A CEO’s Open Letter to Talent

A CEO’s Open Letter to Talent

The war for talent is real, and upon us. Help wanted signs and job postings are seemingly everywhere. Many organizations struggle reaching growth plans because of an inability to attract and retain the right people. Henry G. Jackson, CEO and President of SHRM recently published an article titled The War for Talent is Now a Way of Life for HR. In the article, he says “Hard-to-find talent and hard-to-fill jobs are constants in the new world of work. So, to me, it is no longer a “war” to find and keep the best people; it’s a way of life.”

While much is written on how organizations can address this new talent reality, a great starting point is an understanding of what people look for in an employer. Talented people want to work for organizations with a purpose they can understand and be proud of, where their work contributes to the organization’s success and where their careers will grow. In a previous post, Attracting and Retaining Great People in 2017, I described several steps top employers are taking to attract and retain the best people, with special attention given to shared purpose and values, career development opportunities and cultural fit.

Since most talented people are not actively answering job postings, organizations are exploring new methods to attract talent. In the long run organizations will benefit by improving their reputation as an employer. How should organizations communicate their Employment Brand in a way that appeals to talented people? Perhaps with a message directly from the CEO, like this:


Dear Talented Individual:

We love our people. While most leaders say people are their most important asset, we believe it and show it.

You’ll feel the difference from the first time you visit our website. Our values, which guide our business decisions and relationships with our people, are stated clearly so we all know where we stand with each other.

Our goals are also published. We know where we’re headed and how we’ll get there – through our people. We share our goals so our people will be as excited about our future as we are. We’re also as excited about our people’s future as they are, even if their future is not with us. We help our people grow their careers while they help us reach our goals. We give them important work, provide great work space and technology, help them succeed, listen when they have a better idea and reward them every step of the way.

We also understand our people have lives outside work. We encourage our people to bring their whole selves to work, and spend guilt-free time away from work. We cheer their victories, share their sorrows and take joy in their happiness. We accept them as they are and support their dreams. We trust each other like family.

As with real families, we have our occasional differences. Most differences are easily resolved through open communications that are grounded in our shared values, goals and trust.

If ours sounds like a culture you can thrive and be happy in, please let us know. We would love to get to know you, and promise to treat you like family along the way. Even if we are not right for each other today, we are still interested in getting to know you. Tomorrow will be here before we know it.


Sincerely, Great Company CEO


If you were open to opportunities, would this letter appeal to you? Hopefully you would view this with enough interest to start a career conversation.


While a Talent Philosophy Statement like this can be a great employment branding tool, the culture, plans and programs supporting the philosophy must also be in place.

At Future State Talent, we help our clients create Talent Philosophy Statements, develop Employment Brands and embrace the new workplace reality. Please contact me to discuss the Future State of your Talent.

Randy Samsel

Future State Talent



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Does ‘Talent Acquisition’ Have a Dirty Little Secret?

Does ‘Talent Acquisition’ Have a Dirty Little Secret?

As a member of the HR Leadership Group of Northeast Ohio, I have enjoyed outstanding presentations from qualified, strategic HR leaders. This month’s meeting was no exception. Bob Danna, Managing Director of Deloitte Consulting discussed the Future of HR with an emphasis on digital transformation. Bob covered a wide range of trends stemming from research conducted by Bersin by Deloitte.


Though I read the Bersin by Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report in advance, Bob made one comment that surprised me. Bob pointed out that, for the first time five generations are in the workforce. That’s not what surprised me. He also said many baby boomers would work another twenty to thirty years. That surprised me. While I recognize the economic, social and personal reasons boomers may keep working, the statement caught me off guard. Once it sank in, my thoughts went in another direction. How will boomers compete in the job market?


My question is not just about skills, abilities, attitudes or energy levels of boomers. It’s also about age bias.


Diversity and inclusion is a topic near and dear to HR and talent acquisition professionals and provides focus on the benefits and importance of having a diverse workforce. Pay equality for women and breaking-the-glass-ceiling are also at the forefront of discussions among the HR and talent acquisition community. Yet age bias seems to be an (unofficially) accepted practice. Not everywhere, nor for every employer, but common.


An NPR.ORG article cites research conducted by a U.C. Irvine professor, David Neumark who sent 40,000 resumes for thousands of real jobs. The resumes were identical except for age. “The call-back rate — the rate by which employers contact us and say we’d like to interview you — drops from young applicants to middle-aged applicants and drops further from middle-aged applicants to older applicants,” Neumark says.


Another article, this one by Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, discusses The Ugly Truth About Age Discrimination. Liz describes a conversation with a person who experienced age discrimination, and why employers do themselves a disservice by avoiding more experienced workers. She also suggests steps boomers (and others) can take to minimize the impact of age bias.


In my executive search practice, I hear from seasoned professionals who say they experience age bias in their job search, but do not pursue claims for fear of being labeled a troublemaker. They just want to work. For many of these job seekers, frustration and a sense of hopelessness can set in, especially when they are rejected for multiple roles they feel qualified for.


While legitimate reasons exist for targeting and hiring early career candidates, many organizations may miss an opportunity to attract exceptional talent that is readily available. One McKinsey study showed that 40% of companies that plan to hire have had unfilled openings for 6 months or longer because they can’t find qualified applicants. In addition, many surveys of CEO’s point out the need for more and better leadership to reach strategic goals. So, while age bias may be a contentious topic, few would argue the need to attract more talent and leadership.


The challenge is how to attract the best talent while setting aside bias. One approach is to revamp talent acquisition practices, starting with the traditional job description (which frequently include desired years of experience). Lou Adler, author of The Essential Guide for Hiring suggests using a Performance Profile, which describes desired outcomes for a role instead of listing desired experiences for a candidate. For an example of a performance profile, click here.


Job seekers concerned about age bias should be proactive as well, starting by leveraging strengths in their job search-especially those that highlight leadership skills and experience. Instead of trying to fit every possible job opportunity, job seekers should embrace the differences that qualify them for the best roles. Also, when talking with decision makers, job seekers should try to focus on the needs of the hiring manager. Once those needs are understood, job seekers can describe how they are uniquely qualified to help.


While age bias may never disappear, rising demand for talent and leadership will create more opportunity for boomers to continue adding value, even for another twenty to thirty years. Improved processes by hiring managers and job seekers may also help.


To learn more about performance based hiring, please contact rsamsel@futurestatetalent.com


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Vox Mobile – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

Vox Mobile – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

If you are viewing this article on a tablet or smartphone, you may have Vox Mobile to thank.

The world is rapidly converting to digital technology, and most people access the digital world through mobile devices. That’s where Vox Mobile enters–accelerating the path to mobility innovation. Founded in 2006, Vox Mobile’s vision is to provide complete enterprise mobility management as a Service.

Vox Mobile serves a variety of clients, in many industries through its Enterprise Mobility Management service. From strategy planning, device procurement and provisioning, software support, BYOD (bring your own device) policies, server administration, help desk and everything between, the solutions ensure mobile application success and a superior user experience.

The result? Here are a few examples of recent successes:

In addition, Vox Mobile has been recognized as an Inc 1000 fastest growing company, a Weatherhead 100 winner and one of the Northcoast 99 greatest workplaces.

For current and prospective employees that is good news. Headquartered in Independence Ohio, Vox Mobile has a state-of-the-art facility. Its HQ is in the same office building as ours.  As existing building tenants, we enjoy the upgrades made to the facilities when Vox Mobile moved in as the anchor tenant. To thank us for our ‘tolerance of the dust and noise’ during construction, Vox Mobile treated tenants to an afternoon of food, drink and entertainment. Welcome, neighbor!

Beyond the facilities, Vox Mobile has a dynamic culture that encourages hard work, inventive thinking, creative ideas, challenging the status-quo and lots of fun! In fact, Vox Mobile was recently named a Smart Culture award honoree. Jason Sulecki, Client Experience Manager says “I think Vox has a great corporate culture; they provide opportunities for advancement in addition to taking great care of their employees by planning fun and interactive events for all to enjoy.”

Vox Mobile also invests in its people.  A quick perusal of its career site provides insight into life at Vox Mobile, featuring professional development opportunities, impactful work and recognition for accomplishments. This focus on its people combined with rapid growth creates opportunity for advancement. In 2016 alone, 25% of employees received a promotion!

Vox Mobile is led by Kris Snyder, CEO and Ernst & Young’s Technology Entrepreneur of the Year winner. Kris and his leadership team foster a climate of open communication, collaboration and creativity to ensure success on behalf of their clients.

Besides founding and leading Vox Mobile, Kris helped found GEMA, a global joint venture headquartered in Switzerland which acts as a delivery network for mobile managed services in 87 countries. And in 2013, he helped launch Mobile Thought Leaders (MTL), which today has more than 3,000 members in 10 countries, and a dedicated purpose of cultivating opportunities for its members to collaborate and share emerging best practices and technology advancements in mobility.

Kris is quick to acknowledge how important his team and employees are to Vox Mobile. “We are only successful due to the commitment and delivery that our employees provide.  Our investment into our employees’ future is built through training and that is evident from our growth and promotion opportunities from within the company. “

Being in Northeast Ohio is also important to the history and future of Vox Mobile. Cleveland’s own Lebron James said, “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given.  Everything is earned. You work for what you have.”   While paraphrased, the sentiment for Vox Mobile is very similar. “Success…It’s not one win, it’s not one event, it’s not a single destination.  Just like Cleveland, no one expects Vox Mobile to win, especially when our competitors are giants like IBM, Vodafone, Tangoe, etc.  How can we possibly compete with technology companies when we don’t live in Austin, Boston or Silicon Valley?  The answer is quite simple, really.  It’s the sheer grit in our Midwestern spirit that sustains our hunger for success.  And it’s our collective desire to overcome the odds and provide a solution and service above all others, thereby bringing our clients vision of mobility to life.”

Let that be a rally cry for all of us who work and live in Greater Cleveland! Thank you, Kris and Vox Mobile for leading us into the digital future, and for providing a Workplace Paradise in NEO!



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Hyland, Creator of OnBase – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

Hyland, Creator of OnBase – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company


The day I announced the Workplace Paradise NEO series and asked “Where are the best places to work in Northeast Ohio?”, Mary Vales was the first to respond and said, “Hyland, of course”. Mary is the Manager of Learning and Organizational Development at Hyland, and says “Our employees are our family. Best work-place ever.”


Started in 1991, Hyland is the creator of OnBase, a single enterprise information platform for managing content, processes and cases. OnBase has transformed thousands of organizations worldwide by empowering them to become more agile, efficient and effective. Today the company is headquartered in Westlake, Ohio where it has a multi-building campus that includes about 1600 local employees, and roughly 2200 total employees globally.


If you ask anyone who has visited Hyland’s headquarters in Westlake about first impressions, they are likely to mention the playground-like slides in the lobby. Not one slide, but two. They bring a smile to the faces of most who visit. But there is a lot more to working at Hyland than the slides.


Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Kathleen Vegh, Manager of Employee Engagement and Megan Klingshirn, Public Relations Specialist at Hyland. They shared insights into what makes Hyland so special – and it is a special place to work. Here are some of the aspects of working for Hyland we discussed.


It starts with a culture that was formed and nourished in the early years of the company by Hyland family and friends, who were the founders and initial employees. Hyland believes that happy employees make happy customers, and it lives by that mantra. As described on its website, Hyland encourages passion, creativity and individuality which is reflected in a flexible, inclusive environment. Hyland values its people, and provides great careers AND well-being. Hyland recognizes that people are more than employees, and welcomes the whole person to the company.


Since its early days, Hyland has been dedicated to a fundamental purpose. Broad, inspirational and enduring, Hyland’s purpose is to enable organizations to operate more efficiently and effectively. To ensure it stays on point with that purpose, Hyland created a set of five core values:

  1. We conduct ourselves with honesty, integrity and fairness in our relationships with our partners, customers, employees and shareholders.
  2. We deliver configurable business solutions that are intuitive to use. Our customers are confident when navigating our solutions.
  3. Our customers are our partners.
  4. Our employees are our family.
  5. We are motivated people passionately dedicated to the success of the company.

These core values are consistently consulted when making decisions and creating policies, and are not compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.


Its culture, purpose and values have helped the company become wildly successful, as evidenced by numerous business and workplace awards. For seven consecutive years, Hyland has been recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management. For three years running, Hyland has been recognized as a Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, moving up 28 places to number 48 this year. Locally, Hyland has been recognized as a Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com Top Work Place and NorthCoast 99 winner, and has received many other awards and recognitions.


These awards and accolades have helped attract talent as well. Hyland is the first name mentioned by most candidates I talk with when asked where they want to work in Northeast Ohio. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to attract and retain the highly talented professionals Hyland requires. Kathleen Vegh explained that Hyland looks for motivated, positive and hard-working people, mostly in the IT field. Those are the same people MANY companies seek. And the roles at Hyland come with high expectations, tight deadlines, and some with high travel and long hours. Even so, Hyland continues to attract the best and brightest by working at it.


For example, Hyland has an entire team dedicated to engaging employees, using a process of interviewing employees, actively listening to their concerns and advocating on their behalf. The process has resulted in many of the perks and benefits employees enjoy today. One example is the addition of bicycles used by employees to go between buildings at the Westlake Campus (OK, for the record, the original request was for Segway’s). The engagement process provides an opportunity for employees to share concerns and improve their workplace.


Hyland also trains its people to look for ways to contribute to its customer’s success, which is directly tied to the Hyland corporate purpose. As Cam Bowers, Technical Consultant states, “What is most enjoyable about working as a Technical Consultant in Implementation Services is helping our customers achieve the goals they have set out for their companies. When I can help someone make their life easier, I feel rewarded.”


Looking forward, Hyland projects to have over 3000 employees by 2020. Even though Hyland enjoys a very positive, high profile as an employer, the company continually looks for new ways to keep the talent pipeline full. Three approaches stand out to me. The first is an ongoing commitment to hiring interns. The Hyland Career Site focuses on People, Place and Purpose. Within the people section, internships are addressed separately. Hyland believes that internships should be about gaining valuable work experience, not fetching coffee. Providing meaningful work experiences to interns helps with a steady flow of early career candidates, and with building an employment brand that appeals to all professionals.


The second approach to keeping the talent pipeline full is the CHAMP program. Kathleen Vegh said that Hyland tried something new in 2016 and hired 25 entry level professionals into this program, which provides intensive training designed to prepare them for future roles as business and technical consultants. The program serves as a feeder system to the market-focused service and consulting delivery teams. The CHAMP program provides tremendous flexibility in filling internal roles as needed, especially compared to sourcing experienced professionals with specific IT skills.


A third approach to keeping the talent pipeline full is to hire remote workers and expand in other locations. Given the global footprint of the customer base it makes sense to have employees elsewhere. That approach provides an opportunity for Hyland to attract talent from outside Northeast Ohio, without requiring relocation.


Though Hyland will continue to expand outside Northeast Ohio, the company is committed to Greater Cleveland. As its career site proclaims, “We’re born and bred in Northeast Ohio and we couldn’t be more proud of our hometown.” The headquarters and majority of employees will be in Westlake for the foreseeable future. That commitment provides benefits beyond business and tax revenues. Hyland and its employees are big on giving back. Hyland’s Community Engagement Program focuses on employee involvement in the organizations that mean the most to its employees. To that end Hyland provides matching gifts, Dollars-for-Doers and paid service days. Hyland also hosts charitable events and conducts corporate-wide volunteer initiatives.


Hyland truly is a shining star as a business, civic and employment contributor in our area, and a great place to work.

Thank you, Mary, Kathleen and Megan for providing tremendous insight into #Hylandlife, and thank you Hyland for providing a Workplace Paradise in NEO!




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Mar-Bal, Inc. – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

Mar-Bal, Inc. – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

What a fabulous time to be living in Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio! In a few days the Cleveland Cavaliers will be raising their 2016 NBA Championship banner at their season opener, and across the street the Cleveland Indians will be hosting a World Series game for the first time since 1997. Go Tribe! One of the Tribe’s biggest fans is Maria Gaeta, Director of Human Resources for Mar-Bal, Inc. I’m excited to feature Maria and Mar-Bal in our first Workplace Paradise article.

Maria and I have known each other for years. We served together on the board of the Cleveland SHRM chapter, and Maria has had a highly successful career in human resources and HR consulting. Maria has won numerous awards for her work and contributions, including a 2015 Women Who Excel award and a 2016 Award for Organizational and Employee Development from The HR Awards of Northeast Ohio. Maria has been with Mar-Bal for four years and has made quite an impact.

Mar-Bal, Inc., headquartered in Chagrin Falls, OH, is the leading integrated compounder and molder of BMC Thermoset composite products and value added finishing services.  Mar-Bal has been recognized as one of America’s fastest growing companies for 2 consecutive years (2013, 2014).

Since 1970, Mar-Bal has engineered and manufactured quality, customized materials and parts while delivering unmatched client cost-effectiveness through superior customer service and commitment to the total value.

Here are some additional insights about Mar- Bal and their strategic direction:

Mission Statement

To develop and manufacture Engineered Composites that will create value for our customers and all stakeholders (employees and communities).


To be the premier thermoset composite solutions provider in the industrial and appliance markets and growing in new markets with great people and efficient operations.

Mar-Bal created a Values Tree based on feedback received from an employee survey, with the most cited values in bigger, bolder letters:


Mar-Bal provides truly innovative engineering solutions to solve customers’ technical challenges. The company culture strives to move quickly and be agile. They hire the best and work to develop great talent that wants to grow, contribute and make a difference, in a fun, award winning and challenging environment.

While the company is doing extremely well, Maria says it is challenging finding the best people – especially for the shop floor. “Working on the shop floor can be very challenging. It’s dirty, hot and itchy. We really have to provide value to our employees in order to compete with larger, publicly-held companies in the area” Maria tells us. As part of the effort to step up their game in the talent attraction area, Maria helped create a link on the Careers section of their website called the Realistic Job Preview. The Job Preview provides a step-by-step guide about working for Mar-Bal, the hiring process and employee testimonials. There is information about safety guidelines and an employee handbook. Great transparency for interested candidates.

But that’s not all. In order to compete for talent in today’s tight job market, Maria has included information about possible career paths, compensation and benefits. “We provide many opportunities for our people to earn bonuses and additional time off based on reaching goals, and for contributing ideas to improve quality and lower costs.” How has this extra effort paid off? Watch and listen to those who work for Mar-Bal to get a first-hand perspective.

While much of this article describes Maria’s background and contributions, she is the first to point out that the company’s success is a team success. “As a family owned business, we have an open door policy. Our executive owners, Scott and Steven Balogh, are often on the shop floor talking with supervisors and workers. Everyone has a voice at Mar-Bal, and everyone contributes to our success.”

For Northeast Ohio, there is another benefit of the family ownership. Scott and Steven Balogh are from this area, are active in area associations and are committed to Northeast Ohio. Part of that commitment includes adding a new plant here in Northeast Ohio. That means more jobs, which will contribute to our Northeast Ohio economy and success.

For all these reasons, we are proud to have Mar-Bal, Inc. as a Workplace Paradise in NEO!



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Talent Management Practices that Lead to Greatness

Talent Management Practices that Lead to Greatness

When LeBron James entered the NBA he was dubbed “The King” and appeared destined for greatness. Now he is the best player in the world. How he got there, though, was through a tremendous amount of coaching, practice, skills development and training.   Your people have a destiny with your company as well. Is it for greatness? That depends largely on your talent management practices. With focused talent management practices that contribute to success, your people can also reach greatness.

Consider the following list of talent management practices and see how they can contribute to greatness:

Talent Management Step Talent management Practice How it Contributes to Greatness
Identify Talent Pipeline Development Scouts for Greatness
Attract Talent Employment Branding Showcases Greatness
Hire Talent Recruiting and onboarding Selects for Greatness
Develop Talent Learning and Training Prepares for Greatness
Deploy Talent Strengths Based Job Matching Positions for Greatness
Manage Talent Performance Management Coaches for Greatness
Reward Talent Compensation and Benefits Recognizes Greatness
Engage Talent Align with Purpose Integrates Greatness
Promote Talent Succession Planning Accelerates Greatness
Measure Talent Talent Analytics Predicts Greatness
Energize Talent Culture Development Sustains Greatness

Everyone wants to be great at what they do. As you develop and evaluate your talent management practices, think about how they contribute to a destiny of greatness for your people.

For help developing and implementing talent practices that contribute to greatness, please contact me. We are happy to help. Randy Samsel rsamsel@futurestatetalent.com www.futurestatetalent.com 216-548-0740

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