Monday, April 09, 2012

Grocery Markets and Your Corporate Website

You may have noticed that I have an active imagination…Enjoy the ride!

Remember when you finished your last box of cereal and decided to stop quickly on the way home to replace it? Dinner will be ready soon and this was going to be a very quick stop. What would happen if your fictional experience at the Grocery store was the same as a group of candidates visiting your corporate website looking for your list of openings and desiring to simply submit their resume?

Picture yourself approaching the front of the store. When the doors open there is a crowd of people waiting for you! There are models from Maybelline, Revlon, L’Oreal and Cover Girl trying to get your attention. Mr. Whipple is trying to convince you to go down the paper aisle. The beef and pork councils are trying to attract you to their products. Is that Frank Perdue over there? The Gorton’s fisherman is all wet and standing in front of you urging you to buy fish! Orville is popping up and down trying to get you to his aisle. What are polar bears doing?? Oh, the soft drink aisle! There is some hand reaching out the orange juice refrigerator – scary! Someone from Wisconsin is trying to attract you to the dairy aisle for cheese. Wonder Bread is making you wonder if you will ever find the cereal aisle.

Finally you work your way over to the cereal aisle, and…You guessed it! You are met by the toucan from Fruit Loops! As you peek around him you are treated to a rush of cereal characters that just realized you were there! You stiff arm your way past a recent sports hero touting Wheaties. You are so close to the cereal that you seek! Then you run into Tony the Tiger saying “They’re Gre-e-e-e-at!” Then you are approached by the Lucky Charms Leprechaun. You thank him for his pot of gold offer and rush past him. Finally you found your cereal!!!

When you turn around, you see that you need to speak with every one of the representatives for all of the products above – and this was supposed to be a quick trip to the market! What I just described is what happens to candidates who visit many enterprise and some smaller corporate websites. The company was sold on the idea that using the applicant tracking system to screen candidates out was the best route.

Market research demonstrates that most people search for their next job while they are still working, and that is also when the passive candidate thinks, “I wonder what L-m-n-o-p Company is doing these days?” When they go to your website, do they have the same experience as above with one major exception? The exception above is that you will generally eventually buy your box of cereal. Companies have conditioned professional candidates that they will rarely, if ever, hear from them when they complete an application.

That very conditioning leads to other recruitment marketing research. Every time a group of candidates has to click on a website to find a list of openings, the company loses ½ of them. While writing this blog I will walk through an un-named company’s website to demonstrate my point.

When you arrive at their homepage, you see the typical business areas. Then your eye looks at the very bottom of the page and in 5 or 6 point font, you see Careers. Let’s say the company is beginning with four hundred candidates at this point. They do not see a list of open positions. So two hundred candidates click on Careers.

When they click on Careers, they see more of the same kinds of marketing people as in the grocery example. Now one hundred of the remaining candidates click on Search Careers. They see more of the same with a differentiation between divisions. So now fifty of the remaining candidates click on one of those divisions and finally see a list of open positions.

They pick out a position and find they now have to complete a talent questionnaire. Unless the software engineer is desperate – and to get this far they probably are, the company has lost the final marathon passive candidate in the original 400. Undoubtedly the talent questionnaire is followed by a multipage application – prior to any human sales interaction with recruitment staff. The “nice” feature of this process is that it successfully will voluntarily screen out passive candidates. It is a case of conflicting goals if the company is trying to attract Passive Candidates.

It is best to let the applicant tracking system perform the function it was first designed. Track candidates that have submitted their resumes. If the positions are hourly positions where candidates are conditioned to complete applications because they do not have resumes, allow them to complete the application while allowing professionals to simply submit a resume.

Going back to your quick trip to the grocery market above, would you return for a quick stop in the future? Probably not. Don’t let the website marketing and applicant tracking screening get in the way of your recruiting the passive candidate. Build a system that makes it easy to identify open positions and submit a resume – and the qualified candidates will come!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Hiring Managers Say The Craziest Things – Okay, Everything!

Since 1981, I have worked with over 3000 hiring managers across the United States. Most of whom have never been trained how to interview. If they haven’t been taught how to interview, they certainly have not been taught how to select the best fit. Therefore, they bring their own unique interview techniques and questions to the interview party. Of course, the candidates bring their own special treats to the interviewing party; and I will share some of those also.

The setting – an internationally known company’s data center where I successfully almost singlehandedly recruited their technical staff. The manager – a well meaning manager who had never been taught how to effectively interview so he did almost all of the talking. The candidate – a very talented systems programmer.

Several days before the interview, the candidate called to tell me that she just came from the dentist. She needed to have her jaw broken and then wired shut the day before her interview. She felt that she would have to postpone her interview. I told her that she would probably be fine but I would check with the manager.

The manager was very interested in her technical skills and did not want to chance losing her. He replied if she felt like she could interview, he would be very happy to accommodate her during their interview.

I called the candidate back and said he was okay to interview and understood her situation. I suggested that she call me the evening prior and let me know how she felt.

She had the procedure and called me saying – and try to say the following with your mouth fixed shut – “He may not be able to understand me. I’ll keep the interview.”

I confirmed with the manager that she was set but understanding her may be tough.

The next afternoon following the interview I received a call from the manager. He said that he really liked her and felt she would be a great addition to his team. I thanked him and told him that I had not spoken with her yet.

She then called me. She said it was the strangest interview she ever had. He did all of the talking – for 2 hours!

They extended an offer that she accepted.

Luck comes in two forms – good and bad. This time the good luck raised its head and it worked out for both parties.

Don’t put your company at risk of the other form of luck – bad. Teach your managers how to effectively interview and select the best candidate for each of their positions.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Hiring Managers Say The Craziest Things – Lunch Interview

Since 1981, I have worked with over 3000 hiring managers across the United States. Most of whom have never been trained how to interview. Therefore, they bring their own unique interview techniques and questions to the interview party.

This is the beginning of a series of quick stories that my candidates have experienced. The names have been changed - if there is even a name attached. Of course, the candidates bring their own special treats to the interviewing party and I will share some of those also.

Interestingly, in many cases these stories are males interviewing female candidates – must just bring out the worst/most interesting and creative approaches in the males…

The setting – An office before smoking was prohibited in the workplace. The manager headed a company and was interviewing a female programmer/analyst at lunch time.

This time I’ll choose the name, Joe, for the manager. It just sounds like a “Joe” story…

Joe invited the candidate into his office and offered her a seat across from his desk. He began the interview with the standard “tell me about yourself” lead. So far so good. Suddenly the interview took an interesting twist.

Joe reached into his lower right drawer and pulled out a brown paper bag. It looked like a lunch bag for one. It was. Joe looked at the candidate and said, “I hope you don’t mind if I eat my lunch during our interview? This is the only chance I will have today to eat.” She was startled but was gracious enough to allow him to eat during the interview.

He proceeded with “What is your current salary?” After she responded, he replied, “So you say…”


While he was interviewing her about her programming skills, he was downing his lunch. I can just picture Joe spraying during his questions. He actually seemed interested in her responses. After he finished eating, he appeared satisfied – not sure if it was her response to his most recent question or his lunch.

Not to be outdone by his previous actions/responses, he then reached into his top drawer and said, “I hope you don’t mind. I usually smoke a stogie after lunch.” Amazingly she remained for the entire interview.

She called me after her “lunch” interview and told me what happened. She was laughing when she said that the manager reminded her of Archie Bunker.

She did not accept the offer – that was lower than her current compensation…