Verklempt - Choked Up At Work

Some days you come to work at Perfect Loop and you get choked up - AKA Verklempt  - My colleague Ian received this note from a candidate he helped get a job: 

"After unsuccessfully looking for work for over a month, I received an email from Perfect Loop suggesting a job possibility. This led to the best job I’ve ever had and at age 64, that is saying something. They helped me through the process of refining my resume and preparing for interviews. I would not be working at such a fulfilling company if it wasn’t for their initial contact.” 
 

Levity aside, I had a visceral emotional response reading this e-mail. Why? 

We helped someone, someone not usually at the center of attention for most startups. I felt proud and fulfilled to be a part of this company. 

In my two different careers spanning 10 years, being a part of helping this person is one the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve ever had. Sure, I’ve enjoyed many projects. I’ve seen Duran Duran play live at an office party. I’ve made colleagues laugh and I’ve made customers smile. (No doubt I messed up here and there as well) But, helping a 64-year-old find a new footing in life is something special.

I see a lot of talent agencies bill themselves along the lines of “connecting top talent,” and there is nothing wrong with that. Perfect Loop absolutely fills high-level professional roles with hard-charging top talent. 

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But we have an ethos here: A Job for Everyone. 

It’s a thrilling honor to show up at the office and be a part of a company that, for example, helps people with GEDs get their first job with benefits and paid time off. People of all types deserve meaningful work that sustains their lives. It gives them agency and purpose. 

That's what we do here at Perfect Loop.  

Nathan Chaffetz
Director of Business Development

Don't Be Brief, Debrief

I recently worked with an organization that had a robust interviewing process that involved multiple team members. Yet, despite receiving the team’s feedback, the VP would routinely overrule and hire whomever he wanted. Needless to say new-hire turnover at this organization was extremely high.

While you may not necessarily encounter such an extreme example, making hiring decisions can be treacherous if the hiring process lacks structure. One of the ways to combat hap-hazardous hiring is to utilize a debrief.

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In some organizations a debrief can range from an informal touch-base between interviewers to highly-structured hiring committees in others. However your organization decides to conduct its process, effective debriefs will answer three questions about the candidate:

  1. Did we miss what's important?

  2. Are we all bought-in?

  3. Are we hiring/not hiring?

Question 1: Did we miss what’s important?

One of the primary purposes of the debrief is to review everything the team has learned about a candidate. Effective debriefs focus on data points and will reduce biases/snap judgments.

All data points (ideally via written feedback) should be reviewed and explored vigorously during a debrief. The person conducting the debrief should focus on interviewing the interviewers, a process that challenges interviewers to provide concrete examples to validate their conclusions about a candidate to discern potential biases. Questions a debrief should address:

Why does the interviewer feel a certain way about a candidate? How does the candidate demonstrate the behavior being described? Are there specific examples?

Effective data points will be able to address these questions and data should always be valued above opinions. If there’s not enough data? Err on the side of caution.

Question 2: Are we all bought-in?

Once all the feedback has been reviewed, the next step is helping the team reach a consensus about a candidate. While gaining consensus can be an arduous exercise, it is an important factor in any new hire’s success. How is anyone supposed to succeed if there’s already resentment over whether they should have even joined the organization?  

If you’re consistently encountering split opinions in your debriefs consider the following:

  • You may need to better define what’s being evaluated in each interview. An interview guide could be a useful tool to leverage.

  • You may need to examine what kinds of interview questions are being asked and if those questions are effective.

  • You may need to assess the effectiveness of your interviewers. Are they probing deeply enough?

  • You may need to add some independence in your debrief that has veto power. At Amazon this was the Bar-Raiser who wasn’t on the hiring team.

Question 3: Are we hiring/not hiring?

If you skip directly to hire/no hire decision, you’re probably that VP who is making everyone’s life miserable with your poor hiring decisions. You’ve also probably also stopped reading so it’s a moot point.

Everyone else, if there’s confidence in what the team has observed and everyone’s bought-in, then your answer should be relatively straightforward. Happy hiring.

Joe Shao
Chief Talent Officer

Too Loud to Listen: A Diversity and Inclusion Story

I have a big personality. It often serves me well. I’ve made friends, leveraged connections, raised money, and achieved quite a bit in part because I stand up, speak clearly, confidently, and magnetically. - I’ve also been straight up wrong before too, and yet I keep yammering away. 

But, where does my “right” to speak come from? I believe that I’ve earned some of it, but not all. I’ll skip over the struggles and triumphs of my life, they are not important here. What matters is recognizing that what I look like, my gender, my access to high-quality education, and my family situation are all unearned advantages in the unequal world we live in. 

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As I reflect on my life, I’m sure of one thing: The size of my personality and the magnitude of my voice drowned out someone else. I’m not thinking of any specific example, I’m just certain that this has happened. This is a problem, and it’s a concrete example in which I can check my white male privilege. And I can do so with the express goal of fostering a more diverse and inclusive environment around me. Essentially, I need to shut up sometimes and listen more. 

In fact, leaders of all kinds should heed this warning. Even, if it’s not firmly along the lines of express inequality based privilege, some people are just not as gregarious as others. The softer spoken or those too uncomfortable to speak might just have the insight you and your team needs to solve a challenging problem. 

From the smallest team to society as a whole, the challenge for leaders is to foster a safe environment where people feel comfortable expressing their point of view. Sometimes, (well at least for me) that means zipping it, even when you feel sure you have something of worth to say. Why? You might miss a myriad of perspectives because of the figurative volume of our own voice. Or worse, you might be discouraging people from sharing their unique perspective. That is a loss to you, your team, your org, and society as a whole. 

Perfect Loop is investing deeply in Diversity AND Inclusion. In fact, one of our co-founders and Chief Talent Officer Joe Shao is hosting a panel as part of Seattle Startup Week called  “How Leaders Build Diverse Teams.” It’s a related topic and should be a riveting discussion held at 6:00 PM on Oct 4th, 2017 at Galvanize Seattle. 

Come Join Us. I’ll be shutting up and listening in the background.

Nathan Chaffetz
Director of Business Development

Why Diversity is Important To Me

Last month, I took my 5 year old daughter Alena to her first Seattle Storm’s basketball game. In the past, she has occasionally watched sports with me. But it was something deeply special to me as a father to see her eyes light up as she watched her first WNBA game. 

Alena's First Seattle Storm Game. 

Alena's First Seattle Storm Game. 

Before we went, however, one of the first questions Alena asked prior to the game was whether we were watching “boys or girls” play. She was even a bit skeptical when I told her that we would be watching “girls” play. 

I was dismayed by her skepticism, but could I really blame her? Up to this point, every professional sporting event we watched were “boys.” 5-year-old’s are astute. She'd never seen “girls” play, rationalizing it as something's “girls” can't or didn't want to do. 

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Unfortunately, these oversimplifications are all too prevalent as the status quo, especially in tech. The infamous Google “manifesto” is a prime example of how this backward mindset perpetuates gender stereotypes.

What this basketball game taught me was how we overcome this mindset. The experience expanded her notions of what it meant to be an athlete and she instantly became a fan: She cheered “Go Storm!” the entire game! She pleaded for “DEFENSE!” She was genuinely upset when the team was down and she was over-the-moon ecstatic when The Storm came back and won.

I couldn’t have been prouder or happier to see so much passion coming out of my 5-year-old. It served as a reminder of my responsibility to expand her exposure to women kicking butt, nurture her passions, and make sure she always knows that the possibilities of what she can accomplish are endless.  

Joseph Shao
Chief Talent Officer
 

Candidates Are People Too

This is sadly all too common a tale in hiring: 

I once recommended a friend of mine to a well-established start up with a global presence. That person was well-suited for the position. The company initially thought so too. They had my friend come in for several interviews. They even encouraged me to pitch my friend on working for the company.

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My friend told me the interviews went well except for one awkward personal question. This company had the nerve to ask if having children would keep them from fulfilling their job duties: 1. Not legal. 2. Talk about cognitive bias! - Parents are often organized, prioritizing geniuses because actual lives depend on them. 

Well, all of a sudden this company went silent. A couple weeks went by and my friend and I deduced from LinkedIn that the job went to someone else. The company never even let my friend know they went in a different direction. I find such behavior both common and disgusting in hiring. Not only did this company expose themselves to a potential lawsuit, but you better believe I’ll never send anyone their way again. What’s tragic is that this entire situation is completely avoidable. 

Rejecting someone is hard. But, being able to turn someone down with dignity should be a requirement for anyone working in hiring. All this company had to do is understand the laws/morals surrounding interviewing a parent and communicate directly with the candidate. It’s not rocket science - it takes some degree of humanity and a little courage. You have to wonder how many people this company has rubbed the wrong way. If it’s a systemic problem, it’s costing them dearly in both money and talent. Don’t be that company. 

Candidates are people and EVERY hiring process needs to be built with that mindset from the ground up. A key reason I decided to work at Perfect Loop is expressly because treating job seekers with dignity is a core value we strive for. Companies that vet job seekers with respect, instead of acting like a 23 year old on Bumble, are better off in the long run. Ask our clients. 

Nate Chaffetz
Director of Business Development

 

Diversity, Fully Baked

Hiring a diverse team is critical for your business. It's more than just about appearance and doing the right thing (and it is the right thing to do): It is vital to your team's' performance

But what is a diverse team? What does that mean? Well it turns out that a reality TV show in the UK may understand diversity better than many companies out there: BBC’s The Great British Bake Off (Called the Great British Baking Show on American Netflix) has a truly diverse cast. 

Season 6 Cast, Great British Bake Off, courtesy of The Independent

Season 6 Cast, Great British Bake Off, courtesy of The Independent

The format of the show is basically The Bachelor for baked goods. The head judges, renowned bakers, are looking for the best amateur baker in Britain. Each week a contestant is eliminated based on their performance. However, unlike the often monochromatic cast of ABC's The Bachelor; The Bake Off cast showcases the UK's multicultural society quite well. But it also highlights something deeper: A great baker can be anyone. 

When you think of someone who loves to bake, whom do you see?  A specific gender? A specific age? Skin color? Lets push that further, what does this person do as their day job? - Well, whatever the image you conjure up, the Bake Off shows that many people who do not look like your hypothetical vision can bake at the highest level. 

Furthermore, and this is the key reason team diversity is crucial: The diverse cast containing construction workers, university students, healthcare professionals, moms, dads, teenagers, grandparents, and healthcare professionals of Scottish, English, Indian, Bangladeshi, Filipino, and Lithuanian backgrounds among others, routinely brings new techniques and ideas to the craft of baking. 

The two judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, are famous in the United Kingdom for their deep knowledge and love of baking; you'd think they'd seen everything that's possible - They have not. In every series there are several instances where a new concept, a new flavor combination, or a new technique born from this diverse talent pool creates a fundamentally new experience for Berry and Hollywood. One that makes them revel in delight and wonder.  

Celebrity bakers and Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, courtesy of Radio Times

Celebrity bakers and Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, courtesy of Radio Times

Now of course this is a reality TV show, so its narrative is tightly controlled by the show’s producers. But here is your goal in building a diverse team: To cull broad experiences and perspectives into your project. If you succeed in doing that, your team will follow through in ways you can't even envision. Now, finding that team is a challenge, but that's why PERFECT LOOP exists. We're building a platform to help find and quickly evaluate candidates with the backgrounds and experiences you need, even when they come in a form you have not considered yet. 

By Nathan Chaffetz

Achieve Hiring Excellence - 5 Things Every Hiring Manager Needs to Do

Achieve Hiring Excellence - 5 Things Every Hiring Manager Needs to Do

I recently came across a B2B organization where one of their most successful Marketing Managers (we’ll call her Elise) almost didn’t make it through the interview loop. This happens more often than you think and many times means missing out on a rockstar. Read more to learn why this happens and how you can prevent it. 

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