Latest Thoughts and News From Sera Business Advisors

My Career Is My Responsibility – Achieving Business Symbiosis (Part 1 of 2)

Although I am certainly no scientist, I do understand and value the symbiotic relationship which describes special interactions between two different species. Sometimes the relationship is harmful, most times it is beneficial (i.e., a spider building a web on a tree). Symbiotic relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and balance between the two can only be achieved by working together.

Sound familiar?

Think about this scientific concept in terms of employment: in exchange for completing responsibilities required by the employer, the employee receives a paycheck.  Both the employer and the employee benefit and business symbiosis is achieved.

In well-balanced relationships, boundaries and expectations exist.  Employers create opportunity.  Employees embrace opportunity.  Established roles and responsibilities help maintain the mutual relationship.


Enter: My career is my responsibility. (#myCmyR)


This phrase creates boundary definition by helping individuals maintain focus and balance on both sides of the employment relationship.


My career is my responsibility…

  • represents an approach to work
  • embodies a philosophy
  • requires personal accountability
  • embraces excellence
  • creates culture differentiation

If each person in a symbiotic relationship is focused on taking personal responsibility for their words, decisions, actions and behaviors, the combined relationship works!


  • It’s more than a catch phrase. The culture differentiating philosophy takes intentional effort on the part of the employer.  Elements of a company’s culture, like attitude and tone, are set at the top.  Creating an environment of opportunity can engage and motivate employees.  In this type of culture, expectations are clearly articulated, authentic trust and transparency is fostered, and employees are empowered to actively participate in their employment.  Culture dynamics like these equally balance the duty of responsibility between the employer and employee.


  • If you’re in, be ALL IN.  Employers first must establish the company’s character, then ensure alignment across the organization.  A My career is my responsibility culture will only be successful if Leaders across the organization buy-in.  Systems and processes must also correspond.  As examples, if your disciplinary approach is punitive and management-driven, it likely doesn’t foster self-reflection and problem solving from the employee.  When Leaders begin to manage independently by exception instead of respecting established policies and deadlines, employees begin to expect everything be treated as an exception.


  • Do what you say you’re going to do. When employers don’t follow-through, employees get discouraged, and the employment relationship fractures and becomes unbalanced.  An example, when a bonus or a promotion is promised around achieving metrics and the employer is slow to respond or doesn’t respond once the goal is met…catastrophic failure!  Trust has been broken, and it may not easily be rebuilt.  Leaders, do what you say you are going to do…always!


The My career is my responsibility approach brings balanced symbiosis to a culture when the organization, and individuals within the organization, commit to personal responsibility, accountability and excellence.  What is your personal philosophy on achieving employment symbiosis?


Up next…the employee perspective.


Elevating the Candidate Experience…We’re Spoiled!

As summer temperatures heat up, so does our economy.  Current economic indicators show incomes are increasing and oil prices are low.  Consumer spending is up and national unemployment rates are on a downhill slide.  Business is moving faster to keep up and employees are getting restless. A summer storm is brewing and resumes are flying!  Why?

When the economy improves, it becomes a job seeker’s market.  To survive, businesses must focus on talent retention, and purposefully differentiate themselves as an employer of choice in the market.

So how does a company standout in the recruiting storm?

It’s all in the experience. Today’s job seekers respond best to a high-touch, personal, carefully planned and orchestrated recruiting approach. Let’s face it, we’re spoiled.

Society has high expectations. We have personal mobile devices with 24/7 connectivity and are accustomed to immediate results and positive experiences.  We’ve come to expect a heightened level of attention.  We want what we want and won’t take anything less.

When I graduated from the University of Tennessee and interviewed for my first job, the recruiting process intrigued me.  The “wining and dining,” the social events, the build up to the offer… some companies managed the process so well.  It was an experience!  Every interaction with those superior businesses was united in making me want to work for them.  They subtlety demonstrated they were the best.  I was impressed and I wanted in!

I especially recall one company with whom I interviewed.  They were superb at the “art of the chase” and had recruits hyperventilating over the possibility of joining their firm.  From start to finish, everyone with whom I interviewed had a consistent, unified, effective message.  The process was well-choreographed.  Every touch, every interaction, every communication said they were the best.

Many years later, I still recall my experience with great admiration.

It was high-touch recruiting.  It worked then, and it works now.  A positive, focused experience, like a little black dress, never goes out of style.  If your company presents as well put-together, doing everything RIGHT, you will attract candidates who have the right confidence, abilities, attitude and leadership qualities to help drive your business forward.

Regardless of industry or the size of business, the power of high-touch recruiting works.

Presentation is everything. As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Remember this adage… always!  Missteps must be avoided at all costs, regardless of where you are in the recruiting process.

Be authentic. Candidates build relationships with people, not companies.  When interacting with candidates, be present, be personable. Candidates want to know that you are invested in their happiness.

Create the want. Recruiting is sales. From start to finish, interactions must be well-orchestrated. Hiring leaders, recruiters – actually, every employee — need to know, understand and be able to articulate the character and direction of the organization.  Emails, letters, interviews, recruitment dinners, phone calls, texts, site visits, tours, etc., all should be reflective of company culture and leave the candidate wanting more.

Ensure consistency. An intentional, well-organized process allows companies to seek out highly motivated, optimistic people with the right skill sets that match the job as perfectly as possible.  The process is responsive to the market and implemented well by every employee with whom candidates interact.

A well-oiled machine. Recruiting is not off the cuff.  Interviewing is a skill. Recruiting is a planned activity. To create a memorable candidate experience, every employee participant must be trained, practiced and prepared in the art of recruiting.  Mixed messages may scare away top talent, or worse, you risk unnecessary legal exposure.  So, train…then train again.

Choose wisely. …but choose! People are an imperfect product. The focus should be on finding the best candidate in the market at the time you have the need. You can’t talk to everyone. There is a fine line between taking your time, and taking too long.  In today’s market, top candidates will find a position quickly.  Recruiters and hiring leaders need to be confident decision-makers.   If you know a candidate is strong, and your intuition is telling you they are a great culture fit, why delay and risk having the candidate take an opportunity elsewhere?

Don’t drop the ball. The best of the best show respect and consideration for all candidates. Once hired, new employees should have a sense of completion and satisfaction, if their personal recruiting experience was successfully executed.  On the flipside, candidates who weren’t selected complain: “I had a great interview, but then I never heard anything more from the company.”  Don’t be THAT company.

It takes time for employers to intentionally deliver a high-touch experience, but it is time well spent. The process of recruiting reflects who you are and who you want to be as a company.  It’s your reputation.

It’s about hiring the RIGHT people, in the RIGHT jobs, to do the RIGHT things, RIGHT now. Period.

Savvy employers don’t stop recruiting employees on their hire date. The high-touch recruiting experience is only the beginning.

So, what high-touch recruitment strategies could you add to this list?  How do you make recruiting memorable and effective?