3 Reasons Your Candidate’s Experience Sucks

I’m a huge believer that a Recruiting department can be as effective at branding a company as any marketing department.  Think of how many people your recruiting teams come in contact with every day of every week of every month of this year and imagine all the goodwill it could create! With such awesome potential to do so much good for a brand, why do most candidates report having such a terrible experience with recruiting departments?

I believe it boils down to three simple reasons – yours could be one of or a combination of them:

  1. The importance of creating a unique, branded candidate experience has not reached a level in your organization that can effect the changes necessary to do so OR it’s reached that level and that person is ineffective. For anything to change in a corporate environment it has to matter to someone WAY up the food chain.  Potentially higher than Recruiting or HR.  I mean CXO level commitment.  Once a CMO or a CFO or a CEO gets wind of brand disenfranchisement being caused by the Recruiting Department, something WILL change!  GetSatisfaction just published an infographic that shows industries loose billions of dollars due to bad customer service.  Bet most Recruiting departments are glad they don’t do similar studies on bad candidate experience!
  2. It’s not being measured. Many HR folks talk about candidate experience and how important it is but I find few if any Recruiting departments are actually measuring the candidate experience.  If they are, they are measuring a small subset of “candidates” – those who actually got hired.  To get a “true” picture of your candidate’s experience, you have to measure everyone and be ready to listen.  Companies who do this learn very quickly that their assumptions (someone who applied and didn’t get an interview is naturally going to be pissed) are unfounded and that they can learn VOLUMES from listening to their candidates.
  3. Anecdotes are taken as indicators. In every Recruiting department, there will be a handful of Recruiters who understand that what their candidates experience reflects on them, the department, the company and the industry and therefore they take candidate experience very seriously.  These exceptions usually forward (if the candidates don’t do it themselves) the kind emails and letters to leadership to show the effect they are having.  I see messages like, “best representative of your company I’ve ever spoken to”, “truly knowledgable about your company and industry – a pure professional” and “even though I was not selected for the role, I will always have high marks for XYZ, Co. because of her” coming from candidates to great recruiters.  A leader who assumes this is the norm is the proverbial ostrich with their head in the sand.  C’mon, who’s going to forward hate mail to their boss?

head in sand

So there are three potential reasons candidates are having a bad experience with your employer brand.  What to do?  Again, three simple steps to creating a unique, branded candidate experience:

  1. Measure it! Do it yourself or hire a company/consultant but you can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you are! Measure everyone, anyone who applies, anyone who ends up in your CRM or talent community – EVERYONE.  At the very least, this shows your candidates that you are doing something positive.
  2. Find the gaps and fill them.  Through establishing your baseline in step 1 above, you should be able to identify gaps or deficiencies in your candidate experience.  The gaps may be in process, people or technology but trust me, they are much easier to fix than you may imagine.  At Wachovia, we put in a HIGH TOUCH recruiting process for our Teller hiring groups – and they hired 17000 people a year!  Don’t let people tell you they “can’t”.  This goes for your recruiters (remember, it could be a people problem!) your IT partners, anyone – it can and should be done.  Don’t be the leader in #1 at the beginning of this blog, ineffectual.  Make it a priority by tying it to the bottom line and the red carpet will be rolled out for you to get it done.
  3. Finally, INSTITUTIONALIZE it!  Take the changes you made in #2 above and ensure that even once you are gone, the legacy of great candidate experience will live on.  The best way to do this is to get it on a your Recruiting Department scorecard.  You get what you measure and if you begin to measure candidate experience (down to the recruiter level) and tie bonus, promotion etc to it in someway then you’ll find you get a repeatable, reliable process that consistently produces high marks from your candidates.

I hope you are inspired to tackle this very important topic now that it’s been conveyed in small, bite sized pieces.  Believing in, and being passionate about candidate experience is the final frontier of Recruiting.  Social media and technology have made it easier and easier to showcase your brand, company, department, and recruiters to candidates.  Aren’t you the least bit curious as to what they are saying?

Lessons on Social Media from Charlie Sheen

I’ve recently turned my TV off.  The cause of my discontent?  No football and Charlie Sheen.

It’s one thing to have 500 channels of *&%$ on the TV to choose from, it’s quite another to be assaulted by incoherent rants propagated by media outlets with little semblance of journalism.  I’m over Charlie Sheen and I was a HUGE fan about 30 days ago.

So what in the heck does this have to do with social media and recruiting??  I’ll tell you.  There are some KEY LESSONS to be learned from the recent situation de Sheen.

  1. There IS something to social media “over exposure”.  You may believe there is no such thing as bad exposure but I think Charles has proven that adage completely wrong.  If you are using social media for recruiting and instead of “speaking” to potential candidates through the medium you are SHOUTING irrelevant, nonsensical messages – your audience is TUNING YOU OUT!
  2. You can’t really trust online personas.  Social media has created a much braver and yet cowardly persona for many as they hide behind the media.  Most of what you read on social media is someone championing or challenging thoughts, not necessarily based on what they actually feel (or would say to your face) but what they WANT people to think of them.  IF you are using social media for recruiting, be careful to interview thoroughly as you don’t always get what you thought you were buying off the internet!
  3. Social media can adversely affect your brand.  Going from super TV star to laughing stock of the internet is perhaps once of the more meteoric falls we’ve witnessed in decades.  Know that what YOU say about your employer brand is a whisper compared to what others say.  Take concrete actions to ensure your messages are amplified in the market, not contradicted.
  4. Social media can be a cruel place.  I don’t see many #sheen or #winning tweets calling for Charlie to get help.  Most are “taking sides” in a debate of his sanity.  That’s pretty cruel to me.  If you are going to use social media for recruiting, don’t make it another cruel place for job seekers, they get enough abuse as it is.

The bottom line message is to plan and execute a social media strategy for recruiting that encompasses both “listening” aspects as well as “telling” aspects.  Consider it a conversation instead of a broadcast platform and you’ll avoid the pitfalls that Charlie Sheen has fallen into.

And maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to turn my TV on again this fall when my beloved football returns to prime time.

New Favorite word: Badvocate

I believe the jury is still out on the “is social media a good thing or a bad thing for corporate recruiting” question.  Everywhere I turn, I see recruiting departments dipping toes, jumping in or even diving into social media.

6a00e54edd5b1888330120a4f3f938970b-320pi

But after reading an article on Mashable recently I think there may be an unintended consequence of this rather awkward entry.

Enter my new favorite word: Badvocate

The author of the article,  Maria Ogneva, defines “Badvoates” as the folks who spread negative comments about you with their networks.

Here’s a similar definition I found but with some “emphasis”:

badvocate-word-of-day

Keep me honest here as I lay out my logic for tying this word to the world of corporate recruiting.  Here’s the recipe that’s causing my concern:

  1. Take one web 1.0 process (on line job advertising, on line applying and the black hole of recruiting) that has historically created ill feelings among for users of the process. (recruiters are overwhelmed with unqualified applications and job seekers are underwhelmed by  the experience they have with employment brands)
  2. Add social media (which in this example is like throwing gasoline on a lit BBQ) and it’s ability to distribute the process in (1) above to far reaching corners of the webisphere.
  3. RESULT: dramatic increases in the potential to create “Badvoates” of our employer brand.

So there’s the recipe for disaster from a “Badvoacte” point of view.  Instead of things getting better, things can really go south for an employer brand.  I’m seeing this in the research I do daily on job seeker experience with employer brands and social media.  The promise of social media is far from being recognized by most companies because they didn’t change the ingredient #1 in the recipe above before they jumped into the pool!

So how can we save the employer brand from this recipe for disaster?  To begin with, we have to be able to “listen” to the voices of both Advocates (people who are fans and vocal about your employment brand) and Badvocates (the opposite). Not an easy thing to do when the “Market” looks like this:

SocialMedia03

There are many ways to “listen” to the way people speak about your brand in the marketplace.  Some are as easy as setting up Google alerts and some are as complex as “listening” software programs.  I’ll try to give you more specifics in a future post.  Just know that “listening” and “responding” are two KEY ingredients in my edited recipe for social media success:

  1. Get your 1.0 process dialed in.  Make the candidate the “customer” and simply commit to provide the best experience possible for ALL applicants (not just the ones you “like” to use a Facebook analogy) using your ATS (YES it CAN do this) and your process (YES you CAN do this for high volume hiring)
  2. Set up your “listening” strategy.  Be prepared with a handbook of how to handle Badvocates (there will always be detractors) AS WELL AS Advocates!  Here’s one of the secret ingredients to success; find the advocates and amplify THEIR voice in the market.  Remember, as a company, what you say about your brand is met with skepticism and lack of believability.  What my FRIEND says about your brand is what matters to ME!
  3. Architect your individual social media strategies (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.) with ENGAGEMENT as the purpose – NOT broadcasting.  Remember, if you put it out there and people act on it and have a terrible experience, they will tell 15 friends who will tell 15 friends etc. (remember the FABERGE commercials? Faberge \”tell friends\” commercial)
  4. By ENGAGING (creating content AND consuming content) in social media, you’ll be able to HEAR (through your listening strategy) the noise (both positive and negative) and adjust your strategies and techniques to skew the conversation.

I hope this has caused you to re-evaluate OR actually EVALUATE any jumping into social media for recruiting.  Read the article from Mashable!

Black Hole 3.0

Are we evolving, devolving or simply going in circles?

BlackHole

The Black Hole of Recruiting is not new, it’s been around for a long time.

Black Hole 1.0:
The old joke in applying for a job used to be about your resume and cover letter ending up in the “circular file” (the trash can).  But it was fairly standard process to send a courtesy “reply” to anyone who sent in a resume saying “thanks for the resume but we aren’t hiring”.

And then the internet happened.

Black Hole 2.0:
Technology and the internet provided a way to send in a resume (apply on line) with no stamp and no “snail mail” waiting time.  And the Black Hole hatred was officially born.  The Black Hole of Recruiting refers to the situation where an applicant fills out an online application, gets a cursory electronic “thank you” and then hears NOTHING back – ever – never.

jobseekerfrustration

For those of you who are all too familiar with this situation you may be asking WHY IS HE BEATING THIS DEAD HORSE AGAIN!!

Because we are in Black Hole 3.0 – it’s called “Social Media”.

socialmedialogos

The promise of social media is to more easily connect, share and interact with each other.  People are connecting at frenetic rates, sharing stuff that many probably shouldn’t be sharing (or wouldn’t in any other situation) and interacting with both friends and strangers.

Companies are now using this new media to try to apply these “personal” features to speed and facilitate business objectives (marketing, customer service, sales etc.) and few have really cracked the code on how to effectively do so.

RECRUITING departments have jumped into this mish mash of speed dating online and are trying to use the new media to facilitate hiring.

The challenge they are having is that by connecting faster, more lightly and more frequently, most are simply creating a faster, lighter and pervasive BLACK HOLE 3.0.  Following companies on Twitter, Liking them on Facebook or joining their Company Page on LinkedIn do nothing to alleviate the frustration that job seekers feel, in fact, it has great potential to make it worse..

Here’s how recruiting is currently using Social Media and the potential effects it is having:

  1. Job Casting – a newer faster way to broadcast jobs with the hope that it gets virility and finds the right candidate.  Getting your jobs out to a wider audience will produce more quantity and potentially less quality of applicants (remember, a job description puts the decision of qualification in the applicant’s hands)- is that the goal or the result you desire? (Tweetmyjobs, Facebook pages)
  2. Candidate Service – like customer service, some companies are using Twitter and Facebook to provide candidates updates on application status etc..  While on the surface this may seem like a good use of social media, having a dedicated team to monitoring your tweets and Facebook posts is a luxury few recruiting departments can afford.
  3. Branding – using social media to enhance your employer brand is probably the best way I’ve seen to leverage the tools.  By putting brand messages out and keeping the “dialog” of social media at a brand level, you are neither exacerbating the over applicant problem or breaking your budget on “monitoring”.

Perhaps you are using Social Media for recruiting in other ways (if so, please let me know how) but no matter how you use it beware: if you are setting the expectation in a prospect’s mind that they are taking a step “CLOSER” to your hiring process, you need to make sure that you live up to the expectation and communicate with them, give them feedback etc. lest you simply create the Black Hole of Recruiting 3.0.

social_void_usuck

Talent Community or Talent Network?

It’s been a while since I posted and in that time I’ve been busy talking to companies about building groups of people they can communicate with about jobs.  For those of us old timers, this was called a pipeline and it usually resided in an excel spreadsheet.

Today however, these groups are living, interacting mechanisms and require much more attention than our old spreadsheets.

First of all, we need to delineate the terms “community” and “network”.  I see many vendors and companies using the term “community” and after we define both, you may want to rethink which term you are using.

Community; a community is a social network of individuals who interact through specific media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals (key word here is interact)

communitypicture

Network; a social network is a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called “nodes”, which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige. (key words here are common interest)

NetworkPicture

The key differentiators are that in a “community” there is “interaction” and in a “network” there is simply shared “common interest”.  This is key to setting up your situation for one reason:

EXPECTATION MANAGEMENT

One of the things that I think all recruiting leaders can agree on is that we do a really poor job of setting the expectation in the job seeker/candidate/prospects mind.  This is the whole reason for the discontent of job seekers with applying to your company – they EXPECT that they are now going to be treated as a candidate for the  job they applied to – whether they are qualified OR NOT!!

expectations

Today, it is an emerging best practice to set up a group situation OUTSIDE your ATS for prospects to be visible to your company.  The danger to the recruiting department, the employer brand and the company brand is that if you set the expectation that these people are joining a community they are going to expect interaction. Are you prepared to interact with your community?  Allow them to interact with each other?  OR – do you want to simply connect them around the shared common interest of working for your company by forming a Talent Network?

In a previous post, I mentioned that WORDS COUNT – be assured that they are counting in your candidates’/prospects’ minds when they think they are joining something.

Job Search 2010 (or “why are you treating me this way?”)

I’ve recently begun volunteering with a group of professionals who are under or unemployed and looking for work.  Wow, what an insight to “job search 2010”.  Let me be clear, these are educated, experienced professionals who can read, write and solve problems as well if not better than anyone reading this blog.  I’m talking about engineers, certified project managers, HR professionals, M&A Accountants – you name a profession and these are the folks I’m talking about.

 

job seekers

First of all, they are exhausted.

No wonder.  Job searching in the digital age is a labyrinth of dead ends and bogus directions.   I’m getting some amazing perspective on the “advice” these folks are being given on a daily basis.  Not by their dry-cleaner, but by so called “experts”; resume writers, outplacement firms and even corporate recruiters.  My conclusion?

We have to do better by these people.

This is a call out to all of us “so-called-professionals” – we MUST do better by these people.  Why?  Because the “buyers market” we are enjoying today will not last forever and soon enough the tables will be turned and we’ll be begging these people to come work for us.  When the job market turns (as it always does) these same people who are being given the royal shaft by US will be in the driver’s seat and all the employer-job seeker karma we are tossing out there will come back three fold.

KarmaPolice

DO BETTER #1:

Stop treating these people as commodities.  See them for what they are, human beings.  Dads, Moms, Husbands and Wives who have committed to providing for their families and promised them a bright future.  They are not “widgets”, they are not “applicants”, they are not “candidates”.  They are first and always, humans.  If you don’t have the time to treat them with the respect they deserve, you need to get out of the HUMAN resource business.  If you are bombarded with applicants and don’t have time to treat each one well – stop advertising your jobs like a desperate love seeker on every online dating site.  Attracting job seekers only to treat them like crap is THE NUMBER 1 DO BETTER.  If you can’t do better you shouldn’t be in the human resource profession.

Okay, so that’s a little harsh but in reality there are only a few reasons this terrible disservice to job seekers exists:

1. Recruiting Department laziness. Instead of working like headhunters, developing networks of talent and strategically tapping that talent – we post jobs.  It’s so lazy it’s laughable.  Ask any business owner how she built her business and I’ll give you $5 for every one of them who says “I put an ad in the paper and waited while customers bullrushed my store.”  Post and pray is a huge suck of resources, money and time and fails to accomplish the business’ objectives.  It just makes recruiting easier.  Lazy.

2. Over-zealous interpretation of DOL laws. I’m going to call out the legal and compliance teams as well as HR and Recruiting on this one.  There are NO laws that say you have to post your jobs on Monster, much less on Monster and Careerbuilder and eFinancial Careers, and The Ladders etc.  If you are a company over 50 employees you have to get your jobs to disadvantaged people and you can do this for $25 at JobCentral and be covered for your DOL requirements.  Don’t blame your “post happy” habits on your legal and compliance teams.  How about becoming an expert on OFCCP yourself and advising YOUR legal and compliance teams on recruiting requirements. Don’t have time?  See #1 above.

hr poke

3. Horribly written job descriptions. I conducted a free webinar earlier this year on writing creative, targeted job descriptions to reduce the number of applications while increasing the quality of them.  I had a company that is doing this with amazing results present their data and it was shown that with a small investment of time you can STOP the flood of unqualified applicants.  I had 20 people attend.  Clearly this demonstrates the lack of interest or understanding (or both) of the affect a job description has on flow and quality of applications.  My only conclusion is that recruiting departments would rather focus on the cool and topical (for example social media – where I got 175 people to attend a webinar in February) than the simple and effective.  Look in the mirror before you argue.  How much energy is your department putting into social media today vs. fixing one of the largest, most consistent problems facing employers and job seekers?

Ok, so in my dream world, our recruiting department is being run like a headhunting firm (with time devoted to typical HR ’stuff’ we have to deal with in-house)  and when we DO have to post a job we’ve put accurate, honest and well thought out job descriptions onto our career sites and are getting less but better applicants.  Now onto another key thing we have to STOP.

DO BETTER #2:

STOP telling job seekers how to “game” the system.  Even worse, STOP giving job seekers “tips and tricks” that we all know don’t work!!  Here are some examples of what the “experts” are telling these poor job seekers that, although keeping them busy, have no tangible effect on their ability to get a job:

1. Join our Talent Community by filling out a general application in our ATS so we can find you when we have the right job. POPPYCOCK!  Seriously folks, if you are saying this to ANYONE today, please stop it.  It’s a dirty little secret of recruiting that I’m exposing to every job seeker I talk to – companies DO NOT search their ATS.  (Ok, argue if you want to but before you do, produce facts about how many hires you get from searching your ATS, how many previous candidates for jobs from last year you found in your ATS and hired for a new role – I’m serious, I’d really like to hear from you.) If recruiting is a ‘black hole” this is the most hungry black hole we create.

2. Go in and change a couple key words on your resume in our system to keep it fresh and findable. Wow, could there be a larger waste of time?  See #1 above but beyond that, whoever gives this advice to candidates has clearly not been unemployed in the last few years.  My job seeker friends apply to 10-50 jobs A WEEK!  Now you are telling them to go back to each of those applications or ATS systems and edit a word or two and THIS may help you be found? Why do we put the onus on the job seeker to make themselves findable in our ATS?  Because #1 above and even if you DO search your ATS (still haven’t heard from you…) – it’s a crappy search engine because it was never designed to be a search engine.  An ATS is a “cover your ass” tool devised in a dark dingy room by lawyers and over-zealous HR weenies.  But I digress.

3. You should have a professional Resume and Cover Letter written. Of course you need a resume and yes it should be professional but not “professionally written” necessarily.  Like job descriptions, resumes should be a highly accurate description of your history, skills and competencies and the impact you’ve had on your past employers (not touchy feely impact like “won the 5th floor bake sale 3 years on a row” but business impact – revenue or cost savings) and should cause enough of a pause to anyone scanning (not reading, recruiters don’t read resumes they scan them) it to make them email or call you.  Ask a room of recruiters how many cover letters they read in a day – the answer ZERO.  Ask a room full of hiring managers how many cover letters they read – the answer less than 10% have read ONE.  Ask resume writers how many recruiters and hiring managers read cover letters – the answer EVERYONE!  See what I’m getting at.    Once you are in a final interview or next to final interview and you want to put a summary/cover letter whatever together go ahead, print it on bond paper in gold leaf if you want because you’ll be handing very few of them out.

handle the truth

I realize that this is uncomfortable for some to read – the truth is often more painful than the lie.  But you have to trust me that when I say these things to job seekers, they are shocked because the prevailing wisdom is in direct contradiction to what I’ve said here.

Whether you agree with anything I’ve written or are writing me off as a quack, please do a very simple thing and commit personally to treating job seekers with respect, kindness and dignity – it’s all they really want if they can’t work for your company and it’s what they EXPECT if they eventually DO.

Psst, there’s a party at my ATS tonight….

It may label me as a “geezer” but I went to High School before the Internet was invented.  OK, once you stop laughing I’ll make my point.

In “my day” – OK, now I’m officially a “geezer” – when my folks went out of town and left me alone at my house I would tell a few friends to come over and hang out and get some pizzas and yes, drink some beer!  But that “few friends” always turned into a larger group of 20 – 30 and I’d find myself at my front door allowing some people in and telling most to go home.  These people were typically angry and may have TP’d my house or shaving creamed my car the next week.  I hope some of you can relate to how simple those times were.

Today, if you leave your teenager at home and he has the same idea that I did, it could potentially turn into a dangerous mob and a police scene as hundreds of kids show up to your house as evidenced by this recent story at ABC News:

“Social Media Leads to Home-Wrecking Party”
Home damaged after teens spread word of raging party through Facebook and texts.

The major difference between my “geezer” experience and the danger of today:

-Social Media
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Your 2010 Talent Acquisition Dictionary

This year, as you listen to pundits, experts and talking heads tell you about all the changes that need to be made in recruiting to bring respect and admiration for our profession (overhaul your process, embrace every new technology, restructure your department, add a sourcing team, etc.), you will no doubt be intimidated by the scope of these recommended changes in the face of flat or reduced resources. It is my assertion that this “recommending the extreme” has stymied our growth as an industry.

However, sometimes the biggest changes can occur by simply changing the words we use both internally (within our departments) and externally (with our candidates/customers and hiring managers).  Many a book has been written about how changing words leads to changes in perception, performance and promotion.  For example:

What does the word “overwhelmed” represent?

  • “I have little or no power at the office”
  • “My problems are bigger than I am”
  • “There’s no hope for relief and it will never change”

What would you be saying and thinking if you switched to saying “In Demand” instead?

  • “I’m important”
  • “I’m needed”
  • “I’m choosing where to give my time and talents”
  • “I’m proud”

Yes, words matter, so here is your 2010 Talent Acquisition Dictionary.  Start with this and see what changes come simply by changing the words you use every day.

Old: Pipeline
2010: Talent Pool
The word “pipeline” has been many a recruiter’s enemy.  Hiring managers consider a pipeline to mean a bucket of interview-ready candidates you simply toss a net into and pull out a never ending supply of candidate choices.  The word “pipeline” begs the question “who else do you have?” from a hiring manager.  A Talent Pool represents a group of people from which you may be able to find a candidate or two based on the quality of your ongoing relationship with them.

Old: CPH
2010: QOH
Cost-per-hire is a meaningless statistic to anyone who understands the nuances of recruiting.  What goes into this measurement is of great debate and a high CPH is not a bad thing if you are hiring key talent, just as a low CPH is not a good thing if you are keeping costs low at the expense of quality.  QOH is harder to measure but significantly more meaningful to the business.  Simply put, higher quality is better than lower quality regardless of price or time (which is coming next).  If you reward your recruiters on QOH instead of CPH the department will flourish.

Old: TTF (I told you it was coming!)
2010: ROH
Time-to-fill has run its course and is no longer (if it ever was) a meaningful measurement to anyone but a recruiter being measured on it.  ROH (Retention of Hire) actually means something to your business partners.  This should seem self evident yet when you talk about retention with recruiters they are very quick to point fingers at managers, culture etc. (all of which a good recruiter knows about and screens applicants for by the way!).  So let me put these in context; if my recruiters have a very low TTF and the “company” has a high turnover rate, why are we measuring TTF?  Any business person understands that taking longer to hire the RIGHT person (who stays, performs and is promoted) is significantly preferable to hiring the wrong person (who gets trained, complains and quits or is let go) faster.  Really?  You want to argue this one?

Old: Applicant (or Candidate)
2010: Customer
The world is flat.  No, I didn’t write it, but it’s true.  It’s also true that you no longer control your employer brand.  Sure, you can pay for awards (remember, I’ve spent 18 years in this business, I know what “branding” means in most recruiting organizations), publish logos from organizations on your career site and talk a great game, all the while, treating people applying for jobs, interviewing for jobs and even getting jobs like cows in a production dairy farm.  Guess what?  People talk, twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. at increasing rates and what are they talking about?  Your terrible “candidate” experience.  This one is simple – treat every “applicant” (cold call, networking call etc. for you sourcers out there) like a potential customer of your company and all the above is still true but the talk becomes positive.  Again, this one is a no brainer but way too many recruiting departments are “too busy” to attend to the applicant pools they attract and are hurting their companies – watch it, marketing will find out about this as will sales and the C-suite.

And the final entry for today:

Old: Customer (is the hiring manager)
2010: Customer (is the candidate)
In any process development or improvement methodology (I use Tatham) the first step is to define the customer.  Same holds true when you start a business – “who is your customer?” is a fundamental step 1.  Step 2 is that you CAN NOT have more than one customer!  So if you have an existing recruiting process with the “customer” defined as your hiring managers – you cannot be successful in recruiting top talent.  This is a simple fact that, once explored with an open mind, becomes obvious.  Now let me calm your nerves and tell you that I built my career in Corporate America so I understand the idea that recruiting supports the business units they are assigned to.  But let’s not confuse “support” with the definition of “customer”.  Yes, you support the Marketing group in their recruiting efforts but if the marketing team is your “customer” then you must have a process that revolves around their needs and wishes, even if those needs and wishes tie your recruiting efforts to the post. 

Ok, you need an example.  Here’s a poignant one from one of the most respected recruiting leaders in the country today.  At this person’s company, the Sr. Leadership was clamoring that they weren’t seeing enough candidates from one of their top competitors (company A) and the pressure was on for the whole recruiting staff to up the ante in pilfering this competitor of top talent.  However, my well respected colleague took the initiative to do some research and discovered that in the recent year, of the candidates from Company A that were presented, only 22% were actually hired.  And of those, 78% turned over in the first year!  So, if this recruiting leader allowed his department to serve the Hiring Manager as customer, his team would be viewed as a complete failure (especially using our new “words” above).  Serve the candidate as customer and align your hiring managers as partners and you’ll find more success than you can imagine.

Ok, now simply try using some of these new words in your meetings, discussions and plans in your department and the change that so inspired dread in you as you read the pundits’ advice will come much easier this year.

Silver Bullets

Most of you are familiar with “Silver Bullets” – whether you are a fan of The Lone Ranger (who used them) or of folklore where silver bullets were the only way to kill a werewolf, witch or other monster – everyone knows what silver bullets are.

But today, I’ll be using the idiomatic definition as defined in Wikipedia:

The term has been adopted into a general metaphor, where “silver bullet” refers to any straightforward solution perceived to have extreme effectiveness. The phrase typically appears with an expectation that some new technology or practice will easily cure a major prevailing problem.

This is a fitting definition for folks in recruiting departments across the world.  I’ve not run into a Recruiter or Sourcer this year who didn’t look at every technology as a “silver bullet”.   First the internet, then Google, Linkedin, and now social networking – you name it and chances are that the hopes and fears of recruiters will have rested on it at one time. 

I’m not sure why our profession is always in search of “silver bullets”.  I wonder if surgeons are always looking for a silver bullet – that technology or practice that will miraculously make their jobs easy and stress free?  Maybe construction folks thought the pneumatic nail gun was their “silver bullet” – after all, no hammering – hooray!  No nail pouches around my waist? YES! Finally, my job will be a breeze.  And then on Monday, they are back to crawling around 2×4 beams in freezing weather and they finally realize “hey, my job is hard – sure this new tool makes one part of it easier but overall, my job is hard.”  There are no silver bullets in recruiting.  Recruiting is hard work.

I believe that recruiting should be hard work.  Somewhere, with all the technology silver bullets we have at our disposal, the concept of recruiting being hard work got lost on many recruiters.  I know of “Recruiters” who harvest applicants from their ATS or simply get finalists referred to them by the hiring managers, process offers, put together hiring packets and move to the next one.  Recruiting?  I think not.  Somewhere we’ve blurred the lines of the verbs “recruiting” and “hiring”.  If you are taking pre-packaged applicants and simply moving them through a process to on boarding – you are NOT a recruiter, you are a staffing person or recruiting coordinator or some other version of an HR person.  Sure your job may be busy but it’s not hard.

A true recruiter works very hard for their money.  Not frantically hard like, “I’ve had to process over 20 offers this week” but rather emotionally hard like, “I spoke to my candidate’s husband last night and he grilled me on the career path his wife would have should she accept our SVP offer” or mentally hard like, “I cold called 27 candidates and got 25 “no’s” before I found my two candidates”.  Recruiting is and always will be a unique mix of art and science and those people who do it and do it well will attest to it being hard work. 

As always, the genesis of the movement to processing rather than recruiting lies solely in what the organization measures and rewards in their staff.  What you measure you promote.  Measuring and rewarding recruiters on time-to-fill, number of hires made in a year etc. drive processing.  To drive recruiting, you need to measure and reward things like quality-of-hire, retention and business impact of hires.

Measuring quality-of-hire, retention and business impact of hires is “hard” you say?  No Silver Bullets – I told you, recruiting (and managing recruiters) is hard work!

Unfriend

Today the word “unfriend” was announced as the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year (WOTY) for 2009.  How fitting.

For those of you living in a cave for the greater part of this decade, “unfriend” is what you do on Facebook to remove a connection to someone else; you “unfriend” them. 

If you had money invested with Bernie Madoff – you probably “unfriended” him this year.

Sarah Palin probably “unfriended” Levi Johnston this year – you get the drift.

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What strikes me is that to “unfriend” someone from your network is probably the rudest thing you can do in social networking.  Unfriend on Facebook and “unfollow” on Twitter mean that you originally wanted to be connected to this person and now find that connection so negative that you are dis-inviting them from your life.

OUCH!

So not only is our WOTY (word of the year) a really negative one, it shines a light on the whole social networking/public facing world the internet has created.  One in which we scamper like chipmunks to “friend” everyone we ever knew (and a bunch we don’t know but who know someone who knows someone we know or had dinner once with someone who knows someone we knew in college – Jeez!)  C’mon people.  Is this really the way of the future?

The internet lives we lead today have so completely removed us from relationships that we now do stuff to each other on the internet we’d NEVER do to each other in person.  And through this layer of protection, we now have created words that never existed to describe how rude we can be to each other.

Seriously, here’s a glaring example; you are having a Thanksgiving Dinner party and one of your friends asks if they can invite someone they know to dinner at your house.  This person shows up and drinks all your good scotch, eats the last dark meat and sucks whipped cream from the can – you are disgusted.  But do you ask this person to LEAVE?  No, you don’t, you wouldn’t.  You’d be gracious, you’d be kind and you’d never see that person again.  You’d talk about it and probably laugh about it later.

But today, we are accepting friend invitations, followers and LinkedIn connections from people we don’t know and some who we probably don’t want to know – all in the name of social networking.

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“Old networking” used to be about a mutual exchange of value, either professionally or personally.  People  in your network mattered and there was benefit to having a network and being in one. 

Today, with our newest word of the year, I doubt the value of your network is much or that you consider adding value to your network (telling everyone on Facebook that you had a great cup of coffee is NOT adding value – no it’s not.) on a regular basis.

I think the Oxford Dictionary needs to come up with a new word for “networking” in today’s world.  One that actually describes what we are doing. Maybe “friendgathering” or “Followstalking” or “Linkifinity”.  She with the most connections wins.  Wins what?

Consider this.  We’ve lost our ability to communicate effectively face to face because we now do everything on the “net”.  We apply for jobs, we update our families, we find old friends (but don’t call), we send invitations, we send Christmas letters, we order pizza, we get educations etc, etc.

The Oxford Dictionary defines FRIEND as;

Friend:
-Noun
1. A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

By doing all of our connecting electronically, aren’t we “unfriending” everyone?

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