Talent Hacks.

As someone who gets to cover the glamorous and exciting world of HR and recruiting for a living, it might surprise you to learn that while I’m a professional writer, I can’t say B2B blogger made the list of things I wanted to be when I grew up.

Back in the day, blogs didn’t exist, but I’ve always been a connoisseur of disposable, commoditized content – and to some degree, the creator of it, having switched to this line of BS from writing formulaic screenplays, 120 interchangeable pages of Syd Field infused courier font and pithy plot devices.

I will say without a doubt, that as boring and repetitive as writing about recruiting can be sometimes, it sure beats the shit out of doing a 120 page screenplay on spec any day of the week.

At least people actually read blogs instead of sending them to an intern for coverage. Oh wait, I guess that’s what we call “curation” in this industry. You know, the people forced to byline those “Top 5 posts for people who don’t have the time to read blog posts.”

This is content that isn’t afraid to flaunt its half second shelf life, which means it’s a perfect match for most people’s attention spans. We want instant outcomes and even more instant gratification, which is why cat videos and porn are responsible for approximately 98% of global internet traffic.

Make ‘Em Laugh.

My high school improv troupe. Because I didn't like getting laid.

My high school improv troupe. Because I didn’t like getting laid.

But my very first ever career goal, before I grew into screenplays and blogging (because while pimping ain’t easy, whoring your writing sure is), was generating content that didn’t actually require any work, unlike even the laziest blog post, which you still have to write and post something, which is still infinitely more effort than simply showing up.

Which, you’ve got to hand it to my younger self, is pretty impressive to aspire to a career even less lucrative than the one in which I actually find myself.

But while other kids wanted to be astronauts or athletes or some stupid shit like that, I wanted to be a famous improv artist – you know, at least as a springboard to sketch comedy or stand-up, like everyone else.

What can I say, I was a weird 7 year old. And I’ve got to hand it to my younger self, it’s pretty impressive to aspire to a career even less lucrative or stable than the one in which I actually find myself. Both, however, are great things to tell chicks you do instead of just wait tables. “No, baby, one day, I’m going to be the world’s biggest recruiting blogger.” Gets ‘em every time.

Of course, I’ve grown up, figuratively (hey, I’m like 5’4) but the one thing I haven’t really ever grown out of is the fact that as a 12 year old, when my Mom took me to see the Second City as a kid increasingly immersed in theatre, playwriting and getting the crap kicked out of me by kids with friends. I discovered the holy grail of all jobs that night, over a hot pretzel Mom and I split with a side of spicy mustard, and that isn’t some kind of weird metaphor, you sicko. It was just a pretty eventful evening.

I discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were people up there who were as nerdy as I was people paid to see – and they could make a room full of people laugh, which is what I was really good at. You’ve got to be when you’re the kid who’s good at stuff like writing and performing but not so much at remaining height-weight proportionate or dating girls.

That little, geeky kid, of course, has grown up to be a blogger who covers mostly HR and recruiting technology, which means that nothing’s really changed. I still try to make people laugh, because it beats boring them, and I still crank out disposable stuff on the fly inspired mostly by audience suggestions (engagement, if you will).

I’m glad I acted on that weird inclination to pursue improv I had after that trip to Chicago – and fortunate to have parents that didn’t put me into therapy after telling them I wanted to be a comedian when I grew up. Nope, they put me in therapy for a shit ton of other reasons.

But they encouraged me on this comedy thing, probably because any kid as screwed up as me has the requisite neuroses to have a small shot at beating the odds and making it in comedy.

Just like they encouraged me to go to LA to study to become a screenwriter and pay six figures to a private college for the privilege, even though they must have learned better, so that I could continue that calling to comedy by learning how to write it.

Hint: it’s actually something you can learn, as is being funny – which probably surprises most people. But like reviewing resumes or slating candidates, there’s a weird formula that somehow always works, and anyone can learn and start using on their own almost immediately.

And if you crack that code and can consistently infuse your daily interactions with a dose of off-the-cuff humor, you’re going to have a silver bullet for not sucking and standing out in recruiting or HR, where everyone takes themselves terribly seriously, even if the work itself isn’t terribly serious. No one dies when you’re not, say, compliant with OSHA.

OK, maybe that was a bad example, but still.

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Pimping Ain’t Easy.

That’s why I’m so excited for the opportunity to partner with Second City Works (SCW) – that same entity that inspired me so many years ago, so you can blame them for being a formidable factor in determining my completely happenstance line of work – and psyched to stick that blue chip comedy brand up on this here blog.

So much so that even though it’s business related, I’m actually promoting this on my personal site. Which I like never do, you know. Speaking of business, they asked me to point out the fact that “Second City Works (SCW) is the business solutions division of the world renowned improv group The Second City.” No joke.

I don’t normally do webinar promotion posts, period, but I’m doing this one primarily because I think it’s going to be pretty awesome – and actually informative. I can’t tell you how helpful knowing the fundamentals of improv was in making me a pretty decent recruiter, particularly the ability to just go with it, expect the unexpected and never say no, no matter how absurd something may sound on the surface.

I hope you can join me tomorrow at 2 PM ET as Recruiting Daily presents “5 Hiring Hacks From the Second City” (pretty cool cobranding, right?). Because it’s improv, I have no idea how the hell it’s going to turn out, but I do promise you’ll laugh, and I’m pretty certain that’s one guarantee almost no other B2B focused HR industry webinar can make. Plus I’m moderating, so I can finally live out my dream of being on stage with the Second City. Kind of.

Except, maybe, that weird “Business Case for Breastfeeding” booth that always pops up at every HR or talent management trade show. That’s always hilarious.

One Comment on “Talent Hacks.

  1. I doubt very seriously if most recruiters (and even far fewer sourcers) will even begin to grasp what you’re getting at here. I’m gonna try to be there. Is there some special sign up? This is an important subject – far more important than many subjects in our space – with this precious skill of improv – if they could possess it – the world then would truly be their oyster.

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