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Often Recruiters Can Never Truly Be a Partner

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 02/16/2017 in Recruiting articles |

I have been a recruiter for a long time and spoken with a lot of my peers about this.  In the end, I think Human Resources/Talent Acquisition has messed up the possibility of being partners to many hiring managers.  We keep saying hiring managers are our primary customers.  There is a difference between customers and partners.

We also all have heard the phrase, “the customer is always right.”  Some of us send out hiring manager satisfaction surveys and others have them integrated into the performance reviews of the recruiters.  I hear peers say that we do everything we can “to make our hiring managers happy.”  We want those glowing reviews of hiring manager satisfaction surveys because it will reflect upon our salary increases and bonuses.  In this way, it is dangerous to displease a hiring manager.

Thank you Mary Wang (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

We put all this effort and focus on making hiring managers happy, and to do so I have been witness (over the years) to breaking policies and standard procedures in order please the hiring managers.  Treat all applicants equally…oh, this one is the son of a friend of the director…interview him anyway.  Everyone must meet the minimum requirements of the position…oh, this is someone the hiring manager knows and didn’t know she was looking for a job and oh, she doesn’t meet all the requirements…but we want her interviewed anyway.

Think about the kind of relationship this creates with hiring managers.  When this kind of stuff happens, are we partners or are we underlings/minions?

Part of the problem is because many of us think it is our job to make the hiring managers happy and totally satisfied with their experience of recruiting.  It isn’t.  Our job is to hire the best people for the company.  Our highest priority is the good of the company, not a single hiring manager.  It is to make sure the policies and procedures of HR/talent acquisition are followed.  So that if we are ever brought to court for a discrimination lawsuit or our hires questioned by auditors, we can clearly show that we were doing things consistently and correctly.  Of course, this means that at times this is against the wishes of hiring managers.

Another part of the problem is that many companies have very little accountability required from hiring managers.  If our relationship is truly to be a partnership, then hiring manager’s should also have recruiter satisfaction surveys.  Did the hiring manager give feedback in a timely manner?  Was the feedback detailed enough to be usable in tweaking the screening criteria going forward?  In partnerships, things should be equal.

Recruiters at some companies are assessed by candidate satisfaction surveys.  Hiring managers should have candidates assessing them on their part as well.  Did the hiring manager show up on time to the interview?  Was the hiring manager prepared for the interview?

Thank you Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0)

I think hiring managers’ performance reviews should also be linked to their performance as a hiring manager.  If a hiring manager takes 3 weeks to give feedback on candidates on average, then that should impact their performance as a hiring manager (and be reflected as a component in pay increases and bonuses).

Without having this accountability, the hiring managers really don’t care about the recruiter’s problems of not getting timely feedback.  As recruiters, we get more desperate and beg for feedback…and this is not the relationship of partners, but more like servants.

There should be a policy that any job that is open for four months (six if you want to be generous) or longer without an offer being eminent…the position should be cancelled.

I have seen jobs stay open longer than a year.  You get hundreds of applicants.  The hiring manager interviews two dozen applicants or more and none are quite strong enough in all the categories they want.  Who is doing the job while this is open for so long?  Is this a real need?

Making hiring managers go back and create a new job every four months (3 times a year) will make this problem more visible.  Visibility is key for accountability.  The various approvers of new jobs will start asking questions.  Why do we keep seeing this job open up over and over again?  Is there really a need if it has been so long?  It adds a level of accountability for positions that hiring managers that may be being too unrealistic.

I have brought this idea up my managers a couple times, but it was laughed off.  It would not make the hiring manager’s happy.  Of course it wouldn’t…but it would equalize the relationship a bit.  Thereby making it more possible to become partners.  It should be noted, the loudest opponents to the idea among hiring managers are probably your worst offenders.

This is a systemic problem in talent acquisition.  We are all so busy trying to please…and in doing so we are undermining the possibility of being a partner.  I keep hearing recruiters should be partners, but partners do not bow at ever turn like this. Partnership is among equals.

Thank you dianaholga (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A balance must be reached.  There should be an equal accountability for the candidate experience for recruiters and hiring managers.  There should be an equal review (of satisfaction) of each partner doing their job to make the recruiting process work.  Each partner should have it tied to their performance, which is tied to pay increases and any bonuses.

Until it is balanced and equal, recruiters are really not partners nor can they ever really be…because we are not equals.  Instead it is a one-sided relationship where recruiters are at the disadvantage (therefore subservient)…and hiring managers know it.

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Is There a Better Way Than Resume Review?

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 01/27/2017 in Recruiting articles |

I recently watched “Why hiring is broken” by Kate Glazebrook from TEDxGoodenoughCollege.  Yet another person saying resumes are broken (which is true), but this time with research to back it up.  They don’t really do a good job predicting performance and they allow biases to creep in.

Thank you to David Davies (CC BY-SA 2.0)

What good is a resume really?  As a recruiter, we only take 6 – 10 seconds to review the resume before deciding if we will consider them further or not.  At the same time, what biases are creeping in?  For example, research shows that non-white sounding names do get less call backs.

So if we are truly interested in diversity (and not discriminating) and hiring the best applicants, we need comparable information to judge each applicant equally on.

The resume is not very good for this.  A mediocre or poor candidate could write a great resume.  A great potential high performing employee could write a poor resume.  Or it could just start out poorly and through the halo/horn effect we will unconsciously see the rest of the resume in a poorer light.  Maybe they are applying to various positions and don’t customize for each position.  So would they really be a poorer performer because of any of this?

Per the TEDx talk, there are a few things we could do.

We could take the time to anonymize the applications.  Take out people’s names.  Take out foreign universities and colleges.  Take out the things (all identifiers) that would bias use against someone that does not correlate with performance.

We could chunk the information we are trying to compare, so that we are comparing apples to apples across applications.  Basically, ask a question and then simply judge all the applicants based upon who had the best answers to the question.

Harness the power of multiple review, but not too many people in the crowd.  Research shows the optimal size of a review team is three people.

Lastly, to get predictive information of how someone would perform, we need to give tests.  Simply test what counts.  A uniform test for all applicants, so that the answers can be compared.  Something that is relevant to the day to day job duties.  If you are a software tester, perhaps a bit of code with a several errors and basically seeing who gets the most errors found in the shortest time.

Per the TedX talk, they tested this by blind testing “Applied Sift” vs “CV Sift”.  “Applied Sift” showed a strong statistical with future performance (using their platform that used the above key points) VS “CV Shift” (typical resume review) did not show much correlation to future performance.  More surprising is that 60% of the applicants hired through “Applied Sift” would have been rejected using “CV Sift” and they would have ended up with a less diverse workforce.

From watching this, I can see potentially a way to process applicants without asking for a resume or cover letter at all.  To apply, perhaps candidates would just answer a series of short questions.  Nothing too time consuming.  Then based on those answers, you could send to the top 10% or so a more in-depth questionnaire and job related testing (i.e. write some code for programmers, source some names via LinkedIn for a recruiter, etc.).  Names and other identifiers could be removed and just an application number assigned.  Then when you want to start in-person interviewing, then you can get the name of the top candidates and contact information.

You could directly compare applicants purely by the answers they give and judging who gave the best answers to non-vague questions.  Basically, comparing apples to apples.  This process could take care of much of whether someone is experienced and technical enough – the in-person interviews could be culture fit and soft skills.

I like seeing researchers like this test recruiting processes.  Because much of what we do currently may not necessarily have a direct correlation with performance.  This is what we should be striving for.

See the Tedx Talk below…

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Screening Out the Takers from the Candidate Pool

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 01/10/2017 in Recruiting articles |

I recently saw a great TED Talk by Adam Grant that was just posted this month via the TED Talk app on my AppleTV.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a YouTube link for the TED Talk yet, but I found a link to a similar talk he gave on the same topic at ZeitgeistMinds called “Givers, Takers, and Matchers.”

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist and he said he has seen widespread paranoia and fear within companies through his studies.  Of course, this paranoia and fear destroys the work environment for collaboration and teamwork because it is unsafe and dangerous to be generous or sometimes even fair…basically giving without being taken advantage of.  He said one group is responsible for the vast majority of this paranoia in workplaces…Takers.

Takers, Givers, and Matchers are the three categories on how we treat the majority of people the majority of the time.  We all have a mix of the three, but one category will be our dominant type.  If you are curious about your type, Adam Grant offers an online self-assessment.  For a more complete view, there is a 360 assessment where you send the questionnaire to friends (peers and below ideally…not superiors in any way).

Takers have an extremely profound influence on the environment.  Adam says Takers have two to three times the negative impact on an environment than the positive impact of Givers.  So adding a Giver to the team has less of a positive effect than the negative effect of adding a Taker to the team.

Basically, Takers are known for kissing up the ladder and kicking down the people below on the ladder.  They like to look good in front of the bosses and don’t care about anyone else.  They take high profile assignments and leave the boring or low profile ones to others.  They don’t tend to help or give back unless it helps them in some way.  Otherwise, they shirk work and do as little for others as possible.  They are poisonous to the work environment if you want collaboration and teamwork.

In the TED Talk, Adam says Takers account for about 19% of the population…but in the ZeitgeistMinds talk he says “relentless” Takers account for 8%.  In the TED Talk, Adam says Givers (they give with no strings attached) are about 25% of the population and Matchers (take and give in return or give expecting a favor later) are about 56% of the population.

The goal is not to have just a team of Givers, however.  He said Matchers supply a defensive line for Givers, because Matches like seeings things come around and be balanced (justice).  So if there is a Taker in the office, it is usually the Matchers that are trying to make life difficult for them (karma police).  They hate seeing Takers continue to take and getting away with it.  They will try to sabotage the success of Takers one way or another.

The goal is to eliminate Takers from the work environment through effective hiring and screening.  This is tricky, because often people confuse agreeableness with Givers.  It doesn’t work that way.  You can have an agreeable Taker (known as Faker) and a disagreeable Giver who has everyone’s best interests at heart and because he or she is a bit prickly…gives the critical feedback no one wants to hear but should be heard.  Adam says the disagreeable Givers are undervalued assets in most companies and our lives.

So if agreeableness and disagreeableness has no correlation with Givers and Takers, how do we screen out the Takers?

Adam Grant says he likes asking candidates the question, “could you give me the names of four people whose careers you have fundamentally improved?”  Takers will give you four names, but they will all likely be bosses or people of influence who could help the Taker someday.  Givers tend to give four names of peers or people below them.  People who really could not benefit them in any way in the future.

A word of caution when trying to screen out Takers, some Takers are previous Matchers or Givers who have been burned one too many times by Takers and decided they needed to protect themselves in the dog-eat-dog world.  The people you are trying to screen out are the narcissists who are are insecure and really only think they will succeed if someone else fails.  I think Adam’s question is clever in that his question may identify burnt-Givers because of the kind of people have helped in the past.

Also, Adam said when you ask for references…check a few of the peers or subordinates.  Takers will look good to the bosses, but peers and below often see the reality if the person is a Taker.

Asking general questions about the behavior of the population at large is another way to screen.  Adam asked his audience, what percentage of people in the USA do you think steal at least $10 from their companies in a typical month?  He said the ones with higher percentages have a greater chance of being thieves or at least less adverse to stealing (because everyone else does it…in their minds).  We tend to project our own motives on the behavior of the wider population when asked these kind of general questions.

So we could ask something like, what percentage of people in the USA do you think help their work peers routinely to shine in their jobs.  We might hear some interesting figures thrown out.  A better question might be…we hear that there are Givers, Takers, and Matchers (define the terms if need be) in the world, what percentage of the US population do you think are Takers?

That is a few ideas and potential ways of screening out Takers.  In doing so, the environment is safe and better for Givers to thrive as Givers.  As Givers give more, the Matchers give more (because they want a give and take and don’t like taking all the time.).  They seek balance in give and take.  This, of course, improves teamwork and collaboration.

There is an extra piece I want to mention from the video.  Adam also says that studies show that the workers with the lowest productivity are Givers.  The workers with the highest productivity are also Givers.  The ones with the lowest productivity often are so busy helping others that their own productivity suffers.  A difference between the lowest and highest productive Givers is the willingness to ask for help.  Adam says we need to protect Givers from burning out (giving too much) as well, but willingness to ask for help is a big element between top and low performing Givers.

I bring this up for one last idea to share.  He mentioned the idea of Reciprocity Ring and 5-minute favors…and both together would be ideal.  Basically, if Givers are unaware of what others need, sometimes they are unable to Give by not knowing.  I know this is an issue for me.  I just don’t know how I could help and wish more people would ask for help (not that I ask for help much either).  It has not been a habit of mine to ask for help and I think it is a weakness others may have as well.  To solve this, I loved the Reciprocity Ring.

So in some department/group meeting (not too big), have every participant ask for one thing they need (business or personal…perhaps, to leave it open).  Something fairly small – perhaps something that would take no more than five minutes for someone to give.  An introduction, a quick piece of advice or how to, or whatever.  Ideally, something high value to the asker, but of low demand on resources for the giver.  Then everyone else in that meeting will use their resources to fulfill the request.  This then gives the Givers (and Matchers) and opportunity to give.  This also gets everyone used to asking and know that it is alright to ask for help.

If we want to see more Givers in our workplaces, we need to cultivate more askers.  This makes the above exercise very valuable.  We need to get everyone around us to become better at asking for help.  Why?  The data shows that 75 to 90 percent of all helping begins with a request.  There really are not that many proactive givers.  Givers are normally uncomfortable being on the receiving end or asking for anything.  They do not like being a burden to others and need become comfortable asking as well.

Adam Grant says at the end of the video that perhaps we can turn this widespread paranoia around into pronoia – the belief that others are plotting your well being.

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Measuring Quality of Hire in Recruiting

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 12/21/2016 in Recruiting articles |

Per the Global Recruiting Trends 2017 by LinkedIn, in the top 3 of recruiting metrics we see “length of stay” and “hiring manager satisfaction.”  Both of these point towards quality of hire.  Another main recruiting metric is “time to fill,” but this metric is about recruiting efficiency and not quality of hire.

“Length of stay” has some logical merit to show quality of hire, but it has less and less meaning over time.  For new hires that stay for 3 years versus 5 years…is it really a matter of quality of hire?  Perhaps life circumstances changed, elements of the department changed, inability to keep up with market salary, or a number of other variables start to have more weight the more time passes.  So “length of stay” doesn’t matter as much as retention and turnover rates after 1st year of employment for new hires.

Some caution must be used with the first year of employment turnover and retention rates, because failures in onboarding, ineffective management, or poisonous environment could account for the turnover.  So exit interviews should be conducted to watch for problems in the process that really are not due to quality of hire.

Now if you keep track of your first year hires retention and turnover rates, you still don’t know if you hired someone who meets expectations by just coming in every day to do the job or someone who is a top performer who is exceeding expectations.

I would like to see retention and turnover rates to be paired with the performance reviews from year to year (or however often it is done on a company wide basis) for the first couple of years.  That way you would not only see if the person stayed with the company, but you would also see the performance ratings and get a better picture of how good of a hire was made.

Of course, the performance reviews have to be good.  They have to have specific measurable goals.  Each level of performance must be clearly defined, so that consistently and objectively you can say someone exceeded or met expectations (or whatever labels you give levels of performance).  It can not be up to opinion and hiring manager bias.  Also, the bell-curve idea or compared to others on the team idea are contrary to objective levels of measurement.  If you can’t have everyone get 5 out of 5, then it is not an objective measure.  Because a team full of stars would be ideal and everyone would get 5 out of 5 as they all exceed expectations.

LinkedIn’s report also mentioned “hiring manager satisfaction” as another common recruiting metric (in the top three).  While it is good to ask the hiring managers about their satisfaction regarding a new hire, you need well developed surveys…and that is a topic unto itself.  But I would say “new hire satisfaction” is another survey that should be given to get a bit more well-rounded view.  Also both should be asked to give a rating in the survey of how each feels the new hire is a cultural fit for the company (now that time has passed).  I have heard of 360 surveys with team members to gauge cultural fit as well.

I would ask the hiring manager to supply the date when the new employee became fully productive and the date when the manager thought the new hire would be fully productive.  The latter should be asked for upon hiring the person and the former should be received by the manager upon reaching full productivity.  Again, this should be an objective and clearly defined level of performance.

Now you can’t just ask give a standard time frame to full productivity because some positions take a long time to get up and running.  Also, sometimes hiring managers will hire someone knowing it will take a little longer or less to get them up and running.  So if you ask for both these dates, you can see the difference and that will help gauge how well the hire was from that standpoint of better or worse than expected.  This needs to be referenced and compared to new hire surveys about adequate onboarding, adequate direction from management, clear goals, etc. because a failure at the beginning will slow the ramp up time through no fault of the quality of hire.  The question also remains…is it realistic – the desired time to full productivity?

I have heard some organizations try to capture productivity levels via revenue or percentage of goals.  As I said before, these numbers could be lower or higher depending on the successes or failures of onboarding, management, organizational changes, etc. and not failures in hiring process.  But productivity levels have some merit, because if you hire a sales associate to the team who is outselling everyone…that was a fabulous hire (potentially).

Whenever productivity is being measured though, it is important to have valid measures.  I know some sales people are measured by the number of calls they make a day.  This is a poor measure, because the goal is how many people you have spoken with…not the number of calls.  If you can make fewer calls, but talk to as many people or more people…who is really the more productive?  A step further is number of sales, because you may talk to a lot of people but not get them to buy anything.  A step further is total revenue in sales, because you may get people to buy but never much or any bigger ticket items.  I have seen all of these being used as metrics, so you need to make sure you are really measuring what is important.

You may need to measure how well the rest of the team likes the new hire, because if the same sales associate is really the wrong fit culturally…and is disliked…and doing things uncharacteristic of the culture, then you may see the rest of the team’s productivity dropping due to the poisonous new hire.  Individually, the person may have high productivity…but as a whole for the team the new hire is not a good fit and messing up team.  Although a high producer individually, it would be wise to let go of this person and return the team to its former high productivity and find someone a better fit for the team.

Employee engagement might be another metric of quality of hire, but it is difficult to measure employee engagement.  Also there are periods of higher and lower engagement depending on what is going on with the job and environment.  Then there is the question of whether we hired someone who is prone to engagement (or high engagement)?  This was the question and topic I posed in an earlier post, “Recruiting for Employee Engagement.”  Lastly, I have seen too many poor questionnaires and surveys trying to measure employee engagement, so I know the survey must be well designed and well thought out…and tested for validity.

As I hope the article is pointing out, this is a very complex topic with a lot of moving parts and variables.  Whatever measures of quality of hire that are created, it would be wise to have a period of time of testing the metrics to make sure they are valid and directly correlate to quality of hire.

If we used all these measures, we could create a single score with all of them:

Calculating individual quality of hire

( hiring manager satisfaction % + new hire satisfaction % + ( productivity level % OR time to productivity differential as % ) + job performance as % + (hiring manager + new hire culture fit % / 2) + engagement level % ) / N (number of indicators used – if all of these, then  6)

quality of hireThis assumes equal weighting of all of the above indicators.  To get the overall quality of hire for recruiter and/or department, you would take the average of all quality of hires as a % X (1 – (turnover rate X (100 / whatever % deemed a total failure in quality of hire))).  So if a total failure in quality of hire would result in 20% turn over after 1 year…that is you think 1 out of 5 would leave or be fired within the first year if the system was not working at all…then 100/20 = 5 and thus the turnover rate would have a multiplier of 5.

So if you have an overage quality of hire of 85 (out of a 100) and you had a 5% turnover rate, the overall quality of hire would be 63.75  (.85 X .75 (1-(.05X5))X 100).

Of course, you could weight any of the individual indicators in the same way…by setting levels that you decided would indicate a total failure in quality of hire.  So if a job performance of 30% is a total failure…then you could give it 2 or 3 times the weighting to make changes in the value more significant.  This will give truer numbers because how often are you really going to see someone score 30% or less in performance?  In reality, a much higher number than 30% is considered a failure in quality of hire.

Yes, this will lower your quality of hire scores – but what value is it really to have any score (or survey) come back year after year with 80s or even 90s for a score?  You are not trying to have a high rating to show off to management…you are trying to get a true number to improve upon.

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VR: New Possibilities for Virtual Reality in Recruiting

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 12/06/2016 in Recruiting articles |
Thank you to Nan Palmero (CC BY 2.0)

Thank you to Nan Palmero (CC BY 2.0)

I recently gave myself an early Christmas present…a Sidardoe 3D VR goggles/headset.  I would not necessarily recommend them beyond just a really cheap viewer ($22) to try virtual reality video out.  I just put my iPhone into the headset’s case and pull up videos…many on YouTube.

What amazed me most was watching an online video series called Invisible on Jaunt.  It is kind of a sci-fi/horror series.  In the first episode there is a hospital scene and during watching the characters have an argument, you could also turn around and look at the nurses working behind the desk.  You could turn your head and look down the hall.  It was like being in the room itself (virtual reality)…360 degrees and in 3D.

Invisible on JauntThere are numerous 360 degree experiences you can tag alone with or watch on YouTube.  You don’t need a viewer/goggles, because you could always play it on your phone or tablet and use your finger to move the view around in 360 degrees.

The goggles in particular though provide such a cool virtual reality experience, because as you turn your head you see everything around you.  There are 360 degree videos (flat 2D), but it is much cooler when it is stereoscopic (3D) 360 degree video.

Later, I had a memory of giving company tours to college students while I worked at Christopher & Banks.  We kept them out of areas where they would see propriety things or things they should not see.  I gave several tours while I worked there and the students loved it.

I have interviewed at companies that gave me a tour of the place as part of their efforts to recruit me for the position.

We are now getting to the point where we could easily film such a tour with a 360 video camera (bought, rented, or bring in a vendor to record it).  Then we could post it on YouTube and our website.  Then people watching the video on devices with touch screens could pan the view and look around.  If they are watching it with VR goggles, then it would look and potentially feel like they are on the tour.

You can already take short tours of places around the world like a gondola ride in Venice on Discovery VR. Why not tours of our companies?  That is the advantage and beauty of video versus live, you only need to do it once and make the recording available.

Potential applicants and candidates always want to see what the place looks like and get a feel for the environment.  Now they could do it immersively.  I don’t know about you, but that would really impress me.

You could also just have “typical day” short videos (5 minutes or so) of video taken from the standpoint of someone in each environment.  So if you are a recruiter in a cubical, perhaps take a short 360 video (with sound, of course) from the center of a cube.  This lets you see what a typical cube has, what the environment sounds like, etc.  If you are a call center person, a short 360 video from the chair in the center of the call center could be enlightening.  If you are a warehouse worker, you could be on the line and see typical activities going on for that warehouse.  Think of the possibilities.

VR NoirThere are VR games with video footage like VR Noir that show other possibilities.  Not only is it 360 video, but interactive in that you are given choices of questions or responses and whether you gaze right or left (could do 4 corners or short lists to one side easily) you can choose between options.

Imagine having someone in a 360 degree space ask the person a question, giving them multiple options, and waiting for a response. Then depending on what is selected, you can move them to different video outcomes.  Kind of like the old choose your own adventure books.

360 video is kind of a craze right now, 360 video cameras continue to drop in price, and with how inexpensive it is now to get VR headsets that use your smart phone, I wonder which companies will be among the first to show off with this new possibility.

Check out the 360 degree video tour for Happy Horizon.

Although not made for VR goggles, it was made to watch on desktops and drag the view around with a mouse.  On my iPhone it shows the full 360 degrees as a single view with no point of view to change.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but a great first step to check out.

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Are You Enabling Bad Behavior From Hiring Managers?

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 11/23/2016 in Recruiting articles |

I have had a lot of success “training” hiring managers into using proper processes and procedures.  That is what we have to do as recruiters…we need to train hiring managers to a certain degree.

I don’t mean giving them training sessions on the illegal questions to ask during interviews. I don’t mean giving them training sessions of any kind.

I mean getting hiring managers to give timely feedback on candidates submitted for their review.

I mean getting the hiring manager to ask contractors if they are interested in converting and roughly for what salary before wanting the job posted or immediately going to an offer (thereby not getting rejections because the contractor is not interested or we can not afford the demanded salary).

I mean getting the hiring manager to know and understand that they can not consider applicants who do not meet the minimum qualifications (if you are a highly audited company with government contractors and such)…and if someone does come to light that we have to change the requirements of the position (for all, not just that one applicant they want to consider).

How is this done?  By sticking to the rules and not making exceptions because of one of the following typical reasons:

  • it is a high profile job
  • we need to move quickly
  • this is what the VP wants done

unhappyI see many recruiters making exceptions and bending the rules and just “getting things done” for the sake of time and urgency…but then those and other managers expect the same and more.  If you are willing to allow a candidate through that does not meet the requirements once…why can’t you do it all of the time?  I have seen managers do this again and again.

I even have managers telling me things like, “well this other recruiter let me do this,” when it was something against policy and potentially a major problem if audited by the EEOC or OFCCP.  The manager pushed very hard for me to allow them to get away with it again.

That is why we all (as recruiters) must stick to our guns and not flex on processes, procedures, and rules to suit a situation or manager’s demands.  I know it is hard to refuse and appear like you are slowing the process, but you need to explain the legal and compliance ramifications.  That is why there are policies and procedures…and as recruiters we are held to keeping what we are doing compliant.

How else do we enable bad behavior from hiring managers?

By having service level agreements (SLAs) really only apply to what the recruiters deliver and little to nothing about what hiring managers have to do.  I have seen SLAs go into detail how recruiters will review candidates in so many days and will do this, that, and the other thing in X number days.  And then see little to nothing listed for what the hiring manager is expected to do.  SLAs should be an agreement between both sides regarding what is expected and required of each.

Hiring managers should see in the SLA that they must get back to the recruiter with feedback in X number of days.  Their performance reviews (tied to merit increases and bonuses) should have elements about how they are meeting the SLA as a hiring manager.  If managers routinely don’t give the recruiters timely feedback, they should get a poor rating in this area and this should affect their pay increases and bonuses.  I know my pay increases and bonuses are tied to metrics based on the SLA…but much of it is really under the control of the hiring managers (for example time to fill, when managers are slow to get back to you with feedback and next steps).

Another way we enable hiring managers is also not having a hard cut off date for when a requisition will close if not filled.  I know SLAs that say recruiters will have a 60 days average time to fill and yet have requisitions open over a year (my longest was 423 days).  I have had managers tell me during discovery calls, “I know this is hard to fill and it may take the whole year to fill it (from February).”

Thank you Nichole Burrow (CC BY 2.0)

Thank you Nichole Burrow (CC BY 2.0)

The question becomes, who is doing the work for the year when it is not filled?  Is this hiring manager really serious about filling the position (is it a real need) if it can remain open a year?

I think the SLA should include an item that says any requisition that has been open for 6 months and is not in offer status (offer imminent)…will be immediately cancelled as not a real need or due to inactivity (or however you want to phrase it).

Our plates are very full as recruiters and we should be spending our time on jobs that can be filled and not have a desktop of jobs that will be open for a year or more.

Also, if there is a hard stop and the hiring manager will have to get a new requisition approved every six months if it is not filled, then the hiring managers will take filling the job in a timely fashion more seriously.  They may even flex on those requirements of the position and move more to preferences.  Keeping the process moving with timely feedback will become more critical.

Many hiring managers feel no sense of urgency to fill a job or change the requirements to make them more reasonable, if they are allowed to keep the jobs open a year or more.  Things may change if their management, finance, and other approvers see the same managers bringing in the same requisitions every six months because the job is not filled yet.  I might even say the limit should be four months, so it has to be done 3 times a year.  Four months maximum is reasonable if the expected and average time to fill is 60 days.  Four months is twice the 60 day average.

Basically, the point of this article is that we need to start being self aware of what we are doing that is enabling hiring managers to behave badly.

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Job Posting Optimization and Best Practices

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 11/08/2016 in Recruiting articles |
Job Posts

Thank you to Neetal Parekh for this Creative Commons image (CC BY 2.0)

The first thing potential job seekers see is the job title.  It is the job titles that come up when searches are done on company job boards and more importantly on career sites (like Monster, Careerbuilder, etc.).  So to stand out and get the best from those pools of talent, it is vitally important to have great job titles.  Copywriters know that the most important part of an advertisement is the headline.  Know then that the job title is the headline for the advertisement of your open job on job boards.

 

Job Title Best Practices:

  1. Keep you job title searchable – using common, industry standard terms
  2. Be specific – include the key required skill (for example: “Senior Java Developer” instead of just “Senior Developer”)
  3. Avoid CAPS, gimmicky terms (i.e. Rock Star), company specific terms/titles/job numbers (i.e. “Senior Java Developer” instead of “Java Developer II – 789665”), special characters (except hyphens), abbreviations (i.e. use Senior instead of Sr), or punctuation
  4. Job title length not to exceed 60 characters (including spaces)…and ideally 40 characters or more
  5. Use correct spelling
  6. Add a hook that attracts your targeted talent and maybe even repels the wrong talent.  For example, if you have a dog friendly office, you could use “Senior Java Developer for dog friendly office”
Thank you to Colin Kinner (CC BY 2.0)

Thank you to Colin Kinner
(CC BY 2.0)

As soon as a potential applicant clicks on the job title to learn more, the full text of your job posting will pop up.  The first paragraph and/or bullet points is what is read first.  This is where you make your case to get the person to apply.  It is very important to affect a potential candidate’s desire to apply.  The job market is tightening and competition is increasing.  The following are best practices for the job posting’s text.

 

 

Job Posting Content Best Practices:

  1. Do not start off with your company name and/or description of your company and what you do
  2. Start off with strong, attention grabbing WIIFM (what’s in it for me) paragraph – sell the job to the potential applicant, but avoid things that everyone else can say just as easily as you can (i.e. we reward performance, work with great people, etc.) because that does not grab attention
  3. Focus on the job seeker throughout the job post…it is not about you, what you need, etc. – it’s about what the job seeker wants and what the job seeker is looking for
  4. Job posting copy length should be about 700 to 750 words…too short and less people apply and too long and less people apply.  This seems to be the sweet spot by several studies
  5. Make sure the requirements and preferences are clearly distinguishable…ideally make them totally separated – the “must haves” vs the “desired”
  6. Talk about the day-to-day activities and responsibilities – and using accurate percentiles helps – i.e. 80% of time spent on social media or 15% travel
  7. Add several hooks to attract your targeted talent and maybe even repel the wrong talent – again these would be fairly specific to you or to very few companies and not something most companies can offer, like “medical and dental”
  8. Show how this job helps others and say who is helped by the work done because people want to know the value of the job being done
  9. Indicate how the job functions within the organization or who the job reports to because people want to know how their role fits in within the company
  10. Give job seekers a sense of your organization’s style and culture
  11. List the location or locations that the position could work from within the job post
  12. Include a strong equal opportunity statement
  13. Use bullet points (30-50% of content) and avoid big blocks of text
  14. Don’t use cliche phrases like high-growth position, fact-paced environment, outside the box, synergistic, etc.
  15. Mention the job title multiple times within the job posting, but don’t overdo it
  16. Use lots of verbs – more specifically action verbs (no more than 10% passive verbs for the entire posting)
  17. Use short sentences and short paragraphs
  18. Use transition words liberally
  19. Do not use formal phrases like “the candidate” or “the applicant” or “qualified applicants” or “the ideal applicant”
  20. Use second person voice and balance the use of “we” and “you” statements and make sure there are more “you” than “we” statements (at least an equal number and up to 50% more “you” statements)
  21. Do not use directive language like “applicants need to” or “ought to” or “must”
  22. Do not repeat phrases over and over again
  23. Keep the reading ease high and grade level of words low (using less difficult words to improve readability)
  24. Keep your job postings gender neutral (use Gender Decoder for Job Ads)
  25. Include key words and alternative terms (i.e. AS/400, i-Series, System i, IBM i, etc.) because you never know what terms will be searched
  26. Avoid CAPS, gimmicky terms (i.e. Rock Star), company specific terms/titles, industry buzzwords, or over-representing the opportunity
  27. Use correct spelling (if you hold it against job seekers with spelling errors in resumes, why would you think it is OK to have misspelled words here?)
  28. Ask job seekers to apply only if they meet all of the requirements listed and specifically state that applications that do not meet the requirements will not be considered
  29. Add a call to action (i.e. apply) and say how to apply, what the next step might be, and how long the process takes and how long before they might hear about the next step
  30. Include salary and compensation information – somewhat controversial topic, but it ranks very high in what candidates want to see before applying and it saves time by candidates self-selecting out if you can not afford them
  31. Include whether the position offers relocation assistance or visa transfer/sponsorship, because these applicants don’t want to waste their time applying to everything when it is not listed in your jobs
  32. Add graphics and videos, if possible – this always increases engagement and conversion rates (real photos or video is better – not a commercial or stock images)

 

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When I Am Asked, How To Get Into Social Media Recruiting

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 10/21/2016 in Recruiting articles |

In conversations I have had over the last few months, I have been asked by a couple HR VPs and Directors that they wanted to launch into social media recruiting and wanted to know how I would do it.

Going forward, I think my first question I ask is “why do you want to go on social media?”  It seems everyone wants to be on social media…it’s cool…it’s what Google or Amazon is doing so I do too…etc.  These are the wrong answers!  You do not go into social media recruiting unless you want to start up a dialog with applicants and potential candidates.

Thank you to GotCredit (CC BY 2.0)

Thank you to GotCredit
(CC BY 2.0)

You can not start using social media for recruiting with the intention of just posting your jobs on the feeds.  If this is the plan, it would be better just not to go on social media.  Few are going to follow a jobs feed on Facebook or Twitter…job feeds are what email notification and RSS feeds are for.

Social media done poorly is worse than not being on social media at all.

OK, so you want to start a communicate with your potential applicants and current applicants.  But wait!  I said you want to start up a dialog.  This means you want them to reply and answer back.  You want potential candidates to come and ask questions.  You want to engage with them in both directions (2 way communication).

You will need to post things that ask for feedback and ask for questions.  If the feedback is poor…what will you do?  You really need to think all this through before you jump down this rabbit hole.

Also, who will be doing the work of being on social media?  If you think that a recruiter or two will spend a couple hours a week on this, just forget about being on social media for recruiting.  It takes a lot of time to come up with all the content, responding to everyone who does comment, and coming up with engaging posts.

Per The Social Media Frequency Guide, the frequency they share to social networks at Buffer are as follows:

  • Twitter – 14 times per day, from midnight to 10:00 p.m. Central Time, never more than once per hour; seven times per day on weekends, from 3:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., roughly every three hours
  • Facebook – 2 times per day, seven days a week, 10:08 a.m. and 3:04 p.m.
  • LinkedIn – 1 time per day, 8:14 a.m., no weekends
  • Google+ – 2 times per day, 9:03 a.m. and 7:04 p.m., no weekends

The article also offers the following suggestion for frequency:

  • Twitter – 5 times per day
  • Facebook – 1 – 2 times per day
  • LinkedIn – 1 time per day
  • Google+ – 1 – 2 times per day

Many companies have a dedicated person, if not dedicated department, to social media marketing and social media recruiting.

QuestionSo my second question (going forward) will be “who do you think will be the one doing the work?”  Often, the companies I am speaking with about social media recruiting seriously underestimate the time it takes to do it well.  Again, social media done poorly is worse than not doing it at all.  So if you are not going to do it well…don’t do it.  To do it well takes time…far more than most HR leaders and company leaders think.

Too many times I hear that this will be done by the recruiter or recruiting team, but if you have been pushing your recruiters with full desks of 30 – 50+ open positions…where is the time going to come from in order to do the social media part well?  The recruiters can take part (it is recommended).  Ideally, the hiring managers and employees will also get involved.  But a word of warning, you don’t want all the posts and comments coming from the company…you want people from the outside talking and engaging…not making an online water cooler.  So who is going to do the work…ideally a dedicated person whose job is the social media aspect.

Is there enough to do – some may ask.  Absolutely!  Because just posting on social media and responding/engaging with people (including searching for people’s comments about your company and replying to their comments) is only the tip of the iceberg.  Pictures and video are a big part of social media.

Thank you to Liren Chen (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Thank you to Liren Chen
(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Your company could have a Flickr account to host need photos around the office.  Obviously don’t photograph proprietary things or company secrets (designs on desks or whatever).  But there is plenty of opportunity to take candid photos all over the place.  Or create events to photograph, like a Halloween or Christmas cubical decorating contest.  Potential candidates what to see the offices, people, and environment.  Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Video is even better.  With a smart phone, a tripod, and a microphone – you can make high quality video with high quality audio.  If you want to learn more about this, check out my article from last year, “Recruiting Videos – a Peek into Culture & Brand.”

Reputation management and responding to criticism and comments on other sites like Glassdoor.com would be part of the job.  Glassdoor has company reviews and you can acknowledge and reply to reviews.  This too would be social media recruiting, because you are managing the employer brand online.

So before you start wondering how you too can get into this social media recruiting action, please think it though and commit to doing it well.  Answer these three questions:

  • Why do you want to go on social media?
  • Who do you think will be the one doing the work?
  • Are these two answers in line to help our company do social media well?

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Why you should know how much your coworkers get paid – David Burkus

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 10/12/2016 in Personal / About Me |

David Burkus makes a case for salary transparency to ensure fairness and help remedy the gender wage gap.  Also, if everyone knows what everyone makes there are other benefits.  Interesting TED Talk.

 

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Reviewing Careerbuilder’s Annual Surveys of Job Seekers

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 10/06/2016 in Recruiting articles |

I was reading Careerbuilder’s report, “How to Rethink the Candidate Experience and Make Better Hires,” this week and saw some interesting things.  In today’s post I will go over a few of the things…

dollarsign1. More candidates (74%) want to see salary than any other feature in a job posting.
Not a big surprise, but we continue to ignore this as recruiters.  I think we should disclose this information and may be interested in my earlier post called “Salary Transparency: The Key to Better Applicants?
2. 81% of applicants want to know the contact information of the person that posted the job; and before applying, 72% want to talk to a recruiter or hiring manager.
We all know this is just not possible due to not being practical.  With the number of applicants and the volume of requisitions we handle…we just could not talk to 72% of the people thinking about applying.
QuestionWhat this does show is a severe lack of the right information being given.  76% said they wonder what would my day-to-day job be?  Obviously, our job descriptions are not truly giving a very good picture of what the day-to-day job would be…or this would not be one of the top ranked question for job seekers. 57% want to know which skill sets are employers are willing and not willing to negotiate on.  Again, the job descriptions we are all posting are not cutting it.  This information is not clear.
We need to get more information into the potential applicants’ hands.  We need not only better job descriptions and requirements…but also additional information like videos, pictures, and employee testimonials available.  Careerbuilder has a study that shows 31% want to see videos and photos of the company environment (only slightly less than 35% who said they wanted details on how the company provides work-life balance).  46% said they wanted to see employee ratings (which are probably coming from Glassdoor.com)…but you could do a lot by providing your own employee testimonial video and text on your website.
This is important, because 37% of all candidates said that if they can’t find the info they need on the company that they will just move on to the next company or job listing.
4. Job seekers say 4 out of 10 (38%) of their applications never receive a response or any type of communication.  Also, Job seekers’ biggest frustration: Employers don’t respond to them (45%).
Really…how is this still a thing?  I wrote last year a post call, “Why Does Black Holes Still Exist in Candidate Experience?” With modern ATS, all you have to do is check the box next to the names and send a mass-email.  There is no excuse for this.  Job seekers, I humbly apologize for my profession.
5. Referring to Careerbuilder’s study, one in five candidates said they are not willing to complete an application that takes them 20 minutes or more, and 76 percent want to know how long it will take them to finish an application before it starts.
hurdlesCandidates are not willing to do as much as last year and the market is now very much a job-seekers market.  We can not longer have employer-market and recession-market mindsets.  Don’t expect people to be grateful to just have a job and if looking for a job, to be desperate enough to put up with the crap anymore.  Last year I wrote about this in “Why We Must Simply the Job Application Process.”
However, only 31 percent of employers claim to have tried applying to one of their company’s open jobs to see what the process is like.
Everyone needs to do this today.  Apply to one of your own jobs and see how bad (or good) it is.  Did the system time out and you have to start over?  Did it take an hour to apply?  How good was the resume parsing or did you have to fill it all in manually?
You should know what your applicants have to go through just to express interest.  Then if this is combined with never getting a response, what a slap in the face and a show of total disrespect.
Summary
From what I read and remember from last year, the concerns are much the same as last year…but job seekers are willing to put up with less and are demanding better.   We have almost an entire year to try to improve the situation.  I would love to see some improvement in next year’s reports.

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