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

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 

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

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

Hire Responsibly

June 22, 2009

Testing and backgrounds don’t necessarily reveal CHARACTER

Although skill-based testing and background checks can help you determine baseline qualifications and keep your company out of the courtroom, these methods don’t help you determine the true character of the person you’re hiring. I’m surprised at how many companies don’t do even the most rudimentary reference checking prior to hiring someone who can have a deep and long lasting impact on your business – and your customers.

The human factor, especially in early stage companies, is critical to maintaining a high level of productive energy in your company. Candidates who spend time with members of their future team, and members of other functional areas will have a much better idea of what your culture is all about. As well, you’ll get a broader understanding of the candidates if each interviewer focused on a different functional area of responsibility = marketing looks for different things in a hire than QA or engineering. I call it ‘checking blindspots.’

Do you have several team members interview each candidate?

Multi-dimensional interviews are always a good idea. Most companies conduct interviews in a vacuum. This is probably because they want to ensure a fair and lawful process however, if you are too clinical about your interviewing, or not detailed enough you may miss some very important information. Interviewing should in a manner that is relevant to the role. Consider modifying the approach.

Do you phone interview candidates who will be working directly with your customers?

Hiring managers are increasingly busy. As a result, the interview process tends to be an exercise in going through the motions to see if there is anything that would keep you from hiring rather than finding the reason TO hire. There is a definite lack of ‘thought provoking’ and interesting discussion during the selection process. An example: “what are your weaknesses,’ is boring and the candidate is prepared for the answer. “If I were to speak with your former manager, what would he/she say are the 2 things that you need to further develop in order to move to the next level?” is interesting, and the candidate is not prepared for the answer, so they have to give it some thought – and you’ll get a gut level response.

Are you REALLY engaged in making the BEST hire?

Fact #1 – Hiring Managers RARELY check references on their recruits

Fact #2 – Most hiring mistakes could have been avoided

Fact #3 – Job seekers are better prepared for the interview than you are

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