Archive for the ‘human resources’ category

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.


Hiring Managers: Be Empathetic To Applicants, Even Those You Don’t Hire

November 18th, 2014

When you are feeling rushed, harried and otherwise stressed out while performing your duties as a human resources professional, it’s not hard to see how your actions or even inaction can be interpreted as rudeness.

Many business professionals keep in mind the adage about being nice to the people you meet on your way up, because it’s always possible that one day you’ll be encountering them on your way down. This is not exactly the Golden Rule, but it’s a good rule of thumb when doing business.

It’s important to remember to be empathetic to all applicants who cross your threshold, even those you don’t wind up hiring.

Hurry up and Wait

Job applicants are finding themselves having to produce more material than they may be accustomed to during the tryout phase of the recruitment process. Then, after they generate a stack of documents in a brutally short timeframe, they are dismayed because the employer takes months to respond. It’s perfectly reasonable to request materials to get an idea of what the recruit has to offer, but you have to treat them with the same respect you would give a hired consultant or an existing member of your team.

Avoid asking potential employees to rush with unexpectedly fast turnaround times on sample materials, proposals, advises Anne Kreamer in a recent post at the Harvard Business Review. Instead, allocate a reasonable time for deliverables, and make the timing of such requests transparent from the beginning.

Be Honest from the Start

Have you ever prolonged an interview with an applicant because you knew he or she was just not going to be a good fit, but you didn’t have the courage to say so from the outset?

This is an example of being discourteous, noted a recent report by Roberta Matuson at Forbes. You don’t want unsuitable applicants to take up too much of your time and resources. Consider then, that applicants don’t want you to take up their time with a pointless interview just because you are afraid of hurting their feelings.

The Courtesy of a Reply

When you engage with a recruit over the course of weeks or months and then let things trail off without giving them a response about the status of the position they interviewed for, it can leave a sour taste in applicants’ mouths.

Set aside sufficient time in your schedule so you can give everyone a response, and customize your message instead of sending out boilerplate whenever possible.

If you think there is a chance that you may not have been as empathetic as you’d prefer when dealing with job applicants recently, you have the upper hand over other HR professionals in that you are sensitive to the issue and are interested in making a change. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes while evaluating whether they might be a good fit in your organization will make a big difference.


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.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Old vs. Young Employees

October 3rd, 2014

old vs youngAs a busy hiring manager who needs to be able to quickly assess the capabilities of applicants and determine how well they might fit in your organization, how does the age of potential recruits figure into your decision making process?

Issues of talent, enthusiasm, expertise, wisdom, judgment and working habits all come into play as you consider each potential recruit. Of course, you don’t want to get into trouble by favoring one applicant over another based just on his or her apparent age. However, there are some pros and cons of hiring old versus young employees that you will want to keep in mind.

Young Blood and Exuberance

With youth comes excitement and exuberance, and enthusiastic new employees are revved up, looking for challenges and a chance to prove themselves, noted a recent post at Fast Company.

Younger workers typically are more accustomed to working with technology, having used it all their adult lives, often becoming adept during their formative youthful years. This means you may not have to spend as much time training them compared to more seasoned workers.

When you hire younger workers, you also have an opportunity mold them from the start instead of taking time to weed out the bad habits that some older employees develop.

However, younger workers may seem to be less vested overall with their jobs, wanting to leave once they have put in their hours for the day, compared to older workers who have more experience staying later to finish something because they are motivated by a sense of pride, according to a recent article posted at Entrepreneur.

Older, Wiser and Experienced

It’s very likely that older employees will behave more responsibly, having learned through hard work and experience what happens when you fail to show up on time, as well as the consequences of being careless when checking details on a project.

One negative aspect to hiring older workers is that they will often expect higher salaries than younger workers because of their experience and expertise. While the cost is often justified, your organization may prefer to hire greener workers for less and then spend more time in training.

The maturity and (hopefully) wisdom that comes with older workers is beneficial not just because of what they do themselves each day to boost your bottom line, but also the examples they can set for younger workers on your payroll, noted Entrepreneur. The magazine also cited the fact that older workers are typically better at communicating (and knowing when not to speak) because of their advanced understanding of office politics.

As long as you continue to be honest in your assessments of candidates and steer clear of discriminating against potential hires for being “too young” or “too old,” you can help build a better workforce at your organization when you pay attention to the pros and cons of hiring old versus young employees.

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.

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.

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.

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.