Recruiter Training: Are We Focusing on the Wrong Things?

A few months back, I wrote a blog covering the recruiter faux-pas my friends had been experiencing during their active and passive job searches. Coming from a talent acquisition background, I was frustrated with the consistency of bad communications, outreach, general recruitment and interview processes. It brought to light the reasons why candidates are so turned off by the process of finding a job. Being out of the job hunt for a couple of years now, I decided to try a little experiment to see what candidates are facing.

Now living in a city much bigger than Charleston, I believed there would be many more job opportunities and it would be a prime time to do this research. About two months ago, I decided to put my resume out there as an active job seeker. I posted on the mainstream job boards, such as CareerBuilder, Indeed and Monster. I updated my social media profiles, About.me and LinkedIn. I uploaded my resume on more job-specific boards, joined talent communities and applied to a few jobs for good measure. The results were horrendous.

I thought this would have been a no brainer for recruiters. I have a bachelor’s with a focus in human resources and I’ve spent the last 4+ years working in human resources and talent acquisition roles. I even included links to my social media profiles and this very blog just to give a clearer picture of my skills beyond my traditional resume, if the recruiters decided they wanted dig a litter deeper. I was spoon-feeding them. I was making it easy. So why were the results so abysmal?

Out of all the recruiter responses I’ve received, only 20% have contacted me with something remotely relevant to my background. Even worse, not a single person has presented an opportunity that met my distinct criteria (which wasn’t even that picky – I just simply stated a full-time role within 25 miles of my current location). To summarize what I’ve experienced:

  • I’ve received calls about jobs in sales, web development, data entry, filing and entry-level call center
  • I’ve been offered jobs around minimum wage, which living in Boston wouldn’t get me very far
  • I’ve received calls about week-long jobs or 3 month contracts across the country
  • I’ve had non-stop calls from the same recruiters on a daily basis for weeks on end, but not a single email from them
  • I’ve even heard the gimmicky FOMO tactic, “I don’t want you to miss out on this fantastic opportunity!”
  • I’ve had discussions with people who sounded like they were reading off a script, completely dehumanizing the conversation
  • I’ve seen emails with gross misspellings and general spam
  • I’ve talked with sourcers (both internal and agency) that seemed to be clueless on what the job duties were for what they were recruiting
  • I’ve talked to people who had no job descriptions and no compensation details

I could hear the sales-pitch and franticness in some of their tones. It’s just getting bad.

Is it all the recruiter’s fault for being terrible at matching skills and general communications? Of course not. But having worked in agency, RPO and corporate recruitment roles the past, I can tell you that recruiters are trained differently in different environments…. if they’re trained at all. I have noticed over the years that business is rapidly growing and there’s an urgency to find talent, throwing training to the wayside to ensure a fast ramp-up. And the metrics I’ve seen recruiters held to are a little ridiculous. Most of them make absolutely no sense when it comes to ensuring quality talent is being found. Do I understand urgency in filling positions might cause hiccups in process flows? Sure do. But at what cost?

Lack of adequate new hire training and on-going training is causing our industry to become just as bad as the creepy “used car salesman”. Poorly designed performance measurement tools and metrics are causing people to feel like they have to cut corners in order to meet unrealistic expectations to ensure job security. Bad habits are being passed along during peer-to-peer job shadowing and training. In the end, it’s the candidates that are suffering. Also, the companies are suffering when they’re not getting the talent they need. And unfortunately, some hiring managers don’t have the luxury to hold off for the right talent and sometimes they do have to settle for someone presented sooner than later. But, shouldn’t it be the recruiter’s duty to at least try to find the best talent they can in that timeframe who won’t be likely to quit within the first 90 days?

It is a sad state of affairs, my friends. But one that can be fixed. If you’re in a position to implement changes, you need to at least make the effort. Don’t turn a blind eye just because you’re hitting your SLAs and getting butts in seats. Quality matters. Ensuring your recruiters are meeting REAL performance indicators matters. Creating a better candidate experience so candidates actually WANT to call your recruiters back matters. Ensuring the positions you are filling don’t become vacant again in less than 6 months matters.

And if you’re a recruiter reading this, you still can make a difference in your own work. I understand that sometimes you might not have the support from managers or leadership, nor know where you need to go to find it. I’ve been there before – I get it. But there is a plethora of resources out there in our industry that you can utilize to help you fill the voids in your training. Sure, it might be a little extra work to dedicate to independent learning and development, but it’s well worth it if you feel like you can keep your integrity intact.

I was by no means an ideal recruiter and I’m sure I’ve made some of the aforementioned mistakes above. However, the difference is to be self-aware of these things and to take the necessary measures to ensure our industry doesn’t come crumbling down on us, even if that means taking your training into your own hands.

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Recap: HCI’s 2014 Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference

HCI

While living in South Carolina, I obtained the majority of my professional development though social media discussions, webinars and networking calls. Although these were tremendous in helping me learn about things outside of my education and work experience, I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing an instrumental piece of my professional growth and believed conferences and workshops were going to be a major player in taking it to the next level. When I first found out I was moving to Boston, I was excited about the possibility of attending professional networking events. As luck would have it, two months after I moved, I was given the opportunity to attend the Human Capital Institute (HCI) event in the Seaport District last week. And it was exactly what I needed.

Usually I follow trends and conference updates by checking out the live hashtag streams. For example, the hashtag for this particular conference was #HCIevents and I made sure I made good use of it. Aside from seeing some of my coworkers and meeting ones who I haven’t met yet, I was able to take everything in through my own perspective. Overstimulated doesn’t quite cover my experience, but I mean it in the best way. From checking out some of the vendor booths and learning about new technologies, to attending presentation sessions and networking opportunities, I felt like I learned a lot.

Three sessions I really enjoyed the most were:

  • “Engaging Your Community Intelligently” presented by GE’s Recruitment Technology Manager, Shahbaz Alibaig. Talent communities have continued to be a hot topic in talent acquisition. Even now, I’m currently part of a task force to research, identify and develop one for a current client, which has been both exciting and frustrating. I’ve built my own ideas by pulling together pieces of theory and concept and considered the uses for our current needs. However, I had yet to see a successful talent community that I could compare it to. Thankfully, the presentation Shahbaz shared was rich with information, both confirming the concepts were on the right track and also sharing information worth thinking about, such as how workforce planning and forecasting impacts the community engagement goals.
  • “Employment and Consumer Brands: The Heart and Soul of Your Company” presented by Royal Bank of Canada’s Director of Employment Brand, Estela Vazquez Perez. At the close of 2013, I identified my 2014 professional goals and employment branding was one of them. During the presentation, Estela shared some interesting statistics and metrics that made it clear which key drivers were behind a strong brand. It isn’t just about promoting your company as the best of the best, but rather forming your brand to shift focus on candidate and employee trends. Understanding their values, drivers and needs is a starting point for companies to link the dots between those things and find a meaningful connection. Where can this information come from? The HR department. Employment branding initiatives NEED to include HR more, as their information is going to make the difference.
  • “How HR Innovators are Reinventing the Future of Talent Acquisition” moderated by Elance, with panelists from Krash, CustomMade and Bit9. This conversation was very unique and eye opening because they were able to emphasize the changes in talent acquisition from their own hiring experiences. With these companies focusing on the “free agent” and independent employees, it was important to learn that these types of workers will be making up 50% of the workforce by 2020. Not to mention, gen Y is changing the game, consistently raising the bar, ramping up quickly and is not afraid to move on to better opportunities. HR and talent acquisition need to invest in workforce forecasting and planning as the years press on. With long-term employment becoming a thing of a past, what are we doing to prepare AND accommodate the change in employment trends?

After all was said and done, I had a moment to sit down and charge up my phone. As I was waiting there, I ended up chatting with a few other attendees. Needless to say, it was so nice to “nerd out” with people who are in my industry, know what I’m talking about and are equally as passionate. Simple conversations with strangers had taught me just as much as those sessions and I can’t wait until the next opportunity to attend another conference.

Interested in these topics? Be sure to review the #HCIevents hashtag on Twitter.

Employee Retention: Is Offering More Time Off the Answer?

Out of office

Losing an employee can have negative impacts on an organization, even if the separation was initiated by the employer. Despite terminating an employee for poor performance or something else unsavory, the cost of replacing them can add up. From recruiting costs, time and lack of productivity due to being short-staffed, employers need to consider all that goes into this. But what about voluntary turnover? How can this unexpected disruption in the company’s workforce make a difference?

Regardless of the situation, human resources professionals understand the importance of employee retention and are consistently considering ways to make their offerings, benefits and perks better to stay competitive and attractive to their employees and future hires. Offering things like free lunch, tuition reimbursement, bonuses/incentives, training and development or flexible work schedule have all been things companies incorporated into their offerings, but what happens if that’s not enough?

All of these things can cater to different employees’ needs, but truth be told, employers can’t always offer everything that matters to employees. As we discuss the importance of work/life balance, employees are consistently encouraged to take their vacation time but with a capped amount of paid time off, many employees have actually taken less time off despite having it. This could be due to various reasons, ranging from: stress from getting behind in work and/or coming back to a large workload; determining what’s worth taking time off for; or worries something important will come up after all paid time off (PTO) has been used. I know I’ve even been guilty of saving vacation time only to reach the end of the year and realize I have a ton of days left that will be lost. So what can employers do? Remove the limit.

In my career, I’ve come across many companies that have removed the limitations of PTO. Some of the most interesting concepts I’ve come across are as follows:

  • Breaks for learning: A little over a year ago, I came across a few technology companies that offered their employees several weeks off a year for learning. I thought this was brilliant and felt the employer most likely would progress because employees are bringing back outside learning and applying to their work. Employees are given the freedom to learn about the things that truly inspire and interest them without the stress of having to take time off to do it. And the employer benefits because these new insights can help the organization progress in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • Sabbaticals: A company I interviewed with about 3 years ago offered month long sabbaticals for every three years of employment. Throughout my career, I’ve had many coworkers quit their jobs to take time off to travel, find their calling or soul search. Perhaps this is more common in younger generations before they have the responsibility of taking care of children, pets and mortgages, but with the influx of generation Y coming into the workforce, it’s something employers need to be prepared for more and more. Rather than lose employees due to their wanderlust or desire to get involved in personal projects, employers offer these sabbaticals to allow them to do the things they want to do without losing their key employees. Pair this with good workforce planning, and employers would be likely to incur less costs than if an employee quit.
  • Unlimited vacation time: Another company I’ve interviewed with also offered unlimited vacation time. I asked them how this affected productivity if employees took time off constantly but learned that it didn’t make much of a difference as if they were capped. The reason was because this structure led to accountability and reward. Employees are able to take unlimited time off if they finished projects and completed work on time. This offered them a little more flexibility in their schedules to get their work done and the reward for finishing projects early or on time was something that kept the team motivated.

Are these options feasible for every employer? Of course not. But in the pursuit to find retention initiatives, this should be considered. Employees can’t get everything they want out of life from their employer and may occasionally come to a crossroad between work and personal desires. Employers offering better PTO benefits might help mediate a person’s individual work/life balance needs.

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Simple Steps to Boost Your Employer Brand

 

 

Love Your Job

As employment branding continues to be a trend in talent acquisition, more organizations are starting to see the positive effects of this, while others are sensing competitive pressures by not having one. As more job seekers become advised about performing their due diligence and researching a company before applying or interviewing, companies need to take stock of what a seeker would see if they did a basic search of the organization. Will the company have a robust presence on social media and enticing career pages, or will their social media pages seem abandoned and will the career page fall flat?

Of course, there are plenty of companies who have an amazing brand, but some of them also have a person or team of people dedicated to managing it. But, what about the companies that don’t have the resources or budget to hire a full time employee or consultant? Do they miss out on the chance of showcasing their culture just because they don’t have the means to do it? The answer is no.

There are plenty of simple things that companies can do to build some traction on their brand, and it doesn’t require a full time person to manage it. It’s simply about optimizing on the things occurring at your organization day in and day out and repurposing it for branding. The person contributing to this effort doesn’t need to be a marketing guru or recruiting genius, but someone who understands the fundamentals of both and who has a little extra time in their work week to keep initiatives consistent.

Below are a few easy things to boost your brand:

  • Social platforms: There’s no denying how useful social media can be when it comes to getting your company’s name out there. Some of the best brands even have dedicated profiles for their jobs or specific job roles. Of course, managing a bunch of profiles can be a huge undertaking. In this case, simply using your established company profiles to include employment branding can be perfect. Ensure you’re regularly scheduling out jobs, events and things showcasing your culture. All it takes is a few minutes a week to schedule out consistent messages through tools like Hootsuite. Just make sure whoever’s managing the profiles also remembers to check and respond to messages in a timely manner.
  • “A Day in the Life” campaigns: When candidates research your company, they’re trying to get the most accurate picture of what it’s like to work there. Including little blogs, short videos or employee Q&A sessions can give them exactly what they’re looking for. Take time to connect with internal recruitment and find out what hot jobs they’re recruiting for and then connect with those currently in the position. Taking time to interview them or get some candid feedback about the aspects of their jobs, why they like it and any interesting facts can help you build that content easily. Keep it authentic—include the good and the mundane aspects. That can allow candidates to get a realistic preview of the job.
  • Employee testimonials: Employee testimonials are considered heavily by candidates, so be sure to consider these in your branding efforts. Creating a Glassdoor campaign to get consistent (and candid) reviews is one suggestion. Also, including employee spotlight features on social media or your career pages can be another simple way to boost the brand. Get a quote or two about why they like working at the company or in the specific job.
  • Sharing events: Your company participates in several events a year and this can be a great way to showcase your culture and happenings. From pot lucks, birthdays, “wins”, conferences, holiday events, social responsibilities and just general good times, this can be opportune for getting visual content. Snap a picture or take short videos. Make sure they’re edited and post away on social media, eblasts or the career sites.
  • Optimizing career pages: I have come across career pages that are so boring, it actually turned me off from the company. Even if they were a reputable company with good opportunities, a bad career page can have adverse effects. This is the time you can hype up a candidate and it’s the homestretch before whether they apply to a job or not. Even if you don’t build out multiple pages to highlight specific things like benefits/perks, corporate social responsibility, and so on, it’s still an opportunity to build out the content on one. What differentiates your company? What can you offer your employees? Why should someone want to work for you? Keep these questions in mind when including key information. Also be sure to include the content you’ve been creating for the branding initiatives, and if possible, feeds to your social sites.

Building a brand doesn’t have to be as involved or as intimidating as some companies might think. It’s just a matter of staying timely, consistent and well-rounded. Dedicating some time to this regularly will build up your content quickly.

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Market Research Boosts Recruitment Strategy

market research analysts image

Market research is an essential step in the talent acquisition process and, surprisingly, is a step that may be inadequately implemented or missed all together. During my time in recruiting and sourcing roles, I learned how helpful market research was when starting the initial search for candidates. It’s helpful when identifying current supply and demand, challenges and opportunities. It gave me a solid starting point when pipelining candidates, making my search more efficient and effective. It’s also helped me reposition the position to be competitive.

Here are a few simple things you should review while initially performing market research:

  • Supply and demand reports: pulling these reports can provide some great insight into the talent market. Understanding how many candidates are available in comparison to posted jobs will allow a recruiter to see what they’re up against. Also, understanding average compensation, popular job titles and typical candidate profiles can allow a recruiter to reposition the verbiage if needed to ensure their job postings are more visible.
  • Competitor intelligence: in some cases, the supply and demand reports will also show top job posters in the market. This can make it easy for recruiters to see organizations that are aggressively recruiting for the same types of candidates. In researching these companies, recruiters can develop their outreach and steer conversations with candidates in a way that can highlight positives of the job and company, creating a competitive twist.
  • Pipelining: not all markets and job roles are the same, so it’s important for a recruiter to research the most popular resources to find candidates before investing in these channels. Investigate job boards, social media, career fairs, and so on to see the best places to post your job and source for talent.
  • Partnerships: building relevant partnerships in the talent market can be a great way for you to get your job in front of the right people and allow for opportunities to network with candidates. Research relevant professional organizations, universities/colleges/technical schools, veteran assistance programs, chamber of commerce associations, professional meet ups, and so on to really get a feel for these opportunities.

Although these are four simple suggestions to initially pull market research, it’s surprising how helpful this information can be. It’s allowed my job postings and networking to become more visible, thus allowing for more traffic. It was especially helpful during times I was a virtual recruiter and couldn’t physically do these things. It’s helped me get in front of relevant candidates and identify different ways to position my postings and conversations to ensure my jobs were competitive in the market. Do yourself a favor next time you get a new requisition and perform some of the steps above. I’d love to hear how it impacts your success rate.

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What Questions Should You Ask When Considering Virtual Employment?

 

breaking chains.208145743 std Breaking the Mold

We hear a lot about the challenges organizations face when they consider virtual employees or telecommuting options. These challenges are even more predominate when discussing flexible work options or results only work environment (ROWE). How can they evaluate an employee’s performance? How can managers ensure that they’re working full-time? Will there be backlash from employees who work in a traditional capacity? After working as a virtual employee for almost a year and a half, I can honestly say that it works… sometimes.

There are a lot of factors that affect the success of these flexible options. Before a company or an employee decides that this is right for them, consider the following:

  • Employee personality: As an employee, it’s important to really understand yourself as an individual and as a professional. For me, virtual work was ideal because I knew that I have a type A personality and my morale is higher when I don’t feel the watchful eyes of a micromanager. Additionally, I can produce better results more frequently in my private (and quiet) office than I would at a distracting workplace. Although this has worked for me, many people informed me that they would probably go crazy without social interaction. Others have admitted that the leniency of being home could distract them for work. It would be best to think about these things if considering this as an option.

 

  • Employee functions: As a company, you need to determine if full-time telecommuting or ROWE work for this particular job. Does an employee need to be available at certain times to interact with other members of the company or clients? Can the employee handle tasks remotely or are there some things that require the employee to be on-site? Does their status/level cooperate with the type of employees in it, such as, are they responsible and can self-manage?

 

  • Restructuring of management functions: This might be one of the toughest areas to figure out but it’s definitely not impossible. In my current experience with virtual employment, I have the privilege of working for a company that seems to have this sorted out. Even if it isn’t perfect, they take the measures needed to ensure ongoing improvements. Somehow their ability to increase support through communication and measure productivity without micromanaging has actually helped me feel a stronger connection with my leadership team and direct managers. Despite the fact that I’m not physically working in front of them every day, they have taken the time to recognize my achievements as well as areas I’ve struggled in. Does it take extra time out of their week to pay attention to their individual employees? Sure, but it’s the best experience I’ve had with a manager thus far.

 

  • Benefits: For companies, there can be plenty of benefits as far as cost savings go due to reduction of overhead. When it comes to hiring, it allows employers to find diverse talent and top candidates because they aren’t limited to one specific area. As an employee, it can be really beneficial for your everyday life. I’ve been told that mothers enjoy the ability to be available to their children when they are home or sick. Military spouses like the mobility aspect when their significant others move around.  I personally like it because I don’t feel restricted to a particular area. If I wanted to move to another state or travel, I could do it tomorrow. I also love the fact that I don’t have to waste time commuting or spending money on clothes or gas. Instead, I actually have more time to actually do the things that matter, like work.

 

  • Challenges: Of course, there are always challenges. How can managers keep morale high if on-site employees feel like virtual workers have it easier? Can managers ensure the virtual workers have the same exposure to internal mobility? How do managers know that their virtual workers are being productive? These are just a few things that companies face when developing and implementing flexible work options.

I’m an advocate for virtual work, telecommuting and flexible options. I don’t think employees should be limited or confined and that some of these options can actually help employees performed better and allow companies to retain talent. Of course, I’m aware that this doesn’t always work and that a great deal of thought and strategy has to go into the development and management of it. However, for me personally, I would love to stay in a virtual position for as long as I can.

Want to know what others think about this? Check out the discussion on #TChat tonight at 7pm ET. Take a look at a preview here.

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2013 Reflections and 2014 Resolutions

Before I take my brief blogging hiatus during holiday madness, I felt that the last blog of 2013 should focus on reflection and resolutions. January brings us a new year and promises new starts, so it’s important to understand what we’ve accomplished this year in order to properly set ourselves up for a successful future. Of course this can mean a multitude of things to different people, but today I’m going to focus on my career in the human resources and talent acquisition world.

Reflections

2013 has been quite the interesting year for me. I finally settled in with an employer that made me feel like I had control over my own learning and development. Once the year started, I felt like I was beginning to gain momentum in my sourcing/recruiting role. I felt secure enough with the company to get creative in my methods to the point where I was able to be successful in multiple markets and different industries. My searching methods, social media tactics and general sourcing knowledge had helped me hit the ground running every time I changed accounts and I was able to make an immediate impact each time.

My ability to do these things has allowed me to create opportunities for development of the delivery team. During my time on this team, I created a training on social media recruitment methods in which all sourcers and recruiters were able to learn the basics or learn new tricks. In addition to this, taught them the art of personal branding to gain credibility for their current career. This also gave our company opportunities to develop brand ambassadors and SMEs which promoted additional learning and content creation. Most importantly though, I was able to build up a market research spreadsheet for the tech/IT industry which has helped my co-workers ramp up faster in this market (which isn’t easy).

I eventually graduated from the delivery team and found myself on the marketing team around September. I wasn’t sure what to make of this job promotion, mainly because my background had focused solely on HR and recruitment. I was apprehensive about whether or not I could be successful in this and wondered if my education and experience in HR/recruitment would become stale. After four months of being in this role, I soon found that I actually learn MORE about the HR and recruitment industry than I did in previous roles. Also, I was able to surprise myself when I discovered the areas I was naturally good at and the things that seemed to interest me.

Which leads me up to my next point.

Resolutions

Although I’m still developing my role, I am beginning to realize the things that I enjoyed in HR can still be achieved in this marketing role. Of course, priorities change within the company and industry so I’m sure that some of these things might be propelled forward while others are put on hold. But a girl can dream right?

Employment branding is something that inspires me. As the months went on, I felt myself gravitating towards this topic more and more. I’ve even caught myself researching and silently critiquing a company’s employment brand. Lately, I’ve been given opportunities to investigate related things in my current job. I’ve had to research brands, find positive things, identify where brands are falling short and provide insight and suggestions. I love the fact that my research and input can potentially influence how a brand is able to attract candidates and retain current employees.

The other area I’m hoping to get more involved in is on a global scale. As my company expands into Western Europe and eventually Australia, I’m excited about the opportunity to get an inside look at how these companies function. I’ve always enjoyed conversations with HR professionals outside of the US and became intrigued about hiring practices, recruitment initiatives, HR laws and generally how talent acquisition and HR differ between each country. Even just learning about how resumes different from country to country was awesome. I’m looking forward to exploring these topics more.

After this brief break, I’ll be coming back refreshed and renewed with a plan of action to tackle these areas. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my career, it’s all about how I position myself. It will be interesting to see how I can evolve this throughout 2014.

Happy holidays!

Photo Source — By the way, I hope I can see the Festival of Lights in person one day!