Archive for the ‘Hiring’ category

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.

Are You Hiring The Top Minds of a New Generation?

May 9th, 2014

hiring millenialsIt’s only natural to want to hire the cream of the crop for your company, and this typically means that you will want to focus your recruitment efforts on the top college graduates every year to fill your ongoing workplace needs.

However, today’s top students are becoming increasingly aware of their value to businesses and are interested in better incentives and attention from potential employers. You may need to adjust your approach to ensure that you have a good shot at hiring the top minds of the new generation.

Give College Graduates Plenty of Feedback and Opportunities to Grow

By 2015, some 60% of all available job opportunities will require the skill and knowledge of just 20% of the applicant pool, noted Kathryn Dill in a recent piece at Forbes. She cited statistics from the “Class of 2014: Your Next Generation of Top Talent” survey from Achievers, a company that develops employee engagement applications.

The survey shows that graduates are searching for firms that will provide them with an opportunity to grow in their field, along with plenty of feedback and rewards.

To meet their needs, Dill recommends that hiring managers offer immediate evaluations on a regular basis. Millennial workers are typically staying in jobs for 18 months on average, which means it will do you no good to drag your heels when evaluating their progress and potential.

Increase Use of Social Media in Recruitment

More and more college students and graduates are coming to rely on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to navigate their job opportunities. You should increase your social presence both to advertise the virtues of your company and its culture and to meet potential candidates where they are spending more of their time—online.

A recent report by Srikanth An at ShoutMeLoud notes the importance of using LinkedIn when you are searching for the best available young talent.

A good step is to add every member of your staff to your company’s LinkedIn page to help you establish more second- and third-tier connections to potential recruits.

Be More Accepting of Eccentric and Creative Individuals

Managers may ask HR to find more workers who “think outside the box,” but the eccentric personalities of creative individuals sometimes prevent a recruiter from seeing the value they can bring, notes a recent report by Stephen Glasskeys at Forbes.

Glasskeys cited the examples of self-taught film auteurs Paul T. Anderson and Quentin Tarantino. Although these individuals might have unusual habits and appear unusual (unkempt hair and messy clothing), they have become experts in their field and deliver world-class results.

By embracing unusual people during the recruitment process, you improve the likelihood of finding the most talented minds available in your industry.

Hiring to Address Your Company’s Weaknesses

April 11th, 2014

As a hiring manager, you and your staff may be more accustomed to recruit and hire new people primarily to bolster the strength of your organization. However, in some cases you need to focus on hiring to address your company’s weaknesses.

In fact, the very act of admitting that you lack certain skills is the first and toughest step to take when preparing to expand your team, according to a recent article at Fast Company by Steven Sinofsky. He cited the example of a fleet management company whose cofounders had expertise in engineering and design.

While the founders were excellent at developing hardware and software, they soon realized that they lacked professional business experience when the time came to tell their story to the news media. This realization led them to hire experts to help them plan ahead and define the roles and responsibilities required to expand their operations. They were hiring to address their firm’s weaknesses head on.

China’s emergence as a dominant original equipment manufacturer or OEM was the subject of a recent post at ClarkMorgan by d.lightdesign’s senior human resource manager Harry Wang. The firm’s social enterprise mission is to make and distribute solar power and light products throughout the developing world.

dumbbell-742370-mWhile building a technical staff, Wang determined that it would be impossible to find “perfect individuals.” The people he was interviewing showed a gap between those with hard technical skills and technicians who had softer skills. Accordingly, Wang decided to make a conscious effort to hire people with a diverse set of skills. The result was a team of workers who possessed complementary weaknesses and strengths and was better situated to achieve the company’s goals.

Writing for LinkedIn, Dave Kerpen, the CEO of Likeable Local proposed that instead of trying to get rid of our weaknesses, that instead hiring managers should embrace weaknesses for what they are. This will enable them to leverage the associated strengths that come with each “weakness.”

He provided a list of 16 common weaknesses faced by organizations, including “disorganized,” “inflexible” and “unrealistic.” He then paired this list with their corresponding qualities. While it may seem to be a weakness when an employee is disorganized, Kerpen notes that the employee may turn out to be one of your most creative people. A person branded as inflexible also has the quality of being highly organized, noted Kerpen. Likewise, you can view an unrealistic member of your team as being one of your most positive employees who can do wonders for morale.

It’s not always easy for the key decision makers at an organization to admit to the existence of any weakness, but the sooner you accept the realities of your workplace, the sooner you can take the steps you need to address any deficiencies.

March Madness – What Hiring Managers & Recruiters Can Learn

March 21st, 2014

march madnessIn business, we often find ourselves using sports metaphors to capture the essence of a situation, such as noting that a new hire “knows the ropes” (from expertise in sailing) or that someone has “jumped the gun” (referring to acting quickly without thinking things through, from the starter’s pistol in the world of track and field.)

With that in mind, it’s useful to consider that every year, as college basketball teams compete to see which is the best in the nation, America is fixated on March Madness. Hiring managers can learn a lot from basketball’s March Madness as they go through the process of recruiting and hiring new employees.

For example, when you see an underdog rising to the top during March Madness, you can view the process as comparable to when a new applicant uses hard work and talent to distinguish himself from the competition, notes a recent article by Tom Gimbel at Entrepreneur.

Applicants who may not immediately look like they are the best, at least on paper, can still rise to the top as HR managers get a chance to see them in action (during interviews).

The very process of screening through applicant resumes is akin to the weeding out period when poorly performing basketball teams fall by the wayside. You can look at your initial cuts (such as eliminating candidates who do not possess a college degree or lack experience using a particular application) in the same way that basketball teams are eliminated because they are ill-prepared to deliver the goods on the court, notes Gimbel.

Lester Picker, writing in the National Bureau of Economic Research, raises a question of bias that all hiring managers should keep in mind. He asked whether March Madness leads to “irrational exuberance in the NBA draft.”

The answer was that NBA personnel do not irrationally give too much weight to the most recent, dramatic and colorful data (players who make big, unexpected scores and teams who win unexpectedly). In fact, observing players giving an exceptionally good performance under all the hype and media attention is like watching a job applicant shine while under the glare of intense questioning by HR professionals.

Finally, when you like a promising candidate who is on the bubble, you are advised to follow up and make an offer before he is snatched up by one of your competitors. This is just like when teams identify a supremely talented player during March Madness and inundate him with lucrative offers.

Because sports metaphors like March Madness are so useful in describing the highly competitive world of recruitment and hiring, we should expect to see them remain as powerful tools amongst hiring managers and recruiters.

 

Finding the Hiring Balance Between Fit and Fact

March 10th, 2014

balanceWhen making the decision about whether to hire one promising job candidate over another, it may be tricky for you to strike a good balance between the facts about each individual and how well it seems that they will fit in your company culture.

Recruiters and hiring managers may be reluctant to rely on the hiring model of using only data, resumes, an applicant tracking system and referrals to make a primarily fact-based decision. They recognize the importance of intangibles, such as ensuring that each new hire will work well with existing teams and will be a good representative of the corporation’s culture.

However, striving for a good fit instead of emphasizing the facts about an applicant’s skills, knowledge and experience can lead to an atmosphere of fraternity and sorority-style hazing, notes a recent Forbes article by Micah Solomon that points out the pitfalls of peer assessments. He cited the example of companies such as Whole Foods, where coworkers vote on whether to retain a new hire after a 30- to 90-day probationary period. You run the risk of only hiring “people like us”, which can lead to reduced diversity.

When the company is populated by a core group of initial hires who made it through the early tough days of the startup period, they may function like immune system antibodies “that attack outsiders who bring in new ideas or methodologies,” notes Barry Schuler in a recent Inc. article.

While you may have achieved great success with your founding employees pulling all-nighters, you run the risk of missing out on a great candidate who has a family at home but is just as talented, if not more so than those who burn the candle at both ends. Schuler suggests that companies build a counterculture to help them develop a diverse melting pot of new employees.

However, you have the power to strike a good balance between fit and fact in the hiring process. Begin by examining your corporate culture, recommends Rhonda Ness in a recent article at Insperity. This will help you determine what makes people want to work at your organization. Details that make up the “sizzle” of your corporate culture and attract candidates include corporate size, benefits, work schedules, and dress code.

You will also want to convey your corporate culture to applicants by crafting detailed job descriptions instead of using generic announcements.

Ness suggests that during the interview process, you should ask applicants what role they played in the team at their last job, and find out how successful they were at working with their colleagues.

Striking the perfect balance between skill set and corporate fit is never going to be an easy task for HR professionals. However, by paying close attention to the messages you send out about your corporate culture and asking better questions during interviews, you will be a lot closer to achieving the right mix for your organization.

Need to Hire Engineers Fast?

January 10th, 2014

Silicon Valley is filled with startups looking for the best engineers for their teams. With a growing number of startup companies, but no large increase in available engineers, the recruiting process for coveted talent has become highly competitive.

The Demand of Employee Recruitment

Many companies don’t have the extreme amount of time it often takes to hire the number of engineers they need for their team. According to an article published by TechCrunch, hiring 12 engineers over the course of the year would require 19 hours of recruitment a week. This process, according to TechCrunch, requires a dedicated staffing recruiter on the payroll and a well-considered recruitment plan to be successful:

Hiring is what enables you to execute your product roadmap. So, falling behind on recruiting is a competitive issue.

Crunching Numbers

The first part of a solid recruitment plan is to understand what candidate recruitment will really take. Without any thought as to the requirements, seeking new team members will be like shooting in the dark; no goals, no deadlines and no game plan.

A heavy part of the consideration should come from employee referrals and closing percentages; time hunting is greatly reduced by employees who are able to refer specific engineers for the job, but ultimately your effectiveness in hiring is what must be examined. The technical recruiter at Sequioia Bret Reckard believes that around 75 percent of job offers should be accepted for a company to feel like their recruitment is healthy and their hiring process is operating at premium efficiency.

Time-Saving Referrals

For startup businesses, no brand name means tougher recruitment processes. With major companies like Twitter part of the fray and paying their senior vice president of engineering over $10 million, startups may find the Silicone Valley scene daunting. TechCrunch points out:

To find one new engineer, you need to scour LinkedIn, GitHub and your employees’ networks to identify 100 people who appear to have the right skills. Of those, maybe 10 people will be interested and open to a job change. After hours on the phone and countless cups of coffee, you’ll have a small pool of candidates.

Referrals allow you to skip these early stages of recruiting—the candidate’s contact at your company did that for you.

All Hands on Deck

This doesn’t mean an open door policy for employee referrals—this means a systemized and company-wide approach to getting new leads for possible candidates. Employees should be a part of regular meetings for listing the best engineers they’ve previously worked with, attended school with or have met in their business networking.

From a streamlined hiring process to the atmosphere of the work environment, businesses should make sure an efficient and positive structure is in place from the very first contact with each candidate.

Are Your Hiring Managers Biased?

December 13th, 2013

hiring manager biasWhen you are in a position to assess people for employment at your organization, you may think that you have an open mind as you consider each applicant. However, it can be easy to hold biases that you are unaware of, according to a recent post by Lou Adler at Business Insider. By keeping possible bias in mind while conducting interviews, you will stand a better chance of finding the best people for the positions you seek to fill.

For example, you may be guilty of anchoring, which happens when you attribute too much value to the initial information you receive during an interview and then come to a conclusion before getting all the information you need.

Adler recommends that hiring managers strive to delay making any yes-or-no decisions for about 45 minutes, ensuring they will give as much weight to details they learn at the end of the interview as they do at the beginning.

Conformation bias is another problem that hiring managers face. They look for evidence to confirm their initial decision about a person, and then fail to see any information that conflicts with the first impression.

A hiring manager might make an effort to find “proof” that the applicants that they don’t like are simply incompetent, while ignoring facts that do demonstrate competence. A good approach here is to pause for a moment during the interview and seek out details that will counter the first impression.

Time pressures can also contribute to bias in the form of a perceived need for closure. When hiring managers feel rushed to come to a conclusion, they do their company and the applicant a disservice. Instead of worrying about how much time you are taking to do the interview, make a point of asking questions until you get all the facts you need to make the best possible decision.

Another problem with bias has to do with the concept of sunk costs. As hiring managers spend more time making a decision about applicants, they will feel the weight of how much time they’ve already invested doing interviews.

The result is a tired manager who will just settle for the next applicant who seems right for the job. To avoid this problem, remind yourself just how important it is to keep interviewing candidates and giving them all your full consideration. The future success of your company may very well depend on the decisions you make. To keep yourself objective, exercise your curiosity to discover the special skills and knowledge that each applicant brings to the table.

Ignorance of personal bias can lead to an increasing number of bad hires at your organization, as well as missed opportunities to bring in highly qualified applicants. By checking yourself for bias, you’ll have a leg up over other organizations whose hiring managers are less aware of their own bias.

What Machines Know: Can Algorithms Predict A Career Path?

December 2nd, 2013

Algorithms are quickly shaping and defining our world.

In a TED Talk from 2011, Kevin Slavin points out the algorithms that already affect our daily lives in “How Algorithms Shape Our World.” Most are at least partially aware of how algorithms are used in the stock market–buying and selling at an astronomically fast rate–but may not be fully aware of how heavily they are being used in our culture and day-to-day activities.

The Language of Machines

Physics and programming have begun to track how we work, move, play and shop. Machines are being taught to track our every move, discovering the best ways to sell, advertise and operate with algorithms. Cleaning bots in our house predict the most efficient ways to sweep a room, web history is tracked and searched for our interests and everything from elevators to predicted movie rental sites are being programmed to stay one step ahead of humans in our culture’s capitalist quest for ever-growing convenience, speed and efficiency.

This doesn’t stop with how we purchase–this is heading into the very heart of how we are recruited, hired and promoted. In the article “They’re Watching You at Work,” The Atlantic writer Don Peck writes:

Until quite recently, however, few people seemed to believe this data-driven approach might apply broadly to the labor market. But it now does. According to John Hausknecht, a professor at Cornell’s school of industrial and labor relations, in recent years the economy has witnessed a ‘huge surge in demand for workforce-analytics roles.

From Ivy League to Social Media Analytics

It is common for pedigree to mean something. When an Ivy League graduate with high marks and an impressive resume seeks a job, companies are recruiting left and right—a sought-after candidate for a high-level job. But what if candidates who are better suited for the job are falling through the cracks? Companies are beginning to look at algorithm programs and tests that can determine the productivity, creativity and professional promise of individuals based on everything from social media usage to how they play specifically-designed gaming apps.

Knack is a company that is doing just that. They have developed gaming apps like Wasabi Waiter that have successfully been tested to predict an accurate competency rate after just 20 minutes of play-time. The Atlantic notes:

How long you hesitate before taking every action, the sequence of actions you take, how you solve problems—all of these factors and many more are logged as you play, and then are used to analyze your creativity, your persistence, your capacity to learn quickly from mistakes, your ability to prioritize, and even your social intelligence and personality.

Reason for Concern

It’s easy to worry about the intrusion of machines in our lives, judging our potential. This concern, however, fails to consider the challenges of our current system: over and over it has been proven that with (often unknowing) bias we judge candidates and produce results rife with human error.

Gender, race, appearance and even personality are subject to our partiality and personal preference. Numerous studies show that our society is still not where we expect it to be in unbiased hiring practices. From the Atlantic:

Tall men get hired and promoted more frequently than short men, and make more money. Beautiful women get preferential treatment, too—unless their breasts are too large. According to a national survey by the Employment Law Alliance a few years ago, most American workers don’t believe attractive people in their firms are hired or promoted more frequently than unattractive people, but the evidence shows that they are, overwhelmingly so.

Hiring the Underdog

The inability of humans to remain completely objective forces us to be open to the idea of machines and their formulas to help predict the outcome of the hiring potential in candidates. Undervalued candidates will be found that are better suited for the jobs we are looking to fill. This, of course, begs the question: Will programmers and algorithm writers be able stay away from introducing bias into machine formulas? And in what ways will candidates try to beat the system?

The Ins and Outs of Hiring a Developer

November 15th, 2013

how to hire a coderIn business, hiring a software or app developer can be a critical decision. Whether you’re hiring for just one project or for ongoing work, developers / coders / programmers are key to bringing digital visions into reality.  For example, when entrepreneur Mike Lemovitz wanted to create a holiday app, he turned to the freelancer hub site Elance.com to search for a developer to do the job.

The Perks and Pitfalls of Freelance Developers

TheNextWeb covered the process in detail in their recent article. Lemovitz’s idea was simple: to create an app that would allow parents to have their children to send a message to Santa and also keep track of the good deeds they were doing. He made the app’s graphics himself in Photoshop and proceeded to post his job description on Elance.

Within minutes, Lemovitz received proposals from developers around the world. Bids ranged from just a few hundred to a few thousand dollars from developers with a variety of experience levels. He responded to a Chinese developer with a great portfolio and lots of positive feedback on Elance, and they were chatting on Skype within two hours of his posting. They eventually settled upon a price of $800 for the project paid in $200 installments at specific “milestones.” Lemovitz had hired his developer.

A New App is Born — Eventually

Within just two days the developer had the first version of the app ready to test. Lemovitz was thrilled — but this is about when the hiccups started. Some slight misunderstandings about procedures and money ensued, possibly due to a bit of a language barrier. The developer seemed to want to be paid before each milestone was reached, and at the end briefly held the project’s code “hostage” in exchange for a 5-star feedback rating. The project ended well and Lemovitz had his app two weeks later, but he also learned a lot about the potential pitfalls of hiring and working with developers.

Some considerations that can help you with the developer selection process include:

1. Portfolio

In app and sofware development, experience and proven success is key. Browse the developer’s portfolio and see what they’ve produced so far. Is their style and vibe a “fit” for your project(s)?

2. Recommendations

Ask for recommendations and feedback about the developer. Talk to past clients (if possible) and ask if they were satisfied with both the development process and the final result.

3. Find a Fit

If your developer will be working in-house, make sure they will be a “fit” for the culture of your company. For example, a developer who has mainly worked with small startups may not fare well at an established financial institution.

4. Start Small

Even if you’re hoping to hire for an ongoing relationship, start them out with a basic, non-critical project to get a sense of what they will be like to work with. Look for work ethic, creativity, communication, efficiency, and how they handle the unexpected.

5. Payment and Additional Work

Be clear about payment terms up front and get it in writing. Your contract should cover every base, including how bug fixes, graphics alterations and any other changes will be handled in terms of both time frame and payment.