If you are in hiring mode you’ve probably noticed a marked reduction in the quality of your ad response. This might be because you haven’t yet embraced the social media trend (and it’s not a trend), become SEO savvy, started actively monitoring your company’s online reputation and learned the finer art of Boolean search.

Google is now. Candidates are using search engines to find companies they want to work for. Top Talent is serious about their career path and they decide who sees them, who they want to approach and where they work. Networking is the definitive choice for serious job seekers (online and offline). Identity theft is a real problem. In the past you used to be able to find candidates through resume databases on the large job boards; that is in the past.

The good news is that FINALLY, companies are beginning to realize that bad hires are unbelievably expensive; recent figures put the cost of a bad hire at between 3x and 15x the person’s salary. So, relying on dated methods of finding talent is having a direct impact on your company’s ability to find, attract and hire the right people. The internet has created a fantastic opportunity for you to promote your company whether you are large or small to prospective employees so let’s get started.

Talent Acquisition best practices are evolving – again. The changes taking place today can be compared to the mainstream adoption of internet job boards in the 1990s. Monster, Careerbuilder and HotJobs took the lead in creating a marketplace for jobs and candidates. We’ve already discussed what’s happening to these methods – their market is declining and new approaches to attracting Top Talent are surfacing. Companies on the forefront of this movement are establishing a new set of best practices including Google, Proctor & Gamble, CH2MHill to name a few. We’ll discuss some of the concepts further including Candidate Relationship Management, Communities, Employment Branding, Niche Marketplaces and Social Media.

CRM (Candidate Relationship Management) is a relatively new concept to the Talent Acquisition function. Marketing to candidates based on specific skills, interests and experience allows a company to build relationships with people who they are interested in hiring (now and in the future). Mining for candidates via search engines based on profile criteria and then using email campaigns to introduce, involve and attract candidates mimics the Sales/Marketing function. Analyzing your career site visitor activity will also help you to identify why people visit, where they go on your site when they visit, how they get there, and what triggers them to apply is extremely helpful as you develop your career pages.

Online communities, both private and public are becoming increasingly popular among those who are serious about managing their careers. These are the rock stars you need and your ability to get them interested will increase your Talent Acquisition effectiveness. Building a community of like-minded individuals who are ‘fans’ of your company will create a viral network of people who help you recruit. It’s like having a partner channel (in sales), people talking you up and selling your company on your behalf. Private communities can be built through Ning and CollectiveX. In addition, thousands of niche communities exist that revolve around common interests, professional specialty and geography. These include associations, clubs, Meetups and online forums. Get involved and become an active participant in discussions, questions and blogs to help establish you as an authority. Top Talent likes to hang out with other Top Talent – and they want to work for recognized leaders in their industry.

Employment Branding; what is your company’s reputation (online and offline)? What is the word on the street about your company? These are questions that top performing companies are VERY concerned with. Who you hire, how you hire and where your employees come from are all transparent on the internet. Your company has a reputation. Your customers are watching, your employees are participating, and your future employees are making notes. Your job is to monitor, facilitate and respond to it; actively. If you don’t, it will take on a life of its own. This is the single most important indicator of your ability to attract the Talent you need to succeed in a globally competitive market.

Finally, social networking is not a trend. If you’re not on Linked In, ZoomInfo, Facebook, Twitter or any of the other specialized networks you are, effectively, invisible. Get out there, get involved and be highly visible to everyone. Accept invitations, blog, answer questions, ask questions and make noise about your company, your interests and your profession. Candidates are looking for companies who are visible, and have a positive rapport with their community.

Fact #1 – Your Company DOES have an employment brand

Fact #2 – Visibility is the key to social media recruiting

Fact #3 – Niche communities present a more focused talent pool than large boards

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Happy New Year!  I’m certain we are all happy to close the book on 2009 and look forward to building momentum again in 2010.  I thought I’d start the year with a series on trends in Talent Acquisition.  This is part 1 of a three part discussion – I hope you can embrace the changes – your company’s knowledge capital depends on it!
Talent Acquisition, aka recruiting, is undergoing a tremendous shift.  I spend a lot of time researching current trends and helping companies figure out how to do it – and do it well.  The task of finding, attracting and hiring talent is no longer about posting positions on job boards.  The times, they are a changing.
Let’s take a look at the state of the employment market today.  Candidate job board traffic has been on a continuous decline for 3 years.  The experience is frustrating for job seekers who abhor pop ups, are weary of ad-related content while trying to create a profile, have received WAY too many scam-related (work at home and make a million) offers and are increasingly aware of identity breaches.  Furthermore, the talent shortage is indeed coming; baby boomers WILL retire although not as soon as originally thought, and there simply aren’t enough people in the workforce to fill the gaps.  As well, more than 50 percent of American workers are likely to jump ship once the economy turns around, according to a September 2009 report by Staffing Industry Review.
Each of these occurrences should be cause for concern if you are using classic methods for recruiting talent today.  However, in aggregate, these phenomena have the potential for crippling your hiring plans. 
Change is not an option. In the next issue we’ll talk about tools available and new ways of finding, attracting and hiring strategically.
Fact #1 – Your Company’s ability to remain competitive is a direct result of your people
Fact #2 – CRM today stands for Candidate Relationship Management
Fact #3 – Your Sales Process is a model for your Recruiting Process
I was on the phone with a candidate this morning to debrief with him on a phone interview he had with an internal recruiter for a sales position with a local company.  The recruiter was nice enough and was clearly doing his job of prescreening for the position.  The candidate’s feedback was interesting to absorb; the recruiter was late making the phone call, placed the candidate on hold twice during the interview and really didn’t seem to be paying attention during the call, but in the end scheduled a follow up interview with the hiring manager later this week.
This particular candidate is pretty sharp.  He is an experienced sales professional, intuitive and pays attention to detail.  He is intently focused on growing his career and being aligned with a company who is engaged, invested and involved with its employees.  His comments were revealing.  “This recruiter doesn’t seem to care whether I am qualified for the position; he was just trying to set the follow up interview.  I think he was IMing with a buddy while we were on the phone.  The first time he put me on hold I let it go, the second time I began to feel as if I were bothering him by answering his questions.  I am no longer interested in the position based on my interaction with the internal recruiter.”
Every touch point that a candidate has during the interview process is a reflection of you as an employer – and as a company. 
  1. Are the individuals involved in the process briefed on their role and understand how important it is to hire great people?
  2. Is everyone on time and prepared to play their part?
  3. Does the front desk have a schedule for each interview to hand to the candidate and does the front desk monitor the interview schedule to keep it on track?
  4. Do you, as a hiring manager dress appropriately on days you will interview prospective employees?
  5. Do you and your interview team understand the importance to focusing on the CANDIDATE during their scheduled time?  No interruptions, no iPhones, no texting, no email.
  6. Does your internal recruiter (or HR representative) understand the position, the selection process, the follow up protocol and is this person a positive reflection of you and your department?
In order to find, attract and hire THE best talent, take a step back and look around at your company from the candidate’s perspective.  Would YOU work for YOU?
  1. Take the time to write an interesting role description – using phrases that will attract the right individuals to your company
  2. Dress to impress.  Everyone on your interview team should be dressed to meet your future talent – after all, you expect the candidates to dress for the interview.
  3. Brief your front desk on the importance of first impressions – they are your storefront to the outside world – with everyone from the Fedex courier to potential employees.
  4. Unless you are comfortable with a candidate texting and taking phone calls during the interview, please provide them the same courtesy.
  5. Listen more than you talk.  The interview is your opportunity to get to know your future employee – you owe it to yourself, and your company, to make sure that you elicit relevant information – positive and otherwise.  If you are talking, you aren’t listening and gathering information.  Bad hires are VERY expensive.
  6. Research your candidate in advance.  Top Talent will research you, your company and its reputation in advance.  Your interview will be much more productive if you research your candidate, review their resume and prepare some focused questions about their background in advance – not 5 minutes before they show up.
  7. Get your story straight.  Make sure that every person involved in the interview process understands your ideal profile.  Debrief immediately and write down the feedback.  This will make your selection process more objective and less emotional – which results in a better hiring decision.
  8. Agree on the follow up process – and do it!  You will expect the candidate to follow up as instructed so you will need to make the same commitment.
Taking a ‘candidate’s eye view’ of your hiring process will help you create an experience that will result in better hires, better employees and a better reputation in your market.
Fact #1 – Your employment brand precedes you
Fact #2 – Engaged employees demand ENGAGED managers
Fact #3 – the interview process is a dual discovery exercise

Social Groups and Volunteer Activities CAN lead to a job

Looking for a job, especially if you are under the added stress of being unemployed, is hard work.  The process takes an emotional and mental toll on you for a number of reasons; 1) you are personally connected to your search, 2) the search process itself is unfamiliar territory, 3) you have to be “on your game” much of the time and that’s just plain exhausting, and 4) it’s a tedious activity to research, apply and follow up on positions you are interested in.
The time and effort you put into your search will directly impact the length of your search.  For those who unemployed, the good news is you have more time to dedicate to landing your next great position.  But, looking for a job doesn’t mean sitting in front of your computer 40 hours a week. Additionally, it doesn’t mean your search ends at 5:00 PM.   Some of your best effort will be made outside your house and in the evenings.  Realistically, the people you want to meet and need to connect with are working.  That means they do their networking and social activities after business hours – and that’s where you need to be. 
You’ve already let your family, friends and professional network know you are looking for a job.  Now it’s time to expand your reach and gain access to an extended network.  Online Social Networking can help with this, but that’s not enough.  You need to get out there, meet new people who are gainfully employed and not already in your ‘circle’.  Let’s look at some options:
·         Professional groups are a good place to start – be seen where hiring managers hang out.  This means attend activities that are one level above where you are as a professional.  Here’s how I decide whether or not to attend an event;  if the content is interesting to me then I will likely meet people with whom I have a common interest.  There are too many options – and it can get pretty expensive – so filtering is a good idea.
·         Social groups are a great way to meet new people.  Recreational sports, book clubs, biking, running, hiking, dog walking (you name it) are all great ways to meet new people who have networks that you don’t have access to.  Check out www.meetup.com for hundreds of groups and activities to choose from.
·         Volunteering with non-profits is a natural way to meet new people.  Let’s face it, if you aren’t working you have some time to give as a volunteer and you’ll feel better for doing it.  There are so many organizations needing help that finding a way to contribute is pretty easy.  Maybe you have an organization that you’ve supported with money in the past and now, without a job that’s not realistic – give them a call and find out how you can give your time instead.  Try matching your volunteer work with your interests.  You’re more likely to meet people you will ‘connect’ with and –  who knows what might happen?  If you need help finding an organization you can register at www.volunteermatch.org. There are hundreds of opportunities listed by location, time commitment and interest.
This kind of extended network building takes a different approach however.  You won’t be wearing a badge that says ‘I’m looking for a job’; the process will be more indirect.  Here are some guidelines:
·         Plan on 1-2 evenings per week out at events or activities.
·         Get business cards printed and carry them with you EVERYWHERE
·         Prepare an interesting introduction – short and impactful – be creative!
·         Be friendly, introduce yourself to everyone you can and ask them about themselves (what brings you here, how are you connected to this organization, is this your first time too?).  People LOVE to talk about themselves.
·         DO NOT get into a discussion about your job search – exchange business cards and follow up later – solicitation during an event is rude.
·         Dress conservatively; you are making an impression on everyone you meet – make sure it’s a positive impression
·         Don’t skip out early – stay engaged in the program or activity until the end – often, the best networking happens at the close of a program – and you have some new material to talk about!
In addition to helping you extend your network beyond current friends and family, extracurricular activities will help you break the monotony of the day, help reduce your stress level and give you a ‘purpose’ which is often missing when people identify their value with their profession.  Get out there – Mix It Up –extend your reach to help your personal and professional success.  For more ideas on career development and getting hired take a look at our career portal at www.mygoldstonepartners.com.       
Increase your success rate as a hiring manager – and increase your career success! 


The interview process resembles dating in many ways.  The hiring manager and the candidate are both on their best behavior during the process.  Then, once on board the candidate begins to show their true colors and the manager (along with the company) begin to reveal their true personality.  This is a recipe for failure.
Sure, you want to show your best when you are recruiting top talent for a key position on your team.  You also want to make sure that the person you hire will be passionate about you, their working group and the company.  After all, happy employees are productive employees.  Why then, do you spend more time promoting your company (and yourself) during the selection process than really getting to know your candidate – and letting them get to know you?
Try these tips to help you break down protective barriers that candidates have in place during the interview ‘courtship’:
  1. Set an agenda for the interview and selection process.  Let each interviewer know what the process will be and how long it will take.  This will reduce their anxiety and create a more open dialogue.
  2. Follow up and follow through.  Set a tone of trust with each candidate by committing to follow up on or before a specific date – and then do it.  Get feedback to the candidate quickly (within 24 hours), even if the feedback is ‘we need more time’.
  3. Meet your final candidates at least twice and conduct one interview on the telephone.  Interviews on the phone can be very revealing because you aren’t distracted by a visual aide and as a result, you’ll pick up on information you might miss in a personal meeting. 
  4. Really talk through reasons for leaving.  Don’t gloss over this one – if it’s always someone else’s fault that the candidate ended a working relationship that’s a HUGE red flag.
  5. Ask about strengths and then ask them to tell a story about that strength.  Stories are personal; characteristics rehearsed in preparation for an interview, aren’t.
  6. Be honest about your weaknesses – and then ask the candidate to be honest about theirs.  This works, really.
  7. Make sure the candidate is doing 80 percent of the talking.  Often, hiring managers spend so much time talking about themselves that they run out of time for the candidate to talk.  You can’t get to know someone unless you LISTEN to them.
  8. Check references personally.  References, especially former managers, are very open about providing constructive information that will help a future manager.  You’re in the club together!
These small adjustments in your interview process really work to help candidates trust you enough to reveal more of their core character so you can make a better hiring decision.
  
Fact #1 – Candidates are rehearsed for their interviews
Fact #2 – Candidates in the market today have more experience interviewing than you do
Fact #3 – Hiring strong is ABSOLUTELY a reflection of you as a manager
We spend a lot of time with CEOs and hiring authorities helping them find, identify and hire top talent.  I’m surprised at the lack of an executable plan for the interview process within companies both large and small.  It would appear as if hiring managers believe that everyone in the company knows how to interview, understands the ideal profile they are interviewing for and is actively interested in making a great hire.  Think again…

As a hiring manager you’ve taken the time to build a comprehensive (and exhaustive) list of requirements, qualifications and responsibilities for each open position and have a very clear mental picture of the person you are looking for.  Then, you dutifully deliver this document to the HR department so that they can do their job. 

Have you met with your internal recruiting team or HR department to describe your vision for the absolutely amazing candidate in detail?

You’ve announced to your department that you are hiring a new person and expect them to help during the interview process.  You’ve selected your top guys to help interview and told HR to schedule time for qualified candidates to meet with these people because they are doing a similar job and will be able to help technically qualify folks.

Did you meet with your interview team to whiteboard the ideal qualifications and prioritize exactly what is important for a person to be successful in THIS particular role?


Interviews are scheduled, and everyone on the team seems to have a different understanding of the candidates, their qualifications and whether or not they would make a good hire.  Each individual applied their own interpretation of the meaning of “interview” to the process


Have you trained your team on HOW to interview effectively for YOUR company?

Fact #1 – Candidates in today’s market are better at interviewing than you are – they get more practice

Fact #2 – Interviewing for the whole person is critical – Competency AND 
Character

Fact #3 – Most companies practice accidental interviewing 

Sustainable Career Success

August 21, 2009

Thoughts on increasing your ‘employability’ factor

I was talking with a friend last week and we happened upon the topic of what distinguishes people who rise to the top of their chosen profession and those who seem to struggle through their work life (and maybe even their personal life). As you can imagine this quickly became a rather philosophical discussion, but from the exchange a few key words surfaced. Consistently successful individuals have 3 things in common; Confidence, Competence and Character. Interestingly, 2/3 doesn’t work – it takes 100% to create success. Let’s explore each in a little more detail.

Competent people are those who have invested in themselves professionally. These individuals have an appropriate level of education for their chosen specialty but don’t rest on that initial set of qualifications. These individuals are hungry for knowledge and invest in continuing education, conduct personal research and stay on top of emerging trends in their industry. They are well versed in current events, know what is happening in the world, their local community and when they don’t understand something, take personal time to get educated.

How much time does this take? Competent people really don’t know. Their personal investment in professional development is just part of who they are, the lines blur between their personal interest and their professional endeavors.

Successful people are confident. Careful here, I didn’t say arrogant, I said confident. Arrogant people are not successful – they are usually hiding insecurities. Confident people know what they know, recognize what they don’t know and understand how to ask for help. Confidence manifests itself through actions, activities and stories that demonstrate Competence. See how those two characteristics work together?

Strong Character (a positive mental attitude) is resident in successful people. I realize that you’ve heard this assertion too many times to count, but it’s true. Can you name even one star athlete who has a negative attitude? Here’s a story. I was watching one of the major golf tournaments last weekend and Tiger was not having a good round. He put a shot in the water and threw his club over his shoulder in the direction of his caddie. This public display of poor character was disappointing, and I believe resulted in his loss that day; and ultimately the tournament. He chose to let that shot get to him, and as a result, was unsuccessful.

Why am I focused on this combination of traits for the column this month? Because these three words combined is the foundation of success – in your job search, in your career and in your personal life. Let’s talk about the Halo effect a popular term from a career development book called, What color is your Parachute? The Halo effect is creating a perception of perfection during the interview process. Ok that’s not realistic, but you can strive to be better than your normal self while you’re looking for a job, or while you are on the job.

Susan is a hiring manager who needs to add a new employee to her staff. She begins the interview process with candidates who have been carefully screened by her Human Resources Department. Joe arrives for his interview 10 minutes early dressed in a suit, carrying a notepad and pleasantly greeting everyone he meets. Joe is articulate, organized in his responses and polite. He has the required degree for the position but has also spent time on advanced technical studies recently and understands the challenges that the industry is tackling in the current economy.

Chad is another qualified candidate. He arrives dressed in a wrinkled shirt, empty handed and slouches in the reception chair once he checks in. When Susan greets him he doesn’t smile or make eye contact and seems preoccupied. During the interview Susan asks the same questions of Chad as she did Joe. Chad spends more time talking about himself and how experienced he is than he does answering Susan’s questions. He talks about how horrible his last job was and that his boss just didn’t understand him. He hasn’t cracked a book since he graduated from college because he’s been too busy riding his bike, snowboarding and hanging out with his friends.

Susan completes her interview notes. Both candidates are competent and could do the job from a technical point of view. However, Joe’s demeanor and interview presentation was confident and positive as well. In contrast Chad displayed arrogance and self-absorption along with a negative attitude. Susan will absolutely hire Joe; not because he is more qualified, but because this hire is a reflection of her and will be a representative of her team and the company. She can envision Joe meeting the CEO and knows that this meeting will be a memorable experience. It might even help her career!

Looking for a job is stressful and it’s easy to blame others for the situation. Stay focused on keeping a positive mental attitude, a likeable persona and on making it easy for your future employer to see you as a member of their team.

The New CRM…

August 9, 2009

Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) for Talent Acquisition

You might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about? If you are hiring today, even a single position, you are probably buried in resumes and submissions for unqualified, overqualified and yes, a few ideally qualified applicants. I’m in the business of sourcing, screening and qualifying candidates and even I’m having a tough time keeping up. If you are wondering why the quality of your job posting response is dropping I’ll give you a few insights. Job board activity is frustrating for candidates – so the smart ones are taking action. They aren’t spending time on the boards any longer.

Your method of finding and attracting great talent is going to change in the next 203 years. Top Talent knows how to find great positions with great companies – and it’s not on the job boards.

Have you begun defining a strategy for tapping into the Talent you need to be successful?

Applicant Tracking Systems are (generally) unfriendly, impersonal, and difficult for users to navigate. These systems were put in place to ensure compliance and track activity. They have absolutely nothing to do with attracting Talent and fostering relationships with future employees.

Do you EVER contact or re-connect with qualified candidates who have applied for positions in the past?

Your success as a hiring manager is dependent on your ability to identify, attract and retain the very best team. One bad hire can derail your momentum and cost you money, employees, customers and – your job.

Do you really take your role as a Manager of Talent seriously?

Fact #1 – Smart People look for Smart Companies to work for

Fact #2 – Communities of Talent are already out there and your competition knows where they are

Fact #3 – New Applicant activity on job boards is down 40% this year

Give ’em a break!

August 3, 2009

Remember your manners during a job search

I’ve been recruiting for 3 economic cycles now (over 15 years) and I’ve noticed some distinct differences in this particular downturn. There are a bunch of folks who, for the first time in their career, have found themselves unemployed or fearful of becoming unemployed. I’ve also noticed that some of these folks are not practicing good manners in their quest for a new position.

Let’s set the stage a bit. There are companies hiring, there are jobs out there, and there are terrific opportunities for career development. The companies who are hiring are also experiencing a tremendous flow of candidates. The HR departments are understaffed and overworked. They not only screen applicants; they also take care of payroll, benefits, 401k administration, year end performance assessments, bonus calculations, employee on-boarding, training/development, payroll – you get the idea. The hiring managers with open positions are trying to hire while already tackling their full time roles. This is a catch 22 for them; they are busy and need to hire additional team members, but because they have open positions they are having a hard time finding space in their calendars to do an effective job of interviewing.

On the other side of the fence are job seekers. Sadly, our society doesn’t spend any time teaching people how to find a job. As a result, when you find yourself in the position to change employers (voluntarily or involuntarily) this causes stress. When stressed you may slide into unattractive behaviors, which compounds the lack of success in your search.

This is where I start with some sound motherly advice. Don’t forget your manners. Common courtesies such as please, thank you, follow up calls, acknowledgements, graceful exits, referrals, straightforward responses and open, honest communication may very well mean the difference between you and another candidate.

It is absolutely critical to be courteous to everyone you meet during the interview process. This means the front desk, security personnel, HR, future peers, passersby; everyone.

Write email thank you notes to everyone who takes time to meet you. Don’[t forget to get their cards or at least name spelling during the interview. Email thank yous are appropriate, especially during a job search. Time is critical, don’t wait for the US Mail to deliver your follow up.

Address direct questions with direct answers. It’s frustrating for the interviewer to listen to a candidate who goes off on a tangent or dances around the answer to a question. You won’t get a job using this approach.

Ask about follow up protocol. If the hiring manager says that she will make a decision in a week then ask if you can call back in a week. If the HR manager says you can follow up in 3 days, then make a note and make sure you keep the commitment.

If the position is not interesting to you bow out gracefully. Thank them for their consideration; let them know that you appreciate their offer and that you will refer friends and associates to them as appropriate.

Looking for a job is stressful and it’s easy to blame others for the situation. Stay focused on keeping a positive mental attitude, a likeable persona and on making it easy for your future employer to see you as a member of their team.

OK, so the economy is not looking its best these days. Nonetheless, companies still need to hire – and hire strong!

You may be thinking that recruiting is easier these days. Well, if you are looking for applicant numbers, then yes, the task is easier. You will absolutely receive more responses to job postings than you did in July 2008, but the quality of those responses will likely be lower. Those who are unemployed are responding to as many openings as they can find.

Are you burning precious time reviewing applicants that don’t match your needs?

You have spent a small fortune on recruitment ads, job boards and resume databases. You’ve kept those resumes, notes and feedback in your candidate database. When a position opens up you immediately go to the database and search for candidates who have shown an interest in your company in the past. Regardless of the position they applied for previously, the most qualified candidate is right at your fingertips!

Are you using the information that you’ve paid for in the past – first?

You’ve hired some really talented people lately. Congratulations! Now, if only you could find more just like them. Well, you can – have you asked them for referrals? Have you openly promoted your referral bonus to your new hires? Great people hang out with other great people –start collecting names and numbers.

Wouldn’t you rather pay a bonus to hire great than a job board fee to hire from the cloud?

Fact #1 – Big Job Board candidate participation has decreased 500% in the last 2 years

Fact #2 – Job Search Aggregators will poll your corporate site if you optimize it for search.

Fact #3 – Google is rapidly becoming the job search tool of choice