75 years ago…

Philip McCutchen, December, 1941, Age 18
Philip McCutchen, 1941, Age 17.

December 7, 1941.

The young man who turned 17 in April of 1941 had joined the Navy while still a Junior in High School. He was now gathered with his shipmates aboard the brand-new aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet, to hear some kind of special announcement.

The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor!

There was a whirlwind of emotions in the young man. Anger, curiosity, fear. What did all of this mean? Europe was already engulfed in war, and every day there were news reports of Japanese hostile actions in the Pacific. Within days, as news of the death and devastation in Pearl Harbor grew in detail and depth, and formal war was declared, he found out.

The Hornet was done with its training now, and had its first mission. One that would make a statement of U.S. resolve against an enemy far, far away.

By the time the Hornet arrived in California in March of 1942, the young man was well-settled in to the routine of sea duty. He had been trained to work on the warplanes the ship carried, and had also proven adept at managing parts and supplies. During the near-constant battle station drills, he manned one of the ships’ five-inch guns as a pointer.

Imagine his surprise, as well as that of the rest of the crew, as they watched 16 B-25 bombers loaded aboard the flight deck on the first of April. No one would say why. Only that secrecy was tantamount. But the Doolittle Raid of Tokyo by those bombers on April 18th was a morale-boosting success. But it was not without its consequences, as the Japanese took out their anger and frustration over the attack on the Chinese, some of whom helped the men of the raiding bombers when they landed, crashed, or bailed-out.

More critical and desperate battles came in the months that followed. The young man had to grow up fast. The battles of Midway and the Solomon islands led to the battle of Santa Cruz on October 26, 1942. There the Hornet was attacked ferociously and was eventually sunk. The young man, like the rest of the crew, abandoned the ship to the sea. The last US fleet carrier lost to enemy action during the war, the Hornet had only been commissioned one year and seven days.

The young man, now just 18 years old and without a ship, spent months on the muddy hell-holes of New Caledonia and Guadalcanal, servicing the warplanes flying and fighting from the airfields on those islands. Eventually, as the war turned and victory became assured, he was shipped back to the states for recuperation and training, to Pensacola, Florida. That’s where he would meet the woman who would be my mother, herself a Navy Wave.

The young man grew up. Made the Navy his career. Married and raised a family. Retired. He passed away in 2008.

Thanks for all you did, Dad.

Three Secrets to Staffing Software or Recruiting Software Selection

How to select staffing software or recruiting softwarePsst! Want to know the three secrets to choosing the best software for your staffing or recruiting agency? Sure you do. And I’m going to share with you the three secrets to choosing software that I’ve learned over the past 25 years that I’ve spent marketing staffing and recruiting agency software.

If you’re in the market for new staffing or recruiting software – and you should be if your current software is more than 5 or 10 years old – you’ve probably already made your wish list of what that software should be able to do. And that’s great. You should do that. I know that because I’ve written many guides over the years to help staffing and recruiting agencies make honestly objective “good” choices.

Now I’m going to share with you how you can assure yourself that you’ll make a “great” choice.

You see, there are three factors – “secrets” – that will determine the success of the software you buy for your agency. And they have NOTHING to do with any special technology or whatever else a software sales rep is telling you. These secrets have everything to do with the software vendor and their vision, attitude, and commitment to achieving success. They measure the essential stuff that pays off for the vendor, and more importantly, for you and your agency.

What are these three secrets? Glad you asked!

First, they have to INNOVATE.

Staffing software and recruiting software vendors must innovateWell, duh, right? Software developers started their business built on an idea. The idea was to innovate and solve a problem using software that would result in better organizational performance.

For staffing and recruiting software vendors, the problems usually revolved around either front office recruiting or back office payroll/billing. The earliest staffing and recruiting software solutions were relatively crude and cumbersome, but they were an innovative miracle to agencies that were often overwhelmed with paper CV’s and the challenges of payrolling temporary workers.

Over the years, these solutions have grown in their complexity and sophistication, offering more bells and whistles and integrations and “enhancements.” Some of these new developments have been fairly innovative. And all of them were supposed to improve the performance of your staffing and recruiting agency. Maybe they did. But, when was the last time that your staffing software vendor offered or delivered to you a truly innovative enhancement to its product?

I’m not talking about an enhanced interface or integration to someone else’s product. Or something that you’ve been asking for in the software for years.

Nope. I’m talking about blow your socks off innovation that perhaps caused you to re-think your entire business service model because you see where implementing the new staffing or recruiting software can dramatically improve performance and profits.

When you think about innovation in that context, it’s really rare, isn’t it?

And that’s the problem. Staffing and recruiting software vendors often started with great ideas and created spectacular solutions. Then they spend the rest of their business life trying to stay up with or ahead of the competition. Some are just as happy with the status quo and become “one-hit wonders.”

True innovators are always doing more. They think up, develop, and provide frequent enhancements that deliver on the long-term vision of the software company to help agencies do their jobs better, faster, more efficiently, and more profitably.

Innovators are fearless and not afraid to put forward concepts that solve your agency’s problems in ways you might never have thought of. Innovators will see the possibilities in some new technology and adapt that to other staffing and recruiting problems. Non-innovators will just try to keep you happy enough to renew your maintenance contract.

A good example of forthcoming innovation is the beginning onslaught of Artificial Intelligence-based systems that will, according to many, disrupt the business market over the next 10-to-20 years. In 2015 nearly $3 billion dollars was spent on HR-related technology alone. Where does your staffing and recruiting software vendor spend your money? On innovation? Or just keeping up?

Your agency deserves an innovative partner that’s looking out for you and your business needs tomorrow. It’s up to you to ask: “What innovation have you delivered in the past three years that is unique to your software that will improve my business?”

If the software vendor can’t give you a clear answer, they are not an innovator.

The second secret is that they have to GROW.

Staffing software and recruiting software vendors must growIf innovation is the intellect that starts and sustains success for a staffing and recruiting software vendor, then growth is the result. Growth is the only true measure of success and acceptance in the marketplace.

Growth means that an increasing number of agency business owners recognize the value of the vendor’s software to their business operations.

But growth is more than just about the number of users and customers. Growth – the sale of more new software to more new users – provides the critically needed capital for reinvestment in the product, services, and, yes, innovation. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it is financially nearly impossible for a software firm to sustain any kind of innovative thinking if they aren’t growing.

So how should you measure growth of your staffing and recruiting software vendor? At its simplest, the yardstick you should use is: “How many users and customers have you added year-over-year for one, three, and five years?” You want both numbers because if all you measure is the total number of users, that number can be skewed by one or two large customer agencies that are growing themselves.

What you’re looking for is a consistent pattern of growth over time. A good benchmark is the staffing and recruiting industry’s growth. It’s averaged about seven percent per year since 2010. Your staffing or recruiting software vendor should have somewhat similar year-over-year growth in their number of users and customers. If it’s greater than that benchmark seven percent, you’re looking at a leader in the market, if not, well…

A second yardstick you can use is to ask: “How much has your staff grown year-over-year for one, three, and five years?” This second measurement will offer insight into a different aspect of their growth; how they are growing internally in response to sales and the support of their customers. If the numbers you’re given don’t reasonably align with the growth in numbers of users and customers, they should be considered suspect.

Software companies are always growing, stagnating, or dying. You want to buy from the growing vendor.

Third, they have to ENGAGE.

Staffing software and recruiting software vendors must engageEngagement is the secret sauce in the recipe for success in today’s hyper-connected world. That’s one reason why many staffing and recruiting software vendors are touting whatever Customer Relationship Management capabilities their software may have.

But how’s their engagement with YOU, their customer? For many, it’s a quick “How are you doing? Everything alright? Good. Bye!” More often, it’s a panicky or irate call from you to THEM about what the software isn’t doing. That’s not the kind of engagement that fosters successful relationships, growth, or innovation.

Engagement means that the software vendor is relentlessly focused on YOU and your agency’s needs and challenges. They want to know every one of your pain points, just as they also strive to take a broader view of the staffing and recruiting industry and the issues and challenges that are important to and influence it. They engage because they must be constantly learning. It’s the only way to discover how they might be able to solve those problems through the application of technology or in collaboration with other resources.

They can only learn this by listening and learning through engagement with you.

It’s pretty easy to measure the software vendor’s engagement with you, as you’ll be able to see firsthand ample evidence of their efforts. They’ll work at engaging with you personally and frequently through a variety of means such as social media. They’ll coach you on how to optimize your use of the software. They’ll listen intently to your feedback on the software to correct defects and improve your experience. They’ll reward your loyalty and give you opportunities to weigh in on their new developments or innovations. They’ll have a high-profile at industry events as both attendees and presenters. They’ll generally strive to build a community of customers that is highly inclusive. Customers who are enthusiastic and eager to be references.

Here’s one measure of staffing and recruiting software customer engagement. Ask how many users show up for the software vendors’ annual user meeting – assuming they have one. In my experience, the customers who come to these events are often the most engaged and the most successful among their peers. A vibrant and engaging user meeting is a strong indication of just how committed the software vendor is to its customers, and to its vision. For example, Avionte hosted 350 users at its 2016 user forum. Even more impressive, Bullhorn had 1,000 attendees at its 2016 conference – that’s roughly equal to the number of attendees at the American Staffing Associations national conference!

Engagement is the catalyst that in turn fosters innovation and growth. You want a partner who is as engaged with YOU as you want to be with your customers.

Innovation, Growth, and Engagement – The Three Secrets to Selecting Staffing Software or Recruiting Software.

So there you have it. The three secrets to selecting staffing software or recruiting software that will help ensure that it will be successful for your agency. Go ahead and make up your RFP with all of its requirements. It’s a necessity. But before you send out that RFP, ask any prospective software vendor questions that will help you determine whether or not the software vendor is an innovator who is growing and engaging with their customers.

Those software vendors that successfully pass your innovation, growth, and engagement questions should be the only ones that are honored with your RFP.


Phil McCutchen is a B2B marketing professional with 25-years of experience marketing software to the staffing and recruiting industry. The observations presented here represent his own opinions. 

Dear John, (a letter to the CEO of Wells Fargo)

Letter to John Stumpf of Wells Fargo

I’m feeling pretty blue right now, as this is a difficult letter to write.

You see, I’m going to have to end our eight-year relationship as I no longer believe that I can trust you.

While I’m not one of the millions who had fraudulent accounts opened in their name by your minions at Wells Fargo, I can’t condone or accept the practices you and your senior management seemed all too eager to promote.

C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” It seems that you’ve been doing the wrong thing, and just hoped you wouldn’t be seen and get caught.

So much for your integrity. And Wells Fargo’s.

In one Senate hearing, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said that you made millions of dollars in the “scam,” telling you, “You should resign … and you should be criminally investigated.” “It’s gutless leadership,” she said, noting that you are not resigning, willingly returning any of your earnings or firing any senior executives. “Wells Fargo wasn’t cross-selling. Failing to notify these customers about these sham accounts, this isn’t cross-selling, this is fraud,” Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) said.

To add to fuel to the fire, on September 29th, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) accused you of using insider information about the phony accounts to cash in $13 million worth of your own shares before knowledge of the fraudulent activity became public. Maloney said the timing of that trade raised questions of whether you put yourself ahead of customers who had been defrauded, and ahead of the bank in general. Of course, you denied that you had done anything wrong. You said he sold stock with proper approvals and claimed the sales were made “with no view about what was going on.”

Yeah, right. Forgive me if I find it difficult to believe you.

Sadly, John, there appear to be even more deceitful practices coming to light. The U.S. Labor Department is investigating possible abuses of employees by Wells Fargo in connection with the scandal. What’s even more disturbing to me, as veteran, is that Wells Fargo is now facing a Justice Department sanction over improperly repossessing cars owned by members of the military.

John Chiang, Treasurer for the state of California expressed my own feelings when he wrote in a letter to you and the bank’s board members, saying: “How can I continue to entrust the public’s money to an organization which has shown such little regard for the legions of Californians who placed their financial well-being in its care?” Chiang then suspended many of its ties with your Wells Fargo for at least a year. Included in the suspension are its most highly profitable business relationships with the state. These cover the lucrative business of underwriting certain California municipal bonds, investments in Wells Fargo securities, and the bank’s broker-dealer work to purchase investments on the treasurer’s behalf.

That’ll hurt a bit. As it should.

Warren Buffett has said that: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” You’ve done a good job of it, John. Your focus on short term success will probably have a long-term price. Of course, I should mention that I’m also upset with Warren. He’s been notably silent on this issue. Maybe it’s because he’s a big investor in Wells Fargo. Or perhaps he really does not believe in one of his oft-quoted statements about hiring based on integrity.

Sigh. So I’m a bit sad, and unhappy.

You and the Wells Fargo team are probably hoping to weather this storm with little damage. You’ll take whatever medicine you’re given and move on. And the recently announced “clawback” of $41 million in company stock won’t hurt you too much personally. After all, your retirement payout is pegged at $134 million. Glad to see that you’ve taken care of yourself, John. It helps explain in part why you pay your D.C. lobbyists millions to educate our politicians on how banking should be done. Your way.

Well, I get that. So I’m going to do the only thing I can do.

I’ll be ending our relationship. I’m moving on to a credit union, where I can place my trust as a member/owner. I can also expect to be treated with a little more respect. It’s a small thing. And it won’t make a blip on your profit/loss radar. But for me, it’s about putting my money into an organization I can trust to do the right thing. And that’s not Wells Fargo.

Goodbye, John.


Phil McCutchen

P.S. to readers. From a marketing standpoint, Wells Fargo has made a mockery of the fiduciary vision and values it has long embraced. As a result, it’s alienated many and will (hopefully) pay a hefty price for its failures. This should be a reminder to anyone in business that operating with integrity, honesty, and transparency should be your ultimate goal.


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