What happens when designer babies enter the workplace?

#8 | A scientist named – He Jianku claims to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies. Shortly after the announcement was made, He Jianku disappeared to parts unknown. (Insert dramatic music here.) If what He claims is true, not only is this a major scientific breakthrough disrupting the scientific community – forever; its also a major headache for the HR department. Tune in to this episode to find out why. Please support my Starbucks habit (and support this podcast) by dropping a tip in my virtual jar. Thank you in advance. 

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About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

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Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

On Nov. 28, He Jianku — a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford — announced to hundreds of scientists, colleagues and journalists that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies: twin girls with the pseudonyms Lulu and Nana whose DNA he claims to have altered to make them HIV-resistant. Though not verified, He’s work has been met with international outcry. Many consider such work to be an unethical violation of scientific norms and, amid conflicting reports about his current whereabouts, He Jianku (john-koo) has not been heard from since he made that announcement. (At least, not at the point of this recording.) I find all of this fascinating. Not only do I see the scientific community and society at large, changed irrevocably by this technological breakthrough, I foresee major headaches for the HR department. Why? I’ll let you know after this special message.


JIM: Oh! Sorry, everyone. One second… Jim Stroud.

CALLER: Hey Jim, I have to postpone our lunch meeting. I’m searching for the perfect candidate and my ATS is not making it easy.

JIM: Well, that doesn’t sound like fun. What about your CRM?

CALLER: Don’t get me started.

JIM: How many times have you had the perfect resume in hand and wished you could find more people just like them?

CALLER: Everyday.

JIM: You know what you need, right? You need a system that learns from you and suggests the right candidates at the right time.

CALLER: It doesn’t exist.

JIM: Oh, yes it does, and its name is HiringSolved.

CALLER: HiringSolved?

JIM: Yes, HiringSolvedHiringSolved is a tool that uses AI and Machine Learning to automate candidate matching, increase diversity, reduce time to fill, analyze the social web, and unlock the power of your ATS, CRM, and HRIS data.

CALLER: Interesting. Can you tell me more?

JIM: I would like to but, I’m about to do a podcast. I tell you what, check out their website at www.hiringsolved.com

CALLER: www.h-i-r-i-n-g-s-o-l-v-e-d.com

JIM: That’s right! www.HiringSolved.com. Go look at it now and I’ll call you back after the podcast.

CALLER: Okay, bye.

JIM: Sorry about that guys. Now, where was I?

Have you seen the movie Gattaca? It was out in the late 90’s, here’s a clip…. (Play the first few seconds of the movie trailer, maybe up to 1:23) In the movie Gattaca  Vincent Freeman (played by Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his genetically inferior  status. He decides to fight his fate by purchasing the genes of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law),  who has been determined to be genetically superior. Viincent assumes Jerome’s DNA identity and joins the Gattaca space program, where he falls in love with Irene (played by Uma Thurman). An investigation into the death of a Gattaca officer complicates Vincent’s plans. It’s a good movie with lots of suspense and intrigue. I recommend it.

As I said earlier, He Jianku’s research is not verified so, nobody knows for sure if he really did create the world’s first genetically edited babies resistant to HIV; but, I don’t think its too far-fetched to believe. In 2017, scientists in the United States successfully corrected a disease causing mutation by altering the genetic structure of a human embryo. Which mean, genes that carry certain diseases would not be passed on to “newborns.”

Now if you do a search on “designer babies” you will find a lot, and I do mean a LOT, of articles discussing the ethics of the science. Some people say that designing babies is a good thing while others poo-poo the idea. Here is a breakdown of the pros and the cons. First, the pros…

Designing babies would mean that you not only reduce the risk of genetic diseases but you also stop diseases from being passed on to future generations. Because you can enhance intelligence through this process (at least, from what I’ve read), there’s a better chance the child will succeed in life. One could also give their child genes that neither of the parents carry; for example… musical and dance giftings. Your child could be the next Beyonce; despite the fact that you and your spouse struggle with karaoke. And the biggest plus to designing children, I suppose, would be a better understanding of how genetics increase life span. Does that mean immortality? I doubt it. But it might mean that the average person may one day live to be 100 years old.

And now, the arguments against designing children…

As heartless as it may sound to some, I can foresee many pregnancies terminated simply because the genetic recipe was flawed in some way. The hair isn’t blonde enough. The IQ is not high enough and it must be optimum if the child is to compete in modern society.  Geneticists are not perfect. Maybe getting rid of one disease, sparks the genesis of another one that is even more deadly and because its so new, there is no way to treat it. Before you know it, we are surrounded by zombies from “The Walking Dead” and I’m only way halfway kidding.

In the rush to make perfect children, I can see us forgetting the children who have no say in how their genes are manipulated. Maybe they discover they have talents that they do not desire and decide to rebel against their parents and in the case of being a musical genius, refuse to sing; no matter how much their parents implore them. Maybe they would feel the loss of individuality and be stuck in a sort of limbo; somewhere between discovering what they want to do with their lives and what their parents designed them to be.

And if that is not enough, there are the issues the Human Resources department will have to face.

What are the ramifications of employing adults who were once designer babies? On the plus side, companies that focus on hiring “designer babies” can brag that they offer exorbitant healthcare benefits because it is unlikely certain diseases and conditions would even occur with designer babies; since those conditions were likely screened out at birth. Designer babies would tend to have IQs higher than the national average due to their genetic enhancements so companies who hire them would likely be more efficient, productive and innovative. Designer babies would be better educated and have lots of business contacts as they tend to come from wealthy families that can afford designer baby enhancements. With all of these advantages, its no wonder companies hire as many designer babies as they can find and do all they can to retain them. But isn’t that discriminatory to natural born humans?

What happens when natural born humans figure out why they are not being considered for high-paying jobs, at the same rate, as these designer babies?  Will they protest and file lawsuits against the company? If they do, how will that affect the employer brand of the company? As expensive as it would be, at least in the onset, to have designer children, most of the hiring population would be natural born humans. This means that no matter how many designer babies you hire, its likely the majority of the people you hire will be natural born and they won’t want to work for a company who denies them upward mobility.

As such, HR department, you have a massive recruiting problem which in turn, is a massive bottom line problem because if your employment brand is bad, it only stands to reason that the consumer side will follow. 

So, for the record, I am against genetic manipulation for the sake of making “perfect” children. I think the ethics prohibit us from going down this path and would encourage things like killing offspring with Down Syndrome; they do that in Iceland, you know.  And who can say how all of the genetic manipulation will affect future offspring? What happens when a designer baby mates with another designer baby? What happens when a designer baby mates with a natural human? What happens when two people have children naturally but one of them or both, have a designer baby in their lineage? Nobody knows now, but thanks to scientists like, He Jianku, we will in the future, for better or worse.

A Future Talk on Careers with Dr. Tracey Wilen

NOTE: I’m thinking of doing a podcast where I interview interesting people about the future of work, life and everything in between. Consider this to be the pilot episode. If I do more of these, it will be because of the comments and encouragement of my listeners. So, please do share your thoughts.

A podcast about the future of everything.

My guest in the premiere episode of “Future Talk” (working title) is Dr. Tracey Wilen.  We discuss the career confusion of mature workers and millennials  seeking to progress in their career, how to figure out a career path in this constantly changing technological landscape,  what to do when you don’t know what to do next in your career and more. Get a pad and pencil (or have you texting finger ready) to take notes as lots and lots and lots of strategies are suggested herein.

Click here to listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm


Dr. Tracey WilenDr. Tracey Wilen is a researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work, and careers. A former visiting scholar at Stanford University, she has held leadership positions at Apple, HP, and Cisco Systems. She was an adjunct professor for Bay area colleges teaching classes in business, technology and women’s workforce topics.Dr. Wilen was named San Francisco Woman of the Year (WOW) and honored by the San Francisco Business Times as the most Influential Woman in Bay Area Business. She is a finalist for 2018 Women Advocate of the Year for Women in Technology(WIT). Dr. Wilen has authored 13 books, her newest book is Career Confusion: 21st Century Career Management in a Disrupted World (2018) a companion book to Digital Disruption; The Future of Work, Skills, Leadership, Education and Careers in a Digital World (2018). Available for order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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How many reqs should a recruiter be able to handle?

The short answer is, “it depends.”

The medium response is 25-30.

This is the long answer:

When it comes to figuring out how many requisitions a recruiter should be able to handle, the variables are limitless. Nevertheless, I will mention the more notable considerations and some reasoning for each.

Quality of Hire: If you want the best of the best, its going to take a lot of selling to convince them to join your firm. Whether or not you represent a Fortune 50 company or a lower 1,000. If the person you want to hire is really good, chances are you will be competing with other companies who want them as well. On the flipside, if the role is not so critical and average workers are acceptable, a larger requisition load is not unreasonable.

Passive candidates vs Active Candidates: What type of candidate are you focused on? If you are targeting passive candidates, its going to be a longer sales cycle; such is the nature of that type. If you are grabbing people from a job board, a larger requisition load is not unreasonable. Moreover, its a logical assertion to say that the higher level of the job, the smaller the load.

Experience Level: The best recruiters know how to get things done whereas newbies have a learning curve. The proficiency of the worker has a direct impact on how much work can be handled. This is especially true if the recruiter has to source their own candidates.

Job Descriptions: If a recruiter is handling many different types of jobs then, I would think a smaller requisition load is logical because the recruiter will not be able to submit their candidates to multiple roles.

Employer Brand: If there is a low offer-acceptance rate, then requisition loads should be lowered; chances are so many searches will have to be extended or reopened. That being said, what do the company’s Glassdoor ratings look like? Is there a lot of turnover in the company? What does the stock price look like? Is the ticker trending down or up? If the employee referral rate is low, that suggests a difficult culture to recruit for.

Economic Conditions: If there is a recession in play and layoffs are common in the headlines, chances are candidate response rates will be high. On the other hand, if the economy is booming and the unemployment rate is low, recruiters will have to wait longer to hear back from potential hires.

Relationship Management: How responsive are the hiring managers? Do they reply to emails in a timely manner? Do they constantly cancel interview dates? The best recruiters are the ones who can best manage the hiring managers they support. It is worth mentioning, some hiring managers purport to be too busy to stop working long enough to interview the help they desperately need.

Administrative Support: Is the recruiter scheduling the screens, interview times, extending offers and on-boarding? Without the assistance of a recruiting coordinator, these duties can really extend the time to fill and requisition load tangentially.

Resource Allocation: What resources are available to the recruiter? Do they have access to LinkedIn Recruiter? Monster? Do they have sourcing support?

Although there is no universal standard applicable to every industry, personal experience and anecdotal evidence say 25-30. Said number is set on a mix of reqs; some high level passives, some active job seekers with a couple of purple squirrels filtered in. As you may imagine, this is a very controversial topic among recruiters (and sourcers for that matter.) I scanned the web to find commentary from recruiters on the topic. (See below) I also suggest checking out SourceCon’s State of Sourcing surveys as their data is invaluable on this topic.


…I’m a corporate recruiter and had a high of 48 openings at one time across 4 business groups (Marketing, Finance, Technical Sales Support [but not IT] and Purchasing). I average between 25-30. I’ve been there since June and have filled 45 positions, but that does include some internal moves (although I still have to coordinate internal interviews and help w/ salary discussions). We have a total of 4 recruiters, a coordinator, and a req carrying Director – will probably hire 300 or more in the next year including a whole lot of entry level college grads – we have a campus recruiter who focuses on that. Don’t hold me to that number- I’m taking a stab based on what I’ve seen this year and what I’ve heard as far as planning in my client groups. [source]

This is not a cut and dry type of answer. It really depends on how many openings you have, what level those opening are (non-exempt, exempt, manager, director, etc.), how “rare” or “common” the skill set you’re looking for is, if it’s a relocation position, etc. If you are an internal recruiter and working for a large corporation then your work load is probably 20 to 30 openings, at varying stages, at any given time. Therefore 8 to 12 hires per month would be about right. If you work for a midsize company, on average you probably have 10 to 15 openings and 6 to 8 hire per month is about what you’d expect. Smaller firms, (300-500) employees I’d expect your monthly job openings to average around 5-10 positions, therefore 0-5 hires per month. It really depends on so many factors and circumstances that I might think an average of 5 hires per month is great, and someone down the street will think that sucks! I’ve recruited for every scenario and size company I’ve described above and those are about what I used to average. [source]

On a large recruiting team, your chance to fill openings is obviously decreased if you are all recruiting from the same talent pool. Also if you are only supporting 2 hiring managers you won’t fill as many positions as a lone recruiter who supports many managers in the organization. Supposing there are an endless number of positions to fill each month for your two managers, a good recruiter should be able to fill at least 10 entry level positions, and 3-4 high level positions. If it’s just one or the other (entry or high level) those numbers obviously go up. All of this is also highly dependent on the hiring process within the organization. Some are much slower than others. [source]

I filled about 85 positions each year while working for large company. These were IT Jobs. Small companies. I filled 20 to 30 positions this year. Currently recruiting for company that 650 employees. I am on track to fill about 60 – 70 this year. So about 5 people per month this year. All IT jobs. [source]

The question is not so much how many can they fill but how many can they “effectively support at one time.” After reviewing our processes and streamlining efforts we are confident that our high volume recruiters can manage 80-100 positions which could translate into three to four open requisistions. Our high volume positions have set start dates in order to meet training class timelines. If a recruiter misses then we can roll those positions into the next req with a post mortem to try and avoid in the future (source, process, hiring manager responsivness, failed background checks). If the positions are ongoing with no set start date for training, being a midsize company, growing fast and that you mention “improving their internal process” I would agree with Peter’s numbers – 6-8. [source]

…depends on what the recruiter and the client want to have happen and what is valued most. As an onsite corporate recruiter, I most value being able to deliver high quality service. In my experience, high quality service = high quality results. For me personally, that means 30 req’s at the most. Anything after that, for a sustained period of time, my ability to deliver high quality service suffers. [source]

The number depends on the effort expended to fill the role. If you are proactively recruiting hard to find candidates I’d say about 1 -2 a month is about right If you are running ads or just reviewing write-ins on your ATS then you are no longer actively recruiting and the number could easily be 12-15+ open jobs on an on going basis. [source]

In my role, I recruit for all roles. Since we don’t have any high turnover roles and only a couple entry level type roles, we focus heavily on quality over quantity. I’m comfortable at 10-12 on an ongoing basis if that mixed between individual contributor roles and some management roles. 15 is my stretch for frontloading and peak periods. Since I currently have 30 openings, I hired a temp recruiter to help me. It all really depends on the role of the recruiter at the organization. So much of my role is employer branding, networking, blogging, and attending a significant amount of career fairs. So it’s possible that my metrics are a little more modest than some. But again, my role goes beyond just back to back phone screens all day. [source]

I’m speaking at the Evolve Conference in Czech Republic! Join me?

I’m excited about speaking at the Evolve Conference in Czech Republic next month.

I have two presentations on the agenda. Check out the descriptions below.

The Perils and Progress of Workplace Efficiency

15 minutes ago, the world changed. Social Media has caused (or greatly contributed to) a mental health epidemic. As a result, companies had to hire smart in order to protect their interests. So, what are they turning to? Advance technologies that monitor the emotional fitness of their workers, artificial intelligence that scan the faces of candidates for truth when interviewing and other means. These methods may improve overall efficiency and the bottom line of the enterprise but at what cost? When does the collection and tracking of employee data go too far? How much privacy should an interviewee expect to have? And most importantly, how will these practices affect the future world of work?

Email, I love you. You’re perfect! Now change

Robots, artificial intelligence, autonomous cars… The future is no longer an ambiguous date for an upcoming time, but is now a reality that is warping the status quo for generations to come. Yet, fortunately for all concerned, there has been one consistent friend accompanying us from the age of usenet, surviving the time of MySpace and even now flourishes in the era of virtual reality. Can you guess what platform has been empowering communications since the dawn of the internet itself and will likely continue on? Of course, it is email. Email has evolved over the years from being a novelty to an essential asset. Yet, with its long history and the occasional hacking scandal, email has yet to be leveraged to the Nth degree within the recruitment industry. Why not? In the presentation, “Email, I love you. You’re perfect! Now change,” Jim Stroud will detail the history of email, speculate on its evolution and share tips and strategies for making the most of a medium recruiters tend to take for granted. If you think you know all that is necessary to manage your email, your recruitment marketing campaigns and have a handle on what’s to come then, this presentation is sure to open your eyes to something new.

See you there?