Posts Tagged ‘hiring’

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

August 22nd, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Will Machines be our Next Hiring Managers?

October 18th, 2013

automated hiring managerWe are becoming increasingly reliant on machines to take care of so many tasks for us, with computers making suggestions for what next books we should buy online, or what movies we might want to watch next via a streaming video service. Robots assist workers putting together cars on the factory floor assembly line, and some of these cars may be eventually driving themselves rather than relying on humans for navigation and control.

It seems no industry is immune to the effects of computer automation, and this includes area of hiring and employee recruitment. A number of companies are now creating online questionnaires and even video games to help them measure attributes that they are seeking in potential job applicants, according to a recent article at Bloomberg.

With computers able to sift through massive amounts of information more quickly and efficiently than ever before, data mining is enabling companies to automate their processes when it comes to finding the right talent to fill jobs.

It may seem inevitable for us to rely more on automated systems to help us respond to the influx of job applicants. Constant access to mobile phones and the Internet has made it much easier for people to search for and apply to more jobs, which only increases the workload of human resources professionals.

Pros and Cons to the Machine Takeover

There are a number of benefits to using machines to help with the hiring process. For example, hiring managers need to use tools to help them manage the huge torrent of data unleashed by people applying for work, or they stand to miss out on finding the right candidate at the right time.

As many as 3.7 million jobs were not filled in July, the article notes, despite the fact that in excess of 11 million people were looking for work in the U.S., according to statistics from the Labor Department.

Erik Juhl, the head of talent at video advertising startup Vungle Inc. in San Francisco, will start using an online game to help track and record the actions of online players to measure how likely they will be a high performer at a new job.

Evolv is a human resources computer model that helps companies better evaluate their candidates for hourly positions with an online questionnaire.

Drawbacks to using “automated hiring” systems like this include substituting a computer algorithm for your own judgment when it comes to evaluating fresh talent. A program will not be able to determine how well a salesperson functions under high-pressure social situations,  while a seasoned recruiter can make such an evaluation during the course of an in-person interview.

Another problem is that automated systems haven’t been around enough for us to be able to track how well they can do at predicting the long-term performance of applicants, the article notes.

So, while completely automated software can help you filter job applicants for the ability to cover certain  tasks when recruiting to fill positions, these systems are not yet ready to completely replace such time-proven methods of evaluation as the face-to-face interview. This is especially the case for salaried positions that require some nuance, such as how well a candidate might ‘fit in’ with the rest of a team.

The future of hiring may not ever wind up being completely automated, but recruiters and hiring managers can still take advantage of some of these automated tools to assist them in their recruitment process.  The best of both worlds is likely the current solution; a live human being (recruiter or hiring manager) utilizing high tech recruitment software to make their job more efficient.  In this scenario, the software can best handle the data by efficiently finding, processing, organizing and checking on potential candidates, while the person can do what he/she does best – handle face-to-face interviews and provide a ‘human touch’ that could not currently be outsourced to a machine.  In a sense, a recruiting ‘android’ that utilizes the best assets of human and machine is an optimal solution.

Looking for Talent: Inside or Outside Your Organization?

September 6th, 2013

hire internally or externallyMichael Ducy’s article “Hire Goats, Not Outside DevOps Engineers” on advocates sourcing candidates from within an organization rather than externally. He compares DevOps, with their unique blend of bridge-building and multi-disciplinary skills, to goats, which constantly test limits and boundaries when they are fenced in.

Goat analogy aside, Ducy hits home in the crux of the matter: can an outsider really make effective cultural changes in an organization? In making the decision to re-position employees or hire externally, you must consider organizational health and culture as well as the specific job requirements.

Sourcing from Within the Organization

Promoting from within saves costs and time just in terms of the recruiting process. Other advantages are:

  • Candidate knows the organization and its structure
  • Connections and relationships already exist
  • Candidate is a proven asset
  • Improved employee morale as peers recognize career opportunities; retention tool
  • Better acceptance of new ideas within existing team

On the negative side, you’re drawing from a smaller talent pool. There is also the risk of stagnancy, training and learning curve time.

A well-developed and strategic succession plan will help identify candidates for open positions. Besides experience and technical expertise, the plan should include soft skills like leadership and teamwork strengths as well as the ability to negotiate and build bridges.

Hiring Externally

An external candidate can be a catalyst for change in processes, and can also:

  • Bring more experience and education to the job, as well as up-to-date technical knowledge
  • Have a fresh outlook with new energy and new ideas
  • Reduce your training needs

However, external searches are costly and time-consuming. The incumbent will need to learn the organization’s culture and structure. Morale could dwindle as other employees see fewer promotional opportunities and resist new ideas. Dealing with an unknown may be risky in terms of experience and performance.

Is there a middle ground? Perhaps an employee referral of an external candidate would be the best of both worlds. Your employee could judge the fit as he knows the candidate as well as the organization and its culture.  In addition, employee referral programs often provide good incentives to those employees that the referral stems from, which can also improve morale.

Is There Only One Answer?

Of course not. Each hiring decision must be made based on a position’s requirements and overall organizational health. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I concerned about retaining key leaders? Is our organizational culture very strong? Is employee morale and acceptance of new ideas important? Think about repositioning from within.
  • Is it a turnaround role? Do I want a catalyst for change? Do we need to invigorate the function with new competencies? Consider looking externally.

Whether you promote from within or hire externally, always seek the best candidate from the job, not only for experience and technical skills but also for organization and cultural fit.

Should All New Hires Know How to Code?

June 10th, 2013

hiring developersHR professionals need to constantly evaluate the standards by which they judge potential recruits for their firms, especially when it comes to all things digital. For hiring managers and recruiters working in the areas of digital media, marketing and the tech space, an emerging question is whether all new hires should know how to code, or at least be a little bit savvy with computer programming.

It does make sense that hiring managers should know how to look for this ability, even if they are hiring a person for an open position in a very different field, because nowadays, everything does boil back down to the basics of coding.

Unfortunately, programming knowledge and skills are decidedly lacking amongst college graduates in the United States, and bosses in tech firms are becoming less likely to hire those who don’t understand computer programming, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Kirk McDonald, president of PubMatic, a Manhattan ad tech company. McDonald points out that high school students in the U.S. are being educated in a school system with eight times as many football teams as schools that offer advanced placement classes in computer science.

At the university level, McDonald notes, 40,000 students are expected to graduate with a B.A. in computer science, while experts predict that companies will establish 120,000 jobs requiring this type of training, which means that there will only be enough graduates to fill one-third of computer science-related positions.

McDonald doesn’t mean to imply that all students need to become hard-core programmers. He suggests that at the very least, students should learn the basics of programming so that they can understand the principles of computer coding in the course of their non-computing jobs.

For example, a recent hire is meeting with a client who wants to know how long it will take to complete a digital project. Without a fundamental grasp of the work that programmers and engineers do, the hire will not be able to give the client a good answer and will have to settle for guessing, which isn’t good for anyone.

Even people who work in sales, marketing or other relatively non-technical departments should familiarize themselves with basic computer language skills.

As a recruiter, you are advised to determine whether your job candidates know at least something about the logic and grammar of computer languages, so they will be able to see their work flow in context.


Bad Hires Will Cost Your Company

May 16th, 2013

avoid bad hiring practicesA lot of work can go into finding and hiring the best people for your organization, as any beleaguered human resources professional can attest. However, hard work is required in all cases – there are no shortcuts to making great hires. No successful company is going to rely on blind luck and wishful thinking when it comes to adding new employees to their roster. In fact, bad hires will cost you plenty, according to a recent report in Quartz.

Approximately 60 percent of employers throughout the world have indicated that they made a bad hire last year, notes a recently released CareeerBuilder survey of 6,000-plus hiring managers and human resources personnel.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive. It shows that a large proportion of companies reporting that they hired employees who wound up performing poorly or were otherwise a bad fit are located in Russia (88 percent), Brazil (87 percent) and China (87 percent).

The percentage in the United States is about 66 percent, the same amount as in Italy. Bad hiring numbers are a little better in the UK, where 62 percent of managers reported they wound up with problematic employees, followed by 59 percent in Japan, 58 percent in Germany and just 53 percent in France. The report did not indicate how many of these bad hires had already been fired.

One reason for the large percentage of bad hires in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) was because companies in these highly competitive, emerging markets are scrambling to hire from a smaller pool of qualified candidates.

HR professionals cited a rush to fill the job as being the main reason for making hiring mistakes. The second biggest reason was what the survey called “insufficient talent intelligence.”

The negative results of these bad hires include a reduction in employee morale, poor relations with clients, dwindling sales and increased costs to hire new workers. Most companies pointed to losses in productivity because of their poor hiring choices.

Some 29 percent of human resources managers in India indicated that their bad hires wound up costing them at least $37,150, while their counterparts in China said their loss was $8,734. About 25 percent of American managers reported that the cost of a bad hire is more than $50,000.

Given the fact that bad hires will typically lead to your company losing a lot of time, money and effort, it’s prudent to make sure your HR department exercises due diligence when searching for, qualifying and recruiting new employees. In the long run, it’s better to do the work up front and make sure you are hiring the best people, rather than working harder to clean up after the mess that’s left from hiring under performing workers.