Posts belonging to Category recruiting

Your Words Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want This Job? Audition For It

auditionThis month’s edition of the Harvard Business Review (subscription required) includes a profile of the hiring process at Automattic, a tech firm that’s behind the free, open-source software platform WordPress. Founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg wasn’t happy with the traditional recruiting process (resume screening, in-person interviews, taking candidates out to lunch, etc.) his company was using, he writes:

As we considered the situation, it became clear that we were being influenced by aspects of an interview — such as someone’s manner of speaking or behavior in a restaurant — that have no bearing on how a candidate will actually perform. Some people are amazing interviewees and charm everyone they talk to. But if the job isn’t going to involve charming others, their interview skills don’t predict how well they’ll do as employees. Just like work, interviews can be “performed” without real productivity.

The more he and his team thought about it, Mullenweg writes, the more they recognized that there’s no substitute for actually working alongside someone in the trenches. Thus began Automattic’s “auditions” for job candidates, in which those who’ve made it through the firm’s resume-screening process (which it retained) work for the firm on a contract basis for three to eight weeks, 10 to 20 hours per week, performing real tasks alongside the folks they’d be working with if they’re hired. Candidates (regardless of the position they’re auditioning for) are paid $25 per hour and, thanks to the firm’s highly flexible work arrangement, can work nights or weekends so they don’t have to quit their existing jobs during the audition period.

The tasks candidates perform depends on the jobs they’re auditioning for: a customer-service candidate would interact with customers, an engineer would write code and a business-development candidate might run the numbers on a business proposal. The goal, Mullenweg writes, is to assess whether having the person work at Automattic would be a mutually beneficial relationship: The company can evaluate the candidate while the candidate evaluates Automattic.

Candidates are provided with feedback during the audition, Mullenweg writes — in some cases, if it becomes clear things aren’t working out, the company calls an end to the process as quickly as possible “out of respect for everyone’s time.” The auditions require a substantial investment of time from Automattic employees as well as candidates, he notes — in the engineering department, for example, four engineers oversee auditions for their department. The final step in the process is an interview with Mullenweg. Ninety five percent of the people who make it to that stage end up getting hired, he writes.

The extra scrutiny afforded by the auditioning process is important for Automattic because — unlike many software companies — the firm wants employees who will build long-term careers there and it needs to ensure employees will be able to handle its flexible-hours, limited-supervision work culture. About 40 percent of audition candidates are hired by the company, writes Mullenweg. The process has proven successful so far, he says: Of the 101 people hired last year, only two ended up not working out.

Although auditioning may not be ideal for every company, Mullenweg writes, it could be useful as an augmentation to a firm’s existing hiring process. It’s worth considering because so much is at stake, he writes:

Nothing you do for your company has as much impact as putting the right people around the table. The aphorism is true: You can’t manage your way out of a bad team.

Another Sign Your Talent May Be Bolting: Hooky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

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

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

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

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

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


Attractive vs. Promotional Recruiting

Intriguing post by John Sumser on his HRExaminer site recently. His premise — I’m pretty 187845015 -- recruitingsure — is that there’s good recruiting and bad recruiting … and way too many companies are still doing the bad recruiting.

In his piece, “On Being Attractive,” he likens this bad recruiting to “catching the horse after it’s left the pasture.” Here’s his description:

Recruiting, as currently practiced, is a defensive and reactive process full of promotional techniques. Placing an ad on a job board, hiring a staffing or search firm and filling a requirement after it is identified are all reactive behaviors executed in defense of a set of circumstances that happen out of the control of the recruiter. The industry that has grown up to support recruiters and other HR professionals assumes that a reactive posture is the starting point.”

Attraction, on the other hand, gradually and interestingly introduces the prospect [of working at your company] with no threat of immediate sales pressure. Usually, attraction-oriented tools and processes give the prospects something of value well in advance of the sales pitch. … It is friendlier, with a relaxed pace.”

I reached out to Sumser to get a little more clarity on what these recruiting techniques that attract candidates are, what he describes as “the best ways to convert so-called passive seekers into active seekers.”

From what I gleaned in his response to me, it has to do with reputation, walking your talk rather than talking it:

The trick, for every company, is to figure out what makes people want to work for you. You can start getting a sense of this by talking to your best employees and really understanding what they like. In some cases, it will be as simple as perks. In most cases, it will be a complex package of social status (in the larger community), growth potential, opportunities to learn and develop, and a reputation as a great place to be from. That’s a particularly useful technique … . By always working to get your best people promoted out of your organization, you can create an amazing talent flow. If working for you is a gateway to an even better job, people will want to join to take advantage of the dynamic. … You build this over time by putting your employees’ futures ahead of your temporary inconvenience when they leave.

Oh and by the way, Sumser holds little love for Best-Place-to-Work contests. Those BPW plaques, he says, “are easily purchased by companies with enough funds to spend … . It’s a form of advertising.” I tend to agree.

Granted, the importance of establishing your credibility and authenticity as a great place to work, as opposed to banging your drum, is not necessarily a new concept. Neither is the importance of helping high performers excel in their careers, and not necessarily just in your confines. But I, for one, have never seen these concepts laid out in such interestingly opposing terms.


Disabled Americans Want Jobs, Not Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boasting About Benefits

boasting about benefitsHere are a few statistics to digest as you think about how to attract and hang on to top talent in 2014.

In its six-part State of Employee Benefits in the Workplace survey of 440 randomly selected HR professionals, the Alexandria, Va.-based Society for Human Resource Management asked respondents about how (or if) they use their workplace benefits programs to help recruit employees. Only 25 percent of organizations indicated they use their workplace benefits to help recruit employees.

In addition, just 30 percent said they’re leveraging their benefits programs specifically to recruit in-demand workers, despite half of the participants in SHRM’s poll reporting difficulty in recruiting highly-skilled employees. Even fewer employers—less than one in five—report touting the value of their benefits programs to retain current employees.

Among those that do promote their benefits packages as part of their recruitment and retention strategies, healthcare and retirement savings are the most talked-about benefits, followed by leave benefits and professional- and career-development benefits.

Employers may be wise to spend a bit more time talking up these types of benefits, especially at a time when companies can’t necessarily offer top-dollar salaries as a way to reel in and retain top-dollar talent, says Joseph Coombs, SHRM’s senior analyst for workforce trends.

“Considering that wage growth has been very weak in the post-recession economy, HR professionals frequently cannot use higher salaries as a draw for attracting and keeping talent,” said Coombs, in a statement. “Many recruiters now advocate using a ‘total rewards’ approach to recruitment and retention, leveraging an employer’s benefit package as part of that strategy.”

Third Time’s (Often) a Charm

Job hopping may be the “new normal” for millennials these days, but it’s apparently not going to improve one’s chances of landing a CHRO job at a large corporation—at least for the time being.

The other day, someone emailed me a study conducted by the HR website Software Advice (and featured on its New Talent Times blog) that found 61 percent of CHROs worked for three or fewer companies throughout their careers. More than one-third of them worked for just one or two companies.

152117115No matter how you slice it, that’s a pretty interesting and impressive number, especially when you factor in that nearly half (46 percent) of those CHROs reached their current senior-level positions from an external position. (To give this three-or-fewer figure some context, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median employee tenure was 4.6 years in 2012.)

Also worth noting from the Software Advice analysis is the fact that the overwhelming majority of HR executives—roughly 80 percent—worked 16 or more years before reaching their current position.

To arrive at the findings, the blog analyzed the career histories of 100 CHROs featured on HRE‘s own Top 100 and the HR Elite lists (we’re glad to be of assistance), as well as Forbes’ list of the 100 Best Places to Work for 2013. Only CHROs with LinkedIn profiles and biographies on their corporate websites were included in the sample.

Over the years, there’s been a lot written about what it takes to reach the corner office in HR, with some experts making strong cases for line-management and international experience. But if we’re to believe this latest analysis by the New Talent Times, I guess we now know one thing that’s not needed: a resume that’s rich in former employers.

HR Leaders Speak Out on Global-Recruiting Challenges

Attendees at the 16th Annual HR Technology® Conference in Las Vegas got to “hear the stories from the practitioners themselves,” as moderator Gerry Crispin put it at Wednesday’s “Panel on Global Talent Challenge: How Can Recruiting Technology Span the Globe?”

165432939--global recruitingSharing their experiences and challenges — from needing to be better aware of recruiting cultures and characteristics to finding ways to communicate more effectively with candidates and recruiters in non-English countries — were Chris Hoyt, director of global talent engagement and marketing for PepsiCo; Maureen Neglia, vice president of global talent and recruitment for Manulife Financial; Kent Kirch, global director of talent acquisition and mobility for Deloitte; and Danielle Monaghan, HR partner director, technology services for Cisco Systems.

In one country where Neglia and her team rolled out a recruitment-management system, they were confounded by pockets where adoption was simply not occurring. “We had completely missed the fact that technology was not in the hands of recruiters” in every corner of every region, she said. Some were literally following candidates around on bicycles, she added.

Lesson learned? “Identify what it will take for recruiters in every region to succeed with your new system,” said Neglia. “Automate where it makes sense, but do it strategically, and don’t automate where it doesn’t make sense.”

And go slow, step by step, said Kent. In Deloitte’s upcoming projects, “we’re going to turn on capabilities in stages so we know people are comfortable with each one before we go on,” he said.

In terms of applying social media, know what you’re planning to do  with it going in, cautioned Crispin, principal and co-founder of CareerXroads. Follow the conversations, “the collaboration of questions and answers, and see where they’re coming from,” he said.

Hoyt agreed. “Those social-media vessels are just more channels of communication,” he told attendees.

Going futuristic for a spell, Crispin shared one vignette about a meeting he attended recently where an employer “actually brought out a robot intended to eliminate recruiters.” The robot demonstrated its ability to read body language and mine individuals, making real-time assessments — clearly, “raising broad issues for global recruiting down the road.”

In response to Crispin’s anecdote, Hoyt shared a gem: “When you take the people out of the people business, you’re on a slippery slope.”

Asked for their parting advice to other HR practitioners struggling with global-recruiting issues, each panelist gave the crowd some additional gems to chew on.

“HR professionals are so worried about every little data point, they end up pushing job candidates away,” said Neglia. Global recruiting, she added, is about “constantly conversing, with candidates and your global-recruiting teams.”

And simplify, said Monoghan: “Don’t ask job candidates to fill out 40-page questionnaires. Have your recruiters pick up phones and talk to the candidates.”

Lastly, said Crispin, do what one recruiting professional he knows did. “Go through your own process; apply for your own job at your own company,” he said. “You really should be testing [the system] yourself, as a job candidate to find out what needs fixing.”

Creating an Even Better Candidate Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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