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January  2006 RSS feed Archive for January, 2006

Recruiter Incentives: It’s Time for a Change

Randall Birkwood
Jan 31, 2006

“Recruiters should get paid for what they produce!” These are the words of a trailblazer in the corporate recruiting world, Michael Homula.

For those of you who are unaware of Michael, he first came to prominence as the director of recruiting for a small banking firm, FirstMerit (he’s now director of talent acquisition at Quicken Loans). His aggressive, business-focused approach to recruiting caused a stir in the recruiting community as he firmly placed his team’s emphasis on personal relationships and passive candidate sourcing. Today, less than five percent of corporations give recruiters incentives beyond the standard employee bonuses that others in HR receive. This is not surprising, as the majority of recruiting departments reside in HR. Obviously, the expectations for recruiters aren’t aligned with the compensation plans paid. Recruiting is akin to sales, as we are expected to source, build relationships, and get results — usually under heavy pressure. Agencies understand this, and skew their compensation heavily toward the number of hires a recruiter makes (often to the detriment of relationships).

Michael Homula strikes the balance between both worlds. At Quicken, Michael has found leadership that understands the importance of quality hiring to the bottom line. He sits on the executive committee and meets on a regular basis with the CEO. “Our leadership believes in making the recruiting culture like the mortgage banking culture,” he says. “Mortgage bankers are rewarded for productivity, effort, and quality. I believe in the same for the talent acquisition team.” Let’s start with productivity and effort: All recruiters receive a base salary. However, that’s where the similarities between Quicken Loans and most corporate recruiting teams ends. At Quicken, recruiters receive a cash payout for every candidate they hire. The payouts vary based on the how the candidate was sourced:

  1. The first tier is for “company sourced” hires. These candidates come from the company applicant tracking system, referrals, company recruiting events, online job postings, and advertisements.
  2. keep reading…

Metrics for Improving Referral Program Effectiveness

Dr. John Sullivan
Jan 30, 2006

I recommend referrals as the foundation of any excellent recruiting program, followed by employment branding and then recruiting at professional events. However, I must warn the reader that referral programs are not all created equal, and a good number of them (well over 50 percent) provide no better than mediocre results because they have inherent design flaws. These design flaws occur because the directors of these programs invariably copy what others do as opposed to using metrics and data to tell them what works, why it works, and what doesn’t work.

Basic Characteristics of Excellent Programs

In order to gather the “right” metrics about a referral program, you need to know upfront what the critical design elements are that turn good referral programs into great ones. Next, you need to have metrics that cover each of these critical areas if you expect to continually improve your results:

  • On-the-job performance. The primary reason for using referrals is because they produce better performers (quality of hire). Metrics must be developed to compare the performance of referrals versus new hires from other sources.
  • keep reading…

How to Stop Making Dumb Hiring Mistakes

Lou Adler
Jan 27, 2006

Over the past years, I’ve made the case that there are two pervasive problems preventing companies from hiring enough top people. The first involves the continuing use of outdated marketing and messaging targeted to the wrong groups. If you want to see more top people, ideas were provided in last week’s ERE article to address this problem. The second big hiring problem is the unsophisticated process most companies use to decide who they’re going to hire or not hire. We’ll tackle that problem this week. As a start, consider this point: Few companies have a formal, deliberative process in place to ensure the best hiring decision is made. Fewer still conduct an after-the-fact audit to validate the decision. If they did, they could start figuring out how the best decisions were made and stop doing things that caused the worst ones. The January 2006 edition of the Harvard Business Review is devoted entirely to the decision-making process. It’s a great edition and provides a wealth of information for revamping the hiring decision-making process. Here are just a few key points HBR makes about the causes of bad decision-making:

  • Most decisions are made with little evidence. Managers tend to have preconceived biases, beliefs and perceptions. Facts are then collected to support these preconceived ideas and contrary information is avoided, ignored, or dismissed as irrelevant.
  • keep reading…

What’s Been, What Will Be

Kevin Wheeler
Jan 25, 2006

Last year, I worked in six countries and four continents and found similar challenges and issues in each, although with their own twist, whether a booming economy, a dearth of people, or a lack of technology. This forced me to think differently about a lot of the concerns we hear in the United States. In many ways, our problems are not as severe as we think.

For example, Australia faces significant shortages of skills and people. About 25 percent of Australian workers were born elsewhere (compared to about 12 percent in the United States) and immigration will have to remain very high to grow to sustain the booming Australian economy. At the same time, opportunities in the United States, Europe, and other countries are enticing many Australians to leave, and the educational system is struggling to entice and graduate enough new workers to make up for the number projected to retire. China is also very short of skilled workers. While there are tens of thousands of laborers, only a small fraction have the skills to work in the new factories, high-tech establishments, software firms, call centers, and service industries that are sprouting up. They are educating a record number of people, but they cannot keep up with the growth. The lack of skilled people will almost certainly constrain China’s ability to grow as fast as it wishes to. While we in the United States face the issues of fewer skilled workers and an aging workforce, we can, and will, tap into that aging workforce in many ways. Some will choose to not retire; some will work part-time or as contractors or consultants. Organizations are finding ways to entice older workers to stay and are also focusing more on keeping younger workers. China has none of these older, skilled workers to tap. It will most likely turn to the worldwide Chinese-speaking diaspora for help.

The issues we were asked to help on this past year feel into three areas: 1) market knowledge and awareness, 2) employment branding, and (3) retention. Many clients asked me to help them and their management teams understand how significant the skills shortages are and to analyze the likely number of Baby Boomers who will retire. They were also focused on looking internally and analyzing their current employees’ skills so they could be recruited for new positions. Other clients were focused on building market-oriented strategies to attract better candidates and to attract the “right” candidates. We helped do research in brand perception and awareness and helped clients improve their websites and marketing approaches. Several were concentrating on keeping their current employees, finding which ones had skills that could be used elsewhere in the organization, and on changing policies so that older workers might be inclined to stay a while longer. What will the rest of 2006 bring? We are already seeing an increased focus on selection methods and tools that make it easy to screen for the best candidates. This is being done to lower the amount of time it takes to process potential candidates and to relieve the workload of overworked recruiters. It is also being done to improve the candidate’s experience and provide her with a faster and more accurate response than today. We are seeing a continued interest and commitment to better employment branding and candidate awareness programs. These are being launched in the form of new websites, improved college recruiting strategies, better use of product advertising as a way to do employment branding, and as more publicity aimed at the segments of workers the organizations wish to attract.

The desire to put in place screening and assessment systems is growing rapidly. Almost all of our clients have some program in place to better screen candidates and to provide recruiters with a more qualified candidate than has been the case. Along with these major trends, we also see more time spent on on-boarding new employees and in making sure they have a positive initial experience. We see some increased interest in better and more modern college recruiting, and a huge increase in global recruiting best practices. The results of our survey on global recruiting will be released in a few weeks here on ERE and on my company website.

We also see more Baby Boomers staying in the job market and helping alleviate the current and predicted talent shortages. Art Koff, the founder of, a job board devoted to helping seniors find jobs and to helping organizations find skilled employees, reports record numbers of both seniors (and Boomers), as well as organizations accessing his site. In short, this will be a year when we evolve better approaches to things we are already doing and build more stable and useful systems.

What the Afterlife Looks Like

Dr. Janice Presser
Jan 24, 2006

In this Sarbanes-Oxley environment, I’m going to start with full disclosure and hope you will keep reading: I am not a recruiter. I’m not married to a recruiter. My children are not recruiters. I don’t even have any close friends who are recruiters. But I know a lot of former recruiters who’ve used what they learned starting out in recruiting to build successful careers in something else. Some of them even asked my advice somewhere along the line or took one of my company’s assessments — and, interestingly enough, most of that happened after we ran into each other at a holiday party.

So here it is: A hot job market for recruiters again, and young recruiters’ hearts lightly turn towards thoughts of career progression. But the problem with assessing your career in recruiting is that recruiting is a very complex function. Rarely does someone perform all the aspects of it by themselves. In fact, there are ten distinct facets in recruiting which interlock to get the job done. Even if you are a sole proprietorship recruiter working from your laptop and cell phone, you aren’t likely to be doing it all. (I am referring to strictly recruiting tasks — not making coffee, which, quite properly, belongs to the barista at the local coffee purveyor/wireless network emporium where you probably spend some work research time.) Here they are, one to ten, in no particular order. Start by checking the one, or ones, you really like to do and crossing out the ones you don’t. The ones you feel lukewarm about can stay for now, but really, do you want to do something you aren’t passionate about for the rest of your life? If you don’t want to spend the rest of your life at it, why waste the next year or so?

  1. Networking. This is something that people either love or hate. If you are neutral about networking, you haven’t really tried it. This could be due to not knowing where to go to find people to network with. There are professional networks (including recruiter and HR organizations), social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Ryze, and some organizations that provide both. ERE is one with both: Between the networking opportunities on the website and at conferences, everyone’s covered, even the very shy.
  2. keep reading…

Referral Programs Can Produce Millions in Business Impacts

Dr. John Sullivan
Jan 23, 2006

In case you didn’t already know it, employee referral programs are simply the most effective recruiting tool, period. That’s not an opinion. It’s a position supported by nearly everyone who has investigated and researched the far-reaching impacts of recruiting activities. If you believe in making fact-based recruiting decisions, this article is a must read.

Business Impacts of Referral Programs

Various academic and internal corporate research has found that employee referral programs can:

  • Produce employees who are more productive on the job. MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Emilio J. Castilla discovered that employees recruited through employee referral programs can have significant performance differentials from employees who were sourced via other channels. While Professor Castilla’s research focused on a single call center, his findings are similar to those of a growing list of companies including FirstMerit Bank, Tenet Healthcare, and Allstate, to name a few.
  • keep reading…

How to Use Advertising to Attract Top People

Lou Adler
Jan 20, 2006

Here’s something you might want to consider whether you’re hiring active, passive, or not-so active or not-so-passive candidates. At some point in time, they will all read your job descriptions to decide if it’s worth considering your open position. If the audience you’re targeting either can’t find this job easily or don’t find it compelling if they do find it, you won’t see as many good people as you should. Don’t be smug and assume that the candidates you’re trying to hire won’t read your ads. Even referred or passive candidates read your ads. Many even request them with the common retort, “Send me the job description and I’ll see if I’m interested, or see if I know someone.”

Since the job description is a primary marketing tool, it had better be well-written and convincing. On the business marketing side, these would be equivalent to the advertising copy, the flyer, or the product brochure. Now, to throw another twist into the equation, these marketing documents need to reflect the different buying patterns of your audience. The copy itself needs to reflect how different groups (age, race, gender) respond to advertising. This affects the length of the ad, the media used to deliver it, and the words used. Young people, for example, won’t respond to the same message as a mid-career person — nor will they look in the same spots. Many women have different career aspirations than men, and they don’t look in the same places. Diverse candidates are looking for different things than their non-minority peers, and passive candidates don’t care about compensation (unless it’s equity). Salespeople do. Since advertising is the front line of sourcing, you need to customize it to meet the varied needs of your target audience. Here are some ideas to consider and things you can do right away to get started making your advertising more effective:

  1. Stop using traditional job descriptions as the basis for your advertising. Not even the worst company in the country would consider using their product-specifications listing as their primary marketing copy as some HR/recruiting departments do. Online job descriptions should summarize the challenges and opportunities in the job in some type of flashy document or web page with a creative title and compelling copy. To get started, ask the hiring manager why a top person would want this job. Finish with, “What does a top person need to do to be considered successful?” Then start off your ads with the most compelling stuff.
  2. keep reading…

7 Trends in Pre-Employment Assessment for 2006

Dr. Charles Handler
Jan 19, 2006

Many of the recent developments in the pre-employment assessment field have come in two inter-related areas. The first of these is an increased interest in the use of pre-employment assessment from the consumer side. In other words, more organizations are using pre-employment assessments. The second area is in increased interest in product development amongst vendors of pre-employment assessment tools.

These two areas are obviously highly dependent upon one another and both are essential for moving the industry forward. Assessment companies have felt comfortable investing in product development because of an increasing interest in assessment tools and the increasing number of success stories related to their use. This is good news; increased investment in new products will help the industry move forward past what I feel has been a plateau. This plateau has been caused by a lack of innovation in assessment content as well as a failure to find new and interesting ways to integrate assessments into the hiring process. To help you understand what I’m getting at here, I’ve identified seven trends which I feel will help move assessment into a new era in terms of its value to the hiring process.

These trends are as follows.

1. Simulations gain more traction.

While the development of new technology for the delivery of assessment has certainly been moving forward at a nice pace, there is still a major plateau in terms of the actual assessment content that is in use today. While delivery, reporting, and analytics all continue to become more sophisticated, the actual content used to assess job applicants has seen little change over the past five to ten years. While research has greatly increased our ability to create more concise measurement instruments, it has done little to change the nature of the content of which assessments are made. We’re still living in a world where applicants click radio buttons and answer questions that seem unrelated to the job for which they are applying. Simulations have the power to change all of this. They can provide an excellent measurement opportunity while actually engaging applicants in a more meaningful pre-employment assessment experience. Simulations offer extra value because they can help provide reinforcement of employment branding as well as allow the incorporation of realistic job previews, which give a good idea of what they will be getting into should they be offered a position. Simulations appeal to our emerging workforce, which is represented by a generation raised on video games.

2. Assessment will find its way into the search process.

Assessment is poised to move into the arena of job searching. Sourcing providers are finally realizing the inherent flaws with the keyword search model. Look for job boards and sourcing providers of all sizes to begin looking to use assessment to try and ensure tighter matches when searching candidate databases. There will be a wide range of products and strategies in this area, some of which will be viable and some of which may push the envelope in terms of legal defensibility. So far, a few companies have made attempts to tackle this, but this year I believe that this trend will be magnified as sourcing providers look to ensure they can deliver more value to both job seekers and organizations paying for access to job seekers.

3. Increasing use of assessment as part of “end-to-end” recruitment process outsourcing platforms.

Recruitment process outsourcing is gaining momentum. This year will see the development of a number of new offerings in this area, all of which will rely on assessment tools as a key component in the value proposition. This makes sense as it offers a parallel to the integration that has been happening in the applicant-tracking industry for the past few years. The main issue here will be the ability of companies to offer assessments that can be used in a “turnkey” or off-the-shelf manner. The short term will see the development of off-the-shelf or transactional assessment products that can be easily configured and delivered via a third-party outsourcer. While this type of implementation may reduce the accuracy of selection decisions, it will provide a significant increase in value over not using any assessment tools at all.

4. Increased use of assessment for professional jobs.

Most of the growth in assessment over this past year has been aimed at what I feel is low-hanging fruit — hourly/entry-level jobs. This makes sense, because performance at these jobs is less complex then it is with higher-level jobs, making it easier to measure. Another thing about these jobs is that the metrics needed to help understand ROI are much more available and objective in nature (turnover, attendance, sales revenue, customer-service behavior, integrity), making it easier to fully understand the value of increased accuracy in employee selection decisions. Now that some form of assessment is starting to be standard for most entry-level positions in medium to large companies, there will be a push to develop similar products for professional jobs. Professional positions are more complex and thus performance at these jobs is much harder to document. This means it will be more difficult to gain a clear understanding of ROI associated with the use of assessments for these jobs. Nonetheless, assessment is just as valuable, if not more valuable, for these types of jobs as it is for entry-level ones. Expect to see some new products that will begin to tackle this issue. Don’t be surprised if some of these are simulation tools, as I believe these are an excellent way to model more complex jobs. 5.

More vendors throw their hats into the ring.

Given the increased interest in the use pf pre-employment assessments, I expect to see even more new vendors popping up in the next year. I spend quite a bit of time following this industry and not a week goes by that someone does not call to my attention a new product or vendor who is seeking a piece of the pie. Many of these vendors represent a relatively weak effort to cash in on this space, while others have developed very viable products. This means it will continue to be difficult for those who do not have the proper background to differentiate between these types of vendors. Hopefully, the level of consumer savvy and education will also increase.

6. Continued integration of assessment into applicant tracking system platforms.

This trend has been lurching forward for the past four years or so. While an applicant-tracking system is an essential tool for ensuring good hiring decisions, it will fall short of delivering full value because it does not provide decision makers with the data they need to ensure they are making informed decisions. Integrating assessments into the hiring process and using an applicant-tracking system to help summarize assessment results for decision-makers is a critical part of creating value within the hiring process. As organizations finally begin to realize this, the trend of increased integration of assessment into applicant-tracking system product offerings will continue full steam ahead. Look for increases in assessment product offerings in this area from vendors of all sizes.

7. Increasing interest in international assessments.

Most assessments currently in use in the United States have been created and validated with the U.S. market in mind. This creates problems when one considers the increasing globalization of business. It is not acceptable to make the assumption that an assessment tool that works well in the U.S. to select American workers will function in the same manner when used to select workers from another culture in another country. I believe that there will be an increased interest in tools that can be used across multiple countries and locations to help organizations make better hiring decisions on a global level. The key to ensuring the development of viable products that can meet global needs lies in research. The only way to measure the effectiveness of an assessment tool across cultures is to collect real data that can be analyzed in order to reveal the true level of compatibility across cultures.

I expect to see an increase in interest in this sort of research over the coming year. However, I believe that a real understanding in performance differences between cultures and the ability of assessments to account for these differences is still several years off. The important thing is that we continue to conduct the research needed to get us to this point. The trends are positive ones. Pre-employment assessment is starting to come into its own as a viable tool for adding value through its ability to ensure that organizations hire individuals who will allow them to better meet their strategic business objectives. No matter what the business, winning is still about two things: Effective leadership, and having the right people in the right jobs. Pre-employment assessment is an essential ingredient for both of these and thus its value will continue to become apparent as hiring moves forward into the end of this decade.

2010: What Recruiting May Look Like

Kevin Wheeler
Jan 18, 2006

February 23, 2010. Another day at DH Services, one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, and Jamie Deal was just arriving at his office. Well actually it wasn’t much of an office — just a small cubicle with wireless technology that connected him to his sourcing and candidate relationship toolkit. DH Services had stopped assigning offices to people back in 2004-2005, and employees now had the ability to work from anywhere they wanted. They could access everything from web conferencing tools to VoIP services with just their laptop or PDA. Jamie didn’t like to work at home, as many of his colleagues did, because he had three small children. The cubicle was fine.

Jamie was responsible for recruiting all of the medical professionals for DH, which operated more than 200 hospitals and clinics in the United States. He had responsibility for hiring all the doctors, specialists, nurses, and some of the more senior technicians. He was usually at various stages in the recruiting process, managing between 50 and 60 candidates simultaneously. What a difference from his early days as a recruiter. Back then, he could barely handle a dozen open positions at a time and frequently worked more than 60 hours a week trying to fill them. Sometimes he thought back to the mid-1990s, when he was just starting out as a recruiter, and was sure glad his boss had decided to invest in both new sourcing technologies as well as candidate relationship management tools. Even up until 2005, candidate relationship management was a dream. The only recruiting tools were a telephone, an online Rolodex, a primitive applicant tracking system database, and the Internet. He spent hours searching the Internet for candidates and finding them in his Rolodex or database. He couldn’t really tell much about the candidates without interviews. If some other recruiter had interviewed the same person, it was rare to find any notes or record of the interview. Most candidates were interviewed at least twice — many more than that — and lots of great candidates slipped through the cracks and never got an interview at all.

Back in 2005, the VP of staffing at DH had decided to take a look at new networking and online sourcing tools, such as ZoomInfo and Jobster, and also invested in developing candidate relationship management tools. Jamie hadn’t paid much attention, to be honest, as he was already consumed with the 10 to 20 candidates he had. In hindsight, he realized what a brilliant decision his boss had made. The first time he encountered the power of a strategic, technology-empowered recruiting process was in late 2005.

That’s when DH began to test all professional applicants for skill and cultural fit. Although Jamie had been skeptical of testing candidates, he was soon a convert. He had thought for sure that quality candidates would not take tests and that the tests would be long and boring. It turned out that candidates loved the tests and appreciated the immediate feedback they got. And the tests were really fairly short. Jamie was amazed at how well they could tell the skill level of candidates. Once in a while he would interview a candidate and then compare his thoughts to the test results. It was clear that he wasn’t the great judge of people he thought he was!

At almost the same time that they instituted testing, DH decided to recreate its recruiting website. DH made it an interactive, marketing-focused tool that would help steer the right candidates to the right job. By asking the candidates to answer some carefully thought-out questions, DH directed them to various web pages that gave them whatever information they needed to more fully understand what the position would demand. By offering to give candidates feedback on various short tests to determine skills levels and attitudes, DH ensured very few candidates dropped out of the screening and assessment process. By the middle of 2005, DH was testing all professional candidates and giving them real-time feedback on their likelihood of being given an interview. Jamie also found that by the time he got the candidate’s information, the candidate was already well informed about DH and excited about a job possibility. As his boss was a real believer in streamlining processes, many hiring managers got to see the candidate’s data at the same time Jamie did. By 2006, hiring managers often made direct email or telephone contact with a candidate, reducing the time Jamie needed to spend in administrative details. Offers were put together based on recommendations made by software that compared market survey data, current salary ranges for that position in the firm, and the candidate’s current and expected salary. Once in a while an adjustment had to be made for the exceptional candidate, but more time was saved by using technology to improve this process. Jamie’s job changed from cold calling, interviewing, spending time selling DH, and getting candidates in front of managers, to working on making sure the talent pool was full of qualified candidates.

In fact, for the past three years, Jamie has been working with vendors to improve the technology he uses to stay in touch with candidates and others who are interested in positions at DH. He began by simply using email, but he learned that even that takes a lot of time. DH also uses chat rooms to answer candidates’ questions and to communicate with groups of candidates. Jamie maintains a blog where candidates can pose questions and respond to his information. These tools have really changed the quality of the interaction. DH now taps into a growing body of knowledge about candidates and has software that shows which competencies and traits specific hiring managers have sought. This software will recommend a particular candidate for a particular manager based on this history. The analytic software they purchased looks at the information in the talent pool and analyzes it in different ways. DH has found many emerging patterns. Some candidates are attracted to specific kinds of information, and the website can adapt to their likes. Certain candidates, with specific traits and skills, seem to be more likely to get offers than others. Some hiring managers with certain characteristics are more likely to hire one type of candidate over another.

Using this tool, Jamie is able to very closely match candidates with hiring managers, quickly, and that frees him up to work with other candidates. He can also tweak the website and marketing messages on a regular basis. Jamie is now spending more time looking at external and internal labor market patterns and doing “scenario plans” so that he can provide qualified candidates for almost any possible change in the market. After five years of slowly adding technology and re-engineering processes, Jamie can handle roughly three times as many candidates as he could before. The candidates are much happier with the quality of the service they get and the information they have about the company and the positions. The hiring managers are really pleased. They rarely have to wait more than a few hours for a good candidate to surface and often make the hire the same week they open the position. This has led to less “fishing” and more harvesting, saving lots of time and dollars. When Jamie was asked if he thought the technology had made the recruiting process more impersonal, he smiled. After all, what could be more impersonal than our current processes? We ask candidates to submit their life history with little information about the position, no information about the hiring manager, and with no guarantee of anything.

Over 90 percent of candidates get no real response to their application, most never speak to anyone at all, and those who do are often kept waiting for weeks for feedback. No, almost anything is better than what we have now. This technology enables quick feedback, personal communication and provides information as needed. Sometimes tomorrow is better!

Identifying Talented Salespeople and Sales Managers

Dr. Wendell Williams
Jan 17, 2006

People are strange. I know, I’m one of them. Being human, I’m afflicted with the same decision-making foibles that affect everyone. Normally, this is not a problem, but when it comes to choosing salespeople and sales managers, it can be expensive.

A Tale of Two Positions

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. We were growing and needed new sales blood. Being an experienced sales trainer and sales manager, we liked to think we knew ‘em when we saw ‘em. Admitting anything less would have been professionally embarrassing. Imagine our surprise when the sales managers we hired ran off with our attractive salespeople, skimmed commission dollars from subordinates, and offered our customer list to a competitor. Some people might say we hired a “bad” applicant, but this happened with three different managers over the course of ten years! If we grudgingly admitted we were no good at hiring sales managers, could we do better with salespeople?

Salespeople were less demanding. They told us about their most difficult sale, showed us earnings records, interviewed a panel of employees, and sold us dozens of wastebaskets. We were all impressed. We screened out the weaklings. So you can imagine our surprise when they sold to unqualified clients just to make quota, refused to learn the product line, sandbagged sales at the end of the month to boost commissions, and failed to follow up. We were not stupid. We never hired applicants who looked shady. But we overlooked the obvious: Applicants who passed our interviews were “impression management” experts. Their expertise convinced us to buy their product — in other words, to put them on the payroll. In the end, the good-looking salesperson we thought we hired was only a good-looking cardboard cutout — all surface and no depth.

Why We Failed

Practical experience showed that bad hires consistently slipped through the screening process! We caught the blatantly unqualified candidate, but the rest were a coin-toss. Where did we go wrong? We misunderstood the sales process. We put too much emphasis on the presentation, and not enough on trust and discovery skills. Our applicants knew how to “schmooze” — presentation was their strength, not their weakness. But salespeople failed more often because they either didn’t ask enough discovery questions or the prospect did not trust them. In addition, sales managers failed because they also could not coach. There was more to making quota than selling wastebaskets. It started with building trustworthy relationships, followed with gentle probing and questioning. We were so “wowed” by their personal impressions, we took relationship and fact-finding skills for granted.

What About Written Sales Tests?

After losing our confidence in interviews, we started using written “sales” tests. We thought they could tell us about an applicant’s ability to develop rapport with prospects, build relationships with clients, and discover needs. Guess what? The skilled test-takers told us just what we wanted to hear. Although the questions sounded good and the report was impressive, we soon discovered that we could not trust answers from high-scoring candidates (we never took any chances with low-scoring candidates). So we asked vendors about their tests. Their responses sounded something like this: “Our tests don’t actually predict sales performance. But they can be useful in hiring.” “Huh?” we replied. “If your test results cannot predict sales performance, how can they be ‘useful’ in hiring? Did we miss something? Are these tests validated?” “Yes. We revalidate our tests each year.” “We’re confused,” we said. “You say test scores do not predict job performance, but can be useful in hiring. You also say scores are not associated with sales, but you validate the test every year?” “Right!” “You must have been very good selling wastebaskets.” “How did you know?!”

Professional Recruiters to the Rescue?

Discouraged with our lack of success, we tried calling a few of the high-priced professional recruiting firms. We were “picky” — companies had to have the word “sales” embedded somewhere in their name. At first, this seemed like a good idea: The recruiter would do all the work and we could choose from the finalists. After three or four unsuccessful hires, we learned that professional recruiters had similar internal turnover and employee productivity problems. They used the same screening techniques we used and could not identify job-qualified people better than we could.

Four Failures

We had a big problem. There were hundreds of different sales behaviors and hundreds of different tests on the market (e.g., interviews, pencil and paper, case studies, and so forth). How could we possibly make the right choice? It took a while, but it started by statistically examining the major reasons why salespeople and sales managers succeed or failed. We found four big ones. Then, we examined tests used in assessments. Again, there were four major types. Finally, we reviewed independent research. The four big failure areas were:

  1. Not having the right level of intelligence to learn the product line, identify or solve customer problems.
  2. keep reading…

How to Measure Candidate Quality

Lou Adler
Jan 13, 2006

Measuring candidate quality is something many companies struggle with. But its importance is obvious: It’s how you can assess the usefulness of your sourcing channels and of the recruiters involved; if done properly, it’s also a way to assess the quality of the candidates hired compared to their subsequent on-the-job performance. This feedback is a great way to measure the quality of the interviewing process and even of management skills. For the past 15 years, I’ve been using performance-based hiring in combination with a 10-factor candidate assessment template to capture this needed information.

Here are some sample versions of this form that you might want to download as you read this article. The form itself consists of ten measures of candidate quality, each measured on a one to five scale. This scale is non-linear, with a one consisting of everyone in the bottom half. A two is someone who is competent, but not motivated to do the work. This is typically the second quartile. A three is someone totally qualified and motivated. This is a top 10 to 15 percent person. A four is a person who exceeds expectations (top 5 to 10 percent), and a five represents superstar performance (top 1 to 5 percent). The scale is objective, and requires evidence of actual performance to justify any ranking. This is a critical aspect of measuring incoming candidate quality. Some of the ten factors measured include competency to do the work, motivation to do the work, comparable team skills, comparable problem-solving ability, and achievement of comparable results. In order to measure candidate quality, it needs to be made in comparison to expected job performance. This, of course, varies with each job. I suggest using a performance profile to capture this information.

A performance profile is a list of the top five or six performance objectives the candidate needs to achieve during the first year. For a sales person, the objectives could be tasks like “achieve quota consistently within 90 days” or “develop three new accounts per quarter.” For a manager, objectives could be tasks like “rebuild the team within four months” or “lead the successful companywide launch of the new program to measure candidate quality.” The key is to ask the hiring team to clearly define what the person taking the job needs to do in order to be considered successful. During the candidate interviews, you’ll determine how well the person handled similar tasks. The difference between this and the performance profile represents candidate quality. In addition to the use of a performance profile, there are two other things you need to do to begin to measure incoming candidate quality:

  1. Train everyone on the interviewing team on how to conduct a performance-based interview. This is a simple change. Just use the one- and two-question interview process I’ve been writing about for the past three years. The key is to get detailed examples of accomplishments comparable to those listed on the performance profile. This is how you obtain the objective evidence you need to rank the person on the one to five scale noted above.
  2. keep reading…

Recruiting to Retain: Four Questions to Ask Employees

Todd Raphael
Jan 12, 2006

With the ongoing drumbeat about a skills shortage and a shift in the balance of power from employers to employees, ERE spoke recently to retention expert Beverly Kaye about what recruiters can do to improve retention. Kaye co-authored the Wall Street Journal business best-seller Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay.

ERE: Why now? Hasn’t recruiting always partly been about retention?

Beverly Kaye: There are statistics out there about the fact that we’re headed for a perfect storm. This includes not only a healthier economy, but a demographic shortfall the likes of which we’ve never known. There aren’t enough Gen-Xers to fill the jobs. It’s going to leave us with a six million person-to-job shortfall by 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a scary stat. There seems to be a skills shortage in math and science, especially engineering. Employees are logging in as the most dissatisfied as they’ve ever been.

ERE: Well, some polls show dissatisfaction, and others don’t.

Kaye: Gallup, Towers Perrin, Mercer — all show employees are not engaged, not putting in the effort. Engagement is similar to satisfaction. All of these factors coming together say it’s going to be tough to hold on to key talent and that top talent is going to have more choices.

ERE: Is retention a manager’s job, or a recruiter’s job?

Kaye: I think that anyone in the recruiting world who doesn’t see retention as part of their responsibility is going to end up doing a disservice to their organization, to their department, to employees, and probably to themselves. If you don’t see retention as part of your job, you will end up doing a disservice to those you recruit. I look at the retention landscape and realize how much tougher it’s going to be to find great talent. Look how many choices good talent will have. Employees’ decisions will depend on them asking themselves, “Do I want to work at staying here?” It depends on who their recruiter is and how aligned their recruiter is with the hiring manager.

ERE: Tell us more about what that means ó “how aligned their recruiter is.”

Kaye: What can we do as a team to make sure this person stays? I need to get this message as a new hire — not only that the recruiter wants me, but that my hiring manager is going to do everything he or she can to see that I stay, to see that I am productive, that I get what I want. It has an effect on my willingness, when I hit my first bump, to say, “This organization is worth it.” Or, to say, “Who needs this? I’ll look somewhere else.”

ERE: What specifically can a recruiter do to ensure people stay at jobs?

Kaye: The ideal recruiter, who’s retention-focused, will talk to the manager in depth about the candidate, will talk about the candidate’s needs for challenge, passion, balance, and learning. They’ll talk about what the candidate sees as his long-term goals — as much as the recruiter can gain from the interview process. And the secret is for the recruiter to stay in touch with the hiring manager from time to time to say, “How is so-and-so doing? Have you had conversations with this person? Are you getting what you need and do you think they’re getting what they need, and how do you know?”

ERE: Are a lot of these conversations really happening?

Kaye: I’ve seen it in some organizations. The recruiting function is tasked with retention as well as recruiting. Not that retention is [solely] their responsibility, and if people don’t stay, it’s their problem, but they’re tasked with a certain amount of follow-up with this prized candidate who comes in. For some recruiters, they see it as what they owe the whole recruiting process. But in other organizations, the recruiter isn’t tasked with that role at all. It’s just, “I have X number of jobs. I get them in and check the box.”

ERE: What are some specific questions a recruiter could ask an employee to help ensure their tenure will be longer, should they be hired?

Kaye: [For current employees], we talk about the importance of “stay” interviews. I think the recruiter needs to ask candidates some of the same key “stay” interview questions. One, what are some of the key factors that would keep you here if you got the job? Two, what might entice you away? Three, what would keep your energy up? Four, if we would underutilize your skill set, what skills would you least want us to underuse? Find out what in this job would attract them and then make sure you glue it in. The recruiter really needs to focus on those things that the hiring manager needs to know to keep this person and get over the six-month hump. You’re looking for the right fit. I want to know as a hiring manager, What is it that makes this person tick? What is it that will make this person stay for the long haul? What is it that I can do that I could mess up that would make them think twice about staying?

ERE: Are in-house recruiters more concerned about retention, and third-party recruiters less so?

Kaye: I have several friends who are CEOs of headhunter companies. They also have to do what they can to see what people stay. Many of them have in their contracts that if the person leaves within a year, they have to recruit all over again–although they’re not inside the organization, and it’s much harder. The third party has to come at it more as a coach to the new recruit. When the employee says, “I’ve had it — I’m out of there,” the third-party recruiter should say, “Here’s who to talk to, here’s what to say, don’t give up yet.”

ERE: Just to make sure they’re not acting in haste.

Kaye: Anything that looks like a greener pasture you better check out because it might be Astroturf. Too many of us jump ship too quickly. Before employees look to leave, they need to look at their social equity, their financial equity, their influence equity, and their skill equity. These are all forms of equity you build upon in your job. If I were to make a move, what would it be like to rebuild each particular equity? They look only at the financial. They don’t look at how long it will take them to build the friendships they built there. How long it will take them to learn the ropes, to be able to negotiate the organization. How long it will take them to be deploying their skill sets in the organization. They jump without realizing what they’re giving up. For third-party recruiters who have to ensure that the person stays, who stay in touch with their new recruits — this is a way for them to talk to employees about what they’re giving up.

ERE: What happens when the recruiter cares about retention, but realizes the candidate may not get what they want at the job?

Kaye: In our “Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em” book [where chapters begin with consecutive letters of the alphabet], the “J” chapter is for jerk. If you know you’re hiring for a manager who’s going to be a really tough guy to work for, what do you say to a candidate on the other side of the table? Do you coach, do you warn, do you check in on the candidate? Some recruiters say no, that they leave it alone. Others, absolutely — they end up warning the new recruit, and they end up coaching the manager that this is the way a new recruit needs to be handled, and they keep their eyes on it.

Beverly Kaye is the founder and CEO of Career Systems International and one of the nation’s leading authorities on career issues in the workplace. Her career development, talent retention and mentoring programs have been implemented by her training and consulting team at American Express, AT&T, Citigroup, DaimlerChrysler, Hartford Life, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Microsoft, Sears, Sprint, Starbucks, Wells Fargo, and Xerox.

Why Would You Want to Be a Recruiter?

Kevin Wheeler
Jan 11, 2006

Recruiting is a strange profession. It’s one of those jobs that you “fall into” but rarely ever think about doing when you are a student. In fact, in an informal survey I took recently of nine corporate recruiters, one had been an actress prior to starting as a recruiter, three had been business people with degrees in finance or management, two had been engineers, one had been a teacher, one had been a small business owner, and one had been a consultant for a major consultancy. Not even one of them had begun their career as a recruiter.

As far as I know, no university offers a degree in recruiting — the closest thing is a degree in human resources. No one gets tested, certified, or licensed to be a recruiter. In short, it’s a professional almost anyone can get into, but few can do well. Those who do excel combine a love for the hunt with keen interpersonal skills, good salesmanship, and an ability to use technology well. Recruiters a decade or so ago often acted as a pair of extra hands for a hiring manager. They placed ads in newspapers, screened incoming resumes, and even conducted most interviews. The work they did was largely administrative. They tried to act as if they were human applicant tracking systems, but didn’t always really understand the jobs well enough to make good judgments. Their existence was based on an assumption that plenty of qualified applicants would send in resumes, and when this didn’t happen, they turned to outside agencies or posted everything on job boards in the hope that someone would be there. They had little to no skill in sourcing or in helping the hiring manager think strategically about the position. They really couldn’t help the manager define competencies for a position or where people who had them could be found.

Today’s competitive marketplace, scarcer talent pool, and global marketplace have changed what it takes to be a successful recruiter. Recruiters today are strategic players in keeping their organizations competitive by finding the best possible talent. Here are the five most critical of these new skills:

  1. Relationship builder. Most important and on top of the pyramid of skills is the ability to find great people and build relationships with them. This is what all great recruiters do. Every executive search guru is really a guru at building and maintaining relationships. Recruiters within organizations need to get out of the organization and get to know people at all levels and professions that might be useful to their firms. They need to utilize technology to help create the initial relationship, and then they need to leverage that by talking on the phone, sending frequent emails, having breakfast or lunch with possible candidates, and by always asking one candidate to recommend a few more. Those who possess this skill-set are good at knowing who the best performers are, because they also have good relationships with the hiring managers and other employees who can tell them. They assess why those people are the best and then try to find more with the same skills.
  2. keep reading…

How You Can Make Your Worst Recruiting Practices Go Away

Howard Adamsky
Jan 10, 2006

If you look at best practices as “us” and see worst practices as “them,” I can assure you there are more of them than there are of us. As a matter of fact, I suspect the numbers are not even close. Be that as it may, this New Yorker has always been short of patience as it relates to problems that can be fixed yet remain the same year after year. Here’s a list of my personal favorites — and some ideas on how you might make changes that others are either not bright enough or don’t care enough to make themselves.

Wanting a Lot for a Little

Nothing annoys me more than companies that want a candidate who has 1,127 key skills but is unwilling to pay the price it will take to hire this candidate. The bottom line for these sad organizations is that the candidates they like are too expensive and the ones they can afford are not good enough to hire. Honestly, aren’t you just a bit tired of this? You are almost never, ever going to get a Cadillac for the price of a Chevrolet, because the first rule of money is that you don’t get a lot for a little. If you run into this Neanderthal line of thinking, I suggest that you present candidates who can clearly do the job and are available to hire regardless of salary, because what a qualified candidate is earning at another organization is not your problem and not your responsibility. Beyond submitting qualified candidates, consider utilizing such sites as to provide data and support you efforts.

Having HR In Charge

Long ago, HR was probably a reasonable place to have recruiting report to because it was an ancillary function in a world that was very different than the one in which we live today. I have nothing against HR people, but that solution is no longer viable. Recruiting now plays a major role in building the organization and, if done well, providing a competitive advantage. The author Robert Anthony wrote, “If you find a good solution and become attached to it, the solution may become your next problem.” Clearly, having recruiting report into HR fits Mr. Anthony’s sentiment perfectly. The time has come for every organization to have a Chief Talent Officer, either in spirit or in title, because the job of recruiting, as with most other jobs, will get done most effectively if someone who can do the job is clearly in charge of getting it done in the first place. If you are a recruiter reporting into an HR person who does not get it, I suggest that you consider yourself the person in charge and learn how to manage your boss. See How to Manage Your Boss: Developing the Perfect Working Relationship, by Ros Jay. Even if you can’t change the structure, you can still get great results.

Bashing Job Boards

“Monster first” has become my mantra, and I seem to be in good company. Industry darlings such as Microsoft, Google, Starbucks, and Amazon all post positions on Monster. Thus, Monster, as well as those companies, must be doing something right. You can bash the boards all you like, but Monster is so pervasive, so visible, and so entrenched that not posting there makes it look like you are not really serious about hiring in the first place. I know that passive candidates are all the rage, and I go after them as well as the next person; however, I have found such amazing candidates on Monster, many whom have lead me to other candidates, that not shelling out the money to see who you will identify is just plain silly. By the way, to my corporate recruiting friends, how many passive candidates did you source, cold call, convince to interview, and successfully hire last year?

Seeing Poaching as Stealing

God bless John Sullivan. He might wear that funny-looking vest a lot, but he had the courage to take the social work out of recruiting and make so many people understand that business is business and you can’t steal a person because you can’t own one in the first place. You can steal clothing, computers, or Lou Adler’s iPod, but you can’t steal a person. All organizations that compete are competing for customers as well as the human capital to serve and add value to these customers. You can’t very well do that if the very best people are working for the competition; the best people need to be working for you! I suggest that you build your company and, not incidentally, your future as well, by sourcing the best people from anywhere you can find them. Hiring the best people is what you are paid to do and that is how you win big in this phenomenon we call business.

Not Managing Your Career

Recruiters are some of the most interesting and colorful people I have come to know. Unfortunately, many do not manage their careers very effectively, for reasons I do not fully understand. I personally know recruiters who are extraordinarily good at what they do but keep on working for companies who do such clever things as:

Why Not Do Something Strategic in Recruiting?

Dr. John Sullivan
Jan 9, 2006

The desire to become more strategic is one that has been espoused by recruiting leaders for more than a decade, and yet, year after year, newly introduced initiatives seem more tactical and administrative than ever. Recruiting processes have nearly doubled in size when you look at the steps involved, but no one seems to think or can prove that output has changed all that much. When you look at what the typical recruiting organization actually does, the plain truth of the matter is that 90 percent of the work is administrative or tactical at best. There’s nothing wrong with tactical work; it does for the most part generate a positive return in the short term.

But let there be no doubt that a truly strategic recruiting function would do a fraction of what typically gets done and a lot more of what hasn’t been getting done. Strategic actions have broader, long-term dollar impacts that manifest themselves by fundamentally altering an organization’s capability or capacity to compete. Little of what gets billed as being strategic these days is actually strategic. In fact, it seems that the word “strategic” in conjunction with recruiting is most often used by vendors selling goods and services that have absolutely no strategic impact. The next time you see an advertisement from a vendor that uses the word strategic, do yourself a favor and use it to get the kindling started in your next fire!

Most Recruiting Activities Are Not Strategic in Scope

Almost everything that an individual recruiter does is intended to resolve an immediate need and is therefore operational or tactical in nature. Because the scope of the outcome is so limited, it is nearly impossible for any single instance to rise to the level of being strategic. For example, the following activities are generally always focused on resolving short-term needs:

How to Use the Interview to Recruit Top People and Prevent Dumb Hiring Mistakes

Lou Adler
Jan 6, 2006

The interview is a bridge. It’s how the hiring team determines whether a candidate is qualified for the job. Less obvious, the interview is how top candidates determine whether they want the job. So if you’re only using the interview for assessing candidate quality, you’re missing a tremendous recruiting opportunity. Of course, if the hiring team isn’t collectively very good at interviewing, you’re wasting a lot time doing searches over again and you won’t be able to hire too many top people anyway. When recruiters are better at interviewing than their clients, both problems are solved. Every recruiter has lost good candidates due to their hiring team’s weak interviewing skills.

The result is the need to find more candidates than necessary. Our research with corporate and third-party recruiters indicates that this happens 30 to 50 percent of the time! Eliminating this problem can increase personal productivity by up to 100 percent. If you know what information top people use when evaluating career opportunities, you’ll quickly see how the interview can be used as a great recruiting tool. Here are the criteria and the order in which the best people use them when deciding whether or not to accept an offer:

  • The job fit: This has to do with the scope of the assignment and the long-term opportunity.
  • keep reading…

Getting Around the Gatekeeper

Michael Homula
Jan 5, 2006

The air has been thick on ERE and all over the recruiting space; thick with the din of ethics, legalese, and honesty and integrity discussions. What should you say to get around the gatekeeper without being deceitful? How much information should you reveal to the gatekeeper? How should you introduce yourself to the passive candidate when you call? What is ethical in sourcing and what isn’t? I am going to avoid all that and focus on two very important aspects of great recruiting: how to get around a gatekeeper without rusing (today’s article) and, once you get to the prospect or candidate, how you define the purpose of your call and then execute the art of recruiting (an article to come). This will be about tactics; a practical teaching session that any recruiter can execute immediately.

During my 12 or so years of recruiting and recruiting leadership I have learned a variety of tactics from some of the best-known names in the recruiting industry. Names like Sullivan, Radin, Leffkowitz, Adler, etc., read like a who’s who of recruiting consultants and teachers who have shaped my execution, teaching, and leading in the recruiting industry. The tactics and techniques I teach to my teams and that I will relay here come from my experience with what gets results and what the aforementioned recruiting industry thought leaders have taught me and many others. This article won’t discuss phone-call name generation or sourcing techniques, but that will likely come in a later article. Much of what I executed successfully as a recruiter, and now teach as a leader, was learned from Peter Leffkowitz in my TPR days. Those of you who have attended any of his seminars or training will recognize much in this article.

A Hypothetical Situation

You are conducting a search for a director of marketing or VP of marketing. If you’re a really great recruiter, you have competitive intelligence on a few candidates who you know are high performers. One of those high performers is a senior-level marketing professional at one of your competitors named Barbara Smith. You are now ready to make the call. Given the senior-level scope of your search, there’s a high degree of likelihood you’ll encounter your targeted prospects’ executive secretary or administrative support; the dreaded gatekeeper. Damn the man!

Want To Know How To Get Around a Gatekeeper? Hang Out With One

The first thing you need to do is get to know someone who has been a gatekeeper. Just about every organization has at least one gatekeeper or someone working in the company who did it in a prior life. Ask them how they did it. Understand how they were trained and what scripts they use. Listen to them apply their craft. Incidentally, hiring former gatekeepers to be recruiters is a very sound recruiting strategy. In order to get around the gatekeeper, it is critical to know the script almost all gatekeepers employ. Gatekeepers are taught to answer the phone in a very specific way, and the script pattern they use is designed to get as much information from the caller in order to make a decision about who to let through and who to block. Great gatekeepers are trained to block everyone unless they make a compelling argument for why they should be let through or the person they support has specifically indicated a caller should be let through.

Before we talk about how to design the call and get by the gatekeeper, we need to look at a typical recruiting call and the common script pattern a gatekeeper will likely use during their interaction with you the recruiter. As part of the call examination we need to look at how most recruiters, especially those in the corporate recruiting world, script their end of the call. Most TPRs are usually much better at this, though you wouldn’t know it by the voicemails and calls I have received from some of them recently. The background now set, let’s “listen in” on our hypothetical call:

Gatekeeper: Good morning; Barbara Smith’s office.

keep reading…

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Recruiters

Kevin Wheeler
Jan 4, 2006

Half a decade into the second millennium, and change is continuing at a breathtaking pace. It used to be that a couple of years or more elapsed between major trends, giving us a bit longer to digest their impact and learn how to cope. But over the past few years we have been exposed to so many new ideas, applications, and technologies that no one is really sure what is going to last and what is going to pass away. Fortunately, 2006 will be a year of consolidation and evolution, and will provide us with a brief respite from this whirlwind of change. Given a few skills and some effort, you will be able to sort through the confusion and begin to plan a coherent strategy for blending the new with the old.

An in-depth, specific look at my predictions for 2006 will appear soon in the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership, also published by ERE.

Resolution #1: Learn to learn fast.

The people who first adopt new technologies or use new applications are always the fastest learners. Know what they do? They just dive right in and begin to use the new technology even without full knowledge of what it can do or how it was designed to do it. They make lots of mistakes, and often struggle to figure out specifics, but finally get it working. I have a friend who is not only a fast learner but also now runs at least three blogs. He didn’t know what a blog was a year ago. When he first saw a blog, he said, “Wow, that’s what I want.” He got onto Blogger, opened an account, and jumped right in. Within a week, he had a blog up, although it was far from perfect. Now he runs three sophisticated blogs. The first skill you need is to learn how to learn. Learning is not a formal event. You don’t have to go to school to learn. In fact, more than 80 percent of everything you know you learned outside of school in some informal way. Learning is something we do all the time — informally and formally, often without even realizing it. Whenever we ask questions, try out a new application, or try to do something new, we are learning. Most of the new trends and applications we are exposed to require us to figure them out, assess them, and even start to use them with no formal training at all. Developing confidence to experiment, asking questions, and getting on forums and chat rooms to see what others are doing are important aspects of becoming a better learner. You should make a resolution to stop being intimidated or afraid of new applications or technologies. Don’t wait for a formal class, but vow to jump in and learn as much as you can as fast as you can. This will give you the edge you may need to survive and thrive in the fast-changing world of recruiting.

Resolution #2: Absolutely, completely, and with no more excuses embrace the Internet.

If you are not already an avid Internet user, a fan of Google search, a blogger, a user-group aficionado, or an online networker, becoming each of these should be your resolution for 2006. The Internet has become the primary communication and networking medium of our time. Even commerce is moving to the Internet at a speed few would have predicted. This Christmas season saw Internet sales increase by 30 percent over last year. Brick-and-mortar retailers have all rapidly built e-commerce sites and are embracing the web as never before. Recruiting has also moved almost entirely to the Internet. No one under 30 looks in the newspaper (or even buys one) anymore. Everyone has taken at least one look through a job board to see what positions were available. And everyone goes to a corporate website to see what positions are open. Candidates are aware that the Internet is the place to go to find jobs, apply for jobs, learn about companies, and even to communicate with recruiters. Email is replacing the telephone as the preferred way to discuss a possible position with a recruiter. This year, develop your own skills for using the Internet so that you can communicate better with potential and current candidates, build networks, and spread the word about what you and your organization are looking for. At Microsoft, Heather Hamilton has combined her writing, humor, and computer skills to create a blog that has gathered worldwide renown. Her blog draws hundreds of potential candidates to her and to Microsoft. You also need to get a LinkedIn account and start building a personal network. By leveraging this network, you can find candidates and get referrals to candidates that you would not have found in any other way. Also explore such sites as Jobster or H3 to learn more about networking specifically for recruiting.

Resolution #3: Brand yourself.

Understanding how important it is to have a personal reputation and brand is perhaps the most complex, difficult, and yet most rewarding skill you can develop. The more clearly you know what you stand for and who you are, the better you can develop messages and find ways to communicate with candidates. All recruiting is selling, and the best salespeople are those who have a “personality” that stands out and differentiates them from everyone else. Your personal brand lets everyone know how you are different from others.

As mentioned above, Heather Hamilton at Microsoft has developed a brand as a humorous, smart blogger. Candidates know who she is and expect to be treated in a certain way because of her reputation and brand. Tom Peters, a well-known management consultant and speaker, has written extensively about developing a personal brand. I suggest that you buy his book about the fifty ways to transform yourself from an “employee” into a brand or go to his website and look over his PowerPoint presentations and other materials on the “Brand Called You.” This is the perfect year to focus on yourself, and to hone and improve your skills so that you can compete more effectively in the great race for talent.

Who’s an Internet Applicant? Recruiters Should Be Ready to Answer

Lisa Harpe
Jan 3, 2006

On October 7, 2005, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released its final rule regarding the definition of an Internet applicant. As mentioned in a November 2005 article by Dr. Michael Harris, the final rule presents four criteria for a job seeker to be considered an applicant, as follows:

  1. The individual submits an expression of interest in employment through the Internet or related electronic data technologies.
  2. keep reading…