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June  2003 RSS feed Archive for June, 2003

Google Sourcing: How Famous Are You?

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 30, 2003

article by Dr. John Sullivan and Master Burnett Everyone knows that Google is one of the most popular search engines for finding information. It’s quick, accurate ó and thankfully, it’s free. But only a few savvy recruiters know that Google may also be one of the easiest to use tools on the planet for both finding and assessing top professionals. You can even use it to assess your own relative “fame.” Here’s how it works. Finding Candidates The principal behind using Google as a recruiting tool is simple: experienced professionals appear frequently in its searches due to their normal professional activities. As a result, top professionals have higher Google scores (a Google score is a numerical calculation that counts the number of times that a reference to an individual appears online). A high score for an individual indicates that a person is more active in his or her field, and thus more desirable. A high Google score can be as a result of a variety of things a candidate has done, including:

Thinking Outside the Box to Increase Interviewing Accuracy

by
Lou Adler
Jun 27, 2003

The courage of the master is measured by his or her willingness to surrender. For the master, surrender means there are no experts. There are only learners.

ó George Leonard, from Mastery, 1991

keep reading…

I Thought I Heard It All

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Jun 26, 2003

I thought I had heard it all ó that is, until my wife showed me an article in the Saturday, June 8, 2003, Atlanta Journal Constitution entitled, “Adventures in Job Hunting: Some companies use role-playing techniques to see if a potential hire has personality that’s a good fit.” Interesting, I thought, apparently skills are less important than personality. I began reading. The author seemed very enthusiastic about his subject and cited several examples to illustrate his point:

  • A small ice cream chain gives a person a paper bag and asks them to do something creative with it. The author was impressed by this ingenious hiring technique and enthusiastically suggested “a great many [companies] could learn from the ice cream shop.” (Learn what, I wonder.)
  • keep reading…

The Reemergence of Recruiting: 4 Tips on What To Do Now

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jun 25, 2003

While no official is willing to publicly say the economy is on the upswing, I am predicting that we are now on the rebound from our economic doldrums. June will likely mark the turnaround in business, and we are already seeing a slowly, steadily increasing number of positions opening in the organizations we work with and talk to. This recession has been a different one than most. In the past two major recessions, once inventories had decreased and demand picked up the economy began improving, and laid-off workers were either recalled or found new jobs similar to the ones they held prior to the recession. That most likely will not happen this time. The recession we endured was caused by a sea change in the mix of skills needed. We are most certainly no longer a manufacturing nation. Services make up more than 45% of the GDP, and that figure rises every year. Most employment is in the service and knowledge industries. Unemployment for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher is running at about 1.7% compared to 7% or more for those with a high school diploma. We are a nation seeking well-educated service professionals, not semi-skilled manual workers for factories and plants. What does this mean for recruiting? We, too, have seen major changes in a number of areas, including in the skills needed to be a successful recruiter, in the technology at our disposal, in the approaches we take to attracting candidates, and in the relationships we have with candidates. Here are four lessons we all need to learn to be successful in the next era of recruiting. 1. Focus on the essential people. In the past, recruiting functions I have been associated with recruited for a broad portfolio of people. Some focused on hourly or administrative staff, while others sought technical people or managers. Staffs were large. An individual recruiter might have handled only a dozen or so open positions for professionals or technical people and maybe twice that many for hourly people. Staffing functions had administrative staff to schedule interviews and do routine communication with hiring managers and candidates. In many organizations this kind of recruiting function has been eliminated or scaled back because volumes have decreased. I believe that as new positions come in this staff will not be replaced as it was before. Recruiting organizations will have to make tough choices on where to focus their efforts. This will mean having discussions with management to make sure that those people essential for your organization’s success are the ones you focus your recruiting time and effort on. The less essential positions may be outsourced or given to third-party firms to recruit for you, while you spend time hunting down and attracting the personnel who will design new products or services, invent new products, write the software, or market and sell. While this trend was underway before the recession, it will quickly accelerate ó and very few organizations will do all the recruiting. Some will be outsourced, some will be done by contractors, and some will be turned over to the hiring manager directly. Recruiters will focus most of their efforts on essential people. 2. Use the web for everything. As many of us who write for ERE have said over and over again, the centerpiece of a 21st-century recruiting strategy is the recruiting website. It must be much better than the websites we had in 2001 and 2002. It has to be more interactive, provide better marketing to candidates, collect useful information about candidates and give candidates some control over the privacy of their personal information and some feedback on their status. Some websites that I like and that have many of these features are those of Microsoft, Starbucks, Enterprise Car Rental, Chili’s Restaurants, and Federated Department Stores. Also use the web for sourcing candidates, for posting jobs (but with more care than we do it now), and for communicating with candidates on a regular basis. Technology is the only way to get more productivity given a fixed number of people and a finite number of working hours. 3. Create a recruiting brand. Candidates have never heard of you. That is true for 90% of everyone reading this column. Unless you work for a Fortune 500 company or one with a strong local presence, most potential candidates don’t know you’re there or they don’t have any idea what kinds of people you might need. A brand is the collected and cumulative total of everything people know about you, translated into an opinion. Usually the opinion is either good or bad. Not many organizations get a gray or so-so rating. For example, we have decades of advertising, childhood memories, and so on that form our opinions of Coca-Cola or Hershey. Your job as a recruiter is to put your company into people’s awareness zone. It is to make your website and all your advertising paint a picture of what it might be like to work for your organization. The messages have to be focused to attract the essential few we mentioned above. And branding takes time. It is a multi-year process of increasing awareness. If you haven’t started doing something in this area, you’re already late. Once we start seeking people again, how will they know about you? 4. Make recruiting personal. Too much ó almost all, in fact ó of our recruiting activities treat candidates as if they were objects. We do not practice good customer service. We alienate, anger, and confuse candidates every day. We advertise positions and then tell candidates we don’t really have those positions. We don’t respond in a personal way to their resumes. We don’t answer our phones. We don’t respond to their email. Effective recruiters will learn what salespeople learned long ago: good customer relations lead to sales (hires). The better you know candidates and the more complete and varied the information you have them, the better you can find the right job for them. Using email, online screening tools, and even online assessments will increase your candidate knowledge and overcome some of the negatives that increased resume volume has led to. I hope you are ready for the future, because it is here!

Metrics for Dummies

by
David Szary
Jun 24, 2003

Much has been written about metrics of late, and I fully agree that this subject is long overdue. Recruiting is probably the last business operation within the organization to treat itself and run itself like… well, like a business! But I think that with all the hype surrounding recruitment metrics, many folks are starting to lose sight of why they want to track them in the first place. I also happen to think many are making the business of “managing by metrics” more complex than it needs to be. Why Do We Need Metrics? A well-defined suite of performance metrics should help you accomplish the following:

  1. Quantify how well you are performing and how satisfied your customers are
  2. keep reading…

Staffing: The First True Global HR System?

by
Yves Lermusi
Jun 24, 2003

Staffing systems have the potential to become the first in the family of HR systems to become truly global. I define a global system to be one that is based on a database having one single “instance.” This definition does not rule out distributed databases, but is intended to exclude regional standalone systems. Global Staffing Systems Staffing systems have passed the technological and conceptual milestones that make a truly global function within reach. Network infrastructure has progressed, with the widespread availability of broadband and high-speed Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), to the point where the Internet is capable of supporting a global staffing system. Staffing systems themselves have reached key business application milestones, such as role-based security and configurable workflow. The cumulative effect of these developments means that all divisions and locations of a corporation may use a staffing system based on a single database, in a global yet decentralized process. My previous article, A Global Workforce Calls for a Global Database, explains that a centralized database works best in any multi-location situation, no matter what the scale. The global database conveys advantages to a staffing function in candidate sharing, process consistency, coordination of recruiting efforts, and reporting. Localization in HR Systems HR systems must go through a process of localization to both languages as well as applicable laws, rules and regulations. A payroll system, for instance, must be localized to the tremendously complex systems of employment, accounting, and taxation rules that have evolved over decades of business practice. Each jurisdiction has its own unique system of rules and regulations, often with opposite implications for localization. The complex systems of rules and regulations across different jurisdictions may make it impractical to have one global HRIS that localizes to each jurisdiction. There are no savings to be had in trying to localize a single global HRIS or payroll system across multiple jurisdictions; in fact, greater costs due to the complexity of the job are the likely consequence. By comparison, there are fewer barriers to merging regional staffing systems into a global platform. Data Privacy Do localized data privacy laws pose an equal barrier to creating a global staffing system? In fact, data privacy principles around the world are increasingly becoming harmonized. Though there may be differences between jurisdictions, they largely uphold the same legal principles. Informed consent, right of access, accountability, and limits on data transfer are some of the fundamental principles common to legislation in jurisdictions around the world. Some jurisdictions go further than others in the rights and protections given to individuals concerning their personal information. The trend to international harmonization of data privacy legislation was set by the European Union, which demands that all countries trading with the EU pass data privacy legislation that is substantially similar to its own. It is a good corporate practice to meet and even exceed data protection requirements. A company can generally satisfy the requirements of all jurisdictions that it does business in by adhering to the standards of the jurisdiction with the strictest requirements. Payroll, taxation, and accounting rules and regulations are not as neatly aligned across all jurisdictions, so companies have to go through the detailed task of localizing to each one individually. The Future of Global Staffing Systems Once a company uses a staffing system based on a single database platform, it can then migrate all hire types onto the one platform, to optimize the performance of the entire staffing function. For instance, merging all hire types into a single platform will provide decision makers with better analytics for workforce planning. Increasingly, companies will leverage the configurability of staffing management solutions that are based on a robust centralized database to gain advantage in their staffing process.

How To Recruit Innovative, Outside-the-Box People

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 23, 2003

Managers and recruiters often complain that they only see bland candidates. They say they’re desperate to hire innovative people, but that they just can’t seem to find them. I don’t dispute the fact that most firms can’t find them, but there is certainly no shortage of innovative people. The problem occurs with the process many companies use to recruit. In many cases, this process limits the ability to hire those candidates capable of thinking outside the box. If you rethink the hiring process and add elements that identify and encourage innovators, I guarantee you’ll start hiring more of them. Firms end up hiring bland people mostly because their hiring process fails in one of these important areas:

  1. The hiring process is so structured that it literally “punishes” individuals who attempt to be creative and act differently during the process.
  2. keep reading…

How You Present Candidates Matters

by
Lou Adler
Jun 20, 2003

As many of you know, I advocate a Six Sigma process methodology for hiring. This requires formal processes, procedures, and metrics at each step in the hiring process. In my opinion, sendouts per hire is the most important metric of them all. When this is three or less, it indicates that the hiring process is in control. More than three indicates inefficiency or problems somewhere in the process. It also represents a great opportunity to save time, money, and scarce resources. Another basic theme I stress at our recruiter boot camp is that recruiters must be intimately involved in all phases of the hiring process, from helping to define the requisition to finalizing the offer. This is the only way to ensure that good candidates are not inadvertently excluded and that searches aren’t being done over again. The sendouts-per-hire ratio is an all inclusive measure of this. When sendouts per hire are greater than three, it means sourcing isn’t up to snuff, job needs aren’t clearly understood, or that someone on the interviewing team is not very good at assessing candidate competency and motivation. Controlling all of these steps is required to minimize the number of sendouts. Improving the quality of your candidate presentation is one of three primary ways for a recruiter to gain more control of the final hiring decision (the other two are helping to prepare the job description and leading the debriefing sessions after the candidate has been interviewed). In this article, we’ll focus on how to use your candidate presentation to reduce the number of sendouts required for each assignment. Here are the four things you need to do to make sure every candidate you recommend is more seriously considered. When you make these steps part of your sendout regimen, your productivity and reputation will soar.

  1. Submit only professional resumes. Take responsibility to make sure the resume you submit is professional?? with no errors, inconsistencies, or gaps. This candidate reflects your judgment, so cover all of the key issues with your client beforehand and highlight these. Instruct the candidate to redo the resume to incorporate any of the changes you suggest. The resume is an important document. It’s important that recruiters ensure this is as good as possible. If you’re just moving paper about, you’re really just administrating a recruiting process?? not impacting one. As you all know, managers will discard resumes that are unprofessional. It’s the recruiter’s obligation to make sure they’re not.
  2. keep reading…

One-Test Wonders: “Single Assessment” Solutions

by
Charles Handler & Steve Hunt
Jun 19, 2003

Over the past few years, we’ve spent a lot of time assisting many different types of organizations select and deploy a variety of staffing assessment solutions. This has given us a chance to get an in-depth look at the products and services offered by most of the major players in the staffing assessment marketplace. Once you get past the glossy marketing materials, the “staffing solutions” offered by many assessment vendors basically come down to a single assessment tool or test. These tests are usually designed to measure a range of personality characteristics, motives, values, and abilities associated with different aspects of job performance. We refer to these broad, multi-use tests as “single assessment” (SA) solutions. SA vendors usually claim that their one basic assessment tool can predict performance for a very broad range of jobs. They may also offer several kinds of reports for interpreting data collected by their tool to support things such as applicant pre-screening, candidate interviews, and employee development. These reports are often marketed in a way that might lead you to believe that the vendor is offering access to several different assessment solutions. But when you dig deeper, you find that all of the reports are based on data from the same basic tool. Like most staffing assessment solutions, SA solutions are neither uniformly good nor bad. It depends on the unique staffing needs of your organization, as well as the particular nature different SA tools. On the other hand, because they rely on a common one-size-fits-all methodology, SA solutions tend to share some common features. The following is a brief summary of issues to consider when investigating the use of SA solutions. Most of the issues reflect both a strength and weakness of the SA approach:

  • Off the shelf. By definition, SAs are an “off-the-shelf” solution. The vendor is selling a tool that has been designed to be used with little or no customization for a wide range of jobs. The advantages is that SAs can usually be deployed quickly, and with relatively low costs compared to more customized solutions. The disadvantage is they are likely to be less efficient and effective than solutions that are configured for a specific job and organization. Much of the assessment content in an SA may focus on candidate characteristics that are less relevant for the particular position you are staffing, thus reducing efficiency.
  • keep reading…

How Great Recruiters Get Great Recruiter Equity

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jun 18, 2003

Tom S. is an outstanding recruiter. More than 80% of all the candidates he sends to managers get offers. Although he has been at his company for five years, the first two years he was in operations as a quality engineer. Seeking a career change, he moved into recruiting when one of his peers in operations suggested he had a natural ability to pick good people to work on the line. Tom had frequently been the one who interviewed candidates and made hiring recommendations that were usually respected. His company has a good internal promotion process, and he was able to make a move into recruiting as a sourcer back in the heyday of Internet recruiting. His engineering background, familiarity with computers and the Internet, and his motivation led the hiring manager at that time to make him an offer. He went to several classes in Internet sourcing and he took a class in behavioral interviewing. Right off he was finding decent candidates who responded to him and who, with a little coaching, made great impressions during their interviews. Many of the other recruiters were a bit envious of his skill and suspicious of how he could be so good with so little experience. He was even making placements in areas outside of his own engineering expertise. Managers were comfortable and trusting of the people he sent their way. Why do some recruiters ó those like Tom ó seem to find it easy to make placements and get hiring managers to accept the candidates they send? How do they do it? What special skills or qualities characterize the recruiter who can present two to three candidates that impress the hiring manager so much that they make an offer to one of them? There are four traits that Tom exhibits that are critical to have if you want to be like Tom. Together, they add up to trust and to the creation of a type of equity or personal capital that is valuable and effective. When you don’t have it, you can be unsuccessful even when you have the same candidates and present them to the same manager as someone like Tom. It is very similar to the kind of prestige and equity that CPAs, doctors, lawyers, or some other professionals have. It is built through education, certification, age, experience, and relationship. And it is the most powerful kind of equity there it. In Tom’s case he, first of all, understood the business his firm was in and had real knowledge of what the hiring managers wanted and needed ó even if they couldn’t articulate or define it very well. Because he had “been there” and had the responsibility to work with many new engineers, he had a good mental map of the skills, competencies, and experience levels that would be appropriate for most of the positions in operations. Secondly, he had developed relationships with the hiring managers in the operations area. They trusted him because he was “one of them” and had been part of their team, involved with their decisions, and motivated by the same goals. He was an insider, and that gave him a powerful ability to be trusted and have the candidates he presented trusted as well. While most of us cannot be technical experts in the areas we recruit for, we can spend the time to become well-acquainted with the hiring managers. We can sit in on their staff meetings and we can be with them when they grapple with tough decisions. Sure, we may have to invite ourselves on occasion, but after a while we will be part of their team. Tom extended his equity in operations to other parts of the company because of his reputation and the word-of-mouth communications that take place in every community and organization. He was “branded” as a good guy, someone who understood the needs of hard working managers and was someone who could be trusted. This is the highest form of personal equity you can acquire, but it takes work and time to develop. Thirdly, he had learned how to source the right candidates. He didn’t spend time screening candidates who were long shots or poor fits. He used his knowledge about where the kinds of people he was after tended to be found and went there to find them. He knew, for example, that the engineering hiring managers liked people with an automotive background or at least with an interest in cars. That became a key screening criterion, not the only one for sure, but an important one. He asked candidates about cars and assessed their interest and skills in working on cars. There were numerous other traits and characteristics that tended to be influential in getting hiring managers interested in a candidate and he leveraged that knowledge. He relied heavily on his network of engineers in other companies to recommend people, and he used the Internet. With his knowledge and sourcing skills, he was almost always able to present candidates within a day or so of getting an opening. Again, developing and fine-tuning sourcing skills is one of top few skills you will need to be successful. A good sourcer is a great networker, someone who spends enough time with hiring managers to really know what they need and want in a successful employee. Finally, Tom was able to speak to candidates in their language. He had great credibility with them because he was an engineer too. I have known many excellent recruiters who were just as successful as Tom but who did not have an engineering background (or whatever background would have been useful in their recruiting). What they did was to take the time to develop a deep understanding of the environment they were working in. They knew what pressures and goals managers faced and they found candidates who could help the managers overcome the pressures or achieve the goals. They could make those pressures look like exciting challenges to a candidate, and they could infuse enthusiasm in the hiring managers. Tom had acquired a high amount of what I call personal equity ó a worth that is above and beyond what might be expected of someone with such a limited amount of actual working experience as a recruiter. Some of us gather this equity by simply working in the same environment for a while; others can get it by building relationships; and some through education. But for most of us it is a combination of all of these. It takes hard work to build up your equity. It is not something won in a day or a month or often even in a year. It takes determination, study, knowledge, and practice. But the payback is huge. Those recruiters who have strong reputations within their company are always sought after and are successful. They make hires with seeming ease, and they do what all masters of anything do: they make the complex look simple.

Is Your Recruiting Process Like the Typewriter?

by
Scott Weston
Jun 17, 2003

Over the past decade, the process of recruiting has gone through a dramatic evolution through the use of database technology and the Internet. Though most organizations have by now adopted new technology to replace labor-intensive methods, many have still fallen short at truly innovating how they operate. Like many things in business and life, we often continue to do things out of habit, or by simply failing to ask the question, why? To illustrate this point, here’s an interesting piece of history for you. Look Down at Your Keyboard The standard computer keyboard uses the same layout from the original typewriter design that has been around for about 130 years. Some of you probably were taught this famous QWERTY design in high school typing class (or “keyboarding” class, as a 16-year-old recently corrected me). If this was how you were taught, you would assume that the keyboard layout was designed for maximum efficiency. This design probably came from extensive engineering, testing, and refinement, right? Actually, no. Historical accounts tell us that the current design was not the result of it being the most efficient layout. Some say it was an intentional scrambling of the keyboard to slow down the typist, because the mechanical parts could not keep up and would jam otherwise. Other accounts put the design as a clever marketing ploy by Remington so that their salesmen could quickly punch out the letters “type write” in demonstrations (which all appear in the top row of the QWERTY design). The point is that the keyboard design we still use today is not necessarily the most efficient, yet it has survived through generations of technical evolutions, including electronic typewriters and modern computer keyboards. The Resume Is Our Typewriter Keyboard The resume has been the standard form of presenting work history for decades and has stayed virtually unchanged. This is our typewriter keyboard in recruiting. At one time, it was a nice method of handling information. But that was before the level of database technology we currently utilize improved exponentially. Now it represents an outdated tool. Despite this, many companies are still trying to wrap their recruiting processes around it. So what is the alternative? Stop accepting resumes? Actually, many companies have stopped accepting paper resumes and are now requiring everyone to apply online. The scanning, the coding, and the paper handling were just too much of a hassle. Some candidates may be lost, but moving applicants completely online just makes sense. The resume is symbolic of how we have evolved yet stayed the same. At some point, you must question things like the resume and ask how much sense they still make. What else in your recruiting process are you dragging forward like the resume or the QWERTY keyboard? Change and Innovation No matter how attractive innovation can be, many people still opt for what is standard. After all, it’s comfortable. How many of you cringe at the thought of learning a new applicant tracking system, much less a new keyboard? Wouldn’t you rather churn through stacks of resumes rather than figure out a new system? Let’s face it, most people don’t want to change the way they work. We are creatures of habit. Back in our typewriter example, though, the U.S. Navy did studies in the 1940s and found better layouts that could be learned quicker and increased typing speeds 20% to 30%. Sadly, this information was never implemented. The cost to retrain the existing staff and change equipment seemed too daunting. And generations later, with all new workers and all new equipment, millions of people are still typing slower than they could. Regardless of how your organization feels about change, now may be a good time to take a long, hard look at your recruiting process as a whole and think about ways to improve it in order to remain competitive while optimizing your resources. As you look at your recruiting process, there are three things you need to initially do:

  • Map out your entire recruiting process. This may seem like an arduous process, but sitting down with the team and getting a clear picture of your recruiting process from end to end may help make some possible improvements more obvious. Management and frontline employees need to be included, and you need to compare the model to how things are actually done.
  • keep reading…

Are You One of Us, Or One of Them?

by
Ken Gaffey
Jun 17, 2003

In that difficult period in your youth, where you’re old enough to move about but not yet old enough to be trusted to stay at home alone, you probably found yourself spending a lot of time in the car shopping with, at least in the 1950s and 1960s, your mother. If your parent was also a mentor, this could have also been time well spent in your personal development. In fact, it was in the car where I first learned about “them,” and how they were nothing like “us.” The concept was first explained to me when I noticed that no matter how many parking spots were available in front of the store, my mother always chose a space in the back two-thirds of the parking lot. The reason? It was explained to me people that like “us” always leave the spaces nearest the store for the handicapped, elderly, or people with infants. If you were young and had your health, it was the right thing to do. Of course, not all people followed this common practice. Those were, of course, “them.” But that wasn’t an excuse for “us” to behave any differently. Right is right, even when right is in the minority. The failing of the majority is not justification for “us” to behave like “them.” At the end of grocery shopping my job was to return the shopping cart to the rack, whether it was the hottest day of the summer, the rainiest day in spring, or the coldest day of winter. We didn’t push the cart into the empty space next to our car or shoved it in between the adjacent park cars. You see, “we” did not allow a minor personal inconvenience to ourselves justify passing the inconvenience onto others. A willingness to act appropriately that is limited only to those instances where no personal inconvenience is involved is in fact a form of hypocrisy. If you know the difference between right and wrong but you turn it on and off based on personal convenience, you are in fact one of “them” pretending to be one of “us.” You probably have convinced yourself, but you haven’t fooled “us” for a minute. Some seek truth and the meaning of life after trekking for weeks in the wilderness of the Himalayas from the Dalai Lama. Me? I learned it in a ’56 Chevy, in the parking lot of a Stop and Shop, picking up milk, eggs, a couple of chops, and some coffee for the old man. Fundamental truth #1: There are only two groups of people in this world: the selfish and the selfless. Does this have anything to do with HR/staffing? In a cynical, “dog eat dog,” “kill the competition,” “good guys finish last,” “pull up the gang plank, I’m on board” business world where we equate devious and heartless with clever and determined, should you even bother to seek out the people of this world who push their carts back to the rack? Or give consideration to those who show respect for the elderly, infirm, and burdened rather than leaning on the horn and swearing? Why do we so often find in our business culture the belief that those who are caring cannot also be ambitions, or that the greedy are the true leaders? Consider the following traits of the selfish, and consider the opposite condition that exists for the selfless:

  • The selfish never join a team. They may use a team, steal from a team, take credit from a team, abandon a team, deceive a team, or mark time with a team. But they never join. If your goal is to build winning teams, it is not theirs.
  • keep reading…

Hiring To Hurt: How It’s Done (Part 2)

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 16, 2003

As we saw in Part 1 of this two-part article series, many HR professionals in general ó and recruiters in particular ó act as though they are isolated from the competitive battlefield of business. All too often they act like socialists instead of capitalists. But fierce competitors hire away a competitor’s talent:

  1. Because it’s a great source of trained, experienced talent
  2. keep reading…

Using Metrics to Create a Six Sigma Hiring Process

by
Lou Adler
Jun 13, 2003

If everybody does what everybody else does, it’s a safe bet to predict that everybody will get average results. The key to success is to do something before everybody else does it ó or do it faster, or do it better. In other words, don’t follow the leader, be the leader. This is especially true as you begin to implement effective metrics programs. First, don’t get caught in a common trap: most recruiting department rely too heavily on historical metrics to manage their departments. This only works if you’re an employer of choice seeing plenty of top candidates or the economy isn’t changing much. While historical or reporting metrics are better than no metrics at all, they are not as meaningful as they need to be. They get published too late after the event occurs to have much value. Using reporting metrics to control current processes is like using the freeway exit signs to plan your next road trip. When you’re reacting to events, you’re working way too hard to be average. Many accounting departments are branded as too reactive with not enough forward thinking. Using reporting metrics to run a recruiting department will guarantee a similar reputation. In my opinion, the objective of metrics is to provide insight into what’s going on today, and to anticipate what will happen tomorrow. This allows you to correct current problems immediately (when they occur), and prevent potential problems from ever occurring. There are two classes of metrics aside from reporting metrics that allow you to do this effectively: process-control metrics and forward-looking metrics. Using them successfully can be the key to converting your hiring process into a strategic asset, not just a cost of doing business. Here’s a quick summary of all three classes of metrics and some tips on how to use metrics to create a Six Sigma hiring process. Reporting Metrics These tell you what happened after something happened. Some examples include cost per hire, time to hire, candidate by sourcing channel, and candidate response rates by sourcing channel. I’m not too fond of reporting metrics. Since they only tell you how you did, they have little diagnostic value. It takes too long to make changes to see the impact, since the feedback loop is too long. By the time you’ve corrected the problem, something else comes up that you should be working on. For example, you might discover that a certain job board is losing or gaining steam. By the time you discover this, it’s too late to do anything about it. If you tend to react to problems rather than anticipating them, you might be relying too heavily on reporting metrics. A slow economy can mask this problem, since things aren’t changing much. Once the economy shifts gears, you’ll need other metrics to guide you along. (Remember the other old car adage: you don’t need a speedometer in a parking lot, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want one.) Process-Control Metrics These tell you what’s happening now. The value of process control metrics is that they allow you to gain insight into a core activity of the hiring process, to determine if it’s running smoothly, and if it isn’t, to make real-time changes. Some of these activities include candidate response rates to ads (these tell you the impact of your current recruitment programs), daily and weekly sendouts by recruiter (hiring managers agreeing to interview a candidate) to track recruiter productivity, open/close requisition ratio (new requisitions divided by hires) to give you a clue to workload, and my personal favorite, the sendouts-per-hire ratio followed on a weekly trend. (Sendouts per hire is an all-encompassing measure of the recruiting process. If it’s above three something’s amiss. See my article The Best Metric of Them All.) Trends of all of these are important, so convert all of your tables to charts and graphs. Trend lines tell you what’s happening and if your process improvement programs are working. If they are, you can rest assured that when your next reporting metrics report comes out, cost per hire, time to fill, and candidate quality will all show positive results. Forward-Looking Metrics These tell you what’s likely to happen in the future. Forward-looking metrics allow you to anticipate potential problems before they become problems. With this information, you’re able to implement changes to prevent or minimize the impact. This is what all good managers do, but somehow recruiting managers as a class seem to spend an excessive amount of time reacting to situations rather than planning for them. If you feel you’re susceptible to this charge, you might want to consider implementing some type of forward-looking metrics programs. Workforce planning is the most obvious. While this is not a metric, it’s the key to planning the recruiting department’s staffing needs and sourcing channel strategies. Without a workforce plan, you’re already starting out in a reactive mode. (Every good budgeting system includes staffing needs by department, so this has to be available.) If you do have an annual workforce plan, you can ask your hiring managers to provide monthly updates. This will tell you if your hiring needs are going up or down. If you don’t have a workforce plan, then make sure you track the changes in open requisitions on a monthly basis. Go to weekly once you see this rising. Make sure the data is real time. If you have to wait for this information, you’ve simply converted an important forward-looking tool into just another reporting metric. Also track the number of employees voluntarily leaving. When this increases, it’s indicative of a strengthening economy. In this case, you will not only you have to replace those leaving, but you’ll also have more difficulty finding new employees. To get another sense of this, track ad response rates for any changes. Fewer candidates responding to ads is a clue to a strengthening economy. You also might want to start asking candidates how many different companies they’re interviewing with, and when possible, how long it took to get an offer extended. Keep track of this data: it offers great clues to a tightening labor market. If hiring managers aren’t seeing enough strong candidates from the recruiting department in a timely manner, they will go outside. Track the number of contracts let out to search firms and agencies. Bet that cost per hire will be rising. Also, track the increase or decrease in contractors being used or any outsourcing programs being discussed. While there are other forward-looking metrics you can consider, these will give you a sense of what’s about to happen. Metrics and Technology I had an opportunity to manage a 250-person manufacturing operation at an early age. As a team we were responsible for managing production schedules, handling purchasing, managing inventory levels, balancing labor, controlling overhead costs, and controlling quality and scrap rates. Daily metrics were the key to survival. In those days, you wanted to know about any problems within minutes of their occurring. Unfortunately, due to weak systems and our own ineptitude, we usually found out within hours or days. We wound up with a lot of scrap. Nowadays, systems are far superior. Take advantage of them. Strong systems have been the key to making Six Sigma process quality possible. The recruiting department needs to take more advantage of systems technology. An ATS offers more capabilities than just managing data. Great process control information is now available instantaneously. When this is coupled with forward-looking metrics, a Six Sigma approach is possible. Six Sigma quality is less than 1 error in 100,000. While Six Sigma is not realistic for hiring, important lessons can be learned by using Six Sigma principles to improve all phases of the recruiting process. The first is the recognition that metrics are important. The second is that the most important metrics are those that allow you to control the process when the event occurs or before it does. Reporting or historical metrics only tell you how much scrap you have, not how to eliminate it. This is actually acceptable if events aren’t changing too much. Once the economy changes direction, up or down, reporting metrics become useless, since it’s too late to do anything about it. Now is the time to consider using more real time and forward-looking metrics. The economy is about to change direction. Good metrics will tell you exactly when.

A Letter to Hiring Managers: How To Make Sure You Always Hire the Best

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jun 11, 2003

Dear Hiring Manager: You probably only hire a handful of people each year, and the recruiter assigned to your team has always done a reasonable job at getting decent people. Sure you have to ask for resumes two or three times in order to get enough to make sure you are hiring the best, but it seems to have worked out pretty well over the years. But now let me ask you a few questions. How do you define “decent” people or “the best”? Do you have some specific criteria that you use? How do you know you’re getting anywhere near the best resumes out there? Do you have any benchmarks or standards to compare against? How much time do you spend in the upfront process of figuring out the job requirements and laying out the things the person you want to hire will have to do to make you happy? In my many years as a recruiter and as a consultant, I have found that this is the area most frequently overlooked or skimped on in the hiring process. Most of the hiring managers I work with are willing to spend time in interviewing, often demanding that candidates go through numerous interviews. But they are less willing to give up time to talk to the recruiter about the position before any recruiting happens at all. My guess is you’re running on your gut ó telling yourself that you know the “best” when you see it. After all, you’ve been in your field for a while and can generally spot a loser. If you are lucky, you’ve had a recruiter at some time in the past who could always seem to get you the perfect candidate, but you’ve never asked yourself why they could do that or how. We all unconsciously look for certain traits in people, and we are usually very adept at determining whether or not a candidate has those traits. What is unfortunate is that we almost never can articulate them. Even though we may believe that we are choosing candidates solely on the basis of experience and demonstrated skills, there is always our unconscious influencing the decision. That recruiter who always seemed to find the perfect candidate was able to figure out what those unconscious traits were and use her interviewing and screening skills to bring you those kinds of candidates who also had the necessary technical skills and experience. You can help your recruiting staff in a number of ways. By taking a few minutes to heed the following suggestions, you will find the recruiting process faster and more satisfying ó because you will be getting candidates that meet all of your requirements.

  1. Learn about the recruiting marketplace. Whenever managers are asked what key to their success is, they say “their people.” But if you were asked, would you know what the demand is like for the kinds of people you are seeking? Do you understand why salary demands are what they are? Do you have a grasp on how many people of a particular type might be available in your area? These are questions to discuss with your recruiter and to get information on in order to appreciate the issues both you and your recruiter face. While it may seem easy to find people given this slow economy, the reality is that there are still shortages of many kinds of people and that this slow time does not necessarily mean easy recruiting.
  2. keep reading…

Do You Pass the Test?

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Jun 10, 2003

It’s a funny thing, but everyone and their brother seems to think that developing a test is easy. Just put a few people in a room, brainstorm questions, do a quick review, and away you go! Wrong. If that’s the kind of test your organization uses, 1) pick it up using tongs, 2) walk to the nearest waste can, 3) drop it in, and 4) never look back. Sound a little drastic? Not if you want to be considered a “professional.” Guidelines for developing a good test are outlined in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (www.apa.org/science/standards.html). They aren’t hard to follow, but that does not keep people from completely ignoring them. Here is a basic list of some important facts you need to know about testing:

  1. Be sure the test is grounded in a “legitimate theory of job performance.” That means that high scores equal high performance, and low scores equal low performance. It is unacceptable to use a test just because you like it, or because it “described your personality.” Bogus! Hiring tests are supposed to predict job performance, not social style.
  2. keep reading…

Hire To Hurt: A High-Impact Recruiting Strategy

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 9, 2003

The world of business is highly competitive. Firms frequently introduce new products or run attack ads with the specific intention to hurt their direct competitors. It’s not unusual for managers to undertake deliberate actions to steal customers, force competitors to lower their prices, or even to capture prime retail locations. Some firms do it subtly, while others make no bones about the fact that they take actions to hurt competitors. Hurting the competitor isn’t illegal, unethical or even immoral; it’s just the way it is in a capitalist economy. In contrast, many HR professionals in general ó and recruiters in particular ó act as though they are isolated from this competitive battle. They certainly don’t act like fierce competitors ó all too often they act like socialists instead of capitalists. Fierce competitors, on the other hand, hire away a competitor’s talent:

  • Because it’s a great source of trained, experienced talent
  • keep reading…

A Perfect Week, The Perfect Day: Time Management for Recruiters

by
David Szary
Jun 6, 2003

One of the best things about being a recruiter is that you can pretty much predict the events and activities that will occur during the day. It’s also easy to identify the things you need to get done, prioritize them accordingly, and then plow through the day and accomplish it all. Yeah, right…in our dreams! Actually, one of the biggest challenges recruiters face is trying to manage their schedules and accomplish the “tasks at hand” in a work environment of constant change, interruptions, fire fighting, etc. If you’re a recruiter, your time management, planning, multi-tasking and organizational skills are tested to the max each and every day. It’s often enough to drive a normal person crazy! A Perfect Week, The Perfect Day In a past article of mine, Steering Clear of Recruiter’s Rut, I discussed tactics you could use to inject life into the day-to-day grind of recruiting to become more productive, efficient and have more fun. In order to beat recruiter’s rut, right after that article was written (and to practice what we preach), our office adopted “A Perfect Week, The Perfect Day” routine. This routine has personally helped me (and our entire team):

  • Dramatically improve my time management, planning, and organizational skills
  • keep reading…

Using the One-Question Behavioral Interview

by
Lou Adler
Jun 6, 2003

A while back, I introduced the best one-question behavioral interview of all time (although I’m often accused of using hyperbole, this wasn’t one of those times). This is an update of the original article. As you’ll soon discover (or recall), the question is great. Used properly, it will accurately predict any candidate’s ability to achieve the desired results, motivation to do the work, and ability to handle conflict and deal with people, as well as their technical ability, potential, true personality, and much more. It’s the “used properly” part, however, where some interviewers fall down. Here’s the single best one-question behavioral interview question of all time. The instructions on how to use it properly follow: Please think about your most significant accomplishment. Now, could you tell me all about it? We’ll try the question out in a moment, but here are the basic requirements needed to make this the only behavioral interview question you ever need to ask.

  1. Before the interview, every interviewer must know and agree to exactly what it takes to be successful on the job.
  2. keep reading…

Fixing the American Economy: A Recruiter’s Revolutionary Proposal

by
Howard Adamsky
Jun 5, 2003

Something is terribly wrong. I can’t put my finger on its exact nature, but I know that America’s capacity for creating jobs and generating wealth is not functioning in most sectors. Several years ago we fell into a collective malaise, a societal depression from which we have yet to recover. The excitement of the new and the different is a thing of the past. Say what you will about the turbulent days of last decade ó the days of exponential corporate growth, internet hoopla, overvalued stock, inflated salaries, and endless opportunities real or imagined ó I never had so much fun in my life. Each day was an adventure, with recruiters and HR professionals running a hundred miles an hour just to keep up. Economists say that a turnaround is six months out. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. That prediction is utter nonsense, because a society that does not produce new jobs will always have a recessionary feeling for those who are no longer working. I have heard the “six months out” scenario ever since the bubble burst, sending developers to make coffee at Starbucks, marketing people to Home Depot, and recruiters/HR professionals to substitute teaching. Let’s depart from this rant and look at some tidbits of reality. Companies continue to lay off employees. According to economist Robert Hall, “Companies are continuing to shed jobs at a furious pace ó 525,000 non-farm payroll positions in the past three months alone. Since March 2001, when the recession began, the U.S. economy has lost 2.1 million jobs” (Wall Street Journal, 5/29/03). Consultants are starving. Search firms have been eviscerated. Professional service organization billings have plummeted, and few companies are investing in new technology. We are only inches from losing another major airline, with the most experienced veteran pilots leaving because their earning power has been so greatly reduced. Even biotech ó an industry that traditionally copes well with recessions due to the deep-rooted commitment of its investors to long-term thinking ó has been affected. Some people I know to be the best and the brightest throughout many industries have been unemployed for more than a year, some for more than two. Many of those who once had careers and positions with some degree of meaning are unemployed, underemployed, or lost souls trying to figure out what to do next as nothing they attempt seems to generate any traction. The range of emotions I pick up on extends from depression and isolation to anger and hopelessness. It seems that many people’s biggest nightmare appears to be coming true: there are bills to pay and no income with which to pay them. Those left behind and still working are terrified of becoming the next causalities. They are afraid to stay and they are afraid to go because mortgages have to be paid and the kids need shoes. A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal said, “A life without work does not work.” The calls I get for advice and help are endless and they only add credence to that quotation. The reasons for our economy’s collective misery are not clear (it is my opinion that we have, for reasons unknown, psychologically unplugged and are now just waiting for things to get better). However, I can tell you, despite popular opinion, what occurrences are not causing this unrelenting recession:

  • 9/11 is not the problem. It is seared into our memories, but as a people, Americans tend to move on. There is no other intelligent option at hand.
  • keep reading…