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May  2002 RSS feed Archive for May, 2002

Losing the Resume Battle

by
Jason Krumwiede
May 31, 2002

These days, the proliferation of resumes has reached overwhelming levels?? and the finger pointing at the perceived causes of the problem is everywhere. This wasn’t the case just a few of years ago, when resume flow was down to a trickle for most positions. Now ask recruiters, and most say they don’t have enough time to review all the inbound resumes they receive?? let alone notify candidates if they are unqualified. But one of the major causes of resume overload is the candidates themselves. Most candidates no longer read job descriptions. Job ads have become a lot like horoscopes: every applicant thinks the job description describes them perfectly. Even if there isn’t a fit at all, many job seekers proscribe to the philosophy, “If I’m not right for this position, maybe there’s something else within the company that I’m good for.” Armed with an Internet connection, a list of job boards, and a Word document of their resume, a job seeker can crank out about a 100 job applications in less than four hours. This is especially true in the current market, where mass layoffs and bankruptcies only add to candidate desperation and leave them with plenty of time on their hands to increase resume submittals. Still, I think blame also rests with the corporate HR departments. Poorly written, overused, and outdated internal job descriptions keep candidates guessing. What the heck are they looking for? Corporate America has a tendency to write confusing job descriptions and use cryptic company acronyms that make it difficult for the job seeker to decipher who or what a company is seeking. Often the companies themselves don’t even know what they want: when HR checks back with an employee after her first month on the job, she’s likely to say the position is very different from the job description. The Numbers Just how many unqualified applicants will submit their resume to your job postings? How much time do recruiters spend sifting through unqualified resumes that don’t fit the jobs their sourcing for? My company conducted an independent study to answer these very questions. We tested some job advertisements on a variety of websites, and used a specific set of criteria to screen and rank the resumes we received in response. These were real open positions within recognizable companies, and represented a cross section of different job functions (sales, technical, finance, etc.). The resumes we received in response were divided into three categories:

Validation Deja Vu

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
May 30, 2002

In spite of being among the most critical hiring tools in the recruiter’s toolbox, validation remains largely misunderstood and unappreciated. Failure to validate hiring tools seriously harms both applicants and organizations. Applicants are harmed when qualified people are overlooked. Organizations are harmed when they hire unqualified people. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the most common misconceptions regarding validation ó and what the real facts are behind them. Misconception One: Validation is an abstract concept that has limited usefulness. Fact: “Validation” is proof your hiring tool (whether it be test, interview, resume, or application blank) accurately predicts job performance. If you have not validated your test, you have no assurance it predicts job performance. Misconception Two: Interest and motivation tests are good predictors of performance. Fact: Interest and motivation test scores are generally weak predictors. This is largely because their scores are only symbolic representations of future job performance. Test symbols are the “tea leaves” of performance forecasting; they are not actual demonstrations of job skills. Consider this. Which method better predicts pilot skills? 1) watching an applicant “fly” a flight simulator, or 2) evaluating scores on a written pilot’s test? If you answered “2″, you should seriously consider a career in professional lawn care. If you answered “1,” you already know what expert studies have shown. Real-time performance in job samples is one of the best predictors of ability. In other words, if an applicant “trashes” a simulator, you can be pretty confident they won’t be able to fly a plane. The more abstract the test, the greater the “leap of faith” required to accurately predict performance. Misconception Three: Personality tests are good predictors of job performance. Fact: Nope. Personality tests generally fall into two groups: 1) those specifically designed to predict job performance, and 2) everything else. If your personality test does not fall into the first group, you are on your own. Personality tests only work when they measure traits important to performing specific job tasks. Personality tests designed for hiring are in a totally different league than tests that measure things like communication style or personality type. Job-related personality is highly job specific and tends to change with both task and job. In one of my past studies, I discovered that one popular generic personality test was correlated with stock sales, but not training program sales. Why? The test was pretty basic. It was developed to explain general personality, not job performance. By accident, two of its general factors aligned with stockbroker traits, but not with training program sales traits. Using personality tests as an effective hiring tool takes expertise. Misconception Four: Personality scores predict ability. Fact: Not even close. Personality tests are significantly different from ability tests. For example, only chance would allow an applicant to fake the answer to the following question: “Assume six sharp sticks cost fifty cents. Each sharp stick has a diameter of .125 inches and your ear canal has an opening of .75 square inches. You plan to stick as many sharp sticks as possible into your ear canal so you can be excused from taking the rest of this test. How much money will you spend on sharp sticks before having to call 911?” This kind of question takes some real brainpower to solve, and the answers are not easy to fake! However, consider the following personality test question: “You are sitting in a business meeting waiting for it to start. Do you: 1) ask your boss to polish your shoes, 2) after hearing that a new employee once wrestled for the WWF, state your opinion that pro wrestlers are closet homosexuals, 3) admit that you occasionally wear ‘a little something from Victoria’s Secret’ under your business suit, 4) quietly engage in polite conversation until the meeting starts?” If you get my drift, you already know that people tend to screen answers to personality tests (unless they are incredibly dull, in which case they get what they deserve). Studies show the relationship between personality tests and abilities range from a low of 2% (mental ability vs. mental preference scores) to a high of 8% (interpersonal ability vs. interpersonal preference scores). Any hiring manager who makes mental ability decisions based on personality data should not be surprised by the number of dull employees hired. Misconception Five: You can trust a test vendor to sell only validated tests and be willing to defend these tests if challenged. Fact: Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy wish you “good luck.” Validation is the responsibility of the test user, not the test vendor. Validation is the user’s documented proof the test predicts performance. Employers always know more about the job than any test vendor. They need to use this knowledge to insist that the vendor conduct a study that shows a hiring test is an accurate predictor of performance. Misconception Six: Hiring tests are generally chosen based on thorough analysis of the job. Fact: Right, and Elvis is alive and living in Cleveland. In most organizations it works like this: Someone gets excited about a specific test. The next thing you know, the test becomes part of the hiring criteria. No job analysis, no study of effectiveness, nothing. Just someone’s “gut feeling” that the test measures something important. Using silly tests are what generally get organizations into trouble. This not only causes problems like legal challenges, it perpetuates the problem of hiring people with wide performance differences based on unvalidated data (you’ll recall my past article on what performance differences cost). Using an unvalidated test to hire people is like hiring people based on shirt size. Misconception Seven: You don’t have to worry about being sued. Few hiring cases get to court and employers almost always win. Fact: There have only been about 100 court cases in the last 40 years and employers have won most of them. Now let’s talk about settlements that never made it to court. Check out the following URL before you tell me you don’t have to worry about following the Uniform Guidelines. Nah! You don’t have to worry about losing in court, you can always “settle.” Recommendations In the last few months, I have been asked to look at the so-called validation data of several popular web tests. All I can say is, people who use these products will have more success winning stuffed teddy bears from a carnival booth. One vendor “validates” tests by “matching” scores to an average of high producers. They call this an “alternative” method of validation (most test professionals would call it something else). I don’t know what school that vendor attended, but “matching” is not validation. For one thing, job matching assumes that all low producers are different from high producers and that all high producers are identical. Anyone care to personally “check out” that assumption in his or her own organization? A good hiring test is supposed to predict both high and low performance. Any vendor suggesting a profile-match strategy doesn’t know the basics of hiring technology ó run away! Another vendor sells a test that seems to measure sociopathic behavior. Not a bad start, but sociopathy is only one factor among several that have been associated with job performance ó the vendor left out eight others that are equally important. This vendor’s validation manual is also a piece of creative fiction, using words such as “this proves…” It excludes statistical data to support claims, and often uses incorrect definitions for validity. Worse yet, the manual cites names and credentials of so-called “researchers” to bolster its credibility. This validation report represents the worst of all shams ó one cloaked in fake respectability! (By the way, screening people based on sociopathy will eventually attract attention under the Americans With Disabilities Act). Reputable test vendors will always suggest conducting validation studies for you. They will rate jobholder performance and compare it with test scores. The reports will be dull and tedious, use arcane terms, have lots of tables, and be filled with boring definitions. But they will report truthful data and keep you prepared for trouble. Reputable vendors will also suggest studying your job before “borrowing” validation data from another job. As a rough rule of thumb, the more “intriguing” the hiring test content, the more likely it will be baseless pop psychology. Remember, a good hiring system and a legal hiring system are the same thing. They just take a little more front-end work.

How Much You Know About Who: Tips on Digging Deeper

by
Kevin Wheeler
May 29, 2002

It’s not who you know or what you know that makes you an effective recruiter. Though those things are pluses and will increase the odds that you’ll succeed, what really counts is what you know about who. The more information you have about a candidate, the better you will be able to judge how well they will fit your culture, how reliable and honest they are, or if the skills they claim they have are really there. The problem we have is getting all that information. Resumes are almost useless. They are advertisements for the candidate and are designed to let a candidate present his strengths and experiences in a positive light. Most recruiters believe that this is what they want, but I think they would rather have other information. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to know how deep a candidate’s skills really are? Wouldn’t it be useful to know if they are reliable, hard working, and so forth? Most of us, though, spend too much time (and have little success) trying to figure these things out with little success. After all, think of the tools we have to work with. Most of us have boring and ineffective websites that let anyone send in a resume, use generic job descriptions that allow too much latitude for interpretation, employ tools that allow us to gather resumes but not really get at the information we want, and conduct face-to-face interviews that often fail to extract any additional useful information. Employee referral programs are popular because we assume that the fellow employee knows the person well enough to vouch for many of these specific, often intangible, qualities that cannot be found on the resume or in the interview. We assume that the employee has the in-depth knowledge we lack and can’t get. But this may be a bad assumption to make, since turnover rates for referrals are probably the same as for those employees you found using other methods. The notion that these programs result in better quality employees at lower cost are most likely just myths. We don’t have any well-done studies that would give us empirical data that I know of. But all hope is not lost. Technology can help, as can other simple techniques for digging deeper instead of wider, as we usually do. I am continually amazed at how many organizations continue to post jobs to job boards when they complain about being swamped with resumes. But if they could mine these resumes, they would find great treasure. Here are a few tips to get you started down that path: 1. Make the most of your applicant tracking system. Most large organizations have a resume tracking system or ATS. While these are mostly useless for the kind of data mining I am suggesting, they can be used more effectively than they are now. Spending time to conduct better searches and broaden or narrow search terms can pay off in identifying more candidates than many recruiters do. In fact, many recruiters are still intimidated by Boolean searches and don’t really use their databases well. Get someone to help you if you aren’t comfortable doing these searches and take some time to learn how to do them better. Get your ATS vendor to teach you how to do better searches. Every ATS vendor would be happy to help you in this endeavor ó because it will make you a happier customer. 2. Embrace the power of email. When you have identified a potentially good candidate, start an email dialogue with her. Ask questions. Ask for examples and any other data that will inform you enough to make a better judgments. Personal email to candidates is powerful. It flatters the candidate. It makes her feel good to be acknowledged and asked questions. The candidate’s response can also make you feel better about your decision whether or not to recommend her to a hiring manager. If you develop some standard questions ó even a template ó you can quickly email many candidates with one mouse click. This is far faster and efficient than the traditional phone call, which often catches the candidate off guard and unprepared. 3. Build a better website. Over the past few weeks I have mentioned many websites that are collecting better data from candidates interactively than they do from the static resumes. Take a look at Chili’s interactive interview or at the Boston Consulting Group’s interactive case study. Both of these gather rich information about candidates in a way that saves both the recruiter and the candidate a lot of time. A simple questionnaire can be developed very easily, collect information quickly, and even weight the information according to a weighting scheme you develop, giving you ranked lists of potential candidates. And all of this helps immensely by removing you from the administrative process of screening hundreds of resumes. 4. Gather information from many sources. The final tip is simple. Don’t just rely on the resume and interview for information. Check referrals to the extent that you legally can. Develop a format for doing this that asks for specific information and examples, not just vague feelings. If the candidate is at a high level, comb newspapers and association literature for any scraps of information that could be useful. For example, reports on promotions or job movement are frequently available in local papers. The candidates may have written articles that could give the hiring manager insight into his interests and strengths. And the candidate may have a personal website that offers additional views and can increase your overall knowledge. You can also use your network to ask about the candidates. Has anyone ever heard of him? What have they heard? Moving into depth and away from volume is a learning process, but once you are comfortable doing this and have developed the technology and the tools to help you, you will be a much better recruiter for it.

Is Your Online Recruiting Strategy Scalable?

by
Dave Lefkow
May 28, 2002

In this current economic valley ó typified by a rise in the number of candidates and a decrease in the number of jobs ó the way that companies are using the Internet has changed dramatically. A fundamental mindset shift has resulted: the question has gone from, “How can I find qualified candidates?” to, “How can I identify the best candidate from an avalanche of qualified and unqualified candidates?” Many leading economists are pointing to hiring efforts coming back with a vengeance, possibly beginning in the third quarter of this year. So how will online recruiting change when the economy rebounds? What lessons can we take from our current situation? I’ve asked this question from the perspective of two vital areas of your online recruiting strategy: your employment website and your ATS. The Economy and Your Employment Website Your employment website is unquestionably the most important piece of your online recruiting strategy. It acts as a first and often last impression on your company’s employment opportunities, and a way to collect valuable information from candidates. To many candidates, it demonstrates whether you are serious about recruiting top talent or if it’s just lip service. During the “Talent Wars, Episode I: The Late ’90s,” most of the companies that came to us needed their employment website to stand out from the crowd. These competitive times were marked by talk of pre-IPO stock options, incredible benefits, and bonuses big enough to be a down payment on a house. Even Jar Jar Binks was happily employed. In Episode I, our clients most often asked for cutting-edge gimmicks and games, flashy technologies, and innovative ideas. They were willing to sacrifice utility for cool functionality ó until we talked them down from the ledge and made them realize they had to have a blend of both to be successful. Just as the split-level home screams that your house was built in the ’60s, the companies that built their employment websites in the late ’90s are readily identifiable by the use of advanced technologies with weak back-end functionality. These recruiting teams are probably too busy reading through resumes to read this article (although I hope they will). In “Episode II: Attack of the Layoffs,” companies began to take a different approach to their employment website. Those that revisited the employment website wanted to find better ways to manage and sort the candidates that were already coming in rather than using it to sell top candidates on the company, the workplace, or specific opportunities. Profiling and prescreening have been the light sabers and lasers of this new economy. New content has focused on managing candidates’ expectations of the hiring process, since hiring times have ballooned with the sheer number of resumes to sort through. Employment sites built in the early millennium are typically light on content, lack imagination in design, and may incorporate a lengthy pre-screening process. Many have been built by marketing departments with no understanding of recruiting or what function the employment website can and does serve. The Economy and Your ATS Technology purchases are often a reactionary attempt to solve current business challenges. Never has this been more evident than in the recent economic recession, when recruiters’ main challenges have been to identify the most viable candidate from a pool of hundreds and often thousands. The front-end interface for candidates and talent relationship management features received top billing in Episode I. Meanwhile, in the current Episode II, back-end, recruiter-facing ATS technology such as skills matching, routing, and workflow automation have received the most attention. In the process, candidates are being asked to submit to excruciatingly long online applications, wade through poor front-end interfaces, and hear little if anything back on most of the positions they’ve applied for. I’ve audited more than a couple of companies with eight-page online applications, supported by little in the way of content to convince candidates to go through the process. In leaner times, many candidates will grudgingly fill out these longer applications while in search of employment and be willing to jump through as many hoops as you put in front of them. When things pick up, though, the patience with these features declines as the number of other available opportunities increases. Lessons Learned In “Episode III: Return of the Unfilled Position” (coming to companies in late 2002), the buzz will be about scalability. Companies that implement scalable technologies will be in position to win the Talent Wars ó regardless of the shape of the economy. This is the vital lesson to be learned from an analysis of past events. A scalable approach will be defined by the ability to creatively sell candidates on who you are as an employer while leveraging well-integrated back-end tools to help manage and sort through the large flow of applicants that appear in an economic recession. Successful employers will optimize the candidate experience so that the right profile information is gathered in a way that does not act as a barrier to applying, which will in turn make the process of identifying the right candidates faster and more efficient. They will give themselves the tools to proactively manage talent relationships and reduce hiring times, and will promote and integrate these features with a strong front-end employment website. You can start this process now by asking yourself if your existing technologies are built solely for yesterday’s or for today’s business challenges, and how well they will adapt to future economic conditions. If you are currently in the midst of a technology development or purchase project, reexamine the specifications that have been identified with an eye for what effect upward or downward swings in the economy will have, and the refinements that will be necessary to support them.

The Prettiest Flower On Earth

by
Ken Gaffey
May 24, 2002

I had finished the day’s work and decided to head of the store, before the weekend rush, for cookout supplies for Memorial Day. At the entrance to the store was a veteran selling poppies to raise money for disabled veterans. Ahead of me walked a woman with her young child in tow. The little girl asked if she could have a flower, and the mother just stared straight ahead and said, “We don’t need to buy any flowers. We have prettier ones at home.” I walked up to the old veteran and paid my annual ten bucks for the little piece of red and green plastic on a wire, and felt both good and ashamed by the look of surprise on his face. I felt good because that’s how you should feel when you do the right thing. I felt ashamed because it was obvious from the bowl on the table that the going rate for remembrance is pocket change ó and not much of that either. I wonder how many of those who walk by this man today staring at the ground, pretending they did not see him, cried at the movie “Saving Private Ryan”? But that was a Spielberg movie, it was in vogue to “be moved.” We are such phenomenal phonies sometimes. What does this have to do with recruiting? Well, hopefully one thing it has to do with is sensitivity, since we are the guardians of everyone’s feelings in the office. And in the event you have people in your employ who served their country, in war or in peace, would it not have been a worthwhile gesture to send an email out to the office reminding everyone of the presence of veterans among them? To remind them that Memorial Day is first and foremost a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed for all of us ó and not merely the weekend you set aside to open up your summer cabin? After all, every time your employees volunteer for a 10K walk to raise money for PBS or NPR, they get in the newsletter, don’t they? So why not for the person who risked their life, and not just a Saturday morning stroll, to preserve freedom? But there is another reason this downward trend bothers me. As the average person becomes less and less aware of the value of service experience, those in employment roles place less and less value on it when they see it on a resume. When is the last time you set up a search seeking, among other skills, previous military experience? Or do you assume that “throwing hand grenades” is the sum total of military skills? If you do, that’s wrong! In a corporate world that is constantly complaining about the quality of motivation and maturity of the average young American, it may be a good time to remember that anybody who receives an honorable discharge from the service obviously shows up to work on time and does what they are told. The failure to do either is a punishable offense in the military. You stand to get a better, more mature worker who knows when and how to show up. Many feel that young Americans entering the workforce don’t have the interpersonal and problem solving skills of earlier generations. Well, from reveille to taps, the military is a constant struggle to resolve issues without the needed tools, time, or adequate staff. Try moving a 13-person squad through a swamp using a compass that was built by the lowest bidder. Believe me, it is no simple feat. But you do it, because you have to. You may not need rifle squad leaders in your business, but how about somebody who is not afraid to get the job done, even when it means risking being unpopular with the people you lead? Supervisors who have resolved personnel issues on their own, within the rules and guidelines, without always running up to “HR” to be told what to do. People who are leaders. Note, I refrained from saying “manager”; I use the word “leader” on purpose. You may feel that your environment is too open and free spirited to permit a regimented military mindset to stifle creativity. But most of the true “drones” I have worked with in my life were in fact the byproducts of the American university system and had not even been in scouting, let alone the service. You may feel that your environment is too technical and military hardware to outdated to make for an easy transition. But in the service, the person not only uses technology, they are also responsible for first and sometimes second echelon maintenance of their own equipment. You teach them how to use it; they will take care of it. Less IT support time. Besides, are you trying to tell me that colleges and technical schools are all leading edge? You may feel that military stress training is not needed in the civilian work environment, but in an age of violence in the workplace and other natural disasters that occur, would it not be nice to have a few people who have proven track records of keeping their heads while all others around them are losing theirs? I once landed a trainer (T-28) whose engine just happened to be on fire. Had lunch, took off in another plane. Nobody thought it an unusual or especially noteworthy occurrence. So it takes more than an Excel spreadsheet report deadline to make me tense. You may feel the military has so many rules that it discourages innovation. But believe me, it is the need to work around all those rules that makes so many service people so creative. Another side benefit is that the service encourages people to learn the rules, which means you have fewer problems due to someone “overstepping” their authority. They understand, respect, and use the chain of command. Service people recognize the value of not relying on someone else to interpret for you. It’s like poker: “Memorize the hands so those who may profit from your ignorance cannot cheat you.” Still others place little value in service experience due to a very human trait of devaluing anything that you yourself lack or do not understand. A fear that assigning a value to something other than one of the skills or traits that you yourself possess somehow diminishes you. That is the toughest argument to refute. Those who suffer from this trait tend to be insecure or, at the very least, petty. People who are insecure or petty seldom listen to the advice of others. People who allow envy, fear, or lack of knowledge to dominate their judgment and decision-making methodologies also make very poor recruiters. Consider: A person who can dismiss all military experience as valueless is equally as capable of making the same decision about all female candidates, or candidates of color, or challenged candidates, or anyone else not exactly like them. All prejudices are wrong, even those that are fashionably acceptable. Now, there are obvious exceptions in my defense of service experience as a valuable skill set. Not all who are or were in the service gain the same experiences, profit from the same challenges, or have risen in equal measure. I know a lot of people who exited the service much to the relief of Uncle Sam. Then again, not everyone who graduates from Harvard is a genius. But I hear it is still considered a good school. You may lack a degree or training in the specialty for which you recruit, but that does not preclude you from trying to learn about it. After all, as a recruiter it is both your professional duty and hopefully your personality to want to develop an understanding of all things that can assist you and your company in recruiting from among the best and brightest. Military people are one of those elements. In his book, “The Making of the Corps,” Thomas Ricks explains his motivation to write about military training in general and Marine training in particular. While in Somalia, as a reporter covering the ill-fated humanitarian efforts, he accompanied a combat patrol of 14 young Marines lead by a 20-year-old sergeant into dangerous and violent nighttime Mogadishu. It occurred to him that he trusted his life to someone who, as a 20-year-old back in his New York office, he would not have trusted to make copies without adult supervision ó let alone trusted with the lives of human beings. But Ricks observes throughout the night a person of professional bearing, training, and competence that he seldom saw in people twice his age. Gee, do you think that sergeant could handle a tough day in the office? In life I have learned never to miss an opportunity to say thank you when merited or to be grateful to those who have earned my gratitude. I have also learned that in all things there is a value to be discovered if only we are smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity and try. Lost opportunities are not lost due to the fault of the opportunity or the moment. It is the seeker who is at fault. So, go to work and seek and read the resumes of those who served with some respect and understanding. If you have no service experience, seek out those who have to “translate” for you. I understand the problem. I still cannot believe that “FMFLANT,” “CinCPAC,” or “MEB” make sense to me. Of course, I also feel the same way about Java, Unix, streaming video, server and “spam.” But for now, buy a poppy for God’s sake and just don’t drop in pocket change. After all, it is the prettiest flower on Earth ó and they did not come cheap. To those with whom I was honored to serve…

To those who served before me…

To those who have come since… Happy Memorial Day, and thank you.

keep reading…

The Many Flavors of Online Screening

by
Dr. Charles Handler
May 24, 2002

So you’ve decided to add screening to your online hiring process? Congratulations! I always say that the first step is half the distance to the finish. Unfortunately, deciding what type of screening to use and which vendors to consider can often be a confusing process. And even if you haven’t yet decided to add online screening, there’s a lot to learn about the choices out there. The purpose of this article is to help alleviate some of the confusion that exists by summarizing the major types of screening tools available on the market and by providing some rough guidelines about when it is most appropriate to use each type. Major Types of Online Screening For the purposes of this article, I have divided online screening into three major areas:

Sourcing Strategies for the New Economy

by
Lou Adler
May 23, 2002

Are you ready for the upcoming recovery? If your primary sourcing technique is to find active candidates through ads, you may soon find this tactic is insufficient to meet your basic hiring needs. First of all, here are some basic indicators that the economy is recovering:

  • Everybody is writing about it. In the first week of May, 2002, Business Week, the LA Times and the NY Times all had articles about the improvement in the hiring outlook. The Business Week article was especially relevant in describing the reasons for a tightening employment market.
  • keep reading…

Recruiting in Mid-2002: Part 2

by
Kevin Wheeler
May 22, 2002

Last week I discussed a number of trends that I see emerging as we move into this year. This week I will touch on the remaining trends as listed in the table below.

keep reading…

E-Recruiting for Government and Non-Profits

by
Yves Lermusi
May 21, 2002

Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and universities are facing a staffing crunch. Many are having difficulty attracting MBAs, IT specialists, and other hard-to-recruit talent. The roots and causes of this problem are complex. Compensation, a staid brand image, and an aging workforce are all contributing factors A common misperception is that the public and non-profit sectors are not in competition with the private sector for talent. This is an extremely perilous view to adopt. The private sector has been honing its recruiting skills through a decade of the tightest labor market in recent history. How can the public and non-profit sectors keep pace and measure the return on investing in state-of-the-art staffing management solutions? Without bottom-line profit as the driver, what are the metrics for public sector recruiting? Importance of Human Capital Management Human capital is considered the key competitive asset of for-profit organizations. Attention to human capital management may be even more critical, however, in non-profit organizations. Those institutions are largely in a service business, in which employees directly affect performance. Human capital costs (payroll, benefits, training and development) for non-profits can account for more than 75% of overall costs, compared to some capital-based organizations in which they may be less than 15% of total costs. The U.S., for example, has an aging population, with more than 40% of current workers headed toward retirement in the next 10 years. The government is ramping up its hiring as many government employees approach retirement. It is projected that attrition in the public sector will soon reach a peak, with 25% to 50% expected to leave in the next four to five years. The loss of experienced people could throw some government agencies into crisis. Governments Run On Business Models The dire situation facing many government and non-profit agencies has become a hot issue, reaching even the highest levels of decision-making. Examinations of current staffing and recruiting functions are finding manual processes that are unable to respond quickly, uneven and often inequitable access to job opportunities, and a poor selection of candidates presented to hiring managers. Managers are burdened by hiring-related paperwork, and there is a bewildering lack of standardization across even closely related agencies. Government and non-profit agencies value fairness and transparency, yet these qualities are glaringly lacking from current hiring processes. The political imperative facing many agencies is to acquire a world-class recruiting function. Budgets are under scrutiny and pressure is on to achieve greater productivity at lower cost through use of technology. Consequently, the public and the non-profit sectors have started to turn to new staffing models. Governments are beginning to be run more like businesses, with concepts such as fiscal responsibility and accountability to “the customer” (the taxpayer) given paramount priority. The goal is to improve service to internal and external customers, while at the same time cutting costs. To fulfill this mandate, many governments are turning to the Web to deliver services to constituents more efficiently and economically. The drive to find efficiencies through e-government has already taken hold in such areas as healthcare, the environment, and the treasury. Governments at all geographic levels are including technology and the Internet in a long-term vision of recruitment. E-Recruiting in Government Traffic to government websites is increasing dramatically, as taxpayers are becoming increasingly accustomed to turning to the Web to access services, submit filings, or look up documents. To date, government websites have lacked the essentials for the smooth and efficient capture and processing of candidates. The first area of needed attention is to optimize the prospective candidate’s experience, an important ingredient to online recruiting success. The objective is to attract as many people as possible to the transaction zone (leveraging the strong existing traffic flow and brand), establish a relationship with them in order to qualify them, and then further engage the conversation to bring them on board. These tasks depend on communication excellence, attention to the user experience, the optimization of website traffic flow, and the ability to process and act on the data received. ROI in a Non-Profit Environment The private sector is beginning to appreciate the financial importance of human capital management. There, the justification of a particular human capital management strategy is expressed in terms of its effectiveness at improving the financial performance of the enterprise. Human capital management strategies are increasingly being assessed in terms of ROI. Human resources in general, and staffing in particular, is no longer perceived by corporate management strictly as overhead, but instead as a strategic contributor to the financial performance of the enterprise. ROI analyses of human capital management strategies are equally applicable in the public and non-profit sectors, though the “bottom-line” measures may not be as straightforward as revenue or profit, incorporating perhaps less tangible but no less real factors such as quality of service. These institutions are measured on the delivery of service and have strong consumer brands equal to many of the largest corporations. The work they do and the brands they enjoy ó whether tied to the panache of a well-known university, the smooth provision of governmental social services, or effective high dollar charity throughput achieved with low administrative overhead costs ó are directly dependent on the quality of their staff. Follow the Private Sector Leaders Over the course of the next few years, governments, universities, and non-profit agencies will change the ways they fulfill human capital needs. To date, the private sector has forged ahead in the use of technology in the implementation of human capital management strategies. Public sector non-profits have the opportunity to take lessons from the best private sector practices, and attain a real return on the implementation of e-recruiting technology solutions. Budgets can be lowered, recruiting processes can run on Internet time enabling head on competition for talent with the private sector, and automated prescreening solutions can create a better match of task to talent. For non-profits and government agencies, the ROI for the implementation of e-recruiting processes will be publicly acknowledged.

The Human Element of Recruiting

by
Ken Gaffey
May 21, 2002

RECEPTIONIST: XYZ Corporation, can I help direct your call? CALLER: Yes, I’d like to speak to someone in staffing/recruitment please. RECEPTIONIST: Certainly. I’ll connect you to our IT department. CALLER: No, no, I didn’t say I wanted to work in IT. I said I wanted to speak to someone in recruiting! RECEPTIONIST: There is no one specifically in recruiting anymore. IT is now responsible for most of the recruiting functions. CALLER: IT does your recruiting? What, aren’t you guys hiring?” RECEPTIONIST: Of course we are; we have several critical needs. But between the online resume banks, automated search engines, search agents, automated prescreening, online testing, automated routing, online requisitions and position descriptions, interactive scheduling software, and email management tools, it seemed the people in staffing and recruiting were so busy managing the tools they never got around to being hands-on recruiters involved in the actual recruiting process itself. CALLER: Recruiters not recruiting? How could that happen? RECEPTIONIST: Well, they thought they were recruiting. It’s just that somehow they assumed that the people-end of recruiting was secondary. As a matter of fact, many of our recruiters were our worst people-persons. They were hired almost exclusively for their perceived skills as e-recruiters, not recruiters. The managers took on more and more of the person-to-person aspect of staffing, and soon the system appeared to be pumping resumes into the bin without any direct involvement of the staffing group. Then one day, after a staff meeting, the CEO said that based on the levels and topics of discussions, he could no longer tell the difference between his VP of staffing and his chief information officer. He figured he didn’t need to pay for two IT departments, so we combined them. As a matter of fact, one of the people who used to be a senior technical recruiter just upgraded my PC and fixed my printer. He seemed happy in IT. Got himself a little tool belt and everything. CALLER: Really? Well, didn’t staffing and recruiting say anything at the time about their professional contribution to the process beyond the technology? RECEPTIONIST: I think they were so busy looking into an online tool that would eliminate the need for human-to-human interaction in the interview process that they didn’t notice what was going on ’til the lights went out. CALLER: So now all your recruiting is handled by IT? RECEPTIONIST: Most of it, except for recruiting communications, which is done by our webmaster. He already was doing marketing/communications anyway, but he always seems to be selling product, not opportunity. Negotiations are done by our finance group ó if you call mailing an offer without discussions negotiations. They developed a price list like the one they did for purchasing. The concept sounded good. CALLER: What about HR? RECEPTIONIST: Gone. We outsourced so much of their work before all this happened that the only job they had left was managing staffing, and when that went to IT…” CALLER: I see what you are saying. So how is it working out? RECEPTIONIST: Well, just between you and me, it isn’t. We have so many third parties involved in staffing now that our cost per hire is through the roof. The quality isn’t there either, and time to fill is measured in decades. CALLER: Well, isn’t that cause for alarm! RECEPTIONIST: Nah! Everybody has reports, charts, graphs, and spreadsheets that prove they are actually processing six times the number of resumes that used to be process by the old pre-Internet recruiting team. Somewhere along the line I guess processing resumes and recruiting got confused with each other. You know the old saying, “If it doesn’t make sense, just do a PowerPoint presentation and use lots of colors, graphs and pie charts salted with and new age words, and everybody will forget the purpose in favor of the outcome.” CALLER: So despite all the automation, you still are not hiring as many people by your own efforts as you used to? RECEPTIONIST: Well, in my opinion we have all sorts of people doing staffing, but nobody who is staffing, do you know what I mean? Ironically, in the end, neither was staffing. They were trying so hard to be e-recruiters that they became too much “e” and not enough “recruiter.” The profession attracted people who wanted to manage an online processes and load upgrades. A generation of staffing that resisted the part of the process that required working with the people, internal and external. The people who needed to project themselves the most became as introverted as firmware engineers. If it wasn’t software driven, they had no time for it. I guess that’s why so many of them are doing so well in IT! Turns out a lot of them were closet Star Trek fans anyway. CALLER: You certainly are knowledgeable about staffing and corporate history for a receptionist. RECEPTIONIST: Oh, I was the director of staffing here, but there weren’t enough openings in IT for everyone. But, how can I help you? CALLER: Well, I’m looking for a sales job. You still have a sales department, right? RECEPTIONIST: Are you crazy! Of course we do, we would never get rid of sales. Next to hiring top quality people, sales is the most important function in any company… Oh, I see what you are getting at. No, we did not totally lose our minds. But sales never forgot who they were or what was important. We were never allowed the chance to confuse their personal contribution with the tools they used. So, can I connect you to someone about employment? CALLER: Ah, no. Thank you anyway. I think you people are too sophisticated for me. You see, I still like working with people and using tools, not working with tools and using people! Am I talking down automation and electronic recruiting? Heck of a thing for someone who writes for ERE to do! Of course not! But today I feel the need to stress that which I usually only elude to. Recruiting is a profession that consists of as much art ó if not more ó as it does science. A good recruiter embraces the science. But a great recruiter embraces it without becoming ensnared in one tool or another. The tool remains as such and all tools are regarded as merely one of many. That is to say, the Internet does not recruit. In essence, the Web is an electronic filing cabinet with storage, search, and communications capability (it also has neat graphics and can play music). It supports, but it does not recruit ó just as newspapers did not recruit, nor job fairs, nor open houses, nor radio spots, nor any other venues. They communicated an idea to leads and informed prospects, but they did not recruit. Fifteen years ago, when the fax first became a fixture in staffing departments and recruiting offices, we did not call ourselves “fax recruiters.” We did not elevate the tool to an art. We thought more of ourselves than that; we placed a higher value to our personal contribution than that. You do not recruit online. You can:

Filling the Leadership Gap: It’s Time To Raid HP

by
Dr. John Sullivan
May 20, 2002

We all acknowledge the fact that for the past few years we have been fighting a war for talent. While the war may have subsided as the economy retrenched, don’t let the calm before the storm catch you off guard. A major problem is about to descend upon U.S. corporations: the “leadership gap” is coming. If you are not already aware of the upcoming leadership gap, you soon will be. Most U.S. corporations stand to lose as much as 40% of their senior leaders and experienced people as they become eligible for retirement. The root cause of this potentially large exodus of employees is the significant variation in birth rates between the so-called “baby boomers” who were born in the late 1940s and subsequent generations. Because of the up-and-down birthrates between 1945 and 1965, there is a shortage in the number of experienced mid-level people who will be available to move into the positions vacated by retiring boomers. If companies don’t act soon, it will be too late to hire and assimilate the large number of “replacements” that will be needed. The war for talent you just fought will look like a minor skirmish compared to the battle that will emerge for talent as boomers vacate their current roles. While it is not expected that all boomers will opt for retirement, it is accepted that many will alter their work/life balance, focusing in on part-time and consulting-type roles. The shear percentage of leadership positions held by this aging population tells us this battle will be ugly. This new “mid-level talent war” differs from the last war in that recruiters will now be faced with the recruiting and retention of talent that has well-established career paths and lifestyles, as well as in-depth knowledge of their value. Why You Must Poach Top Talent The choices managers have to minimize the impact of the leadership gap are limited. Traditional techniques to minimize the impact of talent shortages such as job sharing and working remotely cannot by themselves solve this shortage. Recruiting internationally won’t help either, because the majority of the other countries are about to face a leadership gap of their own (in some cases, such as Japan, the leadership gap will be more serious than ours). Managers are pretty much left with two options. They can rely on leadership development programs to upgrade their “junior” talent as quickly as possible ó a highly risky, yet viable, option. Or they can poach away mid-level talent from other firms right now (so that they can be assimilated by the time that the retirement race begins) ó an option with much lower risk and potentially higher ROI. Training “junior people” to become senior leaders is a daunting process, which fails as often as it succeeds. But just like in basketball, if you need top-performing talent, the highest success rate comes from poaching experienced top performers from other teams rather than developing “your own” junior players. While most firms are likely to choose a two-pronged approach ó opting for both recruiting and development options ó ultimate success will come down to what you do right now. Poaching talent has two advantages over active candidate recruiting and development: your firm gets stronger while simultaneously weakening the competition as a result of the recruiting transaction. Raiding the Best Firms for Mid-Level Talent Mid-level managers are normally very difficult to poach. And because they have been rewarded and recognized within their current firm, they are often difficult to dislodge. However, the odds change dramatically in your favor when the firm they work for is undergoing turmoil and transition. Hence the catchy title to this article ó “Raid HP” ó because we all know about the prolonged turmoil regarding their recent merger with Compaq (please note that I don’t literally mean raid Hewlett-Packard, which is a wonderful company with some of the best managers on the planet). However, the well-publicized turmoil they have undergone serves as an excellent illustration. When a firm like HP announces a merger combined with layoffs and changes in the product mix, almost every employee becomes anxious about their future. Incidentally, the anxiety is often higher at the acquiring firm, because these employees also realize that the merger will result in a surplus of talent that will in turn dramatically decrease the number of promotional opportunities within the firm. It is this uncertainty about the future, coupled with the lack of growth and promotional opportunities, that makes poaching mid-level talent easier. Firms that have received a lot of negative publicity like HP, Enron, Global Crossing, and Arthur Andersen are actually not strong targets for poaching, because their notoriety and fame probably mean that the top recruiters from executive search firms have long since poached away most of the willing talent. A better choice for poaching are instead the numerous other firms that have received less publicity but are still currently undergoing uncertainty due to recent mergers or stock and market fluctuations. The managers at these firms are “ripe for the picking” because their firms are in a no-growth mode. A lack of growth and promotional opportunities frustrate people in mid-career, because they are beginning to realize that they have little time left to make their mark. The current economic downturn only increases the turmoil and the fear of being laid off. If your firm offers a stable environment with increasing opportunities for promotion and growth, you will find attracting mid-level talent is relatively easy, if you act quickly. Ethical Concerns? Salespeople steal “paying customers” away from competitors everyday, and they call it “their job.” In a similar vein, recruiting away top talent is no more or less ethical than stealing another company’s customers. Regardless of ethical concerns, however, poaching a competitor’s talent is a necessity because of the dramatic shortage of mid-level talent. Incidentally, in addition to recruiting, it is equally as important to build a “blocking and retention strategy” (see my previous article on the subject) to keep your own mid-level talent from being poached away! Steps in Building a Mid-Level Talent Recruiting Program Now Your first step should be too examine the average age of your more senior employees and to calculate the percentage of your population that will be eligible for retirement within five years. If you find that the percentage that will be soon eligible to retire exceeds 15%, it’s time to put together a formal program to fill the “leadership gap.” This gap-reduction program should include internal leadership development as one component, while the second element needs to be a mid-level recruiting strategy that:

Resources for Industry Research

by
Scott Hagen
May 17, 2002

When it comes to sourcing, many recruiters and sourcers start working on a position by doing little or no research first. But research should be the first step you take before trying to source candidates from the Internet, or any other medium for that matter. If you don’t do any initial research first, finding qualified candidates can turn into a frustrating task! Research takes dedicated time, just like sourcing, but the results you will yield will easily make the time spent worth it. Industry research is one of the more difficult areas to understand, because many recruiters work on positions in multiple industries. Knowing where to go on the Internet to get a quick glimpse and understanding of the industry you are recruiting for is critical to success. Below are several sites where you can begin your research to help unearth some of those elusive and difficult to find candidates.

  • Hoovers. I know that many of you already use Hoovers as a research site. Indeed, there is a ton of great information on your company’s competitors, such as their key officers, business locations and contact information. But if you dig a bit further than just the obvious competitors, you might be able to turn up candidates that other recruiters cannot. If you go to The Industry Masterlist, for example, you will be able to find thousands of companies broken up by industry. What makes this information so valuable is that if you can find candidates from other industries to fill your positions, you will now have a starting point on identifying those companies from which you can network and recruit from.
  • keep reading…

Integrating the Internet Into Your Recruitment Plan, Part 2

by
Kendra Van Nostran
May 17, 2002

As discussed in Part 1 of this article series, the successful integration of the Internet into a recruitment marketing plan relies on two phases: planning and execution. Once you have completed the planning phase, it’s time for the execution phase, which includes tracking the success of your efforts, to begin. The execution of Internet marketing tactics includes three steps: 1) developing campaign components, 2) crafting your message specifically for the Internet and 3) tracking effectiveness. 1. Develop all of the components required for your Internet sourcing strategies. Let’s say you’ve chosen to incorporate the Internet into your employee referral program promotion plans. Possible components for this promotion include a mini website that details your ERP guidelines and hosts the forms necessary for participation, email updates sent to staff regarding who has participated in the program and what they’ve won, and an e-mail program that keeps potential candidates aware of your organization’s opportunities. You’ll probably need to work with your marketing and IT departments, or advertising agency, to create the mini website and develop the content of your email marketing program. If your recruitment marketing plan lists a banner campaign that will be used to drive traffic to your employment website, you’ll need to have the banner artwork created and determine which targeting filters you want to use for banner delivery. All of your Internet artwork should reflect the look and feel of the creative you’ve developed for other media campaigns. 2. Craft messages that are appropriate for the Internet. To effectively market your organization’s employer brand, extend the messages you convey through other media to the Internet. Consistency of message is key to strengthening your employer brand among potential candidates. You’ll achieve this by acknowledging how Internet communication differs from other media and crafting your messages based on this understanding so that they are effective in speaking to your audience. As most people are aware, Internet users are more apt to “skim” online information than to read every line. This is why the content of most Web pages is relatively short, relying on formats such as bulleted text to quickly convey important points of information. Make sure that any Web pages you create for your recruitment programs follow this format. If you have to present lengthy or detailed information, such as ERP regulations and policies, provide a link to a PDF file or Microsoft Word document. Email is similar, in that users have a tendency to skim the information quickly to determine if it’s a message that want or need to reply to. Develop email messages that are engaging, but to the point. If you have an employment opportunity to highlight, include information right away that would motivate the recipient to investigate the opportunity further. Emphasizing a unique benefit, such as flexible schedules, is a great way to grab the attention of potential candidates. Be sure to include copy that encourages recipients to forward the email on to friends or colleagues. This is among the most cost-effective ways to increase the reach of Internet communications. There’s another aspect of email usage that you’ll want to keep in mind when executing your campaign: Because of the high incidence of both spam and computer viruses spread via email, users are wary of receiving emails from unknown addresses. While it’s tempting to create generic email addresses, such as hiringinfo@xyzcompany.com, you may risk having a large percentage of recipients deleting your emails before they’ve even been read. To combat this effect, encourage your staff to participate in the distribution process as much as possible. An email message from a friend or colleague is far more likely to be read than one arriving from a general email address. If you have to distribute emails from a single address, have your IT department establish another personal address that varies slightly from your current address (kendra@davidgroup.com versus kvan@davidgroup.com, for instance). This will allow you to keep distribution messages separate from your regular email address, while still sending them from a personal address. 3. Track and measure the effectiveness of your online efforts. Tracking is one of the most important steps in your process. Not only will it help you evaluate the effectiveness of your online efforts, it will also lead directly back to your next planning phase. Use tracking data to fine-tune your programs and increase the amount of money you spend on the tactics that performed the best. Unless you have a sophisticated applicant tracking system in place, it may be a bit of a challenge to track how well your Internet recruitment efforts are faring. However, there is information that you can gather to help evaluate the effectiveness of your programs regardless. Vendors should provide impression and clickthrough rates for any banner campaigns and sponsorships that you’ve purchased. If their reports don’t include clickthrough percentages ó an indicator of the effectiveness of your creative ó simply divide the number of clickthroughs your creative received by the number of impressions delivered. Since most of your online efforts should be driving users to your employment site, your IT department or Internet Service Provider should have data regarding where employment site visitors are coming from. Gather this information in order to evaluate which sources delivered the most visitors to your site. Or, if you’ve hosted hiring events, make sure the surveys that attendees fill out include questions about how they heard about your company and if they’ve ever visited your employment website. Once you’ve compiled your tracking information, determine which Internet sources and strategies yielded the best results for your organization. Then, return to the planning phase armed with this data to revise your recruitment plans. Include those strategies that proved the most effective, as well as some online recruitment methods that you haven’t yet tried, and start the cycle over again. With each cycle you should be able to successively increase your online exposure and better reach your target audience. That, after all, is the promise of a comprehensive recruitment plan that has successfully integrated the Internet.

Better Email Correspondence With Candidates

by
Scott Weston
May 16, 2002

Which one of these examples most resembles the email you send to confirm an interview with a candidate? Example A: Steve, You are set for your interview with Brian Bannister at 2:00 on Friday. We look forward to seeing you then. Example B: Steve, You are set for your interview with Brian Bannister at 2:00 on Friday. The following information will help answer some initial questions you may have and help you prepare for this meeting:

Not With My Budget, You Don’t! Part 2

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
May 16, 2002

In Part 1, we discussed the fact that high job performance is not the norm ó and that this is very expensive. We also explained that some of the major reasons for this are the diffusion of responsibility and unclear expectations. In Part 2, we’ll discuss why it is human nature for people to diffuse hiring responsibility, how much it actually costs the organization, and why only a few people will choose to do something about it. Balance of Consequences People tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain. A pain that is highly personal, highly certain, and immediate tends to get our attention more than one that is impersonal, uncertain, or delayed. The same goes for rewards. Personal, immediate, and certain rewards are very attractive. Let’s see how this plays out in hiring. A line manager with an open position is measured on productivity (the reward is personal, certain, and immediate). A recruiter is measured on open positions and time to fill (again, the reward is personal, certain, and immediate). Both people share the same need to fill the job quickly, but that is where the similarity ends. The line manager needs a high performer, while the recruiter only needs to fill an open work order with an acceptable candidate. Most recruiters working with unclear job requirements and, using interviews as their primary hiring tool, are able to average one placement for every four applicants. This means the recruiter receives a personal, certain, and immediate reward for filling a position fast. But this practice delivers 50/50 accuracy, meaning our line manager receives an uncertain, delayed reward of a possibly high-producing employee. To repeat, the recruiter received a quick payoff for placement, but the line manager lives with iffy consequences that may take months to see. When recruiters use explicit job requirements and accurate screening tools, the responsibility for employee quality shifts from the line manager to the recruiter. Recruiting ratios usually increase to one in seven. Recruiters now have to work harder, but line managers can enjoy the benefits of higher, more consistent employee quality. In short, the recruiter suffers personal, certain and immediate pain in exchange for a reward that will benefit the organization. Anyone up to the job? Is it any wonder some recruiters are happy just to get people to stay for six months? There are more certain rewards and less pain to a “filling seats” approach. But suppose, just suppose, that some maverick recruiter is up to the challenge. Just how much will better front-end screening benefit the organization? And how much money will it generate? Hiring Accuracy Means Money Experts in the field have done a lot of work in this area. They call it “Utility Analysis.” As you can imagine, utility analysis can get pretty deep, but we’ll just borrow a few basics. (As usual, I’ll beg my colleagues’ forgiveness for oversimplifying a highly complicated concept). First, we’ll reiterate some basics:

  1. Fully job-qualified employees tend to produce more
  2. keep reading…

Recruiting in Mid-2002: What’s In and What’s Not

by
Kevin Wheeler
May 15, 2002

The past twelve months have challenged the recruiting profession as much as they have challenged the organizations we work for. The changes that characterized 2001 were amazing. In the first half of the year things looked fairly good. A headline in the Chicago Tribune on March 10, 2001, said, “The job market showed surprising strength last month, with payrolls growing by 135,000 and the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.2 percent…” while The New York Times on March 1 said: “Economic clouds may be gathering over much of the nation, but in New York City the jobs picture remains relentlessly sunny.” Even before the attack on the World Trade Center, things had changed. The Wall Street Journal reported on September 7th: “Business activity in the U.S. service sector continued to contract in August and was weaker than expected.” And The New York Times gave the year its employment epitaph with these words on December 27th: “United States companies, led by Motorola and Boeing, laid off about a million workers in 2001, as the economy lapsed into recession.” On the 19th of December the Washington Post was commiserating with recruiters, writing, “Of all the lost souls to join the ranks of the high-tech unemployed this year, recruiters may have it the worst.” In just six months, contract recruiting all but disappeared and the discussions about talent shortages became discussions about outplacement. But since then new trends have emerged that will shape our profession for some time to come. In this article I’ll take a closer look at the first four items in the following table and at what some of the specific changes have been ó other than the obvious ones of layoffs and reductions in the number of recruiters. Next week I’ll cover the remaining trends.

keep reading…

Is Talent Acquisition a Human Resources or Procurement Function?

by
Ed Newman
May 14, 2002

Three managers within the same department of the same company identify a requirement to hire a project manager simultaneously. The first manager spends about $5,000 and fills the vacancy in approximately 60 days. The second spends about $15,000 and fills the job in 20 days. The third manager fills the position in a week and spends about $24,000 spread out over the course of six months. Is this story possible? How could it be? The reality is, this could happen in just about any major corporation today. Here’s how:

  1. The first manager called HR, spent $5,000 on a newspaper ad and a posting on some Internet job boards, and maybe even got a few candidates from a job fair.
  2. keep reading…

Look For the Union Label

by
Ken Gaffey
May 14, 2002

The days of organized labor seem to have eclipsed. We have grown and moved on. After all, we are a technology-driven, finance-driven, medical-driven and service-driven economy now. Manufacturing and heavy industry make up only a small segment of our vast GNP. We are far too well educated and sophisticated to be trade unionists. We prefer to keep our hands clean, working in respectable and “professional” occupations, our personal and professional success governed by our own merits and not collective bargaining. Of course, we had to accept a few changes. Like having our shirts and pants made by political prisoners in dictatorships’ “for profit” prison factories, or participating in a 10K walk to end some sort of world injustice, hunger, or disease wearing jogging clothes made by children in third world sweatshops (“Hey, 75? a day is real money in their village!”). But no way we would ever want to be involved with organized labor. Relax. This is not a morality piece on the evils of labor exploitation or a pointless history lesson on the labor movement. After all, this is a forum for HR and recruiting professionals. What do unions have to do with that? Plenty, actually. For as the saying goes, “Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And as I say ad nauseum, there is no “end” to anything in business, it’s all cyclical. The same is true for the labor movement. Unions may appear to be all but gone, but cycles have highs and lows ó and if a cycle is currently low, the next cycle will most likely be high. Consider this: Do you think that it is only HR and employment who are using the Internet for recruiting purposes? Speaking of relevance, have you ever wondered what working life would be like now had trade unions never existed?

  • Look at your paycheck. Now imagine it being about half that amount.
  • keep reading…

Most Recruiters Are Ignorant — Honest

by
Dr. John Sullivan
May 13, 2002

Recruiting is a strange field. You can’t get a degree in it at any university, and that makes learning how to become a great recruiter a difficult task. Corporations also contribute to “recruiter ignorance.” Over 95% of all corporate recruiters are given their job without any required classroom training program in recruiting. To further compound the “learning” problem, the recruiting field itself is one of the fastest changing fields in HR. No matter what you learned initially, if you don’t constantly read and keep up with new tools you can be obsolete in as little as two years. How “Ignorant” Are They? In my work with corporations I get to meet with literally hundreds of recruiters each year. More often than not I am surprised by their lack of technical knowledge and how little they know about the available tools and strategies in recruiting. When I do a quick snapshot assessment of any corporate recruiter, I ask them three simple questions:

  1. Which recruiting source produces the highest performing hires?
  2. keep reading…

Screening Foundations: Building an Effective Foundation Online

by
Dr. Charles Handler
May 10, 2002

This article is the second of a two-part series focusing on building effective foundations for online screening. Last month’s article provided some practical tips for helping recruiters to identify essential job requirements in the absence of a formal foundation-building process. This month’s focuses on the foundation-building tools that accompany online screening systems. What Does a Good Foundation Look Like? Understanding the issues discussed in this article requires a quick look at the ingredients that make up a good foundation. (For a more thorough review of the principles of foundation building, please take a look at Part 1 as well as my earlier article on the subject). First of all, I want to clearly define what I mean by “foundation.” To do this I like to use the analogy that screening foundations are like blueprints for job success. They provide a clearly defined picture of exactly what is required for effective performance at a given position. This information then dictates the screening tools that are needed in order to accurately predict which candidates will be most successful. So what type of information does a good foundation have? While the specifics differ based on the job and the situation at hand, all foundations contain two basic types of information. I refer to these as “above ground” information and “below ground” information. Above Ground information Above ground information includes aspects of the job that are relatively straightforward and easy to identify and evaluate. Common examples include:

  • Minimum qualifications (e.g., years of experience, level of education, willingness to relocate)
  • keep reading…