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    Entries in Recruiting (197)

    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! 

    Tuesday
    Mar062018

    REVISITED: Podcast - The Benefits of Hiring Disabled Candidates

    Quick reminder and a re-visiting of an HR Happy Hour Show that we did towards the end of 2017 on an issue that continues to be in the news and is more and more important in a tight labor market - programs and processes that make employment opportunities more accessible to disabled candidates.

    Here's just a bit from a long piece that ran the other day on USA Today - Willing and able: Disabled workers prove their value in a tight labor market

    With the low 4.1% unemployment rate making it tougher for employers to hire and retain workers, more are bringing on Americans with disabilities who had long struggled to find jobs. Many firms are modifying traditional interviews that filter out candidates with less-refined social skills and transferring some job duties to other staffers to accommodate the strengths of people with disabilities.

    "There’s a growing cadre of companies that look at people with disabilities as an untapped talent pool,” says Carol Glazer, CEO of the National Organization on Disability. “When people spend their entire lives solving problems in a world that wasn’t built for them, that’s an attribute that can be translated into high productivity in the workforce.”

    The piece, (and you should really read the entire thing), highlights some examples from employers such as CVS, Microsoft, and PwC and how they have adapted job roles and functions, recruiting and screening processes, and manager education in order to make more employment opportunities available to disabled workers.

    Additionally, I want to re-share and point you to a HR Happy Hour Show we did on this topicin December 2017. Our guest was Dan Peltz, Founder and Director of Shift NJ - an organization that helps candidates of all ability levels to connect with employers and find meaningful work. 

    Shift New Jersey was created to empower individuals. Dan and the team individuals of all ability levels maximize their potential through employment, skills training, counseling, and case management. They assist adults in preparing for college, employment, and independent living by helping them develop the vision, mindset, action steps, skills, and experience necessary to become successful.

    On the show, Dan described how Shift NJ works with candidates and employers to find employment opportunities, help build skills and capabilities of candidates that may have some challenges in finding positions, and how they support both the individuals and the organizations to make these programs and placements work for everyone.

    Additionally, Dan shared examples of how large employers like Amazon are working with agencies like Shift NJ to place more candidates into open roles, and how they are proactively seeking to expand their candidate pools.

    Finally, Dan shared how HR leaders in any location can get started with these programs and how they benefit the organization and community overall.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    This was an interesting and important show - hope you can take some time to listen if you missed it the first time. Learn more at the Shift NJ site .

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    Mar052018

    How your company plans to use its tax cut windfall could be a great recruiting tool - or maybe not

    A couple of weeks ago I reviewed some recent research that analyzed how American companies plan to put to use their increasingly sizable cash hoards, (much of parked overseas but expected to start being repatriated), and which are expected to also be boosted by the recent reduction in corporate income tax rates.

    The TL;DRversion of that prior piece: Most of the cash is heading back to investors, either directly in the form of increased dividends, and indirectly as a benefit from increased share repurchases.

    Over the weekend I reviewed an even more comprehensive examination of what many of America's largest organizations have stated how they plan on putting this new cash to work, courtesy of Just Capital. There analysis of almost 100 large company announcements in the last few months shows a consistent picture - the data shows that so far, US companies plan to reward or grant new benefits or opportunities to employees comparatively poorly when compared to how these companies are treating shareholders.

    Here's a quick look at the summary of the analysis from Just Capital (and they have lots of detail at their site, I recommend spending some time digging through the figures)

    Since the chart at Just Capital is interactive in nature, it was hard to get a screen cap that showed the percentage breakdown across the uses of cash categories, so I will just list them out below:

    Shareholders - 58%

    Future job creation investment - 22%

    Products - 7%

    Employees - 6%

    Customers - 4%

    Communities - 3%

    Once again, according to the data compiled by Just Capital from hundreds of corporate announcements related to worker raises and bonuses, stock buybacks, capital expenditures, executive compensation, and other measures related to corporate tax reform, only about 6% of this windfall is directly benefiting current employees.

    There are some standout companies, from an employee welfare perspective, with respect to how they are allocating these cash flows.

    Boeing for example, is allocation over $200M to programs directly benefiting workers, and another $100M towards community programs. FedEx is allocating all of their increased funds to direct employee compensation increased and investments in future job creation. Finally, Apple plans to direct 100% of their tax cut savings into the creation of 20,000 new jobs.

    On the flip side, some companies, even ones who have allocated some of the tax reform savings to employee bonuses, (and have had these, usually $1,000 bonuses reported widely), are in Just Capital's analysis granting shareholders the vast majority of the benefits from corporate tax reform.

    You can dig into the data in more detail for sure, but the takeaway I think of corporate HR/Talent leaders moving forward is understanding where (and more importantly, why?) your organization shows up on this kind of list.

    While it is awesome to be known as company that is great for the shareholders, your job in HR/Talent is to keep creating, positioning, and communicating your organization as a great place for employees.

    It might be an awkward conversation down the line if some highly sought after candidate asks you why it is that your company decided only to give employees 1 or 2% of these tax cut savings and give the rest to the shareholders.

    There may be a great answer to that question, but you will only have it if you are prepared to be asked.

    Have a great week!

    Wednesday
    Feb142018

    Are HR's diversity and inclusion strategies proprietary information?

    Companies suing each other after an employee leaves one company to join another, especially when the companies are competitors, over the details in the employee's non-compete agreement is not all that uncommon. Particularly in the tech industry when many rival companies are chasing many of the same kinds of tech-driven breakthrough projects like AI, self-driving vehicles, robotics, and more - the loss of a key employee or two to a rival can have significant competitive consequences and impact.

    A debate can be had whether or not the entire idea of employee non-compete agreements are beneficial or necessary (or enforceable), but for the purposes of what I wanted to call to your attention today, let's all accept that for the moment such agreements do exist, and from time to time, are actively enforced by companies trying to protect their IP from escaping to a competitor, (along with the employee).

    The story I wanted to highlight is about a big tech company fight over an employee non-compete, but not one of the ones we expect - surrounding some star engineer working on the latest VR or AI tech - it centers around HR, more specifically, around a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer heading to Microsoft from IBM.

    Here are some details and context from coverage in Business Insider - Microsoft just hired a chief diversity officer - and IBM is suing them over it:

    Tech companies have a less than stellar record hiring women and minorities. But these companies will apparently do whatever it takes — including launching a legal fight — to hire one type of person: a Chief Diversity Officer.

    IBM is suing Microsoft for poaching its top diversity officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre in a case that could prove just how important diversity, recruitment, and retention has become for tech companies.

    McIntyre, who joined IBM in 2006, was named chief diversity officer of Microsoft on Sunday, after serving in the same role and as VP of human resources at IBM. IBM, in its complaint, argues that McIntyre had access to diversity data, strategies, methodologies and initiatives that are confidential, and that she "will use, rely on or divulge" these strategies in her new role.

    On Monday, IBM was granted a temporary restraining order in New York federal court, which prevents McIntyre from working for Microsoft until the court decides otherwise.

    "McIntyre was at the center of highly confidential and competitively sensitive information that has fueled IBM's success in these areas," a representative for IBM said in a statement. "While we understand Microsoft's need to deal with mounting criticism of its record on diversity, IBM intends to fully enforce Ms. McIntyre's non-compete agreement to protect our competitive information."

    A really interesting case it seems to me. I admit to not following the ebbs and flows and latest cases in employment law all that closely, but I do follow lots of news and I don't recall seeing a major non-compete case with this kind of profile that focuses specifically on an HR executive, and perhaps more interestingly, on specific human capital management strategies. Whatever specific policies, programs, maybe even some technology applications too that IBM, under Ms. McIntyre's leadership were employing to improve diversity, IBM is contending that these combined represent IP that is not just company confidential, but also represents relevant and demonstrable competitive advantage.

    It probably matters that IBM and Microsoft are highly likely to be competing for many of the same kinds of talented people across a wide spectrum of roles. And it also probably matters that (as I have pointed out on the blog for a couple of years on the CHART OF THE DAY series), that labor markets in general are really tight, and for certain 'hard-to-find' roles are incredibly tight. Recruiting and retention ratchets up the CEO's list of priorities when the people the company needs are in high demand and when your competitors are willing to go really far to beat you in the talent game - whether recruiting new grads or poaching your top execs - like Ms. McIntyre.

    The diversity angle here is interesting and timely,  and probably contributed to why this was a story coverred in the general tech press. But what would be more interesting to me is to see a major non-compete battle be launched over say a CHRO or a VP of Talent, or even a Global Leader of Talent Acquisition. I'd like to see a major, Fortune 50 or so company go to battle over an HR/TA leader, contending that their particular insights, and their specific talent strategies are so important, in fact just as important as the knowledge of the latest AI hotshot, that the company is willing to battle in court to keep that HR knowledge in-house.

    This is a really intriguing case, I will keep an eye on it for sure. It would be interesting and validating too, if IBM wins in this case, and HR programs and strategies are shown to be true (at least in the court's view), completive advantage. And it would be pretty cool for HR to have some more over the top recruiting and retention fights go on over HR people for once.

    Have a great day!