Archive for the ‘corporate recruiting’ category

Hiring for Your Startup and Beyond

December 22nd, 2014

As a human resources professional, your recruiting efforts will naturally be different when arranging for personnel for a well-established company that is already known to the public, press, investors and the available talent pool as compared to the work you will do to fill positions at a startup firm. You’ll need to hire people with the specific skills needed to take an idea from zero and turn it into a thriving concern.

What Stage Are You At?

It’s important to recognize what stage you are at in the startup lifecycle, noted a recent report by Henry Kim at The Next Web that describe growing a company from zero to $1 billion. As you start out, you’ll be hiring eager, dedicated individuals who have multiple skills to fill in where needed. You will likely be focusing recruitment efforts on less experienced and younger members of the workforce at this point to bolster product development and acquire new customers as rapidly as possible.

Once you approach the $20 million to $100-million scaling phase, you need to turn your attention to important categories such as branding and marketing, sales, finance and HR to give management a solid infrastructure to accelerate growth. By the time you reach the $100 million to $1 billion scale, it’s time to shift your focus on attracting leaders who have already demonstrated success in growing firms on a massive scale.

The early stages of recruitment can be likened to drafting a team in fantasy football, according to a recent post by Ann Diab at Tech Cocktail.

This means having a solid game plan and knowing what traits you will need the most in your new hires. What’s more, you’ll have to build your team for the long haul. You shouldn’t hire based primarily on who is available as much as you should look for people who will obviously fit in well with your team.

Strategies for Growth

When faced with a lot of competition for new recruits, it pays to have strategies for growth, noted Keith Rabois in a recent TechCrunch post. This includes polishing your mission and selling recruits on the idea of having an impact in the world.

You will want to recruit from outside your normal sources, such as finding prodigies straight from the university or industry geniuses who are not wrapped up in launching their own startup but would welcome the opportunity to be a part of your founding team.

There is so much excitement surrounding companies during their initial startup phase, and you can harness this energy to great effect as you search for your first recruits. Human resources professionals will fulfill their duties much more effectively when they have a concrete plan for cultivating a team that can not only hit the ground running but will have the skills and endurance to ride out the inevitable bumps and shakeups that come as you build the business.


Considering all the Facets of Discriminatory Hiring Practices

December 8th, 2014

One of your primary goals when interviewing promising new candidates for your organization is to keep an open mind and evaluate each person on his or her merits without letting any biases influence the recruitment process. Key to this is making sure that you are not engaging in discriminatory hiring practices. Of particular concern is bias based on racial, family, age or gender characteristics.

Racial Bias in Hiring

While great strides have been made in racial harmony, human resources professional need to remain on guard against discrimination, both overt and inadvertent.

For example, recent research by a group of economists shows that some recruiters, even though they are not biased themselves, have a fear that their customers do hold racial bias and will make their hiring decisions accordingly, noted a recent report at Fortune.

The economists sent in 9,400 false resumes, using “typically black” names in half and “typically white” names in the other half to determine the rate of discrimination in the job market. It turned out that there was more evidence for hiring bias when it came to customer service jobs as compared to jobs focusing on coworker interaction (managers, coordinators and so on).

Familial Nepotism in Hiring

What about nepotism? It’s not illegal, and bosses can fire an employee to free up a spot for a son or a niece, for example, according to a recent post at AOL Jobs. However, nepotism may be prohibited in government positions, or under conditions when your company is subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Businesses that hire mostly family members may get into hot water if they consistently turn down more qualified candidates who also happen to be of a different race or nationality.

Gender Discrimination in Hiring

Recruiters may harbor a bias against genders based on old-fashioned stereotypes, such as the idea that women are unsuited for physically demanding jobs or that men cannot work as nurses or flight attendants.

While these are particularly egregious examples of discrimination, you need to be aware of unconscious bias as you examine resumes for the best match for the position in terms of background, experience and accomplishments.

Age Discrimination in Hiring

There are a number of ways where age discrimination can crop up during recruitment. Does your organization ever advertise open positions while using phrases such as “young-thinking” in the job description?

You may not realize that this can lead to age discrimination, noted a recent report at CNN Money. It cited research from Clemson University that indicated 30 percent of people aged 53 and up have faced discrimination because of how old they were. Making mattes worse, people who lose their job at the age of 45 may never get another job, noted researchers at the University of Sydney.

Factors leading to age bias include holding the idea that older workers are not good with modern technology or that they might miss work more often because older people tend to get sick more frequently than younger workers.

Recognizing the potential pitfalls of discrimination and taking steps to address these concerns head-on will help you avoid lawsuits due to unfair hiring practices. It’s also important to remember that by avoiding discriminatory practices, you open up your available talent pool to a greater degree, which can only help to boost your organization’s bottom line.


What’s Unique About Hiring for a Startup?

November 3rd, 2014

startup hiringRecruiting and hiring candidates for a position at an established firm with a proven track record is different than finding good prospects for a startup company. If you have recently begun handling human resources to help a new firm gear up or are considering working at a startup, keep in mind that you will be evaluating recruits using different criteria than you would at longer-lived firms that have reached some measure of stability.

Determining the Best Candidates

You might be tempted to hire workers that have been employed at one of the major technology companies, since they must have great qualifications to get past the HR departments at such firms.

However, the skills required to do well and thrive in the stable environment of an established firm are different from what’s needed when an organization is still in startup mode, noted a recent report at Forbes.

Rather than considering inexperienced people who are fresh out of college, though, you would do better by looking for candidates who worked at other startups that have gone onto some success and are ready for another position that requires creativity and tenacity rather than one based on making small improvements to an existing platform.

Look for people who have exhibited a high level of competitiveness, as they will be the ones most willing to stay late and do what it takes to reach your organization’s goals. Many startups have done well by hiring people who play sports or who are former athletes, noted a recent report at Entrepreneur. The competitive nature of sports and the need to set goals and remain mentally and physically resilient are good preparation for working in a startup.

Other traits that are worth considering in candidates for startups include having a sense of humor and fitting in well with your corporate culture, according to an article at Mashable. After all, you are putting together a team whose members will be spending long hours together, and you need recruits who can integrate well with others.

These new workers should be flexible as well, since startups usually require people who can wear different hats every day. They will be able to take direction and then work independently to carry out their mission as effectively as possible. Risk-takers who are ready to hit the ground running and show passion and endurance will be more capable of dealing with the unrelenting grind of startup mode.

Your job hiring for a startup will go more smoothly if you focus on the chief characteristics required for success in a dynamic and sometimes chaotic environment. Selecting candidates who are curious and enthusiastic and who demonstrate a passion to compete while maintaining high standards of business integrity will serve you well during the birth of your new company.

Is Your Company’s Time to Hire Too Long?

September 5th, 2014

clockHow long has it been taking you to bring in new recruits these days? If you’ve been frustrated with the amount of time it’s been taking your company to bring in new hires, you’re not alone. Employers in the United States are taking an average of 25 days to fill jobs, the longest time frame in 13 years, noted a recent report at the Wall Street Journal. In fact, companies with more than 5,000 employees are taking even longer, or about 58 days to make a decision on new hires.

A number of factors seem to be affecting the nationwide slowdown in hiring. For example, companies that are already feeling skittish about the economy may have adopted higher standards than usual, such as requiring applicants to have advanced degrees or much more experience in their field before being considered for an interview.

Economic downturns may have also thinned out the recruiting staff. With fewer personnel in the HR department, it will necessarily take longer to recruit and vet candidates.

Companies seeking top-notch candidates will conduct more background checks as well as require physicals and drug tests to screen applicants. In the meantime, if potential recruits grow weary of waiting for the results, they may move on to another opportunity.

There are a number of steps you can take to speed things up. For example, you can begin by adjusting the job end dates in your future employment notices. A recent post at the ERE website suggests that HR staffers should try cutting their posting times by 20 percent and then see how it affects the hiring process. It’s also a good idea to get your team to start sorting and qualifying resumes sooner, such as well before the job ad deadline.

Another tip: train for expedited hiring, at least for your highest priority job listings. This means focusing on the most promising applicants first, while simultaneously instructing your team about the dangers of dragging their feet. In fact, you should consider taking resumes away from your slowest hiring managers. Once you set up benchmarks for how many days they have to read applications, send the unread resumes to other, faster managers.

It’s also a good idea to pre-qualify recruits by turning to your employees to make referrals. Posting job announcements in prominent locations (the lobby, for example, instead of just a bulletin board in the break room) can make a big difference in how quickly your team can make recommendations of suitable friends and colleagues for your open positions.

Speeding up the hiring process at your company may require efforts on a number of fronts. From boosting the amount of staffers in HR to finding a better third party to conduct background checks or posting jobs with tighter application deadlines, you stand a better chance of recruiting and hiring people at an accelerated pace.

Have You Hired a Supporting Cast for Your Company’s Lebron James?

August 22nd, 2014

lebron jamesWhen gearing up to hire for a new startup, you’ll want to consider the timing of how you recruit for top leadership. In many cases, it’s better to make sure that you focus your efforts on developing a great team to be the supporting cast for your star player.

Doing so helps you on multiple fronts. For one, having a great team in place will make potential executives more inclined to consider working with you. Establishing a great support team also helps ensure that the organization will continue to not only thrive but also innovate and expand even after the loss of a key player.

In fact, developing a “team behind the founding team” is of paramount importance, noted a recent article at Entrepreneur. A PR scandal or the injury or death of a founder will rock your organization to the core, but having a good support team will help prevent the whole enterprise from going down in flames.

What’s more, you never know where your company’s next great idea is going to come from. Instead of counting on just the CEO to drive innovation, you can build a creative culture that encourages contributions from every level in the hierarchy at your firm.

Consider the world of sports, where high-pressure deals and immense competitive pressure drive the search for talent just as much as it occurs in the corporate world. A recent post by Neil Paine at FiveThirtyEight notes just how beneficial it has been for the Cleveland Cavaliers now that LeBron James has announced his return to the team after four years of playing with the Miami Heat.

James specializes in helping any team he plays with to score big, having won more than 60 games per season three times already in a career of 12 seasons to date. Statistics reveal that his new team at Cleveland is so talented, they will be his best support team yet, which could bring the team to even greater heights.

Just as it’s ludicrous to think one person can win a pro basketball game, it would be folly to imagine a business will do well on the backs of an enormously talented CEO without the best available support team. This is what you should keep in mind when hiring for your startup.

It’s understandable that companies would focus on their star founders, mythologizing and romanticizing them for PR reasons and to help attract new customers and new talent. But a company shouldn’t leave itself so dependent on one person, no matter how much star power he or she brings to the table. This is the case for the boardroom just as much as it is on the basketball court in the NBA. A support team composed of people with a broad range of expertise will help you weather the inevitable storms that come as your company begins to grow and expand.

Small Businesses Need to Think Big About Hiring

August 6th, 2014

How well is your small hirebusiness doing in recruiting new hires? Even as the economy improves and organizations start stepping up their hiring efforts, you may still find it difficult to attract qualified workers. In fact, more than half of companies still have open and unfilled positions due to a lack of available talent, according to a new report at the Democrat & Chronicle. You can remedy this problem by starting to think big about your hiring process.

For example, when was the last time you and your colleagues put yourself in the shoes of candidates to see why would they want to work at your company? During interviews, make a point of showcasing what makes your business stand out from the competition. You can be assured that the best and most talented recruits will be looking for companies that they match with in terms of values and culture.

You’ll also want to consider starting a program where candidates can shadow your employees for a day to get a better idea of your day-to-day operations and to see if there will be a good cultural fit.

Are you using social media to your benefit? It’s not enough for organizations to use Twitter, Facebook and other channels just to hype their accomplishments or address criticism. Reach out to new candidates through social channels, letting them get a sense of what it’s like to work at your business. When you find a promising candidate on LinkedIn, for example, your next step should be to check other social media for any inappropriate photos or comments to weed out undesirables.

And while you can target more younger people with social media, it’s important to remember the value in hiring older employees for their wisdom and experience, noted a recent post at Forbes. The added benefit is that you will get some talented mentors for the younger members of your team.

At the same time, you need to make sure you are offering fair compensation. Take advantage of the data at sites like PayScale and Salary before posting salary ranges in your upcoming want ads. While you’re at it, why not start offering cash incentives to your team members who refer successful new hires? Your current employees will serve as great brand ambassadors and their knowledge of your company culture will help you recruit applicants that will make a good fit.

Freelancing is another option your organization will want to give more consideration, according to a recent report at the Fox Small Business Center. You mainly benefit by saving money and having a more flexible workforce. What’s more, many freelancers have quite an entrepreneurial spirit that can do wonders for rejuvenating your business.

The bottom line is that if you want to continue growing as a company, you need to start thinking big about hiring. You’ll be rewarded with an improved workforce and an enhanced reputation among jobseekers.

Is It Time to Ditch the Ridiculous Interview Questions?

July 25th, 2014

bad interview questionsIt’s natural for human resources professionals to want to go beyond asking such boring questions as, “What is your biggest weakness/strength?” when interviewing candidates. In the scramble to discover the best person for the job, many prominent firms have made it a practice to ask fairly ridiculous questions to avoid getting a programmed response.

A strategy of asking silly questions may seem to make sense on paper. After all, a job interview is not an ideal place for job seekers to present their true selves. Strange, out-of-the-blue interview questions are supposedly designed to catch candidates off-guard because not only will they not likely have prepared to answer them ahead of time, you get to see how their minds work when confronted with unusual situations.

For example, Google would rely on brainteasers, asking potential recruits questions such as “How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane?” Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations, said that such questions only serve to waste time and don’t predict anything, noted a recent article at Business Insider. Google switched to asking behavioral questions along the lines of how candidates solved tough problems at their previous job to improve their hiring process.

It seems like there is no shortage to weird questions asked by HR interviewers at a variety of firms. Consider “If you were shrunk down to the size of a pencil and put into a blender, how would you get out” (said to be asked at Goldman Sachs, according to a recent Fortune article) or “How many bricks are there in Shanghai? Consider only residential buildings” (attributed to Deloitte Consulting).

While these questions could force a candidate to “think outside the box” and come up with a unique or creative solution, they typically have little or nothing to do with the actual work the employee would wind up doing. In fact, Bock says these kinds of ridiculous job interview questions serve more to make the interviewer feel intelligent than to get a useful response.

Kristi Hedges offered some useful interview questions in a recent Forbes article that you might want to adapt for your own organization. Ask candidates to tell you about your company and provide high-level analysis. Have an interviewee walk you through the first five things he or she would do upon being hired. It’s also useful to ask a question along the lines of what was the candidate’s proudest moment at the previous job.

If you have been relying on ridiculous interview questions to no avail and are hoping to get more out of the time you spend with job candidates, you will want to come up with sets of questions that will better address the needs of your organization. It may take you a while and some trial and error before you settle on a better mix of questions, but in the long run, you stand to get much better responses and a more capable workforce.


The Right Way To Turn Down a Job Applicant

July 11th, 2014

Turn Down Job ApplicantsIt’s not easy to give someone disappointing news, especially for people who prefer to avoid confrontation out of fear of hurting another person’s feelings. Unfortunately, this can prompt HR leaders to avoid communicating with job applicants about the status of their application.

Being strapped for time and resources can also lead to silence from HR, of course. It’s not uncommon for overburdened HR departments to fail to get back to each job seeker, especially when there is a deluge of candidates. As many as 75 percent of job applicants never get a response from hiring managers, according to a survey from CareerBuilder.

Keeping the lines of communication with job seekers is more important than ever these days, especially when so many applicants are accustomed to using social media and websites to do research on firms. In fact, almost 60 percent of applicants surveyed in 2013 for the Candidate Experience Awards indicated that they felt they had a relationship with a company before even applying for a position there, according to a recent post at Forbes.

What’s worse, there are websites where people can post anonymous comments about companies they deal with. If people who have applied for work at your organization and never got a response decide to post negative feedback to warn other job seekers about their experience, there is nothing to stop your current employees from seeing these comments and thinking less of your HR department. They may even reconsider working at your firm.

Coming up with a good rejection letter requires art and tact, noted a recent post at Business Management Daily. At the very least, personalize your template-based message to include the job seeker’s name and the position applied for, and indicate that while his or her qualifications were good, you found another applicant who was more suited for the position.

Just as smart job candidates will follow up with a thoughtful thank you letter to HR after an interview, savvy HR professionals will send thank you letters to job seekers, according to a recent post to the blog of Newton Software, an applicant tracking software company. Newton cited the many positive messages it saw from applicants who were fortunate enough to get a reply from their recruiters.

You will do your organization a disservice if you fail to communicate with every job seeker who approaches you. Resorting  to automatic responses distributed from an applicant tracking system, it’s still better than absolute silence. And, some applicant tracking systems actually allow you to tailor your responses by the stage of the recruiting process.  Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to include a personal touch in your response, such as a line of constructive criticism about the applicant’s resume or performance during the interview especially if you have met with the job seeker. After all, keeping the lines of communication open is part of being a good member of the community.

Measure Your Way Out of the Dark Ages of Hiring

June 30th, 2014

dark ages of hiringHow successful is your organization at building new teams? While there may be little shortage of qualified applicants, not everyone you see will necessarily wind up fitting in well with the other members of the group you’re assembling.

If you’re not defining and using metrics to improve the quality of your new hires, you might as well be operating out of the Dark Ages, when compared to your competitors who are more savvy about making data-driven decisions for recruitment and employee retention.

For some perspective: As a way to focus on quickly growing the user base at Internet start-up companies, the concept of “growth hacking” emerged a few years ago, according to a recent post by Nick Marsh at The Next Web.

Growth hacking, as Marsh describes it, emphasizes metrics. In the case of startups, the mission would be to reduce the cost of acquiring each new customer by using technology more aggressively in the process.

Examples of technology range from CRM software and applicant tracking applications to social networking and mobile devices able to access all required data via cloud service providers.

You can apply this philosophy of aggressively using technology and making measurements to your recruiting efforts, as well as toward seeing whether team members can bring their individual skill sets together more effectively as you build new teams.

Marsh notes that traditionally, companies would go through a lengthy recruitment process, hoping that candidates with poor interview skills but who would otherwise make a great fit could manage to get past the first round with HR. After the team has had time to meet with enough candidates, they work out whom to hire. It is only later, after work actually begins, that they can really determined if the new candidate is a good match. You should get better results when you add more metrics to the mix.

Begin Making Measurements

Build up a data set to help you figure out what is working when you hire exceptional candidates and what is not working so well. Startup firms are particularly adept at this, because they are typically used to doing A/B testing and analytics to measure products and other aspects of their business, so that they can quickly pivot their model if need be.

As you develop your measures of success and apply them to new candidates, your goal should be to continuously keep track of the measurements so you can steadily boost the quality of hires going forward. Because you will be using more data to make your hiring decisions, you should expect to see a decrease in the cost per hire for each new recruit.

If you and the other HR professionals at your organization haven’t been taking advantage of more data-driven techniques in your recruitment process, don’t you think it’s time to start giving it some more consideration? These days, with more information becoming available than ever before as well as being much easier to manipulate, analyze and share, it seems like a waste of a valuable resource if you ignore the benefits of defining measures of success and applying them to new hires.

5 Ways to Determine if You Should Hire a Human or Robot

June 2nd, 2014

robot hiringThe robots are coming! The robots are coming! While robots are not actually an invading force akin to the British soldiers during the American Revolution, these mechanical constructs are definitely making a big impact in the modern business landscape.

In fact, it’s hard to open a newspaper these days without seeing stories about people losing their jobs to more efficient robots, such as in factory assembly lines or in emerging plans to use machines instead of people to flip burgers at fast food restaurants.

Benefits of hiring robots include their ability to work long hours without complaint or the need to rest, improved efficiency and more precision in delicate operations.

The rise of robots raises some questions among HR professionals. Will robots eventually take over more “white collar” jobs? How can employers prepare for the coming robot revolution with their hiring practices, and how can they know which jobs are better for robots and which are still more suitable for people to do?

With that in mind, here are five ways to determine if you should hire a human or a robot.

1. Does the job in question involve danger or a higher level of risk? Positions that involve moving heavy equipment or working with hazardous materials are prime candidates for robot replacement. We may even eventually see robotic police officers and military forces to ease some of the burden on our fragile human bodies.

2. Will your industry become increasingly reliant on automation in order to remain competitive? A recent report in Geekwire notes that the online giant Amazon is poised to deploy some 10,000 robots in warehouses across the globe by the end of 2014. Amazon currently uses about 1,000 robots, so this announced increase from CEO Jeff Bezos is likely going to catch the attention of other industry titans seeking to improve their efficiency.

3. Does the position you are hiring for require an artistic background or a high level of creative thinking? These kinds of jobs are not likely going to be filled any time soon with artificial creatures that have no sense of how the world really works.

4. Are you finding it tough to hire people for certain positions because they are boring or too repetitive? Technology Review noted that Aldo Zini of Aethon is developing robots on wheels to transport garbage, food trays, medicine and more in hospitals to free up people from such drudgery. As an added bonus, you should expect to see fewer repetitive-stress injuries in your workforce when you switch to robots for the most boring tasks.

5. What is your client base? You may be serving a population that is too squeamish around new technology, such as the very aged. Even if a robot can do a job faster and better than an ordinary person, you might lose business if the senior citizens you serve are creeped out by mechanical men and their strange noises and disproportional strength.

Artificial brains inside mechanical bodies do not have intuition, empathy and the vast amount of social experience and knowledge of human nature that HR professionals carry in spades. This means that hiring managers don’t need to worry about being replaced by these robots themselves any time soon, even as they cut the labor force with machines to do our most boring and repetitive tasks.