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November  1998 RSS feed Archive for November, 1998

Didja Know of DejaNews?

by
Jennifer Hicks
Nov 30, 1998

Although several services exist to help you search newsgroups, DejaNews is perhaps the most complete and easy to use. It’s a fact that DejaNews finds resumes posted to resume-specific newsgroups. But, it also gives you a way to search for passive candidates through its search interface and its Interest Finder. DejaNews bills itself as “the” source for Internet discussion groups. It is. DejaNews has over 100 million articles from newsgroups dating back to March 1995. In total, they have over 380,000 resumes archived. A search through their standard archive, containing postings from the last 6 months, reveals 14,000+ resumes. On the other hand, Alta Vista has over 25,000 resumes – but they go back 10 months and are not indexed from newest to oldest. Consider their “Interest Finder”. From the search interface, you can key in what you’re interested in to find appropriate newsgroups. For instance searching for groups on “computers” results in 14 newsgrouups. Searching for “accounting,” though brings up 33-which helps point out the need to search well. One reason there are so many groups related to “accounting” is because of the recent political movement requesting an accountant from the Senate and the President on certain matters. Unless you’re looking for a government official or an ex-intern, these particular groups won’t necessarily help you find a brilliant accountant. And a simple search for “resume” can’t help much either, since if it’s pronounced differently but spelled the same, it no longer means a C.V.-type posting, but rather “to go back to.” Use the search filters to narrow your search by author, subject, newsgroup, or date. If you want to find accountants looking for jobs, go down to the subject line and type “resume & accountant.” Click on “Create Filter.” You’ll find several hundred resumes. Once you’ve done this, you can refine it further. Next week: Pre-screening Candidates with Usenet

42 Things You Can Do to Improve the Quality of Your Employment Function

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Nov 27, 1998

This is a list of employment practices a recruiter might consider as you attempt to move into 21st century HR:

  1. Do a survey of all hires and ask them why they accepted the job (and what were their concerns).
  2. keep reading…

Usenet: An Overview Part I of a III Part Series

by
Jennifer Hicks
Nov 23, 1998

Eighteen years ago, Usenet was the first resume database on the Internet. Usenet is a huge bulletin board system for many thousands of newsgroups – topic-specific discussion platforms. Anyone across the globe with access to the Internet can participate and often, it seems as if each and every one does. Today, there over 50,000 different newsgroups ranging in subject matter from pet care to religion to job hunting. Each day, tens of thousands of people read and post messages in the threaded (and public) conversations. And a few thousand post jobs and resumes. Finding these resumes can be more than time-consuming; it can be downright frustrating. Often, they’re mixed up with lots of other stuff you don’t want — get-rich-quick schemes, other recruiters’ postings, and rather unsavory personal messages. And, there’s cross-postings galore. Next week we’ll talk about how to sort through all this chaff. For now, consider these newsgroups: alt.building.resumes alt.medical.sales.jobs.resumes alt.resumes atl.resumes aus.ads.jobs.resumes ba.jobs.resumes fl.jobs.resumes il.jobs.resumes israel.jobs.resumes misc.jobs.resumes nm.jobs pdaxs.jobs.resumes stl.jobs.resumes us.jobs.resumes You can access these newsgroups and more, through a newsreader or through a Web-based service such as the following: * Alta Vista * Ask NPAC * Deja News * Excite * Forum One – Searches 37,000 newsgroups * HotBot * InReference – Searches only 17,000 newsgroups – but a sizeable number of publicly accessible mailing lists. * SuperNews If you are new to Usenet and newsgroups, and want to know more, try News Basics – ZDNet’s great and handy rundown of Usenet 101. From Netiquette to newsreaders, they cover what Usenet is; what software you may want to use to access it; what websites catalog postings; what an FAQ is and how to find them, and more. Next week: “Didja Know of DejaNews”

Rethinking Interviews – The “Fut R View”: A Better Way To Hire

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Nov 20, 1998

Most interview strategies were developed long before the “Internet” age when the speed of change in business was rather slow. However, if your business is in a rapidly-changing environment, you will need new tools that can tell you more about the future possibilities of a candidate than what they did years ago. Does your business require “outside-the-box” solutions that didn’t exist 3-5 years ago? Are you looking to excite applicants and send them a message that your firm is different? If so, you might consider a new approach to hiring called a “Fut R View.” What is a Fut R View? A Fut R View is an advanced interview technique for IT, product development, and other forward-looking jobs. In a Fut R View the focus is on assessing applicants’ new ideas and their competencies in planning, forecasting, and solving future problems your firm will face under the unique constraints of your culture and your business environment. Fut R Views work best for cutting edge jobs and for selecting innovators and the “very best” in their fields. They are not for every job. They can, however, be a supplement to existing interviews or used as a stand-alone tool. Fut R Views emphasize the forward-thinking whereas behavioral, as well as most other interviews focus on the past. Reasons for using a Fut R View to gain a competitive advantage in hiring:

  • You can’t beat the competition in hiring the best candidates if you use the same tools as the competitors to screen your candidates.
  • keep reading…

Measures Of Success And Customer Service

by
Kevin Wheeler
Nov 18, 1998

Well, we finally come to the end of our list of the seven things an organization must have to be considered world-class. The first questions that must be asked are simple ones: What is important to your customer? And, who IS your customer? Although these are simple, they are not easy to answer. Is your candidate the customer? The hiring manager? The executive team? Or is it all of these? What do each of these hold as important? What are the criteria they are judging you by? Do you know? This week we look at who the customer is and how you can measure the effectiveness of your recruiting efforts. All seven of these steps, put together into a system and properly managed, will provide your organization with a clear advantage over the competition, and with a giant leap toward being a leader in the 21st century. To start, here’s the list of seven things you must have if you want a world-class staffing organization. 1. PAPER IS NON-EXISTENT (Discussed on Wednesday October 7th) 2. MANGERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RECRUITING PROCESS (Discussed on Wednesday, October 14th) 3. THE ORGANIZATION USES THE RIGHT TYPE OF EMPLOYEE IN THE RIGHT POSITION (October 21st) 4. DEVELOPMENT OF TALENT IS PART OF THE RECRUITING MINDSET (October 28th) 5. THE ONLY CONSTRAINTS ON FILLING POSITIONS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY ARE CAUSED BY SCHEDULING DELAYS (November 4th) 6. STAFFING IS PART OF THE IMAGE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING EFFORTS OF THE ORGANIZATION (November 11th) 7. THE ORGANIZATION MEASURES RECRUITING SUCCESS (November 18th) No one would deny that the candidate is probably the foremost customer – judging us on the quality of our interaction with him or her. If we make a good impression it will remain with the candidate and passed along to everyone they talk to. If not, it can damage our reputation for a long time. But, the hiring manager is also very important for two reasons: (1) she hired you, the recruiter, to do a job, i.e. find a qualified employee and (2) she will pass judgement on how good your candidates are. If it took weeks or months to find the right candidate, she will want to know why. Or, she may have already decided that the reason is YOUR inability to source and attract the best. Before accepting any recruiting assignment, you should clearly establish the criteria by which you will be judged. In almost every case, speed will be followed by quality. Cost is almost always last — and often not even a consideration at all. Yet, when I scan the literature on recruiting, I see a focus on cost per hire, on advertising budgets, and on dollars in general. I always wonder why? If you were able to produce two or three highly-qualified candidate in a few hours after receiving a bona fide requisition or job request, and if one of these candidates were hired, wouldn’t you be a hero? Wouldn’t cost be irrelevant? I think these are the critical parameters, in order of importance: 1. TIME TO HIRE: Speed has become the competitive differentiator. All else being equal, this is what makes a difference to candidate and manager. Just think what response you would get from a manager if one or two days after your received a job requisition you provided one or two very qualified, well-screened candidates? Is this possible? Yes. Given new Internet-based tools for screening, tracking, and background screening candidates, it is possible to have very short turn-around times. 2. QUALITY OF THE HIRE: Did your new hire actually show up the first day? Do you know that a very high percentage of new employees never show up on their start date and that another significant number don’t come back after the first or second day? What is your 1-, 2- and 3-month retention rate? As a recruiter, there are many things you can do to improve the chances that the person hired will stay and perform. You can test candidates for skills and abilities, you can do background checks and reference checks, and you can use the speed with which you extend an offer and set the start date to ensure that the quality of your candidate increases. All of these techniques add to your percentages. Hiring can, to a large extent, be a scientific process with many more procedures and safeguards than we generally believe. But, with the cost of turnover exceeding 33% of annual salary, whatever you do will pay off. Good hires mean employees who show up, work hard, and achieve their goals. By understanding the skills and personalities of currently successful employees, you can develop profiles of success to use in your interviewing and screening. 3. CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: Do you survey your customers and find out what they really think about you and the staffing function? Inside large corporations, given today’s supply constrained marketplace, recruiting functions are on the front line. Everyone scapegoats and complains about their staffing organizations. Unfortunately, they are often right! It is seldom that a recruiting function markets itself well and effectively. Do you have an active marketing campaign? Do you publicize success? Are you active or passive in creating your image? Are you surveying your customers to see what they want? What do candidates think about you? Is your advertising agency guiding you both internally AND externally? 4. CANDIDATE DIVERSITY: Are you hiring a good mix of people? So you have targets and goals for hiring Asians, African-Americans, Hispanics? What is your strategy to attract and retain great people of diverse backgrounds? Everyone is seeking out diversity. Schools are swamped with recruiters looking for topnotch Asian, Hispanic, and African-American MBAs, engineers, and programmers. But, are you helping to build future talent through supporting high school and college intern programs. Are you providing scholarships? It is critical to have an active program with goals and a clear strategy. 5. COST PER HIRE: What does it cost you to bring in the talent? While this is far from critical in today’s market, it is always wise to watch costs and have a program of continuous improvement. Make sure you are spending money on the things that make sense and pay off. Measure what works and doesn’t work as rigorously as you can. Never spend more than you have to, but always weigh costs against potential benefit. And remember that you have to pay for top talent just like sports teams do. Good people know they are good and demand appropriate salaries and benefits. Next week we will tackle some new issues. There are lots of things to cover as we start a new year, including personality testing, background screening, outsourcing the recruiting function, and outsourcing all the administrative side of staffing. There are many new Internet tools and services that we will start sorting through. It should be an exciting new year! See you next week.

Slithering Through the Cybersphere

by
Jennifer Hicks
Nov 16, 1998

Tired of racking up phone bills and staying online only to be frustrated by the results? Then don’t. Employ yet another web-agent to help. This time, a reptile – a multi-functioned, offline browser called WebSnake for Windows 95 or NT. WebSnake gathers all pages within a web-site, pulls out email addresses, and imports bookmarks. Of course, this is all well and good for those of you into collecting competitive intelligence. But who else might care? Well, it also searches for and retrieves web pages within a specified site, based on several types of keyword searches – perhaps an essential function for those perpetually pursuing people. Or for those who have found a huge site that looks as if it has possibilities for candidate mining, but who don’t have the time to search through it. E-mail addresses are found through a simple keyword search, but bear in mind that the keyword must be in the e-mail address. Thus, it can help find all people at, say, Cisco or Bay Networks, but it won’t find “Cobol Programmers” unless that phrase is within their e-mail address. If you find a site that looks as if it might have many promising pages, and you have neither the time nor the inclination to browse through it online, use the browse function. The site gets copied to your hard drive and you can peruse it later, while offline. Often, if you have a reasonably fast computer, but only a 28.8 modem, browsing from your hard drive is quicker than doing it online. Its most useful function though, is search and retrieve. It can be set to look for keywords within a particular site AND follow all links within the site while it looks for similar keywords. In fact, it is with this function that WebSnake surpasses other offline browsers by a mile. By setting our query, limiting the search to only text files, and asking it to follow all links within one large site, we found several pages – outside the site – which contained resumes of Cobol people. Not bad for little work. You can search all files within the site or you can choose just text files or just keywords within filenames. However you choose to search, make sure to select the properties before you send out the Snake. Within these properties, the advanced function lets you add filters to the search query, limits the amount of pages brought back, and eliminates the bringing back of any image or audio files. System Requirements: 486/33 or higher PC, Windows 95/NT, 8MB RAM, 5MB available hard disk space. Try a free demo or just buy it. It’s only $29.95. Next week: With 50,000 newgroups in Usenet, where do you start? Usenet: An Overview

Don’t Isolate Your Employment Function - Coordinate Your Recruiting And Marketing Efforts

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Nov 13, 1998

Who…

  • Places newspaper ads to get people’s attention and to bring in potential clients?
  • keep reading…

How Creating an Image is Central to Successful Recruiting

by
Kevin Wheeler
Nov 11, 1998

Almost everyone in the recruiting business must also be an “imagineer,” (using Disney’s term) and create a brand image for their company and for the positions they are offering. Those who are best at this, reap the benefits of hiring more people and doing it faster than anyone else. This week we will explore how you can be better at marketing and branding yourself, your company, and your positions. To refresh your memory, these are the qualities that MUST exist for world class status: 1. PAPER IS NON-EXISTENT (Discussed on Wednesday October 7th) 2. MANAGERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RECRUITING PROCESS (Discussed on Wednesday, October 14th) 3. THE ORGANIZATION USES THE RIGHT TYPE OF EMPLOYEE IN THE RIGHT POSITION (October 21st) 4. DEVELOPMENT OF TALENT IS PART OF THE RECRUITING MINDSET (October 28th) 5. THE ONLY CONSTRAINTS ON FILLING POSITIONS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY ARE CAUSED BY SCHEDULING DELAYS (November 4th) 6. STAFFING IS PART OF THE IMAGE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING EFFORTS OF THE ORGANIZATION (November 11th) 7. THE ORGANIZATION MEASURES RECRUITING SUCCESS (November 18th) When someone says, “Silicon Graphics hires only young whiz kids,” or when a friend says, “Silicon Valley companies offer a lot more freedom and excitement than other companies,” what are they REALLY saying? They are saying that certain companies have created an image — have branded themselves — better than other companies. They have carefully created an image that makes us think about them in a certain way. In reality, working in most of these companies is probably pretty much similar to working for other companies. Of course, there are individual differences and nuances, but generally we are focusing on IMAGE and BRAND. World-class recruiting involves actively creating the image you want to attract the kinds of people you want. An effective staffing organization creates an image of the company in the minds of prospective candidates through all of its activities. The product advertising side of a company can help this process, but generally they are experts at selling and marketing things or services, not the intangible rewards of employment in YOUR firm. Here are some axioms to guide the process of image and brand development: 1. You must deliberately craft a brand. Define what is unique or special about your company. This takes time and is not an easy task, but it pays many dividends. For years IBM did little active recruiting because its carefully cultivated image said: “stability, security, advancement, and leading edge technology.” Every internal recruiting system supported the image that IBM was different and unique. It gave the impression that only students with high GPAs need apply, and that only candidates who had solid research experience or had done something very different were wanted. This is what IBM created as an image for itself over the years — whether it was deliberate or not — and it worked. People flocked to work there. 2. Be aware that all recruiting is about answering the question: “What’s in this for me?” in offer from Microsoft, for example, says things about ME. IT says I am desirable, smart and “cool.” It says that I could run their recruiting hurdles successfully. Their offer helps brand ME. The more you can help a candidate feel important or special because she accepted your offer, the more successful you will be. Make it really easy for a candidate to say “YES!” 3. Use every channel to create an image. Get employees or other people to write articles about your company. Work with your internal public relations people to get mentioned in leading magazines. Get people to present at conferences. Run image advertisements. Sponsor events that reflect your image. If you want to attract young, socially responsible people, support causes they are concerned about. Make donations to the charities and non-profit institutions that your employees support themselves. Whenever I see an ad for Nike or Cisco or Microsoft, I can see that the ad is also targeted at attracting great people to work there. The messages work both for the product and for recruiting. This is great advertising! 4. Make sure every recruiter is sensitive to the image-lives it and promotes it. Too often I see recruiters that are almost oblivious to the company image. They don’t really know what the firm stands for or why. This has to be unacceptable. Pick contract recruiters who understand the brand and can sell it. Make sure your recruiters are accurate reflections of the kinds of people you are seeking. Really great recruiting firms virtually match potential candidates to recruiters in term of looks, personality and, style. We all tend to hire and accept offers from people who are like us. 5. Analyze why people say yes to an offer. Make sure you probe for the real reason they agreed to come work for you. In this process you may discover great ideas for future advertising and promotions. Take time to look at success, as well as failure. Supporting the solar car design contests at several universities helped me attract top notch electrical engineers many years ago. They said yes because we had matched them with some senior engineers who worked closely with them to design the car and supplied critical parts for free. The new hires told me our support and generosity make them trust that we would be a good employer. It is very easy to get caught up in technology, systems, and more sophisticated recruiting techniques. But there is much more to being successful than that, as you all know. It takes a well thought out, very systematic, and deliberate advertising and image-creation strategy for real and continuing success. See you next week.

The Spider is a Mole

by
Jennifer Hicks
Nov 9, 1998

Search engines are great places to start looking for a single, specialized candidate, or even for pages that may list several names in a particular users group. Sometimes, though, a need to fill reqs is so pressing that conducting a detailed search may not be in your best interest. On the other hand, you may just need to add to your database in order to avoid hitting the same people over and over again. Your choices? You could spam everyone in your prospect database and risk losing leads for future openings. You could search through your current database in hopes of finding a few relevant candidates, recheck their info and ask them for leads. Or you can put a spider to work. While spiders crawl the Web following various links, the Web Mole goes deeper into the cyber-sphere, looking only for e-mail addresses. It finds addresses based on a keyword query you create, saves the addresses, and lets you send these new prospects a piece of targeted mail without needing to “cut and paste”-all at one time. If you have various types of reqs open, just do another search with different keywords; you can conduct multiple queries simultaneously. Web Mole has a filter to eliminate duplicate addresses and claims to collect about 1,000 different e-mail addresses in an hour-depending on the keywords used. However, we tried it looking for “COBOL” and “Y2K” and found only 313 names in an hour. Of course, that was 313 more than we had when we started. Although you can download a free demo from Web Mole’s Web site, the demo will not save the e-mail addresses it collects. A one-user license for Web Mole is $249.00. Additional users can purchase a license for $99.00 each. System Requirements: Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0, Pentium 75+, 10 MB disk space, 16 MB RAM, Internet connection. If you send untargeted bulk e-mail you insinuate yourself into someone’s life whether they want you there or not. Spam can result in flames, a widespread poor reputation, or even cause your ISP to cancel your account. This is not necessarily a good way to go if your business requires you to get people comfortable with you. Targeted e-mail campaigns are far more effective. You choose who to send mail to based on qualities about them that you’ve found attractive or promising. Next week: Slithering through the Cyber-sphere

Staffing – The Worst Customer Service Process in the World?

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Nov 6, 1998

Applicants may also be customers:

“Don’t call us…we’ll call you” is a phrase from customer service “hell.” This commonly used phrase is just one indication of how many employment processes are “arrogant” in their approach toward candidates. Often employment takes a “it’s my way or the highway” approach to applicants. “We frequently say we want creative, ‘out-of-the-box thinkers’ and risk takers in our organization but in practice our selection processes are often so rigid that we end up scaring away anyone that varies even a little from the norm. Enlightened HR professionals realize that candidates are also potential customers (as well as potential strategic partners of our firm). As a result, we need to begin to treat all applicants with a high level of courtesy and respect. We can no longer afford to treat applicants as people that “bother us” with questions. HR needs to learn how to duplicate the level of customer service that is usually provided by our sales, customer support, and product service departments. Poor treatment might have consequences:

Treating applicants poorly might result in an indelible mark (about our firm) in their minds that may not be easily removed. Michael McNeal of Cisco Systems coined the phrase “staffing – the graceless process.” I think that in some cases he is being kind because we routinely drag out the selection process for months while at the same time keeping candidates in the dark. We often fail to even ask the applicants if they were satisfied with the process. If Baldridge Award examiners were to look at the customer service aspects of most recruiting and staffing process they might actually laugh. Part of the reason staffing is not customer service friendly is because most staffing processes were developed when the unemployment rates were high and employers could demand anything from desperate applicants. That has all changed now so it’s time to treat our applicants like customers. Lets look at how to make the staffing process more customer friendly. What is excellent customer service? The basic elements of excellent customer service generally include:

keep reading…

Recruit Faster, Better, Cheaper: Re-engineer your Hiring Process

by
Kevin Wheeler
Nov 4, 1998

What slows down the recruiting process? Why can’t we make offers faster, better, cheaper than we do? Well, maybe we can. Let’s take a look at our 5th requirement for a world class recruiting function: the only constraint to filling a position almost immediately should be caused by legitimate scheduling issues. To refresh your memory, these are the qualities that MUST exist for world-class status: 1. PAPER IS NON-EXISTENT (Discussed on Wednesday October 7th) 2. MANAGERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RECRUITING PROCESS (Discussed on Wednesday, October 14th) 3. THE ORGANIZATION USES THE RIGHT TYPE OF EMPLOYEE IN THE RIGHT POSITION (October 21st) 4. DEVELOPMENT OF TALENT IS PART OF THE RECRUITING MINDSET (October 28th) 5. THE ONLY CONSTRAINTS ON FILLING POSITIONS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY ARE CAUSED BY SCHEDULING DELAYS (November 4th) 6. STAFFING IS PART OF THE IMAGE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING EFFORTS OF THE ORGANIZATION (November 11th) 7. THE ORGANIZATION MEASURES RECRUITING SUCCESS (November 18th) Whenever you analyze the recruiting/hiring cycle within an organization, you will find things that constrain or slow down the hiring process. In many traditional organizations (those far removed from the world-class functions we have been talking about for the last several weeks), you will find numerous constraints. Through the effective use of technology and business process planning, world-class organizations will have reduced constraints and will face only the limitations imposed by managers’ schedules, sickness, travel, and other factors which are hard to predict or control. And even these should be minimal. But most organizations face at least 5 major constraints. Let’s take a look at these and see what solutions may exist. The first constraint is NOT HAVING ANY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES ALREADY IN THE PIPELINE for a position. Whenever this happens, days or weeks may pass before you have even found likely candidates, and then many more weeks pass as you go through your recruiting process. World-class organizations have eliminated this constraint by having a proactive approach to sourcing. They have established a process that has them constantly reviewing, screening, and maintaining contact with good candidates. They use internal referral programs and have developed a talent pool of college interns (and even high school interns) that can immediately be placed in productive positions with almost no delay. World-class institutions have the ability to tap their own databases of candidates that have been found thorough internet searches or who have identified themselves as likely candidates through on-line screening, which is part of the corporate web site. If you look at the web sites of organizations such as Cisco Systems, 3Com, and IBM, you will find numerous ways they screen and find passive candidates to approach. Take a look at Recruitment Enhancement Services, a part of Bernard Hodes Advertising, which is developing software applications that identify and screen people based on the criteria and needs of the organization that uses their services. They also have developed techniques and software to attract the person who was not actively looking for a job until he discovered the corporate site using this software. A very innovative idea indeed! The second constraint is SCREENING AND INTERVIEWING. The tools are now becoming available that allow you to actually interview candidates in real time, via two-way web-video and audio. Screening can be done using tools, similar to those developed by Recruitment Enhancement Services, mentioned above, or by using tools developed by other companies. As this is such an exciting area, I am going to wait and devote an entire column to just this topic soon. Let me just say that world class companies are beginning to explore how to use these tools to lower costs and to eliminate the constraints that are automatically there when you have to arrange travel, set up appointments with numerous managers, and coordinate several schedules. Simple process improvements can also make the need to bring candidates into the office many times unnecessary. You can schedule one set of appointments and have an internal agreement that those who interviewed will be empowered to make the decision. You can let ONE person make a hiring decisions without having the committee approach. Companies need to examine their interviewing process and decide if multiple interviews are really adding value or just escalating costs. Do those who have had more interviews stay longer? Get better performance reviews? Do better work? Meet more goals? I really believe you need to examine all your recruiting practices; ask the tough questions about how useful they really are; and make it a goal to eliminate any that do not add real value. The third is DECISION MAKING AND OFFER PREPARATION, which is almost always an easily eliminated bottleneck. How? Simply decide to remove layers of decision making – establish some routine practices that are flexible enough to let a manger make the decisions she needs to make. Empower managers to make decisions. After all, they are responsible for the output of their functions and need to be able to hire the people they need to do the job. In a world-class function this activity of offer development and preparation should take no more than 4 hours. Offers should be made on-the-spot, at the end of an interview cycle whenever possible. You should have enough trust in your screening process to be able to make decisions easily. If you don’t trust your screening process, what are you doing to fix it? The fourth is BACKGROUND SCREENING. Proactive organizations have outsourced this or automated it and drive theoutsourcing firm to a 48 hour turnaround or better. Many people are wary of the automated background screening process and prefer to go through a provider that uses more traditional methods, e.g. phone, paper, etc. I will examine some of the major services who do background screening in an upcoming column as well. The fifth and final constraint is ORIENTATION AND ENTRY-LEVEL TRAINING. It seems that many new hires are either left to swim without any guidance at all or are subjected to an orientation that is mostly administrivia – paper work, benefits choices, and a lecture about how happy we are they have joined our organization. Do you have a system or process designed to get a newly-hired individual up to speed quickly? Do you make it point to strive for productivity in some period of time, or do you let a new hire flounder around and, in effect, waste time and dollars? Great companies help a new hire by providing training — useful training — right away. They assign mentors for a few weeks to help the new hire get established and they ensure that any problem is dealt with quickly. Remember, as in any relationship, you only have ONCE to make good impression. After that it’s too late to make them feel better. When companies have put in place systematic processes for assimilation and orientation, they all report higher productivity and better morale among the new and the more experienced employees. So in summary, streamline the way you recruit. Use systems and tools to eliminate nonvalue-added activities. Examine and question everything you do, and make changes whenever you can in favor of simplicity. Complexity is rarely a good solution. Set a goal for how long it should take to fill a given position and then work to achieve your goal. And make that goal tough enough that you will have to change something very profoundly to reach it! I suggest you start by saying you will cut whatever time it now takes you to hire for a particular position in half. From 4 days to 2, from 2 weeks to 1 week. Then figure out how to do it without compromising on quality. It can be done. General Electric under Jack Welch has been doing this for years in almost everything, and they are a better and more profitable company today than they were when he first took over. It’s not easy, but it can be done. See you next week.

Browsing with a Ferret

by
Jennifer Hicks
Nov 2, 1998

Although I am not enamored of either rodents or arachnids, when I search the Web I do want help from such critters–especially if they’re free. WebFerret lets you search multiple engines from a single query– a quick and convenient way to search the Web from your desktop. Created by a company called FerretSoft, WebFerret is one tool in their set of meta-search tools that specialize in finding different types of information. The WebFerret searches 11 search engines with speed, bringing back up to 500 results in a browser window. You can set the Ferret to match all or any keywords, or you can search for a phrase by enclosing it in quotation marks. Duplicate results are discarded and you can select whether to query all 11 engines or just some. One useful feature is that it’s not necessary to wait for all the results to load before you can go off and explore the pages it returns. For best results, try to use keywords that uniquely describe, or are as specific as possible to the topic for which you’re looking. Also, keep in mind that WebFerret prefers to find the keyword in the title of the Web page rather than somewhere in the real text. There’s also an e-mail Ferret, a file Ferret, and a phone Ferret among others. The WebFerret is not magical. It won’t help you find that perfect candidate. It doesn’t support Boolean queries, so it’s not well-suited to specific searching. What it does do, though, is save you the hassle of querying each engine individually and it lets you work on another application while the search takes place. So, if you’re multi-tasking and want to save a bit of searching time, give it a try. The download is fast and the cost is free. The Pro version, which does allow Boolean searches and has other powerful features, is available at a nominal price. Serious users can opt to purchase a “Power User Pack,” which includes WebFerretPRO and its six sidekicks: EmailFerretPRO, FileFerretPRO, IRCFerretPRO, PhoneFerretPRO, NewsFerretPRO, and InfoFerretPRO. Try the freeware version and decide from there. Happy hunting. Next week: “The Spider is a Mole”