Is Your Company’s Time to Hire Too Long?

September 5th, 2014 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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.

The Newest Trend in Applicant Tracking Systems

May 29th, 2014 by jpassen No comments »

Responsive is the newest trend for applicant tracking systems.

Today’s workforces are freer to work from anywhere they want to work. Employers expect people to be productive while on the move, which requires technology that empowers people to work from anywhere in the world, on whatever device they choose. As a result, workers are fueling the demand for mobile solutions. Employers must respond with responsive products. These platforms understand what screen size is being used to access the platform. Responsive platforms automatically provide context and will appropriately juxtapose the right data being displayed, with the right controls, on any device and on any browser, at speeds we’ve never experienced before.

If a vendor has no plans for creating a responsive version of their applicant tracking system in the next 6-12 months, this should be a huge red flag. 

When it comes to selecting an applicant tracking system, however, many organizations fail to ask the right questions. Employers have traditionally treated the hiring software selection process as a feature comparison—a static selection methodology that often ignores the most critical factor for success: user engagement. Without user engagement employers cannot expect to gain agility, collaboration, and efficiency from their hiring platform. Employers must understand each vendor’s mobile strategy before selecting a product.

Download and share the free Applicant Tracking System Trend Report to learn more.

It’s all About Prevention: EEOC & OFCCP Compliance

May 23rd, 2014 by David Rothschild No comments »

Human resources professionals need to keep track of many moving parts in the course of their job every day, from understanding what kind of talent is currently available to new developments in their industry. One crucial area where it is vital to stay on top of things is maintaining compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance.

Often it is too late for companies to comply with the EEOC or OFCCP once they are being audited, which underscores the importance of preparing for compliance ahead of time just as you would prepare your financials in the general accounting department.

Not only do you need to prepare to avoid problems with regulators, you have to address equal employment issues from a public relations standpoint.

For example, Google’s annual shareholders meeting was disrupted in May by angry demonstrators led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, protesting the low number of blacks, Latinos and members of other minority groups hired by the search engine giant. In response to the criticism, Google announced that it would make transparent the number of minority employees it has hired, according to a recent report in the San Jose Mercury News.

Any private employer with 15 or more employees working 20 or more weeks each year is subject to federal law regarding Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Complying with these requirements includes treating everyone fairly no matter what their religion, sex, race, national origin or disability, noted a recent article in the Houston Chronicle. The best approach is to establish a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment. This means disciplining employees who fail to meet your anti-discrimination policies so you can prevent violations from occurring.

Part of planning ahead includes setting up a records retention program. You must maintain records (payroll, benefits plans and any records of your merit system) for a year after terminating an employee in order to remain in compliance with the equal employment regulations. Details about your pay rates must be stored for two years.

It’s also a good idea to verify that your applicant tracking system is always updated to the latest version. For example, the application tracking system from Newton has an enhancement to take into account all applicable changes to Section 503 and VEVRAA regulations. It improves the voluntary self-identification capability to accommodate the rights of war veterans, for example, and explains the application process better to your job applicants.

Prudent hiring managers will want to make every effort to plan ahead to avoid running into any pitfalls in complying with EEOC and OFCCP requirements as they recruit and take on new employees. This is essential both in terms of avoiding discrimination lawsuits and damaging your reputation in the marketplace.

Are You Hiring The Top Minds of a New Generation?

May 9th, 2014 by jpassen No comments »

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.