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August 6, 2016 - No Comments!

Find the One – What Does This Mean?

Don't we all want to work with amazing people? There is plenty of research and real life experience that says investing in who decisions pays off.  Finding the one for your company means achieving success or just getting by.

Enlightened CEO's place the importance of people decisions at the top of their list of important skills to develop and invest in. I grew up as an HR professional at American Hospital Supply (AHSC) - later acquired by Baxter Healthcare.  From the first introduction to the company through thoughtful and interactive interviews, to a well articulated offer and then onboarding, I was fortunate to have a world class experience.  I can say that now. After 20 years plus in the field and working with many companies as we help them find the one, they still struggle with this work and more importantly, in getting the process right.

Joining American at the time felt like joining a family. There was great care and planning on making us feel welcome, immediately connected to resources and people that cared about our success.  Thank you Bob Ruh for inspiring me even with that high bar for performance!  We were always clear on what the responsibilities were and where the challenge could take us.  I was very early in my career and had come from a company that offered little development and almost no conversation about the business.  It taught me to take initiative.  AHSC  prepared me for doing my best work with incredibly talented people.

It is important to find the one.  And, it means getting the first part right and then ensuring that you have all the other parts in place; integrating the one into your culture, developing their skills, stretching them with challenging assignments and having a plan for development.  Oh, and I almost forgot, scheduling conversations with key influencers and your boss about how it is going and what is needed to keep you on track and engaged.

Finding the one means;

  • having regular meaningful conversation with people.  It seems many have lost that focus for there is so little time to commit to this today.  There are way more initiatives on everyone's plate and little time to reflect and care for the ones that contribute.
  • looking at entirely new options for your workforce.  Frankly, the one you want may get more excited about a gig, a project, an experience with  you rather than the full time position you have posted.  John Boudreau masterfully talks about these options in his book, Lead the Work. To continue to find the one, we now have to look at other ways for our talent to contribute.

This future of work offers a huge upside to individual workers and their leaders.  Think about it; we see how younger professionals, mid-life or late stage careerists are taking on what they want, when they want it and where they want it. Let's get over the old model of employment and think more about what "the one" defines for themselves.  You will be surprised how committed and aligned those workers will be if we ask, listen, share perspectives and help each other grow.

March 5, 2016 - No Comments!

Optimists are the future – Are they Genius?

There is a sense of anxiety in our world today.  Just read the newspaper or try following the political scene for a few days.  It is crazy making.  The financial markets have calmed down for the moment however, there is little confidence that we have a smooth sailing year ahead.  So, is it hard to find the optimists? Maybe. Settling for a pessimist view is not the answer.  Bill Taylor, speaker and author of Mavericks at Work and a new book soon coming out called; Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways, talks about a future outlook that sounds promising and "optimistic."  He sees a fierce optimism in companies that are ordinary but blend new ideas, have deep commitment and are resilient in the face of change.  I want to meet those companies and their leaders!  I would like to help them find additional leaders as they grow.  They embrace the positive and not the negative.

There is so much being written about great leaders and those guided by purpose.  Are those leaders defining success so that they stand for something special (as Bill Taylor suggests)?  Yes, they are successful for they have a business, product or service where they think about where they have come from, but re-invent the future with a keen eye moving forward with  a clear line of sight.  They might be genius to achieve that - however, think about the definition of genius as another favorite author of mine, David Whyte, a poet that touches the heart) defines it.  "Genius is something we possess", says David Whyte.

  • "Human genius lies in the geography of the body and its conversation with the world. We have a unique signature and stories from our lineage that have not been fully explored.  Genius is a gift and a possibility that has not yet occurred; it is not a fixed commodity but a conversation to be followed, understood and celebrated."

The optimist continues to believe and has the confidence to create a play book for the future.  I would like to start a new conversation with our clients about hiring for genius.  Let's listen to what the CEO believes tough minded optimism looks like in their company.  The, let's translate that.  It could be, as Bill Taylor reminds us, that optimistic leaders know how to use what they already know but are willing to re-frame it tenaciously for a positive future and not a negative one.


February 20, 2016 - No Comments!

Brand is the “Why” of your Business – Candidates Want to Know

This past week we hosted a Great Starts Breakfast, SBCo's learning forum in LA on the topic of "Why Brand Matters."  Our guests were heads of HR, Talent Management leaders and those managing the Talent Acquisition function.  It was a lively discussion about branding, which is one of the most misunderstood concepts in business. What does it mean to create a compelling brand message that lines up with your culture?  Our experience is that messages and experiences on the inside don't always connect to those on the outside for your customers.  We are far better at capturing the hearts and minds of our customers and still struggle with that experience for candidates.

What we are seeing now is the intersection of HR and Marketing.   Here are some definitions from our guest speaker, Krysta Masciale (owner and founder of Big Deal Branding in Los Angeles):

  • Marketing is anyone in the organization who is responsible for creating, maintaining and communicating the brand's message internally and externally.
  • HR is anyone in the organization responsible for attracting, selecting and retaining top talent to carry out the brand promise.Sherryand krysta

We have not seen enough collaboration in these two domains.  That is changing.  There is a need to holistically look at strategy for finding those scarce high performing talents.  Many companies have resorted to hiring a search firm to tackle this work (something that SBCo enjoys doing and has excelled in) AND there must be an expanded focus in this work that ensures greater probability of long term success and candidate fit.

In our session, we explored the realities and misconceptions of “Brand”.  Krysta Masciale reminds us that brand isn’t solely a fancy logo or high tech website. Brand is the “Why” of your business. Why do you exist? Why should customers choose you over a competitor? Why should talent come work for you?

To get to the “Why” piece, you must first define these five things:

1. Values- Identify 4-5. Define meaning for your organization. Claim these values in your daily work.

2. Strengths- Find the sweet spot of what you are good at and acknowledge what your organization is not good at.

3. Goals- Establish a yearly theme. Set quarterly goals. Assess goals and theme regularly.

4. Messages- Clarity and commitment is key here - take the step to clarify two words that describe your organization and commit to those words/message.

5. Ideal Clients- Identify this group so that you can speak to the wants and needs of this group.

When these five steps are done right, profits rise and employees see the "why" to stay, production increases and candidates learn more about new opportunities. These steps can easily be utilized by a Marketer creating the company story or the Recruiter and his or her Marketing/Communications partner to develop the talent story.

In 2016 our firm is committed to expanding this work with our clients in order to create a talent brand and message that ensures ideal candidates see "their wants" in the hiring company.  If they don't see themselves in this picture, then it is probably not for them.  Candidates also want to experience interviews and realistic job previews that reflect the organization and leader values.  Here at SBCo we already focus on that when crafting a "marketing specification"  that is entirely beyond the traditional job description.  Clients value the time and effort we place on getting the story right and asking questions that uncover the "DNA" and culture of a firm as well as the opportunity to contribute in cool ways.  (p.s. we love using micro sites, podcasts and other non-traditional ways to relay the story).

Get started on the "why."  It will make a big difference.  If you need help along the way and are committed to raising the stakes in competing for talent; call us here at S. Benjamins & Company and we will bring our brand strategist and amazing search team into a new conversation.  Let me know your thoughts at and Krysta Masciale at


January 10, 2016 - No Comments!

Entrepreneurs are Paranoid – A New Year View

It always happens in January.  We start a new year and budget for 2016 and even though we are in our 19th year of successful business, I remain paranoid.  In the past it was stronger for me in the first quarter than other times of the year.  My husband says I do this every year and should not worry.  Last year we had our best year since 2008.  Actually I am proud to say that my level of paranoia is quite diminished relative to other years and we did celebrate proudly at the close of the year.

As business owners it is totally natural to be suspicious or fearful of starting a new year with a steep ramp for projects and not knowing what is ahead.  What we do know is that employment is up and more jobs are being filled than expected.  We also know that these emotions feed our desire to succeed, try new things and be innovative.  Yes, that is a win win for us worry warts. So, why am I paranoid?

Aside from reading the business section today proclaiming gloom and a "bad week for stocks which dims 2016 outlook,"  which I am trying to ignore, there is still that uncertainty on how our work will play out this year.  The business climate is good, however, I see our clients managing intense amounts of work, stressed at times and resource constrained.  Then, I remember what my dear friend and respected Professor, Jeremy Hunter, at the Drucker Institute says, "manage moment to moment and with intention."  My intention this year is to enjoy the moments such as when;

  • Colleagues and friends are there for you when you have a problem or a happy moment to share
  • Laughing at myself more
  • Delighted clients with new hires say they appreciate our help or just simply when we help them by listening
  • Candidates thank us for keeping them informed (whether they get the job or not) or call to say they love their job
  • People we care about call for career game plan help
  • HRoundtable  or Great Starts Breakfast conversations transform ideas into action
  • Stephan and I are able to try out new things like Argentine Tango and cycling trips; laugh and learn something newstephand sherry2016

What do you want your meaningful moments to be this year?

Enjoy the adventure of the unknown and if you also get paranoid, don't worry, it is natural and may contribute to your success this year in entirely surprising ways.  Happy 2016.


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November 25, 2015 - No Comments!

Labor Shortage – What it means to you?

If you are a recruiter or have responsibility for finding top talent, then you know about the talent shortage.  If you read the news, listen to podcasts or talk to business leaders, you know the scarcity of talent is here in many key areas and will arrive soon in others.

The Wall Street Journal is hosting a great series, which started November 23rd on "Demographic Destiny 2050."  The series will talk about how we work, how we will age, and live in the coming years.  This is not a US centric issue - it is much bigger and complex as it impacts many economically producing countries.  There are too few people.  (

Next year, for the first time since 1950, the world's combined working population will shrink 5%.  Slower population growth impacts economies and competitive advantage.   We are not alone in encouraging our older workers (including me:) to work longer.  There is plenty of opportunity for potential workers in Europe and US to retire later.  We see that happening more and more.

Today on NPR radio I learned of a new series this week that will address aging and the science of helping us live longer.  Sounds interesting but let's focus on what we can influence now.  Our health, our people and commitment to developing others.  Let's engage the hearts and minds of our workers.  Create a work culture that you are proud of and model the fact that we can work hard and separate from work to enjoy life, our families and breathe.  Whether you are a small entrepreneurial business, start-up or middle market company there are people needs that if not met will impact your success and hold you back from a balanced life.  Read this series, think about talent in new ways and share what the 2050 demographic "time bomb" as stated in the article mentioned, means for your business and your life.


August 3, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo July Newsletter- HR Innovation – Impacting Business through Candidate Experience

We recently talked with long-time friend and respected talent leader, Jared Flynn, Senior Director, Head of Talent Acquisition for T-Mobile. Having joined T-Mobile in 2009 when they were not the most popular mobile phone carrier, Jared has taken part in their amazing transformation, a business transformation that has resulted in nine consecutive quarters delivering more than 1 million total net customer additions.

We sat down with him to discover how and why T-Mobile reinvented their candidate experience.

Sherry Benjamins (SB): So great to talk to you! Tell us a little about your role at T-Mobile.

Jared Flynn (JF): I lead Talent Acquisition for all T-Mobile brands and locations in the U.S. This equates to filling over 22,000 positions a year currently.

SB: And what were some of the challenges you faced at T-Mobile?jared Flynn

JF: Three years ago we had new leadership join T-Mobile and they challenged us to re-think HR and Talent. We came to realize this meant owning some of the pain points in our recruiting process.

T-Mobile focuses on getting rid of pain points for our customers and we wanted to do the same for our candidate “customers”.

SB: What were the biggest pain points you discovered?

JF: By far the biggest pain point for a candidate is lack of response. They go through the effort of applying for a position and their application goes into the black hole. We would never treat our customers like that, so why are we treating our candidates that way? We decided to focus on radical transparency.

SB: What steps did you take to become radically transparent?

JF: Every candidate should have a complete understanding of our process and know where they stand. For instance, we list the length of time a job has been open and the number of people that have applied.

Secondly, we feed our Glassdoor reviews onto our own website. Not all the reviews are positive, but if candidates are already looking at them, we might as well make them readily accessible.

Lastly, we created an infographic and video so our candidates would understand the process.

SB: From the T-Mobile perspective, does all this help ensure the right candidate applies to the job?

JF: That’s a great question. One area we really learned a valuable lesson on finding the right fit was customer service. We were experiencing 50% turnover in that department. The feedback from employees was the job wasn’t what they expected.

We decided to create a video that depicts what it’s really like to work in customer service at T-Mobile. It’s an amazing place to work, but some parts of a job are just less fun and exciting. The video helps empower candidates to find the right fit for them.

SB: What have you done for your internal candidates?

JF: We received a lot of feedback that our internal candidates also suffered from the black hole effect. One employee’s comments really stood out to me. T-Mobile had paid for him to go to school, but when he applied for a job with us in the trade he went to school for, he never heard back. Here were paying tuition reimbursements and yet not capitalizing on the investment or the employee’s new skills!

We’ve been taking steps to ensure we fully utilize the talent we already have on our T-Mobile team.

SB: How do you think HR is impacting business?

JF: We have 1 million people a year applying to work at T-Mobile. Frankly, that is way too many candidates. By changing our practices we are able to encourage only qualified candidates apply, thus reducing the resources necessary to manage an excessive number of applications. Additionally, we know a positive candidate experience could increase the likelihood of those candidates choosing to join T-Mobile as a customer.

SB: Do you partner with other T-Mobile teams to make these initiatives come to life?

JF: One of our core values is “Frontline first, because customers are first.” The frontline employees are in customer service and retail, the employees closest to the customer. We work closely with our frontline teams through focus groups and frontline “internships” to ensure we are always in touch with their needs and perspective. Additionally we work closely with our Marketing and Corporate Communications teams to ensure we’re aligned from a brand perspective. Our partners have been amazing at re-inventing our high volume job descriptions.

Our job descriptions are really energizing now.

SB: What are you most proud of when you look back on all you have accomplished at T-Mobile?

JF: I am most proud of seeing my team accomplish something that has never been done before. There were many heroes along the way that were really able to bring “next-practice” thinking.

It was also great to see the team receive the CandE award from the Talent Board in 2014. Internal recognition is always wonderful, but we value external recognition that we’re listening to our customers and actively solving their pain points.

SB: So, what is on the docket for 2016?

JF: We’re focused on ways to “Monetize the Million” (candidates). We want to delight them by doing a little something that says “thank you,” and leaves them feeling appreciated, and hopefully turns them into a T-Mobile customer.

SB: I have always admired you as a TA Leader and your ability to push beyond the norm. What skills do you think future TA leaders need to have?

JF: Most importantly, TA leaders need permission and an expectation to be bold. They should have the space to take risks and use them as learning experiences.

Our Thoughts...

Finally, a focus on talent and great companies transforming the conversation with their candidates is on the rise. It is an understatement to say the talent market has heated up. From Apple, to Zappos, JetBlue and T-Mobile as well as smaller entrepreneurial firms, there is an understanding that candidate experience impacts brand and that authentic messages matter.

Jared and his team are speaking to their customer – the candidate in a way that captures their heart. We at SBCo encourage you to do the same. It matters to your customer and your employees. Let us know how it works for you and share a success story that we can highlight in our next newsletter.

February 28, 2015 - No Comments!

A Job or Higher Calling?

The Wall Street Journal published an article this week, "I don't have a Job: I have a Higher Calling."  It was in the February 25th Business & Tech section (love their provocative stories) and it is about employers stepping up to talk about how their company is changing the world.  This is the quest for engaging and attracting talent. Frankly, it is about time we are asking the question "what matters to our employees and what matters to us?"

I understand the perspective this writer takes which is skeptical.  Maybe not everyone is looking for a social cause to align with and that making a decent income can be more important, however, there are other views to consider.  As a recruiter and talking with new grads, entry level employees all the way up to managers and executives, most want to commit to companies that believe good work and doing good pays off.   It can be as simple as that and yes, they need a pay check too.

Meaning and purpose is totally dependent upon what we care about.  It does not mean that everyone who works for that company derives meaning from their work.  I see that workers will commit to a culture that values doing the right thing and that is enough for some.  Others want to make sure they understand there is social capitalism at  play and not just bottom line reactive thinking.

I must commend companies like Juniper Networks and Harley-Davidson Motor who are making the connections between what they do and how it serves us.  Everyone comes with their own set of values and helping to build the bridge and differentiate as an employer should be applauded.  How many times do you read job postings for really cool companies and it sounds like something out of a research text.  Maybe we over-reach for awhile and find the story for each organization that can spark interest and passion while also offering just a great way to work and also pay the bills.

Thank you Wall Street Journal and all those companies out there for offering provocative ideas that in fact, will change the world!

January 17, 2015 - No Comments!

What is being done to close a Skills Gap?

The Wall Street Journal article today (Saturday, January 17th) starts by saying four in ten U.S. college students graduate without skills in "complex reasoning, communication and problem solving."   There is some progress for sure, but the author points out there are big gaps to address.  The conversation about this is not new and it is easy to overlook those that are tackling this head on.

I have just joined the Advisory Board of the California State University Fullerton (CSUF) Center for Leadership.  I am impressed with the creative approach that Dr. Jay Barbuto and his team of impressive "leadership scholars - the students" are taking to enrich Business student educational experiences and build these critical skills.  There are 22 of  us on this growing Advisory Board and we come from consulting as well as premier and respected Orange County corporations.  We discussed ways to support the students and offer development in corporate settings too.

Training and leadership development is a big investment for many of the Board member companies for they see the shift from hiring on the outside to developing on the inside.  Communication, influence and problem solving skills areas remain a priority.  Partnering with the Universities accelerates this development initiative and you see first hand the skills of undergraduate and senior business students.  I was impressed for sure with the CSUF students attending our meeting.  At lunch I was able to talk more in depth with a few students and here is what I experienced;

- commitment to their program

- enthusiasm for learning and eagerly seeking exposure to companies, interning and shadowing

- polish and great communication skills

- smiles and positive presence which was refreshing

So, according to this WSJ article, many business owners might not be seeing these attributes in recent college graduate interviews but maybe they have not met the students from the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at CSUF.

We are all eager to see an increase in the availability of top talent from the Universities and from the experienced labor pool.  Our clients are starting to consider selecting on potential vs. performance and we have a long way to go, however, this leadership center and their work with students in Orange County moves us much closer to that goal.  Thank you Jay!

January 9, 2015 - No Comments!

We Can’t Assess Talent Like Cavemen

This post was originally posted on LinkedIn on January 9, 2015


Thousands of years ago, cavemen most likely roamed this earth. They survived and evolved the human race by assessing their competition, future mates, and caveman friends by how they looked. Strength, agility, and resilience all signaled that you could survive the harsh terrains, thus making you ideal talent to carry on the human gene.

Fast forward a few hundred/thousands of years and we had telephones, electricity, and cars, but limited working demographics. With this, our assessment of great talent altered a bit. We began to focus on how where people went to school, how high their IQ was, and skills they were able to learn in school.

Then, the big boom happened... an explosion of technology (hello, computers!) put people on equal playing fields. It was less about where you went to school and was more about what kind of skills or competencies you had. Can you use Microsoft Word, do you know how to read excel reports?

Now we are about to head into the next era of talent evolution... Potential. With globalization, economic turmoil, market fluctuations, and scarce talent, organizations are going to be forced to assess talent on potential. The future of talent will not be based on past performance because past performance will no longer be a gauge of future success. Think of some of the greatest talent to build technology like Instagram, SnapChat, or even Facebook. These things did not exist when those engineers went to school or even when they took their first entry level job. Most likely, these engineers were hired because Instagram, SnapChat, or Facebook felt like these engineers had the potential to build a never-before-seen technology.

How you measure potential will depend on the industry, but one thing will remain the same... We can no longer look at how tall someone is, where they graduated, or how well they did in past roles to determine who will be successful tomorrow.

Inspiration taken from