Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Recruiting Embraces Computer Dating Concepts

By Paul Binder
Associate Director, Graduate Career Services
I was fascinated by the BBC News China report:  “Can technology identify China’s top graduates?”

It covers what I consider another technological step eclipsing the traditional recruiting process. Key recruiting drivers have been to predict career success and Return on Investment (ROI) at a hiring firm.

Traditionally, as corporations were burdened by an increasing number of applications, resumes, and cover letters, steps were taken to make that process more efficient, even though optimal results could suffer.

An example was to limit the number of schools considered, regardless of potential better talent at other schools, for reasons like company executives attended those schools.

Then the applications, resumes, and cover letters were ranked and rationalized by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) essentially based on key words.

Common screens align position descriptions with skills and accomplishments, even though significant qualifications may be overlooked.

Now the actual interview is being potentially diminished in importance. “Big data” technology has been ratcheted up to analyze questions submitted online to determine behavioral and cultural fits with a firm. Advocates of this next stage in recruiting cite benefits including better candidates who would not have historically surfaced.

This probably means that candidates need to be more thoughtful and thorough in communicating their skills, interests, and values. It probably also means that in-person networking has never been more important.

Should candidates be exclusively screened by a computer? Should recruiting be a definite two-way process? Should I consider myself fortunate that I am retired?      

Paul Binder is the Associate Director of Graduate Career Services at the Kelley School of Business. Paul and his team meet and coach hundreds of students, alumni, and corporate partners on tried and true recruiting methods, interviewing tactics, and career management strategies, while staying in tune to how these areas are changing and evolving. Email Paul at

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What makes a good ad?

Ryan Dullea, MBA'05, Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble

Ryan Dullea, MBA’05, has spent a decade managing brands at Procter & Gamble, including Cascade, Febreeze, Prilosec-OTC, and Pepto Bismol. He returned to campus last week to help a small group of Kelley undergraduates understand how to think strategically about advertising.

His bottom line: A good ad is one that both is creatively rewarding and builds the business. 

“If an ad isn’t creatively rewarding, it’s not going to stand out, it’s not going to be memorable, and it’s not going to achieve business objectives,” he told a class of M255 students. 

Advertising is the intersection of art and science. A good ad has soul—it reflects the essence of the brand and the benefit that’s being promised. Think of it like the human body: A good ad has a hand that reaches out and connects with consumers, a face that’s easily recognizable, a fingerprint that separates the brand from competition, and feet to carry it across mediums.

Soul: Is the ad on brand?

In advertising, Dullea says, everything begins with a robust understanding of your consumer. When you know what your brand stands for in the hearts and minds of your consumers, you're able to think about the benefit you can provide them with your product. A good ad communicates the benefit clearly.

Hand: Does it connect with consumers?

A good ad has a message that evokes a positive response to your brand in the heads and hearts of your prime prospect. In 2009, Dawn began airing spots that showed a baby duck, penguin and seal being washed in sudsy tubs. There is no voiceover, just the song “Wash Away” by Joe Purdy, and text stating that Dawn helped save thousands of animals caught in oil spills. The company also promised to donate $1 to wildlife groups each time a consumer bought a bottle of Dawn and visited a Web site. That campaign still stands today, taking the shape of a small documentary series (shown below), packaging, and more.

Face: Is your brand easily recognizable?

Apple, BMW, Nike: Their colors, shapes, and slogans are burned in our memories. Did you know that “Just Do It” has only ever been written, never spoken? That’s how Nike has been able to use the slogan for more than 30 years without retiring it. A good ad, over periods of time, makes your brand a part of your consumer’s vocabulary and habitual daily routine.

Fingerprint: Is the ad unique?

Let’s think about antacid commercials. What comes to mind? An office doing what is essentially the Macarena, inspired by five common stomach problems? Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea?

More than a decade later, many focus groups still recall when the Pepto Bismol dance was on the air, Dullea says. It's memorable and disruptive, in a market where other brands aren't having nearly as much fun.

Feet: Simple and transferable

Mobile is a part of the world we live in, and it will always be that way. People are spending more time on their phones and iPads than they’re watching TV. The point, Dullea says: A good ad grabs consumers with a simple message that’s consistent across all channels, not just the television. 

Pampers’ Discover the World campaign invited parents of newborns and babies in diapers to see the world through a child’s eyes. The idea communicated well on TV, but also in print and even an on-the-road playhouse with real-life obstacle courses designed to put adults at a child’s level. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Asking for help the right way

Kendell Brown
Associate Director of Professional Development in
Graduate Career Services
Working with alumni in career services, I talk with a lot of people at the start of their careers.

This is an exciting time for most; people are finally doing what they’ve been studying and training to do. However, despite all the time preparing, there will inevitably be moments when someone gets stuck. They’re analyzing unusual data and cannot calculate a key metric. Or they’ve come to a project crossroad and simply don’t know which path to pursue, or some other similarly befuddling scenario. What to do?

Any good employee is going to take some time to dig deep and figure things out on her own. And if she can get the issue resolved–great! But I guarantee that there are going to be those times when the good ol’ college try won’t work.

Consider this scenario: Bob needs to figure out what’s driving the East Coast volume decline and recommend a corrective plan of action by Friday. It’s Tuesday morning and Bob spent the entirety of Monday digging into the volume decline issue. Bob knows he can’t continue spinning his wheels, so he decides to get some help from his manager, Mary.

Asking for help at this juncture is both common and appropriate. So what’s the big deal?

Unfortunately, I’ve seen many situations when someone asked for help and came across as, at best, insecure, at worst, incompetent. So what’s a smart way for Bob to get the help he needs?

Here’s what Bob shouldn’t do:

Bob: Mary, do you have a few minutes?  I’m working on this volume decline issue and I’m stuck. So do you have any thoughts on what I should do?

Mary: Bob, this is a hectic week for me. I won’t have time to fully digest the issue until Thursday. How about you set up a meeting for Thursday afternoon?

Mary’s perception of Bob has just taken a nose dive. Bob’s brand is now:
- Lazy
- Overwhelmed
- Not up for the challenge

So what should Bob do instead?

Bob: Mary, do you have a few minutes?  I’m working on this volume decline issue and I’m stuck. I did some analysis and learned we haven’t devoted any resources to support volume growth on the East Coast. I’m basing this conclusion on a review of 1st and 2nd quarter promotions that we did on the West Coast that weren’t duplicated out East. I’m thinking of reviewing our budget to see if we could devote some funds to the East Coast.  But I wanted to get your thoughts prior to going too far along this path.

Now what’s Mary’s perception of Bob is:
- Resourceful
- A problem solver

So what accounts for the difference?  In the latter scenario, Bob did the following:

- Started with the facts he knew
- Explained his assessment
- Highlighted his rationale
- Got feedback and either buy-in or revised direction

So what’s the lesson? Asking for help can be an opportunity to show off your resourcefulness and impress those around you. Just be sure to do it the right way.

Kendell Brown is the Associate Director of Professional Development at the Kelley School of Business in Graduate Career Services. Kendell and her team meet and coach hundreds of students, alumni, and corporate partners on tried and true recruiting methods, interviewing tactics, and career management strategies, while staying in tune to how these areas are changing and evolving. Email Kendell at