Unemployed Need Not Apply

Posted on Updated on

New York City recently passed a law making it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant based on whether or not that applicant is currently employed.

In other words, they passed a law to keep employers from being stupid.

Outright rejecting applicants currently unemployed has existed for years, but the Great Recession brought the issue to the forefront. Suddenly, not only did people find themselves among the unemployed, but among the long-term unemployed. Employers stating on job postings that only currently employed applicants will be considered didn’t help any. They may as well have plastered WHITES ONLY on their postings.

Employers give a variety of reasons for this stupidity. They claim that they have no reason of knowing why an applicant lost his/her last job. They think that if an applicant hasn’t been able to find a job in a while, it must be because they are not hirable. They state that being out of work for a period of time makes an applicant’s skills out of date.

The worst reason, however, is that the employer states that it gets so many resumes that it needs a way to single out the good ones. The employer may as well use criteria such as pet ownership or what type of car a person drives to screen applicants.

These reasons are never backed up with evidence. So I did a little study of my own using my current organization. In the past 16 months, 32 percent of our hires were not employed at the time of hire. I compared their performance to the those who were employed at the time of hire. Surprise! I found no significant difference. In fact, the poorest performers were all ones employed at the time of hire.

So there.

Candidates find themselves out of work for a variety of reasons, many of which are not their fault. They also may find that they miss out on new jobs for reasons not of their own making. Too many hiring managers think, well if so-and-so employer didn’t like this person, there must be something wrong. In making htis assumption, they forget one important fact.

A lot of bosses are idiots.

They ask interview questions like “Pick two celebrities to be your parents”, or “Name three Nobel Prize winners”. They have fired people for being too attractive or for leaving their post to save a carjacking victim. One man in Chicago was even fired for wearing a Green Bay Packers tie (even as a Bear’s fan, I can’t justify that one).

There are those people who have trouble finding and keeping jobs because they are lousy workers. But you can’t tell that from a resume or an online application. Being unemployed shouldn’t keep the person from getting an employer’s full consideration.

I had an employee who was very open about being let go from her last employer during the interview process. When she told me why she was fired, I almost thought she was lying. It’s something I might have given a reprimand for, but it was by no means a firing offense. She worked for me for several years and always did a great job.

High performers are already difficult to find. Why would employers want to rule out an entire pool of potentially great employees?

I could even argue the opposite. Perhaps that person who has been out of work for 18 months is so eager to work, and values a job so much, that they will repay your faith in him/her with loyalty and dedication that you wouldn’t find in someone who believes that they can just go out and get another job if they need one.

So would I state on my job postings, Only the Unemployed Need Apply? Of course not. I don’t have the evidence to back it up.


Should HR Be In the Hiring Business?

Posted on Updated on

Recently, Nick Corcodilos of http://www.asktheheadhunger.com, answered this question and answered with a resounding “No”. You can read what he had to say here, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2013/04/ask-the-headhunter-the-talent.html. He provides three reasons for his thinking:

1) HR Professionals (clerks, he calls us) don’t have the knowledge of the jobs for which we are hiring.
2) Hiring is too critical a function for a manager to delegate it to HR.
3) HR has no “skin in the game,” because they are not held accountable for who they hire.

I’m not sure which HR departments Mr. Corcodilos was referring to, but they sure weren’t any of the ones for which I’ve worked. He paints a picture of HR as some monolithic bureaucracy straight out of the movie Brazil, mindless administrators sitting appearing to be busy at our computers. All we’re missing are the vacuum tubes.

If this description is accurate, then Mr. Corcodilos is right – HR has no business hiring. But this doesn’t describe HR – just bad HR. Good HR partners with others in the organization to find the best candidates. They don’t take care of the hiring process from start to finish, without any input from the hiring manager. It’s not as if one day, HR plops a complete stranger into an empty seat and then says to the manager, here you go, he’s all yours.

Good HR works with the hiring manager to help that hiring manager find the best person for the position. In my current workplace, we start by discussing the requirements for the position, and adjusting the job description accordingly. HR then creates a job posting based on this description and coordinate recruiting strategies with the manager. Especially when looking for highly skilled employees, this involves the manager actively recruiting candidates through his or her own network.

The hiring manager sees all resumes. We do not do a keyword search to narrow the field (I agree with Mr. Corcodilos that this is a bad practice, which I discuss in a previous post, From the Great State(s) of Winnesota http://wp.me/p3ovkQ-l). The hiring manager provides HR with a list of candidates to screen.

Mr. Corcodilos believes that the hiring manager should make the first contact. That would be great in an ideal world. However, managers are busy. They may find nine or ten candidates who, judging by their applications and resumes, are worth talking to, but in actuality, are not a fit for the position. We used to have candidates come in and interview with the manager without the HR screening. Too many times, we found that the candidate was not right because, regardless of what the application said, they were not willing to work the hours we needed, wanted too much money, had poor communication or interpersonal skills, or didn’t share the organization’s values. A twenty minute phone screening eliminates these candidates, leaving managers with the three to five candidates who are actually worth an interview. Also, a good HR Professional takes the time to understand the position, at least on a cursory level. I used to go out to job fairs to talk with engineers looking for new positions. After talking to them a few minutes, they would often ask, What type of engineer are you?

I’d give a standard response: I’m not an engineer. I just play one on TV.

The manager conducts the in-person interview in order to determine who is the best candidate. HR trains the managers in how to conduct an interview and write interview questions that will help them make an informed decision. Afterwards, we often act as a sounding board to talk through the final decision with the manager. We also conduct all the necessary background checks and provide guidance on compensation. When making the offer, we make sure that the candidate understands our benefits and pay packages, and answer any questions regarding these issues.

Keep in mind that this process is not always the same. It may change to meet the needs of the hiring manager or the position. We are internal consultants. HR is there to help, not to dictate.

And what if we weren’t involved? Let me give you two examples from previous employers:

1) One of my first days on a job, I was asked to sit in on a round of interviews. Being new, I let the hiring manager run the interviews. After talking to six different candidates, he asked me what I thought. I told him I had no idea. He spent most of the time talking, never asking the candidates a substantial question.

2) When I started another position, I went into New Employee Orientation with five other new hires. After six months, only two of us were still employed with the organization. At that time, HR was only involved in the hiring process to ensure legal compliance. For example, they reviewed interview questions, but only to make sure managers weren’t asking anything inappropriate. Managers were hiring to fill positions, without any training or guidance. A revolving door had been created, costing both time and money.

Mr. Corcodilos last point, that HR is not held accountable for hires, is a problem with organizational structure, not with HR. In my organization, I am measured against factors such as turnover rates, customer satisfaction and sales performance. If I don’t help get the right people in place, those measurements will suffer, and it will show up in my compensation. In addition, if an employee turns out to be a bad hire, who do you think the manager calls to help solve the problem? That’s right, me, HR guy. So it only creates more work for me in the long run.

If you still don’t believe that good HR should be in the hiring business, ask managers. I did. The response was unanimous.

I don’t think I need to tell you what their answer was.

Wanted – Top Chef

Posted on Updated on

So some restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana posted a Craigslist ad for a line cook. The ad got a lot of press. It’s longer than Raymond Carver’s story “The Little Things”, and has a less happy ending.

It includes 44 requirements. Some highlights:

“You admit when you are wrong, but never point out when others are wrong — especially the chef.”

“You are able to work double shifts for many days without days off.”

And my personal favorite:
“You always show up for work, even if sick as a dog. Let the chef see that you’re really sick and send you home.”
(I don’t know about you, but if a cook has Bird Flu, or the bubonic plague, or even chronic halitosis, I don’t want him anywhere near the kitchen that’s preparing my food).

The want ad has since been taken down, but you can read it here: http://www.happyplace.com/23551/ridiculously-detailed-craigslist-ad-for-restaurant-line-cook

As I read this ad, I could see its author, most likely the chef himself, at his tiny desk in the corner of his kitchen, furiously typing out all the things he didn’t like about the last six people he hired for this job (each of whom probably lasted no more than a week). And while we’ve all had our share of bad hires, a job posting like this one won’t help attract top candidates. It fails on many levels:

1) The employer is showing he’s a demanding control freak. No one wants to work for a jerk. The job of a line cook is hard work for little pay, gruelling even under the best employer.

2) If someone is stupid or insane or desperate enough to apply for the job, the employer has made it easy to ace the interview. Every expectation has been laid out ahead of time. Someone who is a crummy worker, or worse, a lousy cook, could walk in and say everything this employer wants to hear. Sure, the person wouldn’t last long, but in the meantime, the employer would have to deal with the mistake.

3) This employer wants someone who can walk in and do the job even before he’s figured out where his apron is hung. He is not going to take the time to lay out expectations, he’s not going to pair this person up with a peer to learn the ropes, he’s not going to train in any way. Most good candidates take a job for more than money. They want the opportunity to improve and develop. None of that with this job. Do it right, do it now, or you’re out.

4) All 44 items appear to be non-negotiable. Have 35 of the qualities? Not enough. 41? Still no good. It’s all or nothing. Rarely have I hired the perfect candidate. IF I can find someone with 70 percent of what I’m looking for and 20 percent that can be taught, I’ll live without the last 10 percent.

5) It’s obvious that this employer never had to write an ad in the pre-internet days when newspaper want ads were five sections long. Back then, we had to pay for ads by the line or by the word. The longer the ad, the higher the cost. Craigslist is free, so if someone wants to create an ad complete with chapter headings and footnotes, they can go ahead. Although they should be surprised if it’s dubbed TLTR (Too Long Too Read), and most of it gets ignored.

So, Mr. Chef, here is how I’d rewrite your ad:

Line Cook wanted to work in the culinary equivalent of Dante’s Inferno. Boss no other than Beelzebul himself. Must be able to walk on water, and even that won’t get you through the Pearly Gates.

May Day! May Day!

Posted on Updated on

On May 4, 1886, workers in Chicago gathered in Haymarket Square to protest for an 8 hour workday. Police came to break up the rally. A bomb was thrown at the police, and the police responded with gunfire. Seven police officers and four protesters were killed. Scores of others were wounded.

International Workers Day was born.

It would take the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to make the 8 hour workday the norm throughout the country.

Recently, retail and food service workers in Chicago and New York went on one day strikes to protest low wages. For these workers, earnings are generally near minimum wage, around seven to eight dollars an hour. They say they need at least fifteen dollars an hour to make ends meet.

Good for them. I hope they succeed, but they shouldn’t hold their breath.

Call me a socialist, but I believe anyone willing to work hard at a job should have the opportunity to put a roof over his or her head, put food on the table, pay for other necessities and maybe even set a little aside for a rainy day. Those “Job Creators” who say they can’t afford to pay more to their employees are either greedy liars, or have a poor business model. Any employer who can’t succeed and still provide a living wage to employees deserves to go out of business.

Still, I have little hope anything will change.

The problem with trying to bring up the wages of these workers comes down to simple supply and demand. These jobs are generally unskilled, and despite the improving economy, a lot of people are still looking for jobs. The supply of employees is high, the demand low, so wages remain stagnant. The owner of a fast food franchise could lose all his employees tomorrow, and be up and running again in a couple of weeks with all new staff. He might even be able to pay the new employees lower wages.

A factory worker for a small manufacturing company I once worked for went to the owner and said he needed a raise. The owner asked him why. He went on to list his expenses – car payment, mortgage, etc. The owner told him no. If he had said how the owner would miss his skills and experience if he had to leave for a higher paying position, and the owner agreed, the answer may have been different.

But the worker didn’t see it this way, instead, he followed Karl Marx’s adage, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.

The strikers in Chicago and New York appear to agree with him. They are demanding more money because they need more money, not because they are necessarily worth more money on the open market.

I never said I believed everyone should earn a living wage, only that they deserve the opportunity.

I guess I’m not a socialist after all.

This isn’t necessarily their fault. In some cases, they have been failed by the system. They are the product of poor schools and low expectations that have left them with little hope of getting more than a low skilled job. Or they are over educated and underemployed, told that they should get a college degree, but found that degree in Sociology or Medieval Literature had little value to employers.

To them, I’d say that they should not look to the system that failed them to help them now. Instead they should rely on their own talents. Look for ways to show their value to their employers. Take on extra responsibilities, learn new skills, be adaptable, be a team player. And if their current bosses don’t recognize this value with cash, find some other employer who will.

My first full-time job had lots of responsibility and little pay. I took that opportunity and made the most of it. I learned as much as I could about the industry. I took on whatever came my way. When I said I was taking a job with a competitor, they gave me a raise to retain me. I received a promotion. And when I started to stagnate in my position, and there were no more opportunities to grow, I moved on to another employer. I did this with subsequent jobs. Today, I am by no means wealthy, but I am able to support a family. There have been sacrifices. I’ve had to take jobs that were far less than ideal. I have been underpaid, overworked and under appreciated. But you do what you have to do.

And for those employers who take advantage of their high performers instead of rewarding them. Who see employees as an expense, keeping wages low for no other reason than to increase the bottom-line, remember what Henry Ford said, “A business that makes nothing but money is poor business.”

From the Great State(s) of Winnesota

Posted on

I work in Minnesota, but live in Western Wisconsin. It’s only a 20 mile commute, much shorter than that of some of my coworkers who live in Minnesota. The thousands like me who live in the one state but work in the other are referred to as Winnesotans.

I enjoy my job, but every now and then I catch wind of position that is so appealing I have to apply. A job came along recently, not far from where I am currently working. After dutifully sending off my resume and cover letter, I received an automated email (no person, just a department) stating that they were only looking at local candidates, but if I did not require relocation assistance, I should reply to the email link provided. Here is what I sent them (I modified it slightly to remove anything which would identify the company):

Good afternoon:
Please note that I do live in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. I live less than 30 miles from your office, and my home town is for all intents and purposes a Twin Cities suburb.

A cursory look at my resume would have shown that my current and previous positions have all been in the Twin Cities metro. I am guessing that I received this email because an automated search did not show me as living in the Twin Cities area. This is no doubt either a problem with your electronic application or an issue with your search criteria.

Also, please note that the link provided does not work.

I realize that mentioning these issues may decrease my chance of being considered for the position. However, I felt it necessary to let you know. Not only can it hinder your ability to find the best possible candidate, but also reflects poorly on your organization.

If you are looking for an HR professional with over a dozen years of experience to help you with these and other issues, please contact me.

No surprise they never contacted me. No one wants to be told that they are doing a poor job, no matter how tactfully it is written.

If they had contacted me, I could tell them exactly why this happened. The company’s internet-based application system required my address. Once I entered this information, it required me to enter the nearest metropolitan area. But the system would only allow me to select Wisconsin metro areas, not Minnesota metro areas. The system was already instructed to filter out anyone who did not state that they were in the Twin Cities metro and send the automated email I received. No person, not even a recruiting intern, ever saw my resume, ever saw the locations of my workplaces, ever saw that I was a local candidate.

It’s not the first time this has happened.

Now, I’m not one of those bitter job-hunters who believes that online application systems are keeping me from the job of my dreams. I use an application system in my current position. The system relieves me and my staff of the mundane filing and mailing we would otherwise have to do. We can track applicants and recruiting sources more effectively. Overall, it allows for a smoother process.

But organizations need to be weary of relying too much on automated searches in selecting candidates. They need to make sure they are using the proper criteria, and, even then, they may be missing out on unrelated criteria indirectly relate to potential success. Taking time off to raise your children may not show up as valid experience, even though doing it well takes patience, organization and dedication. Going on a three month hiatus to build houses for Habitat for Humanity may not be in the search’s list of criteria, but certainly illustrates someone’s compassion and caring.

When misused in such away, the job search becomes less about being the most qualified candidate, and more about understanding how searches work and what keywords to use. Searches may help employers find qualified candidates, but can also keep them from finding the best candidates.

So what’s the answer? Back in the old days (meaning 10 years ago), I used to go home some evenings with a stack full of resumes. I’d plop my self down in front of the TV and review them each one-by-one, sometimes 200 in an evening. I would not just review the resumes against the job qualifications, but look at how the resume was laid out, whether it was well written, if there were experiences or skills that struck my interest. Sometimes, I’d even find that the person was not right for the job being applied for, but we would end up hiring that person for a different position.

I don’t want to go back to the paper resume days. I can now by pull them off my laptop, and someday soon, upload them onto my phone (I’m sure some of you already have this capability). So until the search engines have the intelligence of a HAL 9000, without the insanity, I’ll keep going through resumes one-by-one.

And for those recruiters who say they don’t have the time, since when don’t you have the time to do a great job?

Second Chances

Posted on Updated on

A colleague of mine has a son with a criminal record. At the age of eighteen, he was arrested for going into someone’s open garage and stealing beer out of a refrigerator. He is in his twenties now, and has kept his nose clean ever since. My colleague wanted my advice on how he should handle this on a job applications.

I told her he should answer any questions about his criminal history openly and honestly. Anyone worth working for isn’t going to care. I know I wouldn’t hold some stupid teenage mistake against someone when making a hiring decision. As I see it, we’ve all done dumb things when we were young. He just happened to get caught. I would have more of a problem with it if he didn’t disclose the information during the hiring process, and it later came out in a background check.

A law currently making its way through the Minnesota legislature would make it illegal for private employers to ask about criminal histories on job applications. Employers would still be able to take criminal histories into consideration during the interview or job offer process. Proponents say that this would ensure that otherwise qualified candidates weren’t rejected outright based on a criminal history.

I’m all for second chances, but I can’t see how this law would make any difference whatsoever.

All it does is ensure that a candidate will get past the first hurdle in the hiring process. An employer can simply ask the criminal history question during a phone screening and get the information before the process goes any further. Perhaps the bill’s sponsors figure that if the candidate can get through the initial application screening and talk to someone, the candidate will be so impressive that criminal history will be overlooked. For those employers who mistakenly use this as a screening tool, however, it won’t matter what the candidate does or says later on in the process. And if lawmakers think they’ll catch employers acting illegally on these grounds, they’ve never hired anyone before. An employer can always think of an alternate excuse not to hire.

Does a criminal history even matter? Some say that we shouldn’t judge someone on the worst thing that person has ever done. I agree, and have always had the practice that a criminal record should not automatically disqualify an applicant. If someone has committed a crime and served their sentence, paid their fine, etc. then they have paid their debt to society, and it should not hang over their head forever. However, future performance can often be predicted by past performance. It can’t be denied that about a third of those who have spent time in prison end up reincarcerated within three years. The question is, do the one-third of non-repeat offenders have to suffer for the sake of repeat offenders?

This depends. A company I worked for once made an offer to a person for a position with a great amount of financial authority, contingent on a background check. Through the criminal background check, we learned he had a fraud conviction while working at a previous employer. He never brought this up during the interview process, and did not check the box provided on his application. We asked him to explain, and while there were extenuating circumstances, we had to rescind our offer. Even if we as employers wanted to hire him, how could we explain to our Board and our Examiners that we had given substantial financial authority to this person? If he committed fraud against us, it would be our jobs on the line.

In this same light, a trucking company would be justified in not hiring a person with a DUI conviction. A daycare center definitely should not hire a person convicted of possessing child pornography. Has the person been rehabilitated? Who knows. Can the employer take that chance. They could be held negligent if they did.

We also have to accept the fact that there are those who have committed heinous crimes, for whom redemption is not possible. With these hardened criminals, we just have to lock them up and throw away the key. I leave it up to experts to determine who those people are and act accordingly.

Still, many deserve a second chance. I’ve hired people with convictions that were in no way job related. Many worked out fine. For those that didn’t, it wasn’t because of their criminal record.

An employer who is doing a blanket ban on hiring those with criminal records is not doing a good job of evaluating candidates to find the best possible person for the position. And if the employer is banning these applicants outright, the proposed law eliminating a check box on an application isn’t going to change that.

If lawmakers truly want to address this issue, they need to invest the resources in order to ensure children receive the proper education, direction and upbringing that will prevent them from becoming convicted felons in the first place. They need to look at our mandatory sentencing laws and stop filling our prisons with people who have committed non-violent, drug related offenses. Then, when someone is incarcerated, they shouldn’t just give up on that person. They should partner with companies that have a shortage of skilled workers, and train them for those positions. Incentives could even be provided for employers who hire these candidates in order to lessen the risks. When compared to the cost to incarcerate people, the benefit of such programs would far outweigh the costs.

Sounds to good to be true? Maybe. Still, it would be worth a try. It is already being done in some places on a limited scale. But legislators would never go for a large-scale program of prisoner education. That is because, to too many law-abiding citizens, this would seem like a reward. Commit a crime, receive free job training. They think that when someone commits a crime, they need to be punished, not helped. But when we consider our overcrowded prisons, our recidivism rates, the cost of our criminal justice system, aren’t we all being punished?

The Mad Men Workplace

Posted on Updated on

A woman in her sixties once told me she had no desire to ever watch an episode of Mad Men. “I lived it,” she said, “Why would I want to watch it?”

Me, I’ve never missed an episode. I’ve become absorbed in the flawed nature of its characters, the subtleties of the storytelling. Most of all, I’m fascinated by a workplace from before the alphabet soup of HR legislation ( FMLA, ADA, etc.) existed. When an employer could refuse to hire a married woman, or regulate blacks to positions as bus boys and janitors, or not have a Jew on your staff simply because you didn’t like Jews. When gays remained closeted for fear of being fired or even arrested. When you could tell a secretary how great her legs looked in heels, or that she was putting on weight. When you could even use the term secretary instead of Administrative Assistant.

I know it’s fiction, and the situations are sometimes exaggerated for effect. But I also know that in some cases, discrimination was even worse than what’s depicted. I’ve talked to women who had to come into their offices on Saturday mornings to clean while the men stayed home. I’ve known women who were asked, “Are you done having children?” at their job interview. I’ve seen classifieds advertising for a white married men or a Girl Friday.

Being reminded of this makes me thankful for all those HR laws that usually cause me to swear under my breath. It helps me to understand why we have all these laws in the first place, and all the good they have done.

But I’m not writing to denounce Mad Men’s workplace of sexism and bigotry. That’s too easy, and has been done too many times before. No, with the new season of the show underway, I’m writing about what we can actually learn from it.

Political Incorrectness
I recall a documentary I saw several years ago in which several black men who lived in the South pre-Civil Rights were being interviewed. One of the men said, “In some ways, those times were better. At least back then you knew who hated you.”

We have become so concerned with saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, of offending someone or having them bring a discrimination case against us, we often don’t say anything at all. The problem with this is that while we don’t express our biases, we all still have them. I know. I’ve heard the comments over the years. Usually, they are made behind closed doors and prefaced with phrases like, “just between us” or “I don’t want to generalize, but …” Most people are not dumb enough to make their biases public, so they seep into the workplace in more subtle and insidious ways. They don’t hire the man in the wheel chair because they don’t want to make accommodations. They don’t layoff the older worker because they don’t believe she can adapt quickly enough to change.

In Mad Men, all these prejudices are right out in the open. If we acted like this today, employers would know if they had bigots working for them and act accordingly. At the same time, employees would truly know how their employers thought of them, and make an informed decision of whether or not they wanted to give that employer their time and energy.

I once had an issue with two groups of people in an organization. The older, white workers and the newer, minority ones. They talked around each other for months, creating tension and animosity. Part of me wanted to put them all in a room together and say, okay, tell the other side what you really think. Let’s get it out in the open and then deal with it honestly. I didn’t, though, mainly because, if given the chance to speak honestly, I don’t think most of them would have said a word.

Brutal Honesty
In one scene between Don Draper and his protegĂ©, Peggy Olson, Peggy complains that she isn’t given credit for her work. Don replies, “I give you money. You give me ideas. That’s how it works.”

Don can be direct, even hurtful, but at least his subordinates know where he stands. I once asked a boss for a raise. Instead of telling me no and giving me the reasons why, she put it off, ignoring the question for over a month, forcing me to ask again. Only after I pushed her did she finally decline my request, without saying more than senior management said we couldn’t at this time.

What bothered me more than not getting a raise was the fact that she wouldn’t come right and say no, when I suspect that was going to be her answer all along.

Most people dislike conflict. Managers included. They pussy foot around saying anything negative. They couch the bad in terms like Opportunity for Growth, or Areas for Improvement, instead of saying, “You are doing a bad job, and if you don’t quit, we’ll fire you.” Then, when the employee doesn’t get that promotion, or gets fired, they don’t even know why, or what they could have done to improve their chances of success. Managers think they are being kind by not being brutally honest, but in reality, they are avoiding uncomfortable situations, and in doing so, they are doing employees a disservice.

Performance Matters

While Don Draper may be brutally honest at work, his private life is one big lie. Don Draper isn’t even his real name. When the ambitious Pete Campbel learns his secret, he tries to blackmail Don into giving him a promotion. When this fails, he tells one of the partners, Bert Cooper. Bert’s response: “Who cares?”

Don is great at his job. He’s a rainmaker. He attracts and keeps clients. We all have secrets, Bert figures. What are secrets compared to the success of the business?

I deal with managers all the time who are more concerned with style than substance. They are concerned because an employee is always ten minutes late, instead of asking whether or not this hurts the employee’s effectiveness (it may, but they still don’t ask the question). They are concerned because an employee spends too much time surfing the net during unofficial break times, not considering whether the employee is just an efficient time manager or works extra in a crisis, and so deserves an extra break now and then. When hiring, they are more concerned with a candidates alma mater than with their qualifications.

One could argue that Bert shouldn’t trust Don. He has lied about his personal life, so why wouldn’t he be dishonest about his professional life.

If Don was new to the organization, perhaps that could be the case. But Bert has worked with Don for years. He knows that on a professional level, he can be trusted.

He knew results matter.

One last aspect of Mad Men I have to mention. The Advertising firm of Sterling Cooper has no Human resources manager (or Personnel manager, as they would have called it). Then again, they probably didn’t neeed one. If I had been born fifty years earlier, I would have been looking for another job.