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August  2001 RSS feed Archive for August, 2001

Recruiting on the Internet: A Look Ahead

by
Scott Hagen
Aug 31, 2001

Recruiters today face a lot of uncertainty in their future. Many recruiters, even executive-search recruiters, are feeling the wrath of layoffs. Just this week, Korn/Ferry has laid off 500 employees company wide in a cost-cutting effort. These layoffs are of course similar to what the corporate recruiter has been experiencing over the last six to eight months. Although these layoffs might have the sound of doom and gloom, there are some more positive factors out there that I believe await recruiting professionals in the (hopefully) near future:

  1. Layoff boomerang. As the layoffs continue after 10 years of widespread growth, the reality of today is tough to swallow. Many recruiters were able to easily secure employment during this period, and in many instances could name their price in certain markets. The same thing held true for most technology workers. With an expanding economy and increased demand for skilled labor, finding suitable employment was easy. As we watch layoff numbers increasing month after month, the question on everyone’s mind is, “When will this all end?” But the more important question to be asking is, “What’s going to happen once it does?” Some say we have already hit rock bottom and we’ll soon be on our way back to the good old days. There are others who say we still have a long way to go until we see strong economic recovery. What does that mean to you? Well, as a recruiter, currently employed or not, it means that once we see solid economic recovery, companies are going to be desperate for skilled talent once again. And yes, that means they will also need skilled recruiters to fill these talent voids. Many companies may end up kicking themselves for letting these prized employees go in the first place, just to save a few bucks, because it is going to cost them a lot more to refill these positions.
  2. keep reading…

The Lost Letters of Charles Darwin: Evolution and Web-Assisted Recruiting

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Aug 30, 2001

AP Newswire: Historian’s searching through dusty trunks in an English row house in downtown London recently found a packet of notes carefully sealed in a mysterious glassine box. Closer investigation revealed that Mr. Charles Darwin, father of evolution, authored the papers while the HMS Beagle was moored in the Galapagos Islands. The age of the documents has been verified as about 150 years old, but scientists are still pondering the mystery of their content. Could it be that Darwin encountered some kind of mysterious time warp long unknown to scientists? You be the judge. Here is a transcript of the original text: “I have been so immersed in studying the flora and fauna of this small island for the last few weeks that it took Mr. Bynoe, our ship’s surgeon, to draw my attention to a totally unique phenomenon. I’ll never fathom how he managed to connect the ship’s navigational computer to the Internet, but miracle of miracles, Mr. Bynoe opened my eyes to an evolutionary trend happening right before our very eyes. Normally this phenomenon would take place over the course of hundreds of generations, but here we could see evolution happening as we watched! “Our subject began as a simple species – a single-celled life form of the phylum ‘recruitus fastus.’ In its primitive matrix, we observed this simple creature automating file cabinets, integrating the Rolodex and generating follow-up letters to applicants. There must have been a ready opportunity for this species to move paperwork into electronic form where it could be quickly harvested and digested. This primeval form seemed to be focused on keeping track of people and looking for more efficient ways to push paper. “Then the unexpected happened! Our simple species suddenly encountered a new energy source – the Internet! We watched as the organism spontaneously divided into two specialized variants we named ‘bigger’ and ‘wider.’ The offspring specializing in ‘bigger’ proliferated into something my shipmates quickly nicknamed ‘job boards’. This evolutionary variant seemed to allow more people – both applicants and recruiters – to share more data. Those generations specializing in ‘wider’ seemed to develop searching strategies using specialized engines intended to find passive applicants. Remarkable! When able to feed on new energy, the species stopped evolving and reacted by growing in size – not efficiency. “The next evolutionary phase showed only a slight environmental modification. As the two life forms matured, they added better applicant management tools by passing data from one life form to another, automating their biological messages and collecting information from application-forms. Not much change in this stage, as innovation truly seemed to plateau. It was noteworthy to observe the emergence of many clones.” The Imminent Death of a Species? “I am rushing to compete these notes, as Captain Fitz Roy informed us we must weigh anchor and depart for our next destination before the seasonal tides change. I am sorely vexed because I will not be able to witness the final outcome of what seems to be the next stage of this species’ evolution. The life forms have recently been experiencing a significant amount of chaos in their environment. Everywhere we look there are databases, paperwork automation, and search engines – but the organisms are still competing for limited sustenance. I believe we are on the verge of an evolutionary stress point where these highly stressed organisms will either evolve to the next level of complexity or go extinct. “Thank goodness for stout wooden ships, railroads, wheeled carriages, and buggy whips. They serve a basic transportation need that will surely never be satisfied. However, I ponder the question of whether the species we are observing will be as successful at survival as our modern conveniences. It seems the life forms we have been studying have automated everything that is “automatable.” We see ultimate levels of correspondence and databases, but will the species be able to evolve to where it can solve the basic question of which candidate actually has the better skills? “Truly, a significant paradigm shift is in the wind. This species was good at becoming a larger entity, but that was due to an abundant food supply and prolific horizontal growth. However, I’m sure my colleagues will share my concern about whether this species will ever be able to recognize their past growth was the product of an abundant food supply and favorable environment. Their future will surely require more than massed databases, correspondence and self-reported application forms. “It remains to be seen which branch of the species will be the first to recognize their vulnerability and begin to accurately measure the four distinct skill domains. For readers unfamiliar with these classifications I list them as follows:

  1. Mental ability: i.e., learning, problem solving, analyzing, technical knowledge, etc.
  2. keep reading…

Tough Times, Tough Actions: Five Steps to Becoming Business Focused

by
Kevin Wheeler
Aug 29, 2001

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about HR cuts. “Those HR workers delivering layoff news at your workplace may face their own job cuts,” reads the article. Why? “Because they don’t directly produce revenue,” according to the article. It then goes on to say, “companies are turning to software and outsourcing to replace HR functions such as payroll and benefits.” I might have added, had I written the article, recruiting and recruiters. Over the past six months, thousands of recruiters have been laid off or had their contracts cancelled or not renewed. This is partly in response to the declining number of open positions, but it is also a response to a deeper sense that there really wasn’t the need for that many recruiters anyway. Lots of recruiting directors and HR VPs beefed up their recruiting departments because of the inefficiencies that exist within recruiting and most departments’ inability to deal with surging demand except by adding people. A report issued two years ago by Thomas Wiesel Partners, an investment bank in San Francisco, pointed out the inefficient and expensive recruiting that most organizations practice. The report, entitled e-Cruiting: From Job Board to MetaMarkets, outlined what even then was apparent: recruiters need to understand the Internet and embrace the efficiencies that can be gained by using the tools of e-marketing, Internet search and sourcing, email, and the internal processing of candidates. Perry Boyle, the report’s author, noted that the amount spent on recruiting in the United States alone, using very conservative figures, exceeded $189 billion dollars. No wonder companies are slashing recruiters and recruiting budgets and telling managers to start looking themselves for good people. Firms like Corning, which I profiled last week, and Intel, another strong player in the proactive recruiting space, have begun to redefine recruiting and use the tools that are out there to make what we do more efficient and cost effective. It is not possible to continue spending like drunken sailors. Manufacturing costs have fallen, purchasing and shipping costs are down, and even the cost of running facilities and factories has plummeted because of the adoption of software and process improvements over the past decade. It’s our turn now. Okay, you say, what do I do to become more business focused as a recruiter?

  1. Look at what you are currently doing. Take your recruiting process and flowchart it. When we do this with our clients, they are often amazed at all the processing steps and side activities that exist. Each of these consumes resources and dollars, and in many cases could be eliminated or streamlined. Just the act of committing to paper everything you do to hire a person will dramatically illustrate where your energy, people and money are going. Now, attach costs to each of these steps. What does it cost to source a person, screen them, and so on? And you should include ALL expenses here, including the hidden and overhead costs that are often overlooked. The outcome of this is the starting point for improvements and becoming business focused.
  2. keep reading…

Competency Metrics for Recruiters

by
Kimberly Bedore
Aug 29, 2001

Recently, our team conducted a nationwide recruitment-skills competency study and discovered an interesting pattern. It became evident that while recruiters of all types strongly agree as to the soft skills that contribute to a recruiter’s success, there was far less agreement on the “hard” skills – the measurable skills that are used on a daily basis. In this article, we will look at some of these skills and how to leverage this information for recruitment team credibility and success. Some of the interesting outcomes from the data include:

  • There was a large discrepancy on whether or not the knowledge of implementing an employee referral program is a skill that a recruiter must have. However, the number one source of candidates for a company has historically been employee referrals.
  • keep reading…

Five Tips For A Targeted Job Ad

by
Kristi Huelsing
Aug 28, 2001

Here’s what one recruiting newsletter had to say recently about online job ads: “The job hunt, driven by slothful job ads, results in a huge pile of not-necessarily related resumes… Any recruiter who doesn’t work to polish the job ad to a precise solicitation is a fool.” “Fool” might be a little strong, but I certainly agree that spending a little extra time on the job ad is a wise move. A good job ad can simultaneously attract the qualified applicants you’re looking for and deter the unqualified applicants that fill your literal and/or virtual inbox with unwanted resumes. I see tips everywhere for writing good job ads, but they usually focus only on attracting applicants, not helping applicants pre-qualify themselves. The following five tips will show you how to make your job ads do both. 1. Be Specific You know how difficult it is to find qualified applicants when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for because the hiring manager hasn’t clearly outlined the job specifications. It’s the same for jobseekers. If they don’t understand from your job ad what you’re looking for, and exactly what they’ll be doing, they won’t know whether or not they’re qualified, or whether or not they should apply. So be specific in every section of the job ad: the responsibilities, the requirements, benefits, etc. The more accurate and detailed your job ad is (especially when it comes to the requirements and responsibilities), the more successful it will be in helping job seekers pre-qualify themselves for your position ? and in limiting the number of unqualified resumes you receive. 2. Focus on the Applicant All good writing is targeted to the audience for which it’s intended. The audience for a job ad is the jobseeker. So the internal job description that you and your hiring managers use won’t cut it as an ad to attract and pre-qualify applicants. Revise the internal job description and tailor it to the jobseeker before you post it to a job board. It doesn’t take long, and you don’t need to be a professional copywriter (or a rocket scientist) to do it effectively. Think about what job seekers care about and focus on what’s important to them, not what’s important to you. Fully explain the job’s responsibilities and what the applicant will be doing on a day-to-day basis. Also include information about benefits, perks, the company culture, location advantages, etc. ? everything that will differentiate you from your competitors and attract the most qualified applicants. In addition to including information that will interest job seekers, be sure you present the information in a way that keeps the focus on them and their needs. For example, instead of saying, “Company X is looking for a C++ Software Engineer,” say, “Here’s a great opportunity for you to use your C++ programming skills.” 3. Requirements Are Required A lot of the tips I’ve seen for writing compelling job ads either imply or say straight out that a list of requirements is a no-no. But detailed requirements information is the best way to prevent unqualified candidates from applying. Besides, if you’ve effectively described the responsibilities, a list of requirements isn’t going to turn off the qualified applicants. It might even cement their decision to apply. Developers.net, an online job board for technical professionals, recently surveyed 3,346 job seekers who applied for jobs through Developers.net and asked them what job characteristic most influenced their decision to apply. Job qualifications (21%) came in a close second to responsibilities (32%) as a reason for applying. According to one survey respondent, “The requirements for this job are exactly the skills that I have. I would be perfect for this job.” And many applicants indicated that both elements were highly influential in their decision. Even more telling, the qualifications were the second most popular reason for not applying (30%). Most likely, these candidates were able to determine from the requirements that they weren’t qualified for the position. So they decided not to apply, and saved you from wasting your time reviewing their unqualified resumes. The popular advice today says you have to really sell your position and your company to attract qualified applicants. That’s fine. But including a detailed list of requirements in every job ad is just as important. So make sure you clearly understand from the hiring manager what requirements are needed, and fully explain those in the job ad. This is especially important for technical positions. Don’t assume that applicants will understand the company’s internal jargon or will know that you want experience hand coding C++ when you just say C++ experience. For technical jobs, mention as many technologies as possible. This will help with keyword searches as well. 4. Salaries Are Essential A salary helps attract the top candidates who won’t bother to apply unless they’re sure that the money is worth their while. According to Headhunter.net, job postings on their site that include salary information receive 42% more views and 41% more applications than those without. The party line seems to be that passive candidates are the best candidates. If you aren’t actively looking for a job, will you take the time to apply for a position without knowing how much they’re willing to pay you? Probably not. And neither will the passive candidates you’re looking for. Don’t believe me? These are some of the comments I’ve recently received from candidates who chose not to apply for a job because the job ad didn’t include the salary range: “It would have been nice to know the salary range. The description sounded really nice.” “I’m very selective with my resume and companies that I apply for. … I would not want to waste the company’s or my time applying for a job that may not meet my minimum salary requirement.” Unlike some other job writing advice, which takes a bit of time and creativity, including a salary range is easy. And the benefits are obvious. As one applicant commented: “A salary range will save time for candidates and clients.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! 5. Don’t Forget the Formatting When you’re putting together an online job ad and implementing the tips mentioned above, keep in mind Jakob Nielsen’s guidelines for writing for the Web. Nielsen’s oft-quoted study of web writing (from way back in 1997) found that the most user-friendly web writing is concise, scannable, and objective. So use lots of bulleted lists, lots of sections and headings, and lots of white space. And don’t sell the position or the company too hard. Putting It All Together Creating a job ad that will attract the applicants you want ? and deter the ones you don’t ? is easy. Just focus on the applicant, be specific, include detailed requirements and a salary range, and format the information so job seekers can easily process it on the Web.

Online Screening: The Reality of Jobseeker Behavior

by
Alice Snell
Aug 28, 2001

It is interesting that prescreening has been the focus of much recent discussion. While not a new concept, the active examination of prescreening’s advantages and tools presuppose three basic tenets:

  1. Automated prescreening occurs through the careers section of the corporate website. Therefore, this discussion acknowledges that the corporate website can and should be the center for recruiting and candidate data-gathering activities.
  2. keep reading…

Employment Brand Names and Slogans

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Aug 27, 2001

One of the crucial elements in building an employment brand is to develop a “theme” that sends a clear brand message to potential candidates. That theme must clearly communicate what working at your firm is all about. One of the best ways to communicate what you are all about is through the use of brand slogans and brand names. In order to be effective, slogans must be short but also compelling and impactful. Over the years I’ve proposed quite a few brand names and slogans to firms, so if you’re looking for one…here’s my list of great employment brand slogans, organized by theme. How We Manage

  1. We have the best people managers on the planet
  2. keep reading…

Competing For Your Own Employees — Online

by
Dave Lefkow
Aug 24, 2001

An increasing number of job seekers are managing their careers online. The popularity of the major job posting sites and hopefully your own corporate careers site has demonstrated that the Web is the way that job seekers and employers will be connecting for some time. But what about your current employees? The recruitment and retraining costs for replacing a worker range from 1.5 to 3 times the employee’s salary (source: Linkage, Inc.); the loss of a highly skilled technology worker can cost a company millions of dollars in lost research and productivity. But with a click of a mouse, these employees can be viewing branded information about your competitors, what they offer their employees, and what jobs they have available – from the comfort of their own office space – at your company! Old-school recruiters and employee communications teams: face the music! We’re in a virtual world where over 88% of the Global 500 use their corporate websites for recruiting (source: iLogos Research) and 45% of the currently employed population is actively or passively looking for other work (source: Wetfeet Recruitment Marketing Strategies). And convincing candidates that you have a great employment experience to offer shouldn’t end when you get them in the door. Changing your “Online Recruiting Strategy” to a cohesive “Online Recruiting and Retention Strategy” will not only help you compete for new talent but also for the talent you already have. Here are some thought-provoking questions about your current Online Retention or Employee Communications Strategy to help you identify how you’re doing. Are you:

  • a) Making your employees wait in line with everyone else to submit their resume for your openings? or… b) Posting your jobs separately to a persuasive internal jobs website complete with more detailed job descriptions and priority resume submissions?
  • keep reading…

Connecting with Hispanic Candidates

by
Paula Santonocito
Aug 24, 2001

When striving to diversify its workforce, a company would do well to target the Hispanic population. United States Census 2000 figures indicate that the U.S. Hispanic population increased by almost 58% from 1990 to 2000, and that there are now more than 35 million Americans of Hispanic or Latino origin. Given the sheer number of people, the potential for candidates is great. Furthermore, projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that, for the 10-year period 1998 through 2008, the civilian labor force will see growth in the number of workers of Hispanic origin in all age categories. And in some categories the numbers are significant. Members of the workforce 55 and older are projected to increase in number by almost 48 percent. But worker availability isn’t the only reason to pursue these candidates. Hispanic employees can help an organization in its efforts to communicate with a larger segment of the population. Because Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the nation, bilingual candidates with appropriate language skills can contribute to broader business opportunities. Looking for Pros While many sites and publications aimed at diversity can provide assistance connecting with Hispanic candidates, LatPro.com, as its name indicates, is highly targeted. Aimed at Spanish and Portuguese speaking professionals throughout the Americas, this multilingual site features a job board that can be accessed in English, Spanish or Portuguese. Selecting “About” at the site’s homepage and then “Demographics” provides details about jobseekers utilizing the site. Recent statistics indicate that 50% of these candidates have confirmed salaries of $40,000 or higher and 85% have bachelor’s degrees, along with more than 10 years work experience. In addition, 95% are bilingual and 40% are trilingual. Selecting “Who Uses LatPro” in the “About” section returns a listing of employers by industry. This comprehensive client list, which is also available at the site’s homepage, covers almost every industry, as well as government agencies, non-profit organizations and major universities. Reading like a “Who’s Who” of organizations, the list includes such companies as Boeing, Delta, Liz Clairborne, Ford, Bank of America, AOL, Dell, Kelloggs, Prudential, FedEx and Disney. Among the non-profits listed are American Red Cross and United Way, while the university category includes such schools as Stanford, MIT and Dartmouth. In addition, LatPro offers its services to recruitment firms. Korn Ferry and Heidrick & Struggles are among the executive search firms listed as clients. The site offers a number of options for employers or recruiters who wish to target LatPro’s candidate base. Selecting “Find Employees” leads to “LatPro Products and Pricing.” Beginning with free database searching, there are five package categories from which to choose. Packages are based upon a distribution of workload between LatPro and the client. If a company or recruitment firm chooses the full-service package called “LatPro Search,” for example, LatPro is involved with the entire recruitment process, including headhunting, screening, reference checking and obtaining candidate recommendations. The LatPro job board is designed for customized searching. Job seekers can select from three location menus: “Region,” “Country” and “Locale.” There are also menus for “Function” (job title) and “Industry.” In addition, a jobseeker can choose to view job postings within a particular timeframe, such as the last 30 days, or by the language required for a position category. There is also a “Minimum Annual Salary” field where a U.S. dollar amount can be entered. In addition to searching the site, jobseekers can elect to receive email notification of positions that match their search terms. LatPro features a number of resources for jobseekers, but selecting “Resources” also returns a category called “Recruiter Resources.” Selecting it leads to a page where tools, articles and information can be found. An “International Salary Calculator, for example, is available, as are “LatPro Calendars,” which list regional tradeshows and events. Getting Down to Business HispanicBusiness.com is the online location of Hispanic Business Magazine, a publication that has been serving the Hispanic business market for more than 21 years. The publication itself can provide valuable information for recruiters. The articles are filled with names of professionals and their accomplishments. The site also has a Career Center. Selecting “Career” and then “Search Jobs” gives a jobseeker access to Hispanic Business Job Listings. The easy-to-access job board also provides a mechanism for resume posting. Corporate and third-party recruiters can obtain information about job posting and resume database access packages by first selecting “For HR/Recruiters” at the “Career Center” page and then choosing “Services and Pricing.” In addition to job postings and resumes, HispanicBusiness.com features several other valuable sections for recruiters. At the “HR/Recruiters” page is a section called “HR Tools.” It includes five categories: “Legal,” “Workforce Diversity,” “Associations,” “General HR” and “Salary Info.” Each section leads to a page of additional links, which can, in turn, provide assistance when recruiting Hispanic candidates. Opportunities Online, Opportunities in the Marketplace By drawing on the array of skills Hispanic candidates offer, a company can position itself to more effectively compete in the United States and abroad. Using online resources, such as LatPro.com and HispanicBusiness.com, can facilitate the recruitment process and, therefore, shorten the time to success.

My Favorite Interview Question

by
Lou Adler
Aug 23, 2001

In a recent article, I described the single best interview question of all time: “Can you please describe your most significant accomplishment?” It’s a great way to start an interview. I spend about 10 minutes on this question, gaining insight in the results achieved, the environment, and the process used to achieve the results. I then repeat the question to gain broader insight into the trend of team and individual accomplishments and see how they relate to specific job needs. But my favorite question is something completely different. It takes this understanding of performance to another level. It reveals problem solving, insight, intelligence, potential, vision, and leadership. The question is, “If you were to get this job, how would you go about solving this (major/typical) problem?” For example, if you’re hiring a sales manager, the form of the question might be, “How would you go about ensuring that the team met quota every month?” For an engineer, it might be, “How would you design and develop this product to ensure it’s in production by next March?” I used something similar for a Director of HR search I’m now conducting: “If you were to get this job, how long would it take you to prepare an action plan to ensure the department was meeting all its critical objectives?” This is a question about thinking, planning, and strategizing. It gets at an important aspect of top performers. The best candidates I’ve met in my 25 years in executive search all have the ability to anticipate the needs of the job before starting. They can figure out very quickly what’s wrong or what’s necessary to accomplish a task, what they need to do to implement a solution, and what resources they need to do it. And they have a track record of implementing these changes. Success is about planning to accomplish a major task, and then delivering on these plans. The “how would you” question gets at the planning and visualization aspect of every successful accomplishment. A lack of planning and visualization skills is one of the key reasons projects come up short, budgets are overrun, implementation is slow or problems go unresolved. Allow the candidate to ask you questions to gain more insight into the specific problem or project under discussion. “What’s the budget, the time frame, the staff, the resources?” are all great questions. They provide the interviewer another dimension to assess the candidate’s competency and fit. When you try this question out, imagine that you’re turning off the spotlights, and that you’re just going to have a give-and-take discussion about real job needs and problems. This is no longer an interview, it’s just how you’d be talking with the person if he or she were to get the job. So try it out beforehand to get a feel for the person’s style. At the end of the interview, I categorize the candidate’s responses along four dimensions. These won’t make a lot of sense right away, but after a few interview you’ll see these patterns emerge. They’ll be very helpful as you evaluate a candidate’s current ability to do the work and their future potential.

  1. Determine if the reasoning is complex, advanced or superficial. The best candidates demonstrate a good understanding of the cause and effect of their actions. Superficial reasoning is evidenced by a bunch of seemingly unrelated ideas. Reasoning is more advanced if the ideas logically link together.
  2. keep reading…

Outsourcing Is Part of the Recruiter’s Job. It’s Also a Talent Strategy

by
Kevin Wheeler
Aug 22, 2001

Times are tough. Organizations are downsizing, changing the skills mix of their workforces, and correcting for bad hiring decisions made in the heat of the talent war. Many organizations are hiring people and laying them off at the same time, as skills are re-matched to the needs of a changing economy. The recruiting industry is in flux as well. Many of the people who jumped into recruiting over the past few years have left (voluntarily or not), and the rest are at least wondering if they should, as the easy money of the past year or so has gone the way of the dot-coms. Organization after organization has reduced recruiting staff along with other employees. Recruiting has always been a tough and demanding profession. It requires great skill at persuasion and selling, good analytical skills and the ability to quickly adapt as times change. Really great recruiting managers weather downtimes and find ways to meet challenges in the uptimes without building a huge overhead that has to be taken down as things slow. I have written several articles on the need for organizations to have a talent strategy ? a way to look at the overall skills needs that an organization has today and will have in the near future ? and for recruiting to play a major role in creating and executing that strategy. But rarely have I seen any example of this happening in any significant way. As organizations downsize, I see recruiters throwing up their hands and feeling that they now have no role. Many firms, as well, see this the same way and let their recruiters go. In a few months, when things pick up, they will be going through the familiar cycle of seeking recruiters and of getting them oriented to the company and to its needs. Creativity is part of all of our job descriptions these days. We have to figure out how to do our jobs better and to create a new need when an older need has changed. A few recruiters are able to make these transitions better than others.

keep reading…

Air Raid! This Is No Drill!

by
Ken Gaffey
Aug 21, 2001

If you saw the recent movie “Pearl Harbor,” you probably walked away wondering exactly how anything like that ever could have happened. How could so many people have been asleep at the switch? Why were they not better prepared and better trained to react to the signals of a pending crisis. (Unlike us HR/Staffing professionals. Right?) Well, not unlike the Hollywood version of the actual attack, your impression is less than accurate. Everyone at Pearl Harbor was well trained and drilled in the various steps and procedures to follow in the event of an attack. But the middle managers and line supervisors had never been trained to recognize their need to take “immediate” action and how to recognize those situations where that action was required. They were trained to act only when advised by their superiors, once their superiors had “scoped out” the situation. So focused were they on the consequences of doing the “wrong thing” that they never even contemplated the greater harm of waiting to be told what to do. In their threat analysis of the fateful morning, they allowed wishful thinking and the hope of not having to make a tough decision override their common sense. They were waiting to be advised that, yes, those planes approaching with bombs were probably going to drop bombs. The only problem was that by then, everything they needed to react with was bombed, sinking, or burning. In an environment where blame is often preferred to resolution and correction, the ultimate architects of the disaster were:

First-Day-On-The-Job Employee Orientation Questionnaire

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Aug 20, 2001

In Part One of this series, we outlined some important concepts that managers should consider implementing in order to create a top notch employee orientation program. Following up on these concepts, below is one of the most important tools of all: the employee orientation questionnaire. This questionnaire is the backbone of a successful orientation program. You can customize it for your own purposes, but the following format should suit almost any manager’s needs. Review Part One of this article series again for suggestions on how to put this questionnaire to its best use. Employee Orientation Questionnaire Now that you have joined our firm, you are in a unique position to further help us build a winning team. Please be frank and help us to:

  • Modify our recruiting processes and bring in more top talent
  • keep reading…

Making The Most of Pre-Screening Tools

by
Karen Osofsky
Aug 17, 2001

Online pre-screening tools seem to be the latest “buzz” in the e-Recruiting marketplace. They are becoming a standard feature on ATS systems, job boards are beginning to offer them as add-on options, and many of the “front-end” recruiting systems include pre-screening as a key feature. What do these tools really mean for you, the recruiter? And are they worth the investment? First, to fully understand the concept of pre-screening I recommend you read (if you haven’t done so already) the recent ERE articles by Charles Handler. He currently has a three-part series going (Part One, July 24 and Part Two, August 10). Part Three will be out sometime in September. In his articles, Charles clearly and succinctly defines the differences between screening based on background information and qualifying questions (“non-scientific screening”) and screening based on data-driven assessments that measure critical job-related competencies (“scientific screening”). Most of the tools commonly used today are non-scientific. Regardless of their level of scientific validity, when used to their fullest capacity, these tools solve a common problem recruiters have today – they help save time. They act like your personal sourcing assistant and can be highly effective in streamlining the front end of the recruiting process. Basically, these tools take the information provided by the candidates via resumes and qualifying questions and sort them into “piles” based on the criteria you, the recruiter, have supplied. They allow you to gather additional pertinent information on the candidates that might not be available through a resume alone and to review that information in a more efficient sequence than was otherwise available. Aside from some additional reporting capabilities the end result brings you no farther into the recruiting process than to help you create a “priority sorting” of the order in which you should review potential candidates. Some systems have more ranking and sorting features than others, but basically they all serve the same purpose. I am not minimizing the value of this because when the inputs are created to capture the right information, their value is immeasurable. The highest potential candidates can be contacted on a more timely basis and the level of interview questions can quickly move beyond the basics to more substantive probes. Cycle time and cost per hire are reduced, as well as the level of stress associated with this part of the recruiting process. I would not implement an ATS or front-end system that did not have this feature available. So what do I mean by “used to their fullest capacity” and “when the inputs are created to capture the right information”? I think that recruiters sometimes forget that recruiting technology cannot manufacture more qualified candidates and that the quality of the pre-screening is directly related to the inputs they provide. These are the keys to success. System outputs (results) are based on two types of inputs, one you can control and one that you cannot. The controllable input is the attention to detail you place on defining the criteria by which you measure the candidates. The uncontrollable piece is the level of accuracy by which the candidate answers the questions. Some systems only allow you to ask one set of qualifying questions for all candidates, regardless of the position for which they are applying. I am not a huge fan of these; however, if you currently do have a system like this your objective should be to view it as a “screening out” tool rather than a rating or ranking tool. Your questions should be those questions that would absolutely rule out a candidate from being considered by your company. Typically these may relate to visa status, minimum education levels, relocation requirements, salary requirements, etc. These are only helpful in sorting your submissions into two piles, “can consider” and “cannot consider.” Systems that allow you to ask a separate set of questions related to each position can be utilized in several ways. Prior to creating any qualifying questions, you need to determine the approach you want to take. There are two schools of thought. The first is to ask questions very specific to the position for which the candidate is applying. This allows you to quickly create the short list for that position, but may not allow you to gather additional information that could be pertinent to other potential positions in the company. The second approach is to ask more general skills-related questions so that your database is populated with more targeted information on the candidate than can be gleaned from the resume alone. This will allow you to do more comprehensive searches on your database for a variety of positions. My recommendation is actually a hybrid of the first two. Limit your number of questions to no more than 10. Ideally less than seven are best. Candidates tend to get “cranky” when they have to fill-out in-depth questionnaires with every resume they submit. The first three to five questions should be very specific to the position for which the candidate is applying. The remaining questions can be more generic skills-related questions that could apply to success at several positions within the company. The result will be a clear filter for that position with additional information that can be used in a database search for uncovering qualified candidates for other positions. Defining the criteria by which you measure the candidates is the most critical factor to your success in using these screening tools. These first three to four questions should be those that will help you determine whether or not you would want to have a phone conversation with the candidate. Once you’ve set the appropriate criteria for determining the worthiness of contacting the candidate, additional questions can be probed via a one on one conversation. Defining these “telephone contact worthiness” criteria is based on your understanding of the position. You need to determine the absolute must have skills. These skills criteria set the stage for creating the qualifying questions and weighting of importance for each question. For example, if you are looking for a software developer that has had experience in developing and testing Internet security software for the securities industry then you need to determine if securities industry experience is a must have or simply a nice to have experience. Is financial services industry experience acceptable or is any Internet security software experience acceptable? Sounds simple enough and even very logical, right? Wrong! What makes it so challenging? Recruiters typically receive the requisition and job specification information via email, which often does not highlight the most essential priorities. Pinning down the hiring managers to commit to the must-have criteria is about as easy as getting a child to choose between having Christmas with lots of presents or going to Disney World for the first time. To help, I always schedule 15 to 30 minutes with the hiring managers to determine the “must have” versus the “nice to have” criteria and educate them on the pre-screening tool I am using. Once they understand what I am trying to accomplish, it is usually easier to define criteria. When managers want “Christmas and Disney World” I typically use the tactic of saying things like, “So what you are telling me is that if the candidate has Internet security experience and has not worked in the securities industry but has worked within banking, you do not want to interview him/her.” If they definitively agree then I know the hurdle. It they start to back peddle, I know I need to probe the criteria further. It’s doable but challenging and extremely important to your level of success with pre-screening tools. In this case, if I determine that securities industry experience is highly desirable but other types of financial services are acceptable then I know I need to ask two questions related to industry experience. The first is to specifically screen for securities industry experience and the second is to screen for financial services industry experience. By breaking it into two questions, rather then trying to capture this essential criteria in one question I can set my first filter at securities industry and my second filter at financial services. I take this detailed approach to developing questions for all the essential skills on which I need to screen. Choosing the type of question to ask is also important to the type of result you will get. Some systems only create skills lists allowing the candidate to rank themselves on number of years of experience and proficiency. These are becoming obsolete. Most now allow you to ask questions in various formats: yes/no, multiple choice, true/false, short and long answer, or matching. If you have this type of system, the key to success is in the type of question you ask. Using the Internet security software developer example from above, if I want to first filter on those that have securities industry experience, I will probably choose a yes/no question for this: “Do you have Internet security software development experience within the securities industry? Yes or No?” My next question might be: “What other financially related industries do you have Internet security software development experience?” This could be a multiple choice where they can check all that apply. It would also include a selection for none of the above which would be the “rule out” criteria. By using this and other “key criteria” filters related to this position, I can easily sort and rank the responses without needing to review every resume to find the few that meet my criteria. When written appropriately, I will also be able to “loosen” my criteria by changing the weighting of importance to the questions asked. In this example, if I don’t find enough people with securities industry experience, I can re-weight the questions so that the 2nd question has a higher importance level. Need help? Ask the vendor for some training on how to write questions that will maximize the quality of response based on the mechanics of their algorithms. Their customer service personnel should be trained on helping you with this. To summarize, when using pre-screening tools to assist with the front-end of the recruiting process consider the following:

  • Understand your system capabilities to determine your maximum utilization.
  • keep reading…

Internet Research Forms: Do You Use Them?

by
Scott Hagen
Aug 16, 2001

With the recent changes in the economy, recruiters are finding themselves in an interesting predicament: they have few positions to fill, with hundreds of applicants applying for a single position. It’s a far cry from what we had been witnessing over the past several years. What I hear now from many recruiters is that they are getting far too many unqualified candidates for their positions and that they are spending too much of their time sifting through a sea of resumes. The widespread use of applicant tracking systems like BrassRing, Wetfeet, Icarian, etc. has helped, but this software still does not limit who applies for a position. That’s why proactive sourcing of the Internet can put the power of the decision back in your hands. Proactive sourcing means you choose your own candidates based on your own searches. But because proactive sourcing can also be time consuming and complicated, you will need an effective way to organize your Internet searches. If you don’t organize from the very beginning of each search, you can find yourself duplicating your efforts over and over without even realizing it. Below are some suggestions on how you can put together an effective research form to ensure that you are organizing each and every search you perform:

  1. Skills. For any search to be effective you must first do some research on the position to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the qualifications. The job requisition is the first place to identify the key skills and experience that are required for any given position. Meet with the hiring manager to make sure that you clearly understand his/her expectations of what a candidate must possess in terms of skills and experience to be considered qualified. Once you have a clear picture of these expectations, then list them on the research form you are creating. Create a section for “must have” skills/experience. This will allow you to quickly and easily refer back to the core requirements. Also, create a section for preferred skills and experience. Hiring managers always have a list of “nice to have” skills. This section is a place to put those skills, so when you find a candidate who matches the “must haves,” you can quickly scan the preferred section of your form to identify if they have any of these skills as well.
  2. keep reading…

Another, Less Pleasant Use of Hiring Technology: Downsizing

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Aug 15, 2001

Organizations are sometimes faced with the unavoidable economic decision to downsize operations. Nothing shakes the confidence of employees like a reduction in force. Years of loyal service and devotion to the organization evaporate overnight. People have long memories when the company that rewarded, praised, and promoted them for so long suddenly turns cold and dispassionate. But employers generally do a very bad job when it comes to making termination decisions. On one side of the fence, departing employees are generally armed with a portfolio of satisfactory performance reviews, a nice track record of raises, a history of promotions, and a clean personnel record. On the other side, organizations tend to use shaky retention protocols that make them targets of both the media and social activists. They also have to face legions of shareholders demanding a better return on their investment and must passively watch lawyers line up like cars at a broken toll-booth inviting ex-employees to join class-action suits. And that’s the good part. After the reduction, the company still has to do more with less – and do it with employees whose trust has been badly shaken. Progressive organizations undertake this unpleasant task from a long-term perspective. They try to be as fair and equitable as possible, focus on emerging from the downsizing period with a more efficient workforce, act to reduce the opportunity for class-action suits, attempt to redeploy skilled people, and most of all, never lose sight of survivors’ impressions of how the organization treated their loyal friends and neighbors. I don’t normally work with companies undergoing downsizing operations, but I have a strong feeling about treating people with respect, integrity and fairness, so I occasionally accept this type of job. I don’t make the stay/go decisions. I help organizations gather the data they need to keep the people with the right skills. This brings us to one of the less pleasant, but more critical than ever, uses of competencies: accurately evaluating past performance and using that information to decide who stays and who goes. There are several ways to downsize:

Technology Adoptability: Is It Possible to Herd Cats?

by
Gretchen Sturm
Aug 14, 2001

I was recently perusing a popular recruiter’s bulletin board on which the subject of recruiting technology was being discussed. A recruiting manager asked, “How do you get recruiters to use their technology properly?” One contributor’s response (paraphrased here) noted that “most recruiters are pretty independent folks and tend to do things ‘their way,’ so getting them all to use a system in the same way is about as easy as herding cats.” This exchange brings up a critical issue on the radar screens of agencies, corporations, and recruiters alike. The issue is adoptability and adaptability to business-critical technology, or how to ensure recruiters actually properly use the technology that is available on the recruiter’s desktop. In this article we’ll look at “adoptability” issues, and examine “adaptability” issues in my next article. What is adoptability? Starting with a classic Webster’s definition, adopt means “to take up and make one’s own,” such as adopt a new technique, follow a course of action or adopt a new idea. From a technology point of view, we can define adoptability as the speed and ease at which the users or adopters receive, accept, and utilize a newly introduced technology. New technologies are basically adopted to solve problems, increase effectiveness, and increase efficiencies of a business process. Recruiters are faced with many challenges, the least of which may be dealing with technology tools. Amidst sourcing, selling, negotiating, networking and closing there is also entering, tracking, searching, updating and corresponding. “Adopting” to the recruiter means whatever technology is made available (either by choice or inheritance) is taken on as “my tool” and used to find new and hopefully better ways to perform necessary functions. How many software developing recruiters do you know? The first aspect of user adoptability sends us backwards to look at the design and the development stage in the software development lifecycle. Before a system is ever purchased, developed in-house, or run in beta tests, software designers and developers are working on translating ideas and innovations into features and functions, buttons, and links. The first key to user adoption of a system is to ensure that developers and designers understand and relate to the problems of their end users, in this case, recruiters. Developers who don’t consider the adopter’s resistance to change, feature/benefit ratios and other human elements will do so at great risk to all stakeholders. Perception is reality for adopters, and positive adopter perceptions are the key to widespread adoption of a technology. The Software Engineering Institute (operated by Carnegie Mellon University) reports that there are four characteristics needed to build into a technology package for successful adoption. Let’s examine these four characteristics as they relate to recruiting technology:

  1. Benefit. Although absolutely necessary for adoption, interpretation of benefits can vary widely from organizational decision makers to end users or recruiters. For example, the benefit at the organizational level might be to reduce thousands or millions of dollars of costs in several areas of the recruiting lifecycle or even staff. To recruiters, benefits might be defined as improved system performance, reduction of administrative tasks, or the ability to locate quality candidates faster. Organizations that implement systems based only on their perceived benefits, without really listening to the needs of end-users, could end up with an adoption struggle down the line. Whatever the benefit, it is ultimately the recruiting users who need to adopt the technology. Benefits to end-users should be top-of-mind for developers.
  2. keep reading…

A Manager’s Guide to Orientation

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Aug 13, 2001

The first week on the job can play a crucial role in motivating and retaining new employees. We often spend lots of time and money recruiting and wooing new employees and as soon as they start we turn around and treat them like barely welcome strangers. We need to begin looking at recruiting as only half of the task of hiring. Orientation is the other, often ignored element. I’ve designed quite a few orientation programs and in my view responsibility for the first day and the first week on the job are too important to delegate to human resources or to devote to “reading the manual.” Managers need to take control of the process of bringing a new employee on board. Just like a parent adopting a new child, the role a manager plays during the first week is of critical importance if the employee-manager relationship is to progress rapidly. To begin with it is important for you, as a manager, to know why the orientation has so much impact. Following is a checklist of the reasons why you need to focus on orientation. Goals of Great Orientation Programs Most orientation programs entail little more than putting a tape in the VCR. But if you really want to do a great “on boarding” process, you must first understand its goals and potential impacts. Some of them include:

  • Time to productivity. Any delay in providing new hires with the guidance, equipment and training they need can slow the time it takes for a new employee to reach their minimum expected level of productivity. Each day of delay can frustrate the employee and may also mean the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue if product development or sales are impacted.
  • keep reading…

Online Screening: Inside Scientific Screening

by
Dr. Charles Handler
Aug 10, 2001

Part One in this series of three articles provided some basic information about the benefits of using online screening to quickly and efficiently evaluate the suitability of candidates applying for a job using the Internet. To quickly recap, the main idea of the article was that screening is a more effective tool than the resume for evaluating online job applicants, because it uses technology to presort and prequalify candidates and is based on standardized, objective criteria that are directly related to job performance. Part One also broke down screening into two major types: screening based on background information and simple qualifying questions (“non-scientific screening”) and screening based on data-driven assessments that measure critical job related competencies (“scientific screening”). Part One suggested that scientific screening offers an advantage over resumes and nonscientific screening, because it uses data to create a blueprint of job performance and to create filters used to select in candidates who match this blueprint. In short, these systems use a scientific process to predict which candidates are the best hires for a job. In the “no free lunch” department, Part One also suggests that effective scientific screening comes at a price, because it requires the collection and analysis of data and must conform to specific legal and professional requirements. The purpose of Part Two of this series is to take a closer look into scientific screening in order to help understand some of the reasons why effective, legal scientific screening requires extra effort. This will be accomplished by taking a closer look at the three major requirements for scientific screening that I outlined in Part One and explaining more about what occurs at each step. Requirement 1: Building a Blueprint of the Job Scientific screening systems must offer a way to create a blueprint of what “things” are critical for success at a job. These “things” are usually labeled as either Knowledges, Skills, Abilities, or Other aspects of the job (KSAOs). Just between us, KSAOs are basically the same thing as competencies, so I will refer to them as competencies from now on. Anyway, the identification of critical competencies is important because the ability of a screen to accurately predict will suffer if a poor or incorrect definition of job performance is used. There are two basic ways in which a blueprint suitable for use in scientific screening can be constructed.

  1. Job analysis. The first and most common way blueprints are created for jobs is by a process known as job analysis. A full blown, traditional job analysis is a study involving many labor intensive steps resulting in a highly detailed set of specifications for job performance. The steps involved include interviewing incumbents and their supervisors to develop a preliminary list of important competencies, and then gathering data using a series of questionnaires that are distributed to job incumbents and supervisors. The data from these surveys is then analyzed, and the results are used to create a data driven model of what is needed for job success. In many cases, this process is extremely detailed and can often take months to complete. While this information is useful and sometimes perceived as being required for legal reasons, for the most part, highly detailed studies are overkill and can represent a waste of time and resources. I think that most successful online screening models will either reduce the Job Analysis study down to a few key elements needed to develop a good solid blueprint, or will make use of Job Specification Databases to help automate the process of building a blueprint.
  2. keep reading…

Source on Wants, Not Needs

by
Lou Adler
Aug 9, 2001

I have personally been involved in over 500 mid- and senior-level hiring decisions in the past 20 years. Not all of them were successful. The mistakes can be broadly classified into three major categories:

  1. Hiring the partially competent. These people can do some of the job, but not all of it. This is the most common error. It’s caused by an incomplete interview and an inadequate understanding of the job.
  2. keep reading…