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September  2002 RSS feed Archive for September, 2002

Identifying Top Performers for Succession and Workforce Planning

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 30, 2002

In order to do succession planning, you must first identify the “future leaders” of your organization who will be included in your succession plan. Once identified, those leaders can then be targeted for development and, eventually, a planned progression throughout the organization. But what is the best approach to use to identify the individuals you should put into a succession plan? There are a variety of approaches you can use, including:

  1. Current performance. Use current performance as an indicator of future performance.
  2. keep reading…

Becoming a Recruitment Marketer

by
Dave Lefkow
Sep 27, 2002

In many companies, the unfortunate reality is that recruiters are seen as paper pushers. And in every industry ó be it healthcare, finance, technology, or retail ó recruiters have all asked the same question: “How do we elevate the status of the recruiting team in our organization?” If your goals and outcomes all revolve around saving costs, you may inadvertently be devaluing the role that recruiting is allowed to play in the organization. Thinking like a “recruitment marketer” can help change this. How Do You Measure Success? When your yearly review or management presentation comes around, how do you quantify the results your recruiting team has achieved? Do you: a. Show all of the cost savings you have realized in terms of your overall budget? or b. Demonstrate measurable improvements in candidate quality, time to fill, retention, cost per hire, and hiring manager and candidate satisfaction? Do you: a. Showcase bringing the resume processing function in-house as a major strategic initiative? or b. Discuss the innovative ways you targeted your recruiting efforts to focus on reaching highly qualified passive job seekers, while streamlining the recruiting process? Do you: a. Tell everyone how happy your team is with your new applicant tracking system? or b. Demonstrate the actual return on investment from your purchase, why it was a smarter choice than the other vendors who vied for your business, and how it is giving your company a strategic advantage over the competition? Do you: a. Bring in your pretty new advertising campaign? or b. Discuss the ways that your employer brand is being built internally and externally in support of your company’s overall business objectives? The examples above are all representative of real companies. More importantly, they demonstrate the disparity among those that think in administrative terms ó such as cost reductions, paper processing, and advertising campaigns ó and those that think in more strategic terms, such as establishing competitive advantages, achieving measurable results, defining employer brands, and raising the level of organizational talent in support of a company’s overall business goals. Why does marketing get a big cushy seat at the decision table, a better parking spot, and the keys to the executive washroom? Because they can easily quantify their effect on the company’s business results. But there’s no reason recruiting shouldn’t get the same perks by using some of the same techniques. Here are a few steps to lead you in the right direction. Gathering Actionable Business Data Actionable business data can be defined as information (such as primary or secondary research, or reports on the successes of your past recruiting efforts) that gives a logical argument for making business decisions. This can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Know thyself: What are your organization’s business goals, and how would the recruiting efforts best support them? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your “employment product?” What is changeable, and what is not? What has your cost per hire and time to fill been over the last three years? What are the trends? How satisfied are your hiring managers with the recruiting team and why? What are you not providing that you could be?
  2. keep reading…

Six Sigma in Recruiting

by
Scott Weston
Sep 27, 2002

From recent boom to ongoing bust, many recruiters and staffing departments are using the current time to adopt and implement some form of internal process improvement. Six Sigma is definitely the most talked about process-improvement methodologies used in business today, but it raises several questions among recruiting professionals: What is Six Sigma exactly? And how it can be applied to the recruiting function? I recently wrote a white paper on process-improvement issues in recruiting, and out of that I developed some answers to common questions about Six Sigma. Before we get to these, though, we will first take a step back and look at an overview of what Six Sigma is, clarifying some of the issues that commonly confuse people about it. Then we will cover some points to consider when applying it to recruiting. Six Sigma: What Is It? Whether or not you’ve had exposure to the Six Sigma concept, understanding exactly what it is isn’t always easy?? though you may already know it has to do with quality or process improvement. To put it simply, Six Sigma is a process-improvement methodology?? or a plan for analyzing and improving a business function. It involves a specific framework and accompanying tools that walk an organization through the steps of identifying, measuring, and diagnosing a problem?? and then creating a specific solution and managing the results. In essence, it is a system to manage a process-improvement project from start to finish. Six Sigma can be summed up as being:

How Many Flats Tires Does Your Hiring Process Have?

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Sep 26, 2002

More often than not, even professional interviewers don’t have a solid track record of good placements (good = placing people who are consistently rated in the top 20% of performers). Those recruiters who do claim a high degree of placement success often owe much of the credit to working from a rolodex filled with successful past placements. I believe that most recruiters really want to do a good job, but simply don’t know how. For example, consider this sample of common questions recruiters ask:

Why Applicant Tracking Systems Cause So Much Trouble

by
Kevin Wheeler
Sep 25, 2002

It often seems as if recruiters and technology are like oil and water: almost impossible to mix. I am rarely with a client for very long before the issue of technology comes up. Usually, it’s in the form of a complaint. Something like, “Our ATS system can’t do X?” or, “I wish I could get better metrics, but my ATS can’t create the reports I need,” or, “The recruiters here never bother to enter the right data or don’t use the system at all.” But when I talk with finance groups or engineering departments, technology is never an issue. They seem to live together in harmony, albeit with a few blips here and there. While a few people I know have said that they feel computers are just too impersonal for people-oriented recruiters to be comfortable with, I know many very warm and successful recruiters who are advocates and users of very sophisticated systems. There are several reasons why these systems are hard to sell, poorly utilized, and rarely praised. Poor Understanding of Current Processes No system can do what you want if you don’t know what you want. Many recruiters cannot tell me the entire process of getting a new employee hired. When I ask them to pretend they are a candidate or a job requisition and then take me through the various steps to get to a hire, they can only get through those steps they take part in. Many pieces of the recruiting process are vague or ill-defined, even to those who do them. Often many people do a small part of a process and no one really knows it all. Recommendation: Before even thinking about an applicant tracking system, you have to write down or draw a diagram of every process step the requisition, the hiring manager, the recruiter, and the candidate have to go through for a hire to take place. If you are really wise, you’ll take the opportunity to streamline the processes and eliminate any steps that are unnecessary. Then you will be able to compare what you need to get done with the capabilities of whatever system you are evaluating. It is the first and most important step in creating the RFP or even talking to a vendor. Undefined or Unclear Goals for Your System I find that recruiting departments rarely define clearly what they expect the system to do for them. Do you expect it to reduce cost per hire? Maybe you expect it to speed up the time to offer? Or the time to hire? Perhaps candidate quality will improve? Maybe all of these? Recommendation: Have a realistic and clear view of what you can expect. Ask other organizations what their experience has been. Ask the vendor of the applicant tracking system what you should expect ó they can often provide you with examples from other customers. Typically, users find that for the first year or so costs may not go down very much, as there is a learning curve when the manual systems have to be maintained. That is why having a realistic picture is so important. If you have sold the idea of the applicant tracking system as a way to significantly reduce costs, your boss may be very unhappy when those savings don’t show up. A Lengthy and Bureaucratic Vendor Selection Process I am always amazed at the RFPs for applicant tracking systems I see from many very large and well-known organizations. They are sometimes pages in length and cover so much detail that that the forest is entirely missed for the trees. Recommendation: There are, in my experience, four critical things to know about the vendor and his product. Everything else is nice to know, but not critical. In theory your RFP could be one or two pages long.

1. Can the system do at least 80% of the things that you want it to do? Can it produce the reports you need? Obviously, you have to have completed my first recommendation above and know your processes and what you need very thoroughly. You also have to realize and accept that no system will be likely to do 100% of what you want without great expense and customization. Be realistic and work with the vendor you choose over time to evolve the missing elements. 2. Has the vendor installed the system in another organization of a similar size to yours? Can you call up some of those customers and talk to their recruiters? If not, forget the vendor. If some of my clients had followed this advice, they would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on poor implementations by vendors who were often highly regarded in the press and had innovative concepts but who lacked the ability to execute. Features are of no values without execution. 3. What is the vision and growth strategy of the vendor? Do they have the leadership and foresight to remain a market leader? You want to go with a vendor who has been around for a while and has weathered this economic downturn successfully. 4. Partner with your internal IT group, but don’t let them lead. Internal IT groups are trying to juggle many priorities and you are just one of them. They are always going to be focused on the technical, not the functional, side of the product. This focus is helpful, because you need to understand the issues they have. But that doesn’t mean they should control the selection process. Increasingly, as applicant tracking systems mature, the technical issues are disappearing. There may be concerns on the part of your IT group, but the vendor can often answer those easily.

Having No Change Management Process Implementing a technology solution in a people-oriented culture is going to create some serious change issues. Recruiters will have to learn new skills. Hiring managers will have to be made aware of new requirements and may even have to learn to use some part of the system. Candidates will be going through new steps, especially if you are also using the Internet more effectively as part of your new process. An applicant tracking system cannot simply be dropped into place without extensive internal marketing and communication to everyone who will be touched by the system, even if only slightly. The HRIS people, the hiring managers, obviously the recruiters, and even the candidates may need some kind of explanation, training, or help in adapting to the system. It is also important to remove, perhaps over a period of time, all the other ways of doing recruiting. Smart recruiting departments no longer accept paper requisition or paper applications and don’t allow anyone to circumvent the system. Human nature is such that, when given the opportunity, most of us will avoid changing and continue to do it the old way. I hope this will help you think through the process of acquiring any system. I will follow up with a article on how to work more effectively with your internal IT department.

keep reading…

Is That Really Your Brand?

by
Ken Gaffey
Sep 24, 2002

I recently saw a recruiting advertisement in a magazine that I thought was one of the cleverest and most insightful I have ever seen. The main character is a non-majority female with a small infant in the foreground. The caption read (not a direct quote), “Before you have arrived at work you have already managed time, negotiated issues, planned projects and dealt with personnel issues. We respect that!” Multiple recruiting and branding messages are delivered in this simple and elegant message, touching on the following themes:

A Contingent Workforce Strategy as an Effective Part of Workforce Planning

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 23, 2002

During economic downturns CEOs and CFOs come to HR looking for ways to cut labor costs. As sales go down, labor costs must also go down proportionately. Unfortunately, HR’s responses to requests for labor cost reductions frequently come well after they can have a real impact. But HR must learn to prepare for the inevitability of cost cutting. The most commonly produced labor cost reducing solutions offered by HR include:

Retention: Beyond Goodies and Gimmicks, Part 3

by
David Lee
Sep 20, 2002

In the first two parts of this article series, we discussed how understanding and satisfying core human needs in the workplace is a far more effective strategy than bribing employees with goodies and gimmicks. In the second part of this series, we explored four critical human needs that influence employee retention:

  1. Having pride in one’s work and employer
  2. keep reading…

Striking While the Iron Is Hot: A Personal Recruiting Story

by
Frank Risalvato, CPC
Sep 19, 2002

There are few business interactions where timing can be as critical a factor as those dealing with candidates or hiring managers during the hiring process. Whether you’re in corporate recruiting or the search business, chances are you’ve had your share of experiences where the “perishability” of a candidate stood to derail his or her chances of making it to the end zone. The timeliness factor isn’t just limited to candidates ó a job opportunity can go stale just as a candidate can. After prolonged searches, a department may choose to reevaluate, withdraw, cancel, or postpone the search to another quarter or year. Move too slow in referring your candidate or take a week longer than what the manager had in mind, and suddenly three months’ work can go right down the tubes the day. Once that fresh cup of milk is placed on the counter, whether it’s a job vacancy or candidate, you’ve got to drink it quick. Wait too long, and it will go sour. I learned this lesson along time ago. At the time I unknowingly found myself taking critical advantage of precise “timing” as it relates to the placement process. My mom refers to this moment in my life as “the first placement you ever made.” It’s a personal story that goes back to 1972. I was 12 years old. I was sitting in class one morning and was called on the intercom to go down to the principal’s office. When I arrived there, my cousin Carlo was waiting. His eyes were red and he didn’t look good. My first thought was, he got caught drinking, and maybe he was drunk or in trouble (Carlo was about 22 at the time). But as it turned out, my stepfather had died that day and my cousin’s eyes were red from having cried on the way over to get me. “I have to take you home now,” he said. It was one of those surreal moments where you keep saying, “This can’t be happening,” over and over again to yourself. My actual father had passed away when I was five, and this would be my second time going through this. Since the purpose of this story is to highlight the importance of timing as it relates to hiring, permit me to “fast forward” past the personal tragedy aspect of the story. About a week later when I had returned to school, I got a call on the intercom again. The principal wanted me in his office. I thought maybe I wasn’t catching up with lost work quickly enough or something. The principal’s name was Mr. Sal Bandino. Chances are I will spend the rest of my time on this earth without ever being able to forget his name. He became one of those individuals you meet in life’s little “forks in the road” who had a major impact on my life as well as my family’s. He was bald, chubby guy with a big smile that went ear to ear. A cross between Don Rickles, with the occasional seriousness of Telly Savalas (during his Kojak days). He had a way of animating his thoughts prior to speaking with facial expressions and such. There was a definite sense of “graveness” in his thoughts today. “Sit down,” he said. I had never sat in the principal’s inner office ó only the reception area outside. He looked at the floor, then looked at me. “Frankie” he asked, “How are you doing? Are you kids going to be all right? Is there anything I can do?” He was referring to my sister as well. Although my mom had not discussed this with me directly, I remembered her talking about the fact she would now need to go out and get a job. We knew how futile it looked. I had recalled the neighbors who visited talking about how dire our financial situation was going to be, because we had lost the breadwinner of the house. After a split second’s hesitation, during which I was about to answer politely by saying, “Thanks, we’re fine,” I changed gears. Instead, I answered: “My mom’s going to need a job. Is that something you can help her with?” “Yes!” he replied. “Consider it all taken care of!” The fact that I was too na?ve to understand the limits of a principal’s job was probably just as well and worked in my favor. Had I been smarter and thought I knew better than to ask such an imposing question to a principal, things would have worked out quite differently in later years. Still, I really didn’t have much hope, and thought to myself that Mr. Bandino may have just gotten himself in over his head on this one. You see, my mom had no education beyond fourth grade and that was in Italy ó not the U.S. With her broken English and inability to read or write, what could Mr. Bandino possibly do for her? Her only skill at the time was sewing. But Mom got a call from Mr. Bandino the next day and was instructed to schedule an interview with the middle school cafeteria. She got hired a few weeks later as a cafeteria/lunch worker. After a few years the middle school program was moved to the high school. The program got consolidated under the Federal School Lunch Program and became regionalized. Fast forward 20 years later: My mom retired with a complete Board of Education pension ó the same pension provided to tenured teachers. This, coupled with social security (which she maximized by working extra long hours during the last few years) and a little pension from Germany where my stepfather had worked a few years, is now providing her a comfortable living during retirement. She’s now 73 years old and has been receiving her pension since around 1996. To date, she’s probably collected tens of thousands of dollars in pension payments. All of this because of Mr. Bandino and, perhaps, some good timing on my part. No one can ever know for sure if my mom or I had returned to him two or three weeks later to request the same favor if it would have worked out or not. Surely, something must be said for “striking while the iron is hot.” I believe there’s another valuable lesson to this story however besides just timing. For those of us inclined to dismiss “unqualified” candidates too hastily ó think again. You just might be passing up on one of your most valuable long-term employees.

Don’t Diss the Best: The #1 Rule for Finding More Top Candidates

by
Lou Adler
Sep 19, 2002

Treat candidates as customers, not commodities. This should be the mission statement for every recruiting department and hiring manager. Unfortunately, the hiring processes used by many companies ignore this basic truth: the best are different than the rest. The problem is that most hiring processes were not built around the idea of hiring top candidates. Instead, they were designed to fill positions and manage data. The underlying assumption must have been that with so many candidates looking, a good person is bound to show up. These systems were not deliberately designed to disrespect the best candidates, but this unfortunately is the result. For example, 95% of the ads on company websites and job boards are boring. They demand skills and experiences; they don’t offer careers. They’re not compelling, they’re too general, and they’re designed to eliminate unqualified candidates from applying ó not to attract top performers. When surfing open job listings, the best candidates won’t spend the time even reading an ad unless it stands out and grabs them. Bad ads are the number one reason companies aren’t seeing enough top candidates. The navigation systems at most company’s career sites are another example of how the hiring process disrespects the best. From login screens to pull-down menus, too many hurdles are put in the way before a top candidate can even find an appropriate opening. When the job description is finally read, it’s even more boring than the dull ad. If you keep track of your web stats, you’ll see the huge dropout rates at every step. Unfortunately, most of those opting out are the best. Only the desperate will endure those trials and tribulations. Writing compelling ads and exciting job descriptions and then making them impossible to miss are simple ways to increase the number of top candidates who find and apply for your open positions. If you want to hire the best, it’s vitally important to think about their needs every step of the way. Consider the following; it’s a pretty good list of how the best candidates differ from the rest:

  • The best won’t spend much time applying for a job unless they quickly see that it’s worth their while.
  • keep reading…

Labor Shortage or Labor Surplus? The Two Myths Explored

by
Kevin Wheeler
Sep 18, 2002

Unemployment is higher than it has been for many years, yet it’s still far from historical highs. The recent U.S. unemployment figure of 5.7% is still lower than the averages we have run for the past 10 years. Even so, I find on the one hand that the fear of layoffs is central to many employees’ concerns. On the other hand, recruiters and hiring managers report that it is exceeding difficult to find the skilled information technologists, computer programmers, software engineers, health workers, and even senior managers and executives that they need. The time it takes to fill open positions seems to have increased, and hiring managers frequently complain that they have to settle for “second best.” Yet there are surplus immigration visas just waiting to be used, as well as thousands of Silicon Valley high techies and ex-dot-commers seeking jobs. What is going on? Perceptions Are Changing I believe there are several factors influencing us. The first is simply how the job market is perceived. We are defining jobs differently as new occupations are created and old ones change and sometimes blend together. A skill such as mainframe programming in Cobol that was once important is no longer in demand at all while C# becomes the rage. There is also an uncertainty as to what will be critical in the next two to three years. Most employers are followers, not leaders, and rather than take a chance at defining the future, they are using the time offered them by the slow economy to wait and see what becomes the trend. In many cases the shortage of skilled labor may be caused more by very narrowly defined job descriptions and a lack of imagination than by any real shortage. We set up expectations and define jobs based more on what we want (or think we want) than on what is realistically available. Many of us say that we cannot find qualified C# programmers, for example, when we all know that there are very few people with good skills in this area. We are left with two choices: wait to find a disgruntled one that we can steal from some other employer or decide to do something to change the supply by developing training programs or taking on apprentices. Developing People Is a Requirement for Success I spent many years working in the semiconductor industry when it faced a labor shortage of skilled process engineers and equipment operators. We eventually devised training programs that took basic electrical engineers and developed them into capable process engineers quickly. IBM trained thousands of programmers throughout the 1960s and 1970s to meet its own huge needs. At the same time, IBM and other companies quietly worked with academic institutions to develop today’s academic computer curricula. This training and development does not have to be of the same type that a person would receive at an ordinary academic institution. In a most every case, corporate training can concentrate on skills that are needed right now and forego the theoretical, the basics, and the nice-to-have-but-not-critical-to-know issues. Whether or not a person goes back at some point to get those basics remains a question, but I believe that efficient training can address the labor shortage issue quickly. In both world wars, the U.S. armed forces reverted to intensive training programs to fill critical positions. They learned that this can be as efficient a process as having a huge standing army. The trick is in accepting that there is a responsibility on the part of employers to develop the people they need. Employers should be willing to provide the training and development for the jobs they have a need to get done. Waiting for the school system or the government to do your job for you has never been a very good strategy. We Need To Expand the Labor Pool Many available people are older or retired and have skills that have become obsolete or are not needed right now. However, these people could be retrained for some of the open positions if we took a different attitude. Unfortunately most of us ó or most of our employers anyway ó would rather spend money on search fees, agency fees, administrative overhead, and advertising rather than on intensively training people with decent basic skills. Granted we cannot train people for every job because many of them do require experience in order to be successful. But I think we could significantly lessen the labor shortage if we were willing to be a bit wider in our job expectations and definitions. As recruiters, we need to become coaches to our managers, as I have mentioned in previous columns. It is very difficult, I know, to convince a hiring manager that the kind of person he is looking for is better developed in-house than found externally. But I think it is to your credit if you can convince them. As a recruiter you need to develop a relationship with your hiring managers that is good enough and strong enough that they will listen to you. This is why I constantly argue for integrated staffing and development, because I believe these functions are inextricably intertwined. It is very difficult to do one without doing the other. If we are to look at recruiting has a process, we are going to have to incorporate development into our staffing thinking and staffing into our training thinking. Whether this is done through merging departments, or whether it is done simply through good collaboration doesn’t really matter. What is critical is that there is a dialogue between the two functions. If you work in a small company where there are no separate training and recruiting functions, then this becomes even easier for you to do. You need to always think whether an open position is better trained for or hired for. Is it a job that would be impossible to train someone for in a reasonable period of time, or is it a job that someone could be trained to do fairly quickly? When management and recruiters both develop a broader understanding of the issues and step up to the fact that in many cases skilled people are just not available at a reasonable cost, then developing people becomes sensible and cost effective. There are no labor shortages or surpluses. There are just shortages of imagination and an unwillingness to accept responsibility for filling our own needs.

Developing Great Managers

by
Ken Gaffey
Sep 17, 2002

Despite your efforts to locate?? either internally or externally?? the best possible management candidates, at the hiring stage your work has only just begun. The interview process that follows is, at best, an effort to locate potential and promise. But rarely does the process conclude with absolute certainty that the best candidate has been located and hired. And even if that were the case, unless it is your goal to create a stagnant management profile, ongoing training is a critical component to developing the management team that will provide your organization with effective and productive employees who contribute to the strategic corporate goal of profitability. Because that is, after all, the ultimate bottom line. But first, you must figure out what the management style is of your organization and your individual managers, and you must determine where that training must begin. One place to start is to look at management styles gone wrong. Over the years I have catalogued a list of the most common management problems I have encountered. You won’t find this list in your average MBA textbook, but it covers most of the primary flaws in managers:

  • The Screamer. This kind of manager uses intimidation to motivate their direct reports. They use terms like “failure” and “termination” as their tools to make their people work. It is possible that these managers will produce results, but only in the short term. Over the long haul they burn out good people and cause excessive turnover through internal lateral transfers and voluntary terminations. You will also probably notice that this is the team with excessive “missed work” issues and probably a reputation for being “chronic complainers.” But when you are constantly set upon by an unreasonable and uncaring boss, complaining is about all you have left. Screamers also traditionally hire people who they feel they can intimidate. Consequently, they hire weak teams.
  • keep reading…

Forecasting Company Growth for Workforce Plans

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 16, 2002

In last week’s article, we looked at the “precursor approach” to workforce planning. We saw how using this approach was a great way to split the difference between extensive statistical modeling and relying on “gut instinct.” Here we’ll take a look at some precursors that can be used in conjunction with the first element of a workforce plan: forecasting company growth. We’ll start by compiling a list of some of the common precursors that can be used for forecasting industry and company growth rates. If you’re experienced in economic or strategic planning you know that there are a variety of “leading indicators” that economists use. Below you’ll find a list of leading indicators (both internal and external) that indicate whether your industry or company is about to experience a change in its growth rate. External Indicators (Of Change-In-Growth Patterns) When you look at the economy in general ó and at your industry in particular ó you’ll find certain leading indicators for growth (or shrinkage). Such indicators could be:

  • Capital expenditures. “Lead/lag firms” increase or decrease their long-term capital expenditures (buying/orders).
  • keep reading…

Recruiting Gold: Mergers and IPO Reports

by
Yvonne LaRose, CAC
Sep 13, 2002

In my article last month, we looked at some of the obvious uses of layoff reports and talked about some internal controls they offer. But today it’s Friday, and lo and behold, there’s more gold in the inbox. It’s merger and IPO report day. Now I must confess that the my first acquaintance with these reports in was in May 1999. The only source I knew of was AIRS, along with its other news products. So my words are somewhat biased in regard to where to look for this information. The next place that’s outstanding for information about the latest IPOs seems to be CNBC’s IPO Center. I’ll talk about that one in a bit. Panning for Gold First of all, you have to realize these reports about mergers and initial public offerings have sources. What are those sources? Well, newspaper reports for one. Press releases for another. In regard to sales of securities, you can get the information directly from the Department of Corporations for each state or the SEC. The Secretary of State will have copies of the new charter documents that authorize and memorialize mergers. Don’t get the fool’s gold here. This source is of limited value for getting the scoop on mergers. It’s really time consuming to go through those for a broad overview of what’s happening in the business marketplace. What’s really important is who’s combining and eventually going to reduce redundancies. So the AIRS Mergers & IPO report is about the best distillation of the information that I’ve found. After all, for recruiting purposes, what you primarily want to know is where the candidates may be. Combine the Friday merger report with the Monday layoff report and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going to be happening and where. Simply put, you’re panning for the gold of eligible and available candidates from reading the mergers reports. Check the Grains But these are more than layoff forecasting documents. Take a look at who’s aligning with whom. There may be some new corporate direction about to take place that will also mean talent to drive it home. That will require not only staff but management as well. That will mean planners, developers, strategizers, and the ever-necessary do-ers will be added in the near future. Consider the implied opportunities in this part of the report. In other words, these merger reports have hidden grains of gold in them that can give you an idea of future staffing needs and business development. Also notice where the plants will be after the merger is completed. This is critical for knowing whether the surviving corporation is growing, taking a temporary reduction, or maintaining its footprint. If they’re leaving an area, that may mean relocation expenses need to be part of the bargaining package discussions. Determining what the company is capable of spending will help you put together the right situation for everyone. Consider how much the deal is worth. That information is in the merger report for each company. Take a look at whether it’s cash, stock, plant and equipment, or a combination of those. Although a deal is worth several hundred million, if it’s all plant and equipment, it’s book value. Cash resources are being used in a different area and in a different way. The availability of funds for cushy salaries may not be there. So other factors affecting placement will be important, such as stock option plans, health and other benefits, signing bonuses, and the like. There’s quite a bit of gold grains in these reports. It’s worth your while to spend a little while examining the companies in your target market and industry. Number of Carats The next issue is who’s getting funded and how that funding stands. To get those answers, the AIRS Merger and IPO report does a magnificent job of setting forth the name of the company with a brief description of its business, its location and industry, and the number of employees. While the size of the offering isn’t provided, it does give you the initial information about upcoming funding and who’s getting stronger. The IPO reports deliver even more subtle information about what’s happening within a company. Says Beth Roussel, director of AIRS News, “Companies that launch public stock offerings are looking for a fast infusion of cash and value.” Immediate cash and strength are great pieces of information to have. As Roussel continues, “Being a publicly traded company may help [the company] secure other types of financing, may bring greater value to the stock options they offer promising recruits, and may give them the capital needed for expansion and growth.” Well, I said I’m a bit biased about these reports from AIRS. Okay, why do these two reports that seem so diametrically different from one another get combined into one report on Fridays? That’s a good question (I knew you’d want to know that). Roussel explains, “By going public, companies also need to be responsive to the wishes of their stockholders. If the public company wants to merge with another company, but they don’t receive shareholder approval, that particular merger will be blocked.” Thus we have a glimpse of why the merger report piggybacks with the IPO. Supplementing that, Roussel continues by saying, “If the company turns in a weak quarterly earnings report, there’s a string chance that jobs may be cut in order to reduce costs.” A-ha! And now we see how the three reports coordinate. Testing the Weight Although I’m partial to AIRS’s reports, for even more comprehensive IPO information and forecasting tools I like the IPO Center at CNBC. Now this is a gold bar in and of itself. It’s derived from Hoover’s Online. Need I say more about its thoroughness and accuracy? By using the information through CNBC, the full comprehensiveness of the Hoover’s site may not be available to you, but you can get a lot of the same resources without the subscription fee. It’s one thing to know that a company is seeking funding through an offer of its shares. That information is readily available at the IPO Center. AIRS also does a great job of telling you what’s new on the market. But the IPO Center goes into more depth, should you want it. And trust me, you want it. That initial news is great because it provides a stepping-off point about who to watch. Go to the IPO Center to find out how that offering is doing. Find out the performance of the offering, whether it’s gained in offering price or dropped. These are also indications of what type of packages can be developed. You can check for the newest offerings on the market as well as those that are due within the next six weeks, their projected pricing, and which have been postponed. Incidentally, the “Computer Software & Services” industry is the one that’s having the most activity right now. So don’t think that because of our current conditions the bottom has dropped out of that market. Computers and software are, of course, part of our necessary path into the future of everything we do. Another reason I like the IPO Center is because, in addition to all of these weighty gold bars, it has an online IPO tutorial. If there’s a particular nuance of IPOs that you’d like to understand a little better before making your presentation, you can brush up on it here while grabbing all of the other information necessary for putting together the right package for both the client and the candidate. Business Development Basics Okay, I’ll put my pocket protector away. You weren’t supposed to see that. But these reports are significant for more than just figuring out how to get bodies to Company A from Company B. These reports are significant in helping you develop your business and make good business decisions. If the IPO gets pulled, you have to consider whether the funding was mandatory for the life of the company or not, and how long it may take for them to reconnoiter. For third-party recruiters, these help determine the strength of the potential client and the potential value of a relationship. If the merger is a retrenchment, consider whether this situation is going to be worth the outreach in the long run. The obvious of the merger and IPO reports and the layoff reports are where the candidates are. The more subtle issues of finding potential clients and running your business in a business-like manner are other aspects of using these reports. Either way, it’s no understatement to say these reports are goldmines in all your recruiting efforts.

Retention: Beyond Goodies and Gimmicks, Part 2

by
David Lee
Sep 12, 2002

In the first part of this article series, we discussed why retention strategies based on “goodies and gimmicks” are misguided and how such approaches are not the key to increasing morale or becoming an employer of choice. Becoming an organization that attracts and retains the best employees instead requires strategies based on essential human needs that, when fulfilled, lead to satisfied, committed, and productive workers. The six most critical human needs that affect employee commitment and performance are:

  1. Having pride in one’s work and employer
  2. keep reading…

Picking Good Salespeople

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Sep 11, 2002

I think it is a good idea every so often to take a practical example of a problem and talk about how it could be solved. This is a double-edged sword, though. On one hand it could look like a simple solution (in fact, nothing could be further from the truth). On the other hand it could look like I am pushing a personal agenda (well, that’s true). I’ll explain. “Simple” Solutions Almost everyone seems to fall into one of two camps: 1) people who think they are test experts, or 2) people who put tests in the same category as nuclear waste. Would you visit a doctor who didn’t attend medical school? Well, you should have the same attitude toward using tests. Look for both practical and academic expertise. This field is deeper than it seems. Anyone with a one-test agenda is an example of walking incompetence. Run away. They cannot help you because they do not know what they are doing (and, unfortunately, do not know it). They also have no personal liability for their test use. Always look for someone who has taken graduate courses in validation, statistics, test design, and job analysis. And keep this in mind: Unless you hire everyone who applies, any system or tool used to divide people into a “qualified” pile and an “unqualified” pile is a test. Yes, I do have a personal agenda. I think you should study each job thoroughly by interviewing job holders, managers, and visionaries; develop realistic, measurable competencies for each job family; choose face, content, and criterion valid tests; do your homework for validating each test; use several methods to measure job skills; measure the whole job, not just part of it; and trash traditional interviews. Make sure equally qualified people get equal opportunity. Go back to school to learn how to do this yourself or hire a competent professional. Don’t think about it. Don’t criticize it. Do it. Practical Example I received an email a week or so ago from a reader. He said he was in the sales recruiting business. Based on his years of experience, he saw that highly successful sales people had the following characteristics:

ERP Vendors: The 800-Pound Gorillas

by
Ed Newman
Sep 10, 2002

You were recently hired as the director of staffing for a major corporation. One of the main reasons you accepted the position was because you would be leading the initiative to select and implement a new recruiting technology platform. You form an internal team to define requirements, canvass the market, and come up with a short list of half of a dozen vendors. With the assistance of the procurement department you develop a 50-page RFP and are ready to distribute it ó when you get the call. It’s your boss. He tells you the project is cancelled, because your ERP vendor just demonstrated its latest applicant tracking module to the CIO. The solution won’t cost anything…because you already own it! The e-recruiting market exploded in the last five years, and it is expected to grow by billions of dollars in the coming years. From the beginning, this market was dominated by a few niche suppliers ó the applicant tracking software vendors. With the evolution of the Internet the market proliferated, and where there used to be very few vendors, there are now very many, including a wide variety of products and services ranging from job boards to online assessments to background checks. There are currently well over 100 applicant tracking systems available in the market, and about eight to twelve that are competing for the Fortune 500 accounts. They each have something unique to offer. Vendor Selection 101 tells us that success can only come from a detailed comparison of business requirements to system functionality. But now that the ERP vendors (such as PeopleSoft, Oracle, and SAP) are beginning to offer e-recruiting products and services, the situation described above is becoming more commonplace. The rationale for this autocratic decision-making usually includes the fact that a huge investment has already been made with the ERP vendor and that the applicant tracking module is already integrated with the HRMS. The internal pressure from the IT organization can be so intense that many HR professionals have no choice but to go along with the decision site unseen. While this might make your life easier in the short term, the long term impact could easily dismantle your staffing team. So what should you do when you find yourself up against the 800-pound-gorilla ERP vendors? Here are a few suggestions on how you can weather the storm:

  • Avoid an emotional response. The natural tendency is to get red in the face and scream NO WAY! ó and then begin to list all the reasons the ERP solution will fail. After all, you have a lot invested in this, and now someone is throwing a wrench in your plans. But it is very important to take the emotion out of your response. This is and always will be a business decision, and you had better treat it that way if you want to gain the respect of the organization, particularly the CIO. You also need to be careful of how you position your objections. If you protest that the ERP solution will never work, you will come across as biased, because you have just begun your RFP process and you are already casting judgment. The more valid objection here is the fact that circumventing the process and making a business decision without gathering and analyzing all of the facts is a bad idea. You can say, “The CIO has raised some valid business reasons to include the ERP solution in the selection process, and we plan to include them. However, no decision can be made until we have completed our objective analysis.” It’s hard to make this argument when you’re red in the face. The fact of the matter is, you need to be truly open to the idea that the ERP solution may in fact meet your overall needs the best. But the only way to find that out is to complete the process.
  • keep reading…

Anniversaries

by
Ken Gaffey
Sep 10, 2002

We celebrate all kinds of anniversaries in our lives: our own birth or the birth of those close to us, wedding days, the day we proposed to that person with whom we wished to share our lives, christenings, and a whole list of other great and joyous events. These benchmarks are often the great “party” in the foreseeable future that makes it possible to move from one anniversary to the next. But there are other anniversaries in our lives, benchmarks of moments we wish had never occurred. Whether as a person, a family, a community, or a societal collective, what marks the impact of these anniversaries in our lives is the immensity, scope, and degree of sadness. The passing of a loved one, a local tragedy, or a national disaster ó these are all the stuff of a day of personal or national mourning and reflection. As September 11 approaches, we as a nation are again facing a day of reflection, mourning, and renewed national resolve. The media will have a wide range of “specials” prepared for us. They will rebroadcast those images that have become so painful to see. They will have an array of experts and people with personal stories to tell of the fateful and horrible day. Some will be insightful and important broadcasts; some will be opportunist trash cashing in on national sentiment: “More stories of 9/11 coming up. But first, a word from our sponsor and how you can lose inches off your waist in just days…” In every tragedy there are concentric circles of impact; starting with those actually killed, then moving outward to their immediate family, those who were there and survived, the family and friends of that group, those who observed with a personal connection from afar, and those who watched from their homes and offices on television knowing only the tragedy but not those actually impacted. We also observe the moment and reflect from our own area of expertise. All of us wish to be engaged and involved in this moment of national reflection. Those in fire and rescue have one view: to be prepared. Architects have the mission of building better and more survivable structures. Security personal are dedicated to ensuring that the opportunity to cause so much death and chaos is denied future terrorists. But as we in human resources/staffing look at this tragedy, what mission can we accept as our own in memory of this anniversary and in memory and dedication to those who died? What is our mission to honor the dead and serve the living? It is, after all, difficult to see a real mission for the “policy and procedure hacks” in this moment in our nation’s history. Or is it? Six months ago a furor arose out of the September 11th crisis that spoke to me as one area where we have not done enough and could redouble our efforts to work to bring us all closer together as human resources/staffing professionals: true national diversity. A moment of national unity we were enjoying was marred by an incident, the root cause being our continued issues with accepting ourselves as a diverse culture with many faces but one nation. It is a shame that this moment had to occur. We all have a vivid memory of the three firefighters who found an American flag near the rubble and destruction of the World Trade Center. On their own they rigged a makeshift rope and pulley and raised the flag on the tallest piece of jagged rubble they could find. In that one moment they stirred a shocked and frightened nation. In that simple and elegant act they unified us. I wept and I do not care who knows it. Not unlike the flag raising on Iwo Jima in World War II, this simple act emblemized our national resolve and unity. I never noticed who the fire fighters were at the time ó their act was to important to personalize. They did not do it for the recognition or the publicity; they did it because it was the right thing to do. For some, that is sufficient justification. An artist was later hired to recreate the moment as a statue to stand before the headquarters building of the NYFD. His vision was a representation of the moment ó not with the actual firefighters involved, but rather with a statue that represented the diversity of all firefighters present that day. That’s when the trouble began. One side argued that it was wrong to change or misrepresent an actual moment in history in order to “placate” those not present at the actual event. Others claimed that who actually raised the flag was less of an issue than the unity that the flag-raising represented ó and that the representation of all who were affected by that dark and dreadful day should be the real focus of the statue. But of course, in the rubble of the World Trade Center lay members of all races and genders, and if the statue should reflect that fact, is three figures enough? What of the women who risked their lives that day or were killed, should they not also be represented? After about two weeks of national debate and media headlines, the project was set aside for future consideration and the underlying issue of race and gender, having once again raised its head, was quietly allowed to be put aside until the next issue arises and we run to our respective battle stations. The irony is that I can accept any argument on this topic as valid:

  • The original three firemen were Caucasian and male. Shouldn’t historical monuments reflect the true moment, and not one manufactured to appease all opinions? But are we building a statue to the moment itself, or to the symbol of what that moment means?
  • keep reading…

Using Precursors for Workforce Planning

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 9, 2002

There are three parts of all successful workforce plans. It turns out that the three parts are not all equal, however. The first part, which is the workforce forecast, is the most important. It projects company growth and the corresponding change in our talent needs as a result of that growth. In most cases, if the forecasts are inaccurate, the whole workforce plan fails. To say that statistical forecasting the future is “difficult” is certainly an understatement. But forecasting the future growth of a company or an industry is a key element in successful workforce planning. Some organizations have entire staffs that do nothing but forecast future growth patterns. If your firm has a strategic planning unit, you might be able to use their business and economic forecasts for your workforce planning. If you don’t have access to other forecasts ó or if you don’t trust their accuracy and hate statistics ó there is another approach to forecasting that you can take. A Different Approach to Forecasting: From Complex to Simple Before you begin forecasting business upturns and downturns for workforce planning you need to assess you own level of sophistication and access to data. Large HR departments can and should adopt more sophisticated (read: statistical) approaches, while individual managers should look for easier-to-execute approaches. There are three basic approaches to forecasting for workforce planning. They are listed here in order from the most sophisticated to the simplest:

  1. The statistical approach. A small number of large firms use sophisticated statistical models to make forecasts. They use internal and external statistics and, through regression analysis, identify the most likely forecast. This approach is generally well beyond the interest or capability for all but Fortune 200 firms:
  2. keep reading…

Managing Bureaucracy

by
Jeff Dahltorp
Sep 6, 2002

Most people get a laugh out of reading Dilbert comics, especially when they see how closely Dilbert’s work life resembles their own. But at a certain point, when these comparisons hit particularly close to home, it’s suddenly not so funny. But if you are a recruiter or staffing director within an organization that you know operates with a bureaucratic mindset, it’s important to start taking these issues seriously and to look at how they are affecting your recruiting efforts. Most of us can recognize the bureaucratic mindset pretty easily. It’s usually expressed in statements like these: