What Would Human Resources Do? Some Advice For Trump As He Recruits And Staffs Up Between President Trump being a newcomer to D.C. and a swirl of chaos, the White House is lagging behind other administrations in hiring. But experts NPR spoke to have some tips.
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What Would Human Resources Do? Some Advice For Trump As He Recruits And Staffs Up

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What Would Human Resources Do? Some Advice For Trump As He Recruits And Staffs Up

What Would Human Resources Do? Some Advice For Trump As He Recruits And Staffs Up

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President Trump is well into his presidency, but the White House is lagging far behind when it comes to hiring for key positions across the government. So NPR's Vanessa Romo got a few pro tips on how to frame those help-wanted ads.

VANESSA ROMO, BYLINE: When the White House press secretary gave his only on-camera briefing this week, reporters got right to the point, asking if there'd be a new opening at that podium.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SEAN SPICER: Right here.

ROMO: I'm right here, he said. Then he added this.

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SPICER: But look. It's no secret we've had a couple vacancies, including our communications director, who's gone for a while. We've been meeting with potential people that may be of service to this administration.

ROMO: To say that the Trump administration has a couple of vacancies is an understatement. To put it in perspective, by this point in his first term, President Obama had confirmed 151 appointees, whereas Trump only has 43. And it's not because they're not trying or that these are not lucrative positions.

It's that, amid the investigations, the low approval rating numbers and notoriously capricious nature of the president, it's been challenging to lure takers. So removing this from the political realm and looking at this from an HR perspective, the question is, how does an organization entice top-tier talent when it's embroiled in chaos?

PETER CAPPELLI: I think it's a pretty good bet for somebody to take over an organization that everybody knows is in big trouble and that expectations are really low.

ROMO: That, surprisingly, is the expert opinion of...

CAPPELLI: Peter Cappelli in a very, very narrow conference room.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMO: He's also professor of management at the Wharton Business School, where Trump took a handful of business classes. Cappelli says you have to think of troubled companies like a sinking ship.

CAPPELLI: And you get on board it, and it sinks. Nobody blames you. If it's sinking, and something nice happens, and it turns around, you get all the credit.

ROMO: Great. But what's the pitch? If he were hiring, Cappelli says this would be his.

CAPPELLI: You're serving your country - job won't last that long. But, afterwards, you will be more valuable.

ROMO: So what kind of people are actually well-suited to work for an organization that's in crisis and a boss who's unfazed by completely reversing course on any given endeavor? According to Cappelli, the best candidates would have a military background, people who...

CAPPELLI: Who are used to accepting direction and executing orders. And they're used to falling on their swords for superiors.

ROM BRAFMAN: So what I would say is the opposite.

ROMO: Rom Brafman says the ideal employee in this situation is one who's flexible and creative. Brafman's a psychologist and co-author of the best-selling book "Sway: The Irresistible Pull Of Irrational Behavior."

BRAFMAN: If you're intelligent, if you're creative, you don't really want somebody who's always going to tell you what's good and what's bad. And if somebody's telling you that one day something is good and one day something is bad, that creates the opportunity to go with either direction.

ROMO: Why, then, aren't more startup types clamoring to work for the White House? Brafman says behavioral economists call it loss aversion.

BRAFMAN: Let's say you walk in the street, and you find a $100 bill. You'll be happy, but if you lost a $100 bill, you'll be two and a half times more upset than the joy that you would've derived from finding a $100 bill.

ROMO: How does that translate into the workplace? Well, the fear of failure or of being tainted by it outweighs the unknown possibilities of success. But for anyone considering a job, here's a tip from Trump. The poor need not apply for some jobs.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: In those particular positions, I just don't want a poor person. Does that make sense? Does that make sense?

ROMO: I don't know. Does it? Vanessa Romo, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF LRKR'S "JOURNEY")

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