February 2, 2016 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Managing for Disruption

On January 27, 2016, Sue hosted Ragini Parmar, VP of Talent Operations, at Credit Karma. Credit Karma has set out to disrupt consumer finance and as a disruptive business experiencing hyper growth, they consider their culture fundamental to their success. Credit Karma’s culture is not built around free lunches, but common principles that act as their compass, and is a foundation of how they want people to work together.

Scaling their culture is as important to Credit Karma as scaling their business, and to that end, Ragini talked about their collaborative hiring process. This innovative process helps them avoid bad hiring choices that could change the internal culture instantaneously. Ragini shared why their culture is key to their success, how they structure the interview and debrief process, and how they involve employees.

Favorite Quote:
“You have to trust that you have smart people at the table who are invested and want to make a difference. If you don’t trust that, then there’s probably something broken there.”


  • Credit Karma’s disruption as a company is focused on recreating the finance industry around people. The company wants to put the credit industry into the hands of the people by giving them free and comprehensive access to their financial data and empowering them to manage personal finances and make financial decisions. Internally, they mirror this disruptive philosophy by placing all decisions around corporate culture in the hands of employees.
  • When asked how a culture built by employee-driven decisions is a disruptor in their industry, Ragini spoke about the importance of trusting the employees. Because Credit Karma is growing so fast, if hiring or retention decisions were left to top management , they might be disconnected from employees because there are so many new voices at the table. Ragini commented on the richness of qualitative data that employees can offer, which can be overlooked if decisions are made solely based on quantitative data. Because culture is an abstract concept, it can be hard to define culture fit, and finding that trust in employees can be hard. But, Ragini said at some point they had to trust their hiring practice, that they were bringing on the right people who have an innate responsibility to want to take care of the culture.
  • One way Credit Karma involves employees in the culture decisions is through a collaborative hiring process. The company currently has more than 100 people on their interview team; any of those people can get pulled to interview at different stages of the process, depending on their experience and the position. Each interviewer has a different responsibility and at the end of the interview process, a discussion brings together all the perspectives. They decided in the beginning that they would always be collaborative in their hiring decisions. Even if a hiring manager says they want someone on the team but the team members who were part of the interview process say no, they will not override this. The benefit is employees select who they want to work with, leading to an investment in that person’s growth with the company and better retention.

What we found most interesting:
When Sue asked how they balance finding people that fit the culture with diversity, Ragini said, “You have to trust the values you have (as a company). Our cultural values are our guiding compass. They tell us how we’re supposed to do the work, how to collaborate and how to get the work done in an efficient way, and keep us all moving in same direction. If you really believe and embody those values, then you’re looking for people who naturally would be able to step into Credit Karma and embody those values as well. They could come from all different types of experiences and walks of life. It’s really about looking at that.”

For more insights on Ragini’s chat, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

November 25, 2015 / Articles We Like / HR / Talent Management

On “The Tech Talent Shortage Is a Lie”

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we hear a lot about the talent wars, particularly for top tech talent. Tech engineers are in such high demand, they can cherry pick the companies they want to work for and those companies will pay top dollar to hire them. But the author of this article – an engineer, founder and tech executive – believes we are missing the mark on this so-called talent war. Talented people are everywhere, he argues, but they need the right environment for nurturing. So what is this shortage really all about?

We share Baron Schwartz’s TechCrunch article, The Tech Talent Shortage Is a Lie, because he offers an alternative perspective on the war for talent: the shortage isn’t about talent but about companies willing to change the conversation by investing in talented people. Check it out.

What is your company doing to create a culture that nurtures talent?

October 30, 2015 / Articles We Like / HR / Talent Management

On “CIOs Get Creative to Fnd Top Tech Talent”

Much has been written about the war for talent in Silicon Valley, and we often hear some of the downstream effects this has as we work with our clients: product launch dates sometimes in jeopardy, employees overloaded with work, and leaders spending more and more of their time recruiting. With the demand for tech talent at an all time high, recruiting techniques that worked in the past are likely not good enough today. CIOs not only need to find creative ways to source the right candidates, but ensure a good culture fit, and this takes time and extra due diligence. That’s why we share this article.

The CIO.com article, CIOs Get Creative to Find Top Tech Talent, highlights some creative ways CIOs today are disrupting traditional talent sourcing and hiring methods to search for, vet and interview talent for the right culture fit.

What are some creative ways your CIO searches for and hires the right tech talent?

October 8, 2015 / Articles We Like / HR / Talent Management

On “A hiring manager shares HR’s common hiring secrets”

Because recruiting and vetting top talent is a high priority in Silicon Valley, this article struck us as interesting to share. Some HR professionals vet candidates in ways that fall outside a company’s standard recruiting and hiring procedures.

In the Fast Company article, A Hiring Manager Shares HR’s Common Hiring Secrets, by Christine Diodonato and Marianne Hayes, learn some common (but not always compliant) ways HR can go about vetting potential employees, to ensure a cultural fit with the company and the demands of the open position.

What are some unique ways your HR team tries to ensure a potential candidate is a good fit?

September 10, 2015 / Articles We Like / HR / Talent Management

On “How to use culture interviews to build a better team”

Hiring can be a risky process for all companies. Good hires contribute positively to company goals and company culture, but bad hires are costly and disruptive to team dynamics. For startups, finding potential employees with the right mix of experience, skills and culture fit is becoming the norm. Company culture is a key determinant of startup success or failure, so many are placing an emphasis on culture in the interview process. This is one approach we think many companies will benefit from knowing about, as the process does more than uncover the person behind the resume  – it can contribute to trust and employee engagement as well.

In the CIO.com article, “How to use culture interviews to build a better team”, by Sharon Florentine, learn how some companies go beyond behavioral interviewing to emphasize company culture in their interview process. The article outlines tips as well as pitfalls.

What techniques do you use to assess cultural fit of potential employees?

May 15, 2015 / Articles We Like / HR / Talent Management

On “5 Dos and Don’ts of Talent Development”

Effective talent management processes balance internal talent development with the introduction of new talent into an organization. The blend of existing high-potential talent and the qualities and experiences fresh high-potential talent can infuse into your culture is what enables innovation.

Leadership guru, Louis Carter’s recent article on Human Resources Online, 5 Dos and Don’ts of Talent Development, highlights five ways to effectively recruit and develop high-potential talent. From developing a common language to discuss potential through allowing process ownership, these five suggestions combined with five tendencies to avoid, remind us all of the importance in balancing tradition with innovation.

What are some ways your organization strikes the balance between tradition and innovation in your high-potential talent management processes?

April 28, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on The Future of Work and Talent Management

Our April WiseTalk guest was Jacob Morgan, author, speaker and futurist. From Jacob, we learned about the five Macro trends driving the Future of Work, which are giving rise to other trends such as the freelance economy and the collaboration economy. The trends shaping the Future of Work will shift power from organizations to the employee, and in many ways this shift is already underway. Our key takeaway from this conversation is companies need to be thinking now about how they can create a workplace that people want to work in, to attract and retain talent and stay relevant in the future.

Favorite Quote:
“In the future, companies that want to hire employees will need to create an environment where people want to work instead of need to work.”


  • According to Jacob, most organizations want to know why things are changing in the workplace, but are not always aware of the five macro trends shaping the Future of Work:
    • New behaviors are entering organizations, which are being shaped by social technologies. They are changing the way we collaborate, communicate, and share.
    • New technologies, such as collaboration platforms, big data, wearable devices, and the Internet of things, are entering companies.
    • The Millennial workforce: by 2020, an estimated 50% of the U.S. workforce will be Millennials. This will drive a huge shift as this demographic doesn’t know what it’s like to sit in a cubical, to commute an hour to and from work, and to use legacy technology.
    • Mobility: anytime, anywhere and on any device. Jacob explains the new theme for the Future of Work is “connect to work” because access to the Internet is all anyone will need to be able to do work.
    • Globalization: we are operating in a world where boundaries do not exist, making it easier to transact work and collaborate with anyone in the world.
  • In Silicon Valley, many companies are already challenged with attracting and retaining top talent. But according to Jacob, retention will become less relevant in the future. He believes people will work for a portfolio of companies rather than one company, and citied examples of the freelancer economy, such as Uber. When Sue mentioned that model may not be as ubiquitous for engineers, as companies may not want to share that top talent, Jacob mentioned a number of organizations are already using a high percentage of freelance engineers. However, his experience indicates that most organizations are not willing to be public about their contingent workforce.
  • Before companies think about the Future of Work, they need to think about where they are going. The key is to understand how the workplace is changing, before thinking about a strategy and tactics for change. Look at the world around you to see what is changing, then ask what experience you want to create so that you can make sure your company stays relevant.

What we found most interesting:
Jacob explained the biggest driver of the Future of Work is a changing assumption about why companies exist. Because people have expenses and bills, they have traditionally needed to work at a company. This assumption held as true until recently. Now, people have options, such as starting their own company or freelancing, which means the war for talent has never been greater. Because of this, organizations have to create a place where people want to work, not need to work. That “want” is causing these changes. Companies need to consider how they get people to want to work for them. Rethinking management practices, flexibility policies, technologies, and what your company stands for all help to create a place that people want to be.

To learn more about Jacob’s experience, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

April 8, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Hiring Top Talent

On March 30, 2015, Sue hosted Lou Adler, CEO/Founder of The Adler Group, a training and search firm which helps companies make hiring top talent a systematic business process, and author of the books, The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired: A Performance-based Hiring Handbook and the Amazon best-seller, Hire With Your Head. Lou explained why the wrong talent strategies hinder the ability to hire the right talent, and shared an overview of how performance-based hiring can bridge that gap.

Favorite Quote:
“If you want to hire a great person, you need a great job. It’s not a bunch of skills. Skills and competencies describe a person, not a job.”


  • When it comes to hiring the A-team, Lou has seen many companies use the wrong strategy. It starts with an assumption of a surplus of talent. Then, a boring job is posted, candidates are interviewed and companies hope they can hire someone from that pool quickly. According to Lou, this is fundamentally a bad strategy. A top person is not looking for a lateral move and not looking for speed. Companies are too focused on the cost of hiring rather than on the impact of hiring good people. Instead, they need a strategy that goes after the A-level person.
  • Because top people are looking for career moves, a generic job description, with a generic listing of skills and competencies, does little to attract the talent companies are looking for. Instead, Lou says to focus on the work, make the work impactful and customized to the person. Tell them what they’re going to do. For example, “build a team of accountants to go IPO in 6 months” has more impact than “5 years of experience with CPA from Big4 accounting firm.” Stop trying to force fit people into generic job descriptions.
  • Performance-based hiring is impactful because it starts with a mindset of talent scarcity, and is a systematic business process. Job descriptions reflect the work to be done. A talent-centric sourcing process establishes an ideal candidate profile of the person taking the job at the onset to identify passive candidates and build a talent pool. Interviewing questions are tied to related performance objectives. According to Lou, this method leads to no more than four candidates for interviewing. It’s a quality over quantity approach.

Try It:
Try reframing your typical job descriptions into performance-based jobs. Ask your company’s hiring manager these questions:

  • What does the person need to do to be successful doing this job? What would they need to do within 30 days to indicate they’re on point to get there? Once you understand the objectives, then process the steps to get the final objective.
  • Alternatively, look at job description language, i.e. 5 years of X or X personality, such as “must be aggressive,” and ask, “What does this look like on the job?” Here, you are converting important skills and experiences to how they make an impact on the job.

What we found most interesting:
Many companies still use behavioral interviewing to hire. However, Lou said there is lack of research to prove it predicts performance, that technique only minimizes mistakes. He believes generic competencies are not universal, due to many situational issues that determine if someone will be successful or not in a position. He went on to say, “Few people are motivated to do every type of work, under every situation, in every circumstance, for every person.”

To learn more about Lou’s experience, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

March 27, 2015 / Articles We Like / HR / Talent Management

On “How to Hire the A-team”

The war for talent in Silicon Valley is real. Many of the companies we work with have been focused on recruiting only the best, but may be experiencing mixed results. Much has been said about the need to disrupt outdated recruiting and hiring practices so it’s not surprising that companies are challenged, especially as the war heats up. This month, we share this article because it offers insights on why companies may not be able to find top talent, and ideas for re-engineering your hiring processes so that you can.

According to Lou Adler, author of the Inc. article, “How to Hire the A-team,” companies are challenged because they are using the same methods to hire the A-team that they use to hire everyone else. In working with companies, he encounters five common challenges that they face, such as a need to rewrite job descriptions, prepare career-oriented messaging, and an ability to recruit passive candidates. Get tips to address these (and more) by reading the article.

How has your company been able to find top talent?

March 3, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Disrupting Talent Management

On February 26, 2015, Sue Bethanis hosted Steve Cadigan, a Silicon Valley talent, people and culture expert, founder of Cadigan Talent Ventures LLC, a Silicon Valley-based talent strategies advisory firm, and former Vice President of Talent at LinkedIn. Steve helped us understand why traditional talent sourcing and hiring methods are in need of disruption, shared his vision on how disruption can benefit both prospective employees and employers, and shared innovative ideas for changing the way employers source talent.

Favorite Quote:
“If you want to win the war for recruiting, you have to change the game.”


  • The process of recruiting and building an organization is still in its infancy of what it can be and could be. The traditional model is “I have a need”, put a job description together, hire a recruiter, and the recruiter hunts for talent. Steve thinks the reason this model perpetuates is due to priority and ownership. He believes talent drives value creation but rarely sees the right investment of priority, attention and time from executive teams. It’s the last thing on their agenda, the people systems are an afterthought bolted onto an ERP solution, and boards of directors rarely have people serving on them who have a strong understanding of the powerhouse muscle of talent. He believes ownership of talent belongs with the whole company, not just human resources, especially in Silicon Valley, where the biggest thing a company needs to be great at is building a great team. It should be a core responsibility and the biggest muscle being working on.
  • Steve believes the employee-employer relationship is changing, and power is shifting to employee, particularly in Silicon Valley. Potential employees have more information available to them, more choice, and can decide where they want to go to. He argues that an employer brand in a company that’s growing is almost as important if not more important than your product brand. Consumers want to buy from someone who treats their employees well and is providing a good work environment. Brand can’t be spun anymore. It’s the collective voice of Glassdoor, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, bloggers, all of which is the manifestation of the voice of your employees.
  • In an increasingly transparent world, instead of investing in a huge recruiting team, Steve argues the better investment is to try to make your organization the desired destination for the best people in the world. This is different from needing a few hours to source and interview every week. This is about what kind of environment, culture, organizational structure, communication plan, relationships, how the workspace is designed, etc., which contribute to a differentiator in answering the question, why does someone want to come work here? Steve believes if companies do that well, and they know what kind of person they’re looking for, they’ll create a magnetic pull for talent. Hunting for talent in the traditional sense won’t allow a company to scale fast enough.

What we found most interesting:

Inherently, Steve thinks recruiting is broken because, as has been proven time and again, the traditional hiring process is not the best indicator of job performance. The best hires he’s made were those hired through internships, where the candidate is interviewing the company and the company is interviewing the candidate.

To learn more about Steve’s experience, and hear some of the innovative ideas for recruiting, hiring and building company culture, listen to the recording here.


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