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December  2005 RSS feed Archive for December, 2005

Your Internal Diamond Mine

Kevin Wheeler
Dec 21, 2005

The employees you already have are a prime source for the positions you have to fill. As the shortage of experienced, skilled talent becomes even greater, organizations that have developed solid internal recruiting practices and policies will be better off than those that haven’t. Your current workforce is a “diamond mind” of skills, corporate culture, and loyalty. By tapping into them as a source for open positions, organizations achieve greater loyalty, lower turnover, improved productivity and profits. Yet, very few organizations that I work with have effective, modern internal transfer and promotion policies. There are many reasons for this. One of the major reasons is that they have little information about the current workforce. Even though ERP and HRIS systems can usually accommodate storing and allowing a search for employees’ education, experience, and skills, very few organizations have input this data. Therefore, employees have to raise their hands if they are interested, and recruiters or hiring managers have no way to search for passive internal candidates.

The other major hurdle is that HR policies that were written in a time when labor and skills were abundant, and turnover low. These policies are often restrictive and discourage employees from moving. In fact, I was at a company a few days ago where employees are not allowed to apply for jobs that are posted on the Internet unless they have an okay from their manager and have been in their current position for at least six months! Surprisingly, most of the HR staff saw no problem with this practice and were even supportive of it, despite the fact that there are no similar constraints on an employee looking outside the organization for a position. What they have done, in effect, is create a disadvantage for themselves for no discernable reason other than a belief that “this is what should be.”

Unfortunately, we live in a real world where the market rules. HR has to be responsive to that market or lose good employees who most likely would have stayed if they could have made a move. Today, more than ever, employees are investors in our organizations and they can choose whether or not they share their expertise and skills with us. Each employee has a built-in return on investment meter that is constantly sampling the atmosphere and deciding if she is gaining or losing from a continuing association with their organization. As long as the employee feels that they are gaining skills and are being stimulated, they don’t look for different jobs and they contribute to the best of their ability within the system. But whenever the balance shifts even slightly, employees become vulnerable to any offer that may present itself. That is why having managers who have a history of good employee loyalty and low turnover are so valuable. Internal Recruiting I define several types of internal recruiting:

  • Active: When an employee chooses to look for a new position
  • keep reading…

Four Steps to Successful Contract Relationships

Jeremy Eskenazi
Dec 20, 2005

I was recently involved in a special expertise panel exercise for the Society of Human Resource Management in which over 100 thought leaders were asked the skills that would be most valued in the HR profession in the future. Guess the most important skill: Consultative skills? Yes, they’re important, but no, not the most important. Negotiation skills? Key, but not at the top. Executive skills? Sorry. This single most important skill identified by that group was project management skills. You see, in the future — and now, actually — the great HR leaders will not just be “doing” things. The great HR leaders will be focused on strategic and other key issues of the organization, and on building great relationships. They will still be held responsible for everything they’re responsible for now; they just won’t be doing it all. Others will be doing it. That’s right, they’ll be outsourcing much of it.

The great HR executive will come to love outsourcing, if they don’t already, the way Johnny Cash loved June Carter. Like June’s affect on Johnny, it will free you up to be the great leaders you always knew you could be. Whether it’s using third-party recruiters, contract recruiters, recruitment research, outsourced resume mining, background investigations, travel and logistical providers, relocation companies, or recruitment advertising agencies — let’s face it, we’re moving toward an outsourced world. That’s not a bad thing. It enables you to focus on the core of HR and recruiting: relationships. I can hear you yelling at the computer screen, “What! That’s my value to the company. That’s what I do. If you get rid of that, I’m afraid of how vulnerable that leaves me.”

First of all, you’re wrong. Your value to the company is what you make sure gets done, not what you actually do.

Second, get over it. Outsourcing effectively still requires that you have excellent negotiation, candidate development, and other skills. The core of recruiting ó your ability to build, develop, and maintain great relationships — cannot be outsourced (domestic candidates will never respond to people calling them from overseas). That notwithstanding, you shouldn’t be spending your time doing high volume, lower value work. Others can and should do the resume trolling. And let’s be honest — as HR executives and staffing professionals, we’ve been outsourcing for years. We may not have called it that, but every time you’ve ever used a search firm, you’ve outsourced. Let’s not be afraid of it. Let’s just do it better. And in order to do it better, we need to be great project managers. Project management is what June Carter did to Johnny Cash’s life when it was going to hell. She stepped in, took charge, communicated effectively, set boundaries and expectations, and above all, didn’t feed his self-destructive behavior (how many clients do we know who are candidate addicts?). I define project management as overseeing, leveraging resources toward, and facilitating the completion of a temporary endeavor undertaken to achieve a particular aim.

Now that you’ve awakened from that boring definition, let me tell you what I think project management really is in the world of professional staffing: It’s facilitating and communicating effectively to ensure a project gets done. Thus, I break project management skills/techniques down in terms of internal versus external projects. In both cases, we need to talk about the value of utilizing a contract and “contracting” effectively. Here are some steps to ensure success:

  1. Contracting. In recruiting, we’re not in control of the results of our work, so we must contract well. Contracting well is the key to successful project management. Internally, this manifests itself in clarifying with a hiring manager who’s responsible for what in the hiring process. The recruiter plays a key role in this because he/she needs to ask the right questions, understand the answers, and insure that the information gathered is correct.
  2. keep reading…

Who’s Ahead of the Curve? A Year End Review of the Best (and Worst) in Recruiting

Dr. John Sullivan
Dec 19, 2005

This is my year-end list of “the best” and “the struggling” in recruiting. I usually try to take a scientific approach to recruiting, but in this case, quantifying and listing the criteria for a list of the best thinkers — and those who need to rethink what they’re doing ó would just be too time-consuming. So without further ado, here is my 2005 year-end list of heroes in recruiting and those who need to get better.

Best Thinkers in Recruiting for 2005

These are the individuals or firms whom I have encountered this year that clearly think differently and are definitely on the right track with their philosophy and strategy of where recruiting needs to be.

  • Chris Forman. The CEO of AIRS has a better grasp on where the world of recruiting needs to be going than anyone I have dealt with during this year. Perhaps his unique view is a result of the fact that his background is outside of recruiting. Watch what he does: AIRS is no dinosaur from the past.
  • keep reading…

Do Your Hiring Processes Earn You Money or Cost You?

Lou Adler
Dec 16, 2005

Let’s play “Recruiting Monopoly.” As you’ll see, there are a number of critical stages in this game that correspond to the recruiting and hiring processes at most companies. You’ll start the game with $500 from the bank. If your hiring processes are really good, you’ll be able to win more than $3,000 (an ROI of 600 percent!). But if your hiring processes aren’t too good, you could go bankrupt before the first person gets hired — and go directly to jail. You’ll have to play the game a second time in order to hire another great person. This could get costly if your hiring processes are consistently a losing proposition. Let’s get started and see how well you do. Remember, you’ve got $500 at the start of the game.

Step 1: The Use of a Workforce Plan

A workforce plan is an annual forecast of hiring needs by position, by quarter. A plan like this gives you a three-to-six-month lead time on using all available sourcing channels to find top people. You earn $200 if you have a workforce plan in place and lose $100 if you don’t have one. Give yourself another $200 if you update this forecast quarterly. Forecast-to-forecast changes provide instant information about what’s going on in your business and what’s going to happen.

Step 2: The Quality of Your Job Requisitions

If you use traditional job descriptions that rely too heavily on skills, academics, and experiences, you lose $50. If you can’t obtain consensus from everyone on the hiring team as to real job needs before you start interviewing candidates, you lose another $50. If you suffer moving-job-spec syndrome, you lose another $50. If managers say they’ll know the person when they see him or her, you lose another $50. If recruiters can’t get enough time with the hiring manager to discuss the job, you lose another $50. You earn $250 if everyone on the hiring team is in agreement about the responsibilities and challenges involved in the job before they interview anyone. Getting consensus upfront is how you obtain consensus at the end. An article on performance profiles might help in this area.

Step 3a: Sourcing and Finding Top Active Candidates

If you’re an employer of choice with great candidates coming to your door without you doing any work, you don’t even need to play this game. For everyone else, if your jobs are easy to find using a Google or Yahoo! search — and don’t require candidates to go to a job board or directly to your website — you earn $100. Give yourself $50 if top candidates can very simply find your jobs at the top of the list just by putting in the city and job title. You earn $50 if your jobs have unique titles combined with compelling copy. You lose $100 if you do not have any of the above. You lose $50 if the first line on the job description is the requisition number. You lose another $50 if the ad copy emphasizes skills and experiences rather than opportunities.

Step 3b: Sourcing and Finding Top Passive and Diversity Candidates

Give yourself $100 if you have the ability to generate the names of top passive and diversity candidates through sources like Internet data-mining, competitive intelligence, or online networking tools such as ZoomInfo and LinkedIn. You lose $200 if you don’t do this step or if you can’t convert these names into a steady stream of great candidates. You win $100 if you can convince most of the people you network with to give you more names of highly qualified referrals. You earn another $100 if you spend more time calling these referrals and getting more referrals than you do working the original cold list of names. An article on networking might be useful.

Step 3c: The Use of Employee Referral Programs to Find Top Candidates

You earn $100 for having a professional and well-marketed employee referral program that consistently delivers strong candidates. Using Jobster qualifies here if everyone on your team uses it regularly. You earn $100 if recruiters personally and proactively solicit the names of top people from your top employees. You lose $200 if you don’t have a well-managed employee referral program in place that generates at least 20 percent of all new hires.

Sourcing Bonus!

Collect $500 if you have a consistent supply of top people for every important position.

Step 4: An Effective Interview and Assessment Process

You lose $100 if every interviewer interviews their own way. You lose $100 if you string a bunch of 30-minute interviews together. You lose $100 if your managers make instant decisions based on first impressions or gut feelings. You lose $100 if one superficial “no” vote can override the collective judgment of two or three other interviewers. You win $100 if all managers use a structured interview of some type and if they are trained and certified. You win $100 if there is some formal written assessment process in place that prevents superficial assessments. You win another $100 if this assessment is used in combination with a formal debriefing session with all interviewers before anyone makes a “yes” or “no” decision. You win $100 if top people come out of the interviewing process and feel they have been thoroughly evaluated. You win another $100 if these same candidates understand the job and specific challenges associated with the job.

Go Directly to Jail! Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.

You lose half of the winnings you’ve accumulated thus far if you have to do searches over again more than 50 percent of the time. If good candidates get rejected for the wrong reasons and you need to find more candidates, you’re wasting your time. One slate of three to four candidates should suffice for any search. Some of the problems here include lack of consensus on real job needs as well as weak interviewing skills. If you have no winnings, stay in jail.

Step 5: Recruit, Negotiate, and Close

You lose $50 if you focus too much on compensation and not enough on the reach of the job and career growth. You lose $50 if more than 50 percent of candidates say “I have to think about it” when you extend an offer. You lose another $50 if you don’t know why you lost the previous $50. You lose $50 if you ask candidates if they’d relocate on the first call. You lose $100 if more than 30 percent of good candidates exclude themselves from consideration at anytime before the offer stage. You lose $50 if you can’t convince candidates they should take the job with just a modest salary increase. You earn $100 if 80 percent of the best candidates you want to attract are willing to stay involved through the whole assessment process. You earn $100 if you close 80 percent of your best candidates who have multiple opportunities with fair offers. An article on negotiating compensation will help here.

Step 6: Post-Offer Challenges

You lose $100 if more than 25 percent of your candidates who have accepted offers either don’t show up, accept counter-offers, or accept offers from other companies. You earn $100 if this happens less than 10 percent of the time. You earn $100 if you have a pre-boarding process in place during the period when the candidate accepts the offer, but before starting. This includes one or two formal meetings or discussions with the hiring manager.

Step 7: Onboarding

You earn $100 if you have an effective on-boarding process in place and lose $100 if you don’t. An effective on-boarding process includes training as necessary, a formal process to ensure that candidates have a clear understanding of job expectations before they start doing the job, and the preparation of some type of development program to ensure on-the-job success.

Step 8: Management and Development

You earn $200 if you have mostly good hires in combination with good managers and a formal staff development program. You lose $200 if managers aren’t as involved as they need to be in ensuring the success of their newly hired team members. Weak management is the primary cause of good hires gone bad.

Step 9: Talent Performance

You lose $500 if too many top people leave too soon for dumb reasons like weak management, inadequate resources, or the work not being consistent with candidates were told it would be. In this case, everything you’ve done has been a pure waste of time. You win $1,000 if most top people perform as predicted during the interview (that is, extremely well), if they are highly motivated, if they work well with others, if they have the potential to grow, and if they attract other top people. After all, this is the whole point of the game.

How Well Did You Do in Recruiting Monopoly?

What’s the ROI of your hiring process — your total winnings divided by the initial $500 as a percent? A properly functioning recruiting and hiring process should have an ROI of at least 100 percent. You’re really in trouble if you went bankrupt. In this case: Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. But who cares? After all, it’s just a game…

2005 Online Screening and Assessment Survey Results, Part 2

Dr. Charles Handler
Dec 15, 2005

article by Mark Healy & Charles Handler

Organizations have been deploying pre-employment tests and assessments on computers for at least two decades. Originally just pencil-and-paper tests adapted to a computer interface, modern hiring and employee development tools have surmounted difficulties with data capture and reporting, user access, and database management to bring a new level of technical sophistication to recruitment and hiring programs. Now, six years into the 21st century, human resources and recruiting departments are keenly focused on the dispersal of postings, applications, and assessment tools to job applicants via the Internet. This revolution in the way companies recruit and hire people is moving quickly. So for the third straight year, I’ve asked users of online screening and assessment technology about their current and future use of web-based hiring systems.

This year we were able to collect data from 90 hiring professionals. The data offered us an excellent snapshot of current organizational strategies, concerns, and insights around the use of technology based screening and assessment tools.

In Part 1 of this article series on our findings, we detailed current usage rates and feelings about screening systems such as online job applications, applicant tracking systems (ATS), qualifications screening, and resume scanning. Moreover, we investigated trends in tracking the effectiveness of these tools, and how organizations could do a better job of understanding the systems they have in place. Here, in Part 2, we dive deeper into automated hiring processes by considering the current and future use of online assessment tools.

Assessment vs. Screening

Although definitions vary, the term “assessment” has been distinguished from “screening” in today’s human resource environment. For the purposes of our survey — and in alignment with this trend — we defined online assessment tools as: “Scientifically-based screening tools that look more deeply into a candidate’s abilities, interests, and skills. These tools include personality measures, cognitive tests (i.e., verbal and quantitative skills), situational judgment tests, job simulations, etc. These tools are typically used for a more in-depth evaluation later on in the staffing process.” In other words, assessment tools evaluate job candidates much more thoroughly than prescreening devices, and are often used once an initial hurdle or multiple hurdles have been successfully passed by applicants. Assessment tools tend to evaluate the level or quality of a skills and abilities that are essential for job performance rather than the extent to which an applicant’s experience qualifies them to perform a specific position. As in past years, our survey revealed some very interesting information about the use of assessment tools. The remainder of this article provides a summary of these results.

The Use of Assessment

Of our 90 respondents, 68 companies (76%) utilize assessment tools — either online or in traditional paper and pencil format. Of these, 50% deploy one or more tools online, either in a proctored environment or over the Internet for access from any web-enabled computer. Organizations surveyed varied quite a bit by size, but this — and number of hires per year — had no bearing on whether or not a company used assessment tools. This is in contrast to last year’s sample, when organizations with 5,000 or more employees used assessment at much greater rate than smaller companies. The ubiquity of applicant tracking systems has engendered a slight increase in the rate of companies who integrate assessments into these common HR platforms. Specifically, 22% of companies using assessment integrate candidate results into their ATS, compared with 13% last year. This generally low rate of assimilation (under 25%), however, is not really surprising; although use of an ATS has become standard in most large HR operations, the full capabilities of such systems are not typically utilized. The breadth of assessment use throughout an organization varied quite a bit across the study as well.

As can be seen in Table 1, the typical organization deploys assessment tools as part of the hiring strategy for only a subset of jobs. Only 19% utilize online assessment for all jobs worldwide, and an additional 20% use assessment for all domestic jobs. These results are similar to last year’s findings, where 37% of organizations used assessment either world- or country-wide.

Table 1. How is online assessment deployed in the organization?

keep reading…

Global Trends Survey

Kevin Wheeler
Dec 14, 2005

Note: This article refers to a survey on global recruiting issues that all ERE readers are invited to take. You can jump to this survey directly by clicking here.

The world has gotten smaller this year, with more outsourcing, more interest in India and China, and greater talent shortages than ever before. At least half a dozen major American-based organizations, including HP and Cisco, announced large new investments in India. Global recruiting is happening with an increasing velocity and potential to impact business results. The shortage of certain skilled people and the varied demands of candidates have created a recruiting picture that looks very different from the one we saw two or three years ago. Some candidates are eager to relocate to another country so they can broaden their experience or for the opportunity to work on a particular project or technology. Others want to remain in their own country for family or other reasons. But whatever the case, the challenges posed by these desires and shrinking talent pools has created a challenge for human resources and recruiting. American firms, as well as firms in countries all over the globe, have begun to look in earnest for candidates outside their own borders. They are advertising and sourcing in multiple countries. Sometimes the recruiting is for a position in the local country, but just as often recruiters are seeking out people for their headquarters or for some other region.

In countries like New Zealand and Australia, people and skills shortages have forced most large firms to recruit outside their borders on a regular basis. But there is no clear picture of what is happening. Over the course of the next few months, I will focus on developing this picture and will conduct several surveys and telephone interviews to learn more about what is going on. Today I am launching the first of these surveys. It is designed to provide the outlines of the picture and to begin to develop insight into what you are experiencing. We will share the results with all ERE readers at no charge in both future columns as well as in a free PDF document that will be available at on my website.

Please take a few minutes — probably not more than 10 — and complete our survey. Also, feel free to forward this email or the survey link to anyone you know who is doing global recruiting or who is responsible for it. The more responses we get, the better its validity will be. If you have responsibility for global recruiting either from here in the U.S. or from some other country, I would love to hear from you and set up a time to talk more deeply. Please email me at To begin the survey, simply visit or type it into your browser to complete my survey. Thanks so much!

A Case Study of Google Recruiting, Part 2

Dr. John Sullivan
Dec 12, 2005

As part of my continuing series of case studies and analyses of truly world-class recruiting functions, I am highlighting the key features of Google, the world’s first recruiting culture and the only “corporate recruiting machine.” Google recruiting has made an incredible breakthrough in that they have convinced senior management to literally “change the work” so that every employee has time to work on his or her own projects and is continually challenged, stimulated, and learning. There is no better attraction and retention tool then exciting work and Google has made it the centerpiece of their company. In Part 2 of this case study, I’ll highlight the remaining elements of Google’s recruiting approach and point out some areas where they can improve.

Recruiting Structure

Google has plans to nearly double its workforce, growing from approximately 5,000 employees to 10,000 employees in the near future. The recruiting structure that they have designed to enable such growth is, like most successful recruiting organizations, primarily a centralized operations model. The basic reason why firms use a centralized a recruiting function is to ensure that most of the recruiting is done by recruiting professionals, as opposed to generalists, who for the most part don’t have the skills or the attitude to be great recruiters. Centralization also makes it easier to share top applicants between business units, a key activity which seldom occurs when decentralized generalists execute recruiting.

The recruiting function is headed by Arnnon Geshuri. A key tenet of any excellent recruiting function is that the function has the capability to handle in-house the most important and visible positions, i.e. executive search. At Google, recruiting is responsible for filling both executive leadership and top-level technical positions. The executive group is notably headed up by Mike Strong, one of the best recruiting leaders I have ever met. Because Google believes wholeheartedly in sourcing the best talent that is ferociously sought after by competitors, every element of the recruiting function is abundantly staffed with highly focused professionals. They realize that the volume and caliber of talent they desire is not going to be mined from a job board, resume bank, or general recruitment advertising (something Google consciously avoids.) To ensure that the company has the capability to recruit talent at the capacity needed, the recruiting model has been broken up into very distinct roles, each requiring specialized expertise. These activities, carried out in a highly choreographed manner by teams tied to divisions and business units, include:

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Lou Adler
Dec 9, 2005

This article is exactly 1,000 words long. It contains instructions on how to draw a picture. Drawing the picture will have a profound affect on your ability to think strategically. It will also make you a better recruiter. Now grab a pencil and a blank sheet of paper.

First, draw a circle approximately four inches in diameter. Label this “The Hiring Landscape.” Now draw three one-inch diameter circles within the larger circle: one close to the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. Label the top one “The Hiring Team,” the middle one “The Recruiting Team,” and the bottom one “The Candidate Pool.” Within the hiring team circle, put a bunch of dots representing the number of different people involved in making the hiring decision. Make some of these dots blue, indicating how many people on the team know the job, can interview accurately, and can recruit top talent.

In the recruiting circle, put the number of people servicing the hiring team. Usually this is one to three — including a recruiter, a sourcer, and an admin person. Fill up the candidate pool with as many dots as there are candidates. Make three or four of these dots red. These are the people you want to hire. Now begin by answering this question: “Why is it so hard to consistently hire top people?” If you didn’t look at the picture, you’d come up with stuff like:

Where Have the Diamond Mines Gone?

Kevin Wheeler
Dec 8, 2005

Sourcing good people has never been more challenging. The days when good people simply dropped off their resumes or when the average recruiter could flip through a rolodex and find several potentially good candidates are a memory. Whenever a recruiter needs to find a highly skilled candidate, they are challenged by the growing lack of good people and the competitive and global nature of the workplace.

For example, a colleague in New Zealand has to compete for healthcare professionals not only within New Zealand, but also from Australia, all of the Commonwealth countries, and from the United States. Another colleague in the semiconductor design area has to compete with India, Taiwan, and China. Scarcity is common in high-tech, healthcare, financial services, insurance, and even in blue-collar workers such as truck drivers and plumbers. Recruiters have responded in several ways. They have posted jobs on all the major job boards and on niche and local boards. They have widened their search area by using the Internet. And they have relied very heavily over the past five years on employee referral. All of these are decent methods of finding people, and they still produce results.

But these tools and techniques are widely known and used and offer little competitive advantage. It is still a difficult process to entice a highly qualified candidate, and an even more difficult chore to get them interested enough to go through the interview process. Recent data shows that postings to the major job boards have declined somewhat as these boards have become less effective in pinpointing the exact talent recruiters are seeking. Likewise, employee referrals are “dying up” in many organizations, as the current employee base exhausts the folks they know who might be interested. Internet search is so commonplace that, while it can work well for some positions, is not the gold mine we thought it was a few years ago. So where does a recruiter go to find good candidates? Are there any diamond mines left? While I don’t believe there are diamond mines, future-aware and technically savvy recruiters can still maintain a competitive edge. It takes two things to stay in front of the competition in sourcing: 1) understanding how some of the emerging tools and applications can help, and 2) building a deep understanding of what motivates and attracts your prime candidate.

First of all, recruiters should take the time to really figure out what attracted good recent hires to the organization. By spending an hour or so with a few new hires, recruiters can determine what advertising messages where effective, what parts of the website worked best, and what internal processes most enticed the candidate. Recruiters need to know the effect of salary and benefits versus the effect of values, mission, and corporate culture. They need to know if a particular hiring manager was more effective than others in conveying excitement about a job — and specifically what she said or how she said it so that others might gain from it. But, just as importantly, recruiters need to experiment with some new software tools and how to use them to improve finding candidates.

Talent Networks and Referral

The first important application to appear recently is Jobster. Jobster is, on the surface, an employee referral tool that opens referrals up to outside candidates who may not be known directly by a current employee. For example, a recruiter can post a position on Jobster and send it to a few folks she knows who might be interested. They can then decide whether to apply or to send it on to someone else within their network. By asking people to “tap others on the shoulder,” jobs get sent to relevant people who can decide for themselves what action to take. By itself this is useful, but Jobster is also a job board. It allows interested candidates to search for and apply for jobs that were not necessarily referred to them. Jobster has also added Internet search capabilities through an alliance with ZoomInfo so that recruiters can search for specific people, skills, or companies. By aggregating a variety of services and providing a range of ways people can use the application, the Jobster team has created a recruiter’s portal that will most likely continue to be enriched over time. Other tools, such as, also allow recruiters to develop talent networks. H3 has made an excellent white paper on talent networking available for free. Using H3, recruiters can also post jobs and refer jobs to people. Tools such as these have already become a major way to source candidates, especially as internal employees run out of candidates.

Internet Search Simplified — And Made More Powerful

Internet searching has never been easy. In fact, the company AIRS was built on providing recruiters with the skills and techniques needed to navigate a world built by techies and nerds. Most recruiters have some ability to search the web, but only a handful would say they are expert. But technology has come to the rescue for those of us who are not technical gurus. ZoomInfo, for example, offers a simple interface to the Internet and allows recruiters to conduct extensive and complex searches with little or no knowledge of arcane techniques or Boolean algebra. It also continues to evolve as customers provide input. Its most recent version now exposes automatically built lists of colleagues and relationships in its summaries. It allows a recruiter to instantly see who is part of the same network and what other relationships they have. ZoomInfo also attaches whatever information is available about a person, including their photos and other personal information that is publicly available, to their summary. Individuals can also add information to their summaries themselves. ZoomInfo is now integrated into several applicant tracking tools, including Jobster, and will grow as an engine that builds searchable databases about people and keeps track of networks of people with similar skills and experience.

Your Corporate Website

Another essential element in the sourcing equation is a well-researched, carefully written recruiting website that attracts, informs, and screens candidates. Good websites are much more than brochures online; they need to have a clear path from entry to application. Organizations that have put these websites together find that the need for other forms of sourcing goes down. People most often come to company websites for information, to order products, or to find out about a service — not to apply for a job. If you can convert someone who is thinking about buying your product or service or who is just curious about what you do into a potential candidate, you will add many talented people to your talent network. If you can educate and screen interested candidates, you will have met your OFFCP needs as well as your sourcing needs. Do not underestimate the power of a well-done recruiting website as a major source of candidates. These three applications are changing the sourcing environment from one of closely held talent pools and personal networks owned by a recruiter to a global space where information about people is readily available. The recruiter’s challenge is to learn how to convert these to candidates and entice them to join your organization.

Don’t Hire Dysfunctional Salespeople

Dr. Wendell Williams
Dec 7, 2005

In a few of my “past lives” I have been a salesperson, a sales manager, and a sales trainer. It did not take me long before I began to notice dysfunctional sales personalities sneaking past hiring screens. These folks interviewed well, talked a great game, and had the right “gut feel” from the hiring manager’s perspective — but they still turned out to be chronic low performers. Was it the salesperson’s fault? Was it the hiring manager’s fault? What went wrong in the hiring process? Well, the answer was hiding in plain sight. The “factory standard” sales hiring process — e.g., “Sell me this pencil,” “Discuss your toughest sale,” or “Hey, how about that game last night!” — earned applicants a membership in the know-em’-when-I-see-’em club, but it missed critical job skills that led to job failure.

Is Hiring a Social Event or a Science?

Psychologists in the field of occupational testing have identified specific behaviors that most affect performance on the sales job. A variety of tests are commercially available to measure these factors. The best are carefully validated to ensure that they accurately predict results, and many are even tailored to specific sales jobs. It’s important to evaluate all four sales performance areas ó thinking, planning, motivations, and interpersonal skills — using tools such as attitudes, interests, and motivations (AIMs) surveys; mental ability surveys; behavioral-based interviews; and simulations. But before choosing a specific measurement tool, you need to start by examining salespeople for dysfunctional behaviors. Following are some common examples, along with a few suggested cures.

Plannus Disorganizus Syndrome

Plannus Disorganizus Syndrome (PDS) is epidemic among many salespeople. Sufferers hate structure. They prefer spontaneity and freedom to act when and how they please. Their minds are often frozen in a childlike state of self-absorption and selfish freedom. PDS sufferers are an enigma. On the one hand, they can organize a zillion people for a spontaneous golf outing or wine-tasting party in the space of an afternoon. On the other, they will do almost anything to avoid filing call reports, expense reports, or sales reports. On the job, they fail to follow through on promises; they overlook or ignore deadlines; and they are terrible time and process managers. Happy customers quickly become unhappy ones. It is difficult to determine whether the source of their problem is ability, willingness, or both. Therefore, a combination of carefully crafted behavior-based interviews, planning exercises, and personality tests (such as AIMs) are required to diagnose PDS in the pre-hire phase.

Talkus Allatimus Syndrome

Talkus Allatimus Syndrome (TAS) is prevalent among salespeople who believe “selling” means talking and talking and talking, until the prospect either submits or commits suicide. I know of only one sales situation when TAS can be used safely: TV infomercial audiences. For the rest of us, the Surgeon General has determined that long-term exposure to TAS can cause cancer of the ear lobes. Never Listenitus Syndrome (NLS) is a milder variation of TAS. People with NLS still talk unceasingly, but they do it internally. That is, they impatiently wait for opportunities to interrupt. The conversation becomes a your-turn-my-turn confrontation. Both TAS and NLS disorders can lead to Chronic Overcomer’s Disease (COD), the belief that effective selling consists primarily of overcoming objections. COD sufferers fail to understand that when a salesperson talks too much or fails to listen, the prospect’s unanswered questions inevitably become “objections.” These related disorders are often temporarily suppressed in standard interviews; however, they quickly become apparent if hiring organizations use realistic simulations delivered via phone or face to face. On the other hand, if the hiring manager and recruiter do not understand the underlying nature of the problem, they will often misdiagnose COD as a “productive” skill in sales professionals.

Please Lova Mea Disease

Please Lova Mea (PLM) disease is generated by a deep belief that everyone should always like us. Salespeople with chronic PLM can be compared to puppies that roll over on their backs waiting for someone to rub their bellies. But belly-rubbing rarely makes for effective sales performance — and it can lead to both serious interpersonal misunderstandings and potential litigation. PLM sufferers expect people to buy from them because they are friendly. Social comfort is indeed part of selling, and a mild case of PLM may actually encourage repeat business (although it comes with the attendant risks of “giving away the store”). But these folks miss the core dynamic of sales: discovering problems and offering compelling solutions. PLM backfires when the sales prospect expects more than a “feel good” relationship. Candidates with PLM tend to be very charming and likeable in the interview. Therefore, the primary way to diagnose this syndrome pre-hire is to test the candidate’s personality traits using assessments such as AIMs tests.

Scaredey Catus Syndrome

Scaredey Catus Syndrome (SCS) afflicts many salespeople. While sufferers may possess effective selling skills, they are motivationally “stuck in first gear” and cannot seem to break their own self-imposed sales plateaus. SCS is often a deep-seated psychological problem characterized by irrational fears and insecurity. Salespeople with SCS often avoid certain groups of prospects they perceive as intimidating, such as high-level executives and people with advanced educations. In an insurance sales position I studied, for example, agents were comfortable calling on homeowners but uncomfortable with business owners and professionals. SCS is difficult to evaluate using tests and exercises because sufferers can appear very successful on the surface. Discovering SCS takes carefully constructed behavioral interview questions and reference checks that go beyond the usual post-decision formalities.

Learnus Avoidus Syndrome

The symptom of Learnus Avoidus Syndrome (LAS) is an inability or refusal to learn the product. It tends to occur in conjunction with other disorders described above. Victims are often recognized by their absurd statements: “I don’t need to know that stuff,” or “I can sell anything to anyone!” LAS sufferers can be successful — if the product has less than one moving part or can be fully explained in a 30-second elevator pitch. Some have even learned to compensate for their mental weaknesses by “dressing for success” or emphasizing social impressions (psychologists call it “impression management”). LAS sufferers lack the confidence to answer unanticipated questions, lack the motivation to learn the product, or actually lack the intelligence to understand it. Deep probing, AIMs testing, and simulations testing can often uncover this disease. Be especially cautious with candidates who object to pre-hire testing requirements — this is their first line of defense against being diagnosed as an LAS patient.

Evaluate These Disorders Before It’s Too Late

Don’t blame salespeople for their dysfunctional behaviors; they often can’t help themselves. As for the people who hired them, these diseases are often hard to catch without using modern methods — but unfortunately, many smart managers learned the sales business from the old school. Times have changed, however. Tools for candidate assessment, along with the technologies to deliver them effectively and affordably, can effectively overcome minimize dysfunctional sales behaviors.

6 Ways Recruiters Can Support Building a Better Organization

Howard Adamsky
Dec 6, 2005

I love December for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that it’s a great month for recruiters to do some really important things. For example, it is an excellent time to renew and solidify relationships with hiring managers. It is also a great opportunity to reach out to the candidates you have your sights on in the coming year by making a call to wish them a good holiday season (please don’t do it by e-mail; recruiting is about relationships and relationships are personal). It is also a good time to:

A Case Study of Google Recruiting

Dr. John Sullivan
Dec 5, 2005

As part of my continuing series of case studies and analyses of truly world-class recruiting functions, I will highlight some of the key features at Google, the world’s only corporate “recruiting machine.” In the past few months, I have spent a good deal of time researching Google and communicating with Google managers and employees in an attempt to identify their best practices. For those of you who are not in the technology field or who don’t consider Google to be a direct competitor for talent, you might be thinking, “Well, that’s nice, but what Google does doesn’t really impact me.” But if you did think that way, you’d be wrong.

“Disruptive Technology” and Strategic “Disruptive Recruiting”

Google, through its branding, PR, and recruiting efforts, has made itself so well known and attractive to professionals from every industry and university that they have essentially changed the game of recruiting forever. If you know anything about technology, you know that people in the field use the term “disruptive technology” for technologies like Apple’s iPod, which has almost overnight changed the entire technology and entertainment marketplace to the point where everyone must pay attention to what that firm is doing. Google has created the same phenomenom in the form of a “disruptive approach” to work and recruiting, an approach so different and so compelling that if you don’t pay attention and attempt to emulate some of the things they’re doing, you might soon lose some of the very best employees you have. I urge you to read on and to see some of the disruptive and breathtaking things Google is doing.

The World’s First Recruiting Culture

Google has accomplished something that no other corporation has ever accomplished. In less than a handful of years, they have developed what can only be categorized as a “recruiting machine.” They still have a ways to go, but what they have done so far can only be categorized as amazing. Now, Google still doesn’t have the best sales and marketing strategy (FirstMerit Bank does), nor are they the best when it comes to the use of metrics (Valero Energy is). But what they have done better than anyone else is to develop the world’s first “recruiting culture” (see my previous writings on this subject). What that means is that recruiting and the need for it permeates the entire organization. Not just the recruiting function or the HR organization, but the entire company — from the key leaders on down to the entry-level employees. As a result of this culture, not only does Google fund recruiting to the point where the function is in a league by itself, but they have also gone to the extraordinary step of changing the way employees work in order to attract and retain the very best. (Note: It might be credible to argue that Cisco in the late 90s had the world’s first “recruiting culture” but since the exit of Michael McNeal, Janel Canepa, Randall Birkwood et al, that function has long since been dismantled to below “K-Mart levels,” so it’s probably a moot issue.)

Google Has Changed Work Itself With “20% Time”

Many organizations have changed their pay or benefits in order to attract better workers, but no one has changed every professional job in the company just so that the work itself is the primary attraction and retention tool. Rather than letting work, jobs, and job descriptions be put together by the “out of touch” people in corporate compensation, Google’s founders (Larry and Sergey as everyone calls them), HR director Stacy Sullivan, and the leadership team at Google have literally crafted every professional job and workplace element so that all employees are:

Recruiting and John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success

Lou Adler
Dec 2, 2005

A few weeks ago, my wife of 35 years saw my eyes fill with tears as I was watching TV. Fortunately, I was watching a basketball game, so she knew it wasn’t too serious. After 35 years, she knew immediately the cause, and responded, “Oh, that John Wooden fellow must be speaking again.” She was right. As far as I’m concerned, there is no finer person in the world than this former UCLA basketball coach.

If you’re not familiar with his Pyramid of Success, you might want to check it out. It starts with his definition of success: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” From this, he builds a foundation of success based on 15 core traits, including factors like skills, team spirit, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm. The key is that all of the traits are required to achieve competitive greatness, not just a few.

And that’s the point of this article today. The same principle needs to be applied when evaluating candidates. How many recruiters, hiring managers, or members of the interviewing team think they can determine a candidate’s total suitability for a job based on some quick measure of just one or two core traits? For one thing, it takes much more than just one or two traits to determine competency and motivation to do the work. For another, if just one of these partial predictor traits is assessed incorrectly, a good candidate can be inadvertently excluded too early in the process. Even worse, since it only takes one or two no’s from anyone on the hiring team to eliminate a person from consideration, the chance of making the correct hiring decision is statistically very low. This is the fundamental cause of the most pervasive of all hiring problems.

And it’s not hiring someone who falls short of expectations — it’s not hiring someone who could far exceed expectations. Lack of assessment standards is also the real reason why it takes so long to find good people. Without good standards, we strive to find the common “perfect” candidate acceptable to everyone. This seems absurd to me, especially since most people are looking at the wrong criteria and then making superficial assessments while they’re doing it. Unfortunately, this is what most companies actually do. Why not institute a comparable pyramid of success for hiring based on the ten best traits that best predict success? Then why not train everyone on the interviewing team to accurately assess these traits? Finally, rather than using the traditional up versus down voting system, why not instead conduct a deliberative assessment, with everyone on the hiring team ranking these ten traits on a 1-5 scale?

This way, consensus is reached by giving everyone enough of the correct information before they vote. Collectively, this type of hiring process would have a profound impact on eliminating the number one hiring mistake of them all: not hiring the best person. Not to mention that you’d be able to reduce your time to hire by 50% by not having to do searches over again. Following is my top 10 list. It’s the one I’ve developed over the past 25 years to handle everything from staff positions to executive management. While it differs somewhat from the Wooden 15, it does a good job of measuring candidate quality and predicting on-the-job success. What do you think about using something like this?

  1. Ability to do the work. This includes technical ability and the potential to learn new related skills. I consider this a threshold trait. The person needs enough to do the work, but if he or she has much more than needed, the person could feel unfilled once on the job.
  2. keep reading…

The Talent Story of the iPod

Dave Lefkow
Dec 1, 2005

At the beginning of every great business success there’s a human capital story, and that’s certainly the case with the iPod. In just over four years, the iPod/iTunes product and business strategy has helped Apple double its market cap, establish over 80% market share in two very profitable industries, and drive almost $3 billion per year in revenue. But the story of the iPod is not just a story about innovation. It’s also a testament to one company’s ability above all others to hire a true visionary. It’s a story that every executive hoping to take their company to the next level should read.

The Story of the iPod

I first stumbled upon this story while I was preparing for a speech I was giving on the future of recruiting in Vancouver, BC. A big focus of my talk was on quality of hire — including the metrics, technologies and processes that could support aligning a recruiting department around quality of hire. But I needed an example that illustrated the value of top talent. I thought for a moment about the great business stories of the last few years, and my thoughts immediately turned to the iPod. In the back of my mind, I assumed that it was an entire team of individuals brainstorming in a board room who built the strategy and laid the foundation for the iPod’s success. But in fact there was one person without whom none of this would have been possible: the founder of the iPod, Tony Fadell.

In the late 1990′s, Fadell began working on a business strategy that would revolutionize digital music hardware and software by combining the two together into one powerful platform. You may be surprised to know that Apple wasn’t the first company to hear about his idea, however. Fadell shopped the idea around to several companies, including RealNetworks and his previous employer, Philips. None of them jumped on it as fast and as hard as Apple, who gave the project the undivided attention and vision of founder and CEO Steve Jobs. The project was completed in under six months, a record for Apple. “This is the project that’s going to remold Apple,” Fadell predicted in early 2001. “Ten years from now, it’s going to be a music business, not a computer business.” And he was right.

Finding the Next Tony Fadell

For any executive with questions about what hiring top performers can do for a company, Tony Fadell is not the only example. You don’t have to look much further than:

  • Omid Kordestani, who helped turn Google, a growing search engine without a significant revenue model, into a truly disruptive online advertising force, with over $5 billion in yearly revenue and a $126 billion market cap.
  • keep reading…