Category Archives: recruiting

Human Capital a Top Concern in Public Sector

Since the Great Recession began and even afterward, state and municipal governments have been slashing their payrolls, implementing mandatory unpaid leave for employees and cutting back on once-generous health and retirement benefits. Now the after-effects of those cutbacks appear to be coming home to roost, a new survey finds.

Exterior of the Iowa State Capitol

Exterior of the Iowa State Capitol

Ninety percent of state and local government employees from all 50 states and the District of Columbia consider human capital issues to be a challenge for their organization, according to a nationwide survey from the Government Business Council and  Route Fifty, a digital business-to-business publication from the publisher of Government Executive. Only 41 percent of the 928 individuals surveyed (more than half of whom hold executive-level roles) believe their organization is prepared for the looming baby boomer retirements. And just 40 percent indicate their organization is competitive with the private sector in its ability to recruit and hire talent.

That last item seems to weigh heavily on the minds of public-sector leaders these days, and for good reason. The generous pension benefits commonly associated with public-sector jobs do not appear to have the same lure for today’s younger candidates than in the past, according to the Pew Charitable Trust’s 2014 Recruiting and Retaining Public Sector Workers study, which is based on interviews with state HR officers.

As Sara Walker, director of the West Virginia Division of Personnel, explained:

“People who have been with the state are invested in being state employees and being able to retire from the system. They understand what’s waiting for them. But the generation that’s coming in—I don’t know that the pension plan would retain them because they’re mobile. They’re going to move. We’ll have to figure out how to have continuity of services with a generation that is a revolving door.”

Eugene Moser, former director of the New Mexico State Personnel Office, noted that younger workers tend to move much faster between jobs than the previous generation. For mobile workers like these, traditional pensions based on years of service obviously hold less appeal.

Lee-Ann Easton, administrator of the Nevada Division of Human Resource Management, said younger workers have different work-related priorities: “We are finding that the younger generation who grew up on technology wants more flexibility in their careers such as flexible hours and the option to telecommute. Pay is always a factor as well, but flexibility and telecommuting appear to be gaining in job satisfaction above retirement benefits.”

The study noted that several states, such as Vermont, are experimenting with offering new hires a choice between enrolling in a traditional defined-benefit plan or a new defined-contribution offering, including a hybrid option. And in the future, there may not be a choice: The huge unfunded pension liabilities facing many states is leading many traditional supporters of pensions — including Democrats — to support big changes that would end or significantly alter these benefits.

Twitter It!

How Favoritism-Free Do You Really Want to Be?

Here’s an interesting question for you to ponder on Martin Luther King Day, posed in this piece by Simma Lieberman on the Workforce 478884006 -- hiring biasDiversity Network: “Before you spend your next dollar on unconscious-bias training, ask yourselves if you just want people to have a good day, [and] forget or not apply what they learn, or if you want ongoing change that will make you a benchmark organization and the employer of choice.”

Though she doesn’t exactly say the former is generally what happens in companies that espouse diversity transformations, it’s implied in her piece, How Can Unconscious Bias Training Go Wrong?

Basically, she says, if you really want to establish a meaningful and effective diversity and inclusion culture without favoritism, one that results in “breakthrough innovation, [you need to instill] transformation at every level, risk-taking and the willingness to be uncomfortable.”

And that starts at the top, she says: “The CEO and other people on the executive team need to be the first ones to learn about unconscious bias and how it impacts their leadership behavior. We have our clients take the Implicit Association Test from Harvard, to be aware of their own biases. Transformation begins at the top and doesn’t stop!”

In her helpful numbered list of ways to add value to unconscious-bias training, Lieberman also stresses the need to “involve and seek input from people who manage all levels of the recruiting process. They need to be aware of their unconscious bias in the whole hiring process from where and how they recruit, how they write the job description, how they conduct the interview, and ways in which they develop rapport,” she writes.

Which reminds me of a piece I posted last Martin Luther King Day,  “Favoritism is No Friend of Diversity.” In it, Kansas City Star writer Michelle T. Johnson gets at the heart of just how insidious and nebulous favoritism is among managers and HR leaders when they’re making personnel decisions:

“What does favoritism even look like? Favoritism is usually about choice. In some workplaces, the work and the people who do it don’t have much variance in how the work is done and who does it. However, in other workplaces, work decisions are made frequently — assignments, shifts, territories, days off. With most decisions come subjective judgments. Every industry and workplace is so different, yet everyone can probably relate to some area of the job that bosses influence [subjectively] at least weekly.

“People are quick to defend their decisions, saying they base them on the best person to do the job. But over time, what conditions have you created to allow, for example, one person to inevitably do the job better than another? And if that has happened, what is the reason? Is it that the person reminds you of yourself or has similar interests, or because the person has a personality you find easier to get along with?”

Dave Kipe, chief operating officer for New York-based ABCO HVACR Supply + Solutions, who describes himself as “passionate about leadership behavior and the impact it can have in our workplace and our lives,” got back to me after that favoritism post, underscoring the need for business leaders to be more “self-aware and conscious of their implicit behavior [and bias-tinged] body language.” He calls their failures in this regard a “pitfall many leaders fall into, but don’t even acknowledge exists.”

I reached out to him about Lieberman’s post as well, considering how closely intertwined unconscious bias and favoritism are. He had a lot to say:

“I think most of us have this inflated self-perception that we are unconditionally ethical and perfectly unbiased. We are confident in our decision-making abilities and proud that we are ‘great judges of people.’ However, research has shown that’s simply not true.

“In Lieberman’s case in point, the employees embraced the ‘unconscious bias’ training, but the company didn’t sustain that focus; therefore, nothing changed. Her point that ‘there is an unconscious — and sometimes conscious — bias that people at the lower levels don’t need to be involved or won’t understand the new culture’ really resonated with me. Company leaders must engage the entire organization and drop the narcissistic attitude that employees are just too dumb or too ignorant to understand.

“Unconscious bias in the workplace is seldom discussed, but it’s impact is deep and, if uncontrolled, it can be destructive. Training is a critical component of creating a culture of inclusion, but it’s money and time wasted if not supported by the organization.”

Twitter It!

Using Social to Find Passive Candidates

Employers prize passive job candidates and are turning to social media to find them, according to a new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management. Eighty-two percent of HR professionals are using social media for this purpose, according to the survey, titled Using Social Media for Talent Acquisition — Recruitment and Screening.

The survey finds that most organizations use social media to find managers (82 percent) and other salaried employees (87 percent); however, the use of social media to recruit for hourly positions is on the rise, with 55 percent of respondents using it thusly. Although LinkedIn is used by 96 percent of respondents for social recruiting, Facebook (66 percent) and Twitter (53 percent) are also becoming popular, according to the survey, based on responses from 410 HR professionals.

Although most organizations (84 percent) are using social media for recruiting, only a tiny minority of organizations (5 percent) use social media as their primary recruiting tool, the survey finds.

Mobile is, not surprisingly, a big focus for companies using social media for recruiting: 39 percent have optimized their careers site for mobile users, while 36 percent have optimized their application process for mobile. I actually found these numbers to be surprisingly low, considering the sheer number of folks these days who search and apply for jobs using their mobile devices. Regardless of whether you’re seeking passive or active jobseekers, once you’ve gotten their interest it’d be a shame to just chase them away with a careers site that looks clunky and inaccessible on a smartphone.

Legal concerns are one of the biggest inhibitors for organizations that don’t use social media for recruiting: 46 percent cited legal risks and concerns about discovering information about protected characteristics as the top reason. An equal number cited not having enough time as the top reason for not using social media for recruiting.

Social media can indeed be a powerful way to engage passive candidates with your organization. As I wrote in this piece last year, some companies are using social media to form online communities that give employees the opportunity to talk about interesting projects they’re working on. This way, even if you don’t have an opening that matches up perfectly with what a potential candidate is looking for, you can hook their interest for future opportunities and maybe even encourage them to spread the word themselves about what you have to offer.

Twitter It!

The Hiring Games: Recruiters vs. Computers

When sizing up job candidates, should hiring managers go with their guts, or put their trust in technology?

A team of researchers sought to answer that question in a recent study, in which they proposed a test for assessing whether companies should rely on hard metrics such as job test scores or grant managers discretion in making hiring decisions.

For fans of the human element in hiring, the outcome was not good.

“[The study] definitely suggests that more decision-making powers should be given to the machine relative to the humans,” University of Toronto professor and report co-author Mitchell Hoffman told the Washington Post.

Hoffman and colleagues obtained a dataset consisting of 300,000 hires at 15 companies that use job tests for low-skilled positions such as call-center workers and standardized test graders, according to the Post. The authors measured how hires were initially assessed, whether a hiring manager overruled a low test score in order to bring someone aboard, and how workers performed later in their jobs. Testing not only improved job tenure by 15 percent, but introducing human intervention to the hiring process was also associated with “significantly worse results,” the Post noted.

And, while workers chosen for their performance on the computer test didn’t wind up being much more productive than those brought in by a hiring manager, they weren’t less productive either. This finding suggests that “recruiters weren’t even making a worthwhile trade-off between a worker’s effectiveness and longevity in the job,” the Post’s Lydia DePillis writes.

Computer-based tests that help foretell a would-be employee’s performance are certainly not a new phenomenon, and, as DePillis points out, such assessments are “getting better and better at being able to predict someone’s suitability for a given job.”

Given this reality, she asks, “Why do HR people still think they know better?”

DePillis asked that question of Julie Moreland, senior vice president of strategy and people science at PeopleMatter, a Charleston, S.C.-based workforce management software provider.

In Moreland’s estimation, “about a third” of hiring managers don’t put enough emphasis on the results of this type of assessment.

Part of what PeopleMatter does, of course, is develop job tests and offer software designed to “make it easy to see who your best-fit hires are,” according to the company’s website. So you could argue that Moreland is supposed to say that HR departments should be leaning more on technology to make good hires.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s off-base. And she also offered up an explanation for what may be happening when hiring managers’ instincts steer them wrong.

“From a human perspective, we like people who are like us,” Moreland told the Post. “They’re not thinking about the job, they’re thinking ‘I can work with this person, I relate to them.’ It skews their logic. Anybody that says they do not have bias in their interview is not being real.”

There’s some truth in that statement. And, while there’s still plenty of room in the hiring process for old-fashioned intuition, it’s certainly fair to say that fancy algorithms and sophisticated computer machines can help make the job easier.

“What true [HR professionals] realize is they’ve taken something and made [hiring] more efficient,” said Moreland, “and therefore they can spend more of their time on strategy rather than interviewing.”

 

 

 

Twitter It!

LRP Acquires Recruiting Trends Conference

LRP Conferences, LLC and Human Resource Executive® Magazine, affiliates of LRP Publications, announced today the acquisition of the Recruiting Trends Conference. A business unit of Diversified Communications, Recruiting Trends provides recruiters, sourcers, talent acquisition managers, and other HR and recruiting professionals the opportunity to expand their knowledge, discover solutions to their most pressing challenges, learn cutting-edge best practices, and gain tactical recruiting tips.

(As you may recall, Editor David Shadovitz’s posted last week on the changing priorities of recruiters from the Recruiting Trends conference in Orlando, Fla.)

“Attracting and retaining key talent has been an issue that has remained at the top of the – what keeps our readers up at night – list for as many years,” said Rebecca McKenna, vice president of global events and Human Resource Executive®  magazine’s publisher. “It makes perfect sense for Human Resource Executive® to put its stamp on products and events that explore customer concerns.”

The Recruiting Trends Conference offers a fast-paced mix of engaging presentations, focused workshops, peer-to-peer discussion, and great networking events all in a highly interactive, dynamic learning environment. Sessions are presented by recruiting executive’s at large organizations, as well as leading strategists, plus consultants in the fields of talent management and recruiting compliance. Held annually, the event gathers talent acquisition leaders for networking, exchanging ideas and sharing best practices and bold strategies for the hiring process.

The announcement was made by Ken Kahn, President of LRP. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are continuously seeking innovative products to help our customers find solutions to their challenges,” said Kahn. “With the addition of Recruiting Trends to the suite of LRP and Human Resource Executive® events and products, we are intensifying our commitment to support our customers’ development,” said Kahn.

Twitter It!

A New Mission: Hire One Million Veterans

JPMorgan Chase's Ross Brown spent 27 years in the military before joining JP Morgan Chase.

JPMorgan Chase’s Ross Brown spent 27 years in the military before joining JP Morgan Chase.

In honor of Veterans Day, we’re posting a Q&A with Ross Brown, director of military and veterans affairs at JPMorgan Chase, about a recently announced initiative by The Veterans Jobs Mission to hire a total of 1 million veterans over the next several-plus years. It’s ironic, given the training and leadership responsibilities so many of them have had, that U.S. veterans continue to suffer an unemployment rate that exceeds that of the general population. The VJM, a coalition of more than 200 companies representing all industry sectors, recently changed its name from the 100,000 Jobs Mission, with the goal of increasing the engagement and career development of vets in the private sector. Brown himself is a veteran, having spent 27 years as an officer in the Army after graduating with a bachelor of science degree from West Point. His tours of duty included Honduras and Iraq, where he commanded the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. At JPMorgan Chase, Brown’s role includes overseeing veterans employment and small business development. As you’ll read below, he’s a passionate advocate not only for veterans, but for the gifts they can bring to the workplace.

What sort of timeline are you looking at for hiring one million veterans?

Throughout the course of the conflicts of the last 12 to 14 years, we’ve routinely been transitioning about 200,000 veterans into civilian jobs from active duty. So I said to the coalition, that’s one million service members over the next five years. So we collectively decided to make that our goal — hire one million veterans — and, when we reach it, then let’s make it two million. We’re also looking to help the coalition have a greater impact by having an exchange of veterans — if, for example, a veteran applies for a job at AT&T, but they don’t have an opening for that person at the moment, they can alert Verizon, in order for that veteran to be hired.

How many veterans has JPMorgan Chase hired?

We’ve hired over 9,500 in recent years. They work in all sectors of our business. We have a three-tiered process for bringing vets into our organization. First, we have recruiters focused on former military members. Eighty percent of these recruiters have been in the military themselves, so they already understand what veterans offer and how to translate their experience into a skill we’re looking for as a firm. Then, once a vet has been hired, we have a sponsorship program that pairs them with a vet who’s been here for a while — that person helps the new hire navigate the organization. And third, we have a veterans business resource group, analogous to a fraternity or sorority, that sponsors events and activities so they can bond with people who share a common experience, commiserate with other vets.

What do vets tend to commiserate about?

First, let me highlight the characteristics that vets bring. The first is leadership. Given the conflicts we as a nation have been in, we have people even in the lowest levels of the military making important decisions. The second is a bias toward problem-solving: I know from personal experience that the challenges you face in the military are dynamic and ever-evolving and the answer is rarely found in a book. The third is teamwork: The military prides itself on being a team of teams. And then there’s character — these are people who volunteered to serve their country knowing full well they’d be sent into combat. And last, they have a bias toward getting things done. Now they find themselves transitioning to these different organizations where they may be a sole contributor rather than a member of a team. In many cases they’ve gone from being empowered to make decisions, even at the lowest level, to situations where they may have very little autonomy.

Another important thing to consider is that in the military, there’s typically a clear career path — an institutional construct for how you will advance, which schools you’ll need to attend, and so on. And there’s often less of that in civilian organizations, where there may not be that same kind of organizational infrastructure. So these are the challenges faced by vets in the civilian workplace, and that’s why being able to commiserate with others with a shared background helps them in that transition.

As a veteran yourself, what sort of qualities most appeal to you in an employer?

What’s important to me are shared values. If I hadn’t felt that the organizational values here at JPMorgan Chase were consistent with my own, then I wouldn’t have joined. Second, I have to feel that whatever business the organization is in, there has to be a commitment to excellence. What attracted me to this job was the opportunity to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives, on veterans’ lives.

Are there some common misperceptions about veterans that can get in the way of them finding work — for example, misconceptions about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder?

This is my perspective, and it’s borne out by statistics: For the majority of vets transitioning today, if they served in combat, they are strengthened by it. They’ve been strengthened by that experience. And that’s the bottom line.

What are the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of veterans finding good jobs?

There needs to be universal acknowledgement that vets are good for business and we need to continue creating pathways for them to be employed. It’s not that there’s no desire to hire them, but what’s the best way to acquire them.

What’s your advice to HR leaders who want their organizations to hire more veterans?

I would suggest they get their companies to join our coalition, The Veterans Jobs Mission, because we offer a support structure to help them employ veterans in whatever industry sector they’re in. We represent a community that shares lessons learned, discusses benefits and opportunities, and so that’s what I’d suggest: Join us.

Twitter It!

Changing Priorities for Recruiters

How different will the world of recruiting look five years from now? If you ask Kevin Wheeler, founder of The Future of Talent Institute in Fremont, Calif., the answer is really different!

ThinkstockPhotos-478800411Wheeler, a self-described “futurist,” told attendees at this week’s Recruiting Trends Conference at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando, Fla., that recruiters should brace for dramatic change in the coming months and years.

Among a few of the forces at work in reshaping the recruiting landscape are increased automation and the changing nature of work.

Because of automation, Wheeler said, “mid-level and manufacturing-worker jobs are disappearing,” opening the way for workers who possess significantly higher skill levels.

“I was in Australia a few weeks ago, where they have McDonald’s with no workers in the front of the store,” he recalled. “You order on a kiosk … and they have two employees bring your food out.

”Think of all of those people who work at McDonald’s who won’t have jobs in a few years,” he said.

Wheeler pointed to an Oxford University study titled The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation? showing that telemarketers, accountants and auditors, and retail sales people were among the jobs most at risk of disappearing.

Recruiters, he said, are also going to become much more technologically savvy.

“You probably have read [Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s 2011 book] Race Against the Machine — that we’re competing against computers and technology,” he said. But a better way to think about it, he added, is as a race with the machine, because if you end up racing against the machine, you’re going to lose!

Wheeler noted that recruiters are also going to need to get their hands around a workplace that includes many more contract workers. (Gig workers were the subject of a recent HRE cover story titled “The Contingent Quandary.”) When he asked how many of those in the room were involved in selecting contract workers, only a few hands went up. But in the future, he predicted, recruiters are going to need to play a much more active role in advising hiring managers on the merits of bringing in such workers, based on the type of work that needs to be done.

“Forget about culture,” he said. “It’s going to be more about whether or not that person can repair this chair.”

As a result, Wheeler said, recruiters are going to need to possess a different set of skills, such as social intelligence, virtual collaboration, co-creation and cross-cultural competence. “These are going to be core to your survival, not interviewing skills and sourcing skills,” he said. “Computers can do those.”

Twitter It!

Leveraging Video at Delta Air Lines

220px-DeltaAirLinesHQAtlantaGAGetting from a pool of 800,000 job candidates seeking flight-attendant positions down to 10,000 is no easy feat.

But it certainly doesn’t hurt that cause having the right technologies in place. Just ask Chris Collins, vice president of global HR services for Delta Air Lines.

In a session titled “Delta’s Digital Transformation: Modernizing Recruiting to Align with Business Strategy” at the HR Tech Conference yesterday, Collins (speaking along with Mark Newman, president and CEO of HireVue) shared how Delta was able to use video-screening technology to trim its flight-attendant candidate pool down to 10,000 individuals.

Collins told attendees that Delta looks for five key attributes in the people it hires: honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership. “Every airline can replicate routes, can replicate airplanes … can replicate price,” he said. “But what they can’t replicate is people … and culture.”

At every stage of Delta’s hiring process, Collins said, job candidates are able to view (through their mobile devices) nicely produced videos showing what the flight attendant’s job entails. The objective, he explains, is to make the job real clear to those expressing interest in it and encourage some of them to take leave of the process.

Delta was able to further reduce the number of candidates through its use of HireVue’s video-based screening platform. Eventually, the very best candidates left in the pool were brought in for onsite interviews.

“It’s not a 30-minute ‘Hello, how are you doing?’ interview,” Collins said. “It’s a half-day experience. We do that because we want to know how you’re going to interact on a daily basis with those you’re going to have to serve.”

In all, Delta’s multi-step process serves as one more example of the power of video and the prominent role it can play to pare down a huge pool of candidate to something much more manageable (but still huge) and ensure that the very best candidates are the ones who ultimately receive job offers.

Twitter It!

Top Performer, Or Just Great at Interviewing?

453124957 -- job interviewI was intrigued by Robert Herjavec’s take on the interviewing process that he recently shared on LinkedIn enough to share it here myself.

He’s the founder of the Herjavec Group, a Toronto-based information-security company, and has a pretty straightforward approach to figuring out if someone you’re interviewing is going to be with you long-term or not.

In order to be part of the team at his company, he says, “you’ve got to be a self-starter, an independent thinker, someone who is comfortable digging in and getting your hands dirty, and ideally, a strong leader … someone capable of clearly communicating your vision to your teammates.”

That could describe many organizations, I’m sure. The trick, he says, is to ensure that’s the person talking to you across your desk, the job candidate who seems to be saying all the right things. As Herjavec puts it:

“Everyone always says they are motivated in an interview. Everyone is comfortable to put in the hours, do whatever it takes to succeed … we hear it all the time. [The key is this:] How do you separate the top performers from those who simply have strong interview skills?”

One of the things he likes to do, he says, is “get to the core of someone’s skill set.” He does this is a nice, smooth, roundabout — some might say tricky — way.

“For example, if I’m interviewing for a sales role, I ask about the individual’s primary motivators. Then I let them know there is an opening in our marketing team and ask if they would be interested in learning more. To me, someone in sales needs to be laser-focused on achieving their target and driving for that number. It’s not the same person that I would hire to work on our marketing or communications team. If you waver in your approach and express interest in the second role, you’re not the person for my team.”

He also asks direct — I’d even call them aggressive — questions during an interview, such as “Why should I hire you?” “Tell me your perspective on our brand.” Or “What’s your take on the latest industry breach or happening?” As he puts it:

“If they can’t handle a conversation with me, I’m not confident to have them engage with our valued customers.”

I love the strategy here. And the aggression. No surprise Herjavec has also enjoyed a career in race-car driving.

No coddling the candidates at Herjavec Group, where multiple members of the executive team are asked to meet each one before he or she is brought on board. I guess a far cry from making sure their candidate experience is an easy and pleasant one. And probably no huge concern that word might get out on college campuses or social-media sites about the rough ordeal in store for would-be employees there.

Perhaps something to consider when you’re looking to upgrade your caliber of new hires … ?

 

Twitter It!

New Hires Face Higher Expectations

If you’re new to an organization, you’d better be prepared to hit the ground running — especially if you’re a college grad. That’s certainly the way it’s been for Ham Serunjogi, who tells Fast Company he was “shocked” at how much was expected of him during his first few days at work.

Serunjogi, a graduate of Grinnell College, started work as an intern at an environmental technology firm in 2013. In his first meeting with the executive director, he was asked whether he’d taken a database class in college. When Serunjogi replied in the affirmative, he recounts, he was told that he would now be overseeing the design and implementation of a new communication database for the organization.

“That was the first time I was ever brought into a project I had little or no knowledge about, and was expected to deliver results,” he said.

This past summer, Serunjogi began an internship at Facebook, where he encountered similar expectations. “Facebook is a very fast-moving culture,” he tells Fast Company. “There’s an expectation that you come in and you learn how to catch up with everyone else, otherwise you’re slowing down the entire organization.”

Technology companies are far from the only ones with such a mindset these days. HRE‘s Talent Management Columnist, Wharton prof Peter Cappelli, has written extensively about the trend in Corporate America to do away with the extensive training programs companies once provided to help new employees develop and acquire skills. Now, he writes, firms expect employees to come “ready made” with the necessary skills via school, college and internships — and if they have trouble finding such people, then it’s evidence of a “talent shortage.”

Yet more evidence of these higher expectations comes via a recent Harris Poll, which finds 27 percent of the 319 executives surveyed said they form an opinion of entry-level employees in less than two weeks and 78 percent decide in less than three months whether or not that person will succeed at the company.

Considering that everyone is now expected to be “an A player” right out of the box, job candidates need to prepare accordingly by interviewing their potential employers as much as they’re interviewing them, Decisions Toolbox chief recruitment officer Nicole Cox tells Fast Company.

Use that time to clarify what will be expected of them, she says. And, “after they’re hired, ask if they’re meeting those expectations.”

One would also hope that employers do their part to clarify expectations — and give new hires the time and support necessary for proving their capability.

Twitter It!