Friday, June 28, 2019

Pick Your Thing. Then Never Shut Up - Part 2

I posted earlier this week about why I talk so much about work and yoga pants. Check it out here. If you're already familiar or maybe haven't read it yet, the TL:DR is it's not really about yoga pants.

It's about a child who grew up brutally poor in the middle of the country.

It's about a girl who didn't know college was an option (I didn't even know student loans were a thing - college was something "rich kids" did).

It's about a mother of girls who knows she can't 100% protect her daughters from harassment. Also, a mother of boys who worries about her sons.

It's about a baby recruiter who, before accepting a job she knew nothing about, had to scramble to buy a cheap polyester suit in order to impress her new boss.

It's about a tired, crabby OG Tech Recruiter, well past 40, and working for one of the most well-known brands on the planet. Also, sick of everyone's shit.

In a rare moment of vulnerability,  in a Facebook recruiting group, I shared a few stories that had "shut me up" in the past. Why I never spoke up in meetings, why I changed jobs every three years, why I second guessed myself and my profession constantly. Here are just a few examples of my why -

  • The boss that pulled me aside and spent 10 minutes talking about how distracting my cleavage was. I had to go home and change.
  • The VP that told me in a staff meeting to leave a very complex, formula filled Excel report to "the fellas" because women aren't good at math. "The fellas" all laughed.
  • The transfer I didn't get because I was "too emotional to be that far from corporate". Never mind that I had started my career with said company "far from corporate" and was promised the transfer to a new location if I launched that location well. First office launch in company history with zero Day 1 issues. It took me 3 weeks to get my boss to admit why a mediocre white man someone else was selected for the job over me, all while blaming the higher-ups who stopped taking my calls. I trained the guy who got the job I wanted. I flew back to corporate and quit.
  • The manager who, after I shared the shocking (to me) news that I was pregnant, told me repeatedly I should have an abortion or my career would suffer. As if that wasn't enough, a co-worker kept trying to introduce me to her friends that were looking to adopt. I never asked for this kind of help, nor was I the one to tell the co-worker I was pregnant. 

Here's the thing - we don't talk about this stuff. Maybe to our closest friends and family, and only after extracting promises to NEVER TELL A SOUL. It's embarrassing, we think of all the things we "should" have said. The nagging voice that wonders if somehow, we did something to deserve it.

Now here we are - I run my mouth like it powers the electrical grid and take all kinds of heat over silly chats about yoga pants. I DO wear yoga pants to work, I DO like being comfortable, but most of all I embrace the feeling of being able to brush off the haters and call out someone when they cross the line. It's a liberating, empowering feeling. I don't need anyone rushing to my defense, but certainly appreciate when it happens.

Here's my request of you cranky old chicks like me. Whenever you hear about harassment - regardless of age, socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, gender (or anything else) - instead of just shrugging and reminding us all how "no one would talk to me like that - I'M A STRONG WOMAN" why don't you use that power to help a sister out? It might look like changing the topic of the conversation. It could be a smile and hand squeeze to the woman who CAN handle her business, but will be eternally grateful for your encouragement. It could be telling the dumb ass offender to pipe the f*ck down and think about the consequences of their bullshit - up to and including a throat punch maybe (she says only somewhat jokingly). It is MOST DEFINITELY saying "hey - I used to be terrified to stand up for myself - this feels like something that would have silenced me 10 years ago. Can I do anything to support you?"

I see you. I hear you. I want to be brave enough to stand up for you and talk about things that matter. Now maybe you better understand why I "practice" on yoga pants.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Pick Your Thing. Then Never Shut Up.

Way back in the day I had what my team affectionately called my "Branch Manager Suit". It was a beautiful dark blue pantsuit I probably bought somewhere like Charlotte Russe or maybe Marshall's (what, it was the 90s and I was poor). All I know is when I wore this suit I turned heads, got complimented, and was treated like a dang professional!! Dress for the job you want, or something. I desperately wanted to be a Branch Manager for my staffing agency, and though it took some convincing, I GOT IT.

Fast forward a little bit - I wanted a bigger challenge, so volunteered to move to California to run a BIGGER office. I was leading two tiny branches out of Seattle and Portland, and was ready for the big time! Oh if I'd only known... I was about to be thrown to the wolves disguised as the Good Old Boys Club. I spent my last year at said agency being shushed, having my ass grabbed, and generally patted on the head and/or ignored. (being ignored was usually better)

Fast forward to present time - I've spent the last 20ish years in staffing/recruiting of some sort, and have seen some pretty great and pretty awful things in that time. Especially around giving women a voice. In an industry that is female dominated (how many female recruiters do you know vs male?) there sure are a lot of men in charge. In fact, even in cases where my direct boss was a woman, the leaders above her have been predominately male.  (I've had some AMAZING male bosses - present leaders especially. Don't miss the point.)

Recently, a question was posed in a Facebook discussion asking if women recruiters struggled with being heard. It referenced a tweet where a woman expressed gratitude for the men on her team who made sure to include her / give her room to speak up and a manager who values feedback and diversity. Which is great, right? Allies are allies. BUT - a lot of the comments in this discussion were from women who've never had a problem being heard, or learned to speak up for themselves and don't tolerate such foolishness.

Good for you, but that's not been my reality.

See, all the way back to my Branch Manager Suit and my Boys Club Staffing Agency days, I was silenced. Silenced by my own fears and insecurities. Silenced by the very real possibility that I'd get "in trouble". Silenced by the knowledge that someone who had more clout/street cred/confidence/lack of self-awareness would push back, laugh at me, or worse.

No ma'am - I had to find my voice. Now don't get me wrong, I was getting a bit louder, a bit tougher, with every professional success. At any rate, I started writing. All the way back in maybe 2011ish? I started blogging and people started listening. A few people liked what I had to say. Some didn't, and I had my share of keyboard warriors coming at me. Every time I took a stand and STAYED STANDING, I got a little stronger. A little bolder. A little less likely to back down.

These days I'm a big champion of recruiting in yoga pants (surely you saw that coming ;) ). I still get into heated debates over it, which if you think about it - borders on ridiculous. Does it really even matter in most cases, especially for tech recruiters? But I digress. The point is, I found my voice. I found that thing that I'm willing to take a stand on, push back on, and defend. It's a silly little thing, really. But over the years I've been hollering about this, I've developed a (even thicker) thick skin. I don't care so much if someone doesn't like me. It's just freaking yoga pants. And if I can take a stand over yoga pants, dammit I can take a stand on shit that matters too.

For the first time probably ever, I commented on a friend's Facebook page about something political. I don't do politics on Facebook, just a personal choice I made. Stand by it, but this particular situation had me so worked up I had to share my thoughts. It wasn't well received by everyone (no opinion ever will be, trust me on this) but it felt good to speak my mind. It felt good to be HEARD.  I didn't die. Didn't lose my job, wasn't shunned by society, no animals were harmed in the making of my commentary. Just little old me, small town girl from Kansas, having a voice. And using it.

I realize a lot of people will read this, maybe scratch their heads or even laugh at it. All good, my friends. I hope somewhere some young woman who's tired of being spoken over finds a thing. Maybe it's yoga pants. Maybe it's being vegan. Maybe it's smashing the f*cking patriarchy. Find your thing. I'll be here to listen.

Looking for more? Check out Part 2 HERE

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Beware the Idiot Lights

Y'all I'm still geeking out over the Talent42 Fireside Chat last week. For those who don't know what the heck I'm talking about, check out the live stream (thank you Ninh!) HERE.

Long story short (hahahahaha as if) I had the privilege of hosting a group of talented Google engineers (including 2 who lead teams) and ask them anything about recruiters. And boy did we hear it. I learned a few things, had a myth or two busted, and found myself amazed at the "yeah buts" we got. There were a few takeaways I found particularly interesting -

- On average, my panelists aren't getting hit on THAT MUCH. I think we agreed it was roughly 1-2 times a week. Some days you'd get 10 contacts, then radio silence for 2 weeks. There is literally no rhyme or reason that I can see. Just.... random.

- Approximately 1 in 10 outreaches are worth responding to. Now this is not license to fire off 10 shit messages and say "OK NOW YOU HAVE TO RESPOND TO ONE OF THEM!" No, in a sea of mediocrity, ONE IN TEN (again, averages) is worth a acknowledging.

(side note - if you're looking for 10 connections a week, and say to yourself "great, I need to email 100 people to hit my number!" you're doing it so wrong that I could throw up right now)

- Interruption communication is the WORST. Phone calls in the middle of the day, that kind of thing. Emails / inmails (inmauls) are "meh", but better than startling someone or causing them to momentarily think something horrible has happened because really who even uses the phone anymore. Oh pipe down agency/retained/gazillion dollar billers. I know you're all K I L L I N G it by smiling and dialing. Why are you reading this anyway? Point is, scheduled communication is key. And appreciated.

So what's a recruiter to do? There are a seemingly infinite number of ways to source someone, so instead of leaving an exhaustive list, how about this -


Ask your damn targets what they want to hear from you. Ask what kind of opportunity they want to hear about. Ask how often they want to be contacted and how. Pay attention to bread crumbs they're leaving you on their social real estate. If someone blatantly calls out I'm never ever EVER going to leave Seattle, why are you pitching a role in NYC? If someone has been leading a team for the last 10 years, why would they answer your call for a junior engineer? (yes this has happened, REPEATEDLY, to one of my panelists)

In other words, stop tripping the idiot lights.

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