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    Entries in Recruiting (183)

    Thursday
    Oct192017

    Digital Talent Profiles and the Blockchain

    I'm still unwinding a bit from last week's HR Tech Conference, and one of the things I like to think about after the event is more of a question I suppose. Namely, 'Where there any trends or new technologies that we should have paid more attention to at the event, and should be featured next time?'

    About a two or three weeks before the event, a friend of mine contacted me to inquire if we (the Conference), was going to showcase any Blockchain technology, and how this developing tech can or will be used in HR, Talent, or Recruiting. My short answer was 'no', as I had not really seen or heard much on that front in 2017, no one (that I can recall), specifically pitched me any blockchain powered tools to review, and frankly, I only kind of understand what the whole thing is about myself.

    For folks who may have no idea what I am talking about, from our pals at Wikipedia on the Blockchain:

    A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block,a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. A blockchain can serve as "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. 

    This makes blockchains suitable for the recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, such as identity management,transaction processing, documenting provenance, or food traceability

    That doesn't seem too tough to understand, right?

    A data repository that is secure, verifiable, can record and store all kinds of data types, and can be widely distributed and shared.

    Thinking about it that way, there certainly seems like their would be or could be some applications of this technology in HR and talent technologies.

    Before we jump to that, check out this example of how a form of Blockchain is being applied in the Higher Ed space - as a way to electronically distribute and validate student credentials and degrees:

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering some students the option to be awarded tamper-free digital degree certificates when they graduate, in partnership with Learning Machine. Selected students can now choose to download a digital version of their degree certificate to their smartphones when they graduate, in addition to receiving a paper diploma.

    Using a free, open-source app called Blockcerts Wallet, students can quickly access a digital diploma that can be shared on social media and verified by employers to ensure its authenticity. The digital credential is protected using block-chain technology. The block chain is a public ledger that offers a secure way of making and recording transactions, and is best known as the underlying technology of digital currency Bitcoin

    An interesting application of Blockchain to share and allow the verification of student degrees by employers, banks, and whomever else would need access to a student's degree information.

    To jump back to HR/Talent, it makes perfect sense then that a similar Blockchain protected employee talent profile could be created for an individual person that could include not only the degree and academic information like in the MIT example, but also work products, verifiable job histories, certifications and skills assessments, and maybe even things like recommendations and testimonials. And all stored in a secure and distributed way - perhaps a way for a candidate to share their profiles with a number of companies at once without having to go through tedious and repetitive job applications for each one. Or maybe in some kind of talent repository for temp, gig, and contract workers to submit their availability and credentials in talent marketplaces.

    There are probably going to be lots more applications of Blockchain in enterprises coming soon, and I will be on the lookout for innovative HR and talent applications for next year's HR Tech.

    If you are a provider doing something interesting in this 'Blockchain for HR' space, get in touch, I'd be interested in learning more.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Sep202017

    How important is knowing the product for a new hire?

    I riffed yesterday about how JetBlue is leaning into a pretty serious shortage of pilot candidates by expanding the talent pools and significantly increasing their investment in training and development in order to essentially 'build' the candidates they are having trouble finding otherwise. And while 'airline pilot' seems like one of the last kinds of job ads you'd see with a 'no experience required' listed in the job req, JetBlue is trying to make it work in order to meet their recruiting goals.

    I thought about that case study/experiment again this morning when I saw the announcement of the newest appointee to the Twitter Board of Directors, (not quite having the responsibility of an airline pilot, but hang in their with me for a minute). Turns out the newest member of Twitter's board is not really a user of Twitter.

    From a piece in Business Insider titled Ex-Google CFO Patrick Pichette is joining Twitter's board, and he just tweeted for the first time:

    Twitter's board is swapping Pepsi CFO Hugh Johnston for ex-Google CFO Patrick Pichette.

    Johnston is leaving Twitter to join Microsoft's board, he said in a series of tweets Tuesday. Pichette is joining Twitter's board after retiring as Google's CFO in 2015 and completing a two-year sabbatical.

    Interestingly, Pichette doesn't seem to be much of a Twitter user. His account says he joined the service in February 2017 and his first tweet was published Tuesday announcing his appointment to the board

    Ok, so the dude was a successful C-suite exec, had a high-profile gig at one of the world's most admired companies, and then cashed out to take two years having fun and whatever it is people with lots of cash and time on their hands like to do. He didn't have time to Tweet at all, but then again, being CFO of Google probably consumes a ton of time and energy and those two-year sabbaticals can be exhausting. I mean, just think about how you feel after your two-day sabbatical at the end of every week. Then multiply that feeling by 350 or so.

    But I digress.

    The point is the newest member of the Board of Directors for Twitter, a company that has been around for a decade, and for better or worse, has been a pretty significant influence on news, politics, social causes, and more for most of that time, has never really used Twitter.

    I would imagine in the last ten years there must have been a time or two where Mr. Pichette at least considered setting up a Twitter account and testing out the product/service and each time decided, 'That's not really for me.'

    Which is certainly his prerogative. I imagine there are lots of successful, accomplished, smart types who have decided not to engage on or otherwise use Twitter. But usually those kinds of people don't get appointed to executive or board-level roles on Twitter. And this isn't a knock on Mr. Pichette and his ability to do a great job on Twitter's board. His CFO experience might be just what Twitter needs right now.

    But just like the JetBlue story, the appointment of Pichette, seemingly a person who does not know all that much about the product of Twitter to the Board speaks to the increasing importance in tightening labor markets of taking a more expansive view of the addressable talent pools.

    Train someone to be a commercial airline pilot who has never flown a plane of any kind? 

    Sure.

    Put someone on the Board of Directors of a company who has never used or experienced the product?

    Ok.

    Hire someone for your next Marketing Manager role who doesn't actually have 'Seven years of progressive experience doing exactly the job we want you to do here in the same industry that we are in?'

    Why not?

    Have a great day!

    Tuesday
    Sep192017

    A reminder that any 'skills gap' is also an employer's problem to solve

    Whether or not there is a true 'skills gap' crisis in the US labor market is certainly subject to debate. For every analysis that indicates that the pipeline of qualified candidates that colleges and other training programs are producing are not meeting the demands of employers for specific skills, you can pretty easily find other data that suggests the US has more than enough of available talent to meet most employer needs.

    But while the data and thinking around the existence of a true skills gap can seem contradictory, the investments and ownership by employers of the problem (assuming it is a problem), has tended to shift in one consistent direction. Namely, over time employers have tended to want to invest less in development, apprenticeship, and other initiatives for either entry level employees or for more experienced hires who require more advanced and specific experience and skills.

    Most employers these days, it seems, want new hires whatever the level or role to walk in to the organization immediately ready to be productive without needing long ramp up times and without having to make extensive and expensive investments in training.

    But what if the roles that the company needs to fill are so specialized, require an incredibly specific set of skills, and that these skills have been demonstrated and certified with proof of thousands of hours of practice? For these kinds of jobs, companies have to become more involved and invested in developing candidate pipelines you would think. It is either that, or face a candidate shortage, experience longer fill times, and likely suffer serious adverse businss impact in the form of lost revenue, poor customer service, and missed deadlines.

    One company, faced with exactly this recruiting and development challenge, and facing an extremely tight and competitive candidate market is doing almost exactly the opposite of what many companies have done with respect to investment in new hire development. They are expanding the market, looking beyond their normal sources for candidates, and most importantly, taking ownership of the 'skills gap' challenge.

    The company is JetBlue Airlines and the hard to fill role is commercial airline pilot.

    From a recent piece on PSFK on how JetBlue is trying to address this recruiting challenge:

    The airline company developed Gateway Select, a special training program for its pilots that took people with little to no flying experiences and turned them into pilots. The program worked out so well for the company that they are once again looking for new recruits. The first round opened in 2016, with 24 chosen applicants out of a pool of 1,5000, including a grocery store clerk, an accountant, and a baggage handler. Trainees will learn about meteorology, aerodynamics and aircraft systems, go through flight simulators, and get in the necessary 1,500 hours of flying experience.

    Think about that a little bit.

    One of the most specific, demanding, and important jobs in the world, commercial airline pilot, and JetBlue is essentially looking past traditional candidate pools and feeder programs, (mostly the US military which has their own pilot shortages they are dealing with), and taking ownership of their challenge by thinking differently about what constitutes a good candidate.

    If JetBlue is willing and able to train the 'right' candidates for pilot roles, even if they are currently accountants or store clerks, then what is holding you back in expanding your own ideas about candidates and their suitability for your open roles?

    Think about that when you post your next position for a finance or HR or marketing or operations role where you require 10+ years of relevant and specific experience doing exactly the same job that you are hiring for.

    If JetBlue can turn store clerks into pilots, then you too can think more expansively and creatively about who is qualified for your roles.

    Have a great day!

    Tuesday
    Jul182017

    "I think about work all the time" (and you had better too, if you want to work here)

    Super interesting and quick read from our pals at Business Insider on a method that one CEO of a small but growing media company likes to use as a screening device for job candidates.

    From BI:

    If Erika Nardini (CEO of Barstool Sports) is going to hire you, first she wants to know you're committed to your job — even on a Sunday at 11 a.m..

    "Here's something I do," she said. "If you're in the process of interviewing with us, I'll text you about something at 9 p.m. or 11 a.m. on a Sunday just to see how fast you'll respond."

    The maximum response time she'll allow: three hours.

    "It's not that I'm going to bug you all weekend if you work for me," she said, "but I want you to be responsive. I think about work all the time. Other people don't have to be working all the time, but I want people who are also always thinking."

    if there ever was a clearer sign that the culture (and expectation) of Barstool Sports employees is one of "always on", I can't think of it.

    But while some folks who read this might cringe a little bit at the notion of a CEO of a company 'testing' job candidates with a Sunday morning text, I'd counter that the approach is at least honest, and pretty revealing. Better to find out before you take the job that you (almost certainly) will be expected to be responsive, if not actually available, pretty much whenever the CEO, (who is thinking about work all the time), deems it necessary to contact you.

    Either that kind of an expectation works for you or it doesn't. For the folks that are that excited and passionate about the company mission to the point where 24/7 responsiveness does not seem unreasonable, then this little text test probably does a decent job of screening candidates.

    Better to know in advance, as I said, and better to know when to run for the hills before you decide to take a job working for a CEO who clearly doesn't really care about you when you are not actually working. And that's the trick of her little test.

    She doesn't have to care about you when you're not working, because you should be working, (or at least thinking about work), all the time.

    Happy Tuesday.

    Monday
    Jun192017

    Diversity and Inclusivity Starting with the Job Application

    I'm not a user of Snapchat. Mainly because I am an adult, I was never able to figure it out the two or three times my HR Happy Hour partner Trish McFarlane tried to explain it to me, and also because I am an adult.

    While 'maturing' as a platform, (I bet following the same pattern as Facebook, as the parents of the pre-teens, teens, and young adults who were the primary users of the network are 'forced' to sign up in order to keep and eye on what their kids are up to online), Snapchat is still by and large an app/social network predominantly used by people under 34. And this totally fine. I personally don't get it, and I look a little side-eyed when a 46 year old man asks if I 'Snap', but at the same time I totally understand why a 17 year-old would be on Snap all day long. That same 17 year-old would laugh at LinkedIn the same way I scoff at Snapchat.

    I thought about this after reading a piece on Business Insider about McDonald's plans to use Snapchat, in the form of something they call a 'Snaplication' as a launch point in the recruiting process that has a goal of hiring about 250,000 new employees this summer.

    The basic idea is that an interested candidate would log in to Snapchat, find the McDonald's careers 'page' or account or whatever it is you call such a thing on Snapchat, and view a 10-second video from McDonald's employees. The version of the process in Australia also allows candidates to record their own 10 second 'Snaplication' to send to McDonald's. From there, the app allows the candidates (via a swipe) to launch an actual job application process in the app.

    Sounds really cool and innovative, if a little cheeky. But I do applaud McDonald's for pushing the technology and candidate engagement envelope with this initiative. They (probably rightly), see that users of smart phones, (just about everyone), and who also use Snapchat, (probably lots and lots of people from 16 - 30), line up pretty well with their typical or targeted employee profile.

    But what I worried about when I read the story, (and after I stopped rolling my eyes at the concept of a 'Snaplication'), is that this kind of a 'front door' to the recruiting process would almost certainly screen out a pretty significant cohort of potential applicants who don't use Snapchat, would have no clue how to figure out how to send a 'Snaplication', and rather than try and figure it out, would just walk next door to Chick fil-A to apply there. That cohort would be made up of mostly older people, folks like me for example. 

    And if you were surprised to learn that a 'Snaplication' is a thing, you might also be surprised to learn that on average, fast-food workers are getting older too. There are a few different sources of this kind of data, and the numbers are not all consistent, but this example from the BLS suggests that median age of all food service workers is about 30. And I bet if you hit up a McDonald's for your McMuffin and coffee fix this morning you are likely to finds as many 30+ folks working the counter and grill as you are the more typical Snapchatter.

    Now I know that you don't 'have' to use Snapchat to apply for a job at McDonald's, and the traditional methods that older candidates would be more familiar with are still available, but that is not really the point.

    The point is that every decision an organization makes about how it will find, attract, and engage candidates has an impact on the organization in the long run, particularly its diversity and inclusiveness.

    Pushing 'Snaplications' will drive more applicants from a certain, younger demographic, just like working an on-campus recruiting event at the University of Pick Your State will drive more applicants from that particular school's demographic. Running targeted job ads on any website or social network also (by design), shapes, influences, and limits the candidates you are likely to attract.

    None of this is new thinking, smart HR and recruiting folks know this for sure. But I am not sure candidates do. 

    Or said differently, when I read about the 'Snaplication' program, the first thing I thought of was that there's no way I would ever do that. And that is ok I suppose, as I probably would not be applying to McDonald's anyway.

    But I bet there are at least some, maybe quite a few actually, interested and desirable candidates that McDonald's might be turning off with a program like this. And the real lesson is that we all need to be really careful and considerate about how the places, methods, requirements, and technologies that we use in the candidate attraction and application process can have downstream impacts on the organization overall.

    'Snaplications' sound dumb. But they matter. All the choices we make that impact who we bring in to the organization matter.

    Have a great week!