Category Archives: recruiting

A Coalition to Put Youth to Work

According to recent Pew Research Center statistics, more than one quarter of America’s nearly 8 million unemployed individuals are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Tomorrow, more than two dozen big-name U.S.-based employers will be in Chicago to launch an initiative that has designs on helping thousands of these out-of-school and out-of-work young adults find jobs.

The Opportunity Fair & Forum—starting at 8 a.m. at McCormick Place Convention Center and featuring a performance by hip-hop artist, actor and Chicago native Common—will kick off the 100,000 Opportunities program, a Starbucks-led alliance that seeks to “jump start the future” of young Americans who are neither in school nor employed, according to USA Today.

In addition to the Seattle-based specialty coffee retailer, nearly 30 other companies—including Chipotle Mexican Grill, CVS Health, Microsoft and Target—are expected to be on hand at the day-long resource and job fair. They will be joined by more than 3,000 young Chicagoans and their families for a variety of interactive experiences as well as workshops, college counseling, skill-development activities and other events.

Employers participating in tomorrow’s forum are expected to make hundreds of on-the-spot job offers to attendees, which would be quite an auspicious start for the month-old endeavor.

Spearheaded by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz—who earlier this year pledged to hire 10,000 young, low-income individuals to work at Starbucks by the end of 2018—the coalition currently counts 29 companies as members. That number includes a dozen organizations—FedEx, Hyatt, Nordstrom, Pizza Hut and T-Mobile, for example—that just signed on last week.

Faced with a recovering labor market and a subsequently smaller pool of job candidates, these employers certainly have good, practical reasons to get on board.

The aforementioned USA Today piece points out as much.

“As the unemployment rate has dipped, the pool of workers available for entry-level jobs has shrunk,” the paper notes. “And for many companies that want to expand their footprint in urban markets, engaging disconnected youth, who are disproportionately African-American and Latino, makes business sense.”

True enough. But making business sense isn’t the only reason why 100,000 Opportunities came to be, says Sheri Schultz, wife of the Starbucks CEO and co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation, which describes itself as “a launchpad for young adults in transition.”

“We know that this is a complex issue, and we need all of our collective horsepower to solve it,” Schultz told USA Today. “For too long, it’s been the non-profit and public sectors tackling this issue, without meaningful involvement from the private sector.”

The program certainly has ambitious goals. And even if 100,000 Opportunities doesn’t hit its target of creating 100,000 jobs for unemployed youth by the end of 2018, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the participating companies—and scores of young job seekers—don’t benefit from its existence.

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Intel Incents Employees to Help It Diversify

Intel has announced it will double its employee referral bonus for employees who help the giant chipmaker diversify its workforce. Employees who refer a woman, underrepresented minority or veteran who is ultimately hired will receive $4,000, the company announced yesterday.

“Of course, we always want you to refer your brilliant friends from all fields and backgrounds, so the standard ERP (employee referral program) bonus will continue,” Intel said in a statement that was reported by OregonLive (Intel has a major presence in Oregon, employing 18,600 people there). “But we also recognize that we need to evolve to keep Intel competitive in the global marketplace and representative of our consumers and communities.”

Intel – along with most other Silicon Valley companies – falls considerably short when it comes to the diversity of its workforce. According to its latest data, three quarters of Intel’s U.S. workforce is male, 55 percent is white, 32 percent is Asian or Pacific Islander, and only 8 percent and 4 percent are, respectively, Hispanic and African-American, reports OregonLive.

Intel’s diversity took a hit earlier this month when its highest-ranking woman,  Renee James, announced her resignation as the company’s president. However, Intel clearly remains committed to its major diversity push, announced at the beginning of this year, in which it will spend $300 million by 2020 to make its workforce at all levels much more representative of the U.S. population.  It appears to be making some progress: 41 percent of Intel’s hires this year have come from underrepresented groups, compared to 32 percent last year, while 17 percent of senior executives hired in the first quarter were from minority groups and 33 percent were women, reports OregonLive.

 

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No Confidence Crisis in HR Job Market

If you’re an HR professional seeking new career opportunities, the results of a recent Society for Human Resource Management survey should offer some encouragement.

And, if you’re an HR leader hoping to keep your team intact through the ongoing economic recovery, these same findings may be cause for just a bit of concern.

The Alexandria, Va.-based organization’s recent poll of 423 human resource professionals examined hiring trends in the HR profession as well as HR professionals’ faith in their own job security and ability to find work elsewhere.

Overall, 88 percent of participants expressed some level of confidence that they could land a new position if necessary. This figure represents a 3 percent increase from December 2014, and a 9 percent jump from January 2014, according to SHRM’s Summer 2015 HR Jobs Pulse Survey Report. Of that 88 percent, 59 percent said they were “somewhat” confident, and 29 percent described themselves as “very” confident in their ability to find another job.

That self-assurance was seen at the higher levels as well, where 89 percent of executive-level, senior-level and mid-career level respondents expressed “some degree of faith that they could find work if necessary.”

While many respondents report being content in their current roles, 28 percent of those surveyed said they are already looking for a new job. Among this group, 24 percent indicated they were voluntarily seeking greener pastures. Another 22 percent said they were either “likely” or “very likely” to start a job search within the next 12 months.

And what has this group eyeing the exits? No surprise here: 37 percent of those who are currently looking or plan to be in the next year cited more compensation as the primary reason. Another 33 percent noted better career advancement opportunities, with 32 percent saying they were in search of better overall organizational culture.

The brimming confidence in the HR job market seems well-placed, at least in terms of opportunities with large employers. Just 1 percent of small companies (99 employees or less) are recruiting for HR positions, but 65 percent of organizations with 25,000 or more workers are now hiring for HR jobs, according to the SHRM report.

On the whole, fewer than three in 10 (27 percent) of respondents said their organizations were currently hiring for HR-related positions.

But, it only stands to reason that that number is higher among large companies, where employers and HR job seekers alike figure to benefit from the rebounding job market, said Jen Schramm, SHRM manager of workforce trends, in a statement.

“Hiring for HR positions depends greatly on the size of the company,” noted Schramm. “Larger companies employ more HR professionals, so it makes sense that they are more likely to report that they are trying to fill HR positions, especially during a jobs recovery. Improvements in the job market are also making HR professionals more confident about seeking out new opportunities for themselves.”

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Dealing With The Cultural Fit Conundrum

fitting in 2Anyone familiar with the Beatles backstory knows the role Pete Best plays in it.

Best, of course, was the drummer famously replaced by Ringo Starr in August 1962, just weeks before the band recorded “Love Me Do,” exploded upon popular culture and began its climb to the toppermost of the poppermost.

In the 50-plus years since that fateful personnel move, many close to the group have said the decision to boot Best maybe wasn’t as much about Starr being the better technical drummer as it was about Ringo being “the better Beatle.”

In other words, Starr had the type of personality, sense of humor, interests and values that better meshed with the rest of the boys in the band, and helped give the group a certain indefinable chemistry. Ringo, you could say, was the better cultural fit for the Beatles.

The term “cultural fit” didn’t really exist in 1962, in the workplace or anywhere else. But, over time, employers everywhere have certainly cottoned on to the idea that it takes more than just technical proficiency to truly excel in a particular organization or outfit.

The notion first gained a toehold in the corporate world in the 1980s, Lauren Rivera recently wrote in a New York Times opinion piece, in which she says the “cultural fit” concept has sort of run amok in the three decades since.

“In many organizations, fit has gone rogue,” noted Rivera, an associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

When done right, taking cultural fit into consideration can greatly boost productivity and profitability, she said. The problem today, is that “cultural fit has morphed into a far more nebulous and potentially dangerous concept.”

The effort to determine cultural fit has moved from “systemic analysis of who will thrive in a given workplace to snap judgments by managers about who they’d rather hang out with,” she says. “In the process, fit has become a catchall used to justify hiring people who are similar to decision makers and rejecting people who are not.”

Rivera should know a thing or two about this issue, having once spent nine months researching recruiting and hiring practices at a handful of top U.S. investment banks, management consultancies and law firms, conducting interviews with 120 decision makers at the aforementioned organizations.

She found that interviewers commonly relied on the sense of empathy they felt with job candidates in order to judge potential fit for the firm. While discovering shared experiences helped those doing the hiring form bonds with applicants, many decision makers were “primarily interested in new hires whose hobbies, hometowns and biographies matched their own,” she recounted in the Times.

Conversely, candidates’ backgrounds, personal interests and even sports allegiances could occasionally work against them. For instance, Rivera recalled attending a hiring committee meeting at one firm, where she witnessed a partner and “avid Red Sox fan” advocate the rejection of an applicant and self-avowed Yankees supporter “on the grounds of misfit.”

Even putting such extreme examples aside, Rivera concludes that hiring too many employees who reflect those already in the organization is a dangerous idea, for a lot of reasons.

“Some may wonder, ‘Don’t similar people work better together?’ Yes and no. For jobs involving complex decisions and creativity, more diverse teams outperform less diverse ones,” according to Rivera.

“Too much similarity can lead to teams that are overconfident, ignore vital information and make poor (or even unethical) decisions.”

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Choosing Between Faith and Work

By now, most everyone has heard of or read about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 8-1 decision in favor of Samantha Elauf, the woman who brought suit against clothier Abercrombie & Fitch, claiming the company did not offer her a job because her religious identity violates Abercrombie’s “look policy.”

In the opinion for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote:

“An applicant need show only that his need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision, not that the employer had knowledge of his need.”

While the Court’s decision may introduce changes in the way employers screen and hire applicants in future, Simran Jeet Singh, the senior religion fellow for the Sikh Coalition and a PhD candidate at Columbia University, writes in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that the ruling also serves as an opportunity to “improve existing legislation on workplace discrimination and religious freedom.”

Singh says Elauf also demonstrated that she recognizes her case would have bearing for a number of different communities. “I am not only standing up for myself, but for all people who wish to adhere to their faith while at work,” she said, following the oral arguments. “Observance of my faith should not prevent me from getting a job.”

Indeed, according to Singh:

Americans are one step closer to not having to choose between their faith and their work.

On the employer side, however, the decision “dramatically” changes the standards that apply to employers, says Michael Droke, a Seattle-based partner at the international law firm Dorsey and Whitney’s labor and employment division, because it removes the requirement that an employee or applicant request a religious accommodation, if the employer’s motive is later deemed a violation of Title VII.

“The Abercrombie decision calls into question common provisions in many employee handbooks. Employers should immediately review their handbooks and policy manuals to determine those issues which could cause discrimination,” Droke says.

He also says the decision “reinforces the importance of involving the human resources function any time a protected class is, or could be, involved in making an employment decision.”

Droke notes the Abercrombie decision also reinforces the importance of manager training, all the way down to the lowest level in-store supervisor.

“Manager training is particularly important for companies with employees in a large number of locations,” he says. “Geographically dispersed companies, like Abercrombie & Fitch, often require location or regional management to make key employee decisions.  This case reemphasizes the need to give management the employee relations tools and knowledge they need to make lawful employment decisions.”

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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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