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January  2005 RSS feed Archive for January, 2005

Strengthening Your Leadership Bench with External Succession Planning, Part 2

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jan 31, 2005

article by Dr. John Sullivan and Master Burnett External succession planning is much like traditional succession planning, with the exception that the scope is expanded to include both external talent and job assignment opportunities for development outside the organization. Expanding the scope patches a critical flaw in many organizations: the shortage of suitable talent for development and the relative lack of development opportunities. Moving forward, let’s take a look at the high-level steps involved with putting into practice such a program. External succession planning starts with the concept that there is a commitment to develop and follow a documented plan and strategy with regards to the leadership of the organization. The motivation behind this commitment is not as important, but most would agree that one of the primary drivers is to ensure consistency in the execution of medium- and long-term corporate objectives. (The absence of consistency produces organizational volatility, which in turn dictates that management spend as much if not more time managing the volatility versus the execution of strategy.) Beyond this commitment, what follows are the major steps: 1. Make the business case for external succession planning. The first step is to present arguments to your senior leadership about the need for including external talent and development opportunities in your succession plan. Generally that means documenting current development problems/shortages, and putting an estimated dollar cost to each. This business case should include comparisons between the performance of various leaders who have undergone development as planned and those who have not. It should also take into consideration the costs associated with having a position vacant and hiring externally. 2. Identify targeted positions. The next step is to identify which positions will likely require replacement talent in the next 6 to 18 months. You begin by looking at your current succession plan in order to identify the positions with severe shortages to target. The steps include:

  • Identify the positions where you clearly have no qualified internal candidates already on the bench.
  • keep reading…

Good Interviewing Starts With Knowing the Answers, Not With Asking Questions

by
Lou Adler
Jan 28, 2005

It hit me like a snowstorm this week: The problem with interview training is that too much time is spent on learning to ask questions, rather than knowing the answers. Interestingly, if you already know the correct answers, asking the questions requires no training whatsoever. So in this article I’m going to give you the answers to determine if a candidate possesses the universal core traits of success. But before I tackle this important issue, let’s make this article interactive. To begin with, you’re probably aware that ERE is holding its ER Expo 2005 Spring conference in San Diego on March 29-31. I’ll be leading a recruiter top-ten best practices workshop on the 29th. I hope to personally meet you there. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of articles on many of these best practices. The articles will give you a chance to get a jumpstart on applying the ideas in your work if you’re attending the workshop. Even if you won’t be there, the articles will provide food for thought. Before reading this article, you should also take my online Recruiter 10-Factor Evaluation. Knowing where you stand against the national averages on all of the ten factors will allow you to identify areas for self-improvement. If you’re a recruiting manager, have each person on your team take the five-minute evaluation. Then conduct a 360 review for each factor for each recruiter at your next staff meeting. To implement a team development program for 2005, work on one of the factors each month. This type of simple, self-paced training program will allow you to improve overall team performance by at least 25% over the year. Assessing candidate competency is one of the ten core traits of top recruiters. The focus of this assessment should be on the three universal core traits of success. Specifically:

  1. Competency to do the work required. The ranking needs to reflect both ability and quality differences, from none or low to exceptional.
  2. keep reading…

What We Can Learn From Online Dating

by
Dr. Charles Handler
Jan 27, 2005

There is no denying that personality tests are continuing to permeate our daily lives. There’s also no doubt that many readers who follow ERE regularly have had a chance to hear myself and other regular ERE authors discuss the ins and outs of the use of personality testing for employee recruitment, selection, and development. There is good reason for this. As more individuals begin to understand the value of assessment tools, and as technology continues to make it easier to integrate these tools into the hiring process, interest in assessment tools has continued to grow. Without a doubt the most commonly used type of assessments are personality inventories of one type or another. When used correctly, these inventories can be highly useful, supporting decision-making by providing important insight into how candidates may be expected to behave in certain work-related situations or how well they fit into a specific work environment. While most of my work with personality testing is related to matching people with jobs, I think that we hiring professionals can stand to learn from some of the other uses of these tools. One such case involves the use of personality profiles to match people with other people. Yes, I am talking about online dating. Before you close your browser window and move on to your day’s work, hear me out on this. I think there is a lot to be learned from a comparison between the use of technology and assessments to match people with jobs and the use of these same basic type of tools to compare people with other people. So hang in there and read on. In order to learn more about how online dating works, I decided to log on and check out eHarmony, an online dating site that advertises its use of personality profiles to help people find their ideal mates. (For the record, yes I am married and yes I did receive full permission from my wife for this official business-related research!) Once on the site, I went through the process of setting up an account and creating a profile in order to gain insight into how the eHarmony system works. The end result provided me with some answers about online dating as well as some information I could use to make comparisons to my specialty area, online hiring. My experience allowed me to make step-by-step comparisons between online dating and online assessment, which appear below. Please note that while the focus of my thoughts here is on the role of personality testing, in both online dating and online job searching a personality profile is just one component of a larger system. This means we must discuss the use of personality profiles within the context of a system or process that gives them meaning, which reinforces the central message of this article: that personality testing alone is not sufficient for making important decisions. Looking For Something New? The reason both screening and assessment systems exist is to help search for something new. The web has really changed our lives in amazing ways; it allows us to cast a net that will reach far and wide in order to find what we are looking for. People looking for jobs or mates can now virtually search the globe for the right match instead of being limited to only what they can find locally. In both cases we find people going on an electronic fishing expedition, a core part of which involves reaching out and projecting an image of who they are into the unknown and looking for the right return response. Of course, switching jobs is not as serious of a commitment as finding a mate, but it is hard to argue that both jobs and relationships hold front and center positions in most of our lives. While thinking about the motivation behind online job and relationship searching, I couldn’t help but draw the comparison between passive job seekers and “passive daters,” who may use the system to see what’s out there even though they are “currently employed.” Defining Who You Are In both cases, the first step to casting your virtual line is defining who you are. It is not possible to make accurate matches of any sort unless you have defined the parameters on which the matching will take place. In both online job seeking and online dating this involves creating a profile that captures the specific details of who you are, what you are looking for, and what you have to offer to others. While there are some major differences between the two (who has ever heard of a dating resume?), both online dating and online job searching can involve the following basic steps:

  • Set up an account and create a profile. In the case of eHarmony, this required a 30-minute process that involved answering quite a few questions about myself and my personal preferences.
  • keep reading…

Innovative Sourcing

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jan 26, 2005

At 2:00 p.m. EST today I will be giving a webinar on innovative sourcing. If you are interested in joining me for this free seminar, use this link to register. This seminar will be about using technology and techniques to find qualified candidates for your organization. But while the tools I will discuss are powerful and useful, they are only as good as you are. Great sourcing is all about systematically building relationships and developing networks. Sourcing strategies cannot be built in a few days or weeks, nor is there a magic set of tools that make the process effortless. Successful talent agencies have recruiters on staff with years of experience ó and fat rolodexes ó who make the agencies successful. Think of sourcing just as you would about acquiring anything valuable. You assess your need and define what you are looking for. You have a pretty solid idea about what you want when you go out looking. Then you determine where you could buy whatever it is you want. You many check out several stores and even check the Internet for the product, comparing prices, availability, and quality. Then you go shopping. You enter the store, check it out, talk to a salesperson and eventually make a decision either to buy the product or not. This process is almost identical to the one you should follow for sourcing great candidates. The steps involved have to be executed in sequence. You cannot skip any and expect to be successful: 1. Know who you want. The first step is to know who it is you are looking for. As deceivingly simple as this sounds, it is often the most complex and difficult step in the entire sourcing process. You will need to spend a lot of time with your hiring managers, and in the business units that you support, building a deep and thorough understanding of the competencies, skills, and attitudes that lead to success. You need to find out who the best (most productive) employees are and spend time figuring out what they have in common that makes them successful. You will need to interview hiring managers and others who are dependent on the output of the people you are profiling. You will also need to be as neutral and objective in this process as you can be. Managers often think they know who the best workers are, but they may not be right. You will have to find out how to make a business case to the manager about why a different profile might be more useful. Some organizations are using competency analysis tools or may have something like a culture fit test that is used regularly. The results from these can be very helpful in developing the profile. A useful profile will give you a list of very specific competencies, skills and attitudes that you can interview candidates for or ask them to demonstrate for you. 2. Find out where to find them. Once you have a profile and have developed some criteria to judge candidates against, it should be much easier to discover where likely candidates might be found outside of work. The technologies I discuss can help speed up this process and they help you look in places where it would be very difficult for you to go if you did not have the tools. Blogs and other informal tools, for example, can reach those people who have no interest in changing jobs ó the really passive candidates ó and market to them. There may be websites where your ideal candidates spend time or there may be a chat room where they are active. What you have to do is research where they are and when they are there (timing is critical as well) so that you can present them with your targeted message. Some of the tools can help you look at your competitors and find out who works for them or even where they get their people. Social networking tools can link you to competitors and individuals who can refer others to you. News feeds and blogs can keep you aware of impending layoffs or other changes a company is going through that might give you a supply of good people. 3. Develop an effective strategy and set of tactics for reaching out to them. This step is relatively easy compared to the others. Technology can assist you in communicating quickly and frequently with those you find. A single email to a potential candidate will rarely be enough. You will need a systematic approach that includes email, news, enticements, and perhaps even voice contact. Many candidates need time to think and process potential changes in career or employer, so frequent communication is important, as is a compelling argument as to why they should make a move. Finding people is only a tip of the iceberg in getting them to say yes to your offer. Sourcing is really about upfront legwork and intelligence gathering, and it’s ultimately about developing a network that continuously supplies you the great people you need. The only caveat is that this process takes time and cannot be successfully implemented in a flash ó no matter how big the need or how much you spend on technology. But like all good things, your long-term investment in technology and in developing a sourcing process will pay off for a long time.

4 Ways to Supercharge Your Recruiting Performance

by
Howard Adamsky
Jan 25, 2005

In most professions, the very best practitioners do specific things that set them apart from others and keep them at the top of the performance curve. It is seldom sheer brilliance, advanced degrees, or even special training that catapults these mere mortals to the superstar status they enjoy. What gets them there is their ability to go the extra mile and do what the rest of the bunch is unwilling to do, demonstrating that being in the top 20% is more about perspiration than inspiration. As recruiters, we know what we have to do to be successful ó and that’s okay if being successful is all you are looking to achieve. If, on the other hand, you are looking to achieve more than just success and elevate yourself into the elite group of recruiters who are consistently top of class in terms of performance, then this article is just what the doctor ordered. Out of my endless list of surefire ways to become a better recruiter, below are just four simple things you can do that take very little time, very little effort, and not a ton of grey matter either. Incorporate them into your everyday work routine and see how the results will delight you and leave the rest of your team wondering how you became such a great recruiter (you don’t have to give me any credit; tell them you thought of it by yourself). 1. Get candidates mentally involved in their new company before they actually start. This action item is so important and so very easy. Consider this: after a candidate has accepted an offer and given notice, they are now living in a surreal and unusual employment period as they work out their notice. This is a very dangerous time for the candidate and for the recruiter. The candidate is in uncharted territory from a personal and professional standpoint, and even if you did your best to make them counteroffer proof, there is always a real possibility that the deal can go south. One way to keep the candidate focused on the new job and on track for a starting date is to get the candidate mentally involved in the new company before he or she actually starts. There are endless ways to do it. Here are three:

  • Call the candidate just to chat and see if there is anything they need or if they have any questions. This communication helps to keep the candidate’s head in the game, and hearing your friendly voice will make them feel comfortable that they made the right decision, in case they are being wined and dined for a possible counteroffer.
  • keep reading…

Strengthening Your Leadership Bench with External Succession Planning

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jan 24, 2005

article by Dr. John Sullivan and Master Burnett Succession planning is an interesting concept with great potential ó if only it were used to do what it was designed for. The unfortunate truth surrounding succession plans, however, is that most are nothing more than out-of-date, static documents ó rarely referred to, and with little exception, never executed. From an observer’s perspective, it appears that most succession planning efforts are nothing more than staged processes to lure up-and-coming leaders into a false sense of job security and form part of the business case that lets the leadership development function spend a fortune on career coaches, custom education development, and opulent retreats. This is clearly a case of HR practitioners pandering to the wants of a few versus the needs of the organization, and someday soon such gluttonous actions will wreak havoc. Small- and medium-sized organizations are already very aware of what not developing leadership bench strength can mean to the organization. Across the United States, and the globe for that matter, there are thousands of businesses that today are nothing more than shells of what they once were, thrown into periods of spiraling decline caused by the absence of engaged leadership. The problems which strike family-owned businesses that arise when there is no family left interested in assuming the reins are no different than those that impact large conglomerates, who find that after years of focusing on the product, they haven’t developed any replacement leaders with the right mix of skills and knowledge to run a division or even a facility. Lack of Leadership Bench Strength: A Growing Problem As the second phase of the War for Talent slowly builds momentum, more and more firms are going to experience havoc directly related to the absence of leadership bench strength. The problems that have crippled smaller firms historically will establish a footing in every major enterprise, as the competition for management and leadership talent reaches an all-time high. Driving the demand for such talent are a number of issues, including:

  • The impending retirements of baby boomers (i.e. the aging workforce)
  • keep reading…

Technology Trends: Recruiting Passive Candidates

by
Lou Adler
Jan 21, 2005

In a recent ERE article (Recruiting Lessons from the iPod) I made the case that recruiting must become more iPod-like. The point was that the iPod is more than a music player, it’s a music system. By tying together a very neat music player with simple player management software, an online store, drop-and-play plug-in sound systems, and a host of well-designed accessories, Apple quickly became the dominant name in the music industry. The lesson to be learned here is that the recruiting and hiring processes at most companies look more like a random collection of CDs and MP3 players when compared to the sleek, integrated iPod. In the same article, I also made the point that recruiters must be the catalyst for implementing these recruiting systems. We’ve developed an online evaluation you can take to see where you stand on having the requisite skills needed to be a complete recruiter. This is the type of person needed to lead this systematization effort. As you’ll quickly see, technology users and vendors are both culprits. In my opinion, independent technology solutions by themselves should be avoided. They cause more problems than they solve. This is where users have to be especially savvy. Technology that is not a complete integrated system winds up being under-utilized. This is why people are frustrated by the unfulfilled promises of new technology. An example will help illustrate this point. Let me use the new promise of name generating software is this month’s addition to the list of important ideas that are not quite ready for prime time. I’ll start off by admitting that I like and use these products. But they require lots of time and great recruiting skills to obtain real value from them. Here is the list of name generating software and tools I use today to find top passive candidates:

Incorporating Organizational Competencies Into Hiring

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Jan 20, 2005

Every so often I get asked to recommend a hiring tool that meets some very simple criteria:

What’s In a Recruiter’s Day?

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jan 19, 2005

It’s 7:30 a.m. and John rolls into the parking lot at CS4 Corporation, slurping a huge latte and wearily heading in to the office to start reviewing resumes. Most mornings he is greeted with at least 50 new submissions from the website or from a job board feed. John tries to get the review of these resumes done by 8:30 or 9:00 so that he can either get to a meeting with a hiring manager or start making calls to the promising applicants for a brief phone screen. In a good morning he can get in two or three phone screens and perhaps a short meeting with a manager to go over open reqs or get new ones. Between meetings and phone calls, John tries desperately to keep up with correspondence, answer emails, and check his voicemail. Most of the time he is juggling 25 to 30 open positions, with at least 12 of them in the “critical” category. His average time to fill a position is running at about 60 days, and his managers are all pretty satisfied with this pace. By lunchtime (a meal that he often skips or takes care of with a quick sandwich at this desk) John is already tired. But he tries to reserve afternoons for face-to-face interviews or more in-depth telephone screens. He often has to find time to squeeze in a project meeting on selecting a new applicant tracking system ó something his boss nominated him to be part of. Of course, he also has the usual weekly staff meetings and the occasional all-hands communication meeting his CEO loves. He may stay at work until 7:00 pm or later depending on where candidates are located, finishing up calls and getting his desk under control for the next day. By spending time with John over the course of a month, I was able to put together a picture of his typical day. The chart below shows how his time was spent broken down by his major activities:

keep reading…

Is Your Job Going to India?

by
Dave Lefkow
Jan 18, 2005

Despite advances in technology, the reactionary recruiting model of old is back in full force. Recruiters in many organizations are still spending a majority of their time sorting through resumes in their inbox or finding the “low-hanging fruit” from resume databases ó in many cases I’ve encountered, over 75% of their time is spent in these areas. On the flip side, smart staffing directors will tell you that they’re focusing on quality. They’ll also tell you that the best people are not often hanging around on job boards or posting their resumes online, and that they’d prefer their recruiters to spend their time sourcing passive candidates and networking with great talent. In fact, they say that they’d rather their recruiting teams spend 60-75% of their time in the passive and less-active candidate world. The writing is on the wall: certain jobs in recruiting are invariably at risk of being outsourced, offshored or eliminated altogether. What would make a director of staffing decide to outsource recruiting jobs to a foreign country? Which positions and people are the most vulnerable? Sample Scenario Pretend for a moment that you are a new Staffing Director at a mythical wireless company called (excuse the writer’s block) Mythical Wireless Company. You’ve been brought in to change recruiting at Mythical from a reactionary administrative function to a proactive strategic business partner. Upon examining the state of your 60-person recruiting team you find:

  • A total of 40 of the 60 recruiters spend almost all of their time on “inbox recruiting,” just waiting for active candidates’ resumes to show up on their doorsteps from job boards and newspaper ads.
  • keep reading…

Recruiting Lessons from the iPod

by
Lou Adler
Jan 14, 2005

Why is the iPod such a phenomenon? It’s not because it looks neat or works well. Those things are just a small part of it. The real reason it’s such a phenomenon is that it’s more than a music player, it’s a music system. In fact, it’s a music business system far larger than itself. Get this: 4.8 million iPods were sold in the fourth quarter of 2004 alone. At this rate, soon everyone in the world will soon have one. There are business, management, and especially recruiting lessons to be learned from the success of the iPod. By being more than a music player, iPod has single-handedly changed the competitive landscape for both the music and the consumer electronics industries. Right now you can plug your iPod into your car, laptop, or your home theater system and find and play any music you want anytime, anywhere. As a result of the iPod, in a few years CDs and CD players will cease to exist. Being more than a music player is the lesson to be learned here. Being a music system is why the iPod has been so wildly successful. Recruiters and recruiting tools need to be more than recruiters and recruiting tools, too. They have to be iPod-like. Here’s the definition of a business system from Word.net: “A group of independent but interrelated elements comprising a unified whole; example ó ‘a vast system of production and distribution and consumption keep the country going.’” In the world of recruiters and recruiting, there is little interdependence similar to the iPod. There is no business system for recruiting. This is actually pretty shocking. Recruiters are all different, and they all use different sourcing, selection, and recruiting techniques. Managers are all different, and they all use different techniques for writing job descriptions, and interviewing and selecting candidates. Recruiting IT systems are different, and they’re not too well integrated with the hiring process they’re supposed to manage. This lack of an interrelated whole is why just about every single hiring and recruiting initiative fails to meet expectations. It’s why behavioral interviewing training programs don’t work too well. It’s why applicant tracking systems fall short. It’s why the war for talent is still being fought. Here are two examples of how recruiting managers and recruiters can use the iPod as a metaphor to become better managers and recruiters. The first one has to do with how to buy (or sell) recruiting software; the other with how to use the interview as part of a recruiting system and not just as an assessment tool. Buying Recruiting Software Buying or selling specialized recruiting software is narrow thinking. Selling a system-level solution is the key to making software work. This is the lesson of the iPod. For example, as most of you know, name-generating software to find passive candidates is the new buzz. This could be using products that auto-scour the Internet to find passive candidates or using some type of social networking tool to get names from names. Buying (or selling) something like this is a no-brainer for third-party retained recruiters, but a non-starter for their corporate counterparts. Names of passive candidates are the raw material of third-party recruiters, but useless for corporate recruiters unless an iPod-like business system solution is provided. For name-generating software to work in the corporate market, the recruiting team must be reorganized; the product itself must be combined with automated techniques to contact the person; it must be integrated with the applicant tracking system; and specialized recruiter training should be provided. On a larger scale, every aspect of the corporate hiring process must be redesigned to handle passive candidates. This is why a software-only, non-system solution won’t work. Instead, software like this must be part of a interrelated business system consisting of the right people, the right processes, the right technology, and the right organizational structure. Evaluate your company’s hiring system from this perspective. Does it resemble an iPod, or is it just a disconnected collection of CDs and MP3 players? Interview as Part of a Recruiting System Now let’s consider the interview as part of a recruiting system rather than just a means to assess candidate competency. An interview must accomplish a number of objectives. In order of importance, here’s my list of the real purpose of the interview:

  1. Recruit top passive candidates.
  2. keep reading…

The Key to Gathering Employee Referrals: Changing Employee Perceptions

by
Erik Smetana
Jan 13, 2005

From the outside looking in, most people see the human resources function as a necessary corporate evil that slows down the business. Still referred to as the “personnel department” in many less-than-progressive organizations, human resources exists in the minds of many employees strictly for the purpose of dealing with administrative overflow and the tasks of “hiring and firing.” While the human resources function does typically deal with the responsibilities of recruitment and terminations within a company, these roles are not all encompassing, and they certainly do not cover the array of issues and jobs functions which fall under the list of responsibilities for most human resources (HR) departments. This image of HR has been etched in the forefront of our employees and co-workers; it would seem that everywhere we look an example of these inaccuracies exists. Television shows like the recently cancelled “Drew Carey Show,” the comic strip “Dilbert,” and the movie “Office Space” all paint human resources as inept or evil, often times both. News outlets reinforce this skewed version of HR; employee recognition programs and leadership training are not necessarily front page headlines, but the unfortunate announcement of a reduction in force (RIF, layoff) is the lead story on the evening news. Human resources departments across the country are engaged in a never-ending public relations battle not just with the outside world, but also internally with their employee base. Employees have taken the stance that HR is not their friend, and they have become afraid to approach those persons most equipped to assist them. The issue becomes scary when we consider the ramifications as related to issues like sexual harassment, ADA, labor relations, public perception of the organization, as well as the success of HR programs like employee referrals. The impact of disenchanted employees on the recruiting function has been detrimental when we consider that, on average, nearly one-third of all employees are hired as a direct result of an employee referral, according to New York-based MMC Group. If our employees do not trust HR, do we honestly believe that they will be willing to encourage their friends and family to come work for us? Possible solutions to this growing dilemma include the following:

  1. Unlock the door and keep it open. Human resources functions that have been able to build employee trust and respect have done so by their willingness to give employees straightforward information about company performance and the logic used by management and HR during their decision-making processes. These companies also strongly encourage participation in an open communication exchange. Under the most effective HR leadership, this process applies to both the good and the bad, giving employees a sense of being “in the loop.”
  2. keep reading…

Reframing Traditional Workforce Planning

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jan 12, 2005

Recruiting needs to ensure that an organization has the talent it needs to meet business needs in the foreseeable future. Ideally, recruiting should position its organization to have the people, talent, skills and flexibility to respond to needs that are often unforeseen and unpredictable. It is only natural that as the economy gets better and turnover rises, managers will begin to think about how they can meet their needs for talent. Executives will start asking recruiters how many employees, and often which ones, may end up leaving, what the talent availability is for certain skills, and how quickly people can be replaced. Rarely do recruiters have adequate answers to these questions, and even more rarely do they have the ability to respond as quickly as they should to rising turnover, changing skill sets, and evolving business needs. But turning to traditional workforce planning as a solution to this dilemma is a big mistake, for four reasons:

  1. Workforce planning assumes that talent needs are predictable. It assumes that the skills needed two or three years ago are the same ones that are needed today and tomorrow. It also assumes that the education, experience, and motivation of potential candidates will be similar to that of candidates from two or three years ago.
  2. keep reading…

Peeling Back The Onion

by
Randall Birkwood
Jan 11, 2005

What does “peeling back the onion” mean to you? For you who have not heard the expression, it refers to learning more about something or someone by peeling back the layers. It’s unfortunate that we don’t do a very good job of peeling back the onion when it comes to hiring people. We make only the slightest effort to know what a candidate is made of. We typically bring them in for a round of interviews and ask them only the most basic of questions that refer to their experience and knowledge. We then make them an offer and ó voila! ó they’re hired. Can you imagine if you did that with a prospective spouse? I don’t mean spending only four hours interacting with him on dates; I mean spending only four hours asking him the most basic questions about dating experiences, whether he likes kids and pets, etc. Well, folks, that’s how deep we get when it comes to hiring. We make a decision that will affect our company’s future based on a few disorganized meetings with a candidate ó and we haven’t even peeled back the first two layers! So how do we go about peeling back the onion so we can truly learn about the candidates we interview? First of all, we have to determine what we want to learn about them. Will their past work experience be a predictor of their success at your company? Sometimes, but not always. Is their knowledge a good predictor of their success? Sometimes, but not always. Are their behaviors an important predictor of success? Always. So why do we relentlessly focus on someone’s experience and knowledge, but seldom learn about what makes her tick? I have rarely seen anyone get fired for poor knowledge, but I have often seen people let go because of a poor attitude, laziness, or unwillingness to work with others. When you put a recruitment strategy together, I suggest you consider these questions:

  1. What attributes and behaviors can we consistently assess to ensure we make a hire who will be more productive and stay longer?
  2. keep reading…

Peoplesoft Is Being Swallowed by the Evil Empire

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jan 10, 2005

For anyone who really cares about HR, January 14, 2005 will be a black day. On that day, as many as 6,000 PeopleSoft employees will be terminated by the corporate equivalent of Darth Vader, the Oracle Corporation. There are three reasons why that day will live in on in HR infamy:

  1. As many as 6,000 of the founders, pioneers, and ardent supporters of HR technology may leave the field forever.
  2. keep reading…

How to Eliminate the Three Biggest Hiring Errors

by
Lou Adler
Jan 7, 2005

A common New Year’s resolution for recruiters has something to do with becoming better at recruiting. My New Year’s resolution for 2005 is to help you get there. This article starts the process. Consider this: Based on hundreds of observations, about two-thirds of the time hiring errors can be attributed to one of three major interviewing mistakes. They’re all easy to correct. It only takes a few simple steps which anyone can learn and use. The reason no one has solved the problem before is interesting just in itself. First, it’s so obvious and too simple. You don’t get a PhD for identifying simple problems to solve. Second, no one came up with a simple solution to solve the simple problem. This is only natural since the experts were trying to solve the wrong problem (they’re still trying to solve it, by the way). Third, managers don’t like to change things, especially the way they interview, unless they’re forced to do it. Who can blame them? Most past hiring and interviewing solutions have been overly complex and not as effective as they should be, given the effort required to implement them. This has to do with the “wrong problem, wrong solution” approach generally followed in the past. My advice: If stuff you do doesn’t work, don’t do it any more. That’s a pretty simple life rule ó unfortunately one which not enough people follow. Here’s what I’ve identified as the three biggest hiring errors, Error 1: Hiring people who are competent, but not motivated. This is attributed to hiring people based on their resumes and how well they present themselves during the interview. When you hire on skills and presentation, you hire lots of people who are motivated to get the job, but not to do the work. Not surprisingly, their motivation stops the day the day they get hired. You can’t correlate energy, motivation, and initiative shown during the interview with on-the-job performance. Instead, you need to determine what types of work motivated people to excel on the job. Error 2: Hiring people who are partially competent. This is due to the fact that managers globalize strengths and weaknesses. If someone is smart or creative or insightful, we never check to see if they are good at managing, good at executing, good at designing, good at dealing with pressure, or good at dealing with everything else they need to be good at. Intuitive interviewers incorrectly assume that strength in one area correlates with strength in everything. Conversely, if someone is weak at one thing or answers a question incorrectly or is a little nervous, the interviewer assumes total incompetence. It doesn’t really matter if you measure 7 competencies, 12 behaviors, or 10 performance traits (my personal preference); what matters is that you measure lots of stuff independently and more than once. This is how you obtain a “whole person” evaluation across all job needs. Often strengths and weaknesses balance themselves out, but the real key, as you’ll discover below, is that looking objectively is more important than what you’re looking for. (Note: this is why any structured interview will work, since it eliminates the tendency to globalize strengths or weakness error.) Error 3: The best person is normally not hired. The best employees are frequently not great candidates. On-the-job best employees work hard, work well with others, consistently meet or exceed expectations, have great potential, and can lead others. Yet these great people won’t get hired if they’re also not great interviewees or don’t have all the requisite skills perfectly aligned on their resumes. What a waste. Most companies go out of their way to hire top candidates, and never consider all the top employees they didn’t hire. This is a metric that should be tracked. You’ll quickly discover that half of your sourcing problems have been solved. If you’re a recruiter, you’ve experienced this problem first hand. How many of your best people didn’t get the job that you knew was perfect for them? Eliminating these three problems is easy, cheap, and fast. It only takes the following simple approach. The key is to establish a rule-based process that forces interviewers to overcome their personal biases and remain objective throughout the interview process.

  1. Eliminate traditional job descriptions and substitute a performance profile in their place. A performance profile describes the top six to eight to things a top person needs to do on the job to be considered successful. The job description should just describe minimal skills and experience requirements. It’s what a person does with these skills that matter. Not having a realistic measurement standard allows managers to insert their personal biases into the assessment equation.
  2. keep reading…

A New Year’s Greeting to the EEOC

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Jan 6, 2005

It seems like the HR world is separated into two groups: those who know and follow the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures and those who don’t. To help the second group defend their chosen practices, I’ve prepared a draft letter they can send to the EEOC with a courtesy copy to their CEO. TO: EEOC Compliance Department

CC: CEO, Corporate Legal Department

RE: Current Hiring practices

keep reading…

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

by
Kevin Wheeler
Jan 5, 2005

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

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

How to Develop a Capture Strategy

by
Howard Adamsky
Jan 4, 2005

Did you ever notice that, when a candidate accepts an offer, all of the people who even breathed the same air as the candidate pat themselves on the back, bathing in the glow of a job well done? But what about when the candidate rejects the offer? Things get a bit chilly at the old homestead. Those very same coworkers disappear, you are moved to a smaller cubicle in the shipping area and you begin to find death threats on your chair. (John F. Kennedy said, “Success has a million fathers, but failure is an orphan.” I think he knew a bit about recruiting.) Fortunately, I have a fix for this dilemma that will have you closing more business, being invited to all of the best parties, and even having lunch with all of those coworkers who secretly hate recruiters (until they are out of work, of course, and then become your best friend). It’s called “Developing a Capture Strategy,” and it is so good that I am surprised Adler and Sullivan did not think of it first. However, being the foremost authority on developing a capture strategy in the United States, perhaps even the world, I am pleased to use this forum as a place to lay out the rules of this simple and often unused strategic initiative that will help you demonstrate greater value by achieving greater results. (Third party recruiters, pay attention. This will help you as well!) Let’s start with a bit of logic on why a capture strategy is necessary. If you can accept the premise that anything worth doing is worth doing well, then a capture strategy should be as much a part of the recruiting process as developing a solid position profile. It is an essential part of the plan because having the candidate come in for interviews, get an offer, and not accept is a gigantic waste of time and money. The consummate sales professional in all of us would never attempt to close business without a well thought-out capture strategy, because it is too risky. If the difference between making the sale and not making the sale is praying for the desired outcome, then I would rather pray based upon the strength of my capture strategy as opposed to the goodness that arises from serendipity. Losing business for the right reasons is okay, but losing it for the wrong reasons is unforgivable. Let’s define a capture strategy. (Stick with me, this stuff is brilliant.) A capture strategy is a carefully designed plan for closing the sale that is developed as you go through the discovery process with the candidate. Discovery is nothing more than learning about the candidate by asking lots of questions that fall into two categories:

  1. Why is the candidate considering changing jobs?
  2. keep reading…

Recruiting and Talent Management Trends for 2005

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Jan 3, 2005

It’s better to be prepared than surprised. Almost every pundit who has examined the year 2005 has come to the conclusion that it will be a year of dynamic change ó and there is no reason to expect that recruiting will be exempt from this rapid change. Unfortunately, recruiting is a field where managers and recruiters tend to react to events as opposed to forecasting and planning ahead for them. In my professional, consulting, and academic career, I have found that only a handful of firms and recruiting departments expect changes and have a logical, department-wide process for preparing for them. These preparations can range from elaborate forecasts and workforce plans to simpler “if/then” scenarios, where individual functional managers are presented with a series of “what if” situations and each is expected to be able to, on the spot, outline their response to the “what if” situation should it occur. As an individual practitioner ó regardless of what approach your department takes, and no matter how the busy you are ó if you expect to be successful and strategic, you need to prepare for a range of likely changes in both the business and the recruiting environment. If you are one of the few who are willing to take the time to be prepared rather than surprised, here are some trends you are likely to see and read about in the upcoming year. 17 Hot (and Getting Hotter) Trends in Recruiting and Talent Management

  1. An increased emphasis on assessment. After sourcing, assessment is the highest impact area in traditional recruiting. If, for example, you recruited Tiger Woods but rejected him because “he wore that silly Nike cap throughout the interview,” you will certainly not end up with a large number of high quality hires. Some of the hot areas you can expect in assessment include online technical skill assessments, the increased use of simulations (online and during interviews), improving the screening of diversity candidates, and better metrics to identify and validate the most effective screening tools and approaches.
  2. keep reading…