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April  2002 RSS feed Archive for April, 2002

Five To Seven Years Experience Required: Part 2

by
Ken Gaffey
Apr 30, 2002

“When we last left our intrepid hero, Atomic Recruiter, he was being held captive in the Dungeon of Repetitive Tasks and Meaningless Efforts by the evil Lord Everything-Over-You, Master of the Hiring Managers of the Doomed. With only minutes left and tons of paperwork yet to be completed, in triplicate, our plucky hero realizes that all is not lost! If only he can reach his…” Okay, so maybe you think HR/staffing is too serious a subject to take so lightly, and that it deserves more reverence in professional journals such as ERE. But maybe if we lightened up a little and made our interactions with hiring managers a more interesting part of their daily lives, we wouldn’t need bribes or threats of blackmail to get them to participate more fully in the process. Nowhere is this more apparent ó and critical ó than in the development of position skill profiles that are used to develop search criteria. In the last installment I gave a hypothetical position skill profile and challenged you to develop search criteria using elements other than years experience. I would like to take a moment and make special note of two of the responses I received:

  1. I am informed by one reader that, in Australia, the use of “years experience” in any position description is illegal. “Down under,” they understand the potential for age discrimination here. For those who believe this may be an overreaction: imagine, if you will, that you are being deposed by a candidate’s attorney in an age discrimination lawsuit where you advertised and screened candidates based on “five to seven years experience” required. The attorney then asks, “Of the 75 resumes you reviewed using your own mandated criteria to prescreen and eliminate resumes, how many candidates remained in the process who were 45 years or older (protected class)? How many were Vietnam-era veterans (protected class)? How many were under thirty? Where is your documentation on the relevance of using five to seven years experience as a legitimate, non-biased criteria indicating likelihood of a particular candidate’s ability to succeed? How many candidates over 45 have you hired this year (EEO stats)? How old are you?” Not a good day to be the stationary target on the stand, don’t you think? Consider this: whether by intent or by accident, using “years experience” has the potential to create civil legal issues. It doesn’t have to a “against the law” to get you in court; it merely has to appear that way.
  2. keep reading…

The “Big Secret”: Top Performers Are a Bargain

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Apr 29, 2002

Are top performers expensive? If you ask any expert in compensation to tell you what the typical pay differential (i.e., salary and bonus) is between an average performer and a top performer in the same job, you might be surprised to find out that the differential isn’t much. The analysis goes something like this: Top Performers Can Be Paid Slightly More

  • Top performers generally do get paid more than average performers. But the extra compensation for top performers rarely exceeds 40% over what average workers get in the same job.
  • keep reading…

Investigative Recruiting: Using a Skip-Tracing Database

by
Krista Bradford
Apr 26, 2002

Whenever you are working on a candidate search, a number of potential candidates inevitably come up “missing in action.” The switchboard informs you the executive is no longer with the company, for example. And often, that is where the search for those executives will end. Who has time to find them? Moreover, even if you wanted to track them down, how could you possibly find them if they have moved out of state? And besides, how could you possibly contact them if their phone number is unlisted? The easiest way to draw a bead on the executive’s new location, of course, is to find out who their executive assistant was and to ask that person for their former boss’s new contact information. If the secretary is unwilling to provide you with that information, simply have them get a message to that person to contact you. Another pain-free method is to enter that executive’s name and former company into the Google search engine (my favorite) or into other various news databases to try to pull up the announcement of where that executive landed. Sometimes adding the word “joins” to the search string of phrases typically used in news releases announcing that an executive joined the executive team will do the trick. But if you strike out there, what’s a recruiter to do? Well, don your fedora, pull on your gumshoes, and do what any self-respecting detective would do: search a skip-tracing database or visit a skip-tracing portal. Skip tracers are services that track down people who’ve moved (skipped town) in order to avoid prosecution or to avoid paying their bills. These services provide stunningly identifying information to law firms, banks, and creditors, as well as insurance and government agencies. But they also provide information to journalists who need to find sources to report the news. I became familiar with skip-tracing databases while working as an investigative reporter and television journalist. After founding my own investigative recruitment research business, I decided to use the databases to track the elusive executive. Because these databases contain seriously identifying information that often includes social security numbers, a series of current and former addresses, and unlisted phone numbers, the average Joe isn’t allowed to subscribe. A business must demonstrate that it is indeed a legitimate business and that it will use the information for the greater good. (There has been a movement to make such information harder to acquire out of the fear that stalkers will use this information to track down their prey ó a not entirely unrealistic concern.) I currently use Merlin Flat Rate (you can call (888) 259-6173 for a free demo). It’s affordable and easy to use. It allows you to search using different combinations of information, such as name and state, name and city, address and city, and address and zip code. You can also search by name and birth date or social security number. The process is simple and takes just a few minutes. Here’s how it works:

  1. Obtain the executive’s middle initial. Whenever the executive’s name is somewhat common, I start my detective work by quickly locating a middle initial of the executive I am seeking. Why? Often a skip-trace search will pull up hundreds of John Smiths in a state, but if you know you’re looking for John Q. Smith, you’ve just winnowed that list down to a handful of possibilities. Sometimes you can obtain a candidate’s middle initial by searching the Internet for corporate biographies or press releases. Sometimes you can find it in speaker biographies at conferences. SEC filings are also a good resource to check. Better yet, check out transcripts of testimony in court or before congress ó often the most fertile sources of a middle initial, as it is standard protocol to cite a person’s full legal name in legal situation (the recent Microsoft antitrust lawsuit has been quite fruitful for my technology recruitment practice in that regard).
  2. keep reading…

The Next Wave of E-Recruiting Innovation

by
Yves Lermusi
Apr 26, 2002

When the Internet appeared, the first wave of e-recruiting innovation was the creation of an employment or careers section on the corporate website. The early innovators brought great acclaim and the status as an “employer of choice” upon themselves, and enjoyed the improved recruiting efficiencies that come with corporate website recruiting. But by 2002, corporate website recruiting has reached close to complete adoption among the largest corporations. The mere possession of a corporate careers website is no longer sufficient to differentiate a company from its competitors. Leading corporations are turning to new and innovative practices to maintain a competitive advantage, particularly in the integration of the front-end careers website with back-end data management systems. Corporate Website Recruiting The annual survey of the Global 500 companies conducted by iLogos Research, Global 500 Web Site Recruiting 2002 Survey, reveals that adoption of corporate website recruiting can be considered to have reached a mature state. In 2002, 91% of the Global 500 employs a corporate careers website as part of the overall corporate recruiting strategy. Adoption of corporate website recruiting for 2002 represents only a three percentage point increase over last year. By contrast, corporate website recruiting increased nine percentage points in the previous two years, from 79% in 2000 to 88% in 2001. Growth of corporate website recruiting is well off of its peak period of 1998-1999, when the practice grew from 28% of the Global 500 in 1998 to 60% in 1999. As the rate of growth decelerates, we expect it to take a relatively long time for the remaining nine percent of the Global 500 to join the corporations benefiting from corporate website recruiting. The Diffusion of Innovation The yearly increases in the rate of adoption of corporate website recruiting by the Global 500 since 1998 closely matches the predictions of the “diffusion of innovation” theory for the adoption of technological innovation. This theory divides adoption into segments: starting with innovators, moving through early adopters, early majority, late majority, and finally laggards. The diffusion of innovations theory holds that the rate of adoption of a new technology will accelerate once the technology has moved out of the pioneering innovators and early adopters phases and into the mainstream. After a majority has embraced the new technology, the increase in the rate of adoption diminishes, as the “late-adopters,” or laggards, with more conservative attitudes to change, take longer to embrace the innovation. Careers Website Best Practices With corporate website recruiting now at the point of saturation in the Global 500, the next wave of innovation and competitive advantage has already begun. Chief among the practices that will form the next wave of e-recruiting innovation are online candidate prescreening and candidate relationship management. Already, these best practices are demonstrating robust growth among major corporations in the United States. In the report Trends in Fortune 500 Careers Web Site Recruiting, iLogos Research tracked best practices of corporate website recruiting employed by the Fortune 500 companies. The two-year study found the strongest growth to occur in best practices that integrate the careers website front-end with back-end recruitment management systems. Use of online prescreening by the Fortune 500 grew 228%, while the use of a job agent tool for candidate relationship management also more than doubled, with 120% growth. The Next Wave Early innovator companies understood the power of the Internet as a channel to attract new candidates. Presently, corporate careers website utilization among Global 500 corporations has reached the level of close-to-full adoption. While the most innovative companies understood the power of the Internet as a medium to attract new candidates several years ago, they are now well on the way to streamlining their processes completely. As a consequence, we are seeing a second curve of innovation that is only in its infancy. New recruitment technology integrates the results of the first wave of innovation ó the corporate careers website ó with a comprehensive back-end system, which builds on the first innovations to yield superior results. Within this context, iLogos Research forecasts an acceleration of the use of integrated solutions, reaching the early majority phase in 2002-2003. But what will be the next wave after this one? I welcome your suggestions.

Online Recruiting Evolves

by
Kimberly Bedore
Apr 25, 2002

Remember the days when Internet recruiting meant posting an opening on an online career center in lieu of a print ad? In those days, recruitment technology meant resume storage and retrieval, and maybe correspondence management. The few existing vendors were limited to mainframe and client server platforms. But as the recruiting profession has evolved, so has recruiting technology. And as recruitment technology and the Internet have intersected, the options available have become limitless. Now that the dust has settled and the next generation of recruitment technology is firmly in place, we have learned two important lessons:

  1. While technology can positively impact a recruiter’s productivity and save time, recruiter’s must develop a broader business sense and link activities to organizational goals.
  2. keep reading…

The Best Are Different Than the Rest

by
Lou Adler
Apr 25, 2002

Would you be open to explore a situation that’s clearly superior to what you’re doing today? This is what you need to ask top candidates when they are about to consider whether they should apply or evaluate a career opportunity with your firm. Who could say no? If candidates do, then you known you’re in trouble! Do your ads, employee referrals, direct sourcing calls, or networking approaches insure 100% yeses? If not, it’s time to review how you’re treating top candidates. The best candidates are different than average candidates. If a company’s hiring processes aren’t designed with the unique needs of the best in mind, top candidates could be excluded or inadvertently eliminated every step of the way. The best candidates always have multiple opportunities, including counteroffers and other opportunities soon after they start a new job. The best see a new job as another step in a career journey, not as the end of a job search. They tend to consider more variables when deciding to explore a situation or accept an offer. Job content is critical. What they’ll learn, do, and become is part of the decision-making process. The company and who they’ll work for?? and with?? is critical. They consult with more outside advisors, and take longer to decide. Most hiring processes at most companies ignore how the best make these important decisions. If you’re going to treat your candidates as customers, you’d better understand how they make a buying decision and what information they need to make it. Here are some of the more obvious problem areas you should consider, to see if your sourcing and hiring process are inadvertently ignoring the needs of the best. After all, it’s hard enough to hire top people without erecting artificial barriers.

  1. First contact is dull. If your verbal pitches to potential candidates or attempts to get referrals are boring, forget about it. You need to describe compelling career opportunities, not jobs. If your posted job descriptions don’t describe opportunities that are clearly superior to what the best candidates are doing today, you don’t have a chance to hire a top performer. If you want to hire better people, you need to offer better jobs.
  2. keep reading…

Periodic Potpourri: The First Set of?Results

by
Kevin Wheeler
Apr 24, 2002

In a medley of graphs and words, this week’s article and next week’s will paint your own self-portrait of the state of recruiting, April 2002, based on the survey we conducted last week. I want to thank the more than 230 of you who responded to last week’s survey on recruiting trends. It was an outstanding response and will be fuel for a number of in-depth columns this summer. Those who responded represented a cross-section of the recruiting world. About 60% of you are from corporations and 27% from the third-party/agency world. This gives a cross-section of results and will give us a more complete picture of what’s happening. By taking the pulse of our world from time to time, we can get a sense of how things are going and whether or not our issues are tied to our own actions or to the economy in general. From the results it would seems that things have not changed much since last autumn. The size of recruiting functions has stayed fairly constant after the initial downsizing that occurred last year. Fewer than 18% of you are reporting an increase in staff size, while almost half (49%) report no change. Yet expectations remain high. Over half of you expect that the number of professional hires will increase over the next year. Clearly sourcing remains an issue ó a critical one for most of you ó with over 70% agreeing that it is the most critical HR issue your company faces over the next year. Sourcing remains a troubled area, in my mind, as we are very reliant on two primary sources for candidates: employee referrals and job boards. The employee referral “craze” has been exciting: fruitful for many, and yet not without problems. Referral programs are not very good at bringing in more diversity and they tend to perpetuate the current thinking in the organization. If your firm is engaged in change, or struggling to overcome market sluggishness and a lack of innovative products, employee referral programs may work against you. And I think it will begin to get harder and harder to keep up the pace of these referrals that characterized the past few years. We have exhausted the referral banks of many employees and are recycling people with less discrimination than we had a few years ago. When anything gets popular, quality goes down. Pretty soon, a reverse cycle starts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see articles about how poorly referral programs are working within the next few months; yet 38% of you are reliant on them as a prime candidate source, followed by job boards. Job boards are deceiving. It often appears that they are cost effective, and they are frequently cited as a cost effective way to locate new candidates. Yet, when you figure in the time and energy that goes into posting, sorting, screening, and qualifying the wide range of responders, it may be false economy. I don’t think we in recruiting or HR do very good math or very complete cost/benefit analysis. In diversity recruiting, you are more likely to use a professional association (17%) or networking (19%) as a source, but you are still very reliant on the job boards (20%). When I couple this with the surprising result that only 4% ó yes, that right, 4% ó of you have a research function, I see trouble on the horizon. In this survey, we defined a research function as a person or persons dedicated fully or partially to competitive analysis of other firms’ employees, pre-sourcing potential candidates, developing new candidate sources, and building lists of people whom your firm might be interested in at some point. As future columns will emphasize, I think research is the only way you will remain competitive in finding the “A” players everyone seems to want. So the typical recruiting function, as painted by the survey, is a centralized function with an average of six to ten requisitions per recruiter. And while 34% of you say this is a major decrease from one year ago, expectations of increased workloads are high. Research functions are almost non-existent, and sourcing remains confined to one or two well-trodden areas that may be less effective than they seem. Next week we will take a look at how you responded to issues around customer service and how you measure and report what you do. I promise to reveal even more interesting information!

Your Employment Product

by
Dave Lefkow
Apr 23, 2002

Recruiting is often compared to sales, marketing, and customer service ó in that recruiting departments market and sell your company’s “employment product.” Even the best recruiters often feel helpless to contribute to the continuous improvement of the employment product, which reduces their effectiveness as recruiters and their ability to sell individual job openings. Taking lessons from the consumer marketing world, recruiters can not only affect the employment product, but also have the potential to become real catalysts for organizational change and improvement. What Is the Employment Product? Outside of desiring “a job that pays the bill,” employment consumers (candidates) have expectations of a potential employer. While some of these consumers will be less discriminating than others, your most talented employees will likely have more demands on you due to the increased competition for their services. These demands most often include the company’s compensation, culture, value system, vision, products, training and development, benefits, and upward mobility. As a recruiter, you have probably sold your best candidates on many of these benefits as part of your employment product ó in advertising, on your employment website and in interviews. Once candidates have taken your offer, the clock begins ticking on when and if you will deliver on the promise. How and if you deliver on these promises is, in effect, your employment product. By consistently delivering on these promises, you are more likely to have productive, happy employees on your hands, employees who may bring other qualified people on board via your referral program. But if you fail to deliver, negative effects will be felt throughout recruiting, development, and retention, Your employees may choose to leave at the first better opportunity, may be less productive in their work, and will probably not refer their friends and acquaintances. The Product Improvement Model To improve a product, product marketers often rely on frontline employees in sales, customer service, and technical support to act as the voice of the customer. Product managers typically combine this feedback with customer data gathered from primary research tools such as focus groups, usability studies and on- or offline surveys. The idea is to identify where consumers’ needs are currently being met, where there are gaps, and how the organization ó through existing or new products ó can fill these gaps to increase customer satisfaction. But customer satisfaction is also extended to the sales process itself. Many organizations measure and report upon almost every touch point at which the consumer has contact with the product or the organization, including their experience with sales and technical support. The results of focusing on the customer experience and the customer’s overall satisfaction are seen in increased sales, greater customer acceptance of and desire for products, and increased customer loyalty. And with the products, services, and support that customers want most, the sales process becomes easier and faster. Building a Better Employment Product It may seem as if nothing is wrong with your employment product. Turnover is probably much lower than it was during the talent wars, productivity is up, and recruiting costs are down. Every time you post a position, you get a mountain of responses. Yet the best candidates for many positions are still difficult to find, harder still to convince to make the leap to your company. Employment offers are still rejected. Turnover is still a reality. Improving the employment experience is therefore still a vital piece of the recruitment, retention, and development picture. What role can HR departments play in this product improvement process? A few simple metrics can play an enormous role in not only improving the employment product, but the company as a whole:

  1. Employee satisfaction. Periodically survey your employees, and demonstrate to them how you are acting on the results.
  2. keep reading…

Quality of Hire: What To Measure and When To Measure It

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Apr 22, 2002

In Part 1 of this article series, we looked at the many reasons why your organization should measure the quality of its hires. Here in Part 2 we’ll take it a step further and get into the details of what to measure and when to measure it. Quality Of Hire: What To Measure There are a variety of approaches to measuring the quality of your hires. Here’s a list of five of the broad categories along with actual metrics you can use in each. 1. Individual Performance Metrics. Individual performance metrics help you determine if the people you hired this year outperformed those hired last year (in their job classification). Actual metrics:

  • On-the-job performance: Productivity, output, sales volume, customer satisfaction scores, efficiency, etc.
  • keep reading…

From the Front Lines: The Convergence of Methodologies and Technology

by
Hank Stringer
Apr 19, 2002

We hear and read so much about what the recruiting world will or should be, and much of the information, frankly speaking, comes from the theoretical side. That’s not a bad thing; in fact, it is a very positive and necessary exercise to imagine what should be and how we should be doing it. But it’s also worth taking a moment or two to search the market and find some interesting stories from recruiters who are out there on the front lines. In this two-part article series, I’ll be exploring both sides of the front lines. Today we’ll take a look at an example from the agency side, and in my next article we’ll turn to an example from the corporate side. Whether you’re an agency or corporate recruiter, learning about what some of your peers are doing out there to compete in a world of changing economic conditions, technology, and competition will certainly open your eyes to some new ways of thinking. Many of us in recruitment come from a background of agency recruitment. Even if we don’t, we’ve surely worked with an agency or at least had many opportunities to voice an opinion. The recruitment agency, after all, has played a very important role in the recruitment supply chain over the past 50 years. Many of the processes we have in place for sourcing, attracting, and closing candidates were born from daily activities within the agency environment. But the world is changing, and many in the traditional recruitment agency have had a tough time of it recently?? some more than others. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Bob Van Rossum of MarketPro in Atlanta. MarketPro is one of the recruitment firms that are making it. Bob’s forward approach to his “agency” business is a useful case study for anyone in our industry. Bob is using the convergence of traditional recruitment activities and technology in some interesting ways to scale MarketPro’s recruitment results. Their processes may not be new to many of you, but even so, they’ll serve as a testament and confirmation to technologies and recruitment processes you’ve put in place. For others it will be the first time you’ve heard about these approaches to the recruitment process, and they can serve as a roadmap for your future. Bob’s wife Melissa started MarketPro in Atlanta six years ago. Her approach was focused and successful. She had no staffing or recruitment background, but saw a tremendous need in her city and region for recruiters who could deliver marketing professionals to a growing market. Melissa was confident she could do the job because of her experience in marketing, her extensive network of contacts, her capacity to understand and screen top candidates, and, in short, her ability speak marketing’s language. Not new to most of us, but it’s always refreshing to see how focus and domain experience can carry the day. Bob began running the day-to-day operations of the business in 1999 and immediately saw the need to scale the business. Bob did not have a recruitment background either, but based on his business experience he saw the opportunity to scale the business through technology, versus the old agency model of filling chairs with more recruiters. For many this has been a constant source of attrition, high cost, inconsistency, and change. Bob’s goal was simple: “to maximize our internal people resources while minimizing the time it takes to fill a position.” This has been “the holy grail” of the recruiting agency business for a long time. But until recently, it was difficult if not impossible to master. “We’ve been able to reduce the time it takes to fill a position to 43 days, versus an industry average of 103,” Bob told me. “This allows us to increase placement volumes without increasing recruiters. Our clients are happy because they are assured positions are filled quickly, and our recruiters make great commissions.” The question is how he does it. Bob alludes to two reasons:

  • Domain expertise. Expertise within a particular domain builds great credibility, referencable accounts, and repeat business.
  • keep reading…

When Hiring Managers Ignore Hiring Competencies

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Apr 18, 2002

It happens every day. Somebody gets the great idea to develop organizational competencies. A committee is formed of trainers, recruiters, and a sprinkling of consultants. Six months later, worn and haggard, they emerge from seclusion, examine the fruits of their labor, and proclaim, “Forsooth, these are indeed goode competencies! Let us return to the light and share our goode news!” Overcome with emotion and ecstatic about being freed from confinement in a stale motel room, some members mistake the draperies for mantels of wisdom. The weary authors process back to the organization. They arrive with great fanfare, cloaked in dusty robes emblazoned with Holiday Inn Express logos, blowing trumpets made of rams’ horns, and dragging a wooden cart carrying stone tablets inscribed with the “TEN COMPETENCIES.” The executive committee, all of them wise below their years and completely out of touch with the common jobholder, examines the list carefully. Overcome with the d?j? vu of superficial words borrowed from the latest management bestseller, they rightfully confirm, “Yea, verily, these are Goode Competencies! Go forthe among the people and proclaim these Competencies the law of the land!” Two years later, the Holiday Inn damage claims are finally settled, one of the tablets has been lost, the others gather dust in the closet, and rumors circulate about the second coming of consultants who will drive false prophets out of the organization. What went wrong? Everything. Competence and Competencies Competencies are not to be tampered with. For one thing, as if the generally accepted definition of competency is not enough, big organizations tend to invent their own definitions ó a trend that has been known to drive even well intentioned employees into rest homes for the terminally confused. So, before we begin, we’ll reestablish the meaning of “competence.” The word “competence” is derived from the Latin word competere, meaning “suitable.” It entered the English language sometime during the 15th century (I guess our ancestors didn’t know or care about incompetence before that time). Merriam Webster defines competence as, “having requisite or adequate ability or qualities.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, “the ability to do something to a level that is acceptable.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines competence as, “properly or sufficiently qualified; capable.” We’ll use these definitions to define organizational competency as having the ability to successfully perform elements of a specific job. (By the way, whether or not the reader believes a competency can be trained or learned is unimportant. I’m not in the business of defending training programs and am still waiting to see a replicable study that supports the opinion that training makes people smarter, improves their inherent motivation, or significantly changes behavior. So, unless your organization is a non-profit social support enterprise, I’d suggest sticking with the “competency you see is the competency you get” hiring philosophy.) Three Kinds of Competencies One reason why hiring managers tend to reject organization-wide competency definitions is that competencies have three substantially different applications: training, management, and hiring. Trying to use competencies designed for one application in another application leads to confusion and a serious lack of credibility. Let me explain by using a competency I’ll call “analysis,” defined as, “the ability to recognize relationships between seemingly unrelated issues. In the trainer’s lexicon, analysis usually involves some kind of practical application. For example, I once attended an analysis workshop that required teamwork and communication to gather information (Teamwork and Communication), discovering hidden relationships (Analysis), organizing the data in a logical array (Planning and Organizing), using various tools to evaluate recommendations (Analysis and Judgment), and presenting the solution to management (Presentation, Communication, and Persuasiveness). In a training application, “Analysis” became a generic, multifaceted process involving many different competencies. Organizations that try to adapt “sound-good” training competencies quickly discover they are overly broad, very situational, highly complex, and almost impossible to measure. (More about measurement later.) The second application for competencies is to communicate expectations and manage performance. This is how most people think of competencies. Analysis applied to an actual job is highly job-explicit. Sales analysis, for example, might mean analyzing market potential, developing sales penetration strategies, or understanding competitor strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, analysis for engineers or analysis for managers would be entirely different. Performance management competencies take on different meanings because they describe job details required from one period to the next. Trying to develop a competency system based on performance management competencies involves mind-boggling complexity. Users taking this approach quickly see that performance management competencies tend to multiply like rabbits on Viagra. The final application for competencies is in hiring. Hiring competencies are highly focused on raw skills. Unless you are lucky enough to interview a known high performer from an identical company holding an identical job, hiring competencies are the only way to “translate” old applicant performance into new job skills. Anyone experienced in assessment or behavioral interviewing will have already learned there are only a few raw hiring competencies. Some are associated with cognitive ability, others with planning, and a few address specialized interpersonal skills (attitudes, interests, and motivations are technically not competencies. They are the “will do,” not the “can do,” part of performance and are not easy to identify). In Part 2, I’ll discuss how to identify the right competencies for your organization and regain control over employee hiring, training, and performance.

Periodic Potpourri

by
Kevin Wheeler
Apr 17, 2002

Want to know how many requisitions recruiters are dealing with these days? Curious about how recruiting functions are being organized? Anxious about the “big” issues looming out there? If so, you’ll want to take part in this short and simple survey. For some time now I have periodically taken surveys of ERE readers to see what issues are foremost in your minds and to track emerging trends. Now that April has rolled around, it’s time to do it again. In order to make it easy for you to complete this time around, I have put the survey on the web. You can access it by simply clicking on this link or by typing the following into your browsers www.glrsurveys.com/ere/0402 . It should only take five minutes of your time to complete and will give all of us a more complete picture of what’s happening out there. I will summarize and report on your answers to these survey questions over the next two weeks. Many of the questions will become topics for future columns of mine that will explore the issues in more depth. If you have other ideas for articles, I am always open to suggestions. Just send me an email at kwheeler@glresources.com.

How To Be an Effective Recruiting Consultant

by
Andrew Ellis
Apr 17, 2002

I was in the middle of writing a paper on the intricacies of multi-site recruitment process alignment when I received an email from a very experienced professional recruiter in North Carolina, asking me for advice on how to become a consultant in the recruitment arena. It got me thinking about how important the basics of effective consultancy in this field really are. Twenty years ago, the maxim, “Those who can’t do, teach, and those who can’t teach, become consultants,” had a measure of truth behind it. But nowadays, the major consultancies take their staff right out of the universities and business schools and teach them consultancy as a profession. As compared with earlier days, the majority of modern-day consultants have very little real business experience! In order to assist the modern global organization, we consultants must be able to engage in five major areas within the organization:

  1. Strategy
  2. keep reading…

Five To Seven Years Experience Required

by
Ken Gaffey
Apr 16, 2002

Dear Candidate, I am writing to thank you for expressing interest in our current opening. However, I regret to inform you that we feel that your current experience does not meet our specified criteria. As you recall, we sought five to seven years of previous experience. After careful calculation, we cannot help but note that you actually only have 4 years, 51 weeks, and 4 days total experience. We can only wish you had waited three days before submitting this resume. Although this may seem a minor technicality, it is further compounded by the fact that several candidates have two years of their experience during leap years, and consequently acquired an additional two days experience on the face of their five years, as compared to your only having gained one additional day. Further, as you are from the West Coast, we must consider the additional three hours experience East Coast candidates have acquired over West Coast applicants at the same point in any given workday. I considered your resume for a new position opening up in four days, but that opportunity requires five years experience or less. Regrettably, in four days you will have five years and one day of total experience?? and will obviously be overqualified. We wish you the best possible luck in your search for the appropriate position and cannot help but emphasize the need for you to do your best to match your skills to relevant requirements. We recommend you make better use of a calendar before submitting your background. Best Regards,

Mr. A. Nile Retentive

HR Manager Far-fetched? In the above narrative, possibly. But in the daily application of our fascination with the “previous years experience” concept as a manual or automated screening tool, maybe not. It is a matter of increments between fact and fiction. Or sanity and madness for that matter. Several personal incidents that refute the value of “years experience” come to mind without any effort:

keep reading…

Quality of Hire: Why You Should Measure It

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Apr 15, 2002

I consider the single biggest fault with corporate and external recruiting functions to be their almost universal failure to measure the quality (or performance) of the people they hire. Nearly every other “overhead” function, from supply chain to package delivery, has jumped on the ISO or six-sigma bandwagon, but recruiting has continued to resist. If it’s fear of being exposed that’s keeping you from measuring the performance of your hires, I can’t help you. But if you just don’t know how to measure quality, this article series will answer all of your questions. It’s long and detailed, but full of answers?? if you are up to the challenge of becoming a six-sigma recruiter! This article series will cover four key areas of quality measurement: Part 1:

Technology: Changing the Face of Recruitment

by
Tracey Friend
Apr 12, 2002

In a recent white paper published by the Talent Market Group, the following comment is made: “In the future, recruiting departments will see their CEOs turn to them for advise, guidance, and recommendations on overall corporate financial management and talent investment strategies.” Throughout this white paper, the Talent Market Group makes repeated reference to skills sets such as financial management, budgeting, project management, talent relationship, leveraging technology, management and marketing. These skills are historically found in strategic staffing organizations, yet they are frequently scattered and overlooked due to the often limited perception of the staffing function. But as technology enables better management of the operations associated with staffing, the knowledge base required to succeed as a recruiter will move towards that mentioned in the Talent Market Group’s white paper. Technology will force staffing professionals to focus on things like metrics-based budgeting, establishing benchmarks appropriate for their organization, calculating return on investment, and projecting talent acquisition timelines against corporate growth strategies. To begin the change process, a staffing executive must have a working knowledge of all the human capital management technologies available to them today. These include:

Building a Solid Foundation

by
Dr. Charles Handler
Apr 12, 2002

The importance of providing a good foundation for every action used to narrow down an applicant pool cannot be understated. This is a universal concern that applies to every hiring situation, be it one recruiter trying to fill a requisition or a large corporation setting up an enterprise-wide screening system. By “foundation” I mean a set of parameters that define performance at a given job. It is important to remember that any screening system is only as good as its foundation. It’s a no-brainer when you think about it: how can you ever hope to predict how well an applicant will do at a job without being sure what actually defines success at that job? Foundations are also critical because they are an absolute necessity for ensuring the legal defensibility of your screening process. This is because the litmus test for legal defensibility is the ability to demonstrate that all measures used to make decisions between applicants are based solely on job-related criteria. If you cannot demonstrate this link, then you’re asking for trouble when it comes to defending challenges by applicants who feel that they were not treated fairly during your hiring process. This article is the first in a two-part series focusing on providing practical information about building a solid foundation on which to base screening. This article provides some tips for building good foundations in the absence of any formal system to help one do so. Part 2 will cover broader, more systematic issues related to building foundations for screening systems and provide some tips for evaluating the foundation-building tools offered by screening vendors. The Problem I had some conversations at last month’s ER Expo that made me realize a few things. While a lot of folks out there may be reading about information on best practices, they often work in a situation that makes it hard for them to actually apply these practices. This is because the best practices that I often refer to are usually dealt with as part of major, system-wide decision-making processes. Unfortunately, this process often does not include the input of recruiters and hiring managers (which is upsetting because the input of end users is critical to the success of a system). The results of the best practices survey that I worked on with Kevin Wheeler and Global Learning Resources confirm that many organizations lack a systematic process for determining screening foundations. Specifically, our results indicated that in most situations, screening foundations are developed using either job descriptions or the input of hiring managers. While information from these sources is certainly important to the hiring process, it is often inadequate as a standalone tool for providing the type of information needed to create good screening foundations. Using only a job description and input from hiring managers as to develop screening criteria is kind of like using only a resume to make a hire. In each situation, more in-depth information is needed in order to make quality decisions. Failing to verify the information provided by job descriptions or hiring managers is dangerous, though, because information from these sources is often:

  • Not created using a formal, systematic process designed to help understand a job
  • keep reading…

I Didn’t Know the Military Could Do That Job!

by
Bill Gaul
Apr 11, 2002

Former military personnel were working in New York City during the terrorist attack rescue effort and courageously evacuated thousands of citizens from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The tragedy that is still so fresh in our minds was one where many lost their lives performing acts of bravery to help the innocent. One former Marine named John Chipura who was part of this effort served in Beirut in the early 1980s, but left in 1987 to become a police officer, and then a firefighter for NYC. He was one of many heroes who gave his life for the sake of others. After his death on September 11, his fellow firefighters made a plaque with this inscription: “Boy Scout, USMC, NYPD, NYFD: Our Hero.” John is just one of many who have left the military to serve our country in different capacities. These are the everyday heroes who are now part of the civilian world. The question is, would you like to hire a hero? While you may be thinking, “I don’t hire police officers or firefighters!” ó let me categorically say that people who are willing to selflessly give to others make great employees. They may not need to sacrifice their lives, but perhaps the loyalty and devotion of their efforts are just as important on a different level. Along with being highly skilled personnel, military men and women live with a daily work ethic that shines. It is a result of their training and experience in the difficult and dangerous military world. Our soldiers do many things in the military, but most people are surprised to learn how valuable they are to many industries in the civilian world. Some HR people who have recently begun hiring from the military (within the last three or four years) say they never even thought of looking in that direction for their hiring needs. They usually express to me that they thought only sharpshooters, tank drivers, or at most, electronic, electrical, or mechanical-type people could be sought from the military. Now they realize that former military personnel provide great work ethics and do all kinds of work. The following is a limited list of what many are doing today. Former military personnel are:

A Parable: Who Moved My Behavioral Interview?

by
Lou Adler
Apr 11, 2002

This is a story I heard about sheep as a young boy, which I hope you will find as useful as I did. At the time I heard it thought it was about being grateful for being able to have a hot lunch every day. Now, I’m not so sure. One day, many years ago, two sheep ó Molly and Harold ó were discussing the woes of the flock. While wool production was high, sales were low. New “sales sheep” were needed, and Molly as the flock recruiter was given the responsibility to find them. Harold was the VP of sales. He knew that without additional sales, he had to have a reduction in force. And there was no coming back from a layoff in his world. Time was of the essence. They decided to write a job description. Molly had just attended a course on behavioral interviewing and was excited to try out what she had learned. Harold wasn’t as sure, but he was willing to try anything now that the pressure was on. Molly asked Harold to describe the key behaviors or traits common to the top wool sales sheep. After a few hours of ruminating, they came up with four. Generally, their best sales sheep were assertive, listened well, had about five years of experience each, and had clothing industry experience. “Great,” Molly said. “We’ll post an ad on wolf.com, listing the skills and experience traits as requirements, and filter out anyone who doesn’t meet them. We’ll then ask candidates to give us examples of accomplishments for which they used the behavior traits. This is why behavioral interviewing is so good.” “Not so fast,” said Harold. “I’m confused. If we use this criteria we’d filter out someone like Anita. She’s very unassertive and didn’t have a lot of experience when she started, but she still meets all of her sales goals through extra diligence. And the customers love her attention to detail and service.” “Then there’s Wooly,” he continued. “He’s assertive and seems to listen well, but he rarely makes quota. He gave us plenty of examples of listening and selling during the interview, but he still underperforms. While he had plenty of experience in the clothing industry, his types of former customers were different than ours. They bought on price only. We sell on quality and service.” “Hmmm. I see what you mean,” said Molly. “This does seem a little illogical.” “Wait,” Harold said, “that gives me an idea. I took a logic course in college when I was a freshman, and the professor posed this problem on the board. It went something like this ó ‘All supporters of the Oslo accords want peace.’

‘Mr. Smith is not a supporter of the Oslo accords.’

‘Mr. Smith does not want peace.’ “I think the professor referred to this as a logic flaw called ‘asserting the consequent,’ and we were supposed to figure out if the conclusion was true or not. It turned out that Mr. Smith really did want peace, he just thought the Oslo accords weren’t the best way to get there. I think the part was played by Jimmy Stewart in the movie version, something to do with a trip to Washington, but I could be wrong about that.” “Well how does this apply in our situation?” asked Molly. “I’m not sure,” Harold replied, “but I think it means that just because a sheep listens well, has five years of experience, and is assertive, it doesn’t mean that sheep will be any good at selling. It’s more complex than that. I think we’re asserting the consequent.” “I beginning to see what you mean,” Molly said. “Is there another way to get out of the dilemma? We still need to hire some sales sheep. So how should we go about determining if they’re competent?” “I’ve got an idea!” said Harold. “What if we look for candidates who have a track record of great sales and who consistently meet quota. During the interview, we’ll ask them to describe how they’ve met quota. They can then walk us step-by-step through some of their major sales accomplishments. This way, we’ll see how they’ve met their challenging sales goals on a consistent basis. We’ll also be able to understand their customers and what motivates them to work at peak levels. “It’s clear that the individual factors by themselves aren’t the answer. It’s the combination of these traits coupled with personal motivation that’s the key to success. In fact, I suspect some candidates will be like Anita, using a different process to achieve success. Others, like Wooly, will have achieved success with a different class of customers in a different environment. That’s why they might not be as successful here. We might even find other ways to be successful here we haven’t even thought about. This would expand the pool of talent.” “You’re right,” said Molly. “That’s a good idea. I think your approach will work. Let’s at least try it out. It’s much clearer to me now. I think traits and behaviors are secondary aspects of success. They’re the ‘consequents,’ so to speak. You just can’t look at them in isolation and assume people with them will be successful. It’s better to get detailed examples of accomplishments and see what behaviors were used and how they were used. We can then compare the process used to achieve success to what we need done here. The behavioral interviewing course I took assumed these traits and behaviors were the primary cause of success, but they’re not. This is a perfect example of the ‘asserting the consequent’ logic flaw. I bet competencies and skills are just the same. Having the competencies and skills doesn’t ensure success. It’s better to start by figuring out how a sales sheep achieved success. From this, you discover what competencies, behaviors, and skills were actually used. I suspect many will be similar, but it’s the results achieved with them that’s most important.” Just then, by pure chance, a diverse group of lambs, plus a piglet and a calf, came by covered in mud, carrying a pawball. They were laughing heartily, pushing and shoving each other, having a grand old time. Molly asked who won the pawball game, but no one seemed to really care. Somehow they had forgotten. The group was just having a good time being with one another. A few minutes later Billy-Willy came by, also covered in mud. Molly asked him how he enjoyed the pawball game. He looked at her as if she was a space cadet and said, “I couldn’t play because I had homework to finish, and now I’m all covered in mud because I tripped on the way to the library.” As this point Harold chimed in. “This must be an omen. Billy-Willy is caked in mud ó not because he was playing pawball, but because he just tripped. We assumed he was playing pawball because he had mud on him. This is another example of asserting the consequent. I wonder how many other bad decisions I’ve made or conclusions I’ve come to using this faulty type of reasoning? For example, maybe first impressions or initial nervousness aren’t indicative of job competency after all.” “Wow! That really gets you to think, doesn’t it?” Molly said. Just then, again by pure chance, the lunch bell went off. The last time the lunch bell went off, they were served a generous helping of mash. They had mash the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, for as far back as they could remember. So they assumed they would have mash this time, as well. But then Molly and Harold looked at each other, wondering, and hurried off to see what was for lunch. Moral: Watch out for the mud.

keep reading…

What Is CRM All About? A Primer for Recruiters

by
Kevin Wheeler
Apr 10, 2002

It is usually more difficult to execute a new idea than it is to understand it. Customer relationship marketing, or CRM as it is usually called, is an easy concept to “get.” But since it is so new to the recruiting world, finding the right CRM tools and making the most of them can be tough. Very simply, CRM (the meaning of which I slightly change and call “Candidate Relationship Marketing”) comprises the underlying principles for sales effectiveness, customer service, and marketing. Its core concepts have been around since the earliest markets appeared ó probably in Egypt, the Middle East, or China thousands of years ago. Shopkeepers and salespeople who know their customers by name, and who have a sense of their likes and dislikes, sell more and have more satisfied customers than those who don’t. And that’s why the sales function was the first to adopt specific tools to help them keep track of a wide range of customers and offer more personal service. Early tools relied on paper and pencil (or wax tablets or papyrus) and then evolved into rolodexes; computer-based contact managers such as ACT!, Goldmine, or even Outlook; and today into the Internet-based electronic tools that help create and maintain relationships across time and geography. Keeping track of details about your candidates or customers is always important. It is also directly proportional to your success. Referral programs work mainly because of the relationship that exists between a potential hire and a current employee. The more you know about a candidate, the more you can offer them in personalized service, and the more specifically you can market to them ó the more successful you are likely to be. These are the capabilities CRM can offer you. The key vendors in this space for customer relationship management are Siebel Systems, Oracle, SAP, Peoplesoft and E.piphany, although there are also many other smaller players and firms that make CRM a part of what they offer. So how do these tools and concepts apply to recruiting? Very simply, recruiting is a sales function. We find prospects (candidates) through marketing and advertising (recruiting websites, ads, job fairs, etc.), then qualify them (screening and assessing), and finally sell (recruit) them a product (job). Because the process is so analogous to that of selling a product or service, the basic CRM concepts, with some minor modifications, apply nicely. In fact, the applicant tracking world is finally catching on to this and adding CRM features to their products. Hire.com, which was founded on CRM principles and has always made a strong case for the need to build ongoing relationships with potential hires, as well as other vendors such as Recruitsoft, offer a partial suite of CRM tools. There are three core elements that make up a CRM system. Element #1: Marketing tools. A well-equipped recruiting function using CRM software would have a variety of available tools. These would include tools for building marketing lists from emails submitted by potential candidates, for automating marketing campaigns, for sending out newsletters targeted to specific types of candidates, and for generating other messages aimed at specific candidates. Other items that might be part of the marketing side of a recruiting CRM tool would include automatic emails tailored to how a candidate answered questions in a profiler or based on the past experience or job title that the candidate was interested in. For example, if a candidate were interested in an HR position, the email might contain specific information about the HR function at the organization or outline additional positions that were available. Other items might be tools to manage the content that is used in the messages, such as tools to create content, sort it, and find boilerplate text to include in emails. It might also contain the ability to analyze how many people responded to an email, which content drove the most response, and so on. Element #2: Customer service. This is a core component of the commercial CRM tools that help run call centers and improve the customer’s experience with a company. However, in recruiting, customer service in general is very, very poorly done. This is partly because we do not have many automated tools and rarely use the ones we have effectively. A good CRM tool would provide a recruiter with instant information on a candidate when they called in for a status update. The tool might even coach the recruiter on what to say by providing suggested text that has been approved as legal. The software should be able to respond automatically to a candidate who requested information by email. The customer service tools would also offer the candidate many self-service options, by letting her find out more about the company or a position or by providing her with an update on her status with no direct recruiter involvement. This is a fruitful area for growth and sophistication, as the CRM tools become more and more a part of applicant tracking systems. Element #3: Recruiter empowerment and sales assistance. At the highest levels these tools should provide the recruiter with tools to “sell” candidates more effectively. This would include providing scripts for recruiters to follow in the initial and follow-up sales calls and help recruiters find answers from the corporate databases to questions posed by candidates. For example, in a phone conversation a candidate might ask a factual question about a particular product which the recruiter does not know about. A quick online inquiry would pop up the information so the recruiter could intelligently and quickly answer the candidate. CRM tools would know if a candidate had called before, how many times she had called, and how she had answered specific questions. This information would be available to any recruiter and would make all recruiters equally knowledgeable about any candidate. The sales world is adopting these tools quickly because they leverage the Internet to provide them with information, expertise, and education ó as it is needed, when it is needed, and without regard to time or place. As wireless becomes more widespread, these tools will become ubiquitous. They will eventually become as important to your success as any other tool you have. If your current ATS does not have CRM capabilities, you should be asking for them. Every ATS should be starting to offer some of these tools soon. The more they offer, the better a rating they should get. Be sure to include an evaluation of CRM capabilities as part of your review process in the RFP for an ATS vendor.