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    Entries in Recruiting (195)

    Monday
    Jun042018

    If not enough candidates fail your drug screening, maybe the problem is you not them

    While catching up over the weekend on the latest from Willamette (Oregon), Week, (I mean, who doesn't spend at least part of their Sunday catching up on all things Willamette?), I hit this beauty of a headline - Oregon is Running Out of Workers Who Can Pass a Drug Test.

    Since I think from the headline of the piece you probably have an idea where this is going, so I won't bother setting it up too much and just take you to the money quote from our friends in Willamette:

    “One labor issue that continues to crop up is drug testing. At least anecdotally, more firms are reporting trouble finding workers who can pass a drug test,” the economists write.

    Ok, so maybe I should have set up the quote a little. Oregon, like a lot of the rest of the country, is seeing unemployment levels at almost twenty year lows - about 4.0%. That, coupled with Oregon's decriminalization of marijuana for most uses in 2014, and many employer's slow reaction to changing existing and traditional screening practices has led to a bit of a conundrum in the Beaver State - plenty of open jobs, and also plenty of candidates who are 'failing' old-school employment drug screens.

    As the trend/tendency for more and more states to adopt more permissive laws concerning recreational drug use - typically marijuana - I think organizations still conducting pre-employment drug screens and who are facing a shortage of 'acceptable' candidates in these states have three main options as to how to proceed:

    (Note, all of the rest of this assumes jobs/roles that are not directly in public safety domains, i.e. I am not going to advocate that airline pilots for example are not screened for drug use)

    1. Do nothing - What at least some employers in Oregon and elsewhere are doing. Maintain your strict policy of pre-employment drug screening, knowing that in places like Oregon you will effectively screen out more and more candidates as time/social mores evolve. The potential positive? Not everyone is so permissive about recreational drug use, and you might be able to score some points with that crowd - both candidates and customers. "We're the drug-free burger place" - that kind of thing.

    2. Better segment their jobs and screening protocols - Ok in almost every organization there exists some jobs that are more, say, 'sensitive' than others. The payroll manager has access to lots more information (and can do more damage if she chooses), than say, the person who manages the cafeteria. The point is that not all jobs in the organization need to have the same strict pre-employment screening protocols. And chances are you know that, the CEO knows that, everyone knows that. If you are an employer facing 'clean pee' issues, maybe its time to think about how universal your policy needs to be?

    3. Throw in the towel - Or, said differently, let a little bit more of the world in, realize you are recruiting (largely in Oregon), from a candidate pool who considers recreational pot use just fine, (and by the way is also legal). Sure, make or continue to enforce 'on the job' rules of conduct as you see fit, no one is arguing that, but let go of this kind of old-fashioned idea of having a 'drug-free' workforce. Because you know what? You don't have one of those anyway, despite whatever rules or policies you have. Said differently - a drug-free 'workplace' is your right (and the right thing to have), and drug-free 'workforce' is more or less none of your business and is out of your control.

    Organizations usually often are slow in adapting to changes in the world around them. The great Grant McCracken wrote recently that "organizations are great at keeping things out, not so great at letting things in", (I might be paraphrasing a bit, but that is the gist.

    The smart HR/talent leader not only know what is happening out there, they also know how their talent strategies have to adapt. Even in Oregon.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    May252018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 322 - Connecting Veterans with Job Opportunities

    HR Happy Hour 322 - Connecting Veterans with Job Opportunities

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse: www.virginpulse.com

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Zach Iscol, Hirepurpose

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve is joined by Zach Iscol, a combat decorated Marine Officer, and the founder and CEO of Hirepurpose, a platform that connects employers with veterans, helps veterans and transitioning service members make the adjustment to the civilian workplace, and helps companies and organizations find and hire from this often under-utilized pool of incredible talent.

    More than 250K people transition out of the military each year, and they represent a deep, diverse, talented, and highly valuable pool of talent for organizations today - most of whom are struggling to fill positions in this climate of low unemployment and more job openings than ever.

    Zach shared his perspective on the skills, traits, and characteristics that transitioning service members offer to the the job market, tips and ideas on how employers can better engage with this rich source of talent, and how Hirepurpose helps both veterans and employers to make connections and fill important roles - benefiting both the employer and the service member.

    Listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a really interesting and I think important show - thanks so much to Zach for his service and for what he and the team at Hirepurpose are doing to help our veterans, our companies, and our country.

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Wednesday
    May232018

    One reason there are so many open jobs in the USA right now

    The very best macro-economic report that helps to shine a light on current labor market conditions is the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary) report.

    The JOLTS report covers job openings, hires, total separations, quits, layoffs, and other discharges, and offers us lots of interesting data points to better understand the US labor market - and by proxy, the health of the US economy.

    Last month's JOLTS release, on May 8, included one pretty remarkable number in its summary - the number of job openings in the US as of the end of April had risen to 6.6 million - an all time high since the data series began to be compiled in 2000. 6.6 million open and unfilled jobs. That is a lot of openings. No wonder every time I go out I see a bunch of 'Help Wanted' signs.

     

    Jobs stay open, or perhaps better said, remain unfilled, for a whole bunch of reasons - most of them pretty good reasons. Taking time to sort, screen, and interview candidates; trouble finding the right skill set for specific roles; companies taking the extra steps to really be sure a candidate is a good fit before making a hire - these and more are all decent reasons why jobs stay open.

    But I have another reason, and some research, I want to point you to that is another reason why some jobs remain open, and open longer than perhaps they should be. It's the concept of 'degree inflation' - the tendency of employers to require that candidates possess more advanced educational degrees than the job function truly requires, and that many candidates simply do not have.

    Over the weekend I read a really interesting report on the subject of degree inflation, what it means, where and how often it is occurring, how it negatively impacts the organization, and finally, offering some suggestions for employers to avoid unnecessary degree inflation when hiring.

    The report, titled 'Dismissed by Degrees: How degree inflation is undermining U.S. competitiveness and hurting America's middle class'by authors Joseph B. Fuller and Manjari Raman, both from the Harvard Business School, is an interesting and deep look at just what happens when companies try to use artificial degree requirements as a screening tool and a proxy for candidate skills and suitability for a given role.

    This is a long report, and I definitely encourage you take some time and read it through, but here are the top three most interesting points or pull quotes from the study that I want to share.

    1. In an analysis of more than 26 million job postings, we found that the degree gap (the discrepancy between the demand for a college degree in job postings and the employees who are currently in that job who have a college degree) is significant. For example, in 2015, 67% of production supervisor job postings asked for a college degree, while only 16% of employed production supervisors had one.

    2. Seeking college graduates makes many middle skills jobs harder to fill, and once hired, college graduates demonstrate higher turnover rates and lower engagement levels. A systemic view of the total economics of hiring college graduates shows that companies should be extraordinarily cautious before raising credential requirements for middle skill positions and should not gravitate toward college graduates based only on a vague notion that it might improve the quality of their workforce.

    3. Degree inflation particularly hurts populations with college graduation rates lower than the national average, such as Blacks and Hispanics, age 25 years and older. In addition, degree inflation raises the barriers to entry for Opportunity Youth, the nearly six million young adults who are currently not in school or in jobs. Companies that insist only on a college degree deny themselves the untapped potential of eager to work young adults as well as experienced, older workers as pools of affordable talent.

    Really interesting and plenty to think about in just those three short pull quotes from the report. Even when current holders of a given role in the organization largely do not hold college or advanced degrees, many companies try to require said degrees for new hires into the same role. Then when companies do manage to hire candidates that are say, 'over-degreed' for a role they have to pay them more, the new hires are less engaged, and are more likely to leave - driving up costs and starting the entire process all over. And finally, imposing artificial degree requirements on roles effectively screens out groups of candidates disproportionately and may make any organizational diversity hiring initiatives even harder to progress.

    The conclusion of the report does offer some solid suggestions to reduce or eliminate the degree inflation tendency, (chiefly having a better understanding of the critical skills and competencies needed to perform in a given role, and a broader understanding of how candidates can demonstrate these skills), I won't run through them all here, but take a few minutes to read through them as I think most organizations can pretty easily take steps to better understand this issue and make adjustments and changes to their hiring practices.

    There are 6.6 million job openings in the US right now. I bet a fair number of them have 'Bachelors Degree' listed as a requirement, when, if we were to be honest, it isn't really required.

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    May212018

    The challenge of recruiting for a job we think is going away

    If there is one job in the American labor force that presents an incredibly interesting, complex, and important case study on supply and demand, price economics, the impact of automation on work, and the current and future labor force it is the job of commercial truck driver.

    A couple of important statistics to keep in mind before we wade into some of the details that make commercial trucking so darn interesting, (at least to labor market and automation geeks like me).

    According to the American Trucking Association there are about 3.5 million commercial truck drivers in the US. And 71% of all the freight tonnage in the country is moved by truck. Finally, according to the BLS, truck drivers earn an average of about $24 an hour, and have an average age of about 55 years old.

    There are a couple of other factors specific to commercial trucking that tend to make it a difficult job to perform and to recruit for - traditionally new entrants have had to fund their own, expensive training and certification, for new drivers, the hours and time away from home are significant, the job itself is stressful, hard, and tends to foster really unhealthy habits, (poor sleep, fast-food, little exercise), and finally, and perhaps most importantly, commercial truck driving has been increasingly seen as being a job that can and will soon be replaced and disrupted by automation. Estimates of the impact of automation on commercial truck driving vary, but one representative example from Goldman Sachs, estimates that as many as 300K trucking jobs will be lost annually, once self-driving trucks become more widely adopted.

    Factor all of this in, the hard lifestyle, the relatively low pay, the looming threat of automation making many of these jobs redundant - oh, I didn't even mention the federal regulations making most of these jobs not available to workers under 21 and the strong market for alternative jobs in construction and energy luring many of the trucking industry's target candidates - and you would probably bet that the US economy is not producing as many new truck drivers as it has in the past.

    And you would be right. But the problem of many US companies, (and consumers), is that while we wait for Elon Musk's fleet of autonomous semi-trucks to take over American highways, and in the age of increasing demand for shipments (driven by the strong economy and Amazon Prime), the industry is seeing an increasing shortage of commercial truck drivers.

    Here's a chart from the American Trucking Association illustrating the problem facing the trucking industry shown as the estimate of unfilled truck driver jobs:

    According to the ATA's estimates, there could be as many as 180,000 trucking jobs unfilled within 10 years. And that kind of a shortfall, should it indeed play out that way, will have a pretty significant ripple effect throughout large swaths of the economy.

    Wages and benefits for truckers, which have been increasing steadily, will have to continue to rise. The transportation companies will have to pass these costs to their customers - manufacturers and retailers and commodity producers - who will past them on to their customers, who will pass them on to you and I. And the development timeline for the kinds of autonomous trucks that might stand in for the human truck drivers will have to accelerate.

    But in the meantime, at least the next 5 or 10 years, if the current trends hold, the US economy and labor market is going to have to find a way to recruit and retain more truck drivers. And lately, it seems like the transportation and other companies have not really cracked the code on just how to do that.

    A tough job, with lots of stress, with relatively poor to average pay, that we keep writing breathless stories about how it will soon be made obsolete by technology, with an aging cohort of workers currently in place, might represent the toughest recruiting challenge in recent memory.

    Sure, everyone likes to think 'tech' recruiting is hard, and it probably is. But I would wager a good commercial trucking recruiter would be worth their weight in whatever it is their company needs to get from one side of the country to the other.

    Anyone out there doing this kind of recruiting? Would love to hear how it is going on the front lines.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Apr272018

    In praise of the ordinary job ad

    We are probably all a little tired of or at least raise a cynical eyebrow when we see yet another job posting advertising an amazing work culture, fast-paced environment, incredible colleagues, and off the charts compensation and perks. We all know that every job ad is a kind of marketing message, so a little bit of hype and exaggeration is kind of a given and kind of expected and accepted. But at the same time most all of us with even just a little bit of work experience know that not every workplace can be a Top/Great/Awesome/Admired place to work, not every job is actually a great opportunity, and not every workplace is blessed with a great, supportive culture.

    Sometimes a job is just a job. And there is nothing wrong with that. Beats watching Cable news all day.

    And in the spirit of the acknowledgement that sometimes a job is just a job, even one that seems as cool an opportunity as being a teacher in a university, I want to share this story, seen on the excellent Sixth Tone site, of how one average university in China has decided to advertise on very average job opportunity.

    From the piece on Sixth Tone:

    A recruitment notice from a university in southwestern China impressed readers with its bluntness on Tuesday, and has been shared on social media as “the most honest job ad.”

    The ad from Xingyi Normal University for Nationalities in Guizhou province seeks teaching staff who hold doctoral degrees in languages and linguistics. It begins by introducing the college as a “very, very ordinary” institution that is not part of any prestigious national tertiary education leagues and describes the salary and conditions as simply “standard.”

    The perk, however, is that the role is fairly undemanding. “There’s not too much pressure and no research obligations; it’s entirely up to you whether you want to apply for projects or publish articles — if you just want to teach classes, that’s fine,” the advertisement says, adding: “The students here are comparatively unsophisticated … don’t teach anything too esoteric that they might not be able to absorb.” The post also includes some attractive features about the city of Xinyi — such as the low price of beef - 35 yuan a pound cheaper than in other cities.

    I have to admit I love this ad for its bluntness and self-awareness.

    An 'ordinary' institution offering a 'standard' job with 'average' compensation, but having the benefit of being 'undemanding' and serving 'unsophisticated' customers/students.

    While on the one hand you would think a job ad of this type would only attract 'B' or 'C' type candidates, (and you could also argue that any 'A' player or top talent would not be happy in a role like this), the University has actually reported that the responses so far to this honest, ordinary ad have been really positive.

    According to reports, the Dean of the University had received many inquiries, including ones from graduates of some of China's top schools.

    So maybe this honest job ad, seeking candidates for an average job at a standard rate of pay where the successful candidate won't have to work too hard might just achieve for the University just exactly what any job ad is meant to do. Attract not necessarily the 'best' candidates, but rather the 'right' ones.

    Do your job ads manage to accomplish that?

    Have a great weekend!