Category Archives: hiring

Cultivating a ‘Cloud-Enabled Workforce’

Millions of people around the world use Amazon to find everything from light bulbs to rare works of art. Now, thanks to a new service offered by the Seattle-based behemoth, companies will soon be going to Amazon to find and recruit cloud engineers.  The Seattle-based company’s AWS Educate division will be offering free, self-paced  online courses and learning modules through its new Cloud Career Pathways program. Students who successfully complete the offerings will be matched with relevant internships and job openings via the AWS Educate Job Board, which in addition to Amazon itself features employers such as Cloudnexa, Splunk, Instructure and Udacity.

“We built AWS Educate with a vision of helping to cultivate a cloud-enabled workforce,” said Teresa Carlson, AWS vice president for worldwide public sector, in a statement. “We’ve designed Cloud Career Pathways that will help students get targeted experience and skills, and placed those side by side with relevant jobs from some of the most in-demand technology employers today.”

TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden notes in a post that Amazon’s move could make it a potential competitor to LinkedIn, which is using its acquisition to offer training in areas such as coding to professionals looking to acquire more skills. Amazon’s decision to offer the courses for free fits with its overall business model, Lunden writes, in which it “prices competitively — or not at all — to bring in more users, who either represent a sizeable revenue opportunity in aggregate, or (in free cases) lead to the potential of paying for other goods and services down the line.”

The Cloud Career Pathways are aligned with four over-arching “job families”: cloud architect, software developer, operations-support engineer, and analytics and big-data specialist, says Amazon. Each pathway includes a minimum of 30 hours of content designed to build core skill sets across the four job families. Once they’ve successfully completed the coursework (delivered via instructional videos, lab exercises, online courses, whitepapers and podcasts), the students will receive badges and certificates that appear on their AWS Educate profile, which they can use in their job applications. They can also apply directly to jobs and internships posted on the AWS Educate Job Board, says Amazon.

Tweet This!

What HR Wants in Entry-Level Workers

If new SHRM research is any indication, HR professionals have a pretty good idea of the attributes they’re looking for in entry-level job candidates.

HR leaders aren’t quite so sure, however, of their organization’s ability to spot the skills they’re searching for.

Produced in collaboration with Mercer, SHRM’s just-released Entry-Level Applicant Job Skills Survey polled 521 HR professionals. Overall, 97 percent of respondents said dependability was very or extremely important in determining whether an applicant possessed the necessary qualifications to be hired into an entry-level position, according to SHRM. Eighty-seven percent said the same about integrity, with 84 percent and 83 percent saying that respect and teamwork, respectively, were very or extremely important.

In addition, 78 percent indicated that dependability was one of the three most important traits an entry-level candidate can possess. Forty-nine percent placed integrity in their top three, with 36 percent considering teamwork a top-three quality.

Looking ahead at what skills and traits would best serve entry-level job seekers in the coming three to five years, 62 percent pointed to adaptability, while 49 percent singled out initiative and 49 percent said critical thinking skills would be most desirable.

Respondents were also asked to gauge their faith in the methods their firms use to assess the aforementioned qualities (and a handful of others, such as professionalism and customer focus). Their confidence levels aren’t exactly off the charts.

With regard to evaluating the integrity of an entry-level candidate, for instance, a mere 15 percent said they thought the phone interviews they conduct with these applicants were effective. Just 13 percent of HR professionals reported confidence in their company’s ability to accurately assess integrity through telephone screens.

A simple phone conversation will only tell you so much about a candidate, of course. Respondents did feel that they could get a good sense of an applicant’s character in person, with 96 percent saying they were very or extremely confident or moderately confident or confident in on-site interviews as a way to assess integrity. Ninety-five percent expressed similar belief in panel interviews, with 97 percent saying the same about situational judgment tests.

Still, just 20 percent of those surveyed described themselves as being very or extremely confident in their organization’s ability to effectively assess the overall skills of entry-level applicants, while 11 percent said they were not at all confident or only slightly confident.

Such findings “may be due to an over-reliance on applications and resumes, even though most HR professionals believe them to be ineffective in assessing entry-level candidates, simply because they are ingrained in our culture,” says Evren Esen, director of workforce analytics at SHRM.

“This is a clear indication for a need for new, more effective approaches,” says Esen, noting that improvements in the use of predictive data modeling and assessment technologies could begin to influence the methods HR professionals use to evaluate entry-level candidates.

“Although few HR professionals indicated that their organizations currently used data-based assessment methods such as personality and cognitive tests or simulations,” adds Esen, “the use of these tools may grow in the future.”


Tweet This!

War for Talent Hits Retail

Although seasonal hiring for the retail industry is expected to be mostly flat compared to last year, finding employees to fill positions for the holiday season is expected to be tougher this year, given changes in the economy and in the retail sector itself. Macys, Target and Toys R Us have announced they’ll hold their first-ever nationwide recruiting events for seasonal workers at all of their stores and facilities during a single day or over several weekends, CNBC reports.

The lower unemployment rate and higher minimum wages in many states and localities means that finding workers to fill seasonal retail positions this year will be more difficult and expensive for retailers than last year — average hourly pay for seasonal workers is up by $4 from last year, to $14 per hour, according to Snagajob. But the growth of e-commerce means that they’ll be struggling to fill warehouse positions at fulfillment centers as well as cashiers and the like — and those jobs can be tougher to fill.

Retailers encountered difficulty filling warehouse jobs in areas such as central Ohio, Memphis, Tenn. and Louisville, Ky., Steve Osborn, a director at the Kurt Salmon consulting firm and supply chain expert, told CNBC.  “The same group of [retailers] that were fighting over people last year will be fighting over people this year. And there’s a few less people to fight over and a few more positions to fill,” he said.

Unlike most customer-facing positions, warehouse jobs tend to be more labor-intensive, which can make them less appealing, Osborn said. Plus, the facilities tend to be located in rural areas, where land is cheap but people are few, he said.

Some companies are responding to the challenge by opening “micro hubs” closer to large urban areas. “This not only helps them get goods to customers faster, but it solves some staffing issues pressing on them,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger told Multichannel Merchant. “They can find more people willing to do that work in city neighborhoods, who don’t want to do an hour commute to the exurbs or have transportation issues.”

Other companies are adding perks such as on-site child care to their facility, offering eight-hour days with no work requirement on the weekends, and removing their English language requirement to attract more Hispanic workers. “We have bilingual staff and our temp agencies support us with bilingual supervisors and coaches,” Christine Miller, director of operations for American Eagle Outfitters in Hazleton, Pa., told Multichannel Merchant.

Tweet This!

Don’t Forget About Boomers

It’s easy to get caught up in how to attract and retain the millennials and members of Generation Z who will comprise the overwhelming majority of the workforce before too long.

Then there are the Gen Xers to consider—so crucial to your success today, as they settle into vital management roles within the organization.

But what about baby boomers?

We all know that boomers are hitting retirement age, but many are staying on the job. Much has been made of how companies will replace the knowledge and experience that boomers will take with them when they do leave the workforce, but a new survey from the Futurestep division of Korn Ferry looks at what this generation is bringing to the business now, and what motivates these employees most.

The poll asked more than 1,300 global executives to evaluate the role of baby boomers in their organizations. More than half (55 percent) of respondents said that boomers were willing to work longer hours than other generations, and were considered the second-most productive cohort, after Generation X.

Naturally, these seasoned employees require little hand-holding on the job, with 31 percent of executives saying boomers need less feedback than their younger colleagues, “demonstrating how boomers are also seen as reliable, in addition to hardworking,” according to a Korn Ferry Futurestep statement.

How do these dedicated workers find fulfillment on the job? Fifty-four percent of executives said that offering boomers the opportunity to make an impact on the business was the best way to retain boomer talent.

“This far outstrips the ambition of other generations, with just over a quarter (28 percent) of executives surveyed indicating that making an impact at work was the key motivator for millennials,” according to Korn Ferry Futurestep, “highlighting just how integral baby boomers are to businesses today.”

Most companies recognize as much, of course, and are eager to take advantage of boomers’ wealth of knowledge, with 50 percent considering “experience and expertise” as the main reason for bringing them into the business.

Once boomers are on board, how do you retain them?

It’s not necessarily money. Just 6 percent of respondents cited regular pay raises and promotions as the best way to retain boomers in their organizations. No, as previously noted, 54 percent of respondents said boomers most value the opportunity to make an impact, followed by “creating a culture that aligns with their values,” at 22 percent, management responsibilities (10 percent) and work/life balance (8 percent).

“While many in the baby boomer generation are working longer to provide more financial security after seeing their retirement account balances tumble during the Great Recession, their desire to extend their careers is not entirely financially motivated,” says Jeanne MacDonald, president of global talent acquisition solutions at Korn Ferry Futurestep.

“What is often overlooked is the fact that the majority of the people in this generation are highly motivated, enjoy what they do, and they provide great experience and value within the global workforce.”

Tweet This!

GE’s Commitment to Hiring Veterans

On the day after our 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks (considering all the soldier deployments and returns that followed), I 177236858-veteran-hiringthought it might be a good time to share this tidbit I’ve been keeping my eyes on. It seems General Electric is going above and beyond in its effort to put military veterans to work. In a recent email, it describes taking skills development and leadership training “to a whole other level” with its Junior Officer Leadership Program.

Those selected to enter the program are able to navigate three different job rotations across various functions within a business while choosing their rotations in order to build networks and do some self-exploration.

This dedication to putting veterans to work and keeping them there wasn’t born yesterday, mind you. In 2012, GE announced its pledge to hire 5,000 vets in five years, a goal it says it has just met. It has also since committed to ensuring 10 percent of all new hires are veterans. In the words of GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, quoted by CNBC at the time of the pledge:

“Too often for veterans, risking their lives has meant risking their livelihoods when they return home. They deserve better, and a good job is a start. But at GE, we also view veterans as great assets for our company’s growth.”

He goes on:

“Veterans have led in the field; they can lead in a factory or research facility. [They] believe in getting the job done and doing it in the right way. For [them], globalization is not an abstract concept, or even something to be feared; instead, they’ve experienced it first-hand. They are proud to work together to reach a common goal, bigger than any one individual.”

Mind you, GE is not alone in its commitment to bring more vets on board. This fact sheet from the White House back in May lists all kinds of similar commitments from large companies, including Amazon, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, the list goes on.

Then there’s this good news, issued late June from Hire Heroes USA, extolling its having reached its goal to hire 10,000 veterans since its founding in 2007.

But as Kyle Kensing, online editor for CareerCast Veterans in Carlsbad, Calif., points out in my June 6 post on the wisdom and virtue of hiring veterans, we still have a long way to go. As he puts it, “there’s still work to be done; the numbers aren’t really where we want them and there are specific things employers could be doing that many still are not.”

Back in June, he cited employers’ needs to reach out more to veterans in hiring and HR practices to defuse the isolation they feel when they enter corporate America. He also cited a need for employers to be more aggressive in increasing their veteran-hiring head counts and ensuring some veterans are working within the HR department, not only because of the skills they bring to HR (responsibility for others, opening up lines of communication, being able to understand what skills people have and what skills people need, and where they need help and where they can shine), but so veterans have a liaison and advocate in HR. Speaking with him more recently, he confirmed improvements are still in need of a boost.

Perhaps this site from GE sums up best the need for — and the bottom-line benefits of — establishing more of a commitment to returning soldiers:

“Your service made you a leader and a disciplined, strategic thinker with a level of loyalty that is unmatched.”

Sounds like a good hire to me.

Tweet This!

So Long, Salary History Questions?

It’s a topic that has made many an interviewee squirm. When asked to discuss compensation history, it’s only natural for job candidates to worry about either pricing themselves out of the market or setting the salary bar too low.

Depending on what happens when Congress returns from summer recess, job candidates may never have to answer uncomfortable salary history-related questions again.

Late last week, a trio of lawmakers announced that they planned to introduce a bill that would prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary history before making a job or salary offer.

These legislators, however, have loftier aspirations than just making the interview process a little less awkward for job seekers.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), will introduce the bill, which “seeks to eliminate the wage gap that women and people of color often encounter,” according to a statement announcing the bill.

“Because many employers set wages based on an applicant’s previous salary, workers from historically disadvantaged groups often start out behind their white male counterparts in salary negotiations and never catch up.”

Ultimately, “the only way to make sure women and minorities will be treated equally is to remove the early biases that exist, both in hiring practices and salary negotiations, and our bill works to eliminate those obstacles by requiring employers to offer salaries based on the value of the work,” said Congressman Nadler, in the aforementioned statement. “Employers can and should hire good employees without taking into account prior pay history or condemning someone to depressed wages due to gender and racial inequity.”

The Washington Post calls the bill “the latest sign that efforts to dump the dreaded [salary history] question could be gaining momentum.”

In August, for example, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an equal pay bill—passed unanimously by both of the state’s legislative branches—forbidding employers from asking about salary history until a job offer was extended.

Meanwhile, an amendment to California’s Fair Pay Act went into effect at the beginning of 2016 that would bar companies from basing compensation decisions on prior salaries alone, according to the Post.

Such recent examples aside, the new bill’s prospects for passage aren’t great, the paper notes, pointing out that bills attempting to legislate equal pay have been introduced in every Congress since 1997, to no avail.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the legislation is dead on arrival, as Fatima Goss Graves, senior vice president at the National Women’s Law Center, told the Post.

“People can see the connection of the deep unfairness of carrying past discrimination with you to job after job,” Graves told the paper, noting that the support the Massachusetts business community has shown since the state banned salary-related questions could have a mobilizing effect.

“When states show that something is possible,” says Graves, “that’s extremely reinforcing.”

Tweet This!

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

The first meeting was magical. Sparks flew. The chemistry seemed just right. It feels like a perfect fit, and you can’t wait to see them again.

So, now what? Do you make the next move? Do you call? If so, how long do you wait before picking up the phone? Do you come off as desperate if you get in touch too soon? Or seem disinterested if you wait too long?

Such questions have twisted countless lovestruck stomachs into knots since the dawn of dating. And there’s still no real right answer to any of them, unfortunately.

Luckily for employers, hiring is a less funny thing (if only slightly so), and new Robert Half research should at least offer some guidance to those looking to land the employee of their dreams.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm’s recent Time to Hire survey gathered sentiments about the job-search process from more than 1,000 U.S. workers currently employed in office environments.

Overall, nearly six in 10 (57 percent) of these employees found the “long wait after an interview to hear if they got the job” to be the most frustrating part of the job search. Thirty-nine percent said a hiring process lasting seven to 14 days from initial interview to formal offer is too long, with 23 percent feeling a timeframe of 15 to 21 days was too lengthy.

Moreover, 23 percent of respondents said they lose interest in an organization if they don’t hear back within one week of the initial interview. Another 46 percent said they give up on an employer if a span of one to two weeks has passed with no post-interview status update.

“Professionals in fields such as compliance, cybersecurity, big data and finance can receive four to six offers within a week,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, in a statement. “Candidates with several options often choose the organization that shows the most interest and has an organized recruiting process.”

In other words, hiring managers who play it too cool are likely to wind up jilted.

For example, 39 percent of job seekers said they move on and pursue other roles when faced with a lengthy hiring process, while another 18 percent said they decide to stay put in their current jobs in that scenario.

The key takeaway from such findings is “for firms to tighten their [hiring] timelines without skipping steps,” says McDonald, who offers tips for making new hires effectively as well as efficiently.

For example, he advises consolidating on-site, in-person interviews to one day if possible, informing candidates of your timeline for making a decision, and calling them with updates in the event something happens to gum up the works.

“The hiring process provides a window into the overall corporate culture,” says McDonald. “If people feel their career potential will be stifled by a slow-moving organization, they will take themselves out of the running.”

It only makes sense that a suitor’s indecision would lead some candidates—a majority, in this survey—to opt out. But what about the rest of the respondents (who were allowed to provide multiple responses when asked to describe their feelings in the face of a drawn-out hiring process)?

Well, 23 percent of them said they wouldn’t mind playing the waiting game if it ultimately meant working for a great organization. Another 21 percent suggested they would “completely understand” and respect a company’s need to be thorough.

Fair enough. But a larger number—32 percent—said they would “question the company’s ability to make other decisions if [it] can’t seem to make a timely hiring decision.”

That also seems like a reasonable enough perception for one to develop. Still, many of these same job seekers wouldn’t necessarily rule out coming to work for a company they feel drags its feet in filling vacancies. So, taking your sweet time may not cause you to miss out on every good candidate.

But would you want those that you do hire to enter the organization harboring doubts about its ability to make decisions? If, as McDonald says, how you handle hiring provides a window into your corporate culture, then uncertainty is hardly the first thing you’d want them to see.

Tweet This!

The ‘Ban the Box’ Paradox

HRE columnist Peter Cappelli recently penned a piece suggesting that “ban the box” legislation, while certainly well-intentioned, may not be the best approach to helping ex-felons transition back into the workforce.

Such laws, which prohibit employers from making questions about criminal convictions part of the hiring process, have been adopted in 24 states and more than 100 cities and counties in the U.S.

The good news is that “more ex-felons seem to have gotten jobs,” says Cappelli, a professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the overall hiring of young black and Hispanic men has declined, he adds.

“In other words, we swapped one form of discrimination for another,” says Cappelli. “It wasn’t supposed to work that way. The problem is people don’t behave the way the legislation anticipated. We don’t wait until the law allows us to find out about criminal records. We start guessing.”

Researchers Jennifer Doleac, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Virginia, and Benjamin Hansen, an associate professor of economics at the University of Oregon, seem to share that view.

In their recent study (which Cappelli does reference in his column), the pair of professors tested the net effects of ban-the-box policies on employment outcomes for various demographic groups, using data from the Current Population survey.

The authors found that, among men between the ages of 25 and 34 who don’t hold a college degree, BTB policies decrease the probability of being employed by 4.5 percent for black men, and by 3.5 percent for Hispanic men.

In the same age group, black men with a college degree and white women of all educational levels benefit from this policy, according to the study. This finding suggests that, when criminal history information is unavailable, “employers pursue candidates who are less likely to have been recently incarcerated based on their remaining observable characteristics,” the authors write.

The goal of BTB laws “is to improve employment outcomes for ex-offenders and thereby reduce racial disparities in employment.”

The legislation, however, “could do more harm than good,” they continue, noting that firms that don’t want to hire ex-offenders might statistically discriminate based on race and gender in order to avoid interviewing applicants who are more likely to have been recently incarcerated.

“Of particular concern, employers might avoid interviewing young, low-skilled, black and Hispanic men when [ban-the-box legislation] is in effect,” note Doleac and Hansen. “This could worsen employment outcomes for those already-disadvantaged groups, without meaningfully improving outcomes for ex-offenders.”

In a recent UVA Today article, Doleac offers a “two-fold policy plan” to help combat discrimination against those for whom “ban the box” laws were designed, “without unintentionally hurting minority men without criminal records.”

For example, “individuals with criminal records may have histories of violent or dishonest behavior, and on average might struggle with greater emotional trauma and have worse interpersonal skills,” she says.

Providing opportunities for such applicants to demonstrate that they don’t have these problems—perhaps by having a local job-training program vouch for them—could potentially “help them overcome automatic assumptions about their temperament and suitability.”

Another “broad category of policies” that might improve upon current legislation includes education and rehabilitation programs that “would actually improve the underlying job readiness of this population,” says Doleac, who is currently working on a new technology-based project aimed at improving re-entry outcomes for individuals leaving prison.

“The reason that employers discriminate against people with [criminal] records is that, on average, that group is less job-ready than people without records.”


Tweet This!

A Groundbreaking New Pay Equity Law

Beginning July 1, 2018, employers in Massachusetts will be prohibited from asking job candidates about their salary history before offering them a job or asking candidates’ former employers about their pay. The new law, the Pay Equity Act, is designed to reduce the pay disparities between men and women in the workplace.

Although other states (including California and Maryland) have also enacted recent legislation designed to reduce pay inequity, Massachusetts is the first state to ban employers from asking about candidates’ salary history. The law, signed earlier this week by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, not only had bipartisan support in the state legislature but also from business groups such as the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Nationally, women still earn only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Because companies tend to use candidates’ pay history as a guideline in making offers, these inequities can follow candidates throughout their lifetimes, pay-equity advocates say.

The Massachusetts law, which amends and expands upon the state’s pre-existing pay equity law, also makes it illegal for employers to ban employees from discussing their pay with others and will require equal pay employees whose work is “of comparable character or work in comparable operations.” The law also bars employers from reducing the pay of any employee in order to come into compliance with the Pay Equity Act.

The law also increases the penalties for violations, according to an analysis by law firm Holland & Knight:

The law expands the remedies available to plaintiffs by extending the statute of limitations from one year to three years, and creating a continuing violation provision under which a new violation of the law occurs each time an employee is paid an unequal amount. This provision may permit employees to recover years of back pay discrepancies as well as liquidated damages. Fines are increased from $100 to $1,000 per violation. There is no requirement that an employee file first with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). Lawsuits may be filed directly in court.

Notably, however, the law features a safe harbor provision for employers that have been accused of pay discrimination, writes attorney Victoria Fuller of White and Williams:

Employers may avoid liability for pay discrimination under the Act if they can show within the last three years and before the commencement of the action, they have completed a good-faith self-evaluation of their pay practices and can demonstrate that reasonable progress has been made towards eliminating compensation differentials based on gender for comparable work in accordance with the evaluation.

Tweet This!

Hope Reigns Supreme in the HR Suite

As a good HR leader, you probably have a handle on hiring trends within your organization’s industry.

But what about your profession? What’s the employment forecast for HR?

At the moment, the prognosis is pretty good. And the younger the HR practitioner, the brighter the outlook, according to the 2016 HR Jobs Pulse Survey, recently released by the Alexandria, Va.-based Society for Human Resource Management.

The SHRM poll asked 365 U.S.-based HR professionals to gauge their faith in their own job security and ability to find work if they were to leave their current employer.

Overall, 75 percent of all respondents reported confidence in their job security, with that number climbing to 85 percent among early-career HR professionals.

Those at the earliest stages of their careers were found to be “particularly confident” in the stability of the profession, “which suggests that new entrants to the profession are feeling optimistic about their future as HR practitioners,” says Alex Alonso, SHRM senior vice president of knowledge development, in a statement.

Some of these younger professionals, however, are a bit unsure about their chances outside their current organization, at least in comparison to their more experienced colleagues. Sixty-three percent of early-career respondents said they were “somewhat” or “very” confident that they could find a new job. Overall, 88 percent of respondents described their prospects the same way.

Regardless of age, most of these HR practitioners intend to stay put anyway, as just 19 percent of those polled said they were looking for a new job.

The roughly one-fifth of those pursuing other opportunities have their reasons for doing so, of course. Not surprisingly, money tops the list, with 42 percent citing “more compensation/pay” as their primary motivation for seeking new employment. Thirty-seven percent said they were in search of “better career advancement opportunities.”

Just 27 percent of those surveyed said their companies were hiring for HR positions, however. That percentage remains unchanged from 2015, according to SHRM.

What kind of talented HR practitioners are organizations looking to find? According to the SHRM survey, HR generalists continue to be in the highest demand (49 percent), followed by HR professionals with employment and recruitment skills (31 percent).

Ultimately, while hiring remains fairly flat for HR positions relative to last year, the findings suggest an air of optimism in the HR suite, says Alonso.

“Confidence in the stability of the profession has increased slightly,” he says. “The vast majority of HR professionals … had some level of confidence that they could land a new job if necessary.”



Tweet This!