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October  2001 RSS feed Archive for October, 2001

Using 21st Century Tools for Recruiters

by
Kevin Wheeler
Oct 31, 2001

Although the Internet has created a variety of tools for communication, data sharing, and relationship building, almost no one in recruiting uses them. Our websites are generally sad affairs, duplicating the paper processes and marketing materials we have used for years. We use email to communicate with candidates some of the time, but we are still more likely to pick up the telephone. In fact, a recent survey I did on screening and assessment shows that telephone screening is far and away the most popular method for determining whether to move forward with a candidate or not. Let’s face it, we’ve got a long way to go to be really effective at creating, building, and maintaining any kind of relationship with a candidate via the Internet. Most technologies take a long time to become mainstream, but they usually offer significant advantages for early adopters. Take job boards as an example. The first recruiters to use Career Mosaic and other early job boards had good success at extremely low cost. And, while there were many fewer candidates than today, those that put their resumes on the boards were generally very creative and forward-focused people. They were frequently just what many organizations were looking for, and they were available at an incredible bargain compared to the costs of using a job board today. Communication technologies are the key to tomorrow’s world for recruiters. Even now, with restricted travel and economic uncertainty, the Internet offers a number of ways for you to market to, find, assess, and even close on candidates at low cost. For those of you willing to experiment a bit in this slow economy, there are lots of tools and techniques you can try. This week I am going to provide a quick and shallow overview of some generic technologies you can incorporate into your recruiting functions. In ensuing weeks, I will dig a bit deeper and explore some of these in more depth:

  1. Email. Email is a mainstay for most of us. We use it to communicate on a regular basis with each other, and frequently with our candidates. More advanced email tools, like Microsoft’s Listbuilder, allow you to create entire lists of candidates to communicate with by email. You can develop extensive lists, divide them by specific interests, and schedule regular emails to go out to these people. All of this requires only a fraction of the time and money it would take to telephone or mail messages to the same number of people.
  2. keep reading…

Expect Referrals! Five Truths About Candidate Referrals

by
Scott Wintrip
Oct 31, 2001

The recruiting profession is blessed with a number of tools for finding and attracting quality candidates. The Internet, our telephones, ads in newspapers and magazines, and job fairs are just a few of the avenues we have to connect with people in today’s marketplace. What all of these have in common is that they put you in touch with people who know other people. As a result, you might think that most recruiters get lots of referrals. But in polling recruiters over the past few years, I was startled to discover that most receive candidate referrals from the people they connect with less than 25% of the time. When asked why, the majority of these recruiters indicated that they simply don’t ask for referrals as often as they believe they should. Getting referrals has been an integral part of our business since its inception. It is my belief that the main cause for the current “slump” in referrals is that many recruiters have simply gotten out of the habit of asking. In several seminars I conducted this year, the overall consensus of each audience was just that: the problem lies in that we are not in the habit of requesting what we need. If you have any doubts that asking for and receiving referrals is a natural part of our business, then check out the following five truths about referrals:

  1. It is human nature to help others. Most people take pleasure in helping others. The generous outpouring of support after the events of September 11th is a clear example.
  2. keep reading…

E-Recruiting in Europe: Microcosm of Globalization?

by
Yves Lermusi
Oct 30, 2001

Europe is merging into a single, unified market, with goods, capital and labor freely flowing across national boundaries. Political and economic integration in Europe has made it possible to look beyond the immediate surroundings for the best goods, services and opportunities. The transition Europe is undergoing is coinciding with the advent of another border transcending phenomenon, the Internet. European Internet Use Significant and increasing numbers of Europeans are using the Internet. For September 2001, the percentages of the population with access to the Internet, by European country, are as follows:

keep reading…

Don’t Let Your Worst Enemy be You!

by
Ken Gaffey
Oct 30, 2001

Several years ago, on an assignment with an international computer and software developer, I was asked to assist in developing a recruiting image for its R&D division. We call it branding now. At a senior staff meeting a VP at one of the labs brought up a particularly advantageous employment situation. A serious candidate had recently mailed in his resume after “networking” the VPs name. No recruiting efforts or dollars on their part were invested in this candidate. A pure “walk-in.” He was working for a competitor, on a similar project. The candidate’s masters thesis was a theoretical discussion on the need for the creation of the very tools the lab now was focused on developing. A preliminary background check among “insiders” showed that the candidate was a great theoretical and practical project manager with excellent training, mentoring and team building skills. It was suspected that he would probably bring four to six members of his team over with him within a short period of time. His only motivation to leave his current employer was that, in his current position, he didn’t get to spend enough time on research. The new position was in an R&D Lab. This was such a perfect and unbelievable situation that the manager should have begun his explanation with, “Once upon a time…” Being a recruiter at heart, I wanted to send the offer letter that instant with a dozen roses, chocolates, and a Corvette… two if he was married. At the meeting was the lab’s full-time HR/staffing manager, who at this moment made his sole contribution to the meeting. “Evidently, based on the enthusiasm shown, no one else noticed that on his resume he used the word ‘there’ in place of ‘their,’” he said. “Aren’t good grammar and spelling skills also an issue for management candidates?” You could not only hear a pin drop, you could hear it falling through the air. It was one of those moments where you were so embarrassed for someone else that you were embarrassed yourself. As the silence continued and deepened it became obvious that the HR/staffing manager actually appeared to believe we were considering his comment as a factor in the hiring decision, and not a reflection of a concerted effort on everyone’s part not to break out laughing. The lab VP broke the silence with a simple and telling comment. “Of course we noticed,” he said. “But in light of the real contributions this person can make, we ignored a minor error. Obviously if the candidate was a marginal applicant, I would have taken it into account. Too bad I did not find a typo on your resume. We could have avoided this whole episode.” The VP sitting next to me leaned over and quietly whispered, “Typical HR type.” He then stopped and did a double take, realizing what my chosen career path was, and said, “Present company excluded, of course.” I thanked him for his dispensation. If I had not been there myself, I would not have believed it possible for a fellow HR/staffing professional to be that out of touch with reality and the needs and prerequisites of their business partners. Then again, scholars of the New Testament believe that at the miracle of the “Loaves and Fishes” it was in fact an HR/staffing representative who yelled out, “Where’s the tartar sauce?” Sometimes the trivial is telling and reveals an insightful look at a person’s core value system. Then again, sometimes the trivial is just trivial. The flaw may have been more germane if the candidate had been applying for a position as an editor in Marcom or PR. But when you consider the overwhelming and significant qualifications for this critical role, a minor lapse in grammar usage was an acceptable single flaw that carried no significance. If you only have one dollar in your checking account, a ten-cent error is significant. If you have a million dollars, a ten-cent error isn’t worth the accounting time to fix. What brought all this to mind recently was a discussion at one of many local HR/staffing network groups I monitor for ideas and possible topics to dwell on based on what seems to be on everybody’s mind (no, not ERE this time). Based on recent events, one of these sites has had a significant number of questions for information about companies’ respective obligations to employees in the Reserves and National Guard who are called for active duty. In and of itself, a worthwhile topic, as it is obvious that this will be a critical area for HR/Staffing for some time to come. The problem I had was that the tone continued to focus on questions like, “What do we HAVE to do,” or, “If they fail to do this, do we still have to do that?” Much in the same way an errant child will ask if they have to “pick up ALL their cloths.” The quest for the absolute minimum required by law, and no more, appears alive and well. Everybody was scurrying to websites to cut and paste rules ? in many instances not so much to support as to threaten. The battle cry of the true bureaucrat: “What is the very least I am required to do?” This makes me wonder if HR/staffing representatives prefer minimalist art to impressionists. The irony is, I understand how well-meaning and concerned people could find themselves sucked into the minimalist vortex, worried only about compliance and not the core issue. I do not think any one of them wanted to learn the rules to merely to “stick it to veterans.” But it does take a ton of empathy not to think that this is the case. And many of the people we support, especially reservists and members of the National Guard, may not see our book-bound attitude so kindly. Agreed, we are the ones burdened with the responsibility of insuring corporate programs are developed, conducted, implemented, and enforced within the limits of state, federal, and sometimes union, laws. We are tasked with keeping the good name of our companies unsullied by bad press, bad reputations, bad fines, and bad practices. Often this obligation is further confounded and confronted with varying and conflicting guidelines from regulatory agencies representing varies departments of government on the same mission, but with different rules, priorities or social agendas. Agreed, that to further complicate matters, if we successfully navigate the regulations minefield there (or is it “their”?) is still the chance you may face litigation for the appearance of foul play, if not the actual proven act of foul play. (In my dictionary “litigation” is defined as, “Nature’s way of insuring that even the fair and just have an equal chance to be punished and shamed along with the unfair and unjust.”) We therefore tend to allow ourselves to become so rulebook-bound that we seldom look beyond those rules and consider their original intent, or more to the point, a more beneficial and logical extension of that intent and benefit to serve our own professional purposes and goals. Then, to add insult to injury, we all walk around with sad eyes asking, “How come no one likes HR/staffing? We don’t make the rules!” Yeah, and the hangman didn’t buy the rope either. Then there is the other great limitation on creative thinking and rule “manipulation”: cost. Recruiting and retraining good employees is not cheap. Even in an economic slowdown, your top 20% can walk out and find a new job with marginal effort, and your middle 60% can still exit, it just takes longer. That leaves you with a “lock” on your bottom 20%. Way to go! So, with government regulations “imposing” their own cost of doing business on corporate America, the attitude is often, “Hey the law says I owe them ‘X,’ and that is just what they will get, and not a day or a penny more!” You have got to wonder how these employees managed to upset so many in general management and HR/staffing in particular by merely defending the country, or in the case of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), caring for their children or caring for an infirm loved one. (The nerve of some people, really. Don’t they know they owe their heart and soul to the company store?) So we are cursed if we do, and fired if we don’t. Well, there is an old clich?: “In for a dime, in for a dollar!” But to be honest, that expression just never made any sense to me. I mean, if you are only in for a dime, maybe you should cut your losses rather than risk another dollar. On the other hand, “In for a dollar, in for a dollar and ten cents” ? now that makes sense. If you have spent a buck, for no purpose of your own design, spend a buck ten and make it your own. If you have to provide a particular time allotment of job protection to ALL employees who leave their work on a temporary basis in compliance with laws protecting employees under the Family Medical Leave Act or Federal law protecting members of the Reserve and National Guard, why not expand those minimum requirements based on:

  1. The amount of time a person has worked for the company
  2. keep reading…

Maintaining Morale and Productivity During Layoffs

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 29, 2001

The uncertainty caused by layoffs can impact both companies and employees in many ways, most of them negative. During large-scale layoffs, morale and productivity can plummet. Even more importantly, it’s common for firms to lose their focus on the customer. If a firm is to avoid the need for future layoffs, HR must be proactive and anticipate all major morale and productivity problems. Here are some action steps to take if your firm is currently undertaking or considering layoffs. Improving Morale and Productivity During the Layoff Process

  • Focus on productivity. Layoffs are distracting, there’s no way around it. During layoffs it’s crucial that you use metrics and rewards to narrow your focus and avoid distractions. Managers must raise both performance goals AND the performance-based rewards associated with them, so that everyone notices that things have changed. Results metrics that are routinely distributed to managers help to keep attention focused on your already worried customers. Metrics send get the message across to employees about what is important, and rewards makes them do the expected much faster.
  • keep reading…

Diversity Recruiting’s Last Frontier: The Internet

by
Dave Lefkow
Oct 26, 2001

A recent analysis of the latest U.S. census data shows that a strategic corporate diversity strategy is an essential long-term corporate investment, particularly given the continuing demographic shifts over the last several years. But despite these changes and the importance of the recruiting function in an overall diversity strategy, a vast new frontier in diversity recruiting remains unconquered: the Internet. New Statistics According to Diversity Inc.’s census data analysis, African Americans are now the second largest ethnic group in the nation, with a total population of 36.4 million, and they are increasingly tech-savvy. The Latino population in the U.S. has grown 58% over the last decade, with a population of 35.3 million. Asian Americans, now the fourth largest ethnic group with 10.2 million people, have made significant advancements in highly technical fields like engineering and computer science. Women have also made huge strides over the last decade, now accounting for 46.6% of the U.S. workforce and holding almost half of the managerial and leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies. Overall, women and people of color are expected to represent about 70% of net new entrants to the workforce by 2008. But the rapidly evolving U.S. demographics are just the start, as companies are increasingly trying to capitalize on the new global economy. Considering that approximately 70% of the world population fits our traditional definition of diversity (non-white, non-Christian), the role of employee and supplier diversity in any overall globalization strategy cannot be understated. And leading companies like Dell, Microsoft, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Nike are increasingly recognizing that emphasizing diversity is not only just the right thing to do, but that it can also have positive economic benefits as well. The audience demographics in the online world have undergone a similar shift. No longer is the web primarily the domain of white, affluent males. Sites like BlackPlanet.com (2.8 million members), BlackVoices.com (600,000 members), AsianAvenue (1.6 million members), and iVillage (women’s site with over 13 million unique visitors per month) have shown that diverse audiences really do exist online, and are growing rapidly. It’s not a big leap of faith to conclude that these same audiences that are going online for entertainment are now looking for work online, likely in large numbers. The Role of Diversity Recruiting The formula for success in a diverse world has often been postulated as: diverse employees and suppliers are more in touch with diverse customers’ needs, and can more efficiently position your company to develop products and services that are more likely to sell to this growing audience, resulting in significant increases in long-term profits. A large majority of organizations equate diversity solely with recruiting: 79% of the Fortune 1000 companies surveyed in a Society for Human Resources Management study currently house all of their diversity efforts within the Human Resources department. Other companies try to execute a cross-functional diversity strategy by treating it as a collection of disparate parts, assigning a human resources team to be responsible for recruiting and retaining diverse employees, a marketing team to identify ethnic marketing opportunities, and a supplier or procurement team to encourage diverse suppliers. Billy Dexter, recently an international and diversity recruiting manager for Deloitte & Touche, and now the vice president for diversity initiatives at TMP, says that companies’ failure to grasp that functions like marketing, product development, and supplier and employee diversity are all part of the same strategic diversity picture often results in fragmented diversity strategies, with few if any companies doing all of them well at once. Such fragmented efforts also have a much lower probability of translating into bottom line success, says Dexter, since there is no organizational plan in place to measure results or ensure success. The Last Frontier Nowhere are these failures more glaring than online. Despite the population shifts over the past decade and increasingly pervasive access to technology in minority households and communities, online corporate diversity sections have been slow to materialize outside of bland diversity hiring or affirmative action statements on corporate employment sites. But Dexter and other diversity experts point out that while minorities’ employment decision criteria center on the same things as non-minorities (opportunity, pay, benefits, etc.), there are important additional criteria to take into consideration that corporate websites need to begin reflecting. For example, minority candidates are often most interested in corporations that can demonstrate things like:

Job Board Trends: Going Niche

by
Karen Osofsky
Oct 25, 2001

In Part One of this article series, we reviewed the landscape of the recent and pending acquisitions of HotJobs, FlipDog and Headhunter.net by the industry giants by TMP and Tribune Companies. Part Two shifts the focus over to the niche boards and their potential for the future, including what they can do to drive success. I am a firm believer in the “concept” of niche job boards and am highly supportive of their viability in the long run. “Niche” is actually a broad concept, covering a huge range of websites, including industry and discipline specific, local and regional boards, diversity sites, etc. As in any industry, there are winners and losers; not every site can be successful. The market opportunity for niche job boards to gain traction is now. Although the economy is teetering on recession and layoffs are abundant, there is an opportunity to capture a share of the 2002 recruitment advertising budgets. Companies and recruiting firms are beginning to look at new alternatives. In the past few years, a significant portion of the monies spent on the Internet went to the industry giants. The results have been a mixed bag of success and frustration. Monster has literally created a monster (Monster is not alone; the other large job boards have done the same). Large, impressive advertising campaigns have resulted in huge brand recognition and site traffic. Sounds great, right? Wrong! These sites have generated so much traffic that companies are inundated with responses, most of which are from candidates who are not qualified for the positions. This has created a huge bottleneck for recruiters, who are doing their best to efficiently manage their processes. Now that layoffs have increased, particularly across the tech industry, this albatross has grown even larger, leaving many recruiters frustrated and overwhelmed. With 2001 contracts ending and no resolution to this problem in sight, many companies are ready to try new things. Niche sites should capitalize on this fast ? before Monster and its other large companions come out with more innovative technology to directly address these problems. How can a niche site take advantage of this window of opportunity? How can they become successful in this competitive marketplace? What can we do to support the niche sites besides purchasing their services? What Niche Sites Can Do for Themselves First and foremost, leadership needs to be visionary, innovative, flexible and astute. It takes much more than a great concept to be successful. A niche site’s value proposition must be greater than what can be achieved on one of the “industry giants” if recruiters are going to shift their precious advertising dollars away from a known entity. The technology, customer service, ease of use, and pricing all need to equal or exceed other alternatives. While the market might be right to secure trials on niche sites, the first experience has to be great in order to earn repeat business. One bad experience on a niche site will lose a customer forever. An industry giant can retain clients much longer. Recruiters seem to be more tolerant of unpleasant experiences with these entities. It is sad, but true. Second, even if a niche site exceeds every value proposition purported by the giants, true success is measured on results: results for the employer and the candidate. Employers want to know that the quality of the candidate traffic is high. Candidates want to see an impressive list of employers posting jobs to the site. To be successful, a job board must simultaneously attract a targeted set of employers and a large pool of qualified candidates. Herein lies the greatest challenge. Accomplishing this dual marketing effort requires significant sales and marketing presence, most of which is not in the budget of the niche job board. Fortunately, organizations like Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler’s CareerXRoads, Peter Weddles’s Weddles’ Guides, and AIRS, with its abundant resource directory, have generated significant awareness and free marketing for the niche players. But this is not enough! The niche boards need a more proactive marketing effort. They cannot buy Superbowl ads or blimps to fly over sporting events. Most do not even have any outside funding. Typically, they are leanly staffed (probably working out of their homes), with small sales forces and few marketing dollars. But they must get their message across to the companies AND the job seekers. Site executives need to be exceedingly creative. It is challenging, but it can be done. Here are a few ideas on how the niche job boards can market themselves better on a tight budget.

  1. Build relationships with complementary organizations. Niche boards are targeting companies and individuals with specific affinities. Individuals in these groups typically frequent sites that cater to their interests (portals, associations, user groups). A niche board should invest time (and some money) into building relationships with these complementary organizations, because they have direct access to the candidate and corporate population the site is trying to reach. Provide incentives for joint promotional efforts. Barter with free postings, subject matter content, free banners, even a cut of the posting fees. One innovative site hosts the career section of several industry-related organizations by providing a direct link from the organization’s site to the niche career site. The technology is configured such that if a company posts a job through the organization link, the organization receives a percentage of the posting fee. Additionally, if a candidate registers with the career site through the organization link, the organization also receives another small fee. This is a great way to reach a targeted audience. The marketing costs (commissions to the organization) are based almost completely on results and are focused on both sides of the equation, reaching the company and the candidate.
  2. keep reading…

The Incredible Cost of a Bad Hire: Part Two

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Oct 25, 2001

In Part One, I outlined how an “average” standard deviation in worker productivity can amount to huge dollar costs for a company. In many cases the amount is large enough to make a difference between organization profitability and bankruptcy. I also said that if you don’t see or can’t measure productivity differences, then there is no reason to change your hiring practices. In this article, I’ll continue summarizing some of the hiring research of Schmidt and Hunter* as it applies to the cost of a bad hire. The Idea of Individual Differences Basic estimates of differences in individual productivity range from as low as 19% to as high as 48% of the average salary for the job. For example, an IT professional or manager paid $70,000 per year who is in the top producing 16% would produce about $33,600 more than average. Someone in the bottom 16% would produce about $33,600 less than average. Again, these are average differences in performance. They could be much greater. The percentages represent “standard deviations” of performance. Rank-ordering employees, calculating the average productivity, and then setting a cut-off point at the bottom 16% and top 84%, respectively, determines the size of a standard deviation. The area from 16% to 50% and 51% to 84% is a “standard deviation”. It is where 2/3 of the people fall. The goal of a recruiter should be to continually work to narrow the standard deviation (i.e., reduce differences in performance) and raise the average (i.e., increase productivity). Narrowing the Differences and Improving the Average There are both internal factors and external factors that affect the standard deviation and average productivity. The major ones are:

Service Level Agreements: Summing Up

by
Kevin Wheeler
Oct 24, 2001

For the past two weeks we have been discussing the value of service level agreements, or SLAs. There has been a large response to the questionnaire I distributed, and I now want to share some of the reactions and comments I have received and sum up this discussion. While almost all of the agencies and third-party recruiters who responded indicated that they use formal agreements with their clients, very few of the internal recruiting departments say they use service level agreements. This is too bad. Service level agreements have many benefits, as outlined last week, and they can help to improve how you are perceived by hiring managers, prevent massive cuts in staff and budget during crunch times, and provide the goals you need to earn bonuses. The organizations that use SLAs were overwhelmingly positive about the experience. I had phone conversations with many of those users, and they felt it was essential to their success to have these agreements. Other firms indicated that, although they do have goals established for their function, these goals are not put into a negotiated agreement, as they would be in an SLA. One person said, “No formal SLA is in effect. However, there are hiring metrics kept to establish goals.” My worry here is that probably no one but the recruiters know what these goals are ? or care. Hiring managers who have not been through some sort of negotiation over service levels and expectations will not care what your goals are. One firm I talked with uses a broad-based SLA ? more of an overall workforce plan. This can be quite effective as well. They said, “We establish the number of people that will be needed in the top of the funnel and determine where that candidate flow will come from (either advertisement, cold calling, or data mining) at a strategy meeting. From there, we build a deliverables schedule, and everyone at the strategy meeting commits to timelines.” If they include hiring managers and those responsible for projects, this firm really has the first step of creating an SLA. This person went on to say, “To some extent this arrangement is negotiated. Mostly we listen to all parties involved and come to an agreement. Rarely would I say it is a heavy-handed approach.” While it is not clear how the agreement is finally approved, what would make this a strong process would be to get everyone to sign a document agreeing to the negotiated outcomes. For those looking at a way to segue into an SLA process, this approach could be a good start. Putting an SLA together is a process and takes time and influencing skills. The first time around, though, is often an educational process. Each hiring manager has to be convinced that these agreements are worth the time spent in discussion and negotiation. Tying the costs of recruiting to your performance will get managers to listen. An Example of a Comprehensive SLA I recently had a long conversation with the director of staffing for an East Coast high-tech firm. He shared an extensive SLA document with me from his firm. It is comprehensive, covering eight separate areas:

Effective Online Screening Begins With a Solid Foundation

by
Dr. Charles Handler
Oct 23, 2001

Online screening has been getting a lot of attention lately. This is very encouraging for those of us who have been working hard to demonstrate the value that screening can add to the online employee selection process. Adding even the simplest screening tools can really supercharge your online hiring process, increasing efficiency and providing a significant return on the investment made in adopting screening technology. But despite the increased attention and positive outcomes, it is important to understand that screening is still in its infancy. While the future will certainly bring sophisticated new screening tools, there are certain basic truths about online screening that will always apply. The most important of these basic truths is this: The effectiveness of any screening process is limited by the quality of the foundation upon which it is built. By foundation I mean the process in which critical job requirements and competencies needed for effective job performance are defined. Any screening tool that is not built upon a foundation that clearly and consistently provides this information is wasteful. This article focuses on the importance of building a solid foundation for both scientific and non-scientific screening (see my earlier article for more information about the difference between these two types of screening) by discussing why building effective foundations is an essential part of any screening system, discussing the importance of solid foundations for the evolution of online screening technology, and providing some tips for helping build effective screening foundations in your organization. Three Reasons Why a Good Foundation Is Important The following are three reasons why it is critical to build good foundations for all types of screening.

  1. Selection is all about prediction. Any time you are choosing among applicants, you are trying to predict how well each one will do the job based on the information you gather about him or her. It is impossible to make these predictions if you don’t know what you are trying to predict. A good foundation will ensure the criteria used to make predictions are directly related to the job.
  2. keep reading…

Paper Resumes…An Endangered Species?

by
Gretchen Sturm
Oct 23, 2001

Paper resumes. Are they going out of style? When will they really be obsolete? As I visit various large companies to help re-engineer staffing processes and technology, one of the inevitable questions that comes up is, “Are you still receiving paper resumes?” Although we’re well into the 21st century, the word “paperless,” which was entered into the technical dictionary in the early 1980s, still seems to be an unattainable business state for the recruiting industry. Here, we’ll look at why paper is still such an inextricable part of the recruiting process. In my next article, we’ll examine how to reduce paper today and what’s ahead for the future. The History of Paper I haven’t landed on any historical research that records the first official paper resume. Some say it emerged around the time of the printing press in the 1400s, and took real form during the industrial revolution in America. However, we can imagine a skilled stonecutter, heralding his skills by spending hours scratching a message into a heavy clay tablet around 4000 B.C. as the Sumerians did ? maybe carrying the heavy weight to the nearest employment center. Back then, top positions were jobs like pottery makers, farmers, shepherds, and weavers. For paper itself, the Egyptians introduced the use of “Papyrus” (the root of the English word “paper”) around 2000 B.C. Ts’ai Lun, from China, is credited with reporting the invention of the first paper made with wood in 105 A.D. Later, by the 10th century, Arabians were substituting linen fibers for wood and by the 12th century, papermaking reached Europe. Once Gutenberg’s printing press was invented, mass reproduction was introduced. “I’ll take 100 copies of my resume, please.” Why the history lesson? Whatever the humble beginnings, it’s safe to say that the basic premise of a resume delivered in a paper medium hasn’t changed for decades, if not centuries. The Evolution of the Paper Resume From familiar paper resumes of the 1960s and 1970s, the “electronic resume” was introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s. So new was this phenomenon at the time, that there were entire website pages devoted to the questions like, “What is an electronic resume?” or, “What is a scannable resume?” Around this time, the scanning of paper resumes was introduced as a cutting-edge approach to making paper resumes become electronic files. Job fair vendors were the first to develop and adopt the application of this imaging technology to resumes and recruiting. Scanning became very popular as companies started to latch onto client/server applicant tracking systems, and wanted a means of getting paper resumes into these systems. The number of “electronic resumes” in those days was almost nonexistent, and companies set up “scanning centers” in their recruitment or administrative services areas to handle volumes of paper coming into the company. Especially for established, branded companies like Hewlett Packard or IBM, the volume of paper resumes coming in per day could be in the thousands. Each resume had to be “prepped” by opening envelopes, removing staples, etc., then run through the scanner, validated with human eyes to correct OCR (optical character recognition) errors, and processed to extract key pieces of data, like name, address, and phone number. Thus, the paper resume was morphed into a storable electronic text resume with a data record and saved into a resume database. In a sense, this function became a “mini-factory” within the HR function, which solely existed because of paper. Webifying the Paper Process Around the mid 1990s, career sections on company websites started to pop up and, invariably, there was still a friendly invitation to send in paper resumes via mail. This time, however, there were instructions to make “scanner-friendly” versions of the paper resume (proper fonts, spacing, etc.). In essence, newspaper ads would push people to the web, at which point they could look at more job listings. When they went to apply, they read a web page all about the specially formatted paper version they could send in. They would then go ahead and make a specially formatted scanner-friendly version, mail it in to the company, only to have it optically scanned into an electronic file to nullify all the trouble they just went to in sending in the paper version. Once in the system, the recruiters would invariably print out the electronic version to send to the hiring manager or stick in a folder. Talk about inefficient processes! As companies did business review studies and cost-benefit analyses, some determined that outsourcing resume scanning would be more cost effective than managing this function in-house. More and more resume processing vendors cropped up into the 1990s. Meanwhile, as the Internet and the “email” medium started ramping up and infiltrating the recruiting world, the number of resumes received via paper started to decline. Emails sent from individuals and job boards started shifting the ratios of 80% paper, 20% electronic, to 50% paper, 50% electronic. Now, some companies with “no paper” policies boast 100% electronic. Haystack Systems (http://www.haystee.com), a resume processing operation, handles 10,000 resumes per day. They work with a variety of company clients and noted some trends over the past year in the amount of paper they are processing. Looking at a sample mix of clients, which include companies that only send paper or “overflow” resumes, as well as companies that use the service to process everything from emails to faxes to paper batches, the statistics show:

Effective Layoffs: The Quick and Dirty Approach

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 22, 2001

No one likes to do layoffs. Even under the best circumstances, when layoffs are done over time and with some degree of planning and due diligence, they can be a challenge. As a layoff strategist, I of course recommend this more scientific approach. But unfortunately, in the real world, firms are often forced to shed “headcount fat” rapidly, with little or no planning or preparation. Well, if you’re a senior manager faced with the need to cut costs “by Wednesday,” this is how it’s done. NOTE: The calculations here are detailed, so this piece might not be “easy reading” unless you are serious about layoffs. Calculating the Amount of Costs That Need To Be Cut

  1. Dollar cuts in costs needed. Start by calculating the estimated dollar cost overrun (also known as “revenue shortfall,” which is the excess of costs over revenue) for the last six months. Then double the amount to get an amount to be cut during the next year.
  2. keep reading…

Going Back To Square One

by
Lou Adler
Oct 18, 2001

At a recent workshop for CEOs, I asked these three questions: Who would you rather hire…

  • Someone who needed a job, or someone who wanted a better job?
  • keep reading…

Service Level Agreements: An Introduction

by
Kevin Wheeler
Oct 17, 2001

Last week I conducted one of my frequent informal surveys of ERE readers to see how many of you are using service level agreements (SLAs) with your managers. I also wanted to see what they contained and how they were arrived at. I received survey responses from many of you, but need some more time to follow up and probe a bit more deeply into many of them. If you missed the survey last week and would like to complete it, please see last week’s article. I will give you a summary of the responses next week. This week I will provide some basic definitions and thoughts about SLAs. The first question that I usually get asked is, why would anyone want to have an SLA in the first place? Many people believe that an SLA will hold them to requirements that are impossible to meet or would require them to perform at superhuman levels. I believe this is a mistaken concept. If you negotiate the SLA, which is a given, you should be able to arrive at numbers and quality definitions that are reasonable and achievable. Others believe in being self-driven and in creating their own goals and requirements for recruiters. They do not seek out the hiring manager’s approval. Many of these recruiting functions are successful and do collect metrics and other information that shows how well they are doing. The primary problem with this approach is that the hiring managers may not know how what or how well the recruiters are performing. A hiring manager will only follow his or her own experience. I received one response from last week’s survey that seems to echo this belief and the consequence of it: “We do not use SLAs, pay internal recruiter incentives or use a quality metric for new hires. On the other hand, we do set goals, measure and report TTS [time to source], RFT [?], source of hires, CPH [cost per hire], and Staffing Efficiency ? among other things. I admit, we still do not have a widespread understanding by top management of the shareholder value of great hiring.” While I intend to follow up with this respondent to probe a bit more deeply into how the recruiting function is structured, it is probable that one of the reasons top management has little appreciation for the value of the recruiting function is because it does not have service level agreements or quality metrics. Service level agreements (SLAs) are very simple in concept: they are agreements between a recruiter and a hiring manager on numbers and often on the quality of the people to be hired. They are developed before the hiring starts and may also contain incentives for the recruiters. They are almost always negotiated, rather than simply imposed by the hiring manager, department management, or the recruiting manager. Third-party recruiting agencies have used them for years, although they are called contracts or letters of understanding and have some legal clout. The benefits of using a SLA are many, including:

  1. They clarify roles and responsibilities by detailing what each person in the relationship is going to do, at what level of response, and with what quality. For example, an SLA might say that the recruiter will present a candidate who meets the minimum requirements for the job (attached to the SLA) 48 hours after receiving a completed requisition. The hiring manager might be required by the SLA to provide feedback on the candidate’s resume within 24 hours and make an interview decision within 48 hours. No more than four candidates who meet the requirements will be sought. Etc., etc., etc.
  2. keep reading…

Recruiting Healthcare Professionals

by
Kimberly Bedore
Oct 17, 2001

In the current business climate, while many industries are curbing their recruiting efforts, others are still growing and expanding. The healthcare industry – including hospitals, medical and research facilities, pharmaceutical companies and the like – is one of these; it continues to experience a talent shortage. Our team has completed a great deal of work in this area, and I’ve spoken with a number of recruiters specializing in this industry. Following are some of the insights that I gained. It is very important to understand your target audience when recruiting. Healthcare is no different. One characteristic of note when seeking to fill your open positions is that, generally, healthcare professionals – be they nurses, researchers, etc. – tend to be passive in nature when it comes to seeking new opportunities. That is to say they are not transient in the professional life, as we have grown used to seeing in the technical world. They also tend to be less apt to surf the web when seeking a new position. Career moves are identified through word of mouth and through networking. This is not to say that job boards are ineffective in this industry, but that they should be used in conjunction with other strategies. Another observation for recruiting in the healthcare industry: passive candidates are not as readily identified, nor are they contacted as frequently by recruiters, as they are in other industries. Does this mean they are difficult to locate? Not at all. What it does mean is that because they are contacted less frequently, they are more open to talking with recruiters. It may be that they are merely seeking general career information. Regardless, savvy recruiters will leverage this into relationship building and permission marketing strategies. Finally, with little research, it soon becomes apparent that healthcare professionals readily use the Internet for networking, professional development, and industry information. Internet Recruiting 101: understand the internet usage patterns of the population you seek. To reach the individuals, go where they go. Use these resources through linking strategies, job posting, identifying contacts within associations, and a host of other ways. With these tendencies in mind, what then works for attracting these professionals? Here are a few strategies that have been tried and proven by our team and the recruiters I interviewed:

  1. Leverage networking and word of mouth in your recruiting efforts, as they are the major means healthcare professionals use for identifying open positions. Talk with your top performers. Ask them to refer former colleagues, friends, former classmates, and people who have impressed them. Make new hires aware of any employee referral programs, make them aware of open positions, educate them how new positions are communicated internally, and ask them for referrals. Contact officers of associations and ask them for referrals.
  2. keep reading…

But First, Remember to Deliver the Paper

by
Ken Gaffey
Oct 16, 2001

It all started with a phone call six weeks ago from one of the two major newspapers in the Boston area. Their telemarketing department was offering a free two-week subscription to show the advantage of home delivery. Now, you have to marvel at the modern sales/marketing efforts of large and electronically sophisticated corporations. On the one hand, they are offering to “give away” their product for two weeks. On the other hand, it represents a retail value of only $5.00. But those free newspapers can be counted on their roles as a “subscriber,” which keeps distribution numbers high and allows a subsequent “boost” to advertising rates ? or at least added closing power with prospective advertisers based on total numbers of papers distributed. If the list being used by telemarketing was purchased through one of the more sophisticated compilers, they could also offer other information to their advertising clients:

  • Readership’s Average Income (you sell Jaguars, 15% of our readers can afford Jaguars)
  • keep reading…

Effective Layoffs: Avoiding Layoffs in the First Place

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 15, 2001

Shifts in the economy are a fact of life. But managers and HR professionals are often forced into recommending layoffs during economic downturns because for months they have procrastinated and put off taking the appropriate preventative measures. As a layoff strategist, I recommend a forward-looking approach aimed at minimizing the need for layoffs in the first place. If you are the person responsible for workforce planning, here are some things you can do to prevent the need for layoffs. If no one is responsible, appoint someone and tie his or her job (and compensation) to managing headcount “fat.” Tools For Avoiding Layoffs The most effective ways to avoid layoffs are:

Promoting Custom Career Paths

by
Bruce Tulgan
Oct 12, 2001

Retention is still the most important issue facing business leaders today. Oh sure, there is a pause in the action of the talent wars as the shock waves of the economic downturn are absorbed. But most talented people have not been scared into submission as a result of seeing downsizing back on the front pages – or seeing their colleagues in the next cubicle downsized. Rather, all the fresh news about downsizing is reinforcing what most people were coming to realize during the most exuberant days of the economic boom: In today’s ruthless business world, we are all free agents whether we want to be or not. Job security is dead. The only career security you can hope to achieve ultimately comes from your ability to sell yourself and your skills in the free market for talent. And that points to another cold reality of the real new economy: In the free market for talent, some people are much more valuable than others – the best people have more career options and more negotiating power. The best people are the ones managers are desperate to retain and, yet, the best people are the least likely to follow the old-fashioned career path in the new economy because they simply don’t have to. If you are going to retain the very best people, you’ll have to create a custom career path for every one of them. When a valuable person goes to the trouble to customize his work situation, negotiating special arrangements with the organization, his manager and his coworkers, his stake in the position grows tremendously. His investment in the organization, his commitment, his willingness to deliver results grows. Why? “This is my dream job,” he will say. That’s a job worth keeping. Based on our research, these are the five non-financial factors of an employment relationship that people care the most about:

  1. When they work (schedule)
  2. keep reading…

Competition for your Internal Candidates

by
Michael McNeal
Oct 11, 2001

We can all agree that the development of internal employees is good for your company. Promoting internal growth generates enthusiasm and productivity among your internal talent and provides opportunities in cases where employees might otherwise leave the company. But problems arise when hiring managers and/or recruiters compete for the same employee – and ultimately jeopardize what’s best for the company. There are a lot of reasons why this happens: sometimes it’s because of policies, sometimes it’s because of a lack thereof. However, it usually all ties back to the need for solid and strategic workforce planning. If the movement of employees within your organization is problematic, this is a good time to discover why – and to do something about it. If you have to remind yourself frequently that it’s you against the competition, perhaps it’s time to take stock! Mission: Critical Most companies have some general guidelines for how an internal employee can transfer within their organization. Take the example of the policy not to allow employees to apply for an internal transfer if they have been in their current position for less than one year. This policy does help to discourage infighting between hiring managers (“You can’t take him – he just finished training!”), and also helps to prevent an employee from accepting a job they don’t really want, only to immediately apply for an internal transfer. But what if you had an open position that was mission critical to your company, and a new hire would be perfect for it? This brings up a good question: do you know what the mission critical jobs are within your company at any given time? “I’ll Have Mine Gently Saut?ed, Not Poached” Hiring managers fear poaching. If a hiring manager has a top-performing employee, they will do whatever they can to prevent them from leaving – even if it’s to a different job within the same company. Our goal as staffing professionals should be to keep the great contributors within the company, even if it’s not in the same job. The only way to really encourage this is to motivate employees to perform their best, and to show them a clear path for their development – wherever it may be within the company. Good hiring managers will provide such a path or at least a vision for one. Bad hiring managers are simply territorial, but all hiring managers usually fear poaching, and the simple reason is that they are losing something. It’s human nature! Perhaps maybe we should reward managers on growing individuals out of their organization instead of seeing how long they can keep them for themselves? There are logical reasons that managers fearing poaching. They fear they may not find another employee as good as they one they currently have. They don’t want to lose the momentum of their current employee’s work, and they dread the hiring process of finding someone else. Making sure your recruiting engine is well tuned and your recruitment is proactive instead of reactive will address most of these concerns. Still, it’s hard to make hiring managers understand why it might be a good idea to let an employee move to another part of the company – especially if that employee is good at what they do. That is why it is key for your workforce plan to identify and have an awareness of positions that are mission critical. Furthermore, the importance of filling mission critical positions needs to come from the top down. “I’ll Make How Much?” Pay-scale inequities can become glaringly obvious when internal transfers are made. I know none of you need a lesson in establishing pay scales. But be warned that whatever pay structure you have in place, you need to make sure that it’s fair and equitable. During the hiring frenzy of the late 1990s, pay scales could be tossed out the window in order to get prime candidates. The focus should always have been a return on investment and not just about filling a JOB. (You know pay scales are out of whack when a newly hired candidate feels guilty about being overpaid…) While there are lessons to be learned from this, it’s also important not to lowball a good candidate when times are tough. This is happening all the time. Managers may say, “Well, they aren’t working now, so offer them less and save the company some money.” Be honest, be fair, and be consistent. Have reasons for your salary ranges, such as return on pay (ROP), critical-need position, priority skillset, etc. – and stick to them. While you’re at it, make sure to set guidelines around what constitutes a promotion and what constitutes a transfer or lateral move. Again – be honest, and consistent. Why Don’t We Get Any Credit? Most companies don’t give recruiters credit for placing an employee in another position within the company. The reasons for this aren’t completely unfounded. You could argue that the number of open positions stays the same after an internal transfer. And, if there were recruiter incentives to move employees around within a company it could lead unnecessary moves. So how do you combat this? First of all, the right incentives need to be put in place. If your organization measures recruiter ROI as a numbers game, you will either not pay as much attention to internal transfers (if you don’t get credit for them), or you may end up exacerbating the poaching (“If I move John and Denise over to Doug’s department, I’ll make my number…”). The right incentives are ones that make sense for the company. Make sure to understand which open positions are the most crucial to fill. Provide incentives for filling those positions with people who can get up to speed quickly. Reward the behavior you need for best results for the company! If internal candidates can be more successful then external candidates ,get your processes and tools in order. Workforce Planning -> Goals -> Metrics -> Policies -> Incentives It’s almost impossible to be successful without being strategic. Your incentives, policies, metrics and goals all tie back to one thing: basic workforce planning. How can you be sure you’re not establishing incentives that completely contradict the basic goals of your organization? If your company’s hiring pace has slowed, take advantage of this time to truly understand where your company is going in the future, and how your staffing strategy fits into it. Only then can you understand what goals to set and in turn, how they can be measured. Policies and incentives should be implemented that support and encourage these goals. Let’s Not Forget What the Employee Wants! Mission critical or not, if an employee doesn’t like their job they may be compelled to leave. Ideally, your company should able to search against, evaluate, and understand the employment aspirations of all your current internal employees. Right now is a great time to understand the talent that contributes to your organization. An integral part of workforce planning entails the development of your internal talent. Do you know what skills or work experience you’ll need in the future? How many current employees already have those skills and/or the desire to learn them? How will moving an employee from one position to another support your overall workforce plan? Questions to Ask Yourself How many of you have a workforce planning process? Is it tied to a budget or company results? How many of you have a system that allows you to search your internal talent as well as your external candidates? Can you post your positions internally with more intimate details than your external jobs? Do you delay your posting to the external world so the internal talent can be evaluated? Do your employees feel they understand how they can grow and transfer inside of your company? Do they have a place, portal, or file that they can manage and monitor their career from? Statistics tell us that most employees leave their jobs either because they dislike their boss, or they don’t feel there are any opportunities for growth. Now is a great time to plan for your current workforces growth and ensure that your company meets its goals.

The Incredible Cost of a Bad Hire

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Oct 11, 2001

Recruiting costs are like the weather… everyone talks about them, but no one does anything. Well, you can do something about recruiting costs ? if you want to. Most people don’t realize recruiting costs are more than the cost of acquisition or cost of turnover; they are also deeply hidden in the cost of variable productivity. From the largest organization to the smallest, bad hiring practices tend to secretly cripple organizations. Place an ad, screen resumes, develop a short list, interview applicants, screen-out unqualified people, check references, make an offer to the survivor. Repeat. These are bad hiring practices. Bad, because any conscientious recruiter who follows up on his or her placements would find that, despite all these efforts, about half of new hires turn out to be low performers. In fact, most studies show typical recruiting practices have about the same accuracy as flipping a coin. Anyone with doubts should take the time to follow up with a line manager. Ask if he or she sees performance differences among people the recruiter recommended. If the answer is “yes,” the recruiter needs to start thinking about why he or she did not see these differences before hiring. No, recruiters cannot blame all hiring mistakes on hiring managers. Hiring managers have enough to do without being expected to be competency experts. Recruiters are supposed to be the hiring experts. Their job is to forward highly qualified candidates to managers for a final “chemistry check.” Getting to “Know” the Applicant When I install hiring systems, recruiters often ask, “But, when do I ‘get to know’ the person?” I respond by telling them, “Right after you discover they are qualified.” Somehow, even seasoned recruiters mistakenly believe that “getting to know” an applicant provides valid information about a person’s “hard” skills. Making quick assumptions based on personal impressions is a weakness of the human condition. Psychologists call this weakness the “halo” effect. It occurs when a recruiter or hiring manager is so impressed by an applicant that he or she makes unfounded assumptions about other job skills. But enough jawboning about good and bad “practices” ? what is the hard-dollar cost of loosey-goosey hiring? There is a special field of Industrial Psychology devoted to calculating the “utility” of different hiring tools. Utility is a fancy term for calculating the money you gain by using better hiring systems. But I like to think of utility as the money you lose from bad hiring tools. Frank Schmidt and John Hunter in 1998 investigated 85 years of research* about hiring tools. I thought you might be interested in a few things they had to say about the cost of hiring. Get a Grip Before we continue, if you don’t see differences in employee productivity, then there is no reason to do anything different. Your job may be so simple there is no difference in productivity among candidates; your hiring system is already a finely tuned “machine”; your management is asleep at the switch; or you don’t care about individual performance. If you cannot see or are not concerned about performance differences, there is no reason to waste more time reading this article. But if you want to learn more about the hidden cost of unvalidated hiring tools, read on. Costs There are a few basics surrounding employee productivity differences:

  1. Personal productivity generally tends to follow a bell-shaped curve.
  2. keep reading…