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May  2004 RSS feed Archive for May, 2004

If Hiring Is #1, Workforce Planning Must Be #2

by
Lou Adler
May 28, 2004

The following are the results of a survey taken by over 100 hiring managers and 200 recruiters. How would you have answered the questions? After you read the results, you’ll be asked to determine what year the survey was taken. “The State of Hiring” Survey

  • 87% of managers believed hiring top people was #1 in terms of importance.
  • keep reading…

How and When To Outsource Recruitment

by
May 27, 2004

There are a few things in life that just never fail to give people the willies ó you know, those butterflies in the stomach that scream, “Hey, wait a minute! Is this something I really wanna do? If so, why am I nervous as hell?” Stuff like getting married, going to traffic court, public-speaking engagements, skydiving, or bungee jumping. They all seem to have the same nerve-racking effect on people. Similarly, many VPs of HR, CFOs, COOs, and recruitment directors get their nerves rattled at the mere possibility of outsourcing recruitment. It is indeed a huge commitment, financially and legally, and could be a major risk for any company. It’s the equivalent of hiring a contractor to construct your house or business: you know you can’t entrust the future of your entire company to just anyone. To Outsource or Not To Outsource? The decision to outsource recruitment is a decision hundreds, maybe even thousands, of executives will be making this year. Since most corporations of varying sizes slashed their recruiting departments during the recent economic downturn, many will elect to avoid possible trouble in the future and simply outsource the entire function. There are many benefits, as well as potential pitfalls, to outsourcing your corporate growth to a focused recruiting consultancy, and all decision-makers must assess them. Failure to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis could not only cost you your job, but perhaps even your company’s well being. The first thing in considering such a decision is to know the outsourced recruitment lifecycle. There are five general steps or events that must take place in this framework:

Incorporating “Personality” Into the Hiring Process

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
May 25, 2004

Before we start, I want to emphasize that there is no generally accepted definition of personality among professionals. Since nature abhors a vacuum, I’ll just provide one of my own. “Personality” in this article is defined as the “specific attitudes, interests and motivations” associated with job performance. For brevity’s sake, we’ll call these AIMs. Personality and Job Performance A coin has two parts: 1) the metal it is made from, and 2) the stampings on its sides. The stampings do not define the metal; they merely identify how it is used. Job performance also has two parts: 1) hard skills, and 2) AIMs. AIMs do not define an applicant’s planning, cognitive, or interpersonal skills; they identify how the applicant uses them. Most research shows that combining AIMs tests with skills tests can double productivity. As long as people have the right skill set, those who enjoy their work tend to outperform those who do not. People who dislike work tend to do just enough to stay employed. Magic? Not really. Just common sense. “Specific” Attitudes, Interests and Motivations The term “specific” is not used lightly. A personality trait should lead directly to either high or low job performance. Many training vendors have broad-spectrum personality tests they use for training and communication workshops. But as anyone who has ever attended a communication or leadership workshop can attest, personality test scores and job performance ratings are not always correlated. If you are using a personality test now and you want to know if it’s any good, ask your vendor: “Was your test developed to predict job performance?” If you get any answer other than an unqualified “Yes!” then think about what happened to the roof of your mouth the last time you bit into a molten-hot cheese pizza. It does not take a personal message from Stephen Hawking to learn that any hiring test that was not designed to predict job performance, probably won’t predict job performance! Job-Related AIMs As far as we know, there are only a few personality traits directly related to job fit and job performance. The initial work was published by Dr. John Holland over 20 years ago. Since then it has been expanded using meta-analytical personality research. Today, we know that the critical AIMs associated with job performance include:

  • Problem solving. This factor provides information about a person’s attitude toward solving complicated problems. People with high scores tend to prefer jobs that require a mental challenge and enjoy using their minds to solve complex problems. Positions that do not provide a mental challenge may prove boring to people who score high on this factor, while mentally challenging positions may intimidate people with low scores.
  • keep reading…

The Future of Recruiting, Part 5: Metrics Dominate Decision Making in Recruiting

by
Dr. John Sullivan
May 24, 2004

Most recruiting departments currently get by with a minimal use of metrics ó and the metrics that they do utilize are insignificant from the strategic standpoint. But as time passes, most VPs of HR will no longer tolerate such silly metrics as cost per hire, interviews per offer, and the number of requisitions filled. After years of being beat up by CFOs, senior HR leaders will eventually realize that the only way that recruiting can become a strategic business function is to shift to the fact-based decision model that has been used so successfully in Six Sigma, CRM, and supply chain management. A fact-based decision model requires that all decisions in recruiting ó including sourcing, resume sorting, candidate assessment, and candidate closing ó be made using metrics-driven information. Metrics Dominate Recruiting The major shift in thinking and acting in recruiting will not be just the utilization of metrics but the dominance of metrics. By that I mean that, instead of metrics being merely an afterthought that recruiting uses to “cover its butt,” metrics and data will drive everything in recruiting. Individual recruiters will be required to demonstrate that they are using the most effective sources and techniques and producing quantifiable results. Recruiting budgets and expenditures will shift, based on the ROI and business impact of the different strategies and tools. Commonly used tools such as large job boards, job fairs, and newspaper ads will become incidental as fact based decision-making demonstrates that employee referrals, “resumeless” internet search engines, and trade and professional association conferences are the best sources for the very best top talent. Presenting Dollar Impacts Instead of Numbers The second major shift in metrics will be the realization that providing numbers alone will no longer suffice. The recruiting department of the future will convert current metrics into dollars. For example, the time-to-fill metric, which is currently reported in “days,” will be converted to the dollar consequences that occur to the business when a position is not filled on time. Converting numbers to dollars will allow recruiting to better demonstrate its impact to the CFO and to line managers who, incidentally, seem to only understand dollars. Dollar impact will be calculated for such common recruiting areas as the costs of a position vacancy, the dollar impact of poaching away top performers from competitors (versus hiring active candidates), the cost of a bad hire, the value of diversity hiring, the cost of losing a top performer, and the dollar impact of hiring a top performer versus an average hire in the same position. Seven Strategic Metrics That Will Be Reported to the CFO The most important metrics in recruiting are those that are reported outside of HR. In the future, these are the metrics world-class recruiting departments will provide to C-level executives.

  1. The total dollar impact of great recruiting on the business this year. This metric demonstrates the total dollar impact that recruiting had on the business. Most of the dollar impact is based on the added productivity of hiring individuals who become top performers. By comparing the on-the-job performance output differential between top-performing hires and average-performing hires, one can determine the impact of a great recruiting process. This dollar impact calculation will also include the positive benefits of starting and completing projects on time as a result of great hiring systems.
  2. keep reading…

10 Ways to Avoid Paying Search Fees

by
Lou Adler
May 21, 2004

The easy performance improvements are over. As the hiring market recovers, corporate recruiting departments will be called upon to handle more work with fewer trained recruiters and with fewer good people applying. Recruiting managers who adjust for this imbalance now will be able to minimize the impact of a recovering labor market. I’m hearing from more and more third-party recruiters (TPRs) that business is coming back. Fees are being paid, and the corporate purse strings are loosening up again. If you run a corporate recruiting department, this is a leading indicator of more turmoil ahead. Companies shouldn’t be paying search fees ó except for isolated critical positions or to meet a one-time special need. Paying search fees for standard positions ó accountants, sales reps, engineers, developers, mid-level managers, etc. ó is an indication of inadequate planning or lack of focus. Now don’t get me wrong: I started as a TPR and still do a few searches when called upon. I like doing these searches for a big fee. However, I now believe that with the insourcing of the recruiting department, stronger management, new advances in technology, well-trained corporate recruiters, and better use of the Internet including job boards, companies no longer need to use outside recruiters to find their top talent. Below are 10 ways to avoid paying search fees. You might want to rank yourself on each using the following 1-5 scale to see how well you’re doing now and how much money you can save or lose. Moving your ranking up one point on each factor will save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s what it’s costing you if you’re a 1 or 2 on any of these factors.

  • Exposed (1 pt.): Something not being done, and now suffering for it.
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The Value of Person-Organization Fit

by
Dr. Charles Handler
May 20, 2004

You don’t have to have been hanging around the world of hiring too long to have been exposed to discussions about how well an individual “fits” in with an organization. If you think about it, the idea of ensuring a good fit between a candidate and a job or organization is pretty much the main idea of the entire hiring process. But the term “fit” is a vague one that’s tossed around so causally and often that it means different things to different people. While there is value in the idea of fit no matter how you define it, when the rubber meets the road during the actual hiring process it’s important that the meaning of fit be clearly defined. The purpose of this article is to help discuss the concept of “fit” as we I/O psychologist types have traditionally defined it. It’s my hope that this discussion will help to promote a better understanding of the concept of fit and its many positive outcomes, while also helping readers think about how they might use it in their own hiring processes. Defining Fit Organizational psychologists have traditionally defined fit in two distinct ways. Both definitions can play an important role in providing the data needed to help make quality hiring decisions, but they do so in different ways. This is not to say that one way is any better then the other; in fact, in my opinion, there is value in using both types to compliment one another. The exact way in which each type of fit adds value to the hiring process will become more apparent once they have been defined more clearly.

  1. Person-Job Fit (or P-J Fit). The first type is what we refer to as “Person-Job Fit.” This is the type of fit you most often hear me talking about when I advocate the use of assessment tools in the hiring process. Indeed, it’s the most common way fit is defined by organizations. Person-Job Fit involves the measurement of what we often refer to as “hard” information about a candidate’s suitability for the tasks that are required for successful performance of a specific job. “Hard” aspects of P-J Fit include things such as a candidate’s specific skills, their levels of knowledge about specific subject matter, and their cognitive abilities. In many cases, P-J Fit also includes “softer” measures such as the examination of an applicant’s personality traits relative to specific job requirements. However, personality is kind of in a no man’s land when it comes to defining fit. That’s because it can provide information on both P-J Fit and the second kind of fit I will be discussing in this article, “Person-Organization Fit.” However, for the purposes of this discussion, I prefer to treat personality as a tool for measuring Person-Job Fit only. This is because the traditional definition of fit used by organizational psychologists does not usually involve the use of measures designed to assess personality traits.
  2. keep reading…

2004 Staffing Survey Results

by
Kevin Wheeler
May 20, 2004

A few weeks ago I presented a survey to compare how things are looking in the staffing world today in 2004 versus how they have looked in our last two surveys conducted in 2002 and 2003. What emerges is a picture of a landscape that is changing rapidly here in the United States. To view the results of this survey with analysis and commentary, just visit www.glresources.com. (In order to read the survey, you will need to download Adobe Acrobat if you don’t already have it.) Here is a thumbnail sketch and some highlights of what we found in the survey. First of all, recruiting seems to be more active and robust than it has been for the past two years. The number of you responding has increased from slightly more than 160 last year to 235 this year. This most likely means that readership of ERE has increased and that there are more of you once again employed as recruiters. At least we hope that’s what this means. The areas you are focused on correlate very nicely with U.S. government data about where job growth and expansion are occurring. This includes technical and professional services, financial services, and healthcare, followed by the information and entertainment industries. More important than that, though, is the improvement in the job picture that you paint. The average staff sizes you reported have increased, and the number of requisitions per recruiter has also gone up. More of you are turning to external recruiting firms or outsourcing groups to ease your growing recruiting load. There was a significant swing down in the number of you who say you never use outsourcing, and there was a corresponding increase in the use, at least when need arises, of these services. While talent pools were hot in the past two surveys, they seem to be less so in this latest one. I’m not sure why, but even though we provided a consistent definition of what a talent pool is in each survey, the number of organizations reporting significant use of them has gone down, as has the number and amount of time used in candidate communication. This troubles me a great deal, since relationship building is in my opinion a key ingredient to successful recruiting. Quality of hire and hiring manager satisfaction remain your top two most important metrics. In future surveys I hope to probe into how you define quality of hire and how you determine hiring manager satisfaction. The top two critical issues your recruiting functions face have remained the same over the past three years, but the percentages of you reporting them as critical has increased significantly: It’s clear that you are all finding it more difficult to recruit skilled talent and are more concerned with retention than ever before. There are many more highlights and interesting facts that emerged, and I urge you to take the opportunity to get the free copy of the survey results and see the actual numbers. Thanks again for your participation, and I hope you find this survey of some use. If you have any comments, please send them to me at kwheeler@glreosurces.com.

Internal Talent Relationship Management

by
Dave Lefkow
May 19, 2004

For the past few years, companies have had a relatively easy time retaining and recruiting employees in less specialized positions in finance, marketing, accounting, and human resources. But suddenly, the sharks are circling in your talent pool! Some of the employees who were so easy to find and retain for the last few years are the very same ones who are now turning over more frequently and who are harder to find than ever ó and it will likely get worse as the economy continues to recover. So what can you do about it? It has been said that retention is essentially the ongoing recruitment of your own employees. Yet recruiting departments, in their current form, are ill equipped to aid in retention. There are too many requisitions and too few recruiters ó with few metrics or incentives built around retaining the best employees. Many industry experts and consultants have advocated a shift to a model in which recruiters also have responsibility for succession planning. But once again, the question of resources emerges. In a more robust economy, it becomes very hard to justify devoting resources to anything but playing requisition catch-up ó even though it can be said that concerted employee retention efforts ultimately reduce recruiting’s workload. As the demand picks up for all types of employees (cue the theme to Jaws), internal talent relationship management ó the process of maintaining proactive talent relationships with your current employees ó can be one of the best forms of shark repellant in your arsenal. TRM Defined Talent relationship management initiatives focus on maintaining relationships with hundreds and even thousands of the best candidates who the recruiting team is not able to proactively manage. These are the highly talented individuals who are probably sitting in your resume database right now with out-of-date information, or who applied for a position that you were just about to fill, only to never hear from you again. They are the individuals who are good potential fits with your company but think of your recruiting process as a resume vortex. They might think twice before taking the time to fill out another profile or cover letter. Using a combination of periodic phone contact, timed and segmented email campaigns, candidate service options, relevant employment website content, job search agent technology, and loyalty programs, some companies are beginning to better manage their talent relationship pipeline. The best of these companies have made this a systematic part of their process, reducing fill time and advertising costs in the process, generating qualified referrals, and elevating and communicating their employer brands. If these techniques work when you’re on the hunt for other companies’ best employees, wouldn’t they also work when your own employees are the prey? Leveraging Your Internal Talent Pool Research has shown that internal candidates experience many of the same frustrations as external candidates:

  • They may not hear back from you regarding internal transfer or advancement opportunities.
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Building a Better ATS, Part 4: Vendor Differentiation

by
Raghav Singh
May 18, 2004

Applicant tracking systems have, since their inception, followed a one-size-fits-all model. Originally this was a sensible strategy, since the market was small and the primary need was support for compliance. But the needs of the market have matured far beyond what was required to avoid being fined following an audit, and despite the fact that users are increasingly sophisticated, vendors, with a few exceptions, continue to produce products for the mass market. This situation has produced the anomaly of dozens of applicant tracking systems with identical functionality offered at widely differing prices. There is also an increasing disconnect between cost and value the larger the organization a product is targeted at. I emphasize targeting, since differentiation between applicant tracking systems is now largely based on marketing and little else. To state the obvious, it’s no coincidence that the best known vendors are the ones that have spent the most on marketing. The achievement isn’t simply that they’re best known, but they’re perceived as “top tier” as a result of their spending. This point was driven home recently when a company I know of chose to replace a “high-end” ATS with a product generally considered as being from the low end ó that is, a second or third tier ATS. The company found that the low-end ATS had identical, if not somewhat better, functionality and was available for literally a fraction of the price of the high-end ATS. Once case should not be considered representative, but this is not an isolated example. A comparison of functionality across vendors generally demonstrates that there are few differences of consequence between products from different tiers. With the exception of functionality that supports global needs (languages, date formats, currency, etc.) it’s very hard to discern the value provided by a “high-end” ATS that justifies the difference in price. The usual bases for explaining the difference include 1) that these are “enterprise” systems, and 2) they are supported by domain expertise. Let’s examine each of these. Enterprise Systems Any product categorized as an enterprise system is generally considered as being suited for large organizations. The term derives from enterprise resource planning products such as PeopleSoft or SAP ó the assumption being that lower-end products cannot meet the needs of a large organization or enterprise. But what exactly is an enterprise system? The word is in the same league as “paradigm shift,” “mission critical,” and “empowerment.” Bullfighter (the application from Deloitte that eliminates jargon) describes it as “often overused: a grandiose word that isn’t very specific.” A kinder definition in a white paper from Parente Technology defines an enterprise system as, “a company-wide software program, which brings together the key functional areas of your business into one system.” So “enterprise system” has nothing to do with organizational size or functional complexity. For a large organization there are usually no viable alternatives to an ERP for effectively managing financials and business processes. But this is simply not true for an ATS. An ERP supports highly complex business and manufacturing processes as well as financial and accounting practices. In a large organization this can translate into literally millions of transactions subject to tens of thousands of rules and requirements on a daily basis. An applicant tracking system, on the other hand, supports the intake of resumes and hiring workflows. Admittedly, recruiting needs vary based on geography, job type, etc. But the differences are not of the magnitude of accounting practices or manufacturing processes. The fact is, a low-end product is perfectly capable of meeting the needs of most organizations. Domain Expertise I would think that any company that has produced a software application has some domain expertise. So it seems strange that domain expertise is touted as a differentiator. Margaret Thatcher once made the comment, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Well, the same can be said of expertise. If you have to tell people about it, you obviously don’t have much. Then again, what does having domain expertise really mean? All the claims of expertise seem unable to produce anything truly innovative. Any expertise, such as it may be, doesn’t seem to do much for crafting solutions that can supercharge any client’s recruiting strategy. This should not be a surprise, since the “expertise” is directed at developing the product. Vendors either allow no customizations in the name of efficiency and ease of upgrades or else allow clients to dictate what customizations they need. The vendor’s own expertise rarely enters the picture. One gets the impression that claims of domain expertise are just so much marketing spin ó a modern take on the salesperson that put “honest” before his name. The current state of affairs can partly be attributed to an attitude towards customers that is born of arrogance, an attitude that assumes customers are not savvy enough to discern their own needs but rather take their cues from marketing. Allowing this situation to continue is not in the best interests of either the industry or their customers. Consider what is happening in the light of Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy Model. Briefly, Porter’s model posits that a company can only succeed through a strategy of either cost leadership (being the low-cost producer in the industry) or a strategy of differentiation (unique on some aspect that is valued by others, i.e., can command a premium price). Anything else results in being “stuck in the middle” with low profits and a shaky grasp of market share. A few vendors grasp the significance of this approach. They have either chosen to offer very low priced products or else differentiated themselves by products that are created for very specific needs (hourly staffing) or industry groups (staffing agencies). Others are very much stuck in the middle. The high-end of the market is being rapidly dominated by ERP vendors. Their applicant tracking systems, after some bungled starts and missteps, are increasingly getting better. ERP vendors will continue to stumble along to near total domination of the high end. This is inevitable given that they already dominate the high end of the market for business process management. There will be a market for generic applicant tracking systems, but this is a swamp of low profits and customers that will gravitate to the low-cost providers, as they should. Instead of trying to win a race to the bottom, the smarter vendors should focus on differentiating their products. There are plenty of unique needs in industries such as healthcare or other specialized industries that a generic ATS does not serve. Other niches to be served (or better served) include hiring college graduates, just-in-time hiring, maintaining specific candidate pools, government needs, outsourcing, high growth, downsizing, etc. Some of this will require building genuine expertise to provide the necessary consulting. Expertise will be required if these needs are to be successfully served, instead of continuing the fallacy that the software will solve all problems. The opportunity is like buying toothpaste from Proctor & Gamble instead of Microsoft. It suggests expertise beyond software, an expertise that might be integral to a company’s business and could be extended to management styles to include learning platforms, performance management platforms, etc. There’s also the global aspect. Support for multiple languages and currencies are just the beginning. Developing specialized versions of applicant tracking systems that can span different compliance requirements, cultural norms, and business processes will not be easy ó but it needs to happen. If the approach continues to be that of building generic products, then the industry will suffer the fate of automakers that have attempted to build a “world car.” Anyone remember the Ford Fiesta or Contour? The Fiesta was supposed to be the new beetle. It takes more than putting little flag colors on the logo.

The Future Of Recruiting, Part 4: Websites Shift to the CRM Model

by
Dr. John Sullivan
May 17, 2004

In last week’s article, Part 3 of this series on the future of recruiting, I examined the strategies that firms will use in Internet recruiting in the future. Here in Part 4, I will focus more specifically on corporate and other websites and the new features that they will offer. It’s important to note that most corporate sites are now little more than “application takers” for active job seekers. This is a flawed approach that will soon be replaced with an approach modeled after customer relationship management (CRM) systems that are used extensively on the business side of the corporation. CRM software will help HR and recruiters better identify and segment their customers (potential and current candidates) in order to focus resources on the most promising ones in high-impact areas. Using Corporate Websites to Improve Recruiting Effectiveness Corporations and the remaining job boards will improve their recruiting effectiveness by implementing a number of new approaches, including the following:

  1. Source quality assessment. Automatic analytical (statistical) packages will continuously identify which Internet tools and which sites produce the highest hiring and on-the-job success rates. Once “source success rate” becomes a common statistic, the number of sources used by firms will drop in half and the current “price only” assessment criteria will become a thing of the past. It will also become common practice to label all electronic and paper resumes with their source. By physically stamping them with the source, everyone that comes in contact with a good or bad resume will automatically know its origin. Hiring managers will then (for the first time) learn where the top resumes they review come from. As they learn this, they will stop demanding that recruiters “place an ad,” and instead will demand more referrals, Google searches, etc., as sources. The net effect of this will be that recruiters will be forced to refine their sources and drop the very weakest ones. Recruiters will sometimes find that not a single resume from certain sources ever even make it through their firm’s ATS to hiring managers.
  2. keep reading…

Why Metrics Don’t Matter Anymore, or Are You Missing the Big Picture?

by
Lou Adler
May 14, 2004

Doing the wrong things more efficiently is not a good thing ó even if you do them well. [You might want to read that opening sentence again: it's a key part of this interactive article. There are a few questions based on this at the end. If you answer them, even incorrectly, they'll entitle you to a free guest pass at one of my upcoming public workshops. We're in Boston on May 26 and Washington, DC on June 23rd. The point of this article is to get everyone to start thinking about problems from a different perspective. So make your answers as odd and as different as you can possibly imagine.] In less than ten years, we have seen a number of trends that have resulted in the centralization of the corporate HR/Recruiting department. Some of these trends include:

12 Ways Hiring Managers Can Get More From Their Recruiting Partners

by
Howard Adamsky
May 13, 2004

article by Howard Adamsky and Effie Magas Do you ever wonder what you can do to make hiring managers understand that recruiting is no easy task? Have you ever thought about how helpful it would be to have a set of guidelines you could send them that would summarize the best way to work with their internal recruiting partners? We did. That’s what lead us to develop the set of 12 guidelines below. This is a document that can be useful regardless of how large or small your company is or how it operates. 12 Things Hiring Managers Can Do to Get More From Their Recruiting Partners Feel free to customize any of these points to fit your particular organization. You might also want to consider sending it as an email to all of your hiring managers. It will benefit recruiter and hiring manager alike, resulting in a much smoother recruiting process and making the partnership between hiring manager and recruiter a more effective collaboration.

  1. Let us know as soon as a requisition is approved that adds to headcount. As recruiters, we need as much time as possible to start the process. Please don’t give us a requisition for a position that’s been open for two weeks and have it be the first time we are hearing of it. Give us the courtesy of being able to have enough time to plan our strategy and get the process rolling.
  2. keep reading…

How to Improve Your Recruiting Processes: 80% Optimization, 20% Technology

by
Kevin Wheeler
May 12, 2004

Recruiters tend to fall into one of two camps. The first rejects most technology as unnecessary. These recruiters feel that traditional recruiting methods still work fine and that, except for perhaps a few emails, telephone and face-to-face contact with both clients and candidates is best. This article is not about these folks, as they are becoming scarcer every year and are a dying breed. They are sort of like those who refused to give up the horse for the automobile and saw only the problems, rarely the benefits. There is no question that technology is the key to recruiting success and will become more so over the next few decades. There are many benefits to using technology, including the ability to lower costs and vastly improve productivity. Technology also extends geography and provides information about candidates at greater depth than can be done in any other way. But the second camp of recruiters ó those who have willingly adopted emerging technology ó has done so in ways that are frequently less than optimal. The recruiting technologies now in place have not delivered the value they promised. In many cases, million dollar investments spent developing websites, acquiring applicant tracking systems, purchasing equipment, and paying for consultants to implement the tools and make them work later on has cost far more than was returned. This has been a common theme in technology adoptions over the past 30 years in all areas. Manufacturing, transportation, information delivery, and the military have all stumbled in their implementation of technology. 80% Optimization With the benefit of people’s experiences in other industries, we have learned that the most important thing you can do is to invest more time and energy on improving processes than on implementing technology. The basic rule of automation is that you cannot automate manual systems by duplicating what people do. For example, people may have to do things sequentially that a computer can do in parallel. People may need time to complete actions that computers can do instantly, and so forth. Computers and technology in general are very good at automating administrative tasks that do not require complex communications or expert skills. They are less effective at face-to-face interactions, selling, and activities that require emotion to be successful. Technology can also enable humans to do things better. For recruiters, technology has certainly assisted the sourcing process by allowing us to search the Internet and use job boards. Redefine Your Needs But before we can put the technology in place to do any of those things, we need to examine what recruiters do and decide what is administrative, routine, and predictable. We need to take the recruiting process apart and look at it with fresh eyes. In re-engineering terms, this is “zero-basing” the process, or re-inventing it from scratch. You might simply ask: How would I put this function together if I had the ability to start from scratch and do anything I wanted? You could ask yourself what you could eliminate, modify, or do differently ó even without technology ó to make the process as efficient as it could be. This is the core of process improvement and refinement. It should precede any other decision or effort. Only after you have designed the new process flow can you begin to apply what you know about technology to each part. Compromise: Choosing the Technology That’s 80% Right Choosing the right piece of software or the right computer system is often not as difficult as we think. If we know exactly what we need, then it is generally a straightforward process to find out whether or not various products have the needed functions. But what you will find is that no single product will be able to do everything you want. The art of choosing technology is to go for those solutions that have the most reliable and cheapest blend of key features. Always choose the simplest tool to do what you need to get done. This minimizes costs, simplifies installation, and shortens the learning curve. And, because technology evolves rapidly, it gives you budget and flexibility to adopt emerging products. My rule is to choose whatever product meets roughly 80% of your needs. Do not require or expect that a product do everything you think it should ó you may be wrong, and you may find that it limits you as you learn how to use the technology effectively. Tweak, Modify, and Change None of us is good enough to architect a system on paper that will be flawless. In fact most of our processes ó even, or perhaps especially, new ones ó are filled with bugs and overlooked errors. The best strategy is to accept upfront that any new technology will require a back and forth process of tweaking the process to accommodate the technology and the technology to meet the requirements of the process. This constant process of minor improvement and change will evolve your processes. Measure Everything The only way you can see improvement is to have a baseline of performance in as many areas as you can and measure what happens to each of those as you adopt the technology. When you take this step you will be able to show both the technology supplier as well as your own management team where the technology is showing a productivity boost and where costs are being shaved. By carefully monitoring and tweaking various aspects of the process, you will know which steps are the real levers of productivity and which are not. Adopting technology is a process in itself, and to see any result requires careful thought and constant monitoring.

The 16% Solution, Part 2: Fixing a Broken Hiring Process

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
May 11, 2004

In Part 1 of this article series, I discussed the contribution good hiring and placement can bring to the bottom line. I also discussed how to begin resolving the problem. In this section, I’ll continue my recommendations. Once you have identified a department with a major headache, determine whether the manager is a promising thought-leader who wants to attract favorable attention or another member of the produce family. Tell him or her you want to investigate whether recruiting can help. Discuss the problem and jointly arrive at an estimate of costs (this could either be a very short or very long discussion, depending on the skill of the manager). Brainstorm a broad range of cost factors, such as employment fees, open seats, coaching time, interview time, training, time to productivity, customer relationships, lost sales, legal fees, and the number of low-skilled people needed to perform the work of one high-skilled person (and so forth). Once you translate work problems into hard dollars, you’re half-way home. If a manager cannot connect money with employee performance, he or she won’t be in the job for long. Find another department manager who is on top of the problem. Now you need to go about resolving the problem by discovering what’s being missed in the pre-screen. Think about what makes the difference between a high performer and low (or termed) performer in terms of:

The Future Of Recruiting, Part 3: Internet Recruiting Approaches Will Change

by
Dr. John Sullivan
May 10, 2004

No area of recruiting will be exempt from change as recruiting progresses over the next 10 years. But one of the areas that will undergo some of the most dramatic changes will be the area of Internet recruiting. In my experience, most current Internet recruiting approaches are really just traditional recruiting using “electrons.” As a result, the strategies and tools that are currently utilized will be obsolete in the very near future. The world of finding candidates on the Internet will change dramatically. Some of the changes you can expect in sourcing strategy and tools include the following: 1. Google dominates internet candidate “finding.” Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon will be the firms that dominate Internet recruiting because of their combination of brand strength, Internet sales savvy, and powerful search engines. The current “monster” approach of using large job boards to find people within an established database of candidate resumes loses its value when it contains a lot of dated resumes (old data). A new, but clearly superior, approach will be developed by Google and perhaps other well-branded Internet firms. Their “resumeless” search tool will dominate future Internet recruiting. The approach they use will be an adaptation from the current information search model, but it will instead search for the more valuable employed top performers, who are everywhere on the Internet but who may not have ever posted a resume online. These firms will do this by using an instant search technique that finds great candidates using modifications of currently available information search technologies. Google candidate search will first find the best people based on the candidate’s “Google score”. Continuous, 24/7 searches will yield more targeted, current information on higher quality working professionals than most job boards can. As managers get more skilled at using search engines, they will be able to create their own “instant” customized candidate pools. Once identified, rather than relying on what may be an old resume (or even no resume) to know the candidates background, these candidates will instead be “profiled” by using information that is gathered in bits and pieces and then put together on a single candidate profile form. The information will be gathered from many websites:

Hardball Recruiting, Part 4: Negotiating and Closing Offers

by
Lou Adler
May 7, 2004

This is the fourth and final part in my “hardball recruiting” article series. We’re down to one or two final candidates, and the offer process is about to begin in earnest. When dealing with top people, expect resistance. Top people don’t look for jobs or accept offers the same way most candidates do. Since they’re looking for a better job, not another job, they want proof that it is better. They’ll balance long-term growth against short-term issues like compensation, job scope and location. They’ll also make their decisions in conjunction with other people ó so you need to convince not only the candidate, but also all of his or her advisors. This is time consuming and often frustrating ó but essential. When negotiating and closing offers, here are the steps you need to address: Step 1: Understand motivation for the job. Knowing why a candidate wants the job and who is your competition is important in putting an offer package together. Step 2: Create (or recreate) the opportunity gap. Candidates accept offers based on what they’ll learn, do, and become in comparison to other opportunities. Step 3: Test the offer. Never make an offer until you’re sure it will be accepted. Step 4: Negotiate the offer. It’s a solution, not a transaction. Step 5: Keep it closed and then network. It’s not over until it’s over, and sometimes not even then. Here are some important guidelines to consider as you push and pull the final candidates through each of these steps. 1. Understand the competition and the candidate’s motivation for the job. By the second interview, you need to know what’s motivating the candidate to move forward. Ask the candidate what she or he is looking for in a new job, and why this is important. Dig deep to determine what’s really motivating the person to look. If the candidate is leaving a bad situation. it’s called going-away motivation. If so, the likelihood of a counter-offer is lessened, and closing the person at a reasonable offer is more likely. If the person already has a good job, or has other competing offers, it’s called a going-towards motivating strategy. In this case, you’ll have to do a much better job of positioning your opportunity as the superior one. 2. Create an opportunity gap or job stretch. Top people accept reasonable offers because the new job offers more challenges ó more opportunities to learn, develop, grow, and become better. This is the opportunity gap. Recruiters and hiring managers need to create this opportunity gap during the course of the interviewing and selection process. Using the performance profile and a performance-based interview provides the background information needed to clearly describe to the candidate the career differences between the job you’re offering and every other opportunity. Describe the projects and challenges, and show how this is bigger or more important than their current job or a competing one. Clearly demonstrate that the job has 15% to 20% stretch in it. This is what the best candidates tell their friends and advisors about why they’re accepting your offer with only a modest increase in compensation. The bigger the opportunity gap or stretch, the less resistance you’ll face during the close ó and the less important compensation will be. 3. Test interest to maintain open lines of communication. During the closing process, ask your candidates questions like these to test interest:

  • We’re now putting together our final list of candidates. Based on what you now know about the job, would it make sense to put you on this short list?
  • keep reading…

The New EEOC Provisions on Job Applicants: What’s All the Fuss About?

by
Dr. Michael Harris
May 6, 2004

As you may already know, in early March of 2004 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in conjunction with the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Justice and the Office of Personnel Management, announced a proposed set of recordkeeping provisions concerning who is a job applicant in the context of the Internet and related technologies. Following a period of time for public comment, these provisions are likely to be used by the EEOC, as well as others (for example, the DOL), in challenging companies’ hiring practices. In this article, I will very briefly summarize these proposed recordkeeping provisions, explain what the fuss is all about, and offer some suggestions for companies to avoid problems when these provisions are put in place. Summary of Proposed Recordkeeping Provisions The essence of these provisions is that:

In order for an individual to be considered an applicant in the context of the Internet and related electronic data processing technologies, the following must have occurred:

keep reading…

What You Can Do About Retention

by
Kevin Wheeler
May 5, 2004

John Wellington recently faced a big decision. He had been interviewing for a short while, mainly out of frustration with his current employer. Suddenly, he was faced with an offer from a major competitor. He wasn’t sure what to do. He had mostly been interviewing out of frustration with his current situation. He hadn’t had a raise in two years, and his boss seemed incapable of saying anything nice about his work. John was putting in lots of extra time and was stressed out over the huge amount of work he was expected to complete with few resources. Past employee reductions had left his department short-handed, yet workloads were rising rapidly. He wasn’t sleeping well, and his wife was upset because he never had energy or time for family activities. In many ways John had had it. But he really did feel that his current employer was the better of the two. He liked his fellow workers ó although he knew that several of them were looking as well ó and before the downturn he was very happy. Maybe things would improve soon? Discussion The scenario above is one of the most familiar in corporate America today. Employees who are faced with increasing work, stressed out bosses, lack of incentives, and fear of reductions are about to start a major exodus from their current organizations. Most of them realize that the grass is probably not much greener in another firm, but they are hoping for some recognition and perhaps a bit of relief, even if temporary, from the day-to-day stresses of their current job. Recruiters alone cannot do much to slow this down. But in partnership with human resources generalists and hiring managers, recruiters can contribute to a significant positive change in the rate of turnover. The key is to form internal partnerships where these issues can be discussed and strategies can be tried out. Most organizations use money in the form of salary increases as the primary lever for retention. But we know from many years of research that it’s the combination of workload, career opportunities, hiring manager approach, corporate strategy and culture, as well as money, that all combine to influence a decision. People who feel challenged, and at the same time both supported and encouraged, will often be happy with a little less pay and will stay. Any team that is going to address turnover will have to examine and have a policy and strategy for each of these factors. Recruiters can contribute in several ways. First of all, make internal mobility the most important thing you focus on. Helping employees find new positions may be the best and most direct way you can influence them to stay. But most organizations either erect numerous bureaucratic hurdles that make moving around tough, or they simply do not offer any simple way for an employee to learn about possibilities. The Intranet or some other internal website should be designed so that employees can learn about open positions and apply for them. Work with HR to take down barriers and make it as easy to move between positions as it is to move outside the firm. This probably means that many current practices will have to change. Organizations with low turnover generally follow several rules that guide the internal application and transfer process:

  1. Employees should be able to interview for new positions without permission from anyone.
  2. keep reading…

Improving the World One Staffing Decision at Time: Do Candidates Like Assessments?

by
Charles Handler & Steve Hunt
May 4, 2004

The most important decision a company ever makes about its employees is the decision to hire them. Every other decision is a cause or consequence of this initial choice. Poor hiring decisions damage companies both directly through decreased performance and indirectly through lost opportunities. Consider the situation when your organization hires the wrong person and the superstar you should have hired is picked up by the competition. It is little wonder that hiring practices have a massive financial impact on organizational performance. The impact of good or bad hiring decisions also extends far beyond the profitability of organizations. Few things cause people more stress than being hired into a job that they are ill-suited to perform. Not only are bad staffing decisions disruptive to employees, but they also negatively impact the lives of their supervisors, coworkers, customers, and families. In fact, flawed hiring decisions undermine the overall growth and success of businesses and economies in general, which eventually hurts all of us. Much of the damage and disruption caused by hiring mistakes could be avoided if companies simply made a commitment to using better selection methods. There is extensive research indicating that appropriate use of scientifically designed online assessments greatly improves the efficiency and accuracy of hiring decisions. If you want to see some of this assessment research we suggest you spend some time reading through peer-reviewed journals such as Personnel Psychology, the Journal of Applied Psychology, or the International Journal of Selection and Assessment. Assessment tools and methods can efficiently measure a range of critical candidate characteristics such as knowledge, skills, personality, experience and culture fit without taking up valuable recruiter time. These assessments provide staffing professionals with quality information that greatly improves the accuracy of their hiring decisions. Taken to a logical if somewhat “idealistic” conclusion, this greater use of assessments will lead to better staffing decisions, which in turn will lead to happier more productive employees, more profitable and efficient organizations, a generally stronger economy and society, and ultimately a better world. Despite the clear and documented advantages offered by assessments, many companies remain reluctant toward using them as part of their staffing process. Over the next several months we plan to explore this issue by taking an in-depth look at some of the reasons why companies resist using assessments. A mix of research and experience has led us to identify several key factors that often act as road blocks to the adoption of online assessment tools. We will identify and discuss each of these roadblocks, explore whether they are rooted in myth or reality, and share methods for either removing or surmounting them. Our hope is that by discussing common objections and concerns hindering the use of assessments, we can help provide knowledge and understanding that will ultimately contribute to wider adoption of assessment tools. The following are some of the topics we will be addressing over the coming months:

The Future Of Recruiting, Part 2: Internal Departmental Changes

by
Dr. John Sullivan
May 3, 2004

HR, as a profession, changes at the speed of a rock. It’s no secret that HR practitioners tenaciously cling to the status quo. Recruiting, as a part of HR, does change a little faster it’s true, but most of that change in recent years has been as a result of court cases and changes in employment laws that essentially forced recruiting to shift its practices and strategies. Even the infamous war for talent in the late ’90s didn’t fundamentally change most firms’ recruiting strategies. We flailed and we struggled, but we fundamentally didn’t change our approach. But it’s important to note that the speed of change in recruiting is about to undergo a dramatic increase due to the fundamental changes in the way businesses operate. In particular, the spread of technology, the increasing globalization of business, and the demands that all internal processes (including recruiting and HR) demonstrate effectiveness through metrics will force recruiting to change forever. Let’s look particularly at globalization as a force for change in recruiting. The continued and relentless globalization of all business processes will forever end the localization of recruiting strategies and practices. Just as manufacturing managers must now find the most efficient location and supply chain and managers must find the cheapest supplier, where ever they may be located, so too will recruiting now need to find the best talent, wherever it might be located around the globe. Instead of using approaches that work just fine at headquarters, recruiting will be forced to utilize mass customized tool as well as approaches that are consistent throughout the organization. At the same time, its practices will have to perfectly fit the situation in every country. In Part 1 of this article series on the future recruiting, I mentioned that the size and the responsibilities of the recruiting department would change dramatically. In the rest of this article I’ll explore in depth more of the ways those changes will happen internally. Recruiting Jobs That Will Diminish ó And Eventually Go Away As recruiting departments shrink by as much as two-thirds, the need for certain job functions to be handled by the recruiting department will decrease. Some of the jobs in recruiting will be replaced by technology and self-service, while others will just no longer be necessary. Those job functions that are likely to be eventually eliminated include:

  • Recruiting coordinator. More effective and accurate resume screening and web candidate search tools will mean that all initial and intermediate screening will be done electronically. The ability to read through a stack of resumes will no longer be critical in recruiting.
  • keep reading…