Do: Use Social Media for Recruiting. Don’t: Violate EEOC Compliance.

April 25th, 2014 by David Rothschild No comments »

Social Media RecruitingHiring managers are increasingly turning to social media to help with the research and recruitment process. Services like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter make it easy for people to put their best foot forward before even having submitted a resume or a cover letter, as recruiters scour social networks. In fact, a 2013 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 77 percent of SHRM members use social media to recruit candidates, which is up from 56 percent in 2011.

However, if you rely too much on social media to find new talent, you may be exposing your company to legal risks and scrutiny from the EEOC, according to a recent report by Michael Bologna at Bloomberg BNA.

Bologna notes that employers who use social media channels may be accessing protected class information that they could use to inappropriately disqualify candidates. This could wind up subjecting them to civil rights complaints under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

What’s more, by focusing on social media, hiring managers may create barriers to the recruitment process, with the idea being that a lack of access to social media, computers and the Internet could make it harder for people to compete for jobs.

The EEOC is not issuing guidance on social media usage in recruitment. However, to offset potential risks, a good approach for companies is to erect a firewall between hiring managers and recruiters and to have a designated person in HR who is trained in the legal ramifications of using information about candidates that has been obtained via social networks. Hiring managers themselves should not use social media for screening, noted Bologna.

In terms of hiring, social media really shines when companies use it to define and display their corporate culture, notes a recent report at the Undercover Recruiter. Your employees can refer to their own networks as they reach out to interested candidates, for example, and you will gain greater access to both passive and active job seekers.

It’s important to not rely entirely on social media to get out the word, however tempting and cost-effective it might seem. Companies shouldn’t put their vacancy ads on Twitter alone, for example, as they are only limiting their exposure.

When you do use social media, remember that you should only focus on publicly available information and not demand access to applicants’ social media account passwords to learn more about them. Such a request is a violation of the law in 12 states and may run afoul of the Stored Communications Act nationwide.

It’s clear that new software and technology, such as those used to underpin social media, can be quite disruptive to the way we do business. While social media is a great way for companies to discover promising new candidates to hire and can help extend their brand among networks of friends, it’s a good idea to be cautious and only use information that you are sure you are legally allowed to use.

Hiring to Address Your Company’s Weaknesses

April 11th, 2014 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by jpassen No comments »

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.

How To Use Video to Improve Your Hiring Process

February 7th, 2014 by David Rothschild No comments »

video for hiringAlthough nothing can truly replace face-to-face meetings when recruiting and hiring new employees, human resources professionals will want to consider the benefits of using video to improve the hiring process.

With the advent of affordable video creation tools along with affordable (or free) submission and storage of clips via the sites like YouTube or Vimeo, it’s never been easier to use videos in the HR world.

When you use video, you no longer have to limit yourself to reading resumes and written responses to questions from applicants. Modern computers and smartphones with built-in cameras make it easy for job seekers to see your questions and submit their responses quickly and efficiently.

Show Videos, Ask Questions

You can incorporate embedded videos in the job descriptions that you place on your career portal to great effect, notes a recent article at ExactHire.

Showcase video testimonials from current employees and show details about your city to entice people to move to your location. Some HR professionals will provide safety videos or clips that show details about a particular job, and then ask applicants to answer questions about what they just viewed to help them weed out less-than-desirable candidates.  In addition, sites like YouTube make embedding video into a site extremely easy.

Record Your Own Video Questions

What are you looking for in a new recruit? To get started answering this type of question, you can use equipment that you already own, such as your laptop or desktop computer or a tablet or smartphone. Make sure there is adequate lighting and record your video in a quiet environment.

Remember to consider the context of your video. A good option is to record the videos in your HR office as you sit in front of a non-cluttered background (pictures on the wall, a company logo or a bookshelf are suitable).

If you don’t feel comfortable posing the questions yourself and there is no one else at your organization to make the videos, you can always use pre-recorded video questions created by professional actors.

Get a Better Sense of Job Applicants

Many people have the skills to look good on paper, and those who don’t can hire experts to help them polish their resumes and responses to questions.

Videos enable HR professionals to get a much better sense of an applicant and eliminate candidates who only look good on paper, notes a recent article at CIO.

This is especially useful when considering applicants for jobs that require good people skills and presentation abilities. Does the person mumble or speak clearly? Does he or she maintain eye contact with the camera while appearing relaxed, alert and professional? First impressions can be much more significant in video than text on the printed page or computer screen.

Screen Videos Quickly and Forward them to Stakeholders

You can zip through an enormous amount of videos fairly quickly, notes a recent article at Crain’s New York Business. Just as casting directors can quickly say “Next!” to actors who aren’t quite right for a movie part, HR professionals can typically spot an unsuitable candidate fairly early in the video and move on to the next one.

Once you’ve selected the most promising videos, you can forward them or their links to stakeholders in your organization to continue the evaluation process.

Hiring managers should take advantage of all available tools to help them do their jobs better. Using videos will definitely expand your capability to find the best and most talented recruits for your organization.

Avoid Paying for Bad Hires in 2014

January 23rd, 2014 by David Rothschild No comments »

paying for bad hiresThere’s an old adage in carpentry about how you will benefit if you “measure twice, cut once,” which speaks volumes about the importance of taking your time to do the job right the first time. It also applies to the decisions that you make when recruiting and hiring applicants for jobs at your organization.

Hiring managers need to take their time as they evaluate recruits to avoid paying for bad hires in 2014, as so many companies have done in the past year. Bad hiring decisions can amount to as much as 30 percent of a recruit’s earnings during the first year, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

What’s more, besides becoming a drag on the company’s profits, a bad hire can reduce your team’s morale and productivity, as fellow employees have to take time out of their day to train a fellow worker who really has no business being at the company.

The cost of bad hires can quickly add up, according to a recent interview with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos at Business Insider. Bad hires amount to the biggest category of mistakes, costing Zappos in excess of $100 million, said Hsieh.

The Zappos method for avoiding bad hires now includes using two sets of interviews, Hsieh said. The first set is conducted by the hiring manager, to determine if the potential candidate is a good fit for the team in terms of criteria such as relevant experience and technical ability. A second set of interviews serves to make sure that the job applicant fits in well with the company’s culture. People must pass both interviews before they can be hired.

Ultimately, the total costs of making a bad hire can really mount up. There are hiring costs, compensation and the cost of maintaining the employee. Combine this with disruption costs, a severance package and mistakes, missed business opportunities and failures that will wind up costing an organization as much as $840,000, using the example of a second-tier manager earning $62,000 per year who is terminated after 2.5 years, according to statistics provided by the Undercover Recruiter.

Techniques for Avoiding Bad Hires

Hiring managers have a variety of techniques they can implement to avoid making bad hires. For example, it never hurts to prepare “too much.” A great job applicant will do extensive research before coming in for interviews, and hiring managers should do the same. If you’re hiring for a technical position, it’s a good idea to speak with a member of your team who is an expert in the area to get specific advice on questions to ask the recruit, notes a recent article at Linkedin.

See how the applicant treats everyone in your company. Ask the receptionist whether the job seeker treated him or her courteously or rudely. This is a good way to see how candidates will fit in at your business. Combine this insight with any clues you can glean from the recruit’s social media pages, such as Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds.

To see if your candidates are paying attention, Business Insider recommends that recruiters insert an unconventional request in the job application, such as a list of three websites that the candidate often visits. The idea here is that if there is no response or only an incomplete answer, it’s not worth your time to conduct an interview.  By focusing more time on your recruitment techniques, you can avoid having to pay so much for bad hires in 2014.

Need to Hire Engineers Fast?

January 10th, 2014 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 by David Rothschild No comments »

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 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.