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July  2001 RSS feed Archive for July, 2001

What’s Hot and What’s Not in Recruiting

by
Michael McNeal
Jul 31, 2001

We’ve all seen the recruiting industry change drastically over the past 10 years. Technology has changed the way we do our jobs (just as it has changed the way we do business in general). Equally important, the recognition of “people” as the driving force behind the success of a company has begun to elevate our profession into the realm of strategists and businesspeople, and away from that of simple administrators. Having said that, it’s still fun to look back and see how far we’ve come. Nowadays, most of my time is spent talking to staffing groups who are trying to build or rebuild their staffing engines. I’m often asked about what’s currently “hot” in recruiting, and I’m constantly reminded about what’s not so hot. So I decided to have a little fun with this concept to go along with the “vacation attitude” many of us have at this time of year. Below you’ll find a list of some “Hot” and some “Not So Hot” ideas in recruiting. And if that doesn’t bring a smile to your day, be sure to read the top ten “You Know You’re A Stone Age Recruiter If…” list at the bottom of this article. Hope you have fun with this and maybe even get a few good ideas. Enjoy! What’s Hot: Video Streaming of employees describing day-to-day activities

What’s Not: 500-word job descriptions that include words like “self-starter” What’s Hot: Beaming job descriptions over PDA’s

What’s Not: “Fax resume to…” What’s Hot: Referral programs that include sponsorships

keep reading…

Supply Chain Management Defined

by
Alice Snell
Jul 31, 2001

Among the phrases being used in discussions of hiring management systems is the industry term “supply chain management.” The concept of the supply chain and its management has its roots in the business processes in manufacturing. Let’s take a look at the original definition of supply chain, and how it can be used correctly to apply to the recruiting process. Definition of Supply Chain Essentially, a supply chain is the process of moving goods from the customer order through the raw materials stage, supply, production, and distribution of products to the customer. All organizations have supply chains of varying degrees, depending upon the size of the organization and the type of product manufactured. These networks obtain supplies and components, change these materials into finished products and then distribute them to the customer. The supply-chain is the all-inclusive set of links into an end-to-end business process, for example:

The Top 10 Reasons Why Managers Hate Recruiting

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jul 30, 2001

If you poll line managers and ask them about hiring, they invariably say that it is one of the most important things they do in their job. But, in turn, if you ask them what they think of the hiring process, they invariably say they hate it. They think it’s too bureaucratic and, as a result, they devote relatively little time to it. If you’re unsure as a recruiter what they really think…just ask them! And in case you really don’t know why they hate it, here are the top ten reasons I’ve identified after talking to hundreds of hiring managers. The Top 10 Reasons Why Managers Hate Recruiting

  1. Multiple requisition approvals. Managers hate the delay and the multiple approvals required in order to get a simple requisition completed. They don’t understand why once their budget is approved they need to get additional signatures.
  2. keep reading…

As e-Learning Evolves

by
Paula Santonocito
Jul 27, 2001

Online learning offers new opportunities for acquiring knowledge and building skills. While its primary advantage may seem obvious to virtually everyone, there are more benefits to e-learning than the convenience of clicking on a classroom. Advantages for All For businesses, e-learning provides a low-cost alternative to conventional methods of employee training. Yet many companies are realizing that financial impact goes beyond the price tag of the program. Because course content can be selected based on the needs of specific individuals and there is more flexibility as far as learning pace, the information acquired lends itself to more immediacy in terms of workplace application. This results in a larger number of employees who can acquire relevant knowledge and skills faster, which can significantly impact a company’s bottom line. For many individuals, e-learning provides access to programs that would otherwise be unavailable. This is true of college courses and of training-based instruction. E-learning also offers a new tool when it comes candidate placement. Skills and knowledge that may have been difficult or impossible for a candidate to acquire, in order to meet job requirements, are now available. For recruiters, e-learning also offers opportunities for personal career growth. Many Choices and More to Come There is already an array of options when it comes to online learning. But this is just the tip of the keyboard. The demand for education and training delivered in this way is so great that the research firm IDC predicts the worldwide e-learning market will exceed $23 billion by 2004. According to IDC, the number of colleges and universities offering e-learning will more than double by 2004, and student enrollment in these courses will increase by 33% annually. The firm bases its analysis on statistics as of December 1999, when more than 1,500 schools offered online courses. Peterson’s includes many college and university online learning programs under the heading “Adult/Distance Learning.” But not all programs listed in this category are completely computer-based. Some require minimal on-campus participation, usually in the form of residency meetings, which typically occur once a semester. In this category you’ll find listings for schools like University of Phoenix Online. An early pioneer in e-learning, it offers undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs that are completely Internet-based. With programs in accounting, administration, business, education, management, marketing, nursing/healthcare and technology, University of Phoenix Online is a viable learning alternative for many busy professionals. Peterson’s also provides information about Capella University, another school offering online degree programs. At Capella, the focus is on graduate education. Students can choose from various graduate programs in business, education, human services, psychology and technology. Undergraduate degree programs are available in technology. Nova Southeastern also offers several online programs, including an undergraduate program in business and professional management and graduate programs in accounting and education. In addition, many of Nova’s distance-learning programs that involve limited residencies feature online courses. E-Training Peterson’s now features a “Training & Exec Ed” section. Selecting “Search Bricker’s Online” leads to several search areas, including the opportunity to view the listings of over 14,500 distance-learning courses. When it comes to professional training, eMind is another site to keep in mind. eMind features over 1,200 courses in insurance, securities, accounting, information technology and professional development. Courses in certain fields, such as insurance, are structured to meet licensing exam requirements. But eMind does more than offer a library of online tests. The company also creates custom content for organizations and provides tracking and reporting. The Personalized Tracker records each employee’s courses, and Corporate Reports provide summary information for all employee learning within a given organization. Sample documents can be viewed at the site by selecting “Tracking & Reporting.” At the eMind site, you can also “Demo a Course.” This allows you to view a catalog course. Selecting “Take a Tour,” on the other hand, leads to a presentation, which details the company’s custom-tailored solutions. With a Particular Focus Many companies are supplementing onsite training offerings with e-learning options. One such organization is Red Hat, a provider of Internet infrastructure technologies and services based on open source software. Selecting “Training” at the Red Hat homepage returns a variety of options, including “eLearning.” The Red Hat e-learning Course Catalog features seven categories: “Red Hat Linux,” “C, C++ Programming,” “Java Programming,” “Networking,” “Object Programming,” “UNIX” and “Web Programming.” Various courses are listed under each category heading. While most e-learning is asynchronous, which means that, like email, content can be reviewed at the learner’s convenience, the Internet is also being used as a learning tool in other ways. The International Institute for Learning is an organization that offers various project management seminars and training courses for a global audience. IIL bridges the distance by making several courses available through satellite/Webcasting. Focused on the Future When it comes to e-learning, courses currently exist in almost every field and subject area. Entering an occupation and the term “e-learning” at a search engine, such as Google, returns links to training sites, associations, job boards and other locations where information can be obtained. And this is just the early stage of learning evolution. Given the demand for online education and training programs, options ? and opportunities ? will continue to increase in every field.

Performance Before Personality

by
Lou Adler
Jul 26, 2001

A candidate of mine, let’s call her Karen Jones, just went out on an interview for a marketing manager’s position. To my mind, the candidate was a perfect fit: professional, a track record of comparable performance, strong industry background and good academics. But she didn’t get the job. Elizabeth, the hiring manager and VP of Marketing, also thought Karen was very good. Her background in launching new products and setting up complex multimedia marketing campaigns were exactly what the job required. Karen was equally excited. She thought Elizabeth was someone she would enjoy working for, and the job offered new challenges. Both wanted to go forward with the next round of interviews. Unfortunately, this next round was with Bill, the VP of Engineering. Karen was a bit nervous when first meeting Bill, and I discovered later that Elizabeth had painted an overly negative picture of Bill just before the interview. Since Bill was the primary internal client and key interface with Marketing, he had a big vote in the candidate selection process. Elizabeth told Karen this, adding unnecessary tension to an anxious situation. Most candidates get a bit nervous at the beginning of each new interview, but Elizabeth’s prepping worsened the situation. Bill sensed this nervousness and was immediately put off. His immediate conclusion, based on this first impression, was that Karen didn’t have the personality to work with him and his team of engineers. The interview was basically over in ten minutes. Bill went through the next 30 minutes of the interview looking for facts to prove his initial emotional reaction. He used this information to prove his case with Elizabeth – why Karen was not qualified. Things like this happen every day. The best candidate rarely gets the job. The candidate who gives the best interview usually wins. This is one of the reasons I developed the POWER Hiring system. I wanted to anticipate classic problems like this, and prevent them before they adversely affected the hiring decision. The E in POWER stands for Emotional Control, and it was developed to address this specific and common problem. (My big mistake here was forgetting to talk to Bill about it before the interview.) Here’s why controlling emotions and their impact is so important: Most interviewers are heavily influenced by a candidate’s first impression. We all make emotional decisions in the first five to ten minutes of the interview. It’s what happens next that’s the problem – interviewers looking for facts to justify this emotional decision. Interviewing personality is not true personality. While true personality is critical to job success and cultural fit, it unfortunately can’t be measured during the first interview. First impressions cloud the interviewer’s judgment. We go out of our way to ensure that people we like get through the interviewing process. We ask them easier questions, and quickly start selling them on the merits of the job. We also go out of our way to preclude someone we don’t like from getting the job. We ask harder questions, and sometimes even talk them out of the job. More errors are made in the first 30 minutes of the interview than at any other time. We hire people who are great personalities, but can’t deliver the expected results, and we exclude candidates from consideration who are temporarily nervous. If you can force yourself to forget personality and look strictly for competency in that crucial first meeting, your interviewing accuracy will soar. During the first 30 minutes of the interview, determine if the candidate is capable of doing the work. Do this whether you like the person or not. Get detailed examples of major accomplishments that are most comparable to your job needs. Ask about the process used to achieve these accomplishments, and the environment in which they took place. Explore issues like the pace of change, the types of people involved, the tools and techniques used and some of the key challenges faced. After you do this for two or three accomplishments, then determine if the candidate’s personality fits the company’s culture. By measuring performance before personality, you’ll fundamentally change the whole assessment process. Candidates who were initially nervous will calm down and become their real selves. Candidates who were artificially friendly and enthusiastic will also reveal their true selves. You’ll also be able to observe much of the candidate’s true personality – the stuff that really matters – in their accomplishments. In Karen’s case she was a strong candidate for the job, but got temporarily nervous and sidetracked when she met Bill. It was an insurmountable problem. If I had led the interviewing session (a good idea for all recruiters), or if Elizabeth had intervened, we could have addressed the issue right away. We didn’t, and lost a great candidate. It’s a good lesson for us all – performance and personality are both critical to job success, but we should measure performance first. By measuring performance before personality, you’ll discover some great candidates who seemed pretty average when you first met them. (You’ll also discover some outgoing and enthusiastic people who are not qualified to do the work required.) Wait 30 minutes and measure performance before personality. Get your clients to do the same. It will change everything.

Good Job Descriptions Equal Good Hires

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jul 25, 2001

So often managers cannot clearly explain what kind of person they need to fill a position. They call up the recruiter with a new position but with very little in the way of competencies or specific job duties. The typical phone call goes something like this: “I want to open up a req for a webmaster,” says the manager. “Okay,” says the recruiter. “Can you tell me what this person will be doing?” “They’ll be working on the corporate web page ? you know, revising the code, updating the look, and that kind of stuff.” “What specific skills should they have?” the recruiter asks. “Oh, I don’t know. Probably should already be a webmaster somewhere. They should have at least three years experience and a degree in computer science.” And so forth… Unfortunately, not very helpful. Kind of like telling the used car salesman that you want a big red car with low mileage. As a recruiter, you have to have a process for getting the information you need from the manager. Here are a handful of suggestions about how to construct a better job description than you usually get. But be warned: none of these are easy and all will require you to invest some time and energy into understanding your managers and your company better.

  1. Spend the time it takes to know your company’s technology, products and services. Use these slower days to learn more about your company. Firms that have a stable base of recruiters who have taken the time to become well versed in the language and technology are much more effective. Get the basics down by taking a tour, chatting with selected experts, maybe even “shadowing” one of your hiring managers for a day or two. Really good recruiting teams train themselves by offering brown bag lunches and inviting key employees to talk about what they do. Focus on the business needs more than recruiting techniques like data mining and site flipping. While these may be useful at times, it is far more useful to know exactly who you are looking for.
  2. keep reading…

Online Screening of Job Applicants: A Better Tool

by
Dr. Charles Handler
Jul 24, 2001

Continuing to use the resume as the primary source of information for matching people with jobs is like hammering away at a square peg that has been shoved in a round hole. If you keep hammering hard enough you may meet with some success, but if you stop hammering for a minute and really look at what you are doing, you’ll realize that using a different tool to get the peg to fit will work a lot better. This article is the first in a three part series devoted to the discussion of online screening as a better tool for matching people with jobs. The purpose of this article is to provide information on the basics of online screening. Installments two and three will provide a more detailed discussion of scientific screening, as well as tips for those who are considering adding some form of screening to their online hiring process. Why Isn’t the Resume a Good Tool? I am not the first person to suggest that resume-based searches are a very inefficient way to screen job applicants. By now it is pretty well acknowledged that, although resumes contain useful information, they just don’t do a good job of getting at what is behind the fa?ade of a job applicant. Good hiring practices require comparing all applicants using the same information, and that this information be based only on characteristics that are important for success at the job in question. The information found on resumes does not do a very good job of satisfying these criteria. Resumes offer little quality information about a candidate, nor do they allow for standardization of information across candidates. Searching resume databases is also a very inefficient use of the flexibility and power of the Internet. What Is Online Screening And Why Is It A Better Tool? Online screening is the process of:

  • Creating a blueprint of the requirements for success at a given job
  • keep reading…

The Operative Word in Agreement Is “Agreement”

by
Ken Gaffey
Jul 24, 2001

I am frequently amazed at how just at the minute I feel “writer’s block” and don’t have the slightest idea what to write about ? bang! ? I get a phone call or email from someone in the business and the flood of ideas begins. (p.s. My editor recently advised me that I tend to get on the “wordy side” from time to time ? read: always ? well, if an issue is forty years old and still unresolved, I cannot help but feel that maybe we need to explain it better, speak slowly, and use small words). So, back to the point. I received a call from a friend of mine in the contingency side of the business. He had recently received an updated agency agreement from a current client for his review and signature. Along with several paragraphs about punishments, penalties, “do not’s,” “never’s,” and “don’t you dare’s,” along with the other usual veiled threats, there was a particularly draconian clause, unique to my twenty years in the business. It would be a violation of this particular agreement to place an employee of this particular company for up to SIX MONTHS AFTER said employee had resigned or been terminated from this particular employer. In other words, even after the employee no longer works for them, no longer gets benefits from them, is no longer on the payroll, or in anyway bound by them, the company still claims the right to restrict their past employees’ ability to seek employment assistance from any agency that acts as a vendor with or for this client, regardless of their relationship with the candidate. This is not an agreement, this is a “how much do you want to do business with us” challenge with a pinch of meanness or personal frustration added. Aside from the negative aspects such a clause may have on developing good vendor relations, I have serious concerns about the legal aspects of this requirement if this restriction is not part of a pre-hire agreement with all new employees. Those who in effect would be directly or indirectly affected by the agreement must have an opportunity to review and acknowledge their awareness and acceptance of this business practice. Especially as the company is claiming the right to affect their ex-employees ability to choose career options beyond their employment, without prior notification. Past employees may feel, correctly, that the company is restricting their civil liberties without recourse, or compensation. (XYZ Corporation: We’re like a tattoo, you’re stuck with us for life!) If you want to “get even,” or even “punish” agencies for wanting to do business with you, that is your business. But at least don’t do it in such a way as to get your company involved in serious litigation, negative publicity and damage to your “recruiting reputation.” (Now, before all you agency recruiters begin to agree that “all companies have ludicrous agreements”: I have also seen some real whoppers from my friends in the third party area as well. Most agency-sponsored agreements are in effect price lists with damage waivers attached.) By the way, I asked my contingency friend what his decision would be as pertains to maintaining an existing and longstanding profitable and mutually beneficial relationship with this company. He had a simple 6-word answer: S-O-U-R-C-E. Thus ends another good relationship due to an “Agency Agreement.” It might make more sense if they were called “Declarations of War,” “Ultimatums,” or “In Your Face In Writing,” but we call them agreements. Go to you sales or accounting department and ask them if they write contracts with prospective clients or vendors with the same venom as HR/Staffing does with theirs. (Or, again, agencies with their clients.) So maybe it is time we decided to construct a real agency agreement. Something that enhances and defines the business relationship, rather than destroying and hindering it. A real business agreement, reached between two parties, to achieve mutually beneficial and profitable goals with an accepted level of “give and take” on the part of both parties. But first, some basic traditional errors to be avoided:

  1. Agreements do not fix issues or problems all by themselves. I have never had anyone sign a business contract who I felt needed pressure to insure performance, consistency and honestly. I have never has anyone whose professionalism I doubted change BECAUSE they signed an agreement.
  2. keep reading…

Alternatives to Hiring More People: Tips for Managers

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jul 23, 2001

In times of tight budgets and low growth, managers need to think twice before hiring more staff. Hiring people is expensive, time consuming, and even a bit risky if you later find out that you don’t really need more employees. Smart managers consider the alternatives that are available to increase productivity long before they start new hiring permanent employees. Here are some alternative steps to consider before you add more headcount. Increase the Number of Hours Worked

  1. Offer overtime work to existing workers to increase production output.
  2. keep reading…

Taking the Mystery Out of the “Deep Web”

by
Audra Slinkey
Jul 20, 2001

A lot has been said about the deep Web or “invisible Web,” but still there is quite a bit of mystery surrounding this incredible resource. What is the deep Web and how can we access it to gather information or candidates? The deep Web has been around for years, and it is not a new phenomenon as many have thought. Before the terms “deep Web” or “invisible Web” were coined, people referred to them as specialty databases, subject-specific databases, virtual libraries, or other similar terms. The Web is becoming more and more complex in that the information it contains now comes from a variety of source types. The Web is much more than fixed or static web pages that come up in a search engine query and can be accessed directly. In fact, the largest portion of the Web is not fixed or static and cannot be conjured up using a standard search engine. These pages are what as referred to as the “deep web” and are served dynamically and constantly changing. There are two types of content in the deep Web:

  • Database Content. Databases that contain information stored in tables created by programs such as Oracle, SQL Server, DB2 and Access. Information stored in databases is only accessible by query. As mentioned before, databases generate a significant portion of the web.
  • keep reading…

How Big Is Your Black Hole?

by
Gretchen Sturm
Jul 20, 2001

One of the most intriguing and mysterious phenomena of the cosmos is the “black hole.” The study of black holes, or what happens when a star dies, has occupied the minds of scientists for centuries. Regardless of the various theories, the definition in a physics dictionary goes something like this: A black hole is a region of space-time that has so much mass concentrated in it that there is no way for any matter or energy to escape its gravitational pull, even light itself (as a physicists daughter, I paraphrased as best I could). Is it any surprise that, since the 1980s, the “black hole” has been used as a popular analogy in recruiting to describe what happens to the average resume submitted to a company… painting a bleak picture of hope for its retrieval? Coincidentally, this term seemed to become popular exactly when automated resume processing and early applicant tracking systems became commercially available. “I sent in my resume and it just went into a black hole!” Black holes can have very damaging effects on both the job seeker and the recruiter functions. The funny thing is, as new generations of recruiters and job seekers come and go, this is not a term one has to learn, like “job agent,” “behavioral interviewing,” or “flipping web sites”. It requires no explanation. The average employee applying to a job, the attendee at a career fair, the recruiter searching for last months’ lead, and the HR manager all use the term without ever conferring. Each one may interpret its meaning a little differently, but still feels the effect of the black hole in the recruiting process. The Bigger, the Better? Black holes can refer to traditional paper-based processes where resumes are literally sitting in file cabinets. But, with the information age, the term is generally associated with electronic resumes. With the advent of resume or applicant tracking systems, black holes became quantifiable, i.e. you could know exactly how big your potential black hole was…100,000, 200,000, or 500,000 resumes strong. In the earlier days of staffing automation, large resume databases were touted as a badge of honor. Quantity was good. The attitude was, “whoever has the largest database wins.” Remember when Monster.com announced it had reached one million resumes? That may have sounded impressive, but this milestone is not just for large public job boards. Today, corporations and agencies are proud owners of similar mega-resume warehouses. I just talked with a company recently that has an applicant tracking system with a limit on the number of resumes permitted in their database (a black-hole meter if you will) set to 250,000. This gentleman shared with me that he is ready to move from that system because they want to be able to store more resumes. Is your organization suffering from “black hole” syndrome? So does having a lot of resumes in your database imply that you have a black hole in your recruiting process? Not necessarily. Let’s look at some symptoms of this syndrome:

  1. Significant and consistent complaints from internal and/or external candidates stating that they submit a resume or on-line application and never hear from the company again.
  2. keep reading…

The Faster I Go, the Behinder Hiring Gets

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Jul 19, 2001

No, it’s not good grammar, but it makes my point. Consider these facts:

  • Interviews are basically worthless at predicting job performance.
  • keep reading…

More on the Value of Customer Service

by
Karen Osofsky
Jul 19, 2001

Reading Kevin Wheeler’s recent articles on customer service and the subsequent responses have sparked me to continue the discussion with a few additional thoughts. First, I support Kevin’s arguments completely. By accepting a position as a recruiter we have in effect accepted the role of being the face of the company. Aside from what candidates read on the company website or in the media, we are the first impression. Candidates make major career choices based on their experiences with us. Ultimately our actions can make or break a candidates decision to pursue a career with our company. Think about it, poor follow-up by a recruiter could lead the researcher responsible for the cure to diabetes or breast cancer to a job with the competition. Good customer service not only makes good business sense, but it also represents common courtesy. Like Kevin, I have heard many horror stories about people’s experiences during the job search process. I am amazed at what I hear. Aside from the typical “black hole” stories, I have had friends go on interviews where one of the interviewers never showed, leaving them sitting alone in a conference room for more than an hour. I know of an individual that had a day of interviews scheduled but somehow the recruiter forgot to schedule lunch. After sitting in the lobby for 1/2 hour the candidate wandered down to the company cafeteria and had lunch by himself. I know of another individual that was told that he would receive an offer letter via overnight mail. When the letter never came the candidate called the recruiter whose voicemail said that she was on vacation for the next two weeks. While she was enjoying her vacation the candidate accepted a position with another company. The recruiter’s response when she found out that the candidate accepted another offer was, “I told him we were going to make him an offer and he indicated that it was likely he would accept it. Now I have to tell the hiring manager that he is not taking the job and I have to start the search over. I don’t have time for this.” Yes, vacations are an important part of life. A recruiter’s job is extremely stressful and hectic, so I am a huge advocate of recruiters taking two-week vacations without any office contact. However, before they leave they MUST make sure that all candidates who are actively interviewing with their company have a backup contact and that their e-mail has an Out of Office responder indicating the length of time that they will be unavailable. There are numerous stories of recruiters scheduling telephone interviews but never placing the calls. The candidates schedule the time to have a private conversation, wait by the telephone, but never receive the call. When they finally make contact with the recruiter, days later, the typical response is, “I forgot that I had scheduled the call.” Situations like those described above represent poor business practices and leave very negative impressions on the candidates. Rather than focusing their frustration on the recruiter, the typical candidate magnifies the situation to represent the practices of the entire company. The typical candidate response is “I don’t want to work for that company. They are completely unorganized. They never called me for scheduled telephone interviews, did not return e-mails, and when we finally made contact they never apologized or acknowledged their errors.” This may sound like I am saying that all recruiters are poor at managing candidate relationships. Actually, most are extremely good at it. Unfortunately I only hear the really, really bad stories or the really, really exceptional stories. The stories about candidate experiences that ran smoothly usually are not communicated. I truly believe that most recruiters try to do their best to provide great client service and that very often they are working in understaffed departments and are overwhelmed by the challenges associated with maintaining a balance of following up with existing candidates and cultivating relationships with new candidates. However, in many instances it is purely a training and time management issue. In either case, very often the candidate’s impression is that the company is at fault, not the individual recruiter. Whether or not they are offered a position, every candidate should feel that they have had a positive experience with your company. They can become a referral source, a candidate for a future position or even a shareholder. Keeping the candidate warm is one of the most productive things a recruiter can do during the recruiting cycle. Once a candidate is contacted and in your recruiting process it is critical to maintain regular contact. While challenge, opportunity and compensation are all important in the decision to accept an offer, the feeling of being welcome and “courted” often is the factor that finalizes the candidate’s decision. Even if you have nothing to report on the status of a hiring manager’s decision – do not let a week go by without at least sending an e-mail stating that things are still in process. So what do you do when you have too much follow-up and not enough time? There are several options:

  1. Create a detailed plan for your week. Usually, a bit of focused time management will free up at least one hour every day. Designate specific times for email follow-up, telephone follow-up and new candidate contact. STICK TO THE SCHEDULE. Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and remain focused. You will be able to accomplish at least double what you normally do when you try to fit follow-up in between meetings and other responsibilities.
  2. keep reading…

Customer Service, the Follow Up: Volume Is No Excuse

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jul 18, 2001

Talk about a hornet’s nest! Last week’s column on the lack of customer service in our industry got responses – lots of them. While most of the comments were supportive of my stand – that we need to provide a higher level of customer service to our candidates – a few posed a difficult question: How do we reply to a high level of response with a small staff? For example, one respondent said, “A client of our firm had a need for one desktop support person and we received over a thousand resumes – many of them exceedingly overqualified. It was impossible to give a personal response to every submission.” Another said, “…we also process 25,000 resumes per year for 500 open positions with three and a half recruiters, and we operate more efficiently than most staffing departments. There is no possible way we could get back with every person who applies for a job other than with a standard email…” Yet I still contend that good customer service should exist no matter the quantity or quality of the respondents. Good service is about mindset and values. Organizations that value candidates will find ways to provide good customer service no matter the level of response or whether the response is qualified or not. Assuming that we all agree in principal that a personal, or at least semi-personal, response to every candidate is a good thing, how can we make it happen? The choices are not as limited as they may seem. We can add staff, which is rarely possible or desirable. We can use some sort of auto responder that gives a candidate a message, albeit far from personal and not very meaningful. Or, we can look at the issue from a slightly different perspective. Suppose we changed how we advertise positions. Most organizations use a mass communication technique where every position is advertised to as many people as possible. In the 20th century this was the only real method we had to get the word out, short of direct mail, which required a significant investment of both time and money, or word of mouth. The mass media was cheap, even if it produced far more quantity than quality. The advertisements were short, to save money, and usually generic. The requirements for positions were vague and we all knew, through experience, that the requirements listed in most job postings were pretty flexible. The subsequent high volume of response led recruiters to throw up their hands in despair and to the sloppy customer service we have today. But, imagine running an ad for some product in the same newspaper. Would the staff complain about too many responses? Imagine that retailer not answering the phones, not providing feedback on orders, not answering customer inquiries about the products with the excuse that they couldn’t possibly respond to that much volume! Any firm that acted this way would be out of business very quickly, but it accurately describes the attitude of many recruiters. They pass off their lack of customer service as the candidates’ problem! There are solutions: 1. On the Internet, interaction and feedback is key. Newspapers are evolving or dying and the days of mass advertising should be waning. The Internet now allows us to be far more specific about our positions and the interactivity of the Internet makes it possible – easy in fact – to ask anyone logging on to our websites to provide a small amount of personal information. This information can be used to steer candidates to certain positions and can limit the number of positions a candidate ever sees. Many ATS and screening software firms offer simple ways to screen and communicate with candidates and raise the likelihood of making good matches. Unbelievably, many recruiting departments do not implement these tools even when they have them because they feel it takes too much time! 2. Targeting advertising and writing tighter job descriptions also helps. The Internet provides ways to send messages to targeted candidates and to reduce the mass communication methods that lead to too many unqualified responses. Job descriptions can be more focused and, when competences and specific skills are identified, candidates can be immediately pre-screened without anyone getting involved personally. Candidates would rather be guided to a position than be left to almost randomly submit their resumes for positions that seem to match their skills. I have not found any resentment to short and carefully done job screens. In fact, candidates feel that they are being taken seriously and appreciate the immediate feedback. It is far better to have the choice of going through a screen than to simply submit a resume into the void. The feedback, while coming from the computer, is specific to a candidate and is seen as personal by the candidate. I believe that we perceive something as “personal” when it is specific to us, as opposed to generic. It doesn’t necessarily mean person-to-person, as we often think. 3. Candidate Relationship Management technology is vital to the future. Whether we like it or not, the Internet and its associated applications and tools are becoming the core of a sound recruiting strategy. The applicant tracking tool itself is a behind-the-scenes necessity much as is the chassis of your car. It holds everything else together. You should be placing your focus on the superstructure that sits on top of that ATS. The superstructure comprises the candidate relationship management tools, the communications modules and the targeted marketing capabilities that make customer service possible to any number of people. As we move further into the 21st century, we will have to figure out how to provide perfect customer service and how to respond to everyone who seeks us out. Arrogant self-pity about how hard we work and about how unqualified our candidates are is not an option.

Winning the Talent Wars by Redefining Retention

by
Bruce Tulgan
Jul 17, 2001

We still hear a lot of talk these days about retention. And the question business leaders and managers always seem to ask is, “How do you retain people as long-term, exclusive, full-time, on-site employees with uninterrupted service?” But that’s the wrong question to be asking. The right question is, “How do you maintain good working relationships with the best people throughout their working lives?” In other words, you don’t have to retain most people in the old-fashioned way anymore. The best staffing strategy in today’s unpredictable business world is one that balances two competing priorities: continuity and flexibility. Yes, you need a stable core group, but the best way to retain a large share of your valuable employees may be on-again, off-again; sometimes full-time, sometimes flextime, sometimes part-time; sometimes on-site, sometimes off-site; sometimes on an exclusive basis and sometimes as a shared resource. Often it doesn’t matter where, when, or how people contribute, as long as they get a lot of work done very well and very fast. The key, then, to improving retention ? not merely increasing it ? is to redefine retention as “access to the talent you need when you need it.” Stay lean and thrive on recurring, short-term flexible employment relationships with the best free-agent employees. The free agents who serve you well on a consistent basis will become some of your most valuable, lifelong employees. Retain the best people one at a time, one day at a time, on the basis of an ongoing negotiation with each individual on his/her own unique terms. Some will follow the traditional path. Most, however, will not. But if you are willing to negotiate in order to retain, then you can transform the reasons why the best people leave into reasons why the best people stay. According to our research, there are five non-financial reasons why people typically leave their jobs voluntarily:

  1. Relationships. The number one non-financial reason why people leave their jobs is unhappiness with a boss or manager. The best way to prevent this factor from affecting turnover in your company is to create a corporate culture where supervisory managers play the role of performance coaches. But interpersonal difficulties just cannot be avoided sometimes. The challenge at that point is to move the employee into the supervisory orbit of another manager without losing the employee altogether. It is important to note, however, that this is not the only relationship that may cause an employee to leave (or stay). Other relationships with a powerful impact include relationships with coworkers, subordinates, vendors, and clients or customers. By working to improve problem relationships or moving contributors out of such relationships and into new ones, many unnecessary turnovers can be prevented.
  2. keep reading…

Hold Evening Interviews: Interview Candidates When They’re Available

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jul 16, 2001

Managers often wonder why they have a hard time landing the best candidates. One of the biggest reasons is that delays, caused by the difficulty in finding convenient times when both parties are available for interviews, cause a good number of the top candidates to drop out of the hiring process. Cutting Interview Delays With Night and Weekend Interviews Scheduling interviews is difficult and time-consuming, especially for currently employed candidates who have difficulty in finding the time to leave their current job for an interview. Employees hate to sneak around and “lie” to their current boss (about why they are leaving early) in order to participate in an interview. Hiring managers are also busy, and they too have difficulty in finding time to interview. One tool that can help with both of these scheduling problems is to hold some interviews at night and on weekends.

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Knowledge Is Powered: E-Learning Has Arrived

by
Paula Santonocito
Jul 13, 2001

In an effort to attract and retain employees, companies are offering increased opportunities when it comes to education. Support may take the form of additional tuition reimbursement for external learning. Companies, too, are expanding onsite staff development efforts. There are more seminars and workshops, and a wider range of programs intended to enhance the skills of all employees, from entry-level workers to senior executives. Some organizations have even created in-house corporate universities. But perhaps the most significant change is the way in which staff development takes place. Whether onsite or off, employers and employees have seen the future, and it’s name is e-learning. From online degrees in almost every discipline to instruction in new technologies, Internet-based learning and CD-ROM training offer a convenient and economical ways to deliver course content. Faster Than a Speeding Human In an article in the National Post, author Earl W. Stafford cites the many advantages of high-tech training, including the fact that large groups of people can be trained anytime, anywhere. Stafford points out that this, in turn, allows companies to save on travel costs associated with training. He notes that, given the wide range of programs available, companies can also tailor instruction to fit individual requirements. Because there is no instructor involved, the method of delivery is consistent and, therefore, so is the course content. According to Stafford, training time can be reduced from between 20% and 50% with high-tech course delivery. Not to mention that, when an employee needs to refer back to material, it’s there. Fast, yes, but does something get lost? Like, maybe, the human element? From Out of the Classroom So says author Gerry Bellett in an article in the Vancouver Sun. Quoting Amar Dhaliwal, vice president of e-commerce and co-founder of the corporate learning solutions firm THINQ, Bellett presents the other side of e-learning. Dhaliwal says e-learning is best as a supplement to classroom training, and points to studies which indicate that more than 50% of people who begin Web-based training don’t finish the programs. According to Dhaliwal, studies also show that classroom learning lends itself to better retention of information and better application of knowledge. But while some electronic courses lack instructors, not all e-learning eliminates the human element. Most college and university online courses include some “live” interaction. Connecting with Students However, “live” online isn’t the same as “live” in the classroom. Dr. William Hahn, a faculty member of Nova Southeastern University, says he tends to agree with Dhaliwal’s assessment of e-learning. Hahn teaches two online courses, Introductory Accounting and Business Finance. Both are prerequisites for Nova’s online MBA program. He points out that students in the courses are typically professionals, many with other advanced degrees. Still, according to Hahn, some have difficulty with the format. “It’s not for everybody,” he says. Although students meet online in a chat room once a week, Hahn indicates that one of the biggest drawbacks is lack of interaction. “You need some interaction with students to help them over theoretical issues,” he says, explaining that, in a classroom, material gets covered and there is discussion, but online this can’t happen in the same way. The two courses are structured so that, prior to weekly chat sessions, students read textbook chapters and utilize online aids, including lecture notes from the instructor. According to Hahn, such a format is “for a certain type of individual, a small segment of the population.” Learning e-nvironment “I think a lot of people still need the classroom,” says Hahn. He also teaches business courses in a traditional environment at the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vt., where he is chair of the business division, and where he doesn’t believe online learning would work with his undergraduate students. With online learning, he says, “they’re basically teaching themselves.” Yet, he indicates that it has its applications and cites acquiring a technology-based skill, such as how to use PowerPoint, as an example. Like Dhaliwal, Hahn says he sees more of an opportunity to blend online learning with the classroom experience. But he also acknowledges that once technology allows for the utilization of features such as a middle-of-screen blackboard and two-way communication in real time, e-learning will improve. “I think it’s coming,” he says. Hahn cautions, however, that there is both a social side and a technological side to the process and that the social aspects of learning cannot be overlooked. Offering Instruction Many respected colleges and universities, such as Nova Southeastern University, offer accredited online degrees. But there are also online diploma mills. When seeking educational opportunities for employees, online or off, it’s important to research and evaluate programs. Even if an employee is not interested in pursuing a degree, a college or university may have an online course that can fulfill a learning need. There are also organizations offering online training. While courses by training organizations may not be accredited, they may provide the necessary instruction. One organization, eMind.com, offers more than 1,200 online courses. Covering a wide range of subject areas in the fields of accounting, insurance, securities, information technology and personal development, many eMind.com courses, though not accredited, do offer continuing education units which may be applied to professional certification. The Science of Learning Jobscience.com also features online courses. The site, which Director of Business Development and company founder Mimi Elliott calls “a one-stop shop for empowering your career,” is currently focused on providing course content for nurses. Although Jobscience.com is an employment site for all healthcare professionals, Elliott says that, to date, online education has been focused on nurses because they make up 40% of all healthcare workers. According to Elliott, the site offers education as a service to Jobscience members, and the courses, which are available through an agreement with AHC Thomson/CE-Web.com, are therefore offered at a substantial savings. The first three courses in the series are free and all additional courses are discounted by 40%. There are currently 371 courses available at the site. A recent partnership agreement with The Kaplan Colleges gives job seekers another online learning option, and there are plans to incorporate educational offerings for other healthcare professionals in the near future. One program under consideration is an online MBA for physicians. In connection with expanding educational offerings at Jobscience.com, Elliott has researched various online learning in the healthcare field. She points to The Answer Page as a site having a unique approach. In its section for anesthesiologists, for example, the site features a question of the day, which can be answered and applied toward Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit. Although there are time restrictions, the basic concept is that each question and answer session earns 1/4 hour of Category I CME credit. Elliott notes that the site is for busy medical professionals and has been designed to accommodate people’s schedules. While e-learning is faster and offers greater flexibility, Hahn and Elliott both point out that the electronic approach to education, like the Internet itself, is still in its infancy. “It will be interesting to see how online learning gets integrated with other learning,” says Elliott.

The Economy: Old vs. New

by
Scott Hagen
Jul 13, 2001

With the new economy of the late 1990s came a new mindset for the average employee. Gone were the days when employees were happy just having a job, going to work everyday, taking home a paycheck and, if it was a good year, getting a Christmas bonus. But with the rise of the Internet and e-commerce, a change too place in the employee mindset that hasn’t been seen before. Work was no longer about making enough to pay the bills and have two weeks vacation; it was about instant gratification, in the form of stock options, casual dress, flexible hours, ping-pong tables and a “fun” work environment. If these things weren’t available at their current company, then there was a simple answer: go to a company that would give them what you wanted. Now that they economy has softened, we are again seeing employees looking for a company that they can call home, a place where they feel secure that they will have a paycheck, a place that has a track record of success, not just potential. Below, I will explore some of the values that made up the old economy with comparisons of what employees looked for in the new economy. This will hopefully give you some insight on what we can expect next. Security/Stability

  • Old Economy: When employees were looking for new opportunities, they were looking for companies that could offer them security and stability. Security and stability came in the form of increasing advancement over time and financial reward after a long tenure with a company. For many, a job was a career, and spending your entire working life at one company was not unheard of. It was not common to be a job hopper, and usually frowned upon.
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Stay Visible on Campus: Add Student Media to the Mix

by
Ned Steele
Jul 12, 2001

Some of the best advice you’ll ever get ran in this very space, when Michael McNeal reminded us in his June 26 article why it’s crucial to remain visible on campus – even in slower times. “Amen,” I say. And I also suggest a handy tool to consider using if your organization is one of the many that says, “Dash that reduced college recruiting budget… Let’s find some clever ways to stay active on campus.” That tool is publicity…free editorial exposure in campus and student media. Why It Works That’s right. The same public relations techniques that net your company high credibility, priceless visibility, and external validation when it sells its products or services on the market can also yield those benefits when you’re marketing a career in your organization to students. (Which is, after all, exactly what college recruiting is.) Think about it: compared to the complexity and cost of other ways of staying visible, getting media exposure turns out to be pretty straightforward and easy to do (compared to, say, launching an ad campaign? A snap!). It’s inexpensive. And it works: both in a booming economy, when it lifts your organization above everyone else recruiting on campus, and in quieter times, when you’re not hiring students big-time, but need to “show the flag” and stay visible on campus, cost effectively. How It Works Best of all, you don’t have to spend months and millions creating a campaign. Chances are, you’ve got most of the raw ingredients on hand. For instance, does your organization already:

Being Positive Is A Slam Dunk

by
Lou Adler
Jul 12, 2001

Some of you may know that I’m a real basketball fan – if it shoots hoops, I’ll watch it. So when I heard Doc Rivers, the coach of the Orlando Magic, give some hiring tips the other day, I just had to spread the word. Okay, they weren’t exactly hiring tips – but they certainly could have been. Doc was discussing the recent NBA draft on ESPN Radio, and how young players are evaluated. He raised the point that too often coaches and analysts start out talking about negatives first, so that within five to ten minutes everybody is so poisoned with all the bad stuff that the player is never given a proper evaluation. A few negatives can always outweigh a lot of positives. To counter this natural tendency, he’s changed his approach, and makes his advisory team talk first about a player’s strengths. Only when these points are completely discussed are weaknesses permitted to be mentioned.

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