2013

Clients often engage us to help them find an innovator for a strategically significant project. They need people who have taken something entirely new and gotten it off the ground, which is all too rare.

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The Rise of the Misfit Toys

Posted by Bob Corlett on February 7, 2012

Many successful executives have an embarrassing problem that’s becoming more painful by the day. Their hiring instincts are failing. And HR is fiddling while Rome burns.

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Hiring People Who Can Handle Ambiguity

Posted by Bob Corlett on April 5, 2011

Some executives really like having rules to follow. Others can handle a bit of ambiguity. And a very few are truly comfortable embracing the unknown. I've written before about hiring people with a growth mindset---curious people who are willing to experiment---but embracing the unknown goes a bit further.

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