Sticks and Stones…Words CAN Hurt You: How Poor Job Descriptions Increase Turnover

What if you could reduce turnover and increase productivity by using one simple trick, regardless of your industry? (One that costs practically nothing and can be implemented almost overnight.) Too good to be true? Not really. Because as surprising as it may sound, research has consistently shown that just by improving your job descriptions, you can dramatically reduce turnover.

According to the US Department of Labor, US companies lose as much as$160 billion each year due to turnover-related costs.

Hay Group, a worldwide management consulting firm, surveyed top HR managers around the world about what drives employee turnover. Across the board, 58% of the respondents reported that poor job descriptions caused employees to leave in droves. Moreover, 59% said that incorrect or misleading job descriptions resulted in poor hires because candidates had the wrong skill sets for the job.

Per the Society for Human Resource management, on average, a given company loses as much as six to nine months of the exiting employees salary. A $60,000 employee therefore, is likely to cost as much as $30-45,000 just to find and train a replacement.

What does it take to craft an effective job description?

The first step in creating a better job description is understanding what the job really entails. This may seem simple; however, it actually takes both effort and thought. Besides routine duties and expectations, you also need to consider core competencies and bedrock skillsets. Be sure to think about your company values, mission, and culture too. And you present it concisely, because most job seekers are scanning posted vacancies rather than reading them at a leisurely pace.

Think of a job posting as a form of marketing. You need to gear your message directly towards ideal candidates. You should explain what you are looking for, and why they should be looking for you. Then add a call to action.
For instance, what is it that sets your company apart? Understanding your company culture can help you target candidates who are more likely to fit in, be happy. Happy employees after all, not only stay longer, they are more productive too. Whether you make widgets or sell high end sports cars, your people need to find value within your culture and company.

Moreover, understanding a specific vacancy may seem simple, but in larger companies especially, the right hand may not really know exactly what the left hand is doing. (Or why it does it that way.) Rather than throwing in everything except the kitchen sink, job duties, core responsibilities, skillsets and aptitudes should be broken down according to real-world relevancy.

Some skills, expertise, and experience may be nice to have, others are critical. Make sure you understand (and clearly post) the ones that matter most. Other components of an effective job posting might include:

  • Be upfront with salary and benefits: If you post this up front, you avoid spending additional time and resources on candidates that will turn down your offer at the last minute over money.
  • Add a built-in screening process: By adding a simple action such as a specific email header or other instructions, you can easily determine who pays attention and follows instructions, and who does not.
  • Use clear, concise descriptions: Be sure to add clear descriptions free of insider jargon.
  • Use bullet points to highlight important sections.
  • Showcase the company culture: The best candidates will have goals and values that dovetail with those of the company itself.

At a time when turnover rates are at an all time low, you can’t afford to get it wrong. For more about hiring the best and upgrading the rest, please call us at 214-720-9922 or email At ProActivate, we know how to link top talent with hungry companies. We have worked with Fortune 500 companies as well as small startup business to help improve their top line.

Why You Need to Hire NOW

ABC (Always be Closing), the old-school motivational phrase for sales professionals might just need to be changed to ABH, for “Always be Hiring.” Why? Because in order to make a sale, you more than a great product and a market niche. You need sales professionals who can perform in the market trenches. As hard as it is to thrive in sales, it is even harder to find stellar sales people.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Vetting and Hiring the Best

Which is why, rather than focusing solely on seeking new sales prospects, many companies are finding that they also need to be on the hunt for those who are already top tier sales talent. The reason is clear: to succeed, you need sales people that have a built-in sales personality.

You need a specific set of traits and skills pre-installed in your team members. These traits include a high sales IQ. Meaning that they have to be able to read people, think on their feet, spot issues and turn them into opportunities, and most of all, they need to be able to build relationships with your client base. After all, when a sales team member interacts with a client or potential client, they carry your brand on their back.

Assuming they past that test, there is another hurdle they must be able to easily jump. They need industry experience, or at minimum, an ability to learn and understand the dynamics of a given niche. Since onboarding ramp up times are often short, but equally critical, bringing your team members up to speed needs to be as streamlined and seamless as possible. These things are even more important if your company is midsized, because you may have sales team members playing multiple sales roles (locating prospects, gathering and closing).

Find the best and Upgrade the rest

Obviously, you need to find sales professionals that are already vetted and experienced. But therein lies the rub. Sales professionals do not grow on trees. Study after study has shown that companies are already struggling with a shortage of sales talent. Sales talent is listed as one of the hardest vacancies, to fill, a fact that will come as no surprise to overworked sales managers.

Companies are desperate for qualified sales talent and it is only going to get worse. Millennials have shown little interest in working in sales positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for sales representatives will increase at a rate of 22% annually.

So all of this takes us right back to where we started. You need to fill positions, not just with warm bodies either. You need talented, adaptable and experienced sale pros. All of which, requires careful planning and most of all, time. As they say though, time, in this case, really is money.

Research has shown that 57% of sales positions will remain vacant for over three months. Onboarding can easily eat up another three to six months. As a rule of thumb, the ramp up time can be calculated by the length of a given sales cycle, plus another 90 days.

In the meantime, you are not only missing opportunities, you are paying to train the sales candidate. If, for some reason they walk away or are not suitable, you have waster months of marketing time. Then you start the cycle over again. The solution to all of the above is to recruit people who are able to adapt quickly and are motivated to hit the ground running. To do that, you need a seamless recruiting and vetting process that is already in motion, constantly providing a stream of well-qualified, top sales performers. A customized recruiting strategy allows you to increase your market intel and improve your company’s bottom line.

There are a few different ways to approach this issue. You can, for instance, create an in-house team that seeks out and recruits sales talent. Most companies rely on HR, however they are often already overworked, loaded down with other duties. Which is why you need a team that does just recruitment, testing and vetting.

Some companies are also creating partnerships with colleges and other groups to help them ferret out potential sales candidates for the future. If you have the money and resources, this strategy can pay off down the line.  Others are relying on old school methods by placing ads, vying for an ever shrinking pool of talent. This can lead to high turnover rates, meaning that the issue is never really resolved.

It just kicks the can down the road and can end up costing the company money in the long run. Which is why many forward thinking companies are using professional sales recruiters to fill in the gap. (They already have the networks to keep sales talent on tap.) The main takeaway here is that whatever you do, you need to do it both strategically, and quickly.

For more information on locating the best sales talent to fill your vacancies, please call us at 214-720-9922 or email At ProActivate, we know how to link top sales talent with hungry sales companies. We have worked with Fortune 500 companies as well as small start up business to help improve their top line.

Rewriting Your Brain’s Source Code

You Are Not Stuck with a Mind Like a Rusted Steel Trap!

Most of us tend to think we are hard-wired one way or another. We believe that we are an optimist or a pessimist, brave or fearful, smart or dumb, good at math or not, bad with directions or terrible or whatever. One thing we are certain of, no matter what it is, we are stuck with it. Like a switch eternally stuck on whatever our default setting is, we just have to live with it.

The only thing is…. It isn’t necessarily so.

Things change. And as it turns out, so can we. You see, our intelligence is organic. It adapts and changes all of the time. And that means we have the power to fix the ourselves. Think of it as mental re-programming.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): A Patch for Your Brain

First, let’s take a step back first and look at the programming concept known as a patch. As you probably know, software is naturally buggy. It is the nature of the beast. When bugs are discovered, patches (small pieces of software that act like Band-Aids), are developed to run interference between the software and the glitch.

Basically, it is a new version of the original that bridges the system. Sounds simple enough, but how does this relate to human minds? While people are much, much more complex, the basic idea is still valid.

NLP and Neuroplasticity: New Hope for Our Brains

Enter a new field called neuro-linguistic programming or NLP for short. NLP describes the functional side of what we think, say and how it relates to what we do (our outward behavior). It relates to another concept known as neuroplasticity. Which is basically a twenty-dollar word to explain that brains are not set. (Think playdough instead of concrete.)

Together, these two paradigms shifting theories mean that you can actually change the way you act, by changing the mental conversation that is always running like a stressed out gerbil on a wheel in your head.

Great. Our brains can change. Sounds terrific. How?

First things first. Pay attention to the teleprompter transcript in your mind. If you are like most people, it is some version of, “I suck and this is why.” The need to muzzle your self-talk cannot be overstated.

Listen to yourself. Monitor the flow of your inner dialogue for a day. What are you telling yourself? Are you encouraging yourself, or complaining about why life is not fair?

Ask yourself, would you talk like that to an anxious child? If not, then cut it out!

Next, flip the script. Use encouraging words and tell yourself why things might work out. Explain to yourself how you have faced tough stuff before and succeeded. Or ask yourself how you would feel if everything worked out.

Imagine, complete with details, how good you would feel when you get that new client, solve the problem and or grab the award. Then feel it, really imagine and experience it mentally as realistically as you can.

Try to add details such as sounds, smells, happy emotions and relief. Research has shown that doing this for even thirty seconds at a time creates a physical and emotional shift. It literally reshapes your mood, your stress levels and your brain, all in a good way.

Easy Does it.

Don’t try to rush this step. Practice listening to and correcting your self-talk for at least a month. Think of it as creating a new mental blue-print or programing patch. For instance, when you find yourself being critical or escalating your anxiety, use soothing and encouraging language instead.

Listen, Rome was not built in a day. You are probably walking around with outmoded ideas and concepts you picked up as a child or under stress. Rewriting your brain code takes time and that is okay.

The most important thing you need to keep in mind about these reprogramming concepts is repetition. At first you may feel skeptical. You may not feel an immediate result. You may think you’re being silly. But look, no one ever became an Olympian after one workout.

Rinse and repeat as needed. Eventually you’ll rewrite the code inside yourself. Then stand back for the 2.0 version of the new you!

Stay tuned and follow my blog for more about building a peak performance mindset into your life.

Peak Mindset: Power Up Under Stress

As any top performer can tell you, stress is a make or break mental game of football. While biology may have written the playbook, you can still score if you know how to quarterback the calls in your head.

That may sound like a bit of a stretch to make an analogy, but it’s a little more apt than you may realize at first blush. Consider the words of the late comedian and commentator George Carlin on Baseball and Football (where baseball is life and football is your career).

“Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game. Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.”

And that sounds like the work-life balance thing. But more specifically he went on in more detail.

“In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

In baseball, the object is to go home! And to be safe! I hope I’ll be safe at home!”

Look, stress is a thing. Stress is a thing we try to ignore, not admit to, hope will go away. Guess what? It won’t. Sorry to break it to you. Stress does everything bad from raising blood pressure to grey hair to saying dumb, dishonest things like “It’s not you, it’s me.” And, arguably, it’s behind every test pilot who ever said, “I got this”.

Manage both fatigue and inertia

Stress can be your body’s way of giving a soulful cry for help.

Do you sit at your desk for hours on end, feeling the stress building up? Know when to stand up and move around a little. Walk away from your desk for a few and when you come back you’ll probably realize some of that stress has diminished. Better yet, try to get regular exercise, even if it’s just taking a walk during your lunch break.

By the same token, do you get enough sleep? Be honest with yourself on this one. Almost none of us do. If you’re tired during the day, the extra effort to focus and deliver can be a great source of stress and anxiety within your own body. Try getting to bed earlier for a few nights and see how you feel at work. It’s an easy experiment and you get to sleep through it.

Managing your fatigue and inertia are two positive changes that are within reach and naturally reduce your susceptibility to anxiety.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms

Identify any unhealthy coping mechanisms you use and get them under control. Keep careful track of your behaviors during and after stressful situations. And be on the lookout for dangerous ones.

Are you taking your stress out on other people? Conversely, are you withdrawing from the happy things in your life like friends, family and activities?

Are you overcommitting yourself to avoid the time to deal with problems?

Are you eating your emotions? Watch out for relying on junk or comfort foods to feel better. Stress eating can contribute to obesity which, in turn, can lead to fully-baked anxiety disorders.

Are you oversleeping, procrastinating, or zoning out to escape?

Are you self-medicating–smoking, drinking, taking pills?

This is the most honest self-assessment you need to take. These behaviors provide no relief from stress. Rather, these behaviors cause more stress to ultimately accumulate on you.

Pursue enjoyment

It’s easy to get swept up in the business of doing life and forgetting to live it. All work and no play makes Jack a bundle of nerves. Carve out time for yourself every day to do things that you choose to do, not things that got assigned to you. Play a board game or a musical instrument. Have a conversation with someone that makes you happy. Whatever it is, do something enjoyable every day.

While you’re at it be sure to include time to relax and just “be”. Keep your sense of humor. Laughter releases stress and helps fight off new stressors.

Social engagement

Stress can be a powerful isolator, leaving us incapable of expressing our experience to the very people best equipped to bring relief. Connecting with family and friends regularly and in person helps break down the walls of isolation caused by anxiety.

Even if the people you choose to vent to have no influence over the cause of your stress, simply getting it off your chest brings relief and provides a healthy reset before you return to the source. It also helps to release stress reducing hormones in your body.

Friends and family are good for you in a very stressful world. So, don’t be a stranger.

Accept and adapt

It’s also helpful to look at the stressors you can’t avoid and adapt your behavior to reduce the anxiety they cause.

If your work load seems impossible, assess your work patterns to be sure you’re managing your time well. It could be that you’re getting in the way of yourself. If the commute drives you crazy, accept that you can’t make it go away. Give yourself the time it takes and use it in a pleasurable way–your favorite music, an audio book, or maybe carpool with someone you enjoy being with.

Recognizing those things that are unavoidable and predictable, and taking the steps to adapt to them, can reserve your energy for those times you get blindsided. Then you can better read the other players and make more effective decisions.

Stick to the play or call an audible? Be the best Quarterback you can be.

Contact Jamie to find out more about peak performance, developing a superior mindset and improving your top line.

Happy New Year!

Now buckle up. It’s Time to take it to the Next Level!

It’s a new year, and that means a new budget. There are new projects and goals to be figured out. And very often, there’s a new slots to fill (or an old one to backfill).

You know the message. New year. New goals. But how do you actually do it?

First, you need rock star sales staff. You know, THE ones. The. Ones. Who. Have. IT.

We can help you there. That’s what we do. We find the ones who have IT and queue them up for career opportunities.

Breaking IT Down

Let’s just put it on the line honestly. Sales is an innate ability. It’s like any other skill that is talent-dependent. You either have IT or you don’t.
The truth hurts and here it is:

Certainly, anyone can learn the mechanics of anything. They say with 10,000 hours of practice anyone can learn to play a musical instrument. I applaud anyone who dedicates 40 hours a week for three and a half years learning to play a guitar.

But even after all that effort, without that inherent ability, that inner voice or muse of creativity, without IT, they will never, ever be a rock star.

It’s the same thing in sales. Most people in sales do not belong there. Of those who do, probably half are trying to sell the wrong thing – something they do not identify with or have passion for.

We help you find that Rock Star Sales Rep

Hiring the right sales resource means really understanding what you need.

We work side-by-side with you to develop the absolute right picture of who your perfect candidate is. We listen to you and make sure you listen to yourself. That way we know the candidate profile is absolutely correct and understood by all.

Our candidate evaluation and simulation testing provides the filters needed to know that the people we present to you are a fit. We never present a candidate who doesn’t have IT.

We hope to give you the best kind of problem to have – that all our candidates are so right you just can’t choose. But don’t worry, we’ll help you sort that out too.

Getting back to basics

Wouldn’t it be great if this year you could focus on your goals and grow business?

We can help you make sure you are not losing time mentoring mechanics. Let’s get this year focused on challenging your Rock Star Staff. From sales stars to exceptional peak performance training, we have what you need to launch your team to new levels of success.

Start hitting your mark today with ProActivate and call 214-720-9922 to schedule time with me to discuss your Sales Team!