Category Archives: recruiting

Osama bin Laden: HR Leader?

When you’re running an operation whose business is creating mass casualties of innocent bystanders at various locations throughout the world, you need a strategic plan. You need a sophisticated recruiting program. You need a training program. You need a development program. These subjects weighed heavily on the mind of Osama bin Laden, recently declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency show.

The documents, which were seized by U.S. commandos after they stormed the terrorist leader’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan during the May 2, 2011 operation that culminated in bin Laden’s death, include a series of planning memos that Agence France-Presse disconcertingly suggests “paint a picture of the jihadist leader operating almost as the director of human resources at a struggling multinational.”

This particular multinational (let’s call it Al-Qaeda Corp.) had a rather unique business model, but all the same its leaders struggled with finding and deploying the right mix of talent to accomplish its core objective (killing lots of civilians).

“Please enter the requested information accurately and truthfully. Write clearly and legibly. Name, age, marital status. Do you wish to execute a suicide mission?” So reads Al Qaeda’s application form, which included this gem as well: “Who should we contact in case you become a martyr?”

bin Laden clearly was concerned about operational efficiencies, as revealed by a document he wrote calling for a professional training program: “One of the specialties we need that we should not overlook is the science of administration.” The organization needed motivated young volunteers with qualifications in science, engineering and office management as well as deep religious convictions, according to the document.

AQ Corp. was bedeviled with talent-deployment issues, as another document reveals: “The other brothers are new and we rushed to send them very quickly, before their security was exposed or their residency documents expired.”

Retention and turnover may also have been an issue: the same document cites a volunteer who was able to stay a couple months because he had to return home: “We have him an academic explosives course and he travelled back before his residency expired and we have not heard from him since he left. … We hope that we hear from him very soon.”

bin Laden was concerned that young recruits who were capable of infiltrating the West lacked adequate patience and training to accomplish their missions. “We need a development and planning department,” he wrote. He wanted to create a center of excellence, of sorts, compiling jihadist best practices and research to create a more effective breed of jihadist.

Outreach activities were also part of the mix: bin Laden was apparently planning a PR campaign to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. But thanks to Seal Team 6, he wasn’t able to make it  to the celebration.

 

 

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Still in Search of Skilled Workers

searching for talentAnd the talent shortage continues.

That’s the simple message found in survey results released by Manpower Group this week.

In its 10th annual Talent Shortage Survey, the Milwaukee-based Manpower surveyed 41,748 employers in 42 countries and territories, “to explore the extent of talent shortages within the global labor market, which job categories are particularly hard to fill and why, the impact of talent shortages on businesses, and how employers are responding to the challenges raised by the lack of available talent in specific job categories,” according to a press release announcing the survey findings.

Globally, the percentage of employers reporting trouble in filling job vacancies continued to rise, climbing from 36 percent last year to 38 percent in 2015. The shortage is most severe for organizations in Japan, where 83 percent of hiring managers said they encounter difficulty in finding the necessary talent, while 68 percent of employers in Peru and 65 percent of respondents in Hong Kong said the same.

The prognosis here in the States, however, seems somewhat better, with 32 percent of U.S. employers saying they struggle to fill positions due to talent shortages, compared to 40 percent who reported as much in 2014.

That’s not to say that closing the talent gap isn’t still a concern here at home, of course.

Indeed, 43 percent of respondents said talent shortages are taking a toll on their organizations’ ability to meet client needs, with 32 percent saying they’ve experienced increased employee turnover, and the same percentage reporting higher compensation costs and lower employee engagement. Forty-eight percent of the U.S. employers surveyed acknowledged that talent shortages have a “medium to high impact” on business in a broader sense.

More interesting, though, is the percentage of employers seemingly taking no action to blunt that impact. That number remains relatively small, but is going up.

According to the Manpower survey, 20 percent of U.S. employers are still not pursuing strategies to overcome talent shortages in 2015—a 7 percent increase from 2014.

What remains consistent this year is the trouble American companies face in filling skilled trade vacancies. For the sixth consecutive year, “skilled trade workers” topped the list of U.S. jobs most in demand, with drivers, teachers, sales representatives and administrative professionals rounding out the top five.

“Talent shortages are real and are not going away,” said Kip Wright, senior vice president of Manpower North America, in the aforementioned press release. “Despite impacts to competitiveness and productivity, our research shows fewer employers are trying to solve the problem through better talent strategies.”

These companies fail to address the issue at their own risk, added Wright.

“As the struggle to find the right talent continues, and candidates with in-demand skills get the upper hand, employers will be under pressure to position themselves as ‘talent destinations’ to attract the best workers that will drive their business forward.”

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Intel’s Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

dv1080001Intel Corp.’s Diversity in Technology Initiative that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced in January — and Senior Editor Andrew R. McIlvaine blogged about at the time — appears to be chugging along quite nicely.

In a speech delivered Wednesday at the Rainbow PUSH Silicon Valley Tech 2020 Summit, Krzanich announced some impressive progress, confirming he was dead serious four months ago when he presented plans to make Intel more representative of the U.S. population by 2020, with some $300 million dedicated to the effort.

For one, he told summit-goers, 41 percent of hires at Intel this year have been diverse, versus 32 percent last year. For another, 17 percent of senior hires in the first quarter of 2015 are underrepresented minorities and 33 percent are women, up from 6 percent and 19 percent in 2014, respectively.

He also announced that Intel has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Oakland Unified School District to commit $5 million over the next five years to implement a comprehensive, “education-transformation solution” that will create a computer-science and engineering pathway for more than 2,400 students, with a graduating cohort of 600 students over the next five years.

“We knew we wanted to do something in K-12 education that targeted underrepresented minorities and we thought we should start in our own backyard,” Krzanich says in this USA Today piece about that initiative.

Lastly, he said Wednesday, his company has committed to spending $1 billion with diverse-owned businesses by the year 2020.

In her May 6 blog post about Krzanich’s update, Rosalind L. Hudnell, Intel’s vice president of human resources and director of diversity and inclusion, addressed some of the underlying philosophies behind this push:

“Improving the diversity of our workforce and the pipeline of students going into this field is not just the right thing to do.  It’s the critical thing to do.  The people who purchase and use technology come from all walks of life.

“Without employees with diverse backgrounds, opinions and problem-solving skills, Intel can’t properly address the needs of a diverse market. Diverse teams and companies lead to greater creativity, strategic thinking and innovation. Greater diversity also results in better products and smarter business decisions. So how do we get there? This is the hard part, because diversity is a complex issue.”

In many stories we’ve written over the years about meaningful workforce initiatives, diversity included, a repeating theme has been the need for top-down buy-in and commitment to occur if any of them are to succeed and if promised goals are to be met.

Nice to see that working so well in the Intel corner of Silicon Valley.

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Tapping the Power of a Good Story

When you think of great recruiters, Ernest Shackleton probably isn’t going to be the first person to pop into your head. But if you ask Mike Pierce, who kicked off the ERE Recruiting Conference yesterday in San Diego with a keynote address titled “Tell Powerful Stories to Answer, ‘Why Should I Join Your Team,’ ” talent-acquisition leaders could learn a thing ThinkstockPhotos-151575842or two about the art of hiring (and, of course, leadership) from this early-20th-century adventurer.

As a refresher for those of you who might be a little rusty on your history, Shackleton was an Irish-born British explorer who was a principal figure during the period known as the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.” His third attempt to reach the South Pole, aboard the Endurance, was unarguably the most famous of his endeavors.

Shackleton, along with his 27-person team, set out from London in 1914 with the goal of crossing the Antarctic by foot. Before reaching the continent, however, the Endurance became entrapped in ice, forcing Shackleton and his crew to abandon the ship and set up camp on floating ice. More than a year would pass before they would see land again. (Remarkably, the entire team survived this terrible ordeal.)

In his talk, Pierce, a San Diego-based consultant, speaker and author who goes by the nickname “Antarctic Mike,” shared with attendees how Shackleton’s story personally inspired him back in 2006 to become one of nine people to run a full 26.2-mile marathon on an ice shelf 600 miles from the South Pole, something that “never had been done before.” 

Pierce’s PowerPoint deck included a copy of a classified newspaper ad (remember those?) that Shackleton used to “recruit” his team …

“Help Wanted

For hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.”

Could he have been any more direct?

So how many people responded? 10? 50? 100? Remarkably, Pierce said, 5,000 people replied to the ad. Why? Because, he explained, Shackleton was able to write his story in a way that captured people’s attention.

Job candidates, Pierce explained said, “are looking for evidence of credibility—and a story is the most effective way to [give them that evidence].”

“Stories are the most magical vehicle on the planet to move people,” he said. “People love stories, especially those that are credible and true. They can show that you are … authentic … accessible … and for real … .”

To make his point, Pierce shared several examples of how employers have used videos to connect with job candidates, including a pretty entertaining one from Sutton Group, a Chilliwack, Canada-based realtor. (Chilliwack, in case you’re wondering, isn’t far from Vancouver.)

Referring to the Sutton Group video, Pierce said “people love it when the leaders of a company are accessible.” Well, say what you may about the Sutton video, but it’s hard to argue CEO Kelly Johnson isn’t making himself “accessible.”

The 2013 video reportedly continues to deliver results for Sutton Group today.

Pierce said he had every reason to believe everyone in the room worked at organizations with their own stories to tell. But, he asked, “are those stories out [in the market today] producing results for you? Are they out in places where people will see them and be moved by them?”

Thanks to the tools available to employers today, he said, capturing those stories and putting them out there isn’t all that hard to do.

And that, of course, begs the question: Why aren’t more organizations doing it?

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Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ Comes Tomorrow!

It’s hard to say exactly what’s all in store for employers when Google unleashes its massive search-algorithm update tomorrow, but from 178976393 -- mobile technologythe buzz out there about it, sounds like everyone will be impacted.

For the record, here is Google’s official announcement on its site about its new mobile-friendly-ranking system starting April 21 — complete with a helpful guide toward making your website mobile-friendly. Though … in all honesty, of course … if you haven’t started this yet, you will definitely be behind the eight ball when it comes to website user-ability and “bites.”

In short, Google’s algorithm change is tailored to favor sites suitably optimized for mobile use by increasing the search engine’s emphasis on mobile-usability as a ranking factor.

In super short, if you are not a mobile-friendly site, ranked thusly by Google (mind you, the company is not exactly forthcoming about how this will be measured), you run the risk of getting bumped down in search-result stacking.

Advice out there for employers is a bit scanty, since this is posting a day before update launch, but I did find this piece from iCIMS, stressing just how imperative it is for all career sites to take this mobile-friendly ranking — and mobile-friendliness altogether — very seriously. It quotes Chuck Price, founder of Measurable SEO:

“Because you don’t have a mobile-optimized site, you’re going to get bumped down from position one or two to the third page, and suddenly you’ve lost all of your organic traffic. That’s a big deal.”

Perhaps the best analysis of what this update means comes from this recent piece by Jayson DeMers on the Forbes site. In it, he makes no bones about its potential impact:

“The search giant seems to make near-constant updates to its search protocols. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this upcoming April 21st update is something like the last few we’ve seen—a data refresh or some small tweak that leads to almost imperceptible changes in search rankings for only a handful of businesses.

“Unfortunately for currently non-optimized businesses, this doesn’t appear to be the case. With one of Google’s own recently explaining that this latest algorithm rollout is set to have a bigger impact than either Panda or Penguin, and considering Panda and Penguin are the biggest algorithm updates we’ve ever seen from Google, this new mobile update could completely change how we look at search.”

This, from Search Engine Watch, lays out many particulars all companies should keep in mind when it comes to mobile-friendly modifications you should have made by now, but better late than never. I especially like its reference to “Mobilegeddon.”

Kind of says it all.

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In Search of Quality Job Seekers

successionIt’s not 2010 anymore.

Alan Momeyer, vice president of human resources at Loews Corp., delivered that helpful message to attendees who came to check out yesterday’s “HR Tips and Trends” session at the HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Momeyer, who was accompanied on stage by HR peers from Four Season Hotels & Resorts, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Destination Hotels and Resorts/Lowe Enterprises, and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, was referring to how quality job candidates seek jobs now versus five years ago.

In the past year or so, Loews saw approximately 300,000 job applicants come just from a partnership with indeed.com, the popular employment-related meta-search job engine, according to Momeyer.

“That didn’t just happen. It happened because we paid to be visible,” he said, urging the HR leaders in attendance to get more aggressive in seeking out quality candidates via sites such as Indeed as well as ever-more popular social networking sites.

Momeyer and his colleagues on the panel also stressed the importance of taking a more active role in managing your employment brand online.

For example, panelist Robert Mellwig, senior vice president of really cool people (that’s right) at Destination Hotels and Resorts/Lowe Enterprises, says the organization views employer-review sites such as Glassdoor.com similar to the way its customers look at tripadvisor.com.

According to Momeyer, his introduction to Glassdoor came via his millenial-age daughters.

“When they graduated college and started talking to companies about interviews and job openings, they went straight to Glassdoor to find out more about these companies.”

HR can help the organization have a bigger say in what candidates find when they (inevitably) visit such sites, said Momeyer.

“A lot of times, it’s unhappy employees complaining on these sites,” he said. “You should think about approaching your employees who would have something good to say, to share their reviews.”

Panelist Carolyn Clark, senior vice president of HR at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, “knows how important our external brand is for our guests, and what differentiates our guest experience.”

But, equally as vital, she said, is determining what makes the Fairmont employment experience a positive one for its 45,000 global associates.

To “differentiate our colleague experience, increase our job applicant flow and increase employee engagement, we really want to tell our colleague experience, and [show candidates] what it’s like to work here.”

Doing so requires “fishing where the fish are,” she said, noting that Fairmont has recently undertaken an initiative to “identify [the most used] channels and best candidates, and seek them out and ask them what’s most important to them in their jobs and careers.”

Clark and her HR team have asked the same of current Fairmont employees, surveying associates to find out what attracted them to the company, what has kept them there and what about their jobs makes them happy, she said.

What Clark and company have gleaned from this process is that, above all else, employees (and potential employees) value a connection with their co-workers as well as the organization.

“What we’ve learned from hearing our employees describe their work experience is that they look at their jobs as if they were working with their families.”

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Job Seekers: Speak Up and Sound Smart

speak up“The medium is the message,” said Canadian academic and author Marshall McLuhan.

He may not have had resumes in mind when he coined that phrase in his 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, but a new study suggests the old axiom could apply to the way jobs are landed or lost in 2015.

Nicholas Epley, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Juliana Schroeder, a PhD candidate at the school, conducted a series of experiments in which M.B.A. student job candidates developed written or videotaped pitches to present to the company for which they would most like to work.

In an initial experiment, a group of evaluators judged the spoken pitches by watching or listening to the video recording, listening to the audio only, or by reading a transcript of the pitch. Those who heard pitches rated candidates as more intelligent, thoughtful and competent than candidates whose transcripts were merely read by evaluators. Meanwhile, those who only saw video did not rate applicants any differently than those who heard pitches, according to a University of Chicago press release.

In another experiment, evaluators listened to trained actors reading candidates’ written pitches aloud, and assessed those applicants as being more intelligent and desirable for the job than did those who read candidates’ written pitches to themselves.

In the job hunt, presentation should certainly count for something. But, assuming all other things are equal, how likely would HR and hiring managers really be to lean toward a candidate they’ve watched and/or heard, as opposed to only seeing on paper?

More than they may even realize, says Greig Schneider, U.S. managing partner at Egon Zehnder International, a New York-based global executive-search firm.

“If you have two candidates—one candidate that you’ve spoken to on the phone and another for whom you’ve just received a resume—you’re naturally inclined to favor the person you spoke to on the phone, at least according to this data,” says Schneider.

But, as with any single factor in the hiring process, recruiters and hiring managers shouldn’t put too much emphasis on how candidates lay out their bona fides, he says.

“You need to make sure you’re diving into what is really needed for success in the job, and not cutting out someone who has a great background and competencies, but maybe isn’t a great talker.”

HR and hiring managers, just like everyone else, “pick up a lot of important information from how someone speaks,” says Schneider.

“When you hear someone’s cadence, their tone, you’re going to form an impression about their intelligence. It’s unavoidable. The challenge is determining whether this is an accurate portrayal.”

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Favoritism is No Friend of Diversity

469735239  -- workplace diversityI thought Martin Luther King Day might be a good time to reflect on the forces that make workplaces less diverse than they can and should be. Many are well-known and well-documented, including discriminatory hiring and promoting practices, lack of disability accommodations, insensitivity to gender-identity issues, unequal pay … the list goes on.

But as this recent piece in the Kansas City Star points out, it’s not just about tangible practices and accommodations — or lack thereof. It can be far more subtle and hard to pinpoint, writer Michelle T. Johnson says, when your diversity culprit is favoritism. As she writes:

“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.”

Her advice to all managers and HR leaders is to always be examining “why you make the personnel decisions you do.” She continues:

“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?”

Favoritism can be just that simple, she says. Some people make you spontaneously smile when they walk through the door. Others make you instinctively come up with an exit plan out of a conversation. “Know who those people are and go from there,” she says.

Granted, not all employers can be as proactive as Intel was in its recent announcement that Andrew McIlvaine blogged about earlier this month. Specifically, CEO Brian Krzanich shared in his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas his company’s plans to spend $300 million dollars over the next five years to improve the gender and racial diversity of its U.S. employee base, and of Silicon Valley at large.

Though he made the announcement, the real powerhouse behind this initiative is Intel President Renée James, as this Fortune piece suggests. Since taking over the presidency in 2013, it says, James “has pushed to review a decade’s worth of diversity data and commissioned a new hiring program that incentivized managers to hire more women and minorities.”

Whichever end of the initiative spectrum you and your organization currently find yourselves on — boldly spending and going where few have gone, like Intel, or simply taking the kind of inward look at your management and personnel choices suggested by Johnson — there’s no better time than now to start thwarting your business’ inequality and no better day to get started than this one.

 

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Intel Takes the Lead

diversity Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. is a lot like most other Silicon Valley tech companies: Its workforce is primarily male and majority white. Women make up only 24 percent of its workforce, blacks and Hispanics just 12 percent (and only 4 percent of its senior execs and managers). However, the company just announced a bold move at the Consumer Electronics Show: CEO Brian Krzanich said Intel plans to make its workforce much more representative of the U.S. population — at all levels of the organization — by 2020. And, it’s committing $300 million to the effort.

“Intel plans to lead by example,” said Krzanich. “We invite the entire technology industry to join us.”

The technology industry has been under pressure in this area since May of last year, when Google released statistics that underscored the lack of diversity in its own workforce. Google’s move sparked a conversation among other large tech companies about their own lack of diversity; last December, Microsoft’s general manager for global diversity, Gwen Houston, told 300 attendees at a forum organized by Intel that “the reason we haven’t seen the progress is our leaders haven’t been held accountable.”

Intel’s move drew praise from Operation PUSH’s Jesse Jackson, who’s been in the forefront of the move to push Silicon Valley to diversify. “It’s morally right, and it’s also good business,” Jackson told the San Jose Mercury News. “I think there are pockets of talent that Silicon Valley had not imagined to exist.”

Intel plans to spend a chunk of the $300 million on efforts to encourage more women and minorities to enter the tech industry. It will also increase its hiring of women and minorities, focus on retaining them and tie some of its managers pay to meeting its diversity goals. It plans to release regular progress reports on the 2020 plan.

“This isn’t just good business,” Krzanich said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

 

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Recruiting Beyond Traditional Social Networks

An interesting little recruiting story came out of a late-afternoon session at the HR Technology® Conference in Las Vegas Thursday. 178915467--social mediaSlugged “How Red Hat Approaches Hiring Beyond Traditional Social Networks,” the session featured Brad Warga, senior vice president of customer and employee success for Gild Inc., a San Francisco-based technology-talent search firm, and Don Farr, director of global-talent acquisition for Red Hat, a global open-source provider.

“We found [traditional candidate sources such as] LinkedIn just weren’t providing the recruiting results we needed,” Farr told conference attendees. Long story short, he knew Warga, but not much about Gild, so decided to try him out with an assignment: Find him 200 top technology developers in a city abroad where Red Hat does business. Warga turned it around in record time “and more than half of the developers on his list were already employees of Red Hat,” said Farr.

Pretty convincing. So Farr decided to use Gild’s sourcing and reporting tool, based on far-more specific tech-developer social-media data — including code information and technical questions and answers, indicating levels of focus and expertise — to complement the recruiting system he already had in place.

Not only has it enriched Red Hat’s recruiting, with vastly improved and far enhanced returns on the right kinds of candidates for the growing company, it’s even provided some surprises.

Key among them was proof it needed to enhance its employee-referral service as well. Using Gild’s tools and services, Red Hat was able to determine that 70 percent of its developers who came in outside the referral program were actually connected in some way to current employees through social media.

“In other words,” said Farr, “we could have hired them ourselves if we had just sourced them through more social [streams]. The connections were out there.”

Long story short, Farr convinced his CEO to invest more in employee referrals and the savings are already being realized.

“We now have an employee-referral portal tracked through our applicant-tracking system,” Farr said. “We’ve effectively built a process where referrals aren’t going into a black box anymore.”

Lesson learned here? “Take advantage of the opportunity to embrace social media in multiple ways,” particularly when you’re looking for something as specific and hard to find as tech developers, he said.

“This is really the story of the old guard and the new guard,” Farr added. “You have to adapt or die.”

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