Archive for June, 2008

Would you pay your employees to quit?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Thanks to NZ Recruitment 2.0 community member Warrren Young for alerting me to a real-life case of counter-intuitive thinking. 

zappos.gif    Zappos, a leading US-based online footwear retailer with about 1600 employees, presents new customer service employees with an offer that 90 percent refuse.  At the end of four weeks of classroom and on-the-job training, Zappos pops the question or, as they call it, “The Offer”.  It goes like this: “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus … no questions asked, no ill feeling.”

This reminds me of New Zealand’s Selwyn Toogood presenting It’s in the Bag.  “By hokey… what will it be, employees - the money or the job?” 

This proposition really tests the commitment of the new trainees from the outset.  Zappos wants its team to be naturally obsessed with customer service.  The primary source of the company’s rapid growth has been repeat customers and word of mouth.  If the person, culture and values fit isn’t quite there they would rather that employee made a graceful exit.

Would it make business sense for your organisation to copy the Zappos initiative?  Could this help with employee retention and minimise the risk of hiring someone who made it through your organisation’s robust recruitment and selection process, but didn’t seem to deliver on the job?  Maybe you would like to present some of your managers with “The Offer”.

What would YOU do if your employer presented you with “The Offer” right now?  Maybe you will want more than $1,000.  If so, what’s your tipping point?

Paul Jacobs

A visit to the nz job expo

Monday, June 16th, 2008


I’ve just come back from a visit this afternoon to the NZ Job Expo at the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington (14 and 15 June 2008).  I have checked out quite a lot of job-related expos in New Zealand (eg Coca Cola Careers Expo and Victoria University of Wellington Law & Accounting Careers Expo) and overseas (eg Opportunities New Zealand Expo in London), as well as a trickling of career expos in Second Life.  I was interested to get a feel for this expo’s first tour outside Auckland.  There has certainly been a big promotional campaign (eg TV, newspaper, radio, bus, Facebook), as well as a number of exhibitors advertising their presence in different media beforehand.

I would like to thank the expo organiser Helen Vincent for a warm welcome.  Helen informed me of that there were 1,850 visitors that paid the $15 entrance fee the previous day.  There was a sense from the exhibitors I spoke to that there was a bigger turn out today (especially in the morning). 


On entering the main expo hall I was impressed with the buzz - many of the 50-something stands were humming and exhibitors were engaging in conversation with the visitors.  I noticed that some areas of the hall received far less foot traffic (especially at the furthest end of the hall) - I’m not sure if this was due to the layout or whether it was just a random human behaviour thing.   I was also impressed with the look of the stands overall and the quality of the take-away information, even from those that have never exhibited at an expo before.  Many exhibitors clearly thought about their branding and ways to differentiate from other exhibitors. 


Though most stands were staffed with enthusiastic looking people, there were some exhibitors who looked like they were recovering from the night before.  Talking at length on your mobile or reading a newspaper whilst visitors are in your vicinity is never a good look, especially if you are the only person on your stand.  Really, this is a sacking offence.  A smile and a hello goes a long way.  I also wonder why some exhibitors like sitting behind a desk - it’s a barrier people! 

The exhibitors that I spoke with were, on the whole, happy with the flow and quality of visitors who came through the door.  Many exhibitors were just pleased to get out there and promote their job opportunities and their employer brand face-to-face.  Some exhibitors were stoked to find one or two visitors with a skill set they are crying out for.  Many exhibitors enjoyed the opportunity to network with other employers, recruitment agencies, and recruitment-related suppliers.

Many exhibitors commented that there seemed to be a real hunger from people for information on career options.  The five exhibitor seminars appeared very popular.  I spoke very briefly with one visitor and she was amazed that there are not more events like this one for adult jobseekers.  Many visitors brought along numerous copies of their CV.  Overseas, using a data stick or flash drive is the happening thing.


Half a dozen recruitment agencies exhibited, although  I expected more of the bigger players to have been there.  It was interesting to see a cluster like Local Government Careers exhibiting.  As NZ has some key skill shortages, it would be nice to see more coming together of like-employers and industry or professional bodies.  This collaboration is happening when NZ employers (eg Auckland and Midland DHBs) exhibit overseas, but it would be nice to see it in NZ too.

There were a handful of Australian exhibitors.  Prior to visiting the event I felt uneasy with the concept of a NZ jobs expo including Australian exhibitors - especially those trying to target skill sets that NZ is also desperate for.  Thinking about this some more has shifted my mindset a little.  The world is getting smaller and we can’t stop Kiwis from looking beyond our shores - whether via an expo, job board, newspaper, recruitment agency, etc.  In some ways I actually see this as a challenge and opportunity for those NZ exhibitors to ensure they are a destination of choice.  I didn’t feel that the Australian exhibitors provided a more compelling value proposition.  Actually, I felt that some of them looked a little standoff-ish.

This evening I enjoyed reading through the official expo guide.  There are some great examples of recruitment advertisements on the 22 pages.  I wonder why many of these employers do not apply the same standard to their newspaper advertising! 

The next NZ Job Expo is in Auckland on 19 and 20 July.

Paul Jacobs

42 Below - fresh copy

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I came across some recruitment ads from the yummy spirits brand 42 Below in the Career section of today’s Weekend Herald. The copy was out of the ordinary and got my attention - take a glance at a snippet from one of the three ads below.


This made many of the other ads, both employer and recruitment agency branded, read like legal documents. There’s a fine balance between providing enough information to give the jobseeker the basics and offering too much info in an ad. Putting a position description in the newspaper is never a great look and not a good use of newspaper real estate. The detail should be on a careers site. I recommend that many more print ads be written with the jobseeker in mind.

Paul Jacobs