Category Archives: talent management

Google’s CHRO on Resume Mistakes

Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations at Google — and HRE’s 2010 HR Executive of the Year — recently weighed in on LinkedIn on the five biggest mistakes he sees on resumes and how to correct them.

When you helm HR at one of the most-admired, most-envied tech companies in the world — one that can reportedly receive more than 50,000 resumes in a single week — it should surprise no one that Bock says he personally has seen more than 20,000 resumes himself.

 “I have seen A LOT of resumes,” he says.

While the five mistakes Bock shares are not exactly earth-shattering — typos, length, formatting, sharing confidential information and lying — his insight adds a certain gravitas to the conversation, especially on the topic of confidentiality and who you can trust to keep your company’s secrets once you let them in the door:

I once received a resume from an applicant working at a top-three consulting firm. This firm had a strict confidentiality policy: client names were never to be shared. On the resume, the candidate wrote: “Consulted to a major software company in Redmond, Washington.” Rejected! There’s an inherent conflict between your employer’s needs (keep business secrets confidential) and your needs (show how awesome I am so I can get a better job). So candidates often find ways to honor the letter of their confidentiality agreements but not the spirit. It’s a mistake. While this candidate didn’t mention Microsoft specifically, any reviewer knew that’s what he meant. In a very rough audit, we found that at least 5-10% of resumes reveal confidential information. Which tells me, as an employer, that I should never hire those candidates … unless I want my own trade secrets emailed to my competitors.

While Bock’s post is of course more intended for the job seeker than the hiring manager, it is nonetheless heartening to see such advice earnestly dispensed by the top HR person at one of the hardest places on the entire planet to get hired.

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Taking Talent Acquisition Up a Notch

If you’re looking for additional proof that talent-acquisition capability matters, check out the latest research coming from the Bersin by Deloitte unit of Deloitte Consulting LLP.

452269237According to Bersin by Deloitte’s study of 300 U.S. organizations, titled High-Impact Talent Acquisition: Key Findings and Maturity Model,  employers with mature talent-acquisition strategies perform, on average, 30 percent better than their peers as far as business outcomes are concerned, including the ability to meet or exceed customer expectations, create new products and services faster than competitors, and meet or exceed financial targets.

So what are the key drivers of talent-acquisition performance?

The Bersin by Deloitte research puts developing strong relationships between recruiters and hiring managers at the top of the list. At organizations with lower levels of maturity, the study found, recruiters are basically order takers for hiring managers. But for those organizations with higher levels of maturity, the relationships between recruiters and hiring managers typically were strong and, in turn, the performance outcomes greater.

Other influential talent-acquisition drivers, according to the research, include developing candidate pools, giving employers the ability to find “just-in-time” candidates; and leveraging social media both as a recruiting vehicle and as a way to promote the employer brand.

On this latter front, some mature organizations have gone so far as to hire dedicated strategists whose purpose is to “curate” social-media content.

When I asked Robin Erickson, vice president of talent-acquisition research at Bersin by Deloitte, what surprised her most in the findings, she pointed to the significant role building strong relationships plays as a driver of talent-acquisition performance. “We didn’t expect the relationship with hiring managers to be four times more influential than everything else—more influential than social media and more influential than employment branding,” she told me.

To be sure, there are no shortage of vendors out there working hard at developing tools aimed at helping employers get their hands around the three major drivers cited in this research. If you’re planning to attend next month’s HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas and walk the floor of the expo, I’m sure you’ll come across lots. But whether you’ll be there or not (and I certainly hope you will), I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open and let you know what I find.

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Men, Women, Competition and Cooperation

Common stereotypes may tell us that men are more competitive and women are more cooperative, but researchers at Aalto University in Finland recently studied the physiological responses to both competitive and cooperative play in order to investigate respondents’ emotions to see how males and females are motivated to behave in these situations.

So, what did the researchers find?

While males did enjoy competition more than cooperation, females enjoyed both competition and cooperation equally.

(The results of the research were published in an article in the international science journal PLOS ONE.)

“Although there is a lot of research on gender differences, nobody has studied the emotions – the physiological mechanism that steers our behavior – of competitive and cooperative activities in males and females before. This gives a better insight into why people behave the way they do. You may unconsciously give false information about your motivations, but your body doesn’t lie,” said researcher Matias Kivikangas.

Kivikangas also said the results suggest that parts of the common stereotypes are untrue, at least in that women are not enjoying cooperation any more than competition.

And, he added, “it seems that the fact that men do enjoy competition more than cooperation might actually be a consequence from gender expectations rather than innate differences.”

According to the press release announcing the findings, the two studies employed cooperative and competitive digital games to test the responses. While this makes the responses more natural than a contrived experimental procedure, the intrinsically motivated nature of the activity limits the generalizability of the results.

‘Neither males or females experienced notable differences in negative emotions, indicating that only positive emotions are relevant in motivating competitive behavior. However, separate studies with other activities should be carried out as well, because I’d suspect that competition that the individual has not chosen themselves might elicit different emotional reactions’, Kivikangas added.

The implications of this study could indeed have some far-reaching  consequences in the workplace, especially in terms of how work groups are organized (i.e. competition-based vs. collaboration-based).

But for this admittedly male writer, the findings only confirm what I already learned from my childhood experiences playing (and losing) board games with my mom and sister: Women can be just as competitive — if not moreseo than — men.

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A Rocky Road to Recovery

Here’s some sobering news going into Labor Day Weekend out of the Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development.

459982591Despite the S&P  500 hitting record highs earlier this week, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe the Great Recession’s impact has been permanent, up from half in 2009, when the recession officially ended. This finding, and other equally  gloomy stats, are featured CWD’s latest Work Trends report, released yesterday and appropriately titled Unhappy, Worried and Pessimistic: Americans in the Aftermath of the Great Recession. These latest stats are based on a survey, conducted between July 24 and Aug. 3, of 1,153 Americans.

Among the other findings in the report …

  • Most Americans do not think the economy has improved in the last year or that it will in the next.

  • Just one in six Americans believe that job opportunities for the next generation will be better than for theirs; five years ago, four in 10 held that view.

  • Roughly four in five Americans have little or no confidence that the federal government will make progress on the nation’s most important problems over the next year.”

Five years of recovery, sustained job growth and reductions in the number of unemployed workers still hasn’t convinced Americans that the economy is improving, points out Carl Van Horn, a Rutgers professor and co-author of the report.

Only one in three Americans questioned thinks the U.S. economy has gotten better in the last year, one-quarter thinks it will improve next year and just one in six believe that job opportunities will be better for the next generation of American workers, down from four in 10 five years ago, according to Van Horn.

Moreover, the study confirms that the Great Recession took a personal toll on many of the respondents.  Indeed, only one in three of the nation’s 240 million adults reported that they were completely “unscathed” by the recession. Asked to describe, using a list of a dozen words or phrases, today’s typical American worker, just 14 percent checked off happy at work and only 18 percent believe they are well paid. Two-thirds say that American workers are “not secure in their jobs” and “highly stressed.”

Not surprisingly, many of those questions were critical of Washington policymakers, with more disapproving of the job President Obama is doing (46 percent to 54 percent) and even fewer approving of the job Congress is doing (14 percent).

True, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that most Americans aren’t terribly upbeat about the state of things today. Certainly, there has been no shortage of stories in the news these days detailing the plights of many who are struggling. What is surprising, though, is the extent of the level of pessimism cited in the Rutgers report, especially when you factor in the amount of time that has passed since the latest recession was declared officially over.

Taken as a whole, it would suggest that employers and their HR leaders, once back on the jobs next Tuesday, have some serious work ahead when it comes to ensuring that their workforces remain fully engaged and focused.

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Are Drones Targeting Your Job?

This morning, I came across an interesting piece on the ABC News website titled “How Drones Will Replace Humans in the Workplace.”

462430535True, this probably isn’t the most burning issue facing HR leaders today, but the commercial use of drones is certainly a topic we’re starting to see a lot more of in the news lately. If there’s been a tipping point here, it probably was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s revelation on 60 Minutes last December that the world’s largest online retailer was exploring the use of drones to deliver packages to its customers.

Since then, drones have left the war zone and have started to appear in our backyards. As a story appearing in The Des Moines Register pointed out last month, real-estate is a natural, with agents “increasingly taking their work to the skies, using remote-controlled aircraft to film bird’s-eye-view video tours of homes, land and commercial properties.”

Asking what jobs might be at risk if and when drones are given clearance by the Federal Aviation Administration to take off commercially, the author of the ABC News piece quotes Mary Cummings, a drone expert who teaches at MIT and Duke University. Cummings suggests delivery jobs, such as UPS and FedEx, are likely candidates, along with police jobs. “Crop dusters might also find their risky work outsourced,” she adds.

(As you might expect, there was no mention of HR jobs. No speculation that, one day, drones might be delivering pink slips to remote workers included in a reduction-in-force.)

A number of obstacles, of course, lie in the way of this becoming a reality, including the need for the FAA to ease up on regulations. But experts expect it’s just a matter of time for that to happen.

In the ABC News piece, Cummings also suggests workers, in general, don’t really need to sweat the commercial use of drones catching on.

‘Ultimately,’ she says, ‘drones will create more jobs than they replace, they will save lives and they will give us capabilities we only dream about—like everyone owning our own flying cars.’ ”

 

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Survey: Weak Leadership Pipelines a Big Concern

leaky pipesWho will be the business leaders of tomorrow? This is clearly on the minds of HR leaders around the world, judging from a new survey from Right Management titled Talent Management: Accelerating Business Performance. The survey of approximately 2,200 HR execs from 13 countries finds that 46 percent identified leadership development as the top priority for this year and that only 13 percent have confidence in the strength of their leadership pipelines to fill critical openings.

This lack of confidence stems from the de-prioritization of talent development in the wake of cost cuts, according to Ruediger Schaefer, Right Management’s global talent management chief:

Today’s optimism for growth is limited by a lack of organizational agility, and employers are seeing the impact of the financial cuts and cost reductions that placed talent development on the back burner. As a result, too man companies are facing talent shortages, skills mismatches and weak leadership pipelines that threaten business growth. Future success is dependent on a sustained strategic commitment to assessing, developing and activating talent.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • The top three global talent management challenges are lack of skilled talent for key positions, shortage of talent at all levels and less-than-optimal employee engagement.
  • Forty-eight percent of global employers plan to broaden their employee engagement programs to keep top talent on staff.
  • Management succession planning ranks as a higher priority in the Americas (36 percent) than in Europe (17 percent) and Asia Pacific (31 percent).

 

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Now Serving: Free College Degrees

150px-Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011_svgIf you happen to notice your local Starbucks barista acting even more upbeat and happy than normal, it may not caffeine-related.

Starbucks employees nationwide will be eligible for a free college education through Arizona State University’s online program beginning this fall, according to AZCentral.com:

The new initiative, touted as the first of its kind, will allow many of Starbucks’ 135,000 workers to graduate debt free from ASU with no requirement to repay or stay on with the company. The funding will come from a partnership between ASU and Starbucks.

ASU President Michael Crow is scheduled to appear in New York on Monday with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to launch the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, as it is called.

“Starbucks decided human capital is one of the most important things they can invest in,” Crow said. “Everybody is concerned about what are the ways to get through college.”

In a news release, Schultz talked about “the fracturing of the American Dream.” He said: “There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it.”

Kudos to Starbucks for this initiative, and here’s hoping many other organizations follow suit in an effort to increase the country’s knowledge base.

h/t to USA Today

 

 

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Moving the Diversity Needle at Google

Certainly, on one level, the news coming out of Google on Wednesday that the Mountain View, Calif., company still has a long way to go as far as diversity and inclusion are concerned was hardly surprising. Like a lot of Silicon Valley companies, because of the nature of its business, 478279605you’d expect Google might struggle on this front.

But it’s at least refreshing to see Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock go public with the company’s diversity data, something I’m told is somewhat rare in the ever-secretive Valley.

In case you missed it, here’s what Bock posted on his blog

We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly … .”

Globally, Bock reports, Google’s workforce consists of 70 percent men and 30 percent women; while in the United States, only 2 percent of its workforce are black and 3 percent are Hispanic. (It should be noted, though, that 30 percent are Asian while 61 percent are white.)

In terms of leadership, the ethnicity numbers were even less diverse, with 72 percent of the executives being white, 23 percent Asian, 2 percent black and 1 percent Hispanic.

In his blog post, Bock continues …

There are lots of reasons why technology companies like Google struggle to recruit and retain women and minorities. For example, women earn roughly 18 percent of all computer-science degrees in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics make up under 10 percent of U.S. college grads and collect fewer than 5 percent of degrees in CS majors, respectively. So we’ve invested a lot of time and energy in education. Among other things, since 2010, we’ve given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer-science education to women and girls. And we’ve been working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science. For example, this year, Google engineer Charles Pratt was in-residence at Howard University, where he revamped the school’s Intro to CS curriculum. But we’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be … .”

I asked Daniel S. Guillory, CEO of Innovations International, a consultancy based in San Francisco with expertise in the areas of diversity and inclusion, if the Google figures were in line with what’s happening at other tech companies in the Valley.

“I’d say they’re pretty close,” Guillory said. “Perhaps you’ll find more diversity at companies that have been at it longer [such as Intel and HP] and have a culture established for a longer period of time, but as far as newer companies are concerned, I would think these figures are somewhat similar.”

Guillory’s advice to companies in the Valley struggling with this issue …

First, he said, look at where you recruit. “A lot of times, organizations will recruit from certain schools, so the first thing I would say is to broaden where you do your recruiting,”  he says. “Taking the top 10 percent of students from Stanford is one approach, but recruiting someone who’s in the 1 percent from a university somewhere else, one that might not be considered a top-tier school, gives you the opportunity to find [top talent as well].”

The other thing, Guillory continues, is to create an inclusive culture. It’s one thing to recruit talent, he says, but it’s equally important to create a culture that truly values and integrates the contributions of people who are different.

Of course, whether Google can make greater strides in improving the diversity of its workforce in the coming years remains to be seen. But it’s nonetheless good to see Bock and Google take a meaningful step in that direction by being candid about where things stand today.

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Zappos Finds a New Way to Recruit

ZapposJob postings? They’re so old-school! Las Vegas-based Zappos, the online shoe retailer, has decided to do away with posting jobs on career sites such as Monster and LinkedIn in favor of a new social network designed specifically to help the company create a new “talent community” that it hopes will serve as a constant supply of top talent.

The talent community, called Zappos Insiders, will replace a hiring process that was losing its effectiveness, Michael Bailen, who oversees talent acquisition for the company, told the Wall Street Journal. “We spam them, they spam us back” was how he described for the WSJ the normal hiring process, in which companies post job descriptions, candidates flood the companies with resumes and recruiters spend only a few seconds reading each one before moving on to the next. Last year, the company was inundated with 31,000 applicants and ended up hiring about 1.5 percent of them, according to the WSJ.

With Zappos Insiders, people interested in the company can sign up and network with Zappos employees, participate in contests and chat with recruiters, who will have more time to suss out whether potential candidates are a good fit with the company, Bailen said. The recruiters will use software to help them sort Insiders members based on skill sets or personal interests into pipelines for areas such as merchandising or engineering, according to the Journal.

Bailen said he’s surprised that Zappos appears to be the first company to do this. “We’re hoping a lot of other companies jump on board,” he told the Journal.

 

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Leadership-Development Spend Up Again

Figure I might finish off the week with some positive news received a couple of days ago from Bersin by Deloitte.

New research from the Oakland-based consulting organization shows that U.S. organizations boosted leadership spending 14 percent on average for the second consecutive year. That translates to an estimated $15.5 billion in 2013. (Smaller organizations enjoyed the largest increase.)

466169293As I write this, we’re putting the finishing touches on our annual “What’s Keeping HR Up at Night” survey that we’ll be sending out soon. And if the findings of 2014 survey are similar to last year’s or the year before that, leadership development will end up somewhere near the top of our list of issues HR leaders are most worried about (in 2013, it was the second-most-cited issue).

Well, if the Bersin study (Leadership Development Factbook 2014: Benchmarks and Trends in U.S. Leadership Development) is any indication, HR leaders are busy translating some of that worry into actual initiatives.

In addition to a 14 percent rise in spend, the research found employers are beefing up their staffs in the area of leadership development, with a 12 percent overall increase at U.S. organizations. It also found emerging leaders are getting a healthy dose of the funding, with 17 percent of leadership-development budgets going to high-potential professionals who have not yet reached an official managerial role.

On a more sober note, the study also revealed first-level managers were receiving the lowest per-person funding in leadership development. For example, within large organizations, these leaders each receive, on average, $2,600, or 34 percent less than emerging leaders and half the amount of mid-level leaders.

Considering the impact this level can have on engagement and performance, it would be nice to see this group get a bigger piece of the T&D pie.

Companies also continue to fall short when it comes to “priming the pump” as far as their leadership pipelines are concerned.

The research indicates that successors have been identified for just 10 percent of their first-level leaders and 19 percent of their mid-level leaders. The pipeline at higher levels also looks weak within these organizations, with successors identified for just 24 percent of senior-level positions and 36 percent of executive positions.

Further proof that companies still have a lot more work to do on this front.

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