Receive daily articles & headlines each day in your inbox with your free ERE Daily Subscription.

Not logged in. [log in or register]

June  2006 RSS feed Archive for June, 2006

On Becoming a Great Recruiter, Part 3

Lou Adler
Jun 30, 2006

We’re into the third week of our eight-week program on becoming a top 10% recruiter. Aside from reading the two previous articles, there were four other things you had to do to get to this point: 1) take the online recruiter diagnostic to see where you are today; 2) email me ( about the biggest change you need to make to become a better recruiter; 3) sign up for a comprehensive survey; and 4) begin tackling the reading list presented in the previous article. Now you’re ready to find some top candidates.

The recruiting and hiring process can be divided into three basic categories: attraction, assessment, and acceptance. These are the three big As. What some people fail to recognize is that you must be good at all three to have great hiring results. Being great at one or two and weak in the third will result in failure. On the other hand, you don’t even need to be great at all three: Being good enough in all three can provide great results. Good enough is good enough. What a lot of HR and organizational-development people and other so-called experts fail to see is that hiring top people is a three-part system. For example, sometimes a great assessment tool can minimize the number of top people who apply because the tool is boring or demeaning.

A behavioral interview or competency model actually might be useful, but not if managers find it too cumbersome to use or if candidates can game it. Designing subsystems that defeat the objective of the main system is called suboptimization, and it’s a common problem that good recruiters have to fight every day. The underlying theme of this eight-part series is to give recruiters the tools to deal with the bureaucrats who forget that the real objective is hiring great people every time. In this week’s session, we’ll focus on the attraction piece: what it takes to find top people who might actually use the Internet, job boards, and career websites to look for jobs. While it shouldn’t be your dominant focus, sourcing active candidates should represent about 25-35% (resume databases and advertising) of your total sourcing efforts. This is shown in the following chart.

Total Candidate Pool by Major Sourcing Channel

Southwest Hopes to Fight Off Low-cost Imitators with Its Culture

Todd Raphael
Jun 29, 2006, 12:15 am ET

Everywhere you go, they are held up as the standard for a successful employment brand. They have managed to take their customer promise and make it real to the employees?or vice versa.?

When your customers can see your employment brand in action, that’s when you know you’ve been successful.

That’s what one employer told the agency Bernard Hodes about Southwest Airlines. One person whose job will be to continue the success of that employment brand is Jeff Lamb, the company’s new vice president of people and leadership development.??

Lamb, who started at Southwest Airlines in 2004, is now piloting the recruiting, learning, and leadership development function for a company that has long been one of the most admired in the workforce management field. It’s serving 62 cities, employs about 32,000 people, and hired 2,766 last year.

Despite 33 straight years of profitability, Southwest is not without its changes and its challenges.

keep reading…

Interviewing Doesn’t Work Very Well

Kevin Wheeler
Jun 29, 2006

My Recruiting Trends Survey for 2006 will be available within a week or two, but one of my main findings was that candidate quality remains your number one concern. As I speak with clients who are looking back on last year, I hear dissatisfaction and concern. In many cases, they are dissatisfied with the quality of candidates they recruited, and all of them wish to avoid the frenzied decision-making and frustrated hiring managers that have become common. Unemployment is still low for skilled people, and demographic projections indicate a long-term swing toward a market driven by candidates rather than by organizations. We are once again beating the bushes for good candidates and are facing a new generation of workers with different attitudes about employment. Most recruiters rely entirely on reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates to determine their quality. Yet, study after study shows that interviewing is a pretty unreliable process. It is rarely done consistently from person to person, is highly subjective, and is based on whatever assumptions (prejudices) the recruiter or hiring managers have.

However, screening and assessment tools and processes can save large amounts of money and time. Here are four practical things you can do right now to help reduce the number of poor-quality hires that you make.

Number 1: Establish a Definition of Quality and Use it to Select People

Most organizations do not have any definition of a “quality employee,” nor do they even have a performance management system that is anything better than a popularity contest. While I could write a long column on the pros and cons of performance management philosophies, suffice it to say that before any performance can be assessed, the organization has to have a clear idea of what good or exceptional performance looks like. It needs to have longitudinal studies of its best performers so that a pattern of actions, competencies, and skills can be established that are linked to success. Then these characteristics can be used to select new people. This is the time to unravel the characteristics of the good performers, and develop profiles by function of top performers’ skills and competencies. There are a host of companies that offer selection tools and services, many of which can be integrated with your applicant/talent management system. I suggest you take a look at Charles Handler’s excellent site, Rocket-Hire. His site contains tons of information on screening and assessment and provides a guide to the many tools available. Charles is also an excellent consultant in this field. But, while these tools are essential for determining candidate quality, there’s still the need for the creative and unorthodox, from time to time, to keep the creative juices flowing and to unseat the status quo that can be damaging to new ideas and growth. What you should be striving for is not perfection, but improvement and the setting of some minimum selection criteria.

Number 2: Educate Hiring Managers

Very few hiring managers know much about selection or about what it takes to assess a candidate. Even though you may have put all the managers through some sort of interview training, I’m sure they have forgotten most of it and have used less. Most of us are not disciplined, nor can we expect the typical manager to become expert with these techniques. One area where recruiters can add value is to pre-screen and evaluate candidates against criteria that are objective and job-related. Managers can help you determine what those criteria are, and they should be well aware of the consequences of using the criteria. Using them might mean that their best candidate technically is a poor candidate when it comes to attitude or fit and should not be hired. You can hold briefing sessions, spend time one-on-one with managers, hire a consultant to work with them, or simply gather and use case studies and examples from your own organization to help managers understand how important it is to select people with the right skills and the right organizational fit and attitude.

Number 3: Investigate and Experiment With New Tools for Screening and Selection

It is startlingly obvious that very few firms, before investing a large amount of time in interviews, are taking advantage of the many online tools that are emerging to help screen candidates. By using the Internet and your corporate website, you can ask candidates to engage in a dialogue and mutual assessment process. While you are looking at their skills and fit, they can be looking at your organization and can make decisions about whether or not they like what they see. Many people I have spoken with have seen one side of an organization while interviewing, and another less attractive one after they are hired. Let candidates email other employees for information about the company and work/life. Recently, blogs have become popular with candidates because they bring authenticity and reality about the organization. And, by simply adding job previews and marketing-oriented job descriptions, you can improve the kinds of candidates who apply.

Number 4: Teach Yourself

Take time to gain a new skill, read a book or two on selection or assessment, take a seminar on the topic, or at least have some good conversations with vendors or other recruiters about what they are doing. Spend a few hours looking at other organizations’ recruiting websites and noting what you like and don’t like. Try applying for a job and see what you think about the quality of the process. Recruiters who set aside a period of time every day or week for improving themselves always end up in better jobs and attract better candidates. Organizations that are using the selection tools that are now available, combined with websites that are written to attract and target the right candidate, are finding that candidate quality has improved. Interviewing is not enough, takes too much time, and yields poor results when measured against objective criteria. It just won’t do it anymore.

Let’s Put an End to Our Inferiority Complex

Jeremy Eskenazi
Jun 28, 2006

HR conference season is nearly complete, and 2006 was a banner year for attendance at all of the conferences. Lots of people were out in force seeking to improve, enhance, and optimize their recruiting and staffing processes, and their skills, as well as to network with their fellow professionals.

As I spent time at these conferences participating in the various sessions, I felt like there was a constant trend in the messages being delivered: The recruiting and staffing function is not working effectively, and we better fix it or else! (We could be outsourced, laid off, someone else could do it better, etc.) If you read all of the articles written about recruiting and staffing on and other media, you could also hear that message.

This profession – and it is a profession – sometimes carries a collective burden. But, we as a profession need to be proud of the great things we have achieved. We don’t hear much of that in conferences and in the recruiting media, but I’ve seen it, and there’s a lot to be proud of. I wrote an article for another publication about metrics in HR and recruiting in which I noted that evaluating and analyzing your HR and staffing activities with even the most rudimentary metric-oriented approach can be very useful and have an immediate impact.

I began the article by mentioning that we all know about the value of even basic metrics, but that more often than not, we don’t even do these basics, even though we know they can help. That got me thinking: Why is it that even when we know it’s good for us, we don’t do the basics? Now, I realize that this is a bigger topic than recruiting and HR. For months I put off upgrading my virus protection on my computer, even though it was only a few mouse clicks away and it was only by sheer luck I avoided about four different worms. This is only one of many examples for all of us, and the true answer for my procrastination lies between me, my therapist, and my inner irresponsible child. But when applied to the world of HR/staffing, the question becomes “Why is it we still have people in top HR/staffing roles not doing the most fundamental of things?”

And, with those who are doing them and succeeding and doing even more sophisticated things, why do they keep so quiet about it? Why is it left to others, like consultants like myself, to write these articles? And, why is it that when the top HR/staffing professionals do speak, they often claim the profession is broken? The answers to these questions have their roots in a bigger issue – the issue of taking our profession seriously.

There are many who have been in the profession for a long time who still don’t take themselves and what they do seriously, who don’t believe in their bones that we’re legitimate. Because they don’t take themselves seriously, they don’t put much time into the basics, and it’s certainly easier for them to look at what we do negatively and wax on about how the glass is half-empty. People inside and outside of this line of work have to continually be reminded (and remind themselves) that this is a profession. It’s an end unto itself. And, it deserves to be treated as such. I’m speaking to those both in the profession and outside of it. People within these roles are more often than not some of the biggest offenders. I’ll get to the reasons why later. Outside of the profession, they don’t have to be convinced. In my sphere of knowledge, I know of about 75 heads of staffing and recruiting roles open today in the U.S. alone.

During the downturn when there were cutbacks, people left the role and the profession; now, during this new expansion, the role is so important that companies won’t hire just anyone. Employers want solid, business-oriented professionals in these roles and often times require that they have in-house experience as well (in the past, they used to hire a lot from outside, third-party recruiters, but the bar is higher now). In short, they want good people, but there aren’t a lot out there. I’ll tell you why people who are in these roles don’t take them seriously.

For many who have been in talent acquisition and talent management for years, there are scars and baggage from the era during which they were treated like second-class citizens – stepchildren of the corporate administrative world. It’s hard to let that go. And for people who are new to staffing, this is often a stepping-stone on their way to somewhere else. But as in all endeavors, the beginnings of taking ourselves and this profession seriously lie in executing the basics well. It builds confidence. These basics include how to find, source, and assess the best candidates. And, they include communicating with your clients and measuring their needs and your effectiveness in a basic way, i.e., metrics. You need these to do your job well. Once that’s taken care of, then it’s on to looking down the path and thinking about how to help your organization strategically. Anticipating and being proactive. To look into the future and have a vision always requires risk, and that you go out on a limb. But you limit your exposure by doing your homework and being thoughtful. In order to do this, the end-goal has to be a big one, such as a shift in your organization’s thinking to one that has a really strong brand, a strong employee value proposition, or a real reason for working that’s actually backed up by the experience an employee has on the job.

In my case, when I was the head of staffing at a large, global media company, I took a big risk and went out on a limb to completely change the way we used third-party search firms. I had noticed our use of third-party search firms was completely inconsistent throughout the company. It was driven by cronyism and individual relationships between the hiring managers and recruiters.

One day, I saw a presentation on a preferred-provider relationship in which the staffing group used a consultant to help structure the arrangements. I was reluctant to use a consultant because, after all, wasn’t that my job? But I talked to this guy and realized he knew more than I did. I also realized that the culture shift that I was shooting for was big enough (and so was the cost savings) that I needed help. And if it worked, regardless of whether I used a consultant, we would all look good. I lobbied my boss to spend a substantial amount of money to hire the consultant. I met with some conflict internally, but I was willing to explore it.

The conflict became constructive, but my credibility was at stake. I believed in the idea, and this was the battle I was willing to fight. I had pushed in my entire stack of chips to the dealer. It worked. The consultant was worth every penny because the results were so large. And, the experience was a highlight of my career. I can actually say that for a time, I changed the culture of a company. I stepped up and made my impact along the lines of other senior leaders in the organization. I was tempted to go out and preach my success to the world. But I didn’t because I was too busy, or I secretly harbored fears that, God forbid, the competition would discover, steal, implement, and ultimately take credit for my work. And these are the answers to the second question I often ask myself, which is, “When good things happen in staffing/HR within organizations, why is it left to others, like consultants (i.e., me) to write these articles?” Because we don’t think we’re legitimate, and because we don’t have the confidence to let things go. But I think it’s important to communicate your successes: what you’re doing that’s working. There’s some reticence for this because of the war for talent.

But, articles can’t just be left up to the consultants. Time is a rare commodity, but you, the HR/staffing professionals, are on the front lines, watching and urging innovation at every turn. Communicating what you’re doing can help others. Those in more established administrative roles, such as marketing, share information because there’s a confidence and ease of camaraderie to let things go. But for us, we need to have confidence in our roles and our profession. We need to stop the negativity and the self-flagellation. We aren’t broken, and we are legitimate. Companies and businesses at the end of the day are, and always have been, about people. Any decent leader will tell you that. Thus, we are the keys to the future. We need to believe that, let things go (and know it will help, not hurt us), and have pride in the name of the HR/staffing profession!

Identity Fraud Protection Increasingly Offered as Recruitment Lure

J McCool
Jun 27, 2006, 2:51 pm ET

While a just-released SHRM survey reveals that rising healthcare costs are employers’ chief concern, a growing number of insurers and corporate recruiters are voluntarily increasing their investment in a form of workplace productivity insurance.?

That’s because the mounting problem of employee identity fraud has evolved from an individual’s personal financial nightmare into a full-fledged personnel issue, and now, an employment benefit that’s of growing interest to new recruits.

keep reading…

Best Corporate Careers Sites

Todd Raphael
Jun 27, 2006, 11:41 am ET

Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler of CareerXroads have examined the jobs/recruiting sections of Fortune Magazine’s list of America’s 500 Largest Public Corporations and will soon release a detailed report on their findings.

Crispin and Mehler measured “the site’s ability to target, engage, inform, and respect the job seeker.” Here,?in?alphabetical?order,?are the 25 members of the Fortune 500 that they say “seem to best understand how to treat today’s job seekers.”?

keep reading…

Why Should I Work for Your Company?

Howard Adamsky & Danielle Monaghan
Jun 27, 2006

Well, why should I? That seems like a fair question considering the fact that great candidates can have multiple opportunities just within one organization and several offers from competing organizations. Today’s candidates are very often willing to forego a top title for a great career path, flexible work schedule, performance-based rewards, and/or meaningful work. (Which of the four does your company provide?) With this reality quickly becoming the modus operandi of top-tier job seekers, the important questions that support your ability to hire great candidates now become clear:

  • Has your organization evolved to meet their needs, or is it business as usual?
  • keep reading…

Many Eastern European Cities Get Cheaper for Expats

Todd Raphael
Jun 26, 2006, 10:51 am ET

Many Eastern European cities have dropped sharply in the rankings of the world’s most expensive cities, according to Mercer, whose annual list is used by some companies to calculate compensation and relocation payments to expatriates.

Prague has fallen 22 places to rank 50th. Warsaw has dropped from the 27th most expensive city last year to 62nd this year. Expats can rent a two-bedroom, luxury apartment in Warsaw for $1,320. They’ll pay double that cost if they rent in Bejing, and more than double in London, New York, and Tokyo.

With the cost of renting on the rise, Moscow is the most expensive city in the world. Seoul is second, followed by Tokyo. The survey measures housing, transportation, food, clothing, entertainment, and other costs.

keep reading…

SHRM Lobbies for Better Federal Database for Employment Verification

J McCool
Jun 26, 2006, 12:51 am ET

Members of the Society for Human Resource Management have plenty of business in Washington regardless of whether they’ve traveled to the nation’s capital this week to attend its annual conference.

The society’s governmental affairs unit is mobilizing members to get involved in the growing immigration debate before a new law could force employers to screen individuals they wish to recruit against a flawed federal employment verification database.

keep reading…

Seeking Out “Next Practices,” the Next Generation of Best Practices

Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 26, 2006

Many in HR proclaim a desire to be more strategic, yet most doom themselves by not acting any differently than everyone else. A clear indication of this can be seen in the speed by which documented best practices are mimicked and improved. Benchmarking has become a common practice in the profession of recruiting, which most organizations use to identify what must be done to emulate those who do something better. Unfortunately, most stop there with emulation, and that may doom them to mediocrity forever. The business world once moved at a significantly slower pace, a pace that made benchmarking and emulating best practices prudent activities. However, things no longer move so slowly! By the time firms benchmark a best practice today, the situation that warranted the development or implementation of the best practice might have changed or may no longer be present. Instead of systematizing an effort to consistently follow the leader and mimic the soon-to-be-obsolete practices of others, I recommend adopting a proactive approach, one in which you develop your own “next generation” of best practices. I call these “next practices.”

Next Practice Development Is More Common in Other Business Functions

Next practice development isn’t about making something more efficient; instead, it is about a fundamental transformation of the core business activity. For example, Apple has long been a participant in the computer industry, in which the core best practices are predominately focused on refinement of manufacturing technologies that enable computers to do more. While Apple could have easily jumped on the performance bandwagon, it instead opted to develop next practices in the areas of product packaging and service. With the introduction of the iMac, Apple demonstrated that computers don’t have to be beige and gray boxes. With the introduction of the iPod and iMusic service, Apple demonstrated that product companies can develop sustainable long-term relationships with consumers. It abandoned efforts to compete on the nature of performance, long a computer-industry challenge, and reinvented the game with best practices that were unique to its business.

Next Practices Help You Create the Future

Best practices only allow you to do what you are currently doing a little better, while next practices increase your organization’s capability to do things that it could never have done before. By jumping a level up to next practices, you’re taking a giant step in that you are actually creating your future recruiting capabilities, rather than relying on the innovation of others.

Examples of Next Practices

If you are not sure of the distinction between best and next practices, here are some examples in several HR areas: Practice Area: College Recruiting

  • Average practice: Visit the top schools within your state.
  • keep reading…

On Becoming a Great Recruiter, Part 2

Lou Adler
Jun 23, 2006

Managers have a hard time assessing competency and motivation, even though many have gone through some type of formal interviewing training. It turns out the real problem is not the questions being asked; it’s not knowing the job they’re evaluating the candidate against. Not knowing real job needs turns out to be the root cause of the most common hiring mistakes: hiring people who are partially competent, or hiring people who are competent but not motivated to do the work required. If you’ve taken the recruiter diagnostic assessment, you know that knowing the job and knowing your market are prerequisites to being a great recruiter.

Here’s a short reading list to get you started here. The books listed below are essential reading for all top managers and recruiters, and the articles will give you instant credibility when you suggest using a different approach as you take your next search assignment. The Required Reading List If you want to be a top 10% recruiter within a year, check these out:

2007 Pay Increases Won’t Budge Much

Todd Raphael
Jun 22, 2006, 1:06 pm ET

For the fourth straight year, 2007 pay increases for most salaried workers will stay below 4 percent, according to the Conference Board.

Wage increases will vary by industry, with finance/insurance higher than the services sector.

The table below shows salary increase budgets in 2006 and 2007.

keep reading…

Companies May Be Unaware That Employees Are Ready to Leave

Todd Raphael
Jun 22, 2006, 12:17 am ET

Employees who are thinking about quitting may actually seem quite happy, according to a new study by the CFO Executive Board.

Fifty-four percent of financial professionals intending to leave their jobs are satisfied or neutral about the jobs. And of high-performing employees eyeing the door, 53 percent of them say they’re satisfied as well.

Money, not surprisingly, is very important to financial employees. But the lack of it isn’t the biggest cause of their dissatisfaction, according to the study. Bigger problems: a lack of opportunity for a promotion, a poor manager, and a bad job fit.

The CFO Executive Board outlines four keys for employers wanting to retain top finance talent:

keep reading…

12 Key Negotiating Techniques for Success Inside and Outside of Recruiting

Cynthia Troianello
Jun 22, 2006

You possess skills that, when applied to your boss, your staff, the manager of your favorite store, the home-repair company, and the hybrid-car salesman, will get you more of what you want more quickly, easily, and frequently. Inherent in the skills you use everyday in recruiting are some very valuable negotiating techniques. Below, I’ve taken 12 of these key negotiating skills you already use for recruiting and show how you can use them to be more successful in the rest of your life.

  1. Think about what you want ahead of time; and know your goal and the minimum you’ll accept. In recruiting, you do this as a matter of course. You already know the amount you want to pay the candidate and the highest amount your company is willing to pay. But, do you use this technique outside of the search process? When you head out to make a purchase (a car, a home, a refrigerator, a vacation package, etc.), do you create that range in your head, the reasonable amount you want to pay, and the most you will pay? Or, do you decide after you see the salesman and hear his spiel? Creating your own range will keep you from being swayed in the heat of the moment.
  2. keep reading…

Job Growth Strong in Diversified San Diego

Todd Raphael
Jun 21, 2006, 2:25 pm ET

San Diego “tops the nation in new online job ads,” according to the Conference Board.

The new report shows that San Diego’s 3.66 job ads per 100 persons in the labor force is higher than San Francisco (3.48) Seattle-Tacoma (3.58), Boston (3.5), and Washington, D.C. (3.26). Gad Levanon, a Conference Board economist, says that the results may be slightly skewed toward cities with highly skilled workforces where companies post more of their jobs online.

Meanwhile, Manpower’s outlook, which came out last week, showed that 45 percent of San Diego companies plan to hire more people from July to September, 43 percent will hold steady, and 10 percent expect to cut headcount.

Jim Donnelly is a staffing manager/HR manager for Northrop Grumman Space Technology, which has bought five San Diego companies in the last five or six years. Donnelly says that although a few area companies are announcing layoffs, or are moving facilities to the East Coast and elsewhere, the local economy is strong.

Donnelly moved to San Diego in 1983 and recalls how after the Cold War ended and the city’s defense companies shrunk, San Diego diversified. “Pharma, biomedical, defense, tourism — it’s not just a one-industry type of town,” Donnelly says.

He says that one reason for the strong economy is

keep reading…

What’s Your Philosophy About Employees?

Kevin Wheeler
Jun 21, 2006

Often, words such as “friendly,” “hard-nosed,” “fast-paced,” “modest,” “aggressive,” and “sophisticated” are used when describing how an organization appears to the outside world. Virgin Atlantic, Richard Branson’s airline, is considered avant-garde and a bit offbeat, while United Airlines is thought of as traditional, mainstream, and reflective of the business-oriented folks to whom it caters. Customers form opinions about an organization from its brand image, presentation, and packaging of products and services, but most of all from its contact with employees.

Starbucks enjoys the reputation of having fun, hip, retail employees, and it even calls them “baristas,” a unique term underlining that Starbucks is not your traditional coffeehouse. Apple has a distinctive personality; adjectives that come to mind are “cool,” “fashionable,” “high tech,” “clean,” and “modern.” These traits are articulated in its products and in the people who work in its stores and design its products. Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, dresses and acts in a manner very consistent with these traits. Google, Starbucks, Nordstrom’s, IBM, GE, and almost all other well-recognized organizations have distinct personalities that are formed and maintained by the kinds of employees they hire, develop, and promote. We often call the collective personality of an organization its organizational culture.

You Are What You Hire

Many recruiters recognize the value of understanding the organizational culture and finding people who are good fits for it. However, until the specific traits that make up this culture are articulated clearly, it’s very hard to find the right people. A talent philosophy really breaks the organizational culture into a general view of what major employee characteristics and traits accelerate or maintain the success of the organization. These traits describe how employees generally think and act in the organization. While each person has different personality traits, similarities are evident after the organization has been around for awhile. Hiring managers tend to hire people who act or think in ways that are compatible with their own style and with that of the team they will work with. We all know how disruptive it can be to hire someone whose personal style is at odds with that of the rest of the team.

Your Philosophy is Reflected in How You Treat Employees

One of the surest ways to begin defining your talent philosophy is to ask how employees are treated. Many organizations have evolved philosophies that are easy to understand. IBM had a philosophy of hiring young people, usually right after college, and promoting them internally after a rigorous internal development process. It hired for certain traits: people who wanted to have a career, were eager to learn and continue studying, were open to new opportunities, were willing to wait for promotions, and were going to play by the “rules” of IBM. Whether or not IBM hired deliberately for these traits I do not know, but they were certainly reflected in the kinds of people who stayed and who thrived there. Other organizations have philosophies that are much more difficult to decipher, either because they haven’t really defined a common philosophy or because they have many subcultures within the organization. This is particularly true of newer firms who have not yet had the time to evolve a distinct personality. But, even in these firms, it is possible to see some basic traits that are emerging.

Alignment Between Traits and Practice

Frequently, I work with organizations that have developed a talent philosophy that is attractive to candidates but not reflective of what they really do. It is often more of a statement of what they want the philosophy to be rather than what it really is. It may state how the organization is committed to employee development and internal promotion, yet they almost always hire new people from the outside.

Or, it may contain statements about work/life balance, when in reality everyone works 60 hours a week. A talent philosophy is very hard to create. It is generally an outcome of who has been hired over time and what those folks, collectively, believe and how they act. It is very hard to change without the highest level of internal support. Talent philosophies are complicated things. They are a mix of individual traits and a set of overarching beliefs and practices that have evolved usually over time. They are based on assumptions about how people behave or about what they want from the workplace.

For example, it is typical to assume that everyone wants a long-term career when, increasingly, today’s young people want opportunities for advancement and learning and don’t care too much about a career in a single firm. Knowing what your assumptions are is essential for successfully defining your talent philosophy, yet it is very hard for individuals in an organization to determine those assumptions. Very often, it is necessary to bring in an outside consultant to help, but here are a few questions that you can use to help in the unraveling process. By setting up groups of people, maybe incorporating customers or others from outside the organization to help, and by trying to answer these questions in an unbiased way; you can get a good start at clearly defining what assumptions you are making and what critical traits new employees should have.

10 Tough Questions to Answer

  1. What single characteristic is considered most important by hiring managers in a potential candidate?
  2. keep reading…

First, Your Candidate Needs Food and Water

Todd Rogers
Jun 20, 2006

Without question, as recruiters, we are in the sales profession. Within this profession are several subprofessions. For example, from time to time, we act as career coach, relocation assistant, interview coach, and so on. Each career has a unique set of skills that are necessary for a person to be effective. One particular skill that stands atop all others and crosses all of the aforementioned is the ability to be persuasive. In order to be successful, we must master the skill of persuading other people to do things that they might otherwise not have been open to doing.

According to many philosophers, psychologists, and effective leaders, the best way to persuade people is to ensure that whatever you’re trying to persuade them to do is properly aligned with their own interests. Many people have heard of Abraham Maslow and are familiar with some of his work. Using his theories will surely help anyone – even a novice – become far more persuasive and influential when dealing not only with candidates and customers, but with other people as well. Maslow was a social psychologist frequently noted for his Hierarchy of Human Needs.

It is, in short, a summation of his life’s work, in my opinion. It doesn’t take a reader very long to understand how an article about this fits nicely with recruiting. People have needs, and the drive to satisfy these needs is a very powerful force. For example, imagine if you were drowning and, as such, badly needed air. Wouldn’t you think that you would stop at nothing, short of death, to get some oxygen into those lungs? You need air, plain and simple. Morbid as it may be, there’s a direct parallel with the business of recruiting.

Candidates have needs, and if you figure out what needs a candidates is trying to satisfy and align your job to satisfy those needs, all that’s left is sending out the invoice…hopefully. Like it or not, candidates do not have the recruiter’s interests in mind when they move from one job to another. If things work out in favor of the recruiter – the candidate accepts your job – from the perspective of the candidate, it is best characterized as a convenient occurrence. Once he or she accepts the job and starts working, in his eyes, the candidate is free of our phone calls, emails, voicemails, probing questions, etc., and for them, that’s a relief. Unless… If as a recruiter, you do a thorough job understanding needs and interests, and you do at least a good job relaying it back to the candidate that you understand it as well as he does.

If all that happens, the candidate will always hold you and your phone calls in high regard. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy as a guide, you’ll quickly facilitate this type of allegiance. In fact, I keep it as a Word document on my desk with questions attributed to the varying levels of human need. With each “layer” of human need, an interest of a candidate can be uncovered. At the bottom of “the Maslow pyramid” is physiological need: food, water, and shelter. A candidate wants to earn the highest possible wage he can negotiate. He cashes his check, and with this he buys the goods he will need in order to simply survive: food, water, and shelter. At the top of the pyramid is actualization. It is here where one finds the unique characteristics of a person’s identity. A person can go on in life for some time without actualization. However, he can only go for a couple of days at best without water. Find out what the unique characteristics are of your candidate; that is, what makes him or her unique. Convey back to the candidate not once, but regularly, that you identified him and understand him, and your candidate will feel as though speaking with you is like speaking with an old friend. A candidate trusts an old friend.

For those of you in healthy interpersonal relationships, take a look at those relationships and try and figure out why you like the person in question or vice versa. Get yourself up to speed on the Hierarchy, and then write out questions that will help you gather information about each layer. Practice asking the questions in a non-threatening way, and then start using them. Here are a few examples of the questions I use:


  • If I asked three people you work with what makes you unique, what do you think each person would say?
  • keep reading…

The Future of Contingent Search

Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 19, 2006

article by Dr. John Sullivan and Master Burnett

The traditional contingent search business model is a risky one in that it is incredibly susceptible to macroeconomics, technological innovation, and population demographics. While many industries can balance their product and service portfolios to survive the most brutal application of the laws of supply and demand, many smaller contingent search providers ride a one-trick pony. In 1999, contingent search providers were riding waves of success that made those on the North Shore of Maui look tame. Search commissions were rising steadily, exceeding 45% in some markets, newbies to the profession were pulling down six-figure incomes, and the influx of job orders seemed unending.

Then 2001 hit, and one contingent firm after another cut back, laying off thousands. Now that double-digit employee growth is once again a challenge for most companies, you would think that the glory days of contingent search are back. But, as many firms will attest, they aren’t.

Revenue Is There, But Not From the Same Sources

While industry revenue is forecasted to grow from 10.4% in 2005 to 11.6% in 2006, the industry is deriving the greatest percentage of newly booked revenue from value-added services, namely temporary or contract staffing and professional services. More companies are relying on contingent workforces than ever before. It is estimated that in 2006, as many as two-fifths of newly created jobs are first offered on a temporary basis. That’s a fourfold increase in the growth of contract labor in just 10 years. While the job orders being placed with traditional contingent agencies aren’t drying up, the increased use of contingent labor and a confluence of technology driving candidate visibility is forcing such firms to change or die. With the opportunity to maintain minimum placement volume needed to sustain a business in jeopardy, many contingent search providers are increasing the scope of value-added services they offer, and are finding clients more receptive than ever. The contingent search industry has long been one that defined success too early, in that it never sought out opportunities to extend the value of its services beyond the initial placement transaction.

This lack of prior industry development has made the industry ripe for a series of progressive, qualitative transition cycles. Early leaders embracing this transition are already blurring the lines between temporary staffing, contingent staffing, retained staffing, professional services, and training. With this transition firms like Adecco and Kelly, which had few urban competitors, today have thousands, ranging from local companies of one to foreign companies of thousands.

The Confluence of Technology Driving Candidate Visibility

Traditional contingent search firms take advantage of their ability to find candidates who have not been found by companies or who have been overlooked. It is, for the most part, a low-volume, high-margin business. However, the confluence of numerous technologies that service the recruiting function and the proliferation of the Internet have made a majority of the world’s workforce more visible to corporations and, in the process, eroded the value proposition contingent search providers once banked on. In this new era, contingent search professionals are finding it a lot harder to find a candidate who:

  • Doesn’t appear on a lock-out list (a list of the agencies’ other clients or strategic partners of the client organization);
  • keep reading…

Workforce Vendor Looking Behind the Persian Curtain

Todd Raphael
Jun 16, 2006, 2:38 pm ET

The Albany Group calls itself the “largest provider of global workforce management solutions in the world.” Some vendors would debate that, but one thing’s for sure:?Albany likes to do business in places where few others?will bother.

It’s now aiming for a place that certainly fits that bill: Iran.

The London company operates in 55 to 75 countries at various times, and recently opened up offices in Dubai and in South Africa. Albany handles employee visa, work permit, tax, and other issues for companies who are hiring in new markets or bringing employees from one country to another to work.?

The firm got a request about a year ago from one of its clients, which told Albany, “We’re thinking of sending some temps to Iran.”

keep reading…

On Becoming a Great Recruiter, Part 1

Lou Adler
Jun 16, 2006

Over the next eight weeks, you have a chance to learn what it takes to become one of the top recruiters in the country. This means you’ll be able to make at least $150,000-$175,000 per year; you’ll be seen as a true career consultant by your candidates and a true partner by your clients.

Bottom line: What this means is that you’ll make more placements with better people more quickly while negotiating on opportunity, not compensation. However, to get to be a high-earning, well-respected recruiter, you’ll need to try out the techniques presented in this article. Most likely, many of them will run counter to your current approach. It’s in these areas that you’ll have to work harder to overcome your beliefs and still try out the ideas. This is how you grow, and getting through these rough spots is the key to personal change management. So, put some extra effort in here. But enough of the talk. Let’s get started on getting better.

First, I want you to write down the one single thing you need to do to become a better recruiter. Whether it’s making cold calls, taking the assignment, negotiating offers, or whatever, I want you to focus on improving this one skill over the next eight weeks. This focused intensity will allow you to extract something meaningful from each of these articles and apply it directly to your work.

Feel free to email me the area you’ve chosen for personal improvement, but beware – if you tell me now, you’ll need to tell me in eight weeks how you got better. Here are the eight key topics we’ll be covering during this series, and a few tips to get you started right away.

  1. Benchmarking your performance. Since this a project, and not just a series of articles to read, you’ll first need to figure how good you are today. Take this recruiter diagnostic right now to get started. At the end of the project, you’ll take the same diagnostic again to see how much you’ve improved. We’ll also be taking a big survey as part of this. It will be the first to collect critical recruiter performance metrics like requisitions handled by recruiter, sendouts per hire, placements per month, and income. Sign up here if you want to be part of this important study.
  2. keep reading…