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    Entries in Recruiting (137)

    Tuesday
    Mar312015

    Candidate Advice You Should Not Share With Your Candidates

    Back in the 1970s and early 1980s after a spate of run-ins with the law and arrests and general bad behavior amongst members of his Oklahoma University football team, then-coach Barry Switzer was asked by a reporter what he planned to do about better controlling player's off-field conduct. Switzer, probably out of frustration, and the fact that that morning another player had been arrested for assault, is said to have replied "Frankly I am not sure what else I can do, short of putting up a sign in the locker room that says "Committing a felony is against team policy"."

    Switzer's point was that he should not have to remind the players of really obvious things - things every decent person just knows to be true, regardless of who they are or how experienced they might be. I thought of that old story when I saw another version of the endlessly repeated 'Advice to job candidates' tips pieces, that includes, among other nuggets, a recommendation to 'Be nice to the receptionist' when showing up for a job interview.

    That advice is terrible. Not because candidates shouldn't be nice to the receptionist, rather because no decent person, yet alone candidate, should have to be reminded to be nice to the receptionist, or anyone else. In fact, as an employer you would not want to artificially inject fake 'niceness' into a candidate who otherwise would not be nice. It would be better to catch them being an ass and reject them up front, rather than get duped by some fake interview day charm and learn only later how much of a jerk they really are.

    So with that said, here are my Top 3 pieces of candidate advice you should not share with candidates:

    1. Be nice to the receptionist/security guard/limo driver - sort of covered above, but worth repeating. No one, once they are older than about 9, should have to be reminded to be 'nice.' In fact, 'nice', needs to be the default setting. You should expect more than 'nice' from people that you really want to be around for more than 3 minutes at a time. Translated - I can accept 'nice' from the Starbucks barista, people I am going to work closely with for 40 hours a week had better be damn nice, if you get my meaning.

    2. Show up on time, be dressed appropriately, take a shower before the interview - Everything that falls into the category of 'Basic rules of conduct in a civilized society' should not be repeated under the mantle of candidate advice. The only exception possibly being when advising students preparing for their first experience in an interview setting, where some coaching on dress/conduct might be warranted. For everyone else though, if a candidate needs to be reminded to skip the flip-flops for the interview, then you should just let that candidate flip-flop on out of your office.

    3. Research the company/industry prior to the interview - 'Normal' people will read 27 reviews on Yelp before choosing a lunch restaurant and scour page after page of Amazon ratings while considering which pair of earbuds to buy. So we have to remind candidates to know something about the company they are about to interview with? If a candidate turned up for an interview less informed about your company than they were about the last season of The Walking Dead, then again, you want to catch that lack of intellectual curiosity and conscientiousness up front.

    I am sure if we really wanted to we could dredge up several more pieces of 'Candidate Advice' that are really just 'How to behave like a decent human being' tips, but you get the idea. Not taking a cell phone call in the middle of the interview probably deserves a mention too, but I think you get the idea.

    You don't want to coach your candidates to be decent human beings, you want your process to allow those 'not decent' folks to reveal themselves before you make the mistake of hiring them.

    Otherwise, you could find yourself tacking a 'Committing a felony is against company policy' sign on the break room wall.

    Monday
    Feb232015

    WEBINAR: Six Ways to Make Your Recruiting/Talent Metrics More Strategic

    Your friends and mine over at Fistful of Talent are back with the 2015 debut of the often-imitated but never surpassed FOT Webinar - this one titled Six Ways to Make Your Recruiting/Talent Metrics More Strategic – And Make Managers Own Their New Hires - sponsored by Chequed.com, set for Thursday, February 26th at 2pm EST.

    Why should you take time out of a busy Thursday to hang out with the FOT crew for an hour?

    Let's face it---the recruiting metrics you use at your company are either non-existent or stale.  Sure, you tried to roll out the basics---time to hire, cost per hire---but all that did was put the focus on your HR/Recruiting function, not the people who actually make the final hiring decision.  Flash forward 12 months since the launch of those basic recruiting metrics, and you're bored... heck, everyone's bored.

    Not to fear! The FREE FOT webinar, Six Ways to Make Your Recruiting/Talent Metrics More Strategic – And Make Managers Own Their New Hires, was made to help (and to make you look like a superstar).

    What will the FOT gang cover?

    1. A review of the traditional talent selection/recruiting metrics.  We'll give you a rundown of those metrics like Time To Fill and Cost Per Hire, what the standard benchmarks are for each and then explain why only using these traditional metrics is a lost cause/suckers play.

    2. An explanation of the Holy Grail of reporting Recruiting Effectiveness and why it changes the conversation from "Did we fill the position?" to "Did we make the right hire and what happened once we filled the position?". We call this metric Hiring Manager Batting Average (HMBA for those of you that need an acronym), and it's the cleanest, most all-encompassing metric you can have to make your internal recruiting conversation strategic---not transactional---and actually make it tie in to your overall talent strategy, not just Talent Acquisition.

    3. How to change the dialog of organizational turnover from being an HR problem to being everyone's problem. Admit it, you report on turnover all the time. We'll show you how to link turnover to your selection process in a way that spreads the wealth related to turnover responsibility---and actually sets you up to be more consultative and less reactive related to employee churn.

    4. We'll give you 5 additional metrics to show how your recruiting/staffing process actually reduces risk of bad hires and prepares for future searches.  You need to get out of the trap of only reporting cost and time.  We've got the metrics to show you how to do that.

    Convinced yet?

    Things that are hard:  Riding a bike on a freeway. Getting your kids to eat peas. Getting managers to own the bad hires they make and be interested in getting better at selection.  Join for Six Ways to Make Your Recruiting/Talent Metrics More Strategic – And Make Managers Own Their New Hires on Thursday, February 26th at 2pm EST, and we'll show you how to create recruiting/talent metrics that get the attention of your organization.  You're on your own with the other two.

    REGISTER HERE:

    Tuesday
    Oct212014

    Talent Attraction: The Real Reason to Keep Top Talent

    A few months ago I posted a recap of 'Why Stars Matter', a recent study out of the National Bureau of Economic Research that concluded the most important contribution that so-called 'Top Talent' makes to an organization is that they increase the organization's ability to recruit even more Top Talent.

    Here is an excerpt from my piece from April, then I will hit you with the reason why I wanted to revisit this topic today:

    ------------------------------------------------

    A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study titled Why Stars Matter, has attempted to identify just what are these 'top talent' effects. It turns out that just being better at their jobs only accounts for a part of the advantage these high performers provide and that possibly the more important benefit is how the presence of top talent impacts the other folks around them, (and the ones you are trying to recruit).

    Here is a summary of the findings of the 'top talent' effects from HBR:

    The researchers found that the superstar’s impact on recruiting was far and away the more significant driver of improved organizational productivity. Starting just one year after the superstar joins the department, the average quality of those who join the department at all levels increases significantly. As for the impact of a superstar on existing colleagues, the findings are more mixed. Incumbents who work on topics related to those the superstar focused on saw their output increase, but incumbents whose work was unrelated became slightly less productive.

    So 'top talent' (mostly) gets to be called 'top talent' because they are simply better, more productive employees. But a significant benefit of these talented individuals is that they help you recruit more people like them, who in turn also are more productive than average, continuing to raise the overall performance level of the organization.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Back to October when we have from the world of sports, specifically the NBA, this effect of 'Top Talent as a recruiting magnet' playing out with one of the league's most well-known and successful teams, the Los Angeles Lakers, and superstars, 5-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant. Except in this case, if Henry Abbott's reporting on ESPN is accurate, the 'Top Talent', i.e. Kobe, is no longer attracting talent, he is in fact, serving to repel other top players (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, etc.), from even considering joining the Lakers when all three players had that option this off season.

    In Abbott's short video he essentially concludes that at this stage of his career, Kobe's personality, need to take most of the shots, (and claim all of the spotlight), and his past history of not being able to co-exist with other top players has made the Lakers, once the destination of choice for NBA legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Shaq, and Magic Johnson, into a place where no top player will consider playing for.

    It is worth watcing the quick (1:20) report from Abbott, even if you are not an NBA fan, just because it serves as a reminder of what the NBER talked about in their research. Once 'Top Talent' stops serving as a magnet for other top talent, then it is probably time to take a long, dispassionate look at what they are contributing to the organization overall. Not just in what they are producing themselves, but how they might be holding the organization hostage so to speak, if they are keeping away the next wave of star talent you need.

    Happy Tuesday.

    Tuesday
    Oct142014

    A warning about hiring too narrowly

    As an HR/Talent pro if you have been involved in the hiring process for software engineers or developers then it is likely you have run into this scenario when presented a hiring requirement from one of your managers:

    Find me someone really proficient in (one from a long list, doesn't really matter which one), Node, Django, jQuery, AngularJS, Redis, Ruby, etc. and I need him/her right away. So you set out to examine your ATS, check LinkedIn, StackOverflow, GitHub, the Starbucks over by your local University - whatever, and you secure the person that is proficient in skill 'X' , just like your hiring manager asked for. Sean Scully, Maesta 1983

    Everyone is happy, right? The candidate found an opportunity that matches their skills, the hiring manager got someone that knows the specific programming language that they need, and you can move this Req into the 'Closed' folder and see if anyone brought in any extra Halloween candy to the break room.

    But there could be a longer term problem with this kind of approach to hiring, it can result in something called 'Resume Driven Development', a condition where the products that get ultimately developed and provided to customers become a reflection not of the requirements of the customers, but of the capabilities/resumes of the developers that work on the project. 

    What this looks like is pretty thoroughly explained in this piece from the O'Reilly Radar blog:

    Resume Driven Development happens when your group needs to hire a developer. It’s very hard to tell a non-technical HR person that you need someone who can make good decisions about software architecture, someone who knows the difference between clean code and messy code, and someone who’s able to look at a code base and see what’s unnecessary and what can be simplified. We frequently can’t do that ourselves. So management says, “oh, we just added Redis to the application, so we’ll need a Redis developer.” That’s great — it’s easy to throw out resumes that don’t say Redis; it’s easy to look for certifications; and sooner or later, you have a Redis developer at a desk. Maybe even a good one.

    And what does your Redis developer do? He does Redis, of course. So, you’re bound to have an application with a lot of Redis in it. Whenever he sees a problem that can be solved with Redis, that’s what he’ll do. It’s what you hired him for. You’re happy; he’s happy. Except your application is now being optimized to fit the resumes of the people you hired, not the requirements of your users.

    The problem is that your team is optimized around the inability to communicate at a critical stage: the inability of a technical team to specify what they really want (a developer with good programming taste and instincts), and instead hiring someone who has a particular skill or credential. I suspect that Resume Driven Development is quite pervasive: an overly complex application stack that’s defined by the people you hired, and by the current toys that the “cool kids” on the programming block get to play with, not by the requirements of the application.

    A pretty good example and reminder that in hiring, as in the rest of life, you get what you pay for, or in this case, what you ask for.

    And I think this problem, or this tendency, might only get more likely over time as organizations try and move to more 'just-in-time' talent acquisition strategies that incorporate more and more contingent workers.

    It is not an easy problem to solve for sure. The natural or easy tendency is to try and define or simplify the hiring process into simple or discrete definitions. Hire Person 'A' with Skill 'B', to code in Product 'C', that kind of thing.

    But there is a definitely some advantages that can be accrued by expanding, at least somewhat, the requirements for both technical and even non-technical roles.  The warning though, that Resume Driven Development suggests, is that unless you know exactly what you will need, for at least the foreseeable future, then you are going to get forced into being locked in to a set of people and technologies that you may not want to be locked in with.

    Monday
    Aug042014

    Selling your non-glamorous city: 5 observations from 2 days in Cleveland

    I spent a couple of days last week in the lovely city of Cleveland, Ohio to attend the (really fun) DisruptHR Cleveland event, and then took some time doing a bit of a city tour with some really cool people, (see the pic on the right for the crew taken in the Cleveland Indials Social Suite, which was a fantastic place to catch a ball game from).

    Robin, Frank, Tammy, Trish, and me (L-R)

    One of the big themes that seemed to permeate everything about the visit to Cleveland was that just about everyone from Cleveland that I met was pretty heavily invested in convincing me (and everyone else), that Cleveland is, in fact, a really cool place to live, work, play, socialize, etc. Said differently, people from Cleveland are REALLY in to being from Cleveland. They love and are proud of their city, and try really hard to let you know how fantastic it is. Even though they seem to think that most of the rest of the world sees Cleveland as a kind of last century place and not one that holds much allure for non-natives.

    But I think there are probably some ways that are more effective than others in 'selling' your less than glamorous city to potential employees or investors. And since Cleveland is not unique among Midwest, Great Lakes, rust belt kinds of places with having a bit of an image problem, (the place I live, Rochester, NY is right in that mix), it makes sense that lots of HR/Talent pros have to sell their cities all the time. So based on two days of listening and learning from the good people of Cleveland, here are my top 5 observations on the best/worst ways to sell your non-sexy location to someone that is inclined to believe the worst about your beloved hometown:

    1. Don't constantly remind people that they already believe your city is horrible

    Lots of the conversations I had (and a few of the DisruptHR presentations too), seemed to start with a statement like "I know you think Cleveland is old/backward/dirty/boring/horrible/whatever, but I am going to tell you why you are wrong..." And then they would get into the specific elements and attributes of the city that were positive to try and change my (perceived) opinions about Cleveland. But what if I didn't actually have a negative pre-conception of Cleveland? What if I didn't know much at all about the city? Don't make the first notion in my head a negative one with a "I am sure you heard that Cleveland is terrible" statement. Just lead with the strengths and drop the 'I need to change your mind" stuff.

    2. If you have something cool that NO ONE else has, then talk about that. Talk about that a lot.

    Every decent sized city has some amount of the following things: sports teams, art museums, zoos, theaters, fancy restaurants, concert venues, parks, and probably a dozen more things common to cities. While these are all interesting and important, they (typically) don't do much to convince any but the most passionate that your city is somehow superior to some other city. But when you have something really cool, something that no other city can replicate, then you lead with that. In Cleveland one such example is the (very cool) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The ONLY one of these is in Cleveland. I would spend probably 80% of my time talking about these kinds of unique elements if I was trying to sell someone on my city. "We have a nice library" is not really a differentiator.

    3. Don't fixate on a local problem that visitors are likely not familiar with

    In only about 48 hours in Cleveland I learned that the lack of downtown parking seems to be a REALLY BIG issue. Everyone seemed to mention it at some point, and two DisruptHR presenters talked about it as well. Parking seems to be a big problem, but the only reason I know anything about it is because the natives kept on bringing it up. I would not have known or realized this was an issue on my own. But since the locals seem really worrried about this, now I have in my head that parking is a problem in Cleveland. A better strategy is to not constantly remind visitors or potential transplants of what is a local problem until really necessary. Unless the local problem has something to do with random shootings, carjackings, that kind of thing. Those are the local problems I feel entitled to a little warning about.

    4. People at different life stages want different things

    This is kind of obvious, but still worth mentioning. Where you are in your life and career, significantly impacts the kind of places you are drawn too, and the types of features of a city that seem most attractive. The most successful cities are the ones that offer the kind of variety in housing, entertainment, employment, social, and recreational options that appeal to a wide range of people - from hipsters to young professionals to blue collar workers and to experienced professionals. Once the options that appeal to a group (in general), start to wane and they leave for other options, then a part of the city kind of falls away with it. The most vibrant cities, and sections of cities, have a diverse mix of not just people, but uses as well. If your downtown is all office buildings with limited residences and shops, then it will be a ghost town after 6PM.  I am not sure this is really a Cleveland problem or not, but I think it is important to mention regardless.

    5. Everyone comes from somewhere, and most people have an irrationally elevated opinion of how great their own 'somewhere' actually is.

    I am not sure I have ever been to a city where the local residents are as proud of their city as Clevelanders are about theirs. Everyone I met was really in to being from or living in Cleveland. In some ways, I felt like the visitors were being 'sold' all the time. While being proud of where you live is a great, great thing, I think you also have to be careful (and be a little rational too). Lots of cities are really cool places to live. Lots of cities have most of the same kinds of things you do too. People are nice and friendly all over the place, not just where you live. My point is, sell your city, and what makes it great, but remember that the person you are selling to probably feels the exact same way about their own city too. Keep it in check and be honest - folks will appreciate that more than being fooled. Just ease off on all the parking talk.

    I had a fantastic time in Cleveland. And I can't think of better ambassadors for that fine city than our gracious hosts and guides Frank Zupan and Tammy Colson.

    I do think, in fact, it is true - Cleveland rocks.

    Have a great week!