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December  2002 RSS feed Archive for December, 2002

Two Critical Interviewing Questions

by
Yvonne LaRose, CAC
Dec 20, 2002

There’s one interview question that is sometimes asked. Not only is it a good question, but it also reflects a concern that the recruiter, employer and candidate should be asking all of the time. “Why do you want to work here?” You’ve heard it before. No doubt you’ve asked it at some time in your recruiting career. It’s a screening question, just like, “Why did you leave your last job?” The purpose of it is to hear what the candidate has learned about the company through the interview they’ve just had, how much research they’ve done about the company, and whether they have valid reasons for desiring inclusion in your culture. The question is also focused on revealing whether they’re looking for a career or just job-hopping until they come up with something they think they’ll like. There are two other interviewing questions that are just as critical for screening purposes. They identify truly motivated, qualified candidates. These are not profound in any way. One of them periodically gets asked in some version. The other is almost never asked publicly and very rarely does it get asked privately. The Other Asked Question The other screening question that recruiters and interviewers sometimes ask ó and seems to go hand in glove with “why work here” ó is, “Why do you want to be a [insert name of position]?” Its alternate is, “Why do you want to be in the [insert name of industry]?” Again, this one’s focus is on whether the person is looking at the right skill and interest sets to make a valid career choice, and whether they know anything about the position or the industry. Often a person has all of the right interests for the industry but the skills for the position simply are not there. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a bad candidate. This type of position is simply not a good match for their makeup. Actually, there are alternative career paths that will not only maximize the person’s skills but also offer them the opportunity to grow in that direction. The growth will be a product of their interests and the opportunities for creativity and further education. We pretty much know the wrong answers to this question:

  • “My family always told me I’d make a good [insert general job title].”
  • keep reading…

Santa’s Workshop: Human Capital Management Review

by
Karen Osofsky
Dec 20, 2002

For the fourth consecutive year Santa has welcomed us into his workshop to review his workforce management successes and challenges. Going into 2002, Santa was pretty satisfied with the accomplishments his recruiting team had made in 2001. As you may recall from the review last year, in 2001 Santa primarily worked on improving efficiencies in the recruiting process. Times were tight and budgets were cut. ROI was more critical than ever. As a result, 2001 was the year for maximizing internal efficiency. Having just invested in an “end-to-end” candidate management system (CMS), Santa knew that that was the place to turn to find ways to improve ROI. His team of dedicated elves jumped in with full enthusiasm and turned the product inside out. They used every feature to its maximum benefit. For purposes of brief review some of the things they did in 2001 included:

  • Using the current candidate database more thoroughly and creatively
  • keep reading…

How Speed and Snowmen Can Help You Hire the Best

by
Lou Adler
Dec 19, 2002

As many of you know, at POWER Hiring we spend much of our time ferreting about in other people’s hiring processes to see what works best and what works least best. We then collectively develop plans to make both the best and least best a bit better. One thing we’ve discovered is that too much time, money, and effort are spent chasing active candidates. The snowman illustrates this point. Let the head of the snowman represent the active candidate pool. This is 15% of the total. The body represents the 85% passive candidate pool. Another five to six percent of the active pool are represented by temporarily active candidates. On the figure, it’s where the head and body overlap. These are the people who get frustrated at work one day and look for a new position the next. If they don’t find anything compelling, they take themselves off the market. This simple model is a good way to think about your sourcing programs. Of course, cost per hire increases as you move into the passive candidate pool. It takes more effort to find and hire these candidates. But if you set up your sourcing systems properly, you can minimize unnecessary expense. Using the snowman as a guide, consider this: Where are the best candidates?? in the snowman’s head or the body? On an absolute level, it’s pretty obvious that there are more top candidates in the passive pool than the active pool, simply because it’s more than five times larger. Percentage-wise there are even fewer top people in the active pool, so sourcing for the best here is very competitive. Not only is it comparable to finding a needle in a haystack, but you also need to move very fast to prevent the competition from getting the needle before you do. There are some fine candidates in the active pool, but you need compelling advertising plus an ability to move quickly to hire them. Otherwise, the best will be quickly snapped up, and you’ll be left with only the middle-third of candidates to choose from. Without speed, you’ll lose the few top candidates who do become available to your more fleet-footed competitors. Now consider how much of your recruiting and advertising budget (include everything like money, time, effort, systems) is spent going after and managing the data for the 15% active pool. You might want to flip the snowman on its head to get a rough sense of this. If you’re like most companies, approximately 85% of your recruiting effort is focused on going after 15% of the available candidates. And this is a pool of candidates we all know is not stocked with top performers. If you’re spending most of your money going after the 15% pool, you need to know if you’re doing a good job of it. The quick answer is in the results. If you’re hiring plenty of great candidates, you’re doing a good job. If not, you’re not. And if not, then it’s time to change how you recruit in the active candidate pool. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Move faster. The best are snapped up quickly, so be quicker than everyone else.
  • keep reading…

A Holiday Greeting and Reminiscence

by
Kevin Wheeler
Dec 18, 2002

In just a few days we end another year and at the same time greet a new one. I will kick off the New Year with my prognostications, but will end this one with a short recap of 2002 and a few wishes and hopes. All year I have harped on four themes. I believe that these four will continue on into 2003 and 2004 to be the primary drivers of change and of technology development in recruiting. Here’s a brief summary of each. Building Candidate Relationships The first theme is the need to build relationships with candidates. Whether we are in a scare or abundant talent market, there is a need to have a significant relationship with a candidate to properly assess her or to convince her to come and work at your organization. Most candidates carefully choose their employer ó even when they have been out of work for a while ó and do not easily go to work for a firm that does not meet their needs for socialization and personal fulfillment. Recruiters have to work harder than ever to create that relationship and, given smaller staffs and rising productivity expectations, they will have to use technology and the Internet. The inefficient and slow face-to-face approaches of the 20th century will give way, as they have in banking and most other service professions. That does not mean we will not meet the candidates personally. It means we will meet fewer ó and better ones ó so we can spend more time with each and create an even stronger bond. The Recruiting Brand The second theme is the need to create a distinctive recruiting brand, and with that, a great website. Candidates will not come to you unless they know about you. It’s that simple. You have to spread the word about who you are and why a candidate might want to work at your organization. This probably means you have to work with other HR people to make sure you understand your company thoroughly and can make a convincing case to a dubious candidate. (This is also a reason why outsourcing may not be a good thing as we move into a real talent-short market.) You will have to know where the candidates that like your company come from, and you will have to do market research and a lot of experimenting to get it right. You will have to spend more money on branding and selling your organization and you have to have a stellar recruiting website. Screening Candidates The third theme is that screening candidates for fit and skill at the website can be a positive experience for you and the candidate and lead to hiring better quality people. In the end, finding a quality candidate that the hiring manager is comfortable with and confident about is the only thing that matters. Good screening technology will slowly become important to you over the next year or two. I will continue to write about this early next year and show you some great examples of how screening can be done in a tasteful, positive, and high quality manner. People like feedback when it is pertinent and useful. Recruiter Skills The fourth theme is that the skills recruiters will need as we move into this century are changing and, in many cases, are entirely new ones. I have written and spoken on the five new skills you will need to be successful, and briefly list them here:

  • You will need to raise transactions to meaningful experiences for candidates and hiring managers. Just doing something without meaning and clear purpose will not be acceptable.
  • keep reading…

I’m Sorry, But Merry Christmas!

by
Ken Gaffey
Dec 17, 2002

The following online internal memo was smuggled out by a source at great personal risk:

keep reading…

How Staffing Builds a Corporate Asset

by
Yves Lermusi
Dec 17, 2002

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a VP of HR at a high-tech firm, who recounted a discussion he had had with his CFO: CFO: By the way, what is the value of having 350,000 candidates in our database? VP of HR: Those candidates represent a lot of value for us, and also we have to keep them for legal reasons. CFO: Oh, okay for legal reasons. VP of HR: Yes, but it is also very valuable for us. CFO: How valuable? I mean is it tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands? VP of HR: Well, I am not too sure… This article draws on a financial model outlined in iLogos’ report “Economics of Candidate Databases” to describe how the VP of HR may respond to the CFO’s question with precision instead of uncertainty. Staffing Budgets Staffing budgets are under intense cost-cutting pressure. Every line item is examined for possible savings. Sourcing typically is the largest single hard-dollar expense in the cost of hire, and so has come under much scrutiny. A greater focus on targeting media buys and attention to measuring sourcing yields and quality has been the result. Wringing better performance from sources is a positive step, and leads to incremental cost savings. Yet there is much more savings potential to be realized in sourcing, particularly if candidates sourced in the past are brought forward to fulfill future hiring needs. With candidate relationship databases in place, large corporations can gain competitive advantage and build a long-term asset for the company from the current high volume of candidates instead of suffering from the administrative burden. Maintaining Relationships Businesses appreciate that it is cheaper to maintain a relationship with an existing customer than it is to acquire a new customer. This principle is equally applicable to staffing. A new recruiting practice, candidate relationship management, applies this principle efficiently when supported by Internet and database technologies. Candidate relationship management consists of cultivating relationships with candidates over time, by delivering targeted, personalized communications, with a meaningful message, to pre-qualified candidates. Imagine two corporations of similar size, in similar industries, with similar employment brands. Each has identified a hiring need. The two companies spent the same amount of advertising dollars and generated the same amount of candidate applications. Company A treats requisitions as one-off events, and sources anew for each requisition as it arises. Paper resumes are stored in filing cabinets. Electronic resumes are stored in a keyword searchable database. There is such a high barrier to the retrieval of qualified candidates from past stored resumes that it is cheaper to source anew for each new requisition. Company B has a fully functional candidate database. Candidates maintain their own profiles in the system over the Web. They can opt to receive automated notification by email of new positions that match their profile. As each new requisition is created, Company B’s system (its candidate relationship database) acts as another source. It prompts the recruiter with a list of candidates from its proprietary corporate candidate database that match the requirements of the position. Cost Per Candidate Let’s look in financial terms. Both Company A and Company B spend $1.5 million per year on sourcing, and for that investment find 50,000 candidates each quarter. Company B is able to send four targeted job notifications per year to each candidate in the database through a permission-based job agent. Even accounting for data obsolescence in the database, Company B will be sourcing more candidates out of its internal talent pool than from external sources after two years of building relationships. The direct impact of the value creation from a candidate relationship database is to reduce the sourcing cost per candidate. After one year of candidate relationship management, the average sourcing cost per candidate for Company B is $6.20, compared to $7.50 for Company A. The cost is reduced by 30% to acquire new job applications in the fourth quarter compared to the first, and 44% after two years. Structured Data At the essence of the efficiency of candidate relationship databases is the ability to structure the data. A structured database built on candidate profiles is able to target pre-screened candidates far more efficiently and accurately than the traditional media. Candidate relationship management relies on the ability of the technology to segment information to provide an automated value-added communication with the candidate. Competency profiling is leveraged, and is truly the foundation for a successful candidate relationship database. Candidate Relationship Databases The value of candidate relationship management lies in the transformation of sourcing expenditures into inventory. When candidate relationship database functionality is utilized, the recruiting process is powered to move past a “one-off” activity in which each candidate is identified, screened, and assessed, and hired or discarded. Candidate relationship management eliminates waste brought on by sourcing repeatedly for the same candidates. Fully utilized candidate relationship management practices, with structured candidate information stored in a dynamic candidate relationship database, enables a process in which candidates touched by both past and present sourcing activities are automatically accessible to communicate with for a hiring need. The cost of acquiring each candidate is significantly reduced as the existing proprietary corporate candidate database is mined. By building the corporate asset that the database represents, the results of sourcing dollars spent on any and all corporate recruiting needs flow forward to be leveraged for all future hiring demands. In this time of intense budget scrutiny, implementing systems with candidate relationship databases that reduce staffing costs while improving quality are a welcome strategy. Now, the worth of this new asset can be calculated with precision.

‘Tis The Season…To Be Recruiting

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Dec 16, 2002

Many recruiters and managers look at December as “down time” for recruiting. But in my experience, it’s often just an excuse that recruiters use to get some relaxation time, rather than a reflection of any real difficulty in recruiting. In fact, if you are creative, the December holiday season is an excellent time to recruit. 11 Reasons for Holiday Season Recruiting

  1. No competition. While everyone else is relaxing or browsing online stores for those last few gifts, you might find that you are the only recruiter actively seeking candidates in December. December is a slow business period for many non-retail and travel-related industries; some even close down for the two-weeks that include Christmas and New Years Day. Many employees who accrue paid time off for working overtime throughout the year use this month to draw down their PTO or use up their excess vacation because they lose it by year end. During this period of relaxation, it’s an opportune time to catch the competition napping. Yes, there are a scarcity of recruiting events, but you probably shouldn’t be wasting your time at these events anyway. The people you should be looking for are probably still at the their desks!
  2. keep reading…

The Recruiter’s Obligation: Preparing Your Candidate for the Interview

by
Joshua Albucker, CPC
Dec 13, 2002

Several months ago, an associate of mine sent a very qualified nurse on an interview to a prestigious medical center in New York City. She had all the qualifications the facility was looking for. She was experienced, well educated, and very dedicated. She was also aggressively looking for a new job because the grant that was funding her current position was coming to an end. During her interview the vice president of medical services asked if she felt like she was an organized person. It seems like a simple question to answer, as it would be expected that anyone interviewing for a new job would want to paint themselves in the best possible light. But her answer was “no.” As I listened to this story, and shook my head in disbelief, I asked my colleague how well he had prepared his candidate for the interview. He looked at me a little strangely and explained to me that except for telling his candidate where to go and whom she would be meeting with, there was little else that he felt was necessary. He couldn’t change the candidate’s personality and would not ask her to lie. Her resume should speak for itself. As I listened to him, I began to think about the amount of time I spent each day preparing my candidates for their interviews and wondered if most recruiters did not do the same. As a recruiter, I believe it is our obligation to thoroughly prepare every person we send on an interview. By not doing so, we are doing an unjust service to our candidates and sending our clients sub-par and unprepared applicants. There are five things that every candidate should know prior to setting foot in an interview:

  1. The importance of enthusiasm
  2. keep reading…

The True Power of a Magnetic Employer Brand

by
David Lee
Dec 13, 2002

Q: Is all this talk about employer branding just the latest in a long line of management fads? A: It depends. Q: Doesn’t it really just boil down to creating a better recruiting sales pitch? A: No. Q: Does it really make a difference in your ability to attract talent? A: Absolutely. Whether or not employer branding becomes just another flavor-of-the-month fad depends in large part on whether it is seen as a technique for luring talented people through the door, or whether it is seen as a comprehensive, integrated approach to becoming an employer of choice and then communicating this in a compelling way. Companies who get this are exponentially more effective at recruiting talent. Their employer brand acts like a powerful talent magnet. Having this kind of an employer brand is like the organizational equivalent of having a magnetic personality. Who you are draws others to you. Having a magnetic employer brand draws the best of the best to you. The following hypothetical example illustrates the power of a magnetic employer brand. Imagine that at the next job fair your organization’s recruiting booth is staffed not by trained recruiters, but by a random selection of your employees. As job hunters stop to talk with your employees, would they think, “Wow, I’d like to work with these people!” and, “This is the kind of company I’ve been looking for!”? Or would they escape as quickly as possible, hurrying off to the next booth? Would what your employees said, and who they were as people, act as a talent magnet or a talent repellent? When I present this scenario to groups of managers and HR professionals, some blanch at this possibility, some squirm, and some smile confidently. If your response falls into the first two categories, you know you don’t have a magnetic employer brand. I see this scenario as a litmus test for whether or not you have a magnetic employer brand, because it illustrates the defining characteristics and benefits of a powerful employer brand. The Power of A Magnetic Employer Brand You know you have a magnetic employer brand when your reputation in the marketplace and the labor market is such that you don’t have to spend your time trying to convince people why they should work for you. People already know what a great company you are both in the marketplace and as an employer. At our hypothetical job fair, if your organization has a magnetic employer brand, the most talented prospects will make a beeline for your booth. Unlike organizations who have either a poor reputation or who haven’t differentiated themselves, your conversation doesn’t need to be a sales pitch. Your Recruiting Power Increases Exponentially When you have a magnetic employer brand, recruiting isn’t limited by the size and budget of your recruiting department. Instead you turn your whole workforce into a tribe of headhunters. I believe this is the most under-recognized benefit of creating a compelling employer brand: it unleashes the recruiting potential lying dormant in your workforce. Although to some extent monetary rewards will motivate employees to refer friends and colleagues, they only become evangelical in spreading the word when they feel passionate about their employer. Think about your behavior as a customer. You’re far more likely to tell others about your customer service experience if you were “wowed” than if you were simply satisfied. First, if your experience was merely acceptable, there’s no interesting story to tell; there’s nothing to talk about. Second, when you’re treated to exceptional service, you want others to experience it too. Similarly, employees are far more likely to tell others about their employer if they’re wowed by a work experience far superior to any other they’ve had. This is why the foundation of a great magnetic employer brand is delivering an exceptional work experience. If you don’t have that, your employees have nothing good to talk about and no sincere desire to bring others into the fold. Your Employees Have a Coherent, Compelling Message To Spread A strong brand requires coherency in the message. Good brand managers carefully scrutinize the various messages, associations, and experiences their brand delivers to make sure they don’t send conflicting messages. For instance, if Coca-Cola started emphasizing the health benefits of drinking plenty of fluids and how Coca Cola helps you do that, such a campaign would confuse and weaken the brand message they’ve invested in over the years: the message that people should buy Coke because it’s a fun, tasty beverage, because it’s “the real thing.” When you have a magnetic employer brand, everyone in your organization is “on message” because they know what you’re about, why you’re great, and the stories that convey this message. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for employees to have a big-picture view of your organization. To be effective recruiters, they need to be able to tell others about your organization’s mission, vision, and distinctive values. This doesn’t happen by accident. Southwest Airlines is a great example of a company that has consciously communicated over the years to employees about who they are and why they’re a great company. Not only does it inspire employees and strengthen their culture ó and therefore their employer brand ó it helps employees do a better job telling others about why Southwest is such a great employer. You Unleash the Brand Building Power of Story-Telling Great brands are a collage of great stories, stories about experiences people have had with that brand. Companies with a strong employer brand have a set of defining stories that capture the essence of who they are and what they are like as an employer. For instance, one of the defining stories about Tom’s of Maine as an employer involves a frontline worker who came up with an innovative packaging idea. This Kennebunk, Maine producer of all natural personal care and health products had an item that was languishing on retail shelves. Employees were alerted to the dilemma. A frontline worker presented the marketing department with a packaging design idea that enabled them to provide more information about the product’s benefits, use less packaging (an important Tom’s of Maine value), give the consumer more product for the same cost (reflecting a commitment to providing value to the customer), and use less shelf space per package (critical in retail). The result? Sales doubled. This story tells a lot about who the company is and how employees are perceived. It is also far more memorable ó and believable ó than simply saying, “We value our employees.” By collecting and sharing stories that capture what’s great about your organization, you enable your employees to communicate to others in a more compelling way, thus increasing the recruiting power of your workforce. Your Employees Themselves Become Talent Magnets When you have a strong employer brand, your employees are your best recruiters, not only because they tell great stories about your organization, but because they also embody your company’s unique spirit and value-set. They themselves become walking, talking talent magnets. They become brand and culture strengthening forces, because they attract people who resonate with your organization’s vision, values, and culture. Employees become brand messengers by experiencing your employer brand in action. They absorb it experientially by working in an environment where your vision, values, and culture are reflected in everyday work life. They also learn it overtly, through the telling and retelling of employer brand defining stories in orientation, training programs, and coaching interactions. They also learn it overtly when your mission, vision, and values become an explicit part of making operational, customer service, and marketing decisions. Having a workforce that embodies your brand also comes from holding people accountable for delivering on your employer brand promises. Without this conscious effort at strengthening your culture ó and therefore your employer brand ó you will have some employees who are inspiring messengers, some who leave no impact, and others who are talent repellents. As mentioned previously, lack of coherency and consistency weakens an employer brand. Just as hearing conflicting messages weakens a brand, so does encountering brand representatives who demonstrate conflicting ways of being. It would be like the Ritz Carlton allowing some of their hotels to be staffed by morose, self-absorbed people. It wouldn’t take many customer interactions with these employees to damage their brand. Creating an environment that elicits brand strengthening behavior in employees doesn’t happen by accident. It requires ongoing communication, coaching, training, and accountability. You Create a Self-Reinforcing Talent Magnet Success Cycle When you have a magnetic employer brand, your cachet attracts “A” employees ó the kind of people other “A” employees want to work with. Thus, your employer brand, recruiting process, and culture create a self-reinforcing talent magnet success cycle that continually increases your ability to attract and retain the best employees. “A” employees are also more likely to know other “A” employees, further increasing the recruiting power of your employee referral program. Not only does this give you a huge competitive advantage, it also makes your managers’ lives easier. Because you have a higher quality talent pool to draw from, you can “hire hard” and “manage easy.” Rather than taking any warm body that slouches through the door and then micromanaging them to keep them from wreaking havoc, you can afford to be rigorous in your hiring process and then give your employees room to move. Such self-motivated, low-maintenance employees are possible if you have a strong employer brand. You Can’t Have the Benefits Without the Foundation If you want to enjoy the recruiting power of a magnetic employer brand, if you want your employees to be rabid recruiters, you need to deliver on your employer brand promise. As you can see from the above benefits of a magnetic employer brand, they’re all predicated on delivering a great work experience. This is where many, if not most, organizations drop the ball. They think of employer branding as the process of creating a better sales pitch. Developing a magnetic employer brand is far more than just making sure your ads, radio spots, Internet postings, and recruiting booth presentations work synergistically. It’s far more than a marketing makeover. If you don’t actually do the great things you say about your company, you don’t have a brand, you have a recipe for high turnover. Thus, creating a magnetic employer brand requires that your management team look honestly at themselves and your organization’s daily operations and ask, “Do we really deliver a great work experience, or even a good one?” It requires asking this question not only in a self-reflective way, but more importantly, asking your employees. I believe, based on my experience conducting employee focus groups, that many of the day-to-day experiences that drive a wedge between employees and management go unnoticed by management because employees don’t speak up. They remain silent because they don’t want to be seen as a whiner or get the dreaded label of “not being a team player.” So instead, they just grin and bear it, while growing increasingly more disengaged ó and becoming increasingly less likely to refer someone for employment. To counteract this, you need to put in place processes that invite employee feedback and communicate that giving “customer feedback” to management is appreciated and important. The First Step Toward Unleashing The Power of Your Magnetic Employer Brand If you do the work required to develop a magnetic employer brand, you will dramatically increase your ability to recruit talented people, both because you’re able to attract them (rather than always having to sell to them), and because you unleash the recruiting power of your workforce. Developing such a powerful brand requires more ó far more ó than crafting a great image. It requires that you do the hard work it takes to create a great work experience. If you are willing to do that, you get to enjoy the tremendous recruiting power a magnetic employer brand will provide you.

Roadmap for the Perfect Recruiting Process, Part 3

by
Jeff Dahltorp
Dec 12, 2002

In this article series we’ve been traveling down the recruiting highway talking about improving your recruiting process. We first talked about how to develop a recruiting roadmap, and then how to generate the numbers to help you analyze your process. In this article, we continue on with step five, where we really start to focus on implementing improvements in the overall recruitment effort ó mainly budgets and selection of technology. Step Five Imagine it is time to budget for next year. I have always viewed it as that wonderfully busy time of year we both love and dread so much. But hopefully, if you have taken the time to gather the data from steps one to four in this article series, you now have information that will make your job of estimating costs for hiring much easier. Third Party versus In-House As an example, if you know that your cost per hire is extremely high for third party recruiters but very low for referrals or the Internet, how do you get more people hired from the lower cost alternatives? A lot of companies lean on the third-party recruiters for any position higher than the administrative level, because it’s quick and easy to rely on them, and the internal recruiters just don’t have the resources to look through all the resumes they get online. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this model if money is no object and you don’t have the time or staff to manage the process yourself. Almost all companies will need to use third-party recruiters for certain high-level or very unique positions ó their existing candidate databases and ability to network can be extremely valuable for these types of very specific positions. But if you are trying to hire a common position like a sales manager, a third party recruiter may be an excessive route in terms of costs. Choosing the Right Technology By taking some of the dollars that you are allocating to third party recruiters and investing that in technologies that streamline your hours spent on recruiting, you will find that you can get many top-level hires using the lower cost of the Internet. I know what you are thinking, and yes it’s true ó selecting these tools will always be a daunting task. But remember this: no matter what anyone else says, selecting the right technology at the right price to help in your recruiting process is going to be different for every company because of their individually specific and unique needs. Selecting any specific technology for recruiting could be a book in itself and one that needs to be rewritten every six months. When you budget for, select and ultimately purchase any technology for recruiting purposes, make sure you do your homework. Don’t rely on what you read in marketing and sales materials; they are always focused on selling you their own solution. Do rely on your gut instinct, your own research, and research done by outside, non-biased groups or people. Even with external research data, make sure that you are comparing it from different sources. Ultimately, there is a reason that I talked about creating your process before buying technology. What I mean is, if a vendor says you have to change your process, one that you know works and that you are comfortable with, just so you can use their product, think twice. The best technology will be the one that changes to fit your process, not one that asks you to change for them. At a base technology level, you might be looking to include an automated job posting tool, a database sourcing tool, a predictive matching tool (for narrowing and ranking applicants) with a searchable database and a testing and assessment application. If you are like most companies, you may tend to overspend on technology and never end up using 50% of the functionality. Just because everyone else has an ATS or posting tool doesn’t mean you need one too. All told, you could be looking at just $50,000 for an entire year (obviously this could be more depending upon the number of hires and vendors that you select). If you spend $15,000 on average for a new hire, this investment will pay for itself after just four hires. I don’t know of any HR person who wouldn’t like to show the CFO how they can still hire top-notch employees at 30% or even 60% less than they have in the past. Other Process Improvements Realize too that your CFO is going to hold you responsible for the entire budget, including overhead, personnel, and technology costs. Your greatest savings may actually come from process improvements where recruiters and other staff are made more efficient. Thus, it may be beneficial to include those types of items in your overall cost per hire. As an example, let’s say that your company utilizes the four major sourcing options ó print, Internet, third party recruiters, and referrals. Additionally, you have a new ATS, well-negotiated career site memberships, an electronic means for tracking referrals against your database, and a contingency relationship with your top three external recruiting firms. When you have an open job requisition, you almost immediately have a handful of candidates from your external recruiters, the referral system, and even from the local newspaper ad. You may also get 200 resumes from the Internet. So where is the best candidate? Unfortunately, because of the time involved, too many companies today forego looking at the Internet resumes even though the best candidate might be in that group, and not the handful they have from the other sources. The point is not that the other sources are bad. The point is that by putting some of the money you normally spend on the other sources into a pre-screening and ranking application ó before or in conjunction with your ATS ó you can be evaluating the 200 resumes down to the top five or ten, right along side the resumes from the other sources, to get a listing of the top candidates, regardless of source. Once again, you are now able to allocate your budget dollars properly to get the best return on your investments from each resume source rather than continually spending the same dollars in the same areas every year. In sourcing candidates you do have a number of options. You can post a job on an Internet website, search an Internet career site resume database (or your own database), use a third party recruiter, place a print ad, or use an internal referral. Each one of these has a different cost associated with it that should be incorporated in developing your overall cost per hire. If you only use third party recruiters, you may feel that you save time and get good candidates. But how many of us have found out that the candidate the external recruiter presented had already applied to a job posting or been referred by a coworker and their resume was already in our ATS database! The essence of this concept is that you want to be able to provide your executives with a detailed spreadsheet of the number of hires you made from each source ó print, Internet, 3rd party recruiter and referrals ó and the costs associated with each of those. If 30% of your hires are coming from third party recruiters at a cost of 70% of your budget, and another 30% of your hires are coming from Internet career sites at a cost of 20% of your budget, you can immediately see how you can save money and lower your cost per hire: shift some budget dollars. Or, when the economy picks up and you are asked to hire 50% more people, you can do it with the same budget you had this year. Tell me your CFO won’t be impressed by that one! Too many companies today are abandoning, or at least lowering, their Internet recruiting budgets because they don’t have the people resources to handle the resume flow. They “are not hiring today” or they are trying to impress the CFO by not spending money, when the fact is, by shifting some budget dollars to really good technologies, you can still get the quality candidates at a reasonable cost per hire with your current headcount. And remember, even though you may not be hiring today the same number of people that you were hiring one or two years ago, you are probably still hiring, even if just for attrition. Using a good technology today will allow you to begin building a database for the future. This can eventually become your most cost effective source for new employees: those that want to work for your company and that you have kept in touch with over time. In the next and final article, we will really dig into the new ways of recruiting and how to make your company stand out in the process. These will be true out-of-the-box thinking ideas as it relates to recruiting ó not the standard “flavor of the month” consulting flim-flam. Stay tuned…

Separating Sales Wheat From Sales Chaff: Hiring Salespeople Who Sell

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Dec 12, 2002

Salespeople provide the life’s blood of organizations. No sales. No business. I once encouraged a reluctant management team to rank salespeople from high to low productivity. They hesitated, because they had no idea what to do with the results. In fact, the president (who also did some selling) said he was sure rank ordering would “discourage” low producers. He also “assured” me that sales managers would have no idea what to do with the data anyway. I had no idea how to respond to this kind of muddle-headed sales management. Imagine what this organization could have achieved if sales management had actually known what they were doing? But I digress. Rank ordering salespeople will usually show that a minority of salespeople ó often as few as 20% ó generate 80% of sales. This is scary. This is true. Sales applicants all might look equally qualified (except for the boss’s kid), but a few months later some of the most promising ones will become bottom feeders and some of the least promising ones will excel. I don’t know about you, but this seems to represent a major disconnect between hiring, managing, and performing. Perfect Hiring Accuracy? It would be wonderful if we all could predict sales success with 100% accuracy. Unfortunately, there are just too many other variables at work such as product ó competition, personal issues, managerial talent, economic issues, and so forth ó so we have to be satisfied with measuring what we can. To start with, unstructured interviews and past performance are inadequate. Better hiring techniques can achieve about a 90% success rate (i.e., the person will have the right skills for the job about 90% of the time). But what does 90% mean in practice? Well, imagine what it would be like if 90% of your salespeople had skills equal to the current top 20%. How much would individual productivity increase? How about profitability? Costs? Would management become easier? I hope I made my point. Visionaries Don’t Wear Blinders Truism: People have a remarkable way of remembering success and forgetting failure. In business, selective amnesia is often vital to career survival. Who among us has not tried to hide bad-hiring decisions from a boss while boasting about our good ones? (“I think you are being overly sensitive, boss. I’m sure Leo had no idea your hairpiece was flammable. Have you seen Leslie’s excellent sales report?”). Blinders have, do, and will, block progress improvements. Unless every applicant who interviews well performs well, hiring managers either must take off their blinders, go back to direct selling, or settle in for a career of long-term mediocre sales performance. Start Smart Truism: Sales selection cannot be improved until sales activities are thoroughly understood. There is a silly idea that managers know everything about jobs they supervise. Too bad it’s wrong. Most of the time, unless they also perform the job, managers don’t have a clue about the day-to-day activities of people they supervise. Catch them on an unusually good day, and many will even publicly agree. Managers know a great deal about results, but not what it takes to get there ó sort of like knowing whether their team won or lost, but not being able to describe how each person played. This is fact. Not opinion. Have fun with this next activity. First, list in order, the top ten skills important to doing your job each day. Next, ask your boss to make the same list (for your job). Compare the list. Take a few days to re-compose yourself. Update your resume. The only complete information about sales jobs comes from three sources: 1) jobholders (for job details), 2) managers (for job performance) and 3) visionaries (for job changes). Skip any step and you lose valuable pieces of information about what it takes to perform. For example, how much does your manager know about the details of your job? How much do you know about changes planned for your job in the next two years? Sound easy? Well, only until you try to do it. Without job details, hiring managers are pre-destined to overlook important areas, overemphasize unimportant ones, and rely on personal opinions (“I know ‘em when I see ‘em”). Hiring Smart Truism: What you don’t measure, you don’t control. Every sales job is slightly different. One thing salespeople have in common, though, is persuasion. Whether a sales job is long-term, short-term, proactive, reactive, tangible, intangible, big ticket, small ticket, direct, cross, phone-based or personal, eventually someone is expected to sell something. Sales is a four-step psychological process:

  1. Develop enough trust to start a client-centered dialog.
  2. keep reading…

Anticipation: Lessons From Scenario Planning

by
Kevin Wheeler
Dec 11, 2002

Last week I was once again confronted with a hiring manager who was frustrated and, frankly, angry, that his organization’s recruiting department had not found him the engineer he needed after a six-week search. He said that, given the unemployment levels in Silicon Valley and the number of talented people he knew personally who were looking for work, there could only be one reason for the lack of good candidates. And that reason was an incompetent recruiting function! Unfair, perhaps, but also indicative of what many managers are feeling today. Clearly the recruiting functions of many organizations are failing to respond to a changing marketplace. Despite the abundance of talent, many organizations still are having difficulty finding the right people to fill their open positions. In many cases this is a result of having a recruiting function that reacts to openings when they occur rather one that tries to anticipate those openings. For years organizations invested heavily in strategic planning&nbsp:ó analyzing and predicting the future. They built strategies based on a rational, in-depth analysis of competition, market growth, economic trends and so forth. But increasingly, organizations are realizing that this does not work. It is impossible to predict the future with any accuracy. After all, who predicted 9/11? Who predicted that the Dow Jones would plunge as far as it has? The emerging process for crafting business strategy involved developing a number of alternate scenarios that provide a response to a wide variety of possible occurrences. This is often called scenario planning. It involves projecting possible situations and then deciding what the organization would do and how it would react if a given scenario actually occurred. This is proving to be a far better approach than the analytical and rigid approaches of the past 20 years. At the same time, many organizations are developing business processes and setting up facilities that are multi-use or that can be quickly reconfigured to meet any situation. In other words, they are building flexibility into everything they can so that the uncertainty of tomorrow does not have as large an impact on their revenues or profits as it might. We in recruiting need to adopt some similar thinking. Rather than wait for openings to occur or for people to apply for those openings, we need to build a process to anticipate the needs and a capability to respond very quickly to changing business demands. Here are five things you can do now to begin developing these capabilities:

  1. Assign someone to only focus on the future and develop scenarios. While this may seem wasteful, it will be your best course of action over time. By making someone responsible for developing scenarios about the kinds and numbers of people your organization may need over the next year or two, you will begin to see where you need to build your talent pipelines. This person will do market surveys to see what supply looks like in your geographic area and she will also spend most of her time talking to hiring managers, senior executives, and other key employees to see what possible new products or services may be emerging that will need to be staffed. This person will also need to catalog the skills of the current employees.
  2. keep reading…

Selecting an ATS: Technical Considerations

by
Tim Lyman
Dec 10, 2002

Not long ago, an article appeared here at ERE downplaying the role of technical considerations and your IT department in selecting an applicant tracking system. But selecting an ATS without taking technical issues into account is like buying a car without bothering to check out what sort of gas mileage it gets or its repair and safety record. If you were buying a used car, would you have your mechanic check it out, or would you just take the salesman’s word on its mechanical condition? I’ve been in the computer business for 22 years and it still amazes me that savvy businesspeople, who will subject their raw materials, supplies, suppliers and staff to rigorous investigation before agreeing to use them, will buy computers based entirely on the salesperson’s representation of what will fulfill their needs. (Contrary to some people’s opinions, salespeople are not evil. Almost every one I’ve met is a good, honest person. But they often don’t know much more about the product’s technical issues than what’s printed in the brochure they hand out. Remember: The vendor is going to say whatever it takes to make the sale. It’s their job. When did you ever hear a salesperson say, “Oh boy, you’re right, our system doesn’t do that very well. You’d better not buy it if you do a lot of that!”?) Before going any further I need to give you the best, most important computer advice you’ll ever get. Do not be the first kid on your block. Unless the system the vendor is selling has a proven track record with companies of your size, in your industry, and using it the way you intend to use it, run, don’t walk, away. This goes for any computer hardware or software. Some people call the folks who ignore this rule “beta testers” or “early adopters.” I call them what they are ó fools. All business decisions involve some degree of risk. But successful businesspeople know the difference between necessary and unnecessary risk. All good ATSs have certain features in common. There is not one of them that have a magic bullet that will enable you to close 500% more deals than your competition. All of them, if improperly implemented, have the potential to cost you thousands of unbudgeted dollars. There are three major technical issues in selecting ANY software, ATSs included. Hardware Issues This is the big one. Will it work well on your existing computers? Do you have sufficient processor power, hard drive space, and memory to handle the software? On most every software package you will see “System Requirements.” I’ll use Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition as an example. The system requirements include:

The ABCs of Staffing Metrics

by
Kimberly Bedore
Dec 10, 2002

As the recruiting profession continues to evolve, metrics have likewise grown in popularity. But although there seems to be a lot of talk about measuring, the truth of the matter is few people are actually measuring?? and even fewer are doing it well. Do you know how to implement a metrics-driven staffing program that elevates professionalism by establishing shared accountability, evaluating risk, managing cost, and analyzing productivity? Metrics are a critical tool that can help staffing attain the level of business partner within an organization. They enable you to speak the language of business by tying the staffing function to business objectives. According to Watson Wyatt’s Human Capital Index Study, recruiting and retention can impact a company’s market value by as much as 7.9%. That should underscore how critical it is for you to measure the performance of your recruiting function. Following is a simple formula for establishing a solid metrics program?? the ABCs of staffing metrics. Assess Take a close look at your current situation and determine whether or not you’re capturing the right data. Answer the questions:

Don’t Outsource Recruiting Just Yet: A Checklist of Possible Issues

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Dec 9, 2002

Outsourcing the recruiting function is one of the hottest fads in staffing right now. Because of the push to reduce headcount within HR functions, most recruiting managers are now being faced with the decision of whether to should shift some or all of the work we do in recruiting to outside vendors. But outsourcing parts of the recruiting function is not a new phenomenon. Many employment functions have outsourced for years, in areas like the hiring of temps, relocation, reference checking, and most executive search, with various degrees of success. This raises the question: Should we outsource more of or all of the recruiting function? There are many excellent reasons to outsource, but there are also many pitfalls. The following is a checklist that you can use to guide your decision on which firm to select, what services to outsource and when it is a bad idea. Remember that vendor quality can vary significantly and that the very best outsource firms have few or any of the potential problems highlighted below. Potential Issues With Outsourcing When you begin the process of determining whether you should outsource or not, it’s important to consider these issues which have occurred during other outsourcing “adventures.”

  • Competitive advantage. If your current internal recruiting function provides you with a distinct competitive advantage over a competitor (you find and hire more productive employees) it makes no sense to outsource that function to a company that might have lower standards or weaker recruiting tools. It’s also important to remember that vendors that work for your firm can also provide the same tools and services for a competitor (eliminating any potential competitive advantage).
  • keep reading…

Selection Ratios: Taking Advantage of the Talent Buyers’ Market

by
Dr. Charles Handler
Dec 6, 2002

When it comes to hiring, a lot has changed over the past few years. Economic conditions have led to major changes in the structure of the talent marketplace, and the development of Internet technology has provided us with the ability to collect, manage, and analyze information in ways that once seemed impossible. These two trends are not independent of one another, and developing effective hiring strategies requires a good understanding of their inter-relationship. We I/O Psychologists often make use of a statistic known as the “Selection Ratio” to help guide us when we are developing employee selection strategies and assisting organizations in making important choices related to their hiring process. The concept of the selection ratio does an excellent job of summarizing the relationship between the current talent market and the influence of technology on today?s hiring process. Here I’d like to explain what selection ratios are and provide some information about how online screening can help businesses take advantage of the favorable selection ratios that have been created by the availability of technology and the state of the current talent market. Selection Ratios Defined The selection ratio is a very easy concept to understand. It is simply the number of people hired divided by the number of applicants. Selection Ratio = Number of Hires / Number of Applicants Because it is a ratio, the selection ratio’s value must range between 0 and 1 (theoretically it really ranges from -1 to 1, but in the real world you will never find a negative selection ratio in a hiring situation), with 0 indicating a low selection ratio and 1 indicating a very high selection ratio. A selection ratio is low if any of three conditions exist:

  1. The denominator (the number on the bottom) is large
  2. keep reading…

Recruiting Metrics for Management

by
Lou Adler
Dec 5, 2002

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. No debate on this one. But just what should you be measuring? Now, there’s the rub! To begin the debate, let me suggest that the list below represents the things that should be measured, with some corresponding opinions on the best metrics to use. To further engage the audience, I’d like to offer an unusual opportunity: a series of online Internet discussions to develop a list of “best metrics.” But more on how to involve yourself at the end of this article. For now, let the debate begin. Here’s my list of what recruiters and recruiting departments must do to be considered effective and how best to measure performance. I’d also like to thank Dan Guaglianone, the VP Staffing at Unisys, for setting me straight on this. I was starting to weave a bit too much on the importance of metrics.

  • Deliver high quality candidates. This is probably the most important and the toughest to measure. If you hire great people quickly, cost is not too important. A top-third salesperson outbills a bottom-third by 300%. A top-third engineer out-designs a bottom-third by 300%. A top-third anybody outdoes a bottom-third anybody by 300%. To measure quality of hire, you need to conduct quantitative, performance-based interviews and then compare actual performance to predicted performance. This is a great metric when combined with some predictive testing, like what ePredix offers. Turnover is an indirect metric for quality.
  • keep reading…

How to Win the Healthcare Talent Wars, Part 2

by
Dave Lefkow
Dec 4, 2002

Part 1 of this article series outlined some of the similarities and differences between healthcare recruiting today and the IT recruiting crises of the late 1990s. In this article, I will cover the lessons learned from the IT talent wars and how they can be applied to the challenges facing the healthcare industry. These are some of the general principles to live by. Realize It’s a War for Talent Everyone in healthcare knows there’s a problem, but some organizations are much less aggressive than others about taking steps to solve it. If you’re in healthcare recruiting, you’re under attack from all sides. Other hospitals inside and outside your local market, traveling nurse agencies, permanent placement agencies, and consulting firms are all competing for the same limited talent pool. Sign-on bonuses of up to $5,000 are not uncommon. One hospital is giving away a car lease for three years (this should sound very familiar to IT recruiters). Recruiting trips, even for smaller hospitals or chains, are ending up in faraway places such as the Philippines and South Africa. Yet in an intense competition for talent, most recruiting efforts start with “poaching” employees away from other hospitals like yours by dangling attractive incentives and offers. Keeping on top of who your competition is, what they’re doing, and how your efforts stack up is vital to your success. In the old talent wars, recruiters from companies like Cisco would offer to give an apples-to-apples comparison of your other offers with theirs in order to help sell you on the virtues of theirs in comparison. All the while, they gathered competitive intelligence on who was hiring and how they were doing it. Think Like a Recruitment Marketer Long ago, IT recruiters learned that recruiting and retention is really a sales and marketing discipline. Recruiters’ main tasks are to market and sell a set of openings and an employment experience as opposed to a physical product. The all-important “four Ps” of Recruitment Marketing? Product, Pay, Place, and Promotion. All of these elements make up your employer brand, or the promise of your employment offer:

  • Product. For scarce talent to accept your offers, you have to have the right product, i.e. you need to deliver a positive employment experience, make people feel good about what they do, and periodically reward performance.
  • keep reading…

Getting Feedback on your Corporate Career Section, Part 2

by
Gretchen Sturm
Dec 3, 2002

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the importance of the corporate careers website as the centerpiece of a corporate sourcing and recruitment branding strategy. It was noted that many organizations do not have a sense of how effective their careers sections are at meeting their recruiting goals. We examined some offline methods for getting feedback, namely through web statistics and focus groups. Here, we’ll look at some of the more dynamic online feedback techniques that can help you capture important data from real visitors to your site. Feedback Forms Feedback forms are easy to implement. They can range from a “catch-all” email to a form with highly focused questions. A feedback form is intended to be a permanent, ongoing fixture on your website and voluntarily selected by the visitor. The simplest form is an email link that can be accessed from the main career page (and other pages) with something like, “Give Us Feedback,” “Tell Us How You Liked The Site,” or “Comments Welcome.” This email can go to a central email address that is administered by someone in your web, recruiting, or communication teams. The disadvantage to using this type of “suggestion box” approach is that the results are hard to categorize or summarize and will take a long time to compile. An open email could invite everything from a technical comment on a broken link to a question on the salary for a particular job opening. If your goal is to just give the visitors an open forum to express any idea or issue, then the open email will meet that goal. However, managing answers to ad hoc questions could be an administrative nightmare and become a full-time job. On the other hand, if your goal is to gain more objective data on certain details of the career site or application experience, then a “structured form” should be used. It’s best to have questions with pre-defined answers, keeping open-ended questions to a minimum. Results of these forms can be summarized and output from a database to give the recruiting department and web designer specific details about the site. Examples of some general feedback web form questions are:

  • How would you rate your experience with finding the information you need? (scale question)
  • keep reading…

The Concentric Rings of Networking

by
Ken Gaffey
Dec 3, 2002

After every article I write it is not uncommon to get several emails from readers looking for advice on the subject matter or with general employment questions. But that is the whole idea of sharing and mutual support. I send my share of “can you assist me?” emails myself, and hope I never stop. To cease networking would be either to be convinced I know it all or to be dead. Neither outcome seems all that attractive to me. Recently, however, the trend for networking requests has been significantly focused on job leads. Usually a resume is attached. It’s a sign of the times. There is not a whole lot of “it” out there, but there are a lot of people looking for what there is of “it,” and finding “it” can consume a lot of time. The dawn of the age of electronic communications brought an exponential expansion of your ability to send messages. Yet it also diminished the quality of that communication, since it gave everybody else access to that same capability and the unlimited access for you meant unlimited access to somebody else as well. As we usually seek access to those who have what we need, and seeing as how our needs are common, most of us are trying to access the same people. In a good economy, where there are a number of people seeking “it” and having “it,” that is not an issue. But in a weak or recession- based economy or industry segment, those seeking “it” far outweigh those having “it.” As I have discussed before, we have confused the ability to do a lot of communicating easily with doing any of it well. People who know a lot about email sometimes know precious little about networking. And often that failure starts with a general lack of knowledge of the “Concentric Rings of Networking.” Think of a rock thrown into a pond. Rings of displaced water circle out from the point of contact. The closer the rings are to the point of impact, or center of energy origination, the better defined and more powerful the rings tend to be. The further out they spread, the less defined and the less energy is exhibited. Networking is in essence the sharing of energy, and that energy is in direct proportion to the “ring” in which you reside in someone’s network. You may have the shared power of a nuclear reactor or a “D” cell battery. So what are these rings? Levels of Concentric Rings Networking

  • First ring. These are people with whom you have personal experience and knowledge. You have shared experiences and shared respect. However, there is an additional strength to this ring: you have shared leads, information, or confidences. You have open or long standing mutual “IOUs” from supporting and helping each other over the years. The level and frequency of exchange has long eliminated the tendency to “keep count” of favors extended and favors owed. You keep an “open tab” for the people in this level, as they do for you. The level of information exchanged is selfless in proportion and sharing is limited only by personal need.
  • keep reading…