Category Archives: recruiting

Leveraging Assessment Software at Tenet

No one wants to be hospitalized for a serious illness. But if that happens to be your fate, I’m sure you’d find it comforting to know that the nurses caring for you were at the very least a good fit for their jobs.

Certainly, the folks in Tenet Healthcare’s HR department are operating (forgive the pun) under that assumption. In a session entitled “Tenet Healthcare Uses New Assessments to Reduce Nursing Turnover” at the HR Technology® Conference, Tenet’s Vice President of HR Joe Gage shared how the hospital successfully leveraged assessment software to ensure the right nurses were being hired for their jobs.

For many in the audience, I suspect hiring has yet to become a high priority, with unemployment still near 10 percent.  But as Gage reminded attendees, it continues to be very much an issue for hospital, which still stuggle to fill key nursing positions.

Gage told attendees on Thursday afternoon how Tenet uses PeopleAnswers to build custom Performance Profiles based on incumbent population for its hospital units, such as emergency, medical/surgery or critical care units. The net result of this was a more rigorous, though not necessarily time-consuming, assessment process that led to an improvement in quality of hire and a reduction in early turnover of 47 percent over an 18-month period.

Having the best talent in place is obviously good news for patients and hospital administrators alike. But Gage noted that it’s also good for recruiters, who automatically receive candidates in their applicant racking system (Taleo, in this case) who are ranked by fit.

Gage noted how the software also supported Tenet’s onboarding process by generating a guide that tells managers about new hires, including their likes and dislikes and how they respond to stress.

Among the various components of a comprehensive talent-management suite, assessment software certainly isn’t the first piece that comes to mind. But Tenet’s presentation hammered home its importance—especially in a hospital setting.

States Beat Ivies (No, We’re Not Talking Football)

After reading the front-page story in the Wall Street Journal today entitled “Employers Favor State Schools for Hires,” I called the National Association of Colleges and Employers to get their take on the study’s findings, particularly the bias of recruiters toward state schools.

“After I read the article, my reaction was ‘no duh!’ NACE Director of Strategic and Foundation Research Edwin Koc told me.

Recruiters are going to state schools because of the size of their student populations, Koc says. “You’re going to go to Penn State for accounting candidates because it’s the most efficient way to recruit them, not because of the quality,” he explains.

Of course, employers are paying a price limiting the number of schools they have a presence at. They’re missing some strong candidates.

Despite this, Koc doesn’t believe recruiters are going to change their way anytime soon, even as the economy gets some footing. “Once you incorporate these efficiencies, you’re not going to do things differently until you’re dissatisfied with the candidates you’re finding,” he says.

For those who don’t subscribe to the WSJ, the five schools recruiters favor most are: Penn State, Texas A&M, University of Illinois, Purdue and Arizona State.

Jobs Slow to Return, Even for Tech

Catch today’s front-page New York Times story, entitled “Once a Dynamo, the Tech Sector is Slow to Hire?”

As the nation struggles to put people back to work, the story reports, “even high-tech companies have been slow to hire, a sign of just how difficult it will be to address persistently high joblessness.”

The piece points out that the disappointing hiring trend raises questions about whether the tech industry can help power a recovery and sustain American job growth in the coming years. “Its tentativeness has prompted economists to ask, ‘If high tech isn’t hiring, who will?’ “ the story says.

For areas such as computer systems design and Internet publishing, the story notes, job growth has been slow during the past year. Employment in areas such data processing and software publishing has actually fallen.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that I found another story in my mailbox this morning from eweek.com entitled, “H-1B Visa Cap for 2011 Has Not Been Met Yet.”

“With less than one month before fiscal year 2011 begins in October,” the story reports, “there are about 30,100 available visas for technology companies to apply for through the temporary work visa program …”

A few years ago that was unthinkable, thanks to the thirst of high-tech firms for talent.  (In years’ past, these visas used to be gone in a blink of an eye.)  But today, it’s simply further proof of how cautious businesses are these days when it comes to adding jobs, even those in the high-octane sectors like tech.

Reforms Stalled by Inadequate HR?

As we wrote on HREOnline™  a few months ago, an ambitious federal hiring-reform initiative wouldn’t be an easy task, requiring both training and buy-in from staff.

When Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry announced the initiative, he said that, “for far too long, our HR systems have been a hindrance. We have great workers in government now in spite of the hiring process, not because of it.”

But it seems as if HR is still a problem — and that has been acknowledged by OPM’s chief human capital officers, according to this story in the Washington Post about a Partnership for Public Service survey.

“The ‘competency of HR workers’ is one of seven ‘major obstacles’ to building a first-class federal workforce,” according to the 68 CHCOs, who “expressed strong doubts that the human resources community, the very people who will be on the frontlines seeking to implement the hiring reform plan, are up to the task.”

The problem seems to be a lack of training and adequate technology, according to the article.

In the Federal Eye blog on the Post site, OPM responded that CHCOs are generally positive and supportive of the reform, and that criticisms of the initiative “have been taken seriously and have been responded to promptly, leading to a more cooperative, productive and collegial environment for members.”

Well, as long as they are all getting along …

The Costs of Coming to America

As unions and business groups squabble over the number of H-1B visas, the fee of those visas have increased about 600 percent, according to news reports.

To pay for border security, a bill signed by President Barack Obama last week increases the H-1B visa fee from $320 to $2,320.

The fees seem to offend just about every constituency. The business community, especially Silicon Valley firms, say it will hurt their organizations’ ability to recruit top talent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Indian outsourcing companies say the law specifically discriminates against them as “the carefully crafted criteria” in the bill seems to target them.

Outraged companies may bring a suit before the World Trade Organization, contending the fees are protectionist, while other experts say that, instead of being protectionist, the fees will actually lead to more outsourcing of jobs overseas.

The increased fees are designed to raise about $200 million a year. “The money raised is insigificant and the damage [to America’s reputation] is huge,” Vivek Wadhwa, an immigrations expert and professor, told the WSJ.

The Value of the Liberal Arts

For those of us (like me) who studied the humanities in college, a typical question we got was “So what are you going to do with a degree in [blank]?” I got tired of hearing it after a while and so I’d retort with this snappy comeback (especially if it was asked by a business major): “I’m gonna write about how computers are taking over your job.”

Aside from provoking extreme defensiveness, I do think studying English, history, political science, etc, really does give you the broad education that a college degree was always intended to provide. It forces you to learn to write clearly, digest huge amounts of information and do lots of critical analysis. These are skills that are important in any profession, including the medical field.

In fact, New York-based Mount Sinai medical school, considered to be among the top such schools in the country, sets aside slots for about 35 undergraduates a year specifically for humanities and social sciences majors.

Students admitted to the program can bypass the MCAT, the rigorous entrance test that applicants to most medical school programs must take before being admitted. Instead, Mount Sinai conducts a “boot camp” with accelerated courses on organic chemistry, physics and so on during the summer prior to when they enter med school. Students are admitted to the program on the basis of their SAT scores, high school and early college grades, two personal essays and interviews.

So how well do these lit majors and history buffs actually do in medical school? Turns out they do just as well as their counterparts who went the traditional pre-med, MCAT route, according to a peer-reviewed study conducted by Mount Sinai that compared outcomes for 85 students in the Humanities and Medicine Program with those of 606 traditionally prepared classmates.

So let’s hear it for liberal arts grads. We may not come equipped with specific skills, but we’re eminently trainable and have a thirst for knowledge.

Want to Work with Mad Men?

To celebrate the new season of Mad Men, (quite possibly the highest-quality TV series of all time, in this blogger’s humble opinion) the AMC Web site now offers an interactive “job interview” so fans can see how well (or not) they’d fit in with the mad men (and women) at the newly formed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency.

Take the quick quiz and see how you do. (Full disclosure: After taking the quiz, I was not offered a position with the firm, but that’s probably because I asked too many pointed questions about their positions on equal-employment opportunities, family leave and accomodations for disabilities; none of which were on the law books in their current form when the show’s Season 4 takes place, in late 1964.)

But even if you’re not hired, there’s at least one way to still be a part of the action: The next episode of Mad Men airs Sunday at 10pm on AMC. Be there or be square.

FDA Warns Lab: Make Better Hires

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently sent a warning letter out to Abbott Diabetes Care Inc., an Alameda, Calif.-based company that manufactures glucose-monitoring equipment.

(Tip o’ the hat to Jim Edwards who first wrote about it here.)

Among the varied charges leveled in the letter is that the company did not conform to necessary guidelines when hiring for critical positions at the company, especially ones that are responsible for quality control, calibration of equipment and regulatory affairs: 

4. Failure to have sufficient personnel with the necessary education, background, training, and experience to assure that all activities required by 21 CFR 820 are correctly performed, as required by 21 CFR 820.25(a). For example: 

a. The job description for the Director of Quality Systems requires that the person have a Bachelor of Science/Technical/or Engineering discipline. The person holding the position does not have this type of degree, but rather a Business Administration degree. 

b. The person holding the Regulatory Affairs Manager position lacks the minimum of 5 years of regulatory experience required in the job description. 

c. The person holding the Quality Control Supervisor position lacks the required Bachelor degree in science or the alternative five to eight years experience in Quality Control.  

d. The person holding the Calibration Coordinator position lacks the required Bachelor degree and the four years of relevant experience.

We have reviewed your response dated March 26, 2010, and have concluded that it is not adequate because the replacement Regulatory Affairs Manager does not have qualifications that meet the qualifications required in the job description. You stated that you are conducting a global review of personnel to compare qualifications and job descriptions of all individuals who have direct product impact to determine if their background and experience match the requirements of their current job description and are conducting a review of the Human Resources processes that support the development of job descriptions and the identification and selection of personnel. However, this process is ongoing and evidence of its completion and effectiveness was not provided.

For its part, the company says it is working with the FDA to clear up the problems.

“Abbott Diabetes Care has taken and continues to take the actions necessary to address the items outlined in the letter and is communicating those actions directly to the agency,” says Greg Miley, the company’s director of public affairs.

But with all the highly skilled — yet unemployed –workers out there currently flooding the job market, it boggles the mind to think that the company’s HR department is not able to find any qualified candidates for such important positions.

Furthermore, if you are an end-user of one of Abbott’s products, such as the FreeStyle glucose-monitoring and the Navigator continuous-monitoring systems, how sure are you that the product in your hand has been properly calibrated and tested for quality assurance if the people responsible for such things may not be qualified to do their jobs?  

When critical positions are filled by unqualified candidates, it’s a simply a recipe for disaster.

Can Glassdoor Remain Objective?

Now here’s one worth watching. Glassdoor.com, the career website that lets employees trash or praise employers anonymously (with more doing the former than the latter), has just opened its doors to employers to defend themselves, if you will.

Actually, companies don’t respond to specific complaints. Rather, they’re now invited to join a new program called Glassdoor Enhanced Employer Profiles that lets them post their company profiles on the site — in exchange for a $495 (and up)-per-month subscription.

Problem is — and the Wall Street Journal lays it all out pretty nicely in this recent story (subscription only)  — Glassdoor’s going to have to somehow prove to all its users and visitors that those advertising dollars aren’t swaying decisions to filter certain reviews, or affecting the site’s employer-rating system.

Hmmm … this could get a bit dicey. Welcome, Glassdoor, to a dilemma journalists and media holdings face every day: how to ensure and uphold their objectivity in reporting on industries and organizations at the same time they’re inviting many of those organizations to adverstise.

 It’s not easy, but that advertiser/customer (reader) line is one we here at HRE endeavor mightily to never cross. Can’t say every competitor does the same. But can say our readers seem to appreciate it, from what I hear in my travels and discussions with them.

Glassdoor has already decided to allow paying companies to have their uploaded “company photos appear first when a job seeker is scanning a Glassdoor profile for a company, requiring a bit more work for site visitors to see the unofficial photos posted by employees,” the WSJ story says. Glassdoor CEO Robert Hohman tells the paper he doesn’t believe the order of photos will matter much.

Hope, for his sake, he’s right.

A Brighter Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics may not show it yet, but companies that deal with hiring are seeing a definite uptick in job searches. During the SHRM convention, I’ve had the chance to meet with several of those companies and they were sounding pretty positive.

Kurt Ronn, president of HRWorks, which offers executive search as well as RPO on a project basis, says he has seen “a very big uptick in the market” over the past six months.

Rich Milgram, CEO and founder of Beyond.com, which provides thousands of niche job sites, agrees, noting that Q1 was when he first saw hiring take off. In Q4, however, he expects a “big pick up.”

“Last year this time,” says Alex Douzet, president and co-founder of The Ladders, “[hiring] really hit bottom between May and August. September, we started to see the market coming back. Now, it’s more similar to second half of 2008.”

Sectors ahead of the curve, he says, are in financial services, technology, aerospace, pharmaceutical, engineering and the service industry. The “very slow” sectors are construction, real estate and manufacturing, while on the cusp are consumer goods and logistics.

So, maybe Little Orphan Annie was right. But let’s hope tomorrow comes sooner, rather than later.