Who’s Ahead of the Curve? A Year End Review of the Best (and Worst) in Recruiting

This is my year-end list of “the best” and “the struggling” in recruiting. I usually try to take a scientific approach to recruiting, but in this case, quantifying and listing the criteria for a list of the best thinkers — and those who need to rethink what they’re doing ó would just be too time-consuming. So without further ado, here is my 2005 year-end list of heroes in recruiting and those who need to get better.

Best Thinkers in Recruiting for 2005

These are the individuals or firms whom I have encountered this year that clearly think differently and are definitely on the right track with their philosophy and strategy of where recruiting needs to be.

  • Chris Forman. The CEO of AIRS has a better grasp on where the world of recruiting needs to be going than anyone I have dealt with during this year. Perhaps his unique view is a result of the fact that his background is outside of recruiting. Watch what he does: AIRS is no dinosaur from the past.
  • Michael Homula. The head of talent acquisition at Quicken Loans is smart and bold. With a little more experience, Michael Homula will be the next Michael Jordan of hiring.
  • Dan Hilbert. Director of recruiting at Valero, Dan Hilbert is the first to bring real statistical tools and pipeline management techniques to recruiting. He is clearly the Edward Deming of recruiting.
  • Bernard Hodes Group. The company is responsible for the best recruiting research of the year. They sent well-crafted “perfect resumes” to a target firm to test their systems and found a dismal 12 percent response rate. In addition, the client fired them for sharing the bad news! Go figure.
  • John Sumser. There is no more honest and frank writer in our profession. He rips people in what can be only called a blunt fashion, but he also praises great work when it’s warranted (I have not been excluded from his wrath or his praise). He writes a column every day and has for nearly a decade (an amazing feat). His Electronic Recruiting News is a must-read for me every day.
  • TopCoder. Working with clients like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, TopCoder has made attracting the very best “passive candidates” through contests a model that everyone should follow.
  • ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo’s search tools are used by some of the very best recruiting firms, like Google. It remains the best source for finding employed top performers who are not actively seeking a new job by posting a resume (i.e. the difference-makers).
  • Kevin Wheeler. Nobody presents the big picture better than Kevin. He’s been doing it for years.
  • Lou Adler. He offers the best advice in the critical area of “closing the deal” that I have ever seen.
  • Peter Weddle. His aggressive, almost military, approach to recruiting is refreshing and worth reading.
  • Libby Sartain. She’s leading the way in the critical area of internal employment branding. Her new book will show many the need to “walk the talk” when it comes to company values.
  • Trudy Knoepke-Campbell. Trudy is one of the few recruiters/workforce planners to be featured in a Wall Street Journal article this year. She is a shining light for using metrics and business logic in a dismal field of healthcare recruiting.
  • Google. In a short period, Google has built the best-funded recruiting machine on the planet. Because it has changed “the work” of employees to make their jobs more exciting, it remains the benchmark firm for all others to follow.
  • MGM Grand. The vision of Gamal Aziz (president and COO) and the work of Corinne Clement and Miriam Hammond on employment branding is simply amazing in an industry where HR has done very little.
  • India. Yes, I know, it’s a country. But you had better watch these fast-growing Indian firms because they have plans to open facilities and recruit all over the world. Using a kind of reverse engineering, firms are planning on opening R&D facilities where the talent currently resides (in North America, Asia, and Europe). They are incredibly aggressive because they don’t have to unlearn all of the old-fashioned recruiting traditions that restrict most thinking.
  • Starbucks. Despite its massive growth, it has found a way to recruit and motivate workers around the world. I know it just can’t last, but it’s the only chain that makes it fun to spend time in its establishment. An amazing accomplishment!
  • Jim Dalton. After years of managing the ER Daily, he is moving on to other aspects of community development within ERE. His work in recruiting great authors and providing great content has simply been the best in the industry.
  • Workforce Management magazine. If you haven’t seen the transition it has made, I suggest you check it out. Now there is actually a human resources magazine that’s not full of social work ideas or vendor-influenced stories.
  • Master Burnett. Yes, he works with me, so I can be accused of a slight prejudice. But Master still knows more about HR technology than anyone that I have met anywhere.
  • Bob Stambaugh. The godfather of HRIS has passed, but his work will never be forgotten.

Unique Event of the Year

Michael Homula, while employed at FirstMerit Bank, presented the economic impact of recruiting on the stock price to shareholders at the annual shareholders meeting. This is the first time this has ever happened to my knowledge.

Article Continues Below

What and Who Needs “Rethinking”

These are the individuals, firms, or concepts I have encountered this year that clearly need to “rethink” their approach to recruiting.

  • Corporate careers websites. The entire lot of them are simply boring and atrocious. Despite Gerry Crispin and Mark’s Mehler’s hard work, 99 percent of corporate employment sites are no more than static and dull resume black holes. There’s a missed opportunity here for companies to “wow” candidates with the best “selling tool” available after employment branding.
  • “Monster” job boards. Being big without demonstrating quality and the fact that people actually get hired and successfully perform on the job is no longer acceptable.
  • Recruitment advertising firms. Become end-to-end recruiting consultants and take responsibility for producing measurable results ó or go the way of desktop publishers and VHS recorders.
  • Social networks. All boots and no cattle here. They will not prosper until they get faster and easier to use.
  • ATS vendors. With one or two exceptions, ATS vendors have overpromised and underdelivered to the point where they’re losing what remaining credibility they have. Take responsibility for actually producing measurable business impacts for your clients or go the way of the Walkman and the cassette tape.
  • Europe. Yes, I know it’s a continent, but when it comes to recruiting, Europe is a dinosaur still enclosed in amber. In a business world where speed, innovation, and first to market are critical, no one cares about your traditions or “the way you have always done things.” Change the way you recruit, retain, and develop the most innovative workers in the world or risk becoming irrelevant.
  • Ford, GM, United, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s. These and other dinosaur companies haven’t figured out that hiring challenging and retaining innovative people is more important than brand or advertising. Borrowing a phrase from the Clinton campaign, “It’s the people, stupid!”
  • SHRM. There’s no subtle way to put this; they just haven’t supported recruiting like they should. SHRM doesn’t tolerate criticism ó but, of course, that’s part of their problem.
  • Social workers on the ERE discussion boards. They are so afraid of their shadow that anything new scares them. Come up with better solutions yourself or stop whining.
  • Blogs in recruiting. It was fun when they were only a few of them, but if they don’t differentiate and add real tools and solutions, they too will fade like other fads.

Nominate Your Own Winners and Losers

This list contains only people and companies that I’ve come across this year, so obviously I have missed some people who deserve recognition. To those individuals, please accept my apologies. But if you would like to add other people or firms that made a real difference to recruiting during the past year, nominate them by posting a review under this article’s title. Let’s celebrate the best that have changed our profession.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



42 Comments on “Who’s Ahead of the Curve? A Year End Review of the Best (and Worst) in Recruiting

  1. Good article, nice overview of the year.
    I must admit I was a bit lost when you mentioned ‘Social workers on the ERE discussion boards’. What exactly do you mean?

  2. I would like to humbly add Rob McIntosh at Microsoft for completely redefining how a company approaches scaleable passive talent pipelining.

    Yeah, he’s my boss, so like Dr. Sullivan said about Master I may be just a tad biased – but it was Rob’s vision that attracted me to Microsoft and that vision’s continued success proves I made the right choice.

  3. John,

    You should definitely be on this list also. You have turned out must read article after must read article the whole year.

    I’m sure you get a lot of flack for saying what many think but few are willing to say.

    I agree the boards should be a place to share new ideas, good and bad, with out fear of being shouted down or lambasted.

    Keep up the good work.

    Brian Toland

    Critical Mass Consulting

  4. My hats off to John for a great article.

    Glad to see Jim Dalton on the list. He is the force behind ER Daily and will be a hard act to follow.

    Howard Adamsky

  5. I think he means you and me. You know, with our libarian glasses on, the ones with the chains to hang them around our necks. And our (proverbial again) bangle bracelets and smalltalk. Our psychoschlerotic pushback of new robostatistical candidate evaluation and recruiting. We, the social secretaries of the recruiting guessing-game. We can’t answer the ‘why’ of what we do. We make it up as we go along. Telephone speed-dating. Sales-Call Sally. Meandering Mike. Run-on Randy… I have my large turquoise ring pointed right at you! The Doc wants to assign us standard-issue calculator. Then we plug everyone we talk to into that calculator, and then hit the = sign. Then it tells you what to do, you see? I will put you in memory number one, so that I can recall you again if needed.

    If he can be right, and brash, than I’m allowed to be wrong and brash, no?

    Come on now. Get that egg nog! Just needed to drip a little sarcasm off of my social-worker dialing finger….

  6. John – you are entitled to your opinion even if some think you are wrong… that is the joy of it being an opinion!

    I do agree with Anthony Haley however in that generalising ‘europe’ as useless is slightly too Americo-centric for my taste and while it is true for places like France and Spain it is not so true for the UK (if they are really Europe – some may think a state of America!)…

    Google – hmmmm maybe! They have lots of money to spend… not hard to be cutting edge with lots of cash and everyone wanting to work for you. Just wonder how many tears there will be when the bubble bursts. I imagine it will be like a heroine addict going cold turkey.

  7. Hmm, I just think about blogs being about conversations and the blogs themselves are the tools to faciliate them. The fact that they lead to hires and improve our employment brand is all the ‘solution’ I need. All the talk about blogs as ‘the new thing’ may be fad-ish (not sure if that is a word), but many/most of us blog as part of our jobs (and again, it’s not a strategy, it’s a tool). Maybe Dr. John means that the blogging tool vendors need to come up with new stuff? I’m a little confused (not unusual…it’s the eggnog). It’s like saying that building relationships with your candidate base is ‘so last year’, being visible in search engines isn’t cool anymore?…what am I missing?

    As for some of the best thinkers, I agree with some of them. I’d like to apply the ‘new thinking’ standard to some of them as well though. Some of them have been promoting the same concepts for so long. The concepts are good, but I don’t see the innovation. It seems like some of the criticism applied to the ‘losers’ on the list is about lack of ‘new thinking’…I would recommend that some of the ‘winners’ on the list be assessed the for the same criteria. Just my personal opinion. Of course, each of us would come up with a different list.

  8. Bravo John for telling it like it is. Your worst list was the best. A few comments:

    ‘ATS vendors. With one or two exceptions, ATS vendors have overpromised and underdelivered to the point where they’re losing what remaining credibility they have.’

    AMEN. As a purvey of one of the better established solutions that’s been continually evolving over the last 20 years, nothing annoys me more than the johnny-come-lately’s that now clutter up the market with flashy/pretty (but slow as dirt) user interfaces, rebranding of low-end rubbish, products owned by job boards, ad agencies and staffing agencies (where do you think their focus is?) and slick advertising promises. All form and no substance. Thankfully the cream still floats to the top.

    ‘Corporate careers websites. The entire lot of them are simply boring and atrocious.’

    COULD NOT HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF. You forgot to mention hard-to-find. If only I had a nickle for every web site without an employment link on the front page.

    ‘ ‘Monster’ job boards.’

    I predicted this years ago when I worked for one: Niche sites rule the earth. Monsters = dinosaurs that don’t know they are extinct yet.

    ‘Recruitment advertising firms.’

    Fortunately there are a few that have managed to reinvent themselves and still know how to deliver a competitive recruiting advantage to their customers.

    ‘Social networks.’

    Yeah, my list of things to do still includes trying to figure a way to use this. So far, I’ve lacked the patience to complete the time-consuming chore. You’ve convinced me it’s probably not worth the effort.


    LOL. Since nobody in Europe will heed your advice, at least that means less global competition for the rest of the world.


    Thank you! I let the president of my local chapter have it with both barrels just last wk. These people are really missing the boat.

    ‘Blogs in recruiting… they too will fade like other fads.’

    Just another passing bandwagon. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

    Sylvia Dahlby
    Phone: (480) 502-4513

    SmartSearch Online
    The World’s Best Applicant Tracking Software


  9. Dr Sullivan, your comments about Europe are totally disrespectful (as usual) and I?m afraid, show just how much you?re out of touch with doing business this side of the Atlantic or probably outside of the US.

    I would like to challenge you to explain on what basis you can make such general statements that cover so many different countries and cultures.

    Are these your personal findings or someone else?s?

    Based on what data?

    Whose traditions do you not care about? Certain countries or all countries?

    Does ?no one cares? mean you personally or the rest of the world?

    Could you expand on your ?Europe is a dinosaur? statement and compared to who?

    Is this all of Europe or only certain countries?

    Do you think the recruitment process is the same in each country or different?

    If different, what experience and exposure to these processes do you have and to which country?

    How do you think recruitment is done differently in each country compared to the US?

    Do you not think that if you wish to trade in a different country, you have to accept and respect different laws, attitudes and cultures and adapt to them?

    Who is at risk of becoming irrelevant? Recruiters, corporate companies or all of Europe?

    I look forward to your response to substantiate your statement.

  10. T.Tallis, LOL, that was great? As one of the Proud and upstanding Social Workers of ERE I would love to thank you for that awesome comment.  By the way can I borrow your eye-glass-chain, I busted mine some time ago.

    Heather, also excellent response. Often thought a blog was a diary of sorts.. A way to express your personal feelings.. Hmm, so I guess personal feelings will become passe.
    I wonder too if articles which are based upon personal feelings and hold little proof and substance will also become a fad.

    Shally, actually good point about Rob, Microsoft has done some really incredible things in the past couple of years. Microsoft may be too much of a lackluster, Social Worker environment to write about. Kudos to the Gates for making Persons of the Year. They are doing great work helping improve the success our future candidates of the world. Hat is off to them.

    Anthony and Jonathon and to the rest of Europe (including Spain and France) my apologies for the unfortunate remark. As one who has live Here in America for the past 15 years, (getting my citizenship in a few mths), I can safely say that Sullivan does not speak for the majority of America. This country really does have some excellent, upstanding and accepting people that do not share this view.

    On a personal note ? what an interesting year this has been. Much focus has been on the Recruiting industry with new trends, ideas and personal opinions. Attention grabbing yet definitely challenging or thought-provoking to say the least.

    There is one thing that may be noted or considered. In the past 30+ years alone trends and fads have come and gone. Comments were made that the internet was going to replace our industry, but then so were Corporate Recruiters, Trade Employment Magazines and such like. There has always been something.

    The reality is that only one thing has Always remained consistent in this industry. It is the way it has been done since the very beginning – Networking! Networking! Networking!

    The heart and Soul of This industry is about the people that we deal with everyday and the winners will always be the ones who will remember not to objectify the human essence of our trade.

    This industry truly is based more upon Needs more than solutions. The needs of the people we meet and work with every day. This is illustrated through Trust, Empathy, Genuineness, Acceptance, Respect, honesty, value, courtesy and Consideration

    It is in the finding of Distinctive and personal successful solution that sensitizes and meets the needs of each personality that we represent (whether as a Corporate Recruiter, Vendor or TPR) that has and will always maintain a World-Class Recruiting Desk?

    ?Life is Rich, always Changing, always challenging, and architects have the task.. of transforming human aspiration into a habitable and meaningful space? Arthur Erickson

    Happy Holidays to all, and thanks for allowing me to share this past year

  11. Rob McIntosh – Oh yes he should have been on this list. I believe he is a revolutionary in our space and, I know he is very busy, I would love to hear from him more.

    Dan Hilbert – finally getting the much deserved recognition he has rightfully earned. I have learned much from him and hope to continue to do so.

    Heather – your comments related to the usefulness, both tactical and strategic, of blogs is spot on. You are, in my humble opinion, the leader of this recruiting blog movement and I believe the surface has barely been scratched in this arena. I am so confident of this fact that many of the new talent acquisitions initiatives I am working on currently at Quicken Loans involve blogs. Much to come on this as I don’t want to give away the store just yet.

  12. I would like to add the following people to the list of people that deserve praise for their efforts this year:

    Gerry Crispin – he continued to help us better understand the job seeker’s perspective, and he did it with humanity in the face of an epic natural disaster.

    Charles Handler – who uprooted his family and carried on with some of the best research on online assessment tools on the market.

    David Manaster – usually the strong silent type, Dave spoke through his blog this year (and had some excellent and very insightful things to add to the discussion)

    Addie Sullivan, who is on the road with John all year long and is a great recruiting thinker in her own right.

    Anyone with a recruiting blog. Recruiting teams use blogs for a variety of very strategic purposes – whether to exchange dialogue around recruiting trends, connect people from around the world or build a community of talent and provide a more personal touch to candidates. All good things in my mind and nothing to harumph at.

    Shally Stackerl, who’s truly pushing the envelope with recruiting research – and gives and gives and gives to the greater recruiting community (yes, through a blog).

    Recruiters, who often work harder than anyone at their companies with little reward and frequent criticism.

  13. It is strange to view the list of benefits provided by Google as outstanding: In most of Western Europe, they would not even meet the minimum legal requirements of what companies must provide to their employees. (I am referring to the significant benefits, such as months of yearly vacation, minimum continuous training obligations, representation by unions, full coverage in case of health issues, tax free profit sharing rights, coverage of meals and transportation expenses, pensions, housing benefits, severance & outplacement entitlements, unemployment insurance etc. and not to pets and kids in the office which are allowed everywhere including in restaurants but interest few people.) I wonder what Google offers in these countries where, at your desk – which by law, has to have direct exposure to natural light – you are also allowed to smoke a cigarette or a cigar sharing a glass of wine or a beer with a colleague, and mention without risk any political opinions you may have.

  14. Wow. Sounds great. Let’s all emulate Europe in our employment practices. The results speak for themselves, don’t they?

  15. John,

    Your article is near-sighted. I’ve written to you directly, so I won’t repeat myself. I hope you will do the same. Your articles and Kudos repeat same names, dated material and contribute to isolationist mentality. You under-represent women in your list. I understand some of the list is talented, but we live in a larger electronic world than the good old boy network of past. BROADEN YOUR Vision and Articles.


  16. To the very first person who posted re: this article,

    Your question asking John about social workers has just been answered. :).

  17. Ted, anyone with real experience of working in Europe knows that the US cannot emulate Europe no more than Europe can emulate the US.

    Sure we can learn from each other, or at least those of us with an open mind can, but the markets are different. The languages are different. The cultures are different. Employment laws are different. The attitudes are different. Companies are different. The processes are different. The people are different………need I go on.

    That’s why Dr Sullivan is clearly so uncomfortable about Europe.

    As for the results you seem to know about,perhaps rather than be like Dr Sullivan who ignores any challenge to substantiate his comments about Europe, you will rise to the challenge.

    Please share with us your findings on the results about Europe that you stated speak for themselves……..unless of course your comments were serious, which I doubt.

  18. Jean,
    Some great points. Anthony, you asked excellent questions but they seem to have been ignored.

    Some opinions have been made regarding Europe, and yes I do believe without substance;

    Maybe there is much we can learn from our European counterparts – A work environment which is supportive to employees will allow for more production, effort and pride. (less turnover, and overhead, and more profits for company)

    Susan, Kudos to you for your response!! Hear Hear!!

    There are some real heroes that have shown the best in recruiting without the Fan Fare and Notoriety of Sullivan’s Reviews.. No, I shall not mention names, because many of the people here are not known and others were mentioned earlier.

    My Hat Goes off to the Following –

    First and Foremost The brave Recruiters from the Hurricane Disaster Regions, who have and are overcoming the challenges they have faced, yet have maintained a strong and admirable sense of pride and diligence. You are Truly Inspiring!

    To ALL The individuals who have been and STILL are consistently offering Recruiting Assistance to the Victims of the Gulf Coast Region.

    To all Recruiters who were Courageous enough to express their opinions publicly. Standing up for what They believed in. Whether it be For OR Against the popular consensus, and in spite of the negative hostility that was generated at times.

    To the bloggers who take the time out to share their personal thoughts and opinions day in and day out. Thanks for the diligence, and opening up your souls to us. (that truly is not an easy thing to do)

    To All The members of ERE who Come here each day – In my opinion WE are ALL Progressive, as we to try to learn and bring new value and strength to our business and our industry in different ways.

    So To everyone who has taken the time out of their Personal Schedule to assist, provide research, opinions, views and thoughts, just because they Cared. Thanks Very Much.

  19. John, I think you missed one small but growing segement of recruiting technology, the pay per click market. Currently their are two players in this space one that has been around for a while with patent pending technology….yes it’s us. Pay per click allows us to reach passive candidates where they spend time online but utilizing content marketing. This way people are being recruited without even knowing it. This market is how Google made and continues to make their money. If you don’t think the market is big enough and or growing take a look at MSN launching ad center and how Microsoft is now aligning themselves to compete in this space.

    Just my two cents.

  20. John Sullivan?s year-end review of recruiting certainly bunched up quite a few pairs of underwear. Not too much of a surprise here… although there were a few cogent thoughts on the matter. Don?t know how many US commenters have actually recruited in Europe (FYI, I have and have worked for a French company) but I?ll echo Tony?s words on the political, economic, and social differences between our continents ? merely replicating one formula in another country typically doesn?t work. What?s odd about John?s Europe comment is that one of his award winners, Bernard Hodes Group, has operations in five continents and 28 countries; I strongly suspect that they do some pretty good work in Europe. Nonetheless, Jean-Marc?s comments about Google are patently erroneous. Click here for Google?s UK benefits ? looks culture customized to me. Someone might want to check the data first?

    Let?s return to the acrimony thrown in the direction of someone who elects to select the people whom he believes are on the cutting edge. How about Sullivan?s misogynist points of view ? right ladies? Let?s check the sites for some good women, shall we? Forman may be CEO of AIRS but conduct a people search on ERE for AIRS and see how many women appear. Do the same for Homula, Hilbert, and Hodes. Dare I offer Starbucks or the women of MGM Grand? Need I continue? Didn?t make the list this year? There?s always next year.

    The Holy Grail of recruiting for the in-house recruiter has always been the nexus between the craft and stock price; nothing personal, it?s just business. Homula is publicly closer than others before him; it doesn?t matter whether the person accomplishing this was a man, women, or druid. What connects all those who have been identified by Sullivan as leaders ? BTW, let?s specifically add Heather H. and Gretchen L., the blogging chicks at HiringRevolution.com, and anyone blogging/sharing ideas as Recruiting.com ? is their ability to push the boundaries of creativity rather than remaining static.

    What?s your excuse for not being excellent?

  21. Of course my comments about Europe were serious. I am always serious, especially here on the Forum. Where seriousness rules.

    So, let’s take a (mercifully brief) look at the results of the prevailing sense in Europe that ‘social justice’ (sidebar: carefully secure your wallet or purse whenever you see or hear that phrase), employee ?welfare?, and ‘job security’ trump customer and/or investor satisfaction in a global market for good s and services.

    From the September 2005 issue of The McKinsey Quarterly:

    ?Europe is in a political crisis… Voters rejected the proposed [EU] constitution for many reasons, but the biggest factor was discontent over Europe’s economic performance. The pace of growth in the European Union’s core economies has been dismal… In a recent speech, Vladimir Spidla, a member of the European Commission, summed up the problem: ‘We cannot accept 17 million unemployed, average economic growth of 0.6 percent in the old member states, and youth unemployment of 18.6 percent in the 25-member European Union. Change begins in our own minds.’

    The article, available here (registration required: http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/) identifies many of the root causes for Europe?s economic underperformance, only one of which is its labyrinth of disconnected-from?reality worker benefits. It even offers (this is don?t-offend-anyone McKinsey, after all) that EU countries need not abandon their more-generous, versus the US, regulatory commitments to their ?most vulnerable citizens?. But, of course, as the article points out, the laws of gravity can never be repealed:

    ?Parts of Europe’s current regulatory framework focus on protecting society to the detriment of competition, perversely making Europeans more susceptible to the consequences of the region’s flagging competitiveness…? Duh.

    I recruit in Northern and Western Europe. And a bit in Asia. Enough that it?s clear to me, anyway, that an entire generation of breathtakingly aggressive Asian and Indian capitalists can?t imagine anything more helpful to them than business as usual in the EU ? and the US, for that matter — especially when it comes to acquiring and retaining A-players.

    PS – Merry Christmas to all, and thank you all for a year of thought-provoking and fun dialogue. It’s all good here.

  22. Hi Folks:

    I seldom comment on these forums because of the hysteria that can accompany certain viewpoints but let me say one thing that is pointed in the direction of the perceived under representation of women in John?s list.

    The equality all decent and fair-minded people seek will NEVER?EVER be attained if we look at how many people represented are men and how many are women. That action forces us to focus on the gender of individuals listed as opposed to the content of their contributions. This might sound counterintuitive but when Dr King spoke of ?a society that judges people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin,? I believe he wanted people to be judged on what they do and ONLY on what they do. Anything else is the disease of political correctness and we as a country can ill afford any more of that nonsense to permeate our thinking.

    Want to make the list next year? So do I. Lets all compete by doing great, cutting edge and innovative things so we can be mentioned based upon the value we have added and not the gender we have been so randomly assigned.

    Howard Adamsky

    Myself and other ERE members have spoken (emailed really) to each other about just this topiC. But it’s not just John.

    Ladies and Gents have patted each other on the same backs all year. It’s a circle of friends and I’m okay with that. It’s not like they are trying to hide it.

    Besides, if thet didn’t pat each other on the back, who would?

  24. Ted:

    ”labyrinth of disconnected-from?reality worker benefits”

    Sometimes you run accross an expression of thought which taps into your brain and lets out the idea-syrup you never knew needed to get out, like tapping into a tree to get good old maple syrup. There’s that pressure build-up in one’s head on a particuilar topic, and when one reads about the topic, there’s that odd pressure, that thought-bloating. Then comes a way to say it, to get it alllllll out. The well-crafted phrase above does that trick, at least for me…

    Europeans…. Sorry, Jean-Marc, I’m European too, but I don’t need natural light at my desk, when I bask in the glow of knowing my Government loves me…And cares for me… and will be there when …[new age music fade-in… pan to smooth mug of international coffee, gently picked up by smartly-dressed actor… takes a hearty sip… cut. ]

  25. Heather wrote

    ‘that I see no indication that Dr.John is even reading this. Feels like we have kind of been here before ; ) ‘

    LOL, Heather, I read EVERY post, no exceptions. I find that most are well written and defend ?their? position well. The reasons I don’t respond to criticisms, unless specifically asked, include:

    (pardon my generalizations here)

    1) I find that the typical poster here provides no constructive alternatives to my or other author?s posts or solutions. They almost always say something ‘can’t work’, while I have actually seen it work. As a result, I see many comments as naive. Provide better solution and I will be impressed.

    2) I have many forums to express my work, (my articles in ERE and in other Journals) so I see no sense in taking up ‘your’ space here, which is specifically designed for non-authors.

    3) I find most posts on this forum to be from ‘can’t do’ or ‘no? people. They see problems in everything new and they defend the status quo. I assume that they live in ‘Kansas’ or something and have just not seen the latest advances. I have been to ?India? , for example, and the best there are 10 times more progressive than the ?Kansas? recruiter. Amazing things are happening in recruiting (i.e. India, Google and Quicken loans) but ?that will never work? people don?t want to hear it or believe it.

    4) Many people attack my credentials or knowledge automatically because I am a professor or they are too lazy to do their research. I do listen to people that do their homework before they make comments but not to those that have opinions but no facts. I find it distasteful to brag on my work, so I don’t respond to the ‘he’s never been to Europe’ or ‘he’s a academic’ type comments. They are just silly (OK, one time only, here are some bona fidies. I have been the Chief Talent officer for a 43,000 employee high tech firm, my work has been translated into 23 languages, I spend at least 2 weeks in Europe every year and I am on the road up to 200 days a year consulting and learning around the world (in 24 different countries so far). I have written 6 books and have had over 600 articles and whitepapers included in practical business publications. I have appeared on the CBS and the ABC national nightly news as well as on CNN. You will find my solutions featured in everything from Fast Company magazine to the WSJ and I have been in HR since 1969!)

    5) I get hundreds of personal e-mails (Johns@sfsu.edu) from ERE readers and I respond directly to them. The volume of my comments go there because I can attach long but complete solutions and answers in an e-mail. But that just doesn’t work in this quick sound bite opinion forum.

    6) I am an aggressive, ‘show me the money and the numbers person’. This forum on the other hand is for personal opinions, so I am not a ‘fit’ here. I read every post but as I said in my last article, I am not a social worker, so I just see no business value in the ‘socialist’ posts that ‘occasionally’ dominate this forum. I also only work for large corporations and since most of the posters seem to be 3rd party professionals, again I don’t ‘fit’ here.

    7) I have been specifically asked by a frequent Forum poster (Steve Levy) not to attack one frequent poster, so I have held off attacking all ?social workers? for awhile.

    8) And last, some of the comments just make no logical sense to me. For example, ‘he always talks about the same people and firms’. No shit, there are some people and firms that are always in the top 10%, so of course I mention them. Just like Jack Welsh is always mentioned among great CEO’s and that damn Lance Armstrong keeps getting mentioned in bicycling. These lists just don’t change much each year because the best of anything doesn’t change much.

    Other comments like ‘where are the women’ make me laugh. First of all there were women on the list but second, why didn’t the poster mention that there were also no children, football players, iguanas, unemployed people or Russians on the list either? People that see everything through their ‘own’ self interest (in this case womenkind) fail my fair representation and logic test. I didn’t include a single Professor (like myself), why didn’t the poster mention that?

    So Heather or anyone else… if you or others actually want an aggressive response, send me a direct e-mail and I won’t clutter the forum. But if you really want a public response, just include in your Forum post this quote… ?John, will you respond specifically to this specific question?? and I will. Otherwise, criticize away on the Forum without fear of being challenged (by me anyway). For if you actually believe for example that ‘Europe is on the cutting edge of developing new recruiting innovations’ this is the place to post away.

    John Sullivan

  26. OK, first…Howard, I don’t think that Dr. John’s list was based on the content of one’s character. I believe that the standards that define a civilized and just society are supremely important. Selecting business leaders is far less important and though standards of common decency should be assumed, that’s simply not enough to justify someone as a leader. I know a lot of amazing people that have done great things for society that I wouldn’t see qualifying for the list.

    Now Dr. John, you know that I, for one, am glad to see you respond and I personally wish you would do it more often! I think that the unfortunate thing is that your articles do get peoples’ dander up and when you don’t reply in the forums, there’s the perception that you just drop the bomb and then walk away from the wreckage. There may be some ‘social workers’ (as you put it) here, but there are others of us that are interested in furthering the profession or at least ourselves professionally. There are also the people that will praise anything you say no matter what. It’s a mixed bag…it’s a public forum where eveyone gets to share and learn. Not the same with private e-mails.

    Also, to be quite frank, some people are afraid of you but they are still interested in the dialog. I know that there are people that will not contact you directly because of how they feel they will be received and/or the nature of the response. I’m a direct person too so I obviously enjoy your frankness, but not everyone is like us ; )

    Anyway, I’d be happy to e-mail or speak with you directly if you want my opinion on your list ; )

  27. What exactly is a social worker??? Is it someone who does care about the welfare of the profession and the identies of the people we represent?

    Is it someone who is concerned about the legal crossfire that has been on this industry this past year?

    Is it someone who cares about the truth, what THEY believe is true, whether it may disagree with another?

    Or is it someone who may have concern about the ethical entity and regard of this industry?

    John, you mention that you present much research, but I have seen many others (including myself) put as much effort in presenting accurate and valid research on ERE themselves.

    Research can present pros and cons in many subjects including the laws of physics for example- does that make the information wrong or incorrect, or even invalid.

    Nothing is black and white in this day and age. There truly is no absolutes for sure (as was determined in previous posts). Things change and progress so rapidly, that what was true last year is no longer the truth today. (law of relativity is a good example)

    John You have your truth, and others have their own. Does it mean that all must be discounted, especially if one disagrees with another.

    We may not all share the same views, values or opinions on many things, but there are is something everyone can bring to the table that can provide some value to others.

    Heather did make a good point, many are scared to voice an opinion on ERE as they are concerned of the Flak that will come from disagreeing from the specialty network. Often times the voice on ERE can appear slanted due to fear. (look at the number of people on this network, compared to those who do respond online)

    I have received much of my own share of flack for sure, but I too have received my fair share of e-mails off line, there are many who do agree with you, but there are others who don’t.

    Should not both sides be heard fairly, and with dignity? Without Lables such as detractors, social workers, and such like. Allow everyone to take what they want, and then they can leave the rest – whatever that may be. What is right for some, is not right for others.

    This is MY truth, what is Yours?

  28. Dr. John,

    As my Great Grandson would say, ‘U da man’.

    Appreciate your thoughts & directness.

    Happy New Year (everyone).


  29. Heather wrote

    ‘Anyway, I’d be happy to e-mail or speak with you directly if you want my opinion on your list ; ) ‘

    I wasn’t soliciting comments on my list (although that is fine) as much as additions by readers of ahead of the curve people that have come across during the last year.

    Who are the other ‘ahead of the curve’ people so that everyone will know them?

    John Sullivan

  30. ?John, will you respond specifically to this specific question??..didn’t realize that was about the list.

    I’m more interested in the discussion than in simply nominating people to be included in your list. We should all be keeping our own list anyway. I mean, if someone knows about a company or person that is doing something great, please feel free to share it with all of us, not just Dr. John.

  31. Ted, where is the slightest relevance in the report to the comments made by Dr Sullivan?

    Let?s not get carried away by selective reading and go Europe bashing because it?s easy from over there. I live with the awkwardness of Europeans every working day including the brits. I also spend 52 weeks a year working in Europe which is possibly more useful than a 2 week a year visit.

    Like I said before, you cannot compare the US with Europe. You cannot even compare one country in Europe with another. To think all countries over here are the same and to make a sweeping statement that covers them all is lacking understanding. For example, how does meeting with some people in Belgium help to understand how we recruit in the UK or how they recruit in Germany or Sweden or Norway etc etc?..

    I would never trash someone else?s cultures and traditions because they didn?t agree with what I had to say and insist that they have to change their ways.

    If you want to work in another country or region, you should embrace and understand the way that country works and either work around it or not try to do business there. You cannot march in boot ?n? all from a different continent and expect everyone to do it your way or no way because you consider yourself to be innovative or ahead of the curve in your own country.

    All this talk of aggression, calling people that dare to oppose you social workers and stating that you?re holding off attacking these social workers only because someone else has asked you to, says it all. Intimidation. Don?t argue with me, just agree with me or else.

    Any excuse to not respond to specific questions (I asked 12) is just that, an excuse.

    If anyone wants to post an article on ERE, they should be prepared to respond to comments publicly rather than in private otherwise why say anything. They would if they were true leaders because their purpose would be to teach others. I guess that?s the nice thing about social workers. Their priority is to help others first rather than only really being interested in self promotion.

    I read ERE to find new ideas and to help me in my everyday job as a headhunter. I consider innovation to be new ideas, not old ones rehashed or bad sales practices being brought into recruitment in desperation to achieve results.

    In the 8 months I have been using ERE, there are two people that stand out for me that genuinely try to help others and add value without expecting personal glory in return.

    Everything they do comes across as 100% sincere. They put to shame some ?experts? whose only real goal is personal gain.

    I don?t have personal dialogue with either of these people but I would like to thank them publicly for their contribution because their comments and suggestions add true value to what really matters in this job. No fancy ideas, no claims to be leaders or experts, no claims to be innovative or ahead of the curve. Just good solid advice and ideas that everyone can benefit from.

    Thank you Maureen and Barry.

  32. I have to agree with Tony on a lot of what he says. I don’t see the point of writing an article if you aren’t willing to participte in the discussion. I’m here to learn from others, not help someone build their list or their practice or to have private conversations when I know that others would benefit from it as well. I wouldn’t consider that ‘social work’, just ‘community’ (meaning, we all benefit).

    Where I think my opinion falls somewhere between Dr. John’s and Tony’s is what I personally see as the extreme cases of ERE particiption. I don’t want to take anything away from people that have graciously given their (personal?) time to help others. But not all of us can do that. My devotion is to my employer (it’s that crazy paycheck thing), so invitations from forum leaders to get more involved or teach some of the members about blogging are beyond what I personally am able to do (especially since I get requests to teach people about blogging all the time and I generally refer them to resources for them to learn from). Not all of us are equipped to participate in one:few coaching and sharing.

    I guess my perspective is that this is my work and sharing with my peers makes me a better (more educated) employee, but there is a point of diminishing returns when it takes away from my work time.

    My point is (yes, there’s a point) that a happy medium exists. We each need to determine what that looks like for ourselves. But in my opinion, it falls somewhere between post-article radio silence and over-involvement in all things ERE (not meant to be critical of any specific persons…again, we all make our own call on what that means). There’s a balance between devotion to your professional community and devotion to your employer. That’s just how I see it.

  33. I am an absolute new comer (a month) to the ere network and have been trying to absorb the knowledge base available here!
    I still do have a lot of learning to go for, but having read through your article I was impressed with your listings and wanted to present my views too..

    Thanks for putting India up there as an emerging challenger . In India the challenge we face is not just about right recruiting but retaining the interest of the candidate long enough for him to join the organization. And I speak this not only from the perspective of a corporate recruiter , who works with many a staffing giants in India, but also from the staffing teams viewpoint. The job market in India is very distict from either US or Europe ( rather what I know of it).
    It is simply innovative thinking, challenging yourself, and utilising the resources available to their optimum that brings results.

    Blogging is something that we have not yet explored but I am sure could be a good tool when it comes to candidates who Blog.. and not everyone in India does.

    We work with Moster & I agree they not only need to revamp but realign themselves to realize the potential of the country they work for. If they believe what works in US will work in other countries, its high time they relook.

    Whether your are in India or anywhere in the world what is needed is a strong Branding & Marketing exercise to build your Image , but what is required post that is to offer employees a satisfaction of identifying with your brand by giving them what the Brand portrays & here I agree with Karen Mattonen C.A.C. As employers we need to create ?raving Fans? of our employees / candidates,which will provide us the ability to tap into their social network for mutual benfit

    Mr. Adamsky & Mr. Adler,I have had a great time reading & learning from your articles too. I do wish that in this best practices sharing forum, some more Interest can be generated for India – it is THE emerging market for all


  34. 1) Anthony, I repect you, and your culture, every bit as much as you respect me, and mine.

    2) I have re-read my post, and cannot find the phrase ‘social worker’ anywhere within it.

    3) I posted: ‘…an entire generation of breathtakingly aggressive Asian and Indian capitalists can?t imagine anything more helpful to them than business as usual in the EU ? AND THE US, FOR THAT MATTER [emphasis added] — especially when it comes to acquiring and retaining A-players’. What’s ‘aggressive’ or jingoistic about that?

    4) The McKinsey article I quoted presented facts about the performance of the European economy AS A WHOLE. We all know that each country in Europe is as different from each other as Wisconsin is from West Virginia. And we all know that Europe, and Gabon, and Venezuela, and the West Bank, and Ohio, where I have lived all my life, and every other economically underperforming region of the world is home to many discrete examples of business ingenuity and success. But I’m still looking hard for the feature story in Business Week or The Economist entitled, ‘Best and Brightest Stack up on EU Borders’.

    5) (I can’t get to 12). The reference to me being a bully is flattering, but odd. I am the least intimidating human being you ever met. Even when I shaved my head and tatooed my bicep, people just shook their heads. It was embarassing.

    6) I agree with you about Maureen.

  35. I read the article and thought it was informative. I tried to follow all the links. I cannot find out why Trudy Knoepke and Libby Sartain are mentioned? Trudy’s last known publication was 2001. I could not find a thing that Libby has published or accomplished. So I would appreciate if Dr. John Sullivan would share with us the sources for identifying these two people as ‘Best Thinkers in Recruiting for 2005’.

  36. Who was it that once said, ? guru is the word that the press use because they can?t spell charlatan? I wonder?

    Dr. Sullivan, have you actually ever lived and recruited for any long periods of time outside of the US and for non-US managed/owned firms. Clearly I think you?ve had very limited experience of this. So, as somebody that has lived and worked in recruitment and been employed by local firms in Texas, mainland Europe, UK and now Australia, my door is always open should you need to learn more, which judging by your article you obviously do.

  37. Ted, apologies if my last post was misleading. Only the first four lines were in response to your posting. The rest was aimed at the original article.

    Dr Sullivan’s article said the following about Europe.

    Yes, I know it’s a continent, but when it comes to recruiting, Europe is a dinosaur still enclosed in amber. In a business world where speed, innovation, and first to market are critical, no one cares about your traditions or ‘the way you have always done things.’ Change the way you recruit, retain, and develop the most innovative workers in the world or risk becoming irrelevant.

    How can any one person know how thousands of companies recruit in many different countries? The statement is just too general and therefore pointless.

    It’s a (blinkered) personal opinion rather than fact and I did not see the relevance of the text you posted to what was actually said.

    Whatever, the performance of the economies in Europe, and there are many of them, not one, I still fail to see what it has to do with the processes companies use to recruit.

    You also said:

    ‘But I’m still looking hard for the feature story in Business Week or The Economist entitled, ‘Best and Brightest Stack up on EU Borders’.’

    Why are you looking?

  38. This has been a most entertaining discussion! Just like the old days within ERE! (My followers on this network know that I have lamented the lack of interesting discussions of late.) Anyway, Dr. John’s observations and articles usually generate prolific and passionate response. And that is exactly what he and most authors want, because this, in turn, generates more interest and opportunity for his services, research, and commentaries, for which I am certain he is appropriately rewarded. Does this mean we should curb any tendency to view his articles with rose colored glasses? Of course. But we can also learn a lot from his facts and opinions as they are presented and from each other in this forum. Take what you like, leave what you don’t. I love buffets.

  39. Wow, been watching this run for the past two weeks ? Kenneth, Ted, Nick, Anthony and Heather, thanks for the awesome thought provoking comments.

    There is something I would based upon some of the opinions presented ?

    Kenneth and Anthony have made an excellent observation they should not be ignored ? I find it commendable that the author has had great accomplishments in the Past 30+ years, a great feat for sure; But In the ever changing environment of not only our industry but also the workforce it is interesting that the Author still uses information from Actual Personal Recruiting experience from over 20+ years ago.

    Times Change, Legal implications change, and the diverse shifting in societal culture has shaped distinctly contradictory opinions, attitude, beliefs and views – what could have easily been implemented in another era can generate unknown hazards today if one is not consistently mindful or are resistant in the shift of ethos

    Often I look at my daughter?s clothes and think how similar they are to what I wore 20 years ago, and wish I kept all my stuff, but then again, the fashion is only similar, not the same, and of course would they fit her size or taste. Of course they are cut differently, the color trends are not the same and there are some other aspects which would not allow what I wore then to be fashionable today.

    Lou Adler, Doug Beabout, Gary Stauble, Peter Lefkow, Kevin Wheeler, Rob McIntosh are examples of trainers/authors/recruiters who provide actual, present real time experience ? they understanding the challenges that recruiters face each day in today?s recruiting environment as they are confronting those same difficulties whilst running an active recruiting desk themselves. Their training is based upon a current practice.

    Also with respect to Your Credentials, it is true that there are many of us who may not have the education of others, but with respect to many of my peers on ERE, lack of formal education does not signify ignorance, or that a person is “na?ve” and there are many intelligent people who do live in “kansas” – Walter Chrysler, Amelia Earhart, Milton S. Eisenhower, Clark M. Clifford to name a few.

    There are many of us on this network who have LIVED and worked in both Europe and the U.S (myself included), who have traveled the world, who are currently working for fortune 50 companies overseeing over 100k employees. And Yes, there are some of us who have had our work and opinions published as well in different languages in several famous papers and subscriptions, in different countries. We may not discuss it, may have used different names but on this network we do exist.

    The sum total of an individual’s experience does allow for knowledge and skill may it be through observation, or reasoning, it does not come only from earning a degree. Practical recruiting exposure and involvement brings about a direct personal awareness of today?s recruiting culture and with these changing times. Valuable information can be derived from others who have gained knowledge acquired experience.

    So with that in mind is it not necessary to give a clear depiction providing vital combinations of circumstances outlying how certain things may apply in today’s society?

    Is it not instrumental to expose or offer a tentative explanation of potential vulnerabilities thus allowing others who may be less informed to make a conversant decision on how to implement the details in a way that may better work for them, the company they work for or in the culture/society in which they are entrenched?

    As I said earlier, A conflicting view is neither right or wrong. It is about taking the best, leaving the rest, and recognizing that what works for one culture may not for another – or for that matter another era, may not fit as well in today’s society.

  40. Kenneth Peck wrote ‘I could not find a thing that Libby has published or accomplished. So I would appreciate if Dr. John Sullivan would share with us the sources for identifying these two people as ‘Best Thinkers in Recruiting for 2005’. ‘

    Trudy was highlighted in ERE on 11/24/2003 and 10/24/2005. She was profiled in the WSJ on 10/3/2005 in the Theory & Practice Column by Erin White

    Libby Sartain is VP at Yahoo and was foremerly VP at SW Airlines. She has been chairwoman of National SHRM and wrote the book HR from the heart (it is on Amazon). She is also highlighted in this week’s BusinessWeek. I have never mentioned her on ERE before.


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