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October  2003 RSS feed Archive for October, 2003

How To Use the Interview To Increase Your Influence With Hiring Managers

by
Lou Adler
Oct 31, 2003

One of the common concerns I hear from recruiters is that they want more influence with their hiring manager clients. Many feel left out or underutilized during much of the hiring process. Their complaints are often about managers who do not give them enough time to understand the job, who won’t see their candidate, who make scheduling interviews difficult, who want to see all of the resumes or meet too many candidates, and ó the most common ó managers who dismiss good candidates for dumb reasons. These are all valid concerns. Since I spend as much time with hiring managers as I do with recruiters, it’s interesting to get their perspective. Their biggest complaints are that their corporate and outside recruiters don’t ask substantive questions about the job, present too many unqualified candidates, and make superficial assessments. As a result, managers often go out of their way to minimize the time spent with recruiter. They’ll do much of the evaluation themselves, and they’ll quickly dismiss a recruiter’s hard work without any idea of how difficult it is to find good candidates. From a recruiter’s perspective, there’s a simple solution: ask better questions about the job, be a better interviewer, and present better candidates. Here’s my simple three-step plan to increase your influence with your hiring manager clients:

  1. Know the job almost as well as they do, by asking questions about what the candidate needs to do rather than what the candidate needs to have.
  2. keep reading…

What Do Junk Mail and Recruiting Have in Common?

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Oct 30, 2003

We all occasionally see something stupid, poke our friends and say, “Check-out that dipstick. How dumb can you get?” Some movies even make “dumb” part of the plot. For example, here are a few sneak peeks at some movie plots awaiting release:

  • People make bad hiring mistakes, but never take the time to discover why they chose the wrong person in the first place (co-starring Ben and J-Lo).
  • keep reading…

Show Me The Money! Demonstrating the ROI of Recruiting Efforts

by
Scott Weston
Oct 30, 2003

A colleague of mine recently pointed out that his organization’s executive management does not count savings in time created through process improvement unless it can be shown as a reduction in headcount. That is to say, saving a recruiter an hour a day through some kind of process improvement is not assumed to mean that the recruiter is putting that time savings into other value-added activities and doing a better job recruiting. Unless it’s quite obvious that labor costs are going down or recruiter efficiency ratios are going up, the savings is hypothetical in the eyes of senior management ó that is, the savings doesn’t exist. This is the hard-line business approach that most C-level executives take in viewing the return on investment (ROI) of their recruiting department’s operations. ROI impacts their profit and loss statements, and, though the qualitative aspects of recruiting are something that smart executives are mindful of, your efforts are often considered administrative rather than strategic. If recruiting is to become a strategic player (otherwise known as “having a chair at the big table”), it is necessary to make the case with both hard- and soft-dollar savings and a clear demonstration of ever-increasing ROI. Hard Dollars In defining what hard dollars are, the element of being tangible is the key. Savings have to be measurable and quantifiable. What some consider to be hard-dollar savings depends on whom you talk to. As stated earlier, some organizations do not consider time unless it is further converted into tangible labor costs. Clearly, dollar savings that directly reflect in recruiting budgets are considered hard-dollar savings. For example, money that was budgeted for relocation that was not used through improved measures is considered a hard-dollar savings. Soft Dollars When service levels are improved or when additional expenses are not accrued (not having to pay overtime, for example), these are considered soft costs. These are the intangible elements that comprise a great deal of most process-improvement efforts: improved customer service, reduced stress from work, fewer mistakes that have to be corrected, and all of the other benefits that cascade outward into every area of an organization. While the qualitative aspect of recruiting is very important, the challenge for recruiters is to try to translate soft-dollar savings into hard-dollar savings. For example, speeding up the time to hire of a salesperson can be translated into revenue from the quota that salesperson will generate. Those are hard dollars and what your CEO will take note of and see the value in. The Past, Present, and Future Just like the three ghosts of Past, Present, and Future in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, think about where you have been, where you are at, and where you are going. To demonstrate your case to senior management, you may need to walk them through how things have been done in the past and how you do them now. While none of us want to point out how much time and money we have wasted in the past, looking at it to build a case for change can be very evocative. Once you have shown what has happened in the past and brought things to the present, you can use this to build a case for change. Like the Ghost of Christmas Future, project what your recruiting department will look like if you don’t make certain changes now. What will the costs be in one year? Two years? Five years? This is the case that must be made to justify improvements and investment in things like improved technology. For example, how much time will be saved through a better applicant tracking system? Do you know? Can you estimate this? Can you articulate the savings? Can you show how much time was wasted using the existing methods and how that will be improved? While predicting savings in the future is guesswork to a certain degree, your predictions can be taken more seriously the better you support them with historical and current data. In addition, being fluid about time savings in the future can demonstrate your understanding of the unknown elements that can impact projected efficiency. With that in mind, future savings can be given as a range, with a conservative to optimistic scope. Conclusion Much has been said about the dangers of assumptions. Assuming that senior management clearly understands the value of the work you do is a dangerous endeavor. It is the job of your department to really sell the value that you are bringing to the organization and to demonstrate the ROI that you are creating. To demonstrate the ROI of your efforts, it is necessary to effectively collect your data, analyze it, and then prove your case. This should include involving your CFO or controller to have them help you define the scorecard they will use to judge your efforts. They can tell you what they will view as hard and soft costs and give you baselines of improvements that they will take note of or even be impressed by. Whether you are proving the quality of your current work or making a pitch for investment in the future, it is important to build a solid case with clear data that speaks to the hard-dollar needs of senior management.

The Five Most Important Recruiting Steps

by
Kevin Wheeler
Oct 29, 2003

A complete staffing process is complex and contains multiple steps with numerous variables. Each week my colleagues and I write about some of these steps and sub-steps, almost always offering illuminating suggestions and new ideas to improve the way you do what you do. But I think that somewhere in the articles and words we sometimes overcomplicate the process, and perhaps even obscure the key steps that make up 80-90% of what a successful staffing department does. Really great recruiting functions are constantly honing, improving, refining, and adjusting how each step is carried out. They get constant feedback from metrics that are gathered and then used for improvement. Greatness is usually the result of a dash of creativeness and a ton of evolutionary process improvement toward stretch goals. I have listed here what I think are the five key steps to a powerful recruiting process. 1. Have a talent philosophy and strategy. Know what your organization is all about and why it is seeking the people it seeks. Every organization should have a philosophy about its talent that is understood by all employees, that is explained to all candidates, and that guides the selection process. This is sort of like the mission statement of recruiting and employee selection. It defines who you want to hire, in general, and what basic attitudes and skills they should have. It sets the tone of employment and gives a candidate a sense of what working for your organization will be like. 2. Define needs clearly and set priorities. Working with managers and HR generalists, recruiters need to decide how many people your organization will need in a particular area in a certain period of time. Having a clear sense of internal need ó matched to an assessment of how many people are available and how difficult it will be to hire them ó is becoming an essential skill for recruiting organizations. Following the numbers has to come a method for prioritizing which positions are most critical and then assigning the most competent recruiters to the most critical positions. Whatever time is spent in planning and getting market data will help you focus your efforts and help you avoid wasting time trying to find people that are very scarce. With market knowledge, you can educate managers and perhaps help them modify job requirements so that it is more likely you will find a quality person quickly. 3. Focus on the front of the process more than the back. I define the front of the recruiting process as workforce planning and the development of a talent pool of interested and qualified candidates. The front is all about finding people who are interested in your organization, a particular position, or several positions, and who meet the minimum qualifications for both your organization’s culture and for the positions they are interested in. Communication with candidates is the key to success at this step, and the communication needs to vary in type of quality over time. Some of the communication may be through personal emails, chat rooms, or by introducing candidates to employees with similar backgrounds and interests who can further assess and persuade the candidates. In my experience this the most poorly done part of the recruiting process, as most recruiters are focused entirely on the resume and the interview. Even then, they frequently spend more time on administrative activities like scheduling, background checking, and so forth than they do on getting to know the candidate. 4. Use technology wisely and broadly. The only way busy recruiters can find time to focus on the front is to use technology to help them. Technology does not only mean applicant tracking systems, as many recruiters believe. There are at least four major piece of technology in recruiting:

  • The recruiting website, which should serve as a branding and marketing medium, a screening tool, and a communication assistant.
  • keep reading…

Why So Many Online Job Ads Stink: An Observation from a Job Site

by
Jack Williams
Oct 28, 2003

So after a good two years now with the economy as unreliable as the A/C guy, things look better. Jobs are opening up, and corporations and staffing firms are reporting some solid new activity. Though there’s no frenzy going on, real hiring is happening, finally. It seems to be particularly true regionally ó from my view Atlanta, Dallas, and the whole D.C. area, in particular ó but it is happening. So before we all start hustling to turn technical recruiting into a Six Sigma affair, how about a simple question: As we recover from a recession, how come there are still so many lousy job ads? After such a brutal hiring environment for such an extended time, why would so many who are wholly dependent on hiring spend so little time describing what’s needed in their job ads? Why put so little effort into the source of your inventory? Didn’t we learn a thing? Why Online Jobs Are Sloppy Since I deal directly with information technology employment issues, I won’t aim my observations anywhere else but at what I know. Within technology staffing, I hear a few recurring reasons for these sloppy job ads:

  • No time. Many argue they just don’t have the time to craft good job ads. There’s been too much downsizing and too many overworked people, and the best they can do is post the job requirements as received ó a lot like the reasons many of us give when it comes time to why we don’t volunteer or recycle.
  • keep reading…

The Recruiter’s Scorecard: Assessing the Effectiveness of Individual Recruiters

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 27, 2003

Whether you are a recruiting manager who is responsible for assessing your recruiters or just an individual recruiter who’s interested in how well you are doing, you need a scorecard before you can accurately assess effectiveness. Unfortunately, I have found through my work with corporations that over 90% make little or no attempt to assess individual recruiter effectiveness. The reason for that is that most recruiting professionals have never been trained on how to assess effectiveness. To make matters worse, few consultants even attempt to provide services on the three key strategic issues of designing effective recruiting structures, selecting a recruiting strategy, and measuring effectiveness. Even such leading organizations as Staffing.org and the Saratoga Institute do not provide guidance on individual recruiter assessment. So what follows are the whys, the whats and the hows of measuring individual recruiter effectiveness. The best part is that, even if you can not afford to bring me in, these are free. So without further delay, here’s my recruiter’s scorecard template that you can adapt to your corporation’s needs. Benefits of Assessing Individual Recruiters Assessing individual recruiters is important for variety of reasons including:

If You Must Use Job Boards, Here’s How!

by
Lou Adler
Oct 24, 2003

Job boards could be more effective if they prevented unqualified candidates from ever applying for an open job in the first place. Here’s one idea on how they could do this: kill candidate agents, and limit to three the number of jobs a candidate can apply for daily. Candidates would then be more discriminating ó unclogging the system overnight, and benefiting everyone. Until then, a similar affect can be achieved with some creative planning on your part. In a recent article (The Secrets of Semi-Sourcing Revealed), I made the contention that there were some outstanding people who looked infrequently for new opportunities on the job boards. However, unless they were an employer of choice, most companies had difficulty attracting these people. And even if companies did manage to attract them, they were almost impossible to find in a sea of otherwise unqualified candidates. Semi-active candidates are those people who look for jobs on an infrequent basis. They’re the ones who didn’t get laid off, and are now overworked, under-appreciated, and underpaid. As a result, they are ready to jump ship (en masse) once the job economy recovers. Until then, they’ll stay put. However, after an especially bad day, they will look to see if there is anything better out there. If you can attract them on their bad Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday nights, you have a window of opportunity to hire some great talent. Semi-active candidates don’t follow the same rules as active candidates when looking and applying for jobs. Here are the basic differences:

Automating the Staffing Process for Hourly Jobs: The Benefits

by
Charles Handler & Steve Hunt
Oct 23, 2003

Increasing numbers of companies are using online and automated staffing tools to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their processes for hiring hourly retail, customer service, manufacturing, and work processing employees. There are several key concerns associated with staffing hourly positions that have directly contributed to the recent interest in using technology-centered hiring solutions. These include:

  • Hourly jobs tend to be associated with large staffing volumes.
  • keep reading…

Lean Recruiting: Applying the Principles of Lean Manufacturing to Recruiting

by
Kevin Wheeler
Oct 22, 2003

Lean manufacturing has been a regular practice in Japan for almost 50 years, where it has helped Toyota achieve high profits and a breakeven point in car manufacturing way below that of competitors. Many American manufacturers have adopted the techniques of lean manufacturing as well, and have used it to keep costs down, to improve productivity, and even to reduce the need to hire more employees. There is nothing difficult to understand about the concepts of lean manufacturing. It is usually defined as a systematic approach to identifying and then eliminating any waste in a process. Waste is defined as a non-value-added activity. Conversely, it is about improving efficiency and customer satisfaction. It also contains the important concept of continuous improvement and letting the customer be the driver of change. In other words, as customer tastes and requirements change, the process should adapt to those new requirements easily. While I am not going to discuss lean manufacturing in this article, I am going to try and show how the same principles can be applied to any process, such as recruiting. I have called it “lean process improvement” (LPI). There are four principles that are at the core of lean process improvement as it applies to recruiting:

  1. The rigorous hunt for waste (activities that do not directly interface with a candidate or hiring manager) and its elimination
  2. keep reading…

The Other Side of Experience, Part 2: Attitude and Leadership

by
Howard Adamsky
Oct 21, 2003

This article is part of a four-part series that explores six important candidate attributes recruiters should consider while interviewing ó as opposed to utilizing experience as the sole criterion, as is typically done. The rationale for looking beyond experience has been outlined in Part 1 of this series, and I urge you to read the essential explanations and reasoning behind this line of thinking before you move on to reading Part 2. For a quick review, the attributes to be considered in “the other side of experience” are:

World-Class Recruiters Prioritize. Do You?

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 20, 2003

Recruiting managers frequently ask me, “What are the smartest things that I can do to dramatically improve recruiting ó when I have no budget?” Fortunately, it’s an easy question to answer. After first focusing on employee referrals and then developing recruiting metrics, the next smartest thing any recruiting manager or recruiter can do to improve their performance is to prioritize their recruiting activities so that the most effort and resources are focused on the highest priority business units, jobs, and managers. Strangely enough, when I attempt to demonstrate the importance of prioritization to most corporate recruiters, their reaction is immediate resistance. Perhaps this is because so many HR people have a “social worker mentality” which leads them to believe that it’s important to treat everyone equally. Unfortunately, any attempt to treat all jobs and business units equally automatically limits the recruiter’s ability to be successful. It not only hurts your own credibility and performance but also damages your organization’s ability to prosper in the marketplace. Executive recruiters, on the other hand, always prioritize their clients and candidates. Perhaps it’s their reward structure that makes them so laser-focused on the activities and jobs that have highest impact. No matter the cause, it’s an important lesson to be learned by all corporate recruiters: there is never enough time, people, or resources to do it all and do it well. And unfortunately, doing it all at the same speed (with extremely limited time and resources) guarantees you’ll be overworked, stressed and produce mediocre results for all positions. As Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, tells us, “Good is the enemy of great.” What Does Prioritization Mean? Other overhead functions like production, shipping, purchasing and “IT” already prioritize their customers and services. In recruiting, prioritization means that you make a conscious effort to give priority treatment to (taking first action, spending the most time with, and allocating the most resources to) the jobs that, if filled with top talent, would have the most impact on the bottom line. Areas that recruiters should prioritize include:

Red Alert: Why You Must Stop Using Job Descriptions, Today!

by
Lou Adler
Oct 17, 2003

As most of you know, I don’t hide my beliefs too well. For example, in recent articles I’ve been lambasting job boards as being the number one way not to hire good people. But actually, job boards are number two on the list of obstacles preventing companies from hiring top talent. Number one is the traditional job

keep reading…

How Corporate Staffing and Line Management Formed a Strategic Partnership

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Oct 16, 2003

I recently had the privilege of working with a corporate staffing director blessed with unusual wisdom (he hired me to solve a problem). He worked in a highly conservative organization in the Midwest that did recruiting and hiring the traditional way: that is, start with work orders, place ads, screen resumes, phone screen potential applicants, send folks to line managers for interviews, and process paperwork. This is a story about how the corporate staffing director repositioned his department as a strategic business partner. The Job The company maintains a large customer service center staffed by three groups: 1) an incoming ordering and tracking group, 2) an incoming technical group that helps customers solve computer and point-of-sale terminal problems, and 3) an outbound sales group that makes sales calls to established customers. Successful job performance in the customer service center has been a pre-requirement to post for other jobs in the company. They are an employer-of-choice in the area and have a waiting list of applicants. The Situation Before Staffing had minimal involvement in the hiring process. For the most part, they placed ads, passed on resumes to line interviewers, and scheduled applicants for visits. They were not part of the interview process nor invited to hiring decision-making meetings. They only became involved with the applicant when it was time to discuss benefits and answer questions the applicant had at the end of the visit. Here is a summary of how hiring was done in the past:

  • The corporate training department developed a list of job competencies. Hiring managers and corporate staffing worked from job descriptions and prepared interview questions.
  • keep reading…

What Would the “Perfect” Recruiting Function Look Like? Part 2: Talent Strategy

by
Kevin Wheeler
Oct 15, 2003

Last week, I began a series of articles discussing some of the steps you might consider if you wanted to create the “perfect” staffing function. The first article discussed creating a talent philosophy and explained why having an articulated understanding of your organization’s philosophy is necessary if you want to be successful. I’ll try to start each article in this series with a short case study that will illustrate the point that I am making. I ask for your thoughts and comments on the case study, and we can even start a dialogue going on ERE if anyone is interested. I will follow each case with my thoughts and try to derive some general principals that may be helpful to you. Smith and Woodstock Case: Part 2 (continued from last week) After several hours of thought and a few phone calls to some of the hiring managers, Chris decided that Charles was doing a lot of things right for Smith and Woodstock. He was still upset, of course, over what he perceived as Chris’s lack of understanding of the organization’s talent philosophy. But he was also aware that he shared some of the blame for that. While Charles had not gotten to understand the organization’s culture and talent practices as well as he should have, he was making many of the right changes. The company had a fairly good recruiting website and was attracting more candidates than it ever had before. And even the dissention that he was hearing from hiring managers was a good sign, as it meant they were finally focused on recruiting and hiring. All of this was because of Charles. So Chris decided that he would get some of the hiring managers together with himself and Charles and they would try to figure out what the best next steps were to stop the endless complaints and improve the quality of hires. At the meeting, which was held two weeks later, it became clear in the first hour that no one was in agreement as to the overall role of the recruiting department, nor could anyone explain how it should fit into the overall human resources strategy for the company. Some managers felt that the recruiting function should hire whoever they requested, according to whatever requisition was presented. Others felt that the recruiters should be more partners in a process that would look at the job, its requirements, who was available internally, and so forth. Chris impressed Charles at this meeting by asking the hiring managers some tough questions. He asked them who their best employees were and why they were considered the best. He asked them how they determined how many people they needed and what the criteria were for success and excellence in their departments. These issues become so intriguing to a couple of the mangers that they went back and created small internal groups to define the answers to the questions and share those with the larger group. They agreed to get together a couple of weeks later and share what they had learned to draft a final strategy. Questions to ask yourself:

  • How does a talent philosophy get reflected in a strategy?
  • keep reading…

Internal Mobility: Performance Measures

by
Alice Snell
Oct 14, 2003

To know whether an HR program such as internal mobility has met its objectives, the standards for measurement of the program performance must be defined. This article draws on the iLogos Research study Internal Mobility to explore current internal mobility processes in leading corporations and the metrics used to measure program effectiveness. Current Reporting Practices HR practitioners place high importance on metrics: 82% of survey respondents report metrics to be important (31%) or very important (51%) to the success of an internal mobility initiative, according to our survey. A large majority of respondents (83%) report using the “percent of positions filled internally” as the key metric to measure effectiveness of their internal mobility program. However, 13% of respondents did not know their percentage of open positions internally filled annually. C-Level Monitoring The iLogos Research study probed not only how HR managers measure the performance of an internal mobility initiative, but also how C-level executives (CEOs, CFOs or COOs) monitor the program. Here the results expose significant discrepancies. Only the metric “Percent of positions filled internally” garners attention from more than half of both groups, being monitored by just over (53%) half of C-level executives. HR practitioners and C-level executives use the metric for “cost of hire” roughly equally (29% and 27% respectively); however, “time to hire” is used more by the HR respondents (45%) than the C-level executives (27%). Using “Employee performance” and “Hiring manager satisfaction” as measures for the internal mobility program is approximately twice as prevalent among HR practitioners compared to C-level executives. Alignment of Goals and Metrics: A Disconnect? Obviously, metrics used to measure program effectiveness should be aligned with the overall purpose of the program. Surprisingly, though, many survey respondents who reported goals for their internal mobility program did not report using the corresponding metrics to track performance against those goals. Specifically, 76% cite the goal of improving retention rates, yet only 39% track turnover; 56% cite the goal of lowering staffing costs, yet only 29% track cost of hire. Moreover, 53% cite the goal of filling positions faster, yet only 45% track time-to-hire. Barriers to Metrics The apparent disconnect between internal mobility goals and metrics used to measure the performance of the program is in part attributable to the high barriers inhibiting accurate reporting and metrics. Most companies do not possess integrated systems, so gathering and analyzing metrics is a very manual, intensive process, which acts as an impediment to reporting and analyzing the information on a regular basis. Only one-third of respondents reported being satisfied (19%) or very satisfied (13%) with their current online internal mobility technology as it enables metrics and reporting. It is clear that reporting infrastructure must be adequate to providing reliable and timely data. To optimize the process, HR practitioners need to vigilantly track key performance measures, such as turnover rates and internal fill rates. However, these metrics are not ends in themselves, but instead are to be monitored as they relate to fulfilling the strategic goals of the program. Ultimately, corporate leaders need to know whether the program is fulfilling its business objectives.

Monsters Can Be Ugly: The Problem With Job Boards

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Oct 13, 2003

I am frequently asked about the use of large job boards as a recruiting source for finding top performers. My answer is always quick and to the point: Don’t use them! Most advanced recruiters smile and quickly agree, while others question my sanity. But the main difference between the supporters and the naysayers is that, almost without exception, the supporters of large job boards:

  • Do not measure the on-the-job performance of those they hire (quality of hire)
  • keep reading…

The Hiring 2.0 Revolution: Are You a Rebel or a Tory?

by
Lou Adler
Oct 10, 2003

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

ó Yogi Berra In the thoughts that follow, one fork in the road leads to some minor changes in the hiring process and lots of activity, but the status quo is preserved. The other leads to a more vibrant future, and hiring top people becomes a systematic, Six Sigma business process. This is the Hiring 2.0 revolution. Surprisingly, the choice of which fork you’ll take is not yours. You are already preprogrammed to take one or the other. In fact, you’re already taking it ó but hold that thought for a moment. First, the Hiring 2.0 manifesto. This is the fork that leads to the promised land. Hiring 2.0 is the operating system for the next generation of hiring processes. These are the specifications, guidelines, and metrics that will link all of the various hiring processes ó sourcing, recruiting, systems, interviewing, assessment ó together into a systematic business process for hiring top talent. Here are just a few of the key changes that will occur as a result of implementing Hiring 2.0:

    keep reading…

How Staffing Has Adapted to Today’s Economic Climate

by
Dr. Charles Handler
Oct 9, 2003

Although there are a wide variety of different staffing models out there, all of them include the external environment as a core component. This make sense, because events that occur in the external environment (those over which we have no control) often end up having the most profound impact on the entire staffing process. Our present economy is a great example of the impact of the external environment on day-to-day staffing reality. Like it or not, the uncertainty in our economy has created some very difficult times for both job seekers and organizations alike. But despite the pressures of the external environment, the core function of the staffing process ó matching people with jobs ó soldiers on. As the folks on both sides of the staffing equation are painfully aware though, economic pressures have changed the status quo. These changes have pushed all parties involved in the staffing process to think creatively in order to adapt to the pressures of the external environment. This need for innovation and creative thinking is really part of an evolutionary process which is creating the need for employers to either adapt or fall behind. The purpose of this article is to identify and discuss some possible adaptive responses to the pressures our present economy has placed on the staffing process. The 10 adaptations I have identified fall into three broad groups: reactionary responses, tactical responses, and strategic responses. Group 1: Reactionary Responses Adaptations in this category represent short-term responses that are pretty much devoid of any strategic focus. These responses are often based on a need to stop the bleeding. While they may have some short-term value, if handled incorrectly these responses can come back to bite you in the long run:

  1. Bury your head in the sand (i.e., do nothing). Many companies are so befuddled by the difficult and unstable economy that they have reacted by choosing to do nothing. The mentality here is that putting money into a staffing process when there is not much staffing taking place is a poor use of funds. This is possibly the most dangerous adaptation of all because, when things come back on line, the folks in this category are going to find themselves behind the eight ball. The reality is that, even in bad times, some hires are going to have to be made. We are in a buyer’s market when it comes to talent and now is the time to begin building for the future.
  2. keep reading…

What Would the “Perfect” Recruiting Function Look Like? Part 1: Talent Philosophy

by
Kevin Wheeler
Oct 8, 2003

If you were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to build a recruiting function from scratch, put in place any set of processes or technology that you wanted to, and hire anyone at all to help you, what would you do? I often encourage and help clients do just this. It is an important part of strategic planning and it stimulates creative thinking. Spending a day with your staff and a few hiring managers, executives, consultants or others who can help you understand your function from many angles is a worthwhile activity. Yet, it is easy to get way off-track and spend time either building castles in the air or never really getting to anything new or challenging. In a series of articles over the next few weeks, I’ll outline a framework that will help guide the process for you. Ideally, a process like this takes place evolutionarily over several weeks. The first meeting gets the ideas flowing and lets everyone know that they are expected to think differently. Subsequent meetings and activities add depth and knowledge to the process and eventually lead to new behaviors. I’ll try to start each article with a short case study that will illustrate the point that I am making. I ask for your thoughts and comments on the case study, and we can even start a dialogue going on ERE if anyone is interested. I will follow each case with my thoughts and try to derive some general principals that may be helpful to you. Smith and Woodstock Case It was a brisk fall day and the leaves were almost gone from the trees. Curtis Thompson, VP of HR for Smith and Woodstock, sat looking out the window deep in thought. He faced a tough decision: should he ask Charles Boudreaux to leave? Charles had been the director of staffing for the past six months, and they were the most tumultuous six months Curtis had been through in his career. When he found Charles, he thought he had made the best hire possible. Charles was talented, well-respected at his former employer, and had put in place a number of innovative programs. Curtis was well aware that Smith and Woodstock, a 100-year-old manufacturing company in conservative New England, needed to improve its hiring. Every year it had gotten harder and harder to attract skilled machinists and engineers and the local population was shrinking and getting older. He had really believed that Charles would be able to “put them on the map” and develop strategies to attract younger workers and keep them. From the very first week, it was obvious that Charles was a mover and shaper. He held a strategic offsite meeting (the first one Charles could recall ever being held at Smith and Woodstock), brought in a couple of new recruiters, and started talking about creating a website. Over the past few months he had purchased an applicant tracking system and was trying to get both the recruiters and the hiring managers to use it. He had started posting jobs to the Internet and had increased the number of applicants significantly. Unfortunately, not very many of these candidates suited the hiring managers. As far as Curtis could tell, Charles had not really made any friends in the plant, nor had he spent much time with the hiring managers. He worked 10 or more hours a day, but it was all in planning, meetings with his staff, and on the Internet. Curtis felt he should have intervened more strongly than he had. But he had counseled Charles many times to get to know the company and to spend time down on the floor to meet some of the workers and their bosses. Charles had responded by saying he wanted to keep neutral and not be influenced by past bad habits and the conservative thought that had created the hiring problem they now faced. This made some sense to Curtis, but he still thought a little more understanding would have helped Charles move a bit more slowly. The company was challenged by having somewhat old-fashioned ideas about people and loyalty. It was the kind of company that valued the relationship an employee had with his boss and fellow workers almost as much as it did his technical skill or competence. Charles really didn’t get it. Now, six months later, the hiring managers were in Curtis’s office every day complaining that Charles didn’t listen to them and that they didn’t understand the recruiting system he was putting in place. Even the president had made a comment to Curtis in the parking lot about the “upstart” in his department. Charles sat looking at the dry leaves blowing across the parking lot wondering what he should do now. Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What philosophy about talent seems to be dominant at Smith and Woodstock?
  • keep reading…

Technology and Your Brand

by
Dave Lefkow
Oct 7, 2003

Recruiting and talent management is more technology-enabled than ever. Technology tools support everything from candidate attraction and assessment to workforce planning and performance management. This means that vendors will interface with a large portion of your candidate and employee populations and will directly impact your brand. Before you make another technology purchase, you’ll want to consider some of the potential impacts they can have on your brand. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Your brand is defined as the target audience’s collective thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of you as a company and a workplace. These perceptions are defined by consumers’ and candidates’ interactions with your brand, including but not limited to your advertising, your on- and offline interactions with the target audience, and past purchases or hiring processes. With each major technology addition, you add another touch point to your brand. Correspondingly, there can be good, bad, and ugly effects on your brand. Despite the fact that the vendor you use may be ultimately responsible for the bad or ugly parts, it remains a direct reflection on you, not the vendor. The net impact can be customers who are more or less willing to purchase your products, candidates who are more or less willing to apply to your openings, and employees who are more or less willing to stay in their jobs. A look at some of the major technology investments demonstrates the effect it can have on your brand. Employment Website Content and Design Good employment website content and design can form the foundation of an employer brand advantage. Consider your employment website as your opportunity to:

  • Create differentiation between your employment offering and the competition’s
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