Posts belonging to Category hiring

Your Words Matter

leadership wordsIt’s not news that men still outnumber women in leadership roles.

New research, however, suggests fewer women even apply for management positions. Why? Part of the reason may be found in the way companies word their job postings.

A team of scientists from the Technische Universitat Munchen in Munchen, Germany recently found women feel less inclined to respond to employment ads containing words such as “determined” and “assertive,” because such words are “linked with male stereotypes,” according to the researchers.

In their study, the TUM team showed fictional employment advertisements to approximately 260 test subjects, in an effort to study how leaders are selected and assessed. If an ad described a large number of traits—assertive, independent, aggressive and analytical, for example—commonly associated with men, female participants found the ad less appealing and were less likely to apply, according to researchers, who note that women responded more positively to words such as “dedicated,” “responsible,” “conscientious” and “sociable.” Male test subjects, however, found a job advertisement’s phrasing to be of no consequence.

In addition, investigators found that women may be selling their on-the-job abilities short. In conjunction with researchers at New York University, TUM conducted a separate poll of approximately 600 Americans of both genders, in which respondents considered women and men to be equally competent, productive and efficient on a fundamental level. Both genders, however, rated men’s leadership skills more highly. Women also reported believing themselves and other women to be, on average, less capable in terms of leadership abilities than male respondents perceived themselves and other men.

Such findings seem to echo an all-too familiar refrain in our workplaces, with regard to gender equality: We’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

Claudia Peus, chair of research and science management at TUM, and lead author of the study, suggests that employers can help close this gap by choosing their words carefully when crafting employment ads.

“A carefully formulated job posting is essential to get the best choice of personnel,” said Claudia Peus, in a statement. “In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to simply leave out all of the male-sounding phrases. But without a profile featuring at least balanced wording, organizations are robbing themselves of the chance of attracting good female applicants. And that’s because the stereotypes endure almost unchanged, in spite of all the societal transformation we have experienced.”

Another Sign Your Talent May Be Bolting: Hooky

160611067-- sick employeeA month ago, almost to the day, Editor David Shadovitz posted this about a Utah State University professor’s study laying out specific behaviors to look for in top talent about to head out the door.

I thought the signs themselves, as revealed by researcher Tim Gardner, were interesting and deserve repeating. Employees about to leave, he found:

  • Offered fewer constructive contributions in meetings;
  • Were more reluctant to commit to long-term projects;
  • Became more reserved and quiet;
  • Became less interested in advancing in the organization;
  • Were less interested in pleasing their boss than before;
  • Avoided social interactions with their boss and other members of management; and
  • Began doing the minimum amount of work needed and no longer went beyond the call of duty.

Now, thanks to this from Monster Worldwide, we have another dimension to offer up in this flight-detection protocol: playing hooky. Or at least playing “I have a doctor’s appointment.”

According to Monster’s global poll, based on votes cast by Monster visitors from Dec. 2 through 6 of last year, 44 percent of respondents consider telling their boss they have a medical appointment to be the best excuse to leave work for a job interview.

The second-most-popular choice for getting out of work to interview for other work is also health-related: saying they’re sick, weighing in at 15 percent. Of course, the way I see it, both excuses — especially the latter — requires some play-acting as well, so perhaps there are some additional behavior traits we can read between the lines.

There were other non-health-related excuses — childcare, at 12 percent, and delivery/repairman at 8 percent — but faking personal health challenges topped the chart.

Especially interesting, I thought, were the differences in faking forte by country. As the Monster release states:

French respondents are the most likely to create faux doctor’s appointments when sneaking out for interviews, with 54 percent answering that they believe it is the best excuse;      conversely, French respondents are the least likely to fake an illness to excuse an interview-related absence, with only 7 percent selecting it as the best option. Respondents in the United States were the biggest proponents of the call-in-sick method, with 16 percent choosing illness as their preferred excuse. Canadian respondents were the least likely to use a delivery/repairman excuse, with under 7 percent selecting this option and were the most inclined to use a childcare-related excuse, with 16 percent picking this answer.”

Mary Ellen Slayter, a career-advice expert for Monster, says all employers ought to look at this as a reminder that “they have no choice but to be on both sides of this coin.”

“Making it easy for people to be honest is a good approach,” she says. “That means when you’re recruiting, make an effort to schedule interviews before or after work hours — or perhaps at lunch. With your own workers, don’t press them about how they’re spending their requested time off.”

As for what you’re supposed to do when you notice your top talent scheduling an inordinate number of doctor’s appointments, that’s anyone’s guess. I would think that might be a good time to start examining their engagement levels.

EEOC Shares Tips on Background Checks

handcuffsSome would argue the EEOC’s guidance on the use of criminal background check information offers more confusion than clarification for employers.

Critics—including a group of nine state attorney generals that penned a letter detailing its grievances to the EEOC—contend the agency’s regulations unduly burden employers with costs, could actually create more opportunities for discrimination, and may circumvent many state laws with respect to background checks for employment purposes.

The EEOC has made efforts to address such concerns. In September 2013, for example, the agency responded to the aforementioned letter, explaining its recommendation that employers use a two-step process for job applicants—including individualized assessment as the second step—rather than relying on bright-line screens alone.

Earlier this week, the EEOC—along with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission—made another attempt at shedding light on the subject, offering tips to employers and job seekers alike, in the form of two technical assistance documents.

The organizations issued the documents—one for employers, one for job applicants and employees—in an effort to “explain how the agencies’ respective laws apply to background checks performed for employment purposes,” according to an EEOC statement.

For example, the EEOC advises employers to “be prepared to make exceptions for problems revealed during a background check that revealed a disability. … If you are inclined not to hire a person because of a problem caused by a disability, you should allow the person to demonstrate his or her ability to do the job—despite the negative background information—unless doing so would cause significant financial or operational disability.”

The document also reminds organizations of their responsibilities before taking an adverse employment action, such as supplying an applicant or employee a notice that includes a copy of the consumer report the company used in reaching its decision, and a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”

The publication geared toward employers does contain some “helpful reminders for employers who pursue background checks on applicants or employees,” says Rachel Reingold Mandel, a shareholder in the Boston office of labor and employment law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart.

The information presented in the document is especially useful in light of FCRA requirements “[losing] the spotlight recently,” says Mandel, “as the EEOC and state law anti-discrimination focus has gained traction.

“This publication helpfully reminds employers that it is important to both use background checks in ways that do not discriminate based on protected characteristics—race, color, sex and national origin, for example—and to follow [FCRA’s] technical requirements.”

Organizations and HR leaders “have worked to balance their obligations under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act against their obligations under applicable anti-discrimination laws, including those enforced by the EEOC,” she says.

“This publication provides a helpful guide to the steps employers should follow to comply with both the FCRA and federal anti-discrimination laws,” continues Mandel, adding that employers would be wise to ”keep in mind separate state-specific laws, including those that prohibit asking any criminal background questions on employment applications.”

Momentum Building for Putting Disabled to Work

Nice to see how much attention RespectAbilityUSA has gotten in just a little more than a month since I posted this plea to employers by the Washington-based nonprofit to get more disabled Americans into the workforce.

122470463 -- disabled execThe group — dedicated to empowering people with disabilities — made sure I saw this latest release touting all the big names to have signed on since that plea went out Jan. 13, including BMX bike legend and host of MTV’s The Challenge, T.J. Lavin; Delaware Gov. Jack Markell; U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas; U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.; and Paralympian Matt Cowdrey.

Yes, the word is getting out. So much so that Lavin is now starring in a new public-service ad for RespectAbilityUSA that started airing Feb. 14. In the ad, he says “whether it is me, you, or someone who just wants to work — we all should have the same opportunity to achieve the American dream.”

Last month’s post included results from a just-completed RespectAbility poll showing three out of four people with disabilities surveyed value a job and independence over government benefits. This latest announcement, one short month later, mentions companies that are starting to get it, such as Walgreen’s, EY and AMC. They “have found people with disabilities to be highly valued employees who drive their company’s productivity as loyal, safe employees,” the release says.

Now, says Respectability President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, “it is time for other companies to open new doors for people with disabilities.”

“The bottom line,” she says, “is that people with disabilities want a hand up, not a hand out. They want to work side-by-side with people who don’t have disabilities, make their contribution to society, pay their taxes and achieve the American dream.”

I like how Lavin puts it, too: “Recognize the disability, respect the ability, but imagine the possibility.”

We’ll keep watching this momentum and where it heads. In the meantime, employers and their HR executives should be bracing for two final rule revisions — issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and impacting affirmative-action plans for veterans and people with disabilities — that go into effect on March 24. I have a news analysis appearing soon on our website,, about these new rules and what they mean, and will share a link here when it goes live.

You might say the rules, revising the OFCCP’s Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, are the government’s way of ensuring this momentum does, indeed, go forward.

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Last week, I received an email from Arte Nathan that included a link to a TEDx talk he recently did at the University of Nevada. Nathan is always an engaging speaker. Passionate. Honest. Thought-provoking. On at least a couple of occasions, as CHRO at Wynn, he keynoted our HR in Hospitality Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas (being held this year April 28 through 30) — each time receiving a standing ovation.

About seven years have passed since Nathan left Wynn, having spent more than 23 years there. (Today, he’s a visiting professor at the University of Nevada College of Hotel Administration.) But it’s great to see he hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to delivering a powerful speech. If you take the time to click on the play button below, you’ll hear Nathan (also the subject of an HRE cover story, “Roll of the Dice,” in 2005) recount three hiring experiences that demonstrate why a good deed is often its own reward.

Nathan recalls in his speech that, if he ever had the opportunity to help others through his work, he would take full advantage of it. And he certainly has had plenty of opportunities over the years. During his career as “Steve Wynn’s HR guy,” he managed recruiting programs that pulled in more than 3 million applications, and from them he “hired 125,000 great employees.” In his talk, Nathan shares several heartfelt stories on how, by giving applicants “a second chance,” he’s been able to make good on a promise he made to himself when he was just getting started in his career: to try, through his work, to make a difference in people’s lives.  In each instance, Nathan’s employers have reaped the rewards as well.

Near the end of his talk, Nathan notes that, along the way, he was able to learn that you “can’t judge a book by its cover and that giving people a second chance and an opportunity can change lives, and that good deeds really are their own rewards.”

“But maybe the most important thing I learned,” he says, “[is that] just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, but then there are other times that because you can, you absolutely should.”


More Restrictions on Criminal-Background Checks

California appears to be the latest state to join the criminal-background-restriction bandwagon. A new law enacted last month amends the California Labor Code to prohibit public and private employers from asking job applicants about criminal records that have been expunged, sealed or dismissed.

gavel and handcuffs -- 162424875“The good news is that [the law] doesn’t break entirely new ground, but instead modifies existing law,” says Brian Inamine, a LeClairRyan labor and employment attorney and shareholder in the firm’s Los Angeles office, in this release about it. “The bad news is that it represents one more hurdle that businesses have to contend with.”

Indeed, as my Nov. 13 news analysis on HREOnline points out, the hurdles are racking up. To date, 43 cities, counties and municipalities, and 10 states have passed “ban the box” legislation for public-only or public and private employers, making questions about criminal convictions on job applications illegal.

What’s more, as that story points out, there’s still a lot of confusion about what’s required of employers under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines on criminal-background checks.

Actually, as it says, nothing’s really required. There’s no federal law being dictated in the guidelines, but failing to follow them could lead employers to discrimination charges under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which the guidelines are based on. The EEOC maintains criminal-history checks disproportionately impact minority candidates. For a rundown of some of the events and issues leading up to the EEOC’s guidelines, take a trip here through some of our earlier blog posts.

Another recent news analysis of mine looks at an additional potential punishment, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, that Disney recently found itself ensnared in. In a class-action lawsuit, Culberson vs. The Walt Disney Company, Robert L. Culberson claims Disney illegally barred him from employment by failing to provide him with the proper adverse-action notice — required by the FCRA when an adverse-employment decision is based on any portion of a background check.

In that case, Culberson’s background check showed a criminal conviction on a battery charge from 1998 — when he was 19 years old — that had been expunged from his record in 2010. He claims he was not given the opportunity to correct the information before the company decided not to hire him, nor did Disney re-evaluate his application after the background-screening company, Sterling Infosystems Inc., eventually removed the conviction from his record and issued a new report.

As the new California law reminds us, and as the sources in all these linked stories and posts underscore, make sure you know what criminal-background laws govern the jurisdiction(s) you’re in and — equally important — what other laws might come in to play should you fail to follow proper procedures.



Disabled Americans Want Jobs, Not Benefits

Linking a Jan. 8 release with Jan. 7 news that the Social Security disability system may have been bilked out of hundreds of millions of dollars by 9/11 responders and others 183174586 -- disabled at workfaking disabilities, RespectAbilityUSA made a special plea to employers to turn some numbers around and get more disabled Americans into the workforce.

In the release, RespectAbility — a Washington-based nonprofit focused on empowering people with disabilities — included results from its latest poll showing three out of four people with disabilities surveyed value a job and independence over government benefits. (Here is a link to the final poll announcement made on Friday, with slides.)

“Too many people with disabilities are prevented from having a real job at a real wage because of employer misconceptions and because the structure of the benefit system prevents people from working more,” says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the company’s president. “Republican, Democrat, Independent — what comes across clearly in the poll is that people with disabilities want to work, pay taxes and be full members of our society.”

Addressing the 9/11 scandal — involving New York cops and firefighters allegedly making fraudulent claims of depression and anxiety to their doctors for lucrative awards — Mizrahi says her organization is “disgusted by the actions of individuals [that make] the rest of us with real disabilities and those who care about them look guilty, and it makes it more difficult to have important conversations about our hopes, aspirations and dreams of entering the workforce and being active, contributing members of society.”

The release cites findings that 70 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities are outside the workforce, compared to 28 percent of people with disabilities. It also includes data showing the disability community gives President Obama, Congress and their governors failing grades in how much they trust them to increase their employment opportunities.

This certainly isn’t the first time we at HRE have covered the merits of attracting, hiring and retaining people with disabilities. Three of my recent favorites are this recent blog post by Senior Editor Andrew R. McIlvaine about a disability summit co-hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlighting companies that are doing those things right, our December benefits column by Carol Harnett about disability’s power to instruct and how she learned early on that everyone deserves a fair chance, and this November feature by Julie Cook Ramirez about a company — Innotrac — going the distance to give disabled workers just such a chance.

I like the numbers RespectAbility provides though, even though they sadly underscore a huge discrepancy between what disabled Americans want and what they’re currently getting.

What a CEO Should Want in a CHRO

Some very interesting insight into what a CEO should be looking for when hiring a new HR leader, in a new post on Forbes site today from contributor Roberta Matuson.

Matuson begins by advising CEOs to “start with the end goal in mind and work backwards” and “hire someone who cares about learning about the business they are in.”

But her next piece of advice, “Treat this person as a business partner” is what struck me as the most forward-thinking piece of advice for hiring a CHRO:

You wouldn’t ask your CFO to report to your head of HR, would you? Don’t even think about asking your senior HR executive to report to anyone but you. The type of person you are looking to hire won’t be interested in your position if you decide to put a filter between you and this individual. They’ll immediately understand that those people who you claim are your most important assets are merely second-class assets.

Also, Matuson quotes Liz Gottung, senior vice president and Chief Human Resources Officer at Kimberly-Clark, on the best type of person to bring into the CHRO role: “You will be better served by picking someone who can really bring a different perspective. Someone who can disagree and tell you that you are wrong.”

While it’s always heartening to see the CHRO role written about in the same reverent terms as CFO and the other residents of the C-suite, we’re especially glad to see a CHRO job description also include the ability to stand up and speak truth to power.

Creating an Even Better Candidate Experience

For the third year in a row, the Talent Board officially announced the winners of the 2013 Candidate Experience Awards at this year’s HR Tech.

In all, 64 employers made 2013 list, including familiar names like Accenture, MetLife, Lockheed Martin, BASF, CVS Caremark, Intuit and General Motors. So if stamp_large-resized-210you’re looking for ways to improve your own candidate experience, Talent Board’s CandE award winners would be a pretty good place to start.

Earlier today, I did a video interview with Gerry Crispin, co-founder of CareerXroads and one of the CandE’s co-founders, on the significance of the awards as well as other topics. (That video will be posted to our website shortly.) Crispin is of the opinion that companies are definitely getting much better at creating a more positive candidate experience.

If you missed Sue Meisinger’s HR Leadership column on the candidate experience, you might want to take a few minutes to check it out. (Meisinger served as one of the judges for this year’s CandE’s.)

Elaine Orler, chairman and co-founder of the Talent Board, sums this year’s selections this way ….

The organizations selected as CandE Award winners show a firm understanding of the need to continuously improve their recruitment practices and provide their job applicants with a positive, rewarding and insightful candidate experience, regardless of whether or not they are hired.”

As was the case last year, recruiting continues to be high on the radar of attendees at this year’s conference. (Orler’s session held earlier today titled “The Recruiting Technology State of the Union,” for instance, was packed.) Further evidence, perhaps, that HR leaders acknowledge that there’s still plenty of room for improvement as far as recruiting processes are concerned.

Letting Candidates ‘Tell Their Stories’

Video interviewing technology continues to be one of the more sizzling areas of HR technology, with more than a few employers (Async Interview, GreenJobInterview, HireVue, Interview Stream and Montage, among them) touting their solutions at the 16th Annual HR Technology Conference® expo. (Check out a feature we ran on this category earlier this year.) So it only seems fitting that at least one session on this year’s program would be entirely dedicated to the topic.

The session, titled “Hilton Checks-in with Digital Recruiting Technology” and presented by Hilton Vice President of Global Recruiting Randy Moses and HireVue CEO Mark Newman, focused on how Hilton was leveraging 140788100HireVue’s video interviewing platform to improve its hiring process.

As a high-touch business, Hilton has been looking for ways to create a better experience for job candidates going through Hilton’s recruitment process. Moses noted that video technology has enabled Hilton to do just that.

Throughout his presentation, Moses referenced video technology’s ability to let candidates “tell their stories.”

Moses noted that Hilton was specifically using video technology to hire college students and veterans. In the case of the latter, Hilton announced in August Operation: Opportunity, an initiative that includes the hiring of 10,000 veterans over the next five years.

“A college student or veteran isn’t going to have two years of hospitality experience,” Moses said. “But if you give them a chance to tell you their story, and someone is telling you they’re in charge of 2,000 meals a day on a ship, don’t you think that person might be qualified to run a food and beverage operation [at one of our hotels]? Absolutely!”

To help achieve its 10,000 veteran goal, Moses said, Hilton established a program that awards a two-night stay for veterans interviewing for a job.

Moses noted that Hilton is also using the technology to put the “human element back into the onboarding process.” Through the videos, he said, team members are able to learn more about the new hire during those critical first days of employment.