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

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

Job Board post post disappointing scores

I’m talking with more companies that are voicing their frustration with the results of their recruiting efforts related to job board postings. Dollars are tight in the Human Resources category these days so it’s important to make sure that every dollar spent nets maximum return. Let’s focus on some alternatives

Your recruiting efforts should be focused on replicating the very best talent that you have internally. Your current employees, especially the Gen Y employees, are networked. They have friends, former co-workers and professional associates who are looking to grow their careers and work with the very talented folks they know, respect and admire.

Do you promote an employee referral bonus program – LOUDLY?

Savvy job seekers (the ones you want to hire) are not spending their precious time trying to navigate job boards these days. They are networking! Instead of visiting job boards they are visiting company websites to try and find interesting positions with companies who share their personal ideals.

Is your career site indexed so that aggregators (and search engines) can find you?

The top guns out there are serious about their careers. They participate actively in professional organizations; know what’s going on in the community (related to their career) and watch for trends, announcements and news. User Groups, meetups and associations are a great place to find future talent.

Are you hanging out in public?

Fact #1 – Job Boards are going in the direction of classified ads

Fact #2 – Competition for Top Talent is fierce

Fact #3 – Google is the job seekers tool of choice

Unemployment is up which makes hiring a bit of a challenge …

A larger pool of unemployed people out there tends to make some feel that they really don’t need to put effort into talent acquisition. The position descriptions aren’t as interesting, the interview process starts to slide a bit. Follow up with candidates isn’t quite as immediate as in the past because they aren’t really going anywhere.

Are you creating a future problem for yourself through lazy hiring practices?

In a downturn I tend to see greater volume of resumes, but a lower quality of applicants. This is a result of really great people who are employed deciding that they had better table their search and stay the course rather than risk transitioning to a new position now. As a hiring manager your task becomes harder. Outbound sourcing, especially for those hard-to-hire skillsets becomes even more important.

Are you making it easy for qualified applicants to find you?

Yep, you’re busy. Your budget has been cut; you have more work to do because you’ve lost headcount. All those unemployed people out there are just adding to your workload. You really don’t have to respond to people who aren’t qualified for positions at your company; it’s not a good use of your time.

Are you treating people who contact your company about employment with the same compassion you would hope for if you were in their shoes?

Fact #1 – Scrutiny and care during the hiring process is MORE critical in a soft market

Fact #2 – The economy will rebound

Fact #3 – We all can have a positive impact on getting America back to work

In the current chaos of this recent economic drama it’s easy to bury our heads in the sand, focus on today’s work and practice survival. Human Capital Managers have their hands full with understaffed departments, diminished budgets and employees who are feeling added stress personally (and professionally). In the midst of all the negative press recently there are companies who are thriving. As well, we are getting little signs of light as earnings reports are stopping their freefall. This means that yes, we will come out of our dreary state and probably sooner than many of us anticipate.

That Talent War that you were experiencing last year? Remember when you had open positions, candidates were receiving multiple offers and you were fighting to get the best folks hired before someone else did? Those times will absolutely reappear, and with a multiple attached.

In the meantime there is a new phenomenon occurring out there. A new role is emerging within the corporate ranks. This role is responsible for “Online Reputation Management.’ The new responsibility is falling to the marketing department and these lucky folks are tasked with monitoring online activity relating to their company and associated brands. Creation of an interactive experience where customer satisfaction, competitor name-dropping and employee social communication becomes part of external communication channels. Yes, this means that someone in marketing will get paid for hanging out on Facebook.

But, marketing isn’t the only department that will be affected by this emergence. The stage is being set right now for the future of your recruitment efforts. Your ability to access, attract and hire top talent will depend on your reputation in the market. Not only will prospective candidates check you out as a company to work for, they will be researching you as a company to do business with. You as a company will be especially important to Generation Y job seekers. They want to work for a company who is well respected, takes care of their customers, believes in sustainability and creates a productive culture where they can learn, grow and contribute.

Your reputation as an employer is determined by how you behave (and are perceived) online and in the flesh. However I’m focusing in the electronic reputation space since you have a lot less control over it.

Take some time to reflect on these questions – paying close attention to the social media outlets:

1. What do your employees say about your company and its people?
2. What do your customers employees have to say about your employees?
3. How many of your employees have blogs and what are they talking about?
4. When people apply for a position with your company what is their experience?
5. Are you easy to access?
6. Is your recruiting staff approachable, friendly and helpful?
7. Are all touch points (email, phone and web) positive?

The good news is that it doesn’t cost a lot to manage, monitor and interact with your online audience and the ROI is incredible. Without active attention to the online social communities, you won’t have access to top talent. With a stellar reputation however, you’ll easily hire and retain the best – and keep them away from your competition.