Alternative Talent Model

Alumni networks allow ex-staff to still work for a company


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Corporate alumni networks are growing in importance as employees spend less and less time at a single company.

Mainstream employment is gradually giving way to a gig economy, where temporary or freelance positions and short-term contracts are rapidly becoming commonplace. Last year, millenials — those born between 1981 and 1997 — became the largest generational group in the US labour-force, according to the Pew Research Center. The demographic shift is helping create this broader employment model and a mobile generation where connectivity is key.

Tony Audino founded the Microsoft alumni network 20 years ago and is now chief executive and founder of Conenza, a company that builds and manages alumni networks. He sees companies facing a loyalty challenge as they compete for global talent. He believes an effective alumni network offers huge benefits to both the organisation and the alumni. An organisation’s former workers can act as promoters for its “talent brand as well as its overall corporate brand”, says Mr Audino.

Companies also can use alumni networks as a resource for recruiting former employees. Annabel Rake, chief marketing officer at Deloitte UK, refers to returning workers as “boomerangs”. “These are people who come back with a new set of skills and experiences that we find very beneficial,” she says. About 20 per cent of Deloitte’s hires each year are boomerangs. Returning employees are a proven benefit of the Credit Suisse alumni network, too, says Markus Simon, global head of the bank’s talent development shared services and online academy, as well as its alumni network. Like Deloitte, roughly 20 per cent of Credit Suisse recruits are rehires, he says. Companies can save money in recruiting using alumni networks. Further savings are made when an alumni network generates referrals of talent and business. (Read More...)

Build On-Demand Teams Instead of Hiring Employees



With the pace of change ever escalating, entrepreneurs today can’t afford to acquire talent through traditional hiring alone, and need to revise the perception that “talent” is only full-time employees. At the same time, more people in the workplace don’t want to be “employees.” According to an Intuit study, that number is quickly rising and will approach 40 percent by 2020.

The answer to both is a new fast and flexible talent strategy based on freelancers, consultants, experts, and specialists, who are part of the new “1099 economy” including Baby Boomers and Millennials. I just finished a new book, “Navigating the Talent Shift,” with convincing arguments for this approach by Lisa Hufford, Founder of Simplicity Consulting talent solutions.

The author outlines eight necessary steps for every business and entrepreneur to capitalize on this movement to on-demand project teams, versus permanent hires. These steps are the new keys to driving business innovation, controlling costs, staying nimble, and getting better results:

  • Build teams to meet goals rather than organization charts. Too many entrepreneurs, as they grow their business, are focused on hiring to fill a traditional organization chart, rather than acquiring skills and talents to meet their current goals and needs. They use generic job descriptions and plan for long-term business stability, which rarely happens. (Read More...)

    Why High-Skilled Freelancers Are Leaving Corporate Life Behind

    Photos: via Shutterstock

    Photos: via Shutterstock

    By Lisa Baird


    On a sunny November day in San Francisco’s Mission District, inside the offices of Stamen Design (a studio known for cool-looking maps), I met what you might call a unicorn of the modern knowledge economy. Her name is Nicolette Hayes.

    She and I sat down, and she walked me through her latest two client projects. The first was an interactive model of the Amazon rainforest designed for a popular geography magazine. The second was a visual design language for human emotion, where sadness was represented as a deep ultramarine blob with soft blurry edges. These disparate projects called upon a range of visual, interactive, spatial, and psychological concepts that many would struggle to understand, let alone weave together cogently.

    Knowledge workers with polymathic competencies in multiple disciplines are still rare, but they're becoming more and more common. Take Hayes—a Berkeley geography grad with a design masters from Pratt. She is a data-visualization designer who regularly handles user interface, user experience, visual design, interaction design, and design research on behalf of clients. What once might’ve been a three- or four-person team is now simply Nicolette.


    Buckminster Fuller might’ve called someone like Nicolette Hayes a "comprehensivist"—the opposite of a specialist. According to constructivist psychologist Spencer McWilliams, "Fuller was highly critical of disciplinary specialization, believing that it was originally instituted to support the interests of a power structure and keep intelligent individuals from knowing too much." (Read More...)

    These 6 Million People Have No Interest in Full-Time Jobs

    Getty Images

    Getty Images

    They want to work—just not 40 hours a week for one company.

    The phrase “part-time worker” comes with some baggage. Assumptions are made about part-time workers—perhaps that their gigs are part-time because they’re students, or retirees whose schedules and needs don’t jibe with full-time employment. Probably the biggest assumption is that employees are working part-time simply because they cannot find full-time gigs with benefits, which could be reflective of something lacking on the behalf of the worker or shifting company policies that emphasize lower-paid part-timers.

    What’s rarely assumed is that workers are part-time employees 100% due to their own choice. In fact, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited by Bloomberg, there are now 6 million Americans who actively choose to work part-time. And their numbers are on the rise, up 12% since 2007.

    While each individual has a different reason for seeking part-time employment as a first option rather than a fallback position, many of these workers have a few things in common. Namely, they tend to be young and well-educated. Instead of following traditional career paths, they are using part-time pay to help them pursue some version of the popular vision to follow your passion or “do what you love” during the hours they’re not on the clock. (Read More...)

    Cities, States Need Top Financial Talent, but Fall Short on Pay

    ‘Most good CFOs could make a positive impact,’ Robert Mayer, chief fiscal officer of Fairfield, Conn., and a former private-sector executive, said of government service.  PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER BEAUCHAMP FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    ‘Most good CFOs could make a positive impact,’ Robert Mayer, chief fiscal officer of Fairfield, Conn., and a former private-sector executive, said of government service. PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER BEAUCHAMP FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL



    Help wanted: Top-notch financial talent needed to face intense regulatory scrutiny; no bonuses or equity awards; modest civil servant’s paycheck.

    That is not a job that would appeal to most of the nation’s best and brightest financial executives, who enjoy the big cash and stock incentives—not to mention the prestige—offered by the private sector. But states and towns increasingly need such executives to manage bond sales and pension deficits, as they come under closer government oversight.

    “Getting people in government is not easy,” said Robert Mayer, chief fiscal officer for the town of Fairfield, Conn. “They’re all making more than the mayor.”

    Municipal finance chiefs in the Midwest earn between $85,000 and $160,000, depending on the town’s size and affluence, while those working on either coasts can expect slightly more, said Heidi Voorhees, head of GovHR USA LLC, an Illinois recruiter for the public sector and nonprofit groups. By contrast, the median compensation package—salary, bonus and stock options—for public-company finance executives was valued at $3.57 million, based on proxies filed as of late June.

    “It’s always our toughest recruitment,” said Ms. Vorhees.

    Adding to the difficulty: Municipalities and for-profit businesses follow very different bookkeeping and budget rules, she said. (Read More...)

    Connecting talent with opportunity in the digital age



    By James Manyika, Susan Lund, Kelsey Robinson, John Valentino, and Richard Dobbs


    Online talent platforms are increasingly connecting people to the right work opportunities. By 2025 they could add $2.7 trillion to global GDP, and begin to ameliorate many of the persistent problems in the world’s labor markets.

    Labor markets around the world haven’t kept pace with rapid shifts in the global economy, and their inefficiencies have taken a heavy toll. Millions of people cannot find work, even as sectors from technology to healthcare struggle to fill open positions. Many who do work feel overqualified or underutilized. These issues translate into costly wasted potential for the global economy. More important, they represent hundreds of millions of people coping with unemployment, underemployment, stagnant wages, and discouragement.

    Online talent platforms can ease a number of labor-market dysfunctions by more effectively connecting individuals with work opportunities. Such platforms include websites, like and LinkedIn, that aggregate individual résumés with job postings from traditional employers, as well as the rapidly growing digital marketplaces of the new “gig economy,” such as Uber and Upwork. While hundreds of millions of people around the world already use these services, their capabilities and potential are still evolving. Yet even if they touch only a fraction of the global workforce, we believe they can generate significant benefits for economies and for individuals (exhibit). (Read More...)

    This is Why People Leave Your Company

    When Carly Guthrie was running HR for Per Se, one of the hottest restaurants in New York, the General Manager gave her a piece of advice: “You know, Carly,” he said. “If we’re doing our job as leaders, aperformance review should only be two columns: Column A is what you dogreat and Column B is what you do not-so-great. Now, here’s how wemove things from Column B to Column A.”

    This approach stuck with Guthrie as she left the restaurant world to head up people operations for tech companies. It shocked her that these types ofcandid conversations were hardly ever happening, and people left as aresult. “There’s a mercenary mentality in tech right now — an idea thatthere’s always going to be something hotter, faster, more groundbreaking,” she says. “And yet, there’s very little internal discussion about how to keep people.”

    Guthrie has been watching employees take and leave jobs for over 15years. Turns out, the reasons people love and hate their work are largely thesame across sectors. Step one to retention: Understanding why and howit fails. In this exclusive interview, Guthrie shares what she’s learned aboutwhy people quit, and what startups can do after an employee’s first day tomake sure they stay happy, engaged in their work, and committed to yourcompany (and to deleting every email they are most certainly receivingfrom recruiters).


    You don’t respect their time.

    In Guthrie’s experience, employees will follow up with recruiters and other job offers if they're even slightly angry, bored or dissatisfied. “Usually thehours are wearing on them or their spouse is on their case because they’re never home,” she says. “A really good CEO thinks about the bigger pictureand realizes people have lives outside of work. That’s the number oneway to prevent people from feeling like they might want to besomewhere else.”

    But it’s easier than you think to be thoughtless. For example, Guthrie hasseen countless companies throw weekly happy hours that start at 4:30 p.m. every Friday. The result: People feel like they have to stay until 6 to bea good co-worker, then they get a slow jump on traffic, they get home laterand they’re tired, when they really want to just go do their own thing. “Just moving the happy hour to Thursday would show a tremendous amount ofawareness and make people feel that much better about the company andleadership,” she says. (Read More...)