Saturday, March 24, 2012

Diversity Recruitment Problems Over Analyzed

Yesterday when I presented the “Secrets of a Successful Job Search” at the University of Utah, I asked the participants “How many of you feel you have been discriminated because of your age?” About a third of the people raised their hands.

When you read about diversity recruitment most people discuss systems and solutions but I have yet to see anyone discuss the root problem. Possibly the reason that you do not see the root cause is that most people who write on the subject are outside of the trenches.

In my 30 plus years of professional recruitment, I have worked with thousands of hiring managers. Most hiring managers have never been trained how to effectively interview candidates. If they have not been taught how to effectively interview candidates, they certainly have not been taught how to select the best candidate. As a result, it is not unusual to hear a hiring manager comment after a series of interviews, “This person feels good in my gut!” Generally I caution them that guts are good for storing and processing food – not so good for selecting the best qualified candidate.

Using the premise of behavioral interviewing, I suggest that since most hiring managers have never been taught how to effectively interview, they do what is natural; and how they found success in the past. They choose the candidate that is most like them. Are they discriminating against protected classes? Possibly some are…but based on my experience I truly believe that most people are doing the best they can. They are selecting a new employee based on their prior successful behavior.

So who is responsible? Obviously it would be a great world if everyone did the right thing all of the time. May I suggest that companies take the time to train their hiring managers how to effectively interview and select top performers. Hiring managers do not have easy access to all of the vendors who can offer the best training. The Human Resource department does.

How to best motivate hiring managers to seek candidates with diverse experience? I like to show a problem as a cube. If everyone has the same life experience, they all look at the problem from the same direction. Can they solve the problem? Probably. Can they create the best solution? Maybe not. However, when people with different backgrounds look at the problem from different aspects, can they create a better solution? Probably.

What is the best way to encourage people to change their interviewing and selection behavior? Demonstrate how the new behavior is more beneficial. All it takes is a few early adopters who enthusiastically adopt the new process. Then demonstrate to other team members that the new interviewing process is the best way to select candidates. Once the new process becomes established, it becomes the way to conduct business.

If I were running a business, I would select sharp directors and certify them for interviewing candidates for their department. Train their hiring managers to effectively interview candidates. Then offer to help them in the selection process. This is a mentoring process that encourages desired behavior. Ask the hiring managers questions to help them through the selection process. Allow their hiring managers to select the best candidate after the due diligence and mentoring is complete.

Once managers are taught how to effectively interview and select the best qualified candidate, then companies can work on their attraction of people with diverse experience. Now we are touching on the areas that receive the most attention – sourcing diverse candidates.

When I am on a recruiting contract, if my client wants me to examine their process, I look to see if they perform the recruiting fundamentals well. Does their process attract candidates or is it designed to screen out candidates? If it is the latter, the company is losing better qualified candidates daily, quite probably well qualified diversity candidates.

Once a company sources diversity candidates, the job is only beginning. Many companies and many diversity writers confuse sourcing with recruiting. You may be interested in reading Do You Confuse Sourcing With Recruiting? The recruiting is only beginning once you sourced the diversity candidates.

Now the company needs to begin selling the candidate while determining whether they have the skills and motivation to do the job – note I did not say cultural fit. Almost by definition a diversity candidate may not necessarily be a “cultural fit” if most of the current employees come from the same background.

Remember, if someone interviews at a company and they are the only person there who is “different”, recruiting is more difficult because they may need reassurance that they will be able to make the impacts necessary to have fun. Additionally the difficulty will be compounded if you have to relocate them and their family. In my experience, diversity candidates will want reassurance their family and children will continue to interact with others like them in the new town. The candidate and family are also interested in a cultural fit.

Recruiting diversity candidates is more difficult than simply deciding to do so. On the other hand, when successful there is much satisfaction in a job well done – and the company has attracted someone who will make a difference. Begin a successful diversity recruiting program by teaching your hiring managers how to effectively interview and select the best candidates.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

March Madness Basketball And Recruiting

Of course you are saying, “What? How are the two connected?”

More ways than you may think. Importantly, almost all of those players (candidates) were recruited by coaches (hiring managers) to create a cohesive team.

What does your recruiting team do? Obviously they are working to source, identify, and recruit the candidates who will create a team that will produce positive results for your company.

Now let’s look at the “game.” How is your team prepared to compete for the best candidates? Does your company attract the best players? Or is your company one of the larger companies that many of the best candidates ignore in favor of smaller, hungrier companies?

In order to be a successful basketball team it is important to perform the fundamentals well – dribble, pass, shoot, and defend. How strong is your recruiting team while performing the recruiting fundamentals? Do your job descriptions deliver a clear summary of the required skills and experience to be successful in that specific position during the critical first year?

Job descriptions are the foundation to the recruiting process. They are the equivalent of successful ball handling. Does your company include the 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month goals in your job descriptions? With those goals stated, the skills and experience required to be successful the first year become crystal clear. Additionally, since I have been requesting hiring managers to list those goals, candidates and managers alike told me they like them. Why? The expectations for the first year are clear.

With these goals listed, sourcing is targeted. Candidates have the right skills and experience or they don’t. Instead of looking at reams of electronic resumes, hiring managers see candidates who should be on target. In basketball, do coaches recruit forwards when they need point guards? They are both basketball players.

With the goals set, interviews flow. It is like the effective defense in basketball. Only deserving and skilled candidates make it past the screen. Now managers have the tool that enables them to focus on the necessary skills and experience to be successful. Meaningful behavioral questions are easier to develop. The debriefing after the interview can target on whether the candidate has the skills and experience to be successful.

Does your company “protect the ball” and do the easy things well; or does it force candidates to jump through hoops? Go to your corporate website. Is your Careers page designed to Screen candidates out? Have you allowed your applicant tracking system to hijack your recruiting process? How many clicks does it take for candidates to find a list of openings? Remember, marketing research shows that your company loses one half of the remaining candidates with each click. Who are the first group of candidates your company loses in the first click? The passive candidates. Who are the people who survive through the application completion? The desperate candidates. Is that how you plan to win the game for the best talent? Remember, it is your advantage to have more resumes than fewer resumes.

If the opposing team scores 20 unanswered points, do you remain in your same defense without making changes? What did Einstein reputedly say about doing the same thing and expecting different results? What are you doing differently in your recruitment effort? Remember, there are over 20 million people out of work right now, some of whom are impact makers. How many openings does your company have? How patient is your management team?

What happens when your basketball team gets a little sloppy? They lose the ball. How long does your hiring manager hold the resume before committing to an interview? How long do they take before making a hiring decision? How long does it take for your company to extend an offer? The very qualified candidates do not remain on the market long. If a manager loses a sharp candidate because of indecision, your company may want to spend a little more time looking at their overall performance. Recognition of talent and acting on it is a sign of a good manager. Don’t be sloppy and lose candidates. It costs too much time and effort, especially if the candidate is lost well along in the process. And remember if your company takes too long, I am looking for top talent and will snatch them from your company’s hands for my client – and have done so many times. It’s like a steal in basketball.

When do you have a championship team in recruitment? I’ve seen some recruitment teams who thought they were top notch. Upon closer look, you can see where they are in their conference. They settle for the desperate candidates. How do they compare with the top performing recruitment teams? The top teams perform the fundamentals well. They understand that recruiting is a sales process. Their actions and attitude help them win the best talent.

Treat your company’s recruiting process as a sales process, not a screen out process. Screening has its place during the interview process. Most of the balance of the process needs to sell the candidate that this is the best company, position, and manager.

Remember, in our society stability is valued. Have you heard the expression “Don’t rock the boat?” People generally resist change. Your company’s recruiting process needs to encourage candidates to make changes in their lives. That requires sales abilities.

Change things up in recruitment. Put on a full court press and win the game for talent. Talent will help your company beat its competition and win the championship game of profits! Then your company wins the Big Dance!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Recruiting?

Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs by studying successful people. How does your company’s recruiting process match up with our human needs?

Obviously the physiological needs are taken care of through compensation and benefits. Your company’s offers need to be competitive in order to attract the best candidates. Compensation and benefits are generally only the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes they are indicative of the company’s attitude toward its employees.

Companies condition candidates. How does your company condition candidates who complete applications? Do you contact them and reinforce engagement? Or do you abandon them, and they never hear from you again? How do candidates feel about your company after experiencing your recruitment process – safe and confident? Or do you let them down? The words “Black Hole” is used far too many times when referring to a company’s recruiting process.

One of the purposes of social media sourcing is to engage potential candidates. As candidates continue through your process do they feel your company is still engaged? Or does your company ignore them? Did your company allow the applicant tracking system vendor assume ownership of your company’s recruitment process?

Does your company’s recruiting process encourage candidates to feel they are important to your company? When candidates contact you are they confident that you will respond?

If your company’s brutally honest assessment is “No”, it is ignoring the hierarchy of needs during the recruiting process. Now let’s consider how candidates who somehow finally find their way through your recruiting process feel. What was their first impression?

If candidates have to work so hard to somehow make it through your recruitment process, does your company wonder when there is an engagement issue once they come on board?

It is important for companies to beware of conflicting goals in their recruiting process. Conflicting goals create conflict and opposing actions. For instance if your company’s use of the applicant tracking system is to screen out candidates, your company’s actions are opposing the goal of attracting the best candidates. Top candidates will come to companies that act like they want them, not companies that act like they want to screen them out.

How does a company change its recruitment direction? Unfortunately just as in sports teams, they may have to change team members and acquire professionals who understand that recruiting is a sales process, not a screening process. Recruiting is sales requires a proper sales attitude and the excitement that goes with trying to attract the best candidates. Between you and me? A lot more fun!

In the screening out process, candidates are not treated as important potential assets. They are treated as a metric, a number. They feel that the pervasive attitude within the company is where people are not valued.

“Wait a minute! We value our candidates!” is your response. You probably do. However, a candidate’s perception is their reality. When was the last time that your company examined its recruitment process? When was the last time that someone from your company put on the candidate hat with a fictitious name and resume and audited your company’s recruitment process?

In the Recruiting is Sales recruiting process, candidates feel they are important from the beginning of the process to its conclusion. Of course you screen candidates! They are prescreened and know after the prescreening if they are still a viable candidate. Then they experience the interviewing process. If they no longer are the best candidate, respect them by telling them. If it was a really close call, keep in touch. You may want to recruit them for the next position that requires the same skills and experience. I’ve done that in the past. It’s fun to hear their voice when I’ve contacted them to interview again.

When a company follows a person’s basic needs through the entire recruiting process, the process flows and the company improves the quality of hire.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Recruitment Sourcing Magic – Proper Attitude

When I listen to recruiters discuss sourcing some have an amazing attitude. They are like Labrador Retrievers on the search – pant, pant, pant, There! Other recruiters act almost like sourcing is an imposition. They want to try to find the easiest way to “screen out” candidates.

What is the correct attitude? Well, recruiters who understand that recruiting is a sales process, enjoy the hunt for the perfect candidate. Why is their attitude important?

What is one of the most important functions in Human Resources? The sourcing and attraction of the talent that will propel the company forward. These are candidates who feel they are happy in their current position until a talented recruiter contacts them – and by the way, that recruiter may be a corporate recruiter or a contingent/retained/contract (third party) recruiter.

The recruiter with the best attitude “knows” they will succeed finding the best qualified candidate that is also the best fit. Why? Their motivation is intrinsic. They know they will succeed because they EXPECT to succeed. Then they follow their proven sourcing process to find the best candidates.

Remember the recruiter (could also be corporate or third party) who wants to “screen” candidates? They are saying they will not look beyond supplied resumes – and hope they don’t have to look through many of them. These are the same people who expect their applicant tracking system to screen out unqualified candidates. What they do not understand is that those applicant tracking systems also screen out passive candidates who refuse to complete an application before contact from the company.

A Hall of Fame basketball coach, Morgan Wootten, once told my class that people live up to your expectations. If you expect they will succeed, they will. If you expect they will fail, they will also meet your expectations.

Therefore recruiters who expect to succeed generally will do everything they can to meet that expectation. They are driven to succeed.

Which recruiter will make a bigger impact on their company/client? Probably not the one you expect. Can you imagine the damage inflicted on companies by recruiters who are not interested in searching for the best candidates? The cost of a poor hire may even cost a small business its financial success.

How does a company turn around their recruiting effort?
1) Make it easy for candidates to submit their resume – no, Really Easy! Applicant Tracking Systems are built to handle many resumes. Let them accept the resumes and give your recruiters a larger choice of potentially qualified candidates.
2) Move the online application after a phone screen and prior to the onsite interview. Candidates are then motivated to complete the application.
3) Provide your recruiting staff tools such as Broadlook’s Internet research tools that help identify new candidates.
4) Provide your recruiters with “recruiting is sales” training.
5) Consider bringing in temporary recruitment support to recruit and train your recruiters.
6) Provide your recruiters with advanced interview training. This is where screening is important.
7) Expect your recruiters will succeed finding the best candidates for your company.