global hiring

The 3 C’s of a Great Global Hiring Strategy

The pursuit of new markets is part of many companies’ long-term growth strategy, as is global expansion. From small businesses to enterprise firms, the key is to involve people. Companies need to be able to create a viable strategy for hiring, managing and keeping people — wherever they expand to.

But that’s not a simple task. There are numerous challenges in hiring employees globally — including local employment laws and regulations, differing cultures and expectations, and different languages. When it comes to background screening, it turns out that not very many companies are prepared to meet the challenges of global hiring. And that can mean a critical gap — in time-to-hire, in number of successful hires and in getting a new global location up and running.

What’s the answer? Global background-screening platforms that help companies put all the pieces together in one integrated system. It’s a vital part of a coherent and effective HR strategy. But HireRight’s Employment Screening Benchmark Survey for 2018 found that background checks are not being used nearly enough for either global employees based in the U.S. or employees based outside the U.S. This is a survey of more than 6,000 human resources professionals. The results are telling:

  • Only 16 percent of respondents said they verify the international background of U.S.-based employees.
  • Fifteen percent said they screen employees based outside of the United States — a 2 percentage-point increase since last year, yet still down 4 percentage points from 2016.

Despite global expansion and an extremely tight job market, we’re doing less to screen employees outside the U.S. than before. Few organizations have developed a formal global screening policy, yet 66 percent of those HR professionals said they struggle with finding qualified candidates, and 55 percent struggle with employee turnover. We know that background checks enable companies to make better hires. The survey found that 84 percent of employers, global or not, benefit substantially from background checks.

But there’s more to it than that, particularly in the context of global hiring. Too many companies expand without a game plan in place on background screening — and no matter where they are, candidate expectations include being able to apply and communicate via social media and mobile and not having their applications stuck in neutral over stalled paperwork. If you have problematic screening processes, there will no doubt be another employer that offers a far better experience. And we know that experience is a key driver not just of candidate experience, but of employee engagement once hired.

So here are three essential elements to look for when tackling background screening for your global hiring.

Be Consistent

From a managerial perspective, it’s imperative to have a way to handle the increasing complexity of global background checks. One effective strategy is to partner with a highly capable background screening firm. There are a number of advantages to doing this, but a key factor is that global expansion often creates not only administrative redundancy but a whole range of unintended gaps and inconsistencies, depending on the location.

When a corporation can partner with an outside provider and integrate a background-screening platform into existing functions, that provider should also have the expertise with regards to its data handling requirements in a range of locations, yet be able to bring all functions into a universal user experience. Consistency across the board, no matter whether it’s in Kansas, Hong Kong or Madrid, may save litigation headaches later.

Be Customizable

Laws and regulations are markedly different depending on where you’re hiring. Ambitious companies need and deserve to be able to hire a global workforce and answer to local compliance and regulatory changes. This means a screening program that can be tailored to answer to the unique laws, cultures and languages of any location is vital — but so is a program that can change and scale with the company, offering the same results and increased quality of hire, safety, security, regulatory compliance and employee retention, no matter the scenario.

Be Comprehensive

Each company has different preferences as to the way it wants background screening conducted and delivered, and different policies for the how, why and what of background screening. But a fractured approach that reaches back toward the paper-heavy ways of the past to cover global needs won’t work. Companies need increasingly efficient tools to function in this intensely competitive job market — where complexity has multiplied due to both global expansion and sourcing international talent.

One single platform that can handle the company’s needs, adapt to changing laws and regulations, and deliver accurate screening and usable, meaningful data on the entire process is the answer.

These three C’s should be essential qualities in your chosen background-screening platform. Look for a suite of powerful functions, able to do the heavy lifting for you, including reaching out into databases, public media and local criminal records as available in over 100 countries to provide clear answers as quickly as possible. Global coverage isn’t about being spread thin and having to resort to redundant tools to cover all your bases. It’s about meeting all your needs efficiently — managing costs while delivering accuracy, so you can make great hires, offer a smooth and fluid candidate experience no matter the language or location or culture, and feel secure that when it comes to global background screening, you’ve got it covered.

This post is sponsored by HireRight.

diversity recruiting

4 Ways to Rewrite Your Recruitment Playbook for More Diverse Candidates

If you’ve been following the news lately, you might have noticed a growing conversation in the tech and business worlds about a lack of diversity at major corporations. And when you look at the numbers, it isn’t pretty: Only 24 of Fortune 500 CEOs are female, while only three are African-American. Worse yet, only 3 percent of those companies are fully transparent about their diversity numbers.

This isn’t just an unfortunate reality for women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community — it’s also a wasted opportunity for the organizations themselves.

Employee diversity raises the bar on business success, innovation and overall brand impressions. Research has shown that increasing the diversity of a company makes it more innovative and more profitable overall.

The world has changed, and our approach to building a workplace culture, especially with regard to hiring practices, must change along with it.

Rewriting the Playbook

A diversity-and-inclusion-focused approach can change everything about the recruiting and onboarding process. It can cause people to expand beyond their comfort zones of where they recruit, how they recruit, the questions they ask and who’s involved in the interview process.

But there’s work to do before you recruit: You have to assess your current state and define what you want to accomplish. For example, if your board and staff aren’t diverse, candidates won’t believe you value diversity. If your company has prestigious awards, do the winners represent diversity? And take a look at your vendors — do you make an effort to source vendors that meet your diversity objectives?

You’ll need to play the long game. Your marketing objectives and sourcing processes could change, but over time you’ll discover a range of unique, qualified candidates that disappeared in your previous screening — or never saw your job posting at all.

The goal is to identify and remove potential biases when sourcing, screening and developing a slate of candidates who might otherwise have been ignored or discriminated against. By doing so, you open your organization up to a whole range of exciting new possibilities.

Diversity by Design

So how do you make hiring for diversity a priority? These strategies will get you moving in the right direction.

Make Sure Your Leadership Is on Board

When I was one of the founding members of a diversity leadership council for General Electric, we worked with a diversity consulting firm to facilitate sessions among executives and minority employees. One of the questions asked of those of us on the executive team was “When was the first time you felt different from others in your work environment?” Out of 14 executives — all of whom were white men — I was the only one who could relate to the question because I’m a woman. None of the men ever felt different from other people at work.

It led to a serious and illuminating discussion. The men were trying to justify that they never felt different, which led to one of them asking “How often do any of you feel different?” A black female attorney stood up and said “Every damn day!” The rest of the employees gave her a standing ovation.

If leadership doesn’t get involved in fostering an inclusive workplace, it will never happen. The rest of the organization can’t make up for the company’s leadership ignoring the cultural challenges, so don’t let executives and hiring managers off the hook. Help them see the value in diversity and inclusion to increase the success of your recruiting.

Add Structure to the Process

Making diversity in the workplace a priority doesn’t simply begin and end with intention. Put structure in your program by setting clear and measurable metrics to monitor your inclusion efforts.

Dr. John Sullivan, an internationally known HR thought leader from Silicon Valley, has developed metrics for individual recruiters’ effectiveness. This includes the percentage of diverse candidates who are presented to hiring managers, how many receive an interview or offer, the eventual turnover rate and how satisfied those candidates feel after going through the process. Tools such as these can demonstrate your organization’s priorities and make inclusivity more ingrained in your hiring practices.

Look Outside Your Normal Paths for Recruitment

When I started at Beta Gamma Sigma, our diversity rate was 0.06 percent. Over the next three years it rose to 33 percent. This happened because we started recruiting beyond our previous sources. For example, we partnered with the Diversity Awareness Partnership in St. Louis. We were able to learn from other organizations’ diversity hiring successes, network in a diverse business community and post our open positions on their job boards.

Participate in virtual or in-person career fairs for targeted minority groups. Likewise, social media is a powerful tool for both sourcing candidates and marketing your company. If your ads, website pages or social media don’t contain diversity, candidates won’t believe you value diversity. If you truly don’t know where to start, ask your employees who are minorities for recommendations on how to improve diversity recruiting.

Partner with Diversity-Focused Organizations

Partner with organizations within your community that value diversity. Like BGS saw with Diversity Awareness Partnership, these organizations can have a positive, lasting effect on your company.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the most common sources for diverse recruiting are historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions. Partner with schools serving minority populations to access a well of strong, qualified candidates. For high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students, a proven source is through the Association of College Honor Societies, which sets the standards for honor society excellence. Most societies are international organizations with members who are recognized for their academic achievements, leadership skills and service.

Jodi Weiss, a board member for Beta Gamma Sigma and the practice leader for nonprofit and higher education at Korn Ferry, specializes in recruiting for C-suite positions. She uses the same tactics herself. “To find diverse candidates for the C-suite level, recruiters must employ a sourcing strategy that also targets diverse boards of directors at impactful companies and organizations,” Weiss says.

It’s never too late to create a pipeline to ensure your successful future. Companies that don’t understand or respect the diverse needs of their customers — or that ignore the opportunity to include all voices — will decrease their likelihood of sustainability. Instead, improve employee morale, productivity and loyalty by building a team that’s truly worth celebrating.

candidate relationship management

4 Lessons Talent Acquisition Teams Can Steal from Marketers

For decades, marketers have been in overdrive to keep up with fast-paced innovations in marketing technology. In the beginning, an impersonal email blast to cold leads might have brought marketers results. However, consumers evolved and so did marketing technology. Prospects, bombarded with digital advertising, wanted more personalized communications and thus, marketing automation was born. It allowed marketers to migrate from an impersonal “one-to-many” strategy to a personalized “one-to-one” approach, without devoting more time to the effort.

Talent acquisition professionals now find themselves in a similar position. In the competitive talent marketplace, candidates expect personalized, authentic communication — not generic email blasts and one-size-fits-all messages. So how can talent acquisition teams rework their strategy and their tech stack?

Luckily, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel for talent acquisition. We can borrow a few pages from marketers’ playbook.

Personas Help You Personalize

It is all about personalization today, right? But you cannot begin to deliver personalized messages if you don’t really know your audience. Marketers develop buyer personas to help guide them.

What is a persona? The simplest definition is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. One way that marketers develop personas is by gathering feedback from their sales team. The sales team understands the buyer better than anyone else in the organization. They know what drives them, what interests them and, most importantly, what questions they regularly ask.

How to apply this to talent acquisition: TA professionals can build “candidate personas.” For each persona, try to uncover what is important to them when it comes to their job, their strongest skills, how would they describe their personality, what groups they belong to on LinkedIn, and anything else that will help you develop personalized messaging and communications to the right target audience.

Consider Content

Before diving into any marketing automation program, marketers typically segment their prospects to deliver highly relevant content. A marketing best practice in developing content is to create pieces for each point of the buyer journey. For example, content for the top of the funnel should help raise brand awareness. The middle of the funnel content should help convert a prospect to a lead. Marketers often “gate” this type of content, meaning someone has to fill out a form before they can access it. Once those leads are captured, nurturing campaigns (drip marketing) can begin.

How this applies to talent acquisition: It’s no secret that candidates expect a personalized experience today. So, as you develop your pipeline for specific job families or hard to fill roles, consider what type of content makes sense for each stage of the candidate journey.

Nurture, Nurture and Nurture Some More

Marketers work really had to develop a strategy that will bring in leads. The last thing they want to do is lose those leads! Once leads have been captured they need to be “warmed up” and handed off to the sales team to further develop. That’s when the aforementioned email nurturing campaigns come into play. Yes, email. According to an Adobe 2017 survey, email is the preferred method of communication (61%) over other channels.

How this applies to talent acquisition: Once you have segmented your talent pipelines, think about how you want to keep these candidates engaged. What information can you include in your emails that will be of interest and what’s the best cadence? Maybe a company email newsletter, blog or video with the latest happenings at your company? Be sure not to send two emails to the same person in a week and keep this stat in mind: An engaged user only commits 8 seconds to reading an email. Always keep it short and sweet and enticing.

Measure Everything

Although many marketing tactics can be very tough to measure, marketing automation is not. And that is by design. After all, automation is supposed to make everything easier, and that includes reporting and measurement. With marketing automation, marketers can view stats from a very high level — open rates, click-through rates, etc. — or drill down to the finite details like which web pages were visited, how long the visitor stayed on each page, and session replays.

How to apply this to talent acquisition: Data drives decisions. The most effective recruiting enterprises thrive on rich, timely, and actionable information. Understand your lead sources, which pipeline needs more action, and how long it takes to fill those hard-to-fills in order to set benchmarks and goals for success.

Speaking of goals, I’m ending this blog post with what should always be the beginning — a strategy. Marketers never proceed without setting goals and mapping out a strategy to obtain them. Perhaps a talent CRM is just the tool you need in your recruitment toolbelt. Not only can it help you to source and nurture candidates, but it can also help you build pipelines, improve time-to-hire, personalize the candidate experience and automate the entire process. Go ahead. Steal a page from marketing automation’s playbook and start winning.

This post is sponsored by gr8 People.

employee advocacy diversity

How Employee Advocacy Drives Recruitment Diversity

Organizations that take the opportunity to be more inclusive are winning. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive team are 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. For ethnic/cultural diversity, this likelihood of outperformance rises to 33%.

Diversity in the workplace can increasingly be powered from within by an organization’s most valuable attribute, its own people. Here are five crucial factors employers should consider when looking at how employee advocacy helps drive recruitment diversity.

Increase Your Reach

HR directors have an opportunity to develop a talent acquisition strategy with a significantly increased reach by working with employee brand advocates. Employees have on average 10 times more connections than brand channels, and brand messages are shared 24 times more when distributed by employees, versus the same messages shared via official brand social channels.

Sky’s #LifeatSky employee advocacy programme has united colleagues from across the company in celebrating its culture, experiences and activities. It has resulted in an improved recruitment process, driving 100 hires and 10,000 applications through harnessing its people on social media. Meanwhile, Unilever’s employee advocacy programme means colleagues are sharing 14x more frequently, there are 5x more job views and 4x more engagement with content.

Whether it is attracting more women to senior positions, building better employer branding awareness for millennial candidates, developing a culture more welcoming or more inclusive, employees can reach more people. Adopting a tech-enabled employee advocacy program allows colleagues across the business to engage with the vision, values and purpose of the brand.

Scale Up Quickly

Advances in HR tech means brands are able to manage employee advocacy programs easily, scale the number of employees involved rapidly and measure the results accurately. That means creative content marketing can be put into the hands of staff, tracked in real-time and recruitment success reported to senior leadership.

Scaling up like this means a diversity of individual voices from across the organization can be celebrated and heard, opening up new recruitment streams across a multitude of demographics for sustainable results. Plus, when employees share content they achieve a click-through rate twice that seen by their company.

Build Trust

Candidates are 40 percent more likely to apply for a job at a company when they recognize the brand. Employees are significantly more trusted than CEOs, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, and employees are able to reach the wider candidate base needed to build familiarity.

Potential candidates will now expect to see recommendations and reviews from their personal network of friends, family and peers to help them make informed decisions on new roles. Word-of-mouth marketing is the best form of advertising — 84 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family.

Employee advocacy programs allow colleagues to share local and relevant content to their personal networks to maximize the variety of candidates and reach a huge passive candidate pool. When Iceland Foods launched its Qubist employee advocacy app, Iceland Insiders, it generated more than 37 million impressions in the first three months alone, through employees’ own social channels, raising brand awareness and supporting the company’s marketing initiatives. Through the app, Iceland staff can share brand content to their own personal social media channels. The goal was to raise brand awareness of Iceland Foods and support talent acquisition.

Access New Talent Pools

To reach new talent pools and recruit different types of talent, employee brand advocates can help amplify existing employee networks. Sky, which has gained recognition as an inclusive employer, has an employee network that includes groups like Parents, LGBT and Women. Employees company-wide share content from the network on their own personal social channels. It also amplifies events such as International Women’s Day or Pride through its employee advocates.

To recruit hard-to-reach demographics, developing an inclusive culture and celebrating diversity internally is increasingly a workplace trend. 78 percent of employers surveyed for LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2018 said improving diversity “to improve company culture was a focus.

Go Social

When 79 percent of candidates use social media in their job search, it’s important to make it easy for them to engage with you via employee advocates. This is especially important at a time when traditional recruitment techniques are ineffective as people turn on ad blockers, and social channels such as Facebook prioritize friends and family over brand content. In an era of transparency and “fake news,” employees are seen as authentic and have real influence — the ability to cause effect or change behaviour — compared to brands.

With a mobile-first, multi-language employee advocacy app, large companies can bring together a disparate workforce to share relevant and personalised content on their own social channels. This kind of tech-enabled employee advocacy platform means colleagues feel empowered and passionate about their role in driving their company forward, while driving awareness of the Employer Brand Proposition (EVP) to a new and diverse audience.

on-demand talent

#WorkTrends: The Future of Work: On-Demand Talent

The future of work is going to look radically different as it will be fueled by on-demand talent. And perhaps no one will be more affected by this disruption than HR. But what will those changes look like and is HR prepared for this shift?

This week on WorkTrends, we’re talking to Carisa Miklusak. She is an HR tech veteran who worked for CareerBuilder for many years. Three years ago, she founded tilr (TILL-err), a technology platform that automates the recruitment process for job seekers and companies. Her goal is to shrink the skills gap and eliminate bias in hiring. In this conversation, we talk through misconceptions about the gig economy and how some traditional hiring methods might not work with the contingent workforce.

You can listen to the full episode below or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

Misconceptions About the Gig Economy

Many people think that gig work applies to either younger people, low-skill workers or people who couldn’t get W2 jobs, but Miklusak says it’s really quite the opposite. “What I’d love for HR people to hear and take away is that people are choosing to work differently and they have more options of how to work, and they’re starting to develop new motivations for work.”

There’s been a cultural shift in the current workforce, and all kinds of people are drawn to contingent work. “Learning and growing and having flexibility have risen to the top of these workplace values, even over making another dollar or two per hour or another $20,000 per year,” she says.

This isn’t a special class of workers. She says they’re the same workers who were taking W2 jobs yesterday, but now that there’s a system that allows you to work differently, they’re choosing this option.

At tilr, the company has workers who want to be “giggers” and go from one project to the next. But tilr is also attracting people who are exploring different projects and looking for a company they want work with on a permanent basis. Some other tilr workers are giggers for a while and then they go back in the traditional workforce, and then they come back as giggers.

Search Technology Isn’t Working for the Gig Economy

Miklusak says the current search technology still relies on a candidate’s job title as the main building block of recruitment. That’s not working. “What we’ve learned is that titles can actually be limiting and screen people out rather than screen them in.”

In the new workforce, people often have many different jobs over the course of their career, and their skills are more likely to reveal not only what they’re good at, but what they want to do. “Tilr doesn’t look at titles, gender, age or years of experience,” she says. It looks at skills and proficiency.

This has allowed the company to reallocate talent differently. “What we find is, let’s say Charlie did job A and job B, and he gained skills one through three at job A, and then skills four, five, and six in job B, but he’s never done job C,” she says. “Job C simply requires skills one and five, which he has from his prior two roles, so our search technology will actually present that job to Charlie, and if he accepts, because the decision’s up to him, we’ll measure the outcome of that reallocation.”

And if Charlie turns out to be a good fit, she says the algorithm starts to really learn about how you can look at skills and reallocate talent in very effective, new ways.

Interviews May Become Obsolete

As this matching process becomes more advanced, Miklusak believes it might do away with job interviews. “One of the reasons that we’ve focused on the gig economy as we started to introduce this technology to business leaders and to workers is because we do believe that it’s easier to start to make this mind shift to an algorithm without an interview for jobs with start and end dates.”

“Interviews can be really misleading because some people are great persuasive communicators, and although an interview is a great way to get to know a person and learn about their communication style, it’s often truly not indicative, nor is their title, of how they’re going to perform in the role.” So tilr has replaced the traditional interview with a few hours or days onsite in a temporary fashion, based on skills, to really see how someone performs.

However, tilr does ask workers to pass a background check, and the company speaks with every single worker by phone. “We’ve talked with over 30,000 people about their skills, ambitions, the type of jobs they’d like to see, what would really inspire them.” She says that while a human talks to them now, in the future, there might be a chatbot asking questions.

There’s a lot more to unpack here about how HR will change in the face of an increasingly contingent workforce. Let’s keep the conversation going! Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

hiring strategy

#WorkTrends: Build an A Team

Companies want to hire experts who can jump right in on day one and add value to the organization. But that recruiting strategy may be flawed. Could hiring and training inexperienced workers be a better approach?

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to Whitney Johnson. She’s a seasoned leader and business coach and author of three of my favorite books, “Disrupt Yourself,” “Dare, Dream, Do,” and her latest book, “Build an A-Team, Play to Their Strengths and Lead Them Up the Learning Curve.”


Johnson is also a coach for Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program, a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, a LinkedIn influencer and host of the weekly Disrupt Yourself Podcast.

You can listen to the full episode below or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

Johnson explains how the S curve can help companies make better hiring decisions.

The S Curve

When Johnson was working with Clayton Christensen at the Harvard Business School, they were looking at disruptive innovation using the S curve (popularized in 1962 by Everett Rogers to figure out when an idea is going to get adopted) to decide whether to invest in a company or not. “The big ‘aha’ that I had as we were applying this is that this S curve or learning curve could also help us understand people,” Johnson says. “If you can picture in your mind the bottom of the S, you know that when you first try something new, a lot of time’s going to pass and very little’s going to happen.” And this is what you would expect at the bottom of the S.


However, when you start piecing things together, you’re moving into the knee of the S; this is the steep part where everything is starting to coalesce. You stop feeling discouraged and wondering whether you know what you’re doing. “In fact, now you’re feeling increasingly competent, and with that comes confidence. And this is where you’re fully engaged in the work that you’re doing.”

After two or three years, you get to the top of the S and once again, nothing is happening. “Now it’s not because you don’t know anything, it’s because you know too much: You’ve become a master. And once you become a master, you become bored. So you need to do something new.”

The Organizational S Curve

Johnson says your organization is a collection of learning curves, and you build an A-team by managing where people are on those curves. “At any given time, you want to have 70 percent of your people in that sweet spot, that steep part of the curve,” she says. “You want to have 15 percent of your people at the low end, the ones that are inexperienced, the ones that are a little bit discouraged.” These are the people who ask why you do things a certain way.

She says you also want 15 percent of your people at the high end. They’re not necessarily learning a lot at this point, but they’re the pace-setters. “They’re the people who have this perspective, they’re on the top of the curve and they can give you a sense of what has been done and what hasn’t been done.”

By embracing the S curve, you’ll have an engaged organization where everyone is learning, and this will allow you to be innovative and competitive.

Hiring at the Wrong End of the Curve

Companies should be willing to hire at the bottom of the curve rather than at the top. We’re afraid to hire inexperienced people and train them because we think they will leave. “We know from the data and the research that one of the things that people most prize is being able to be trained,” Johnson says. “When we’re trained, that builds loyalty. So, people who are trained are less likely, not more likely, to leave.”

The Boston-based security company SimpliSafe used this approach. They hired people with no industry experience. “They wanted to train their people in-house — from their call center workers to their engineers.” By taking this approach, they sought to avoid having bored employees, because bored employees get lazy. “So, hire for potential, not for proficiency.”

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

recruiting challenges

#WorkTrends: The Biggest Challenges Recruiters Face

If you think recruiting has gotten more difficult, you’re not alone. What factors have made it more challenging? Is HR tech helping or hurting?

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to Jack Coapman. He’s worked in the HR tech space for many years and is currently chief strategy officer at the recruiting tech company gr8 People, which is sponsoring today’s episode. Coapman joined gr8 People back in 2014 to strengthen the company’s presence in the RPO community and determine how to take its solution — a combination of candidate-relationship management, recruiting, marketing and applicant tracking — to a global audience.

You can listen to the full episode below or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

In our conversation, Coapman identifies three challenges facing recruiters today.

External Market Pressures

“I recently learned that the number of job openings was greater than the number of unemployed job-seekers. So this was really a punch in the gut, that quite honestly, we should have seen coming,” Coapman says. However, recruiters don’t always have time to look at some of the external market sources that are changing the recruiting process.

“It’s the first time we have a market in which recruiters are responsible for looking at five different types of generations — and all of them have different expectations,” Coapman says. And the more recent generations are expecting a much richer, consumerlike recruiting experience. Recruiters have to know when and how to shift gears to be successful with candidates from each generation.

The Changing Role of the Recruiter

Coapman believes the recruiter is one of the fastest-changing roles in corporate America today. And the expectations continue to expand.

“They still need to deal with the minutia of the recruiting process, they still need to deal with those emails and the follow ups and chasing hiring managers and getting approvals,” he says. However, Coapman says recruiters are also tasked with developing talent pipelines, managing the recruiting brand, delivering a strong candidate experience and making sense of analytics.

They need to be able to not only understand what a KPI is — they need to understand what it means to the organization and what they need to do to improve it.

“And so, it takes a broader thinking and a more strategic level of thinking to look at and interpret those KPIs and turn them into actionable change within the organization,” Coapman says.

The stakes of hiring are much higher in larger organizations, and this is reflected in the many new and different titles out there. “You see recruitment brand managers, recruitment market specialists, sourcers, recruiters, college recruiting specialists, coordinators,” Coapman says. “All of a sudden, we’re getting into this delineation of the different parts of the recruiting process and whether somebody can really be a true, full-cycle recruiter, able to do everything from sourcing to nurturing and hiring and managing pipelines and onboarding and everything out there.”

Misconceptions about HR Tech

Companies don’t just want the ATS capability that comes along with their HCM. Coapman says they’re demanding (and deserving of) platforms specifically for recruiting and related functions. They need a platform that is 100 percent focused on the art of discovering talent, engaging talent and bringing it into the organization. There are a lot of shiny new toys out there, but organizations must focus on how they’re integrating all of these components.

Coapman believes there needs to be a greater understanding of what an API is, and companies also need to understand that an easy-to-use UI may not be able to support more complex requirements. “So many times, we find that organizations may make a very quick decision on the nicest-looking platform, and a year later, when the company has grown and changed, that platform is not able to keep up with those complex requirements.” He advises organizations to really understand what’s happening in their company, and then find the technologies that make the most sense.

In addition, Coapman says technology will never replace the value of a one-on-one conversation. “Recruiters need to quantify the value of the organization and sell that person on the opportunity to join that company.”

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

This episode of #WorkTrends is sponsored by gr8 People.

social media background screening

FAQs: Social Media Background Screening

The words “social media background screening” can strike fear into many people’s hearts. As HR professionals, we get it: On the surface, it can all sound a tad Orwellian. But rest assured. As the president of the leading social screening company, I take concerns about privacy and online life seriously, and the industry has responded to changing concerns and practices over the better part of a decade.

Keep reading for answers to frequently asked questions about consumer privacy and social media background checks.

How Do You Make a Reliable Match?

How can you be sure a candidate is being correctly identified at the start of a social media background check? At Social Intelligence, we’ve been doing these checks since 2010. We’ve looked hard at our data and systems to ensure sure that our ID procedures are 100 percent accurate. It’s much more complex than Googling. Using matching criteria provided during the employment-application process is the best, most comprehensive way to identify a candidate correctly online.

An email address is a good example of a reliable positive match that can be used to screen online activity. Other identifiers, such as names, must be combined with other provided information to make a match — such as employment history, education information or an image.

Who Should Do the Screening?

As a best practice, employers should never review candidates’ social media profiles internally. By choosing an outside firm to conduct reviews, companies can respect candidate privacy and eliminate the potential legal risk of a boss or co-worker viewing a candidate’s personal life before the hire: Employers reviewing social media content themselves could lead to accusations of discrimination. From hiring managers to HR directors or CEOs, a company could be at risk if employees are Googling candidates in-house (and according to a CareerBuilder study, about 70 percent of them are).

Analysts should be reviewing activity only for content that presents workplace safety concerns. Searching for specific information could be legally dangerous: anything related to race, religion, national origin, disabilities, pregnancy, family status, gender presentation, sexual orientation, age, or military status is off-limits.

What About Consent?

Getting consent before a social media background screening is mandatory per the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Even if you have an FCRA-compliant social-screening setup in house — one that would remove all protected class information before the hiring manager sees anything — you must notify the candidate and receive permission to review their social media content. Make sure to read your consent forms thoroughly and take a look at sample social media reports to see if your reporting practices match up.

At Social Intelligence, we only review publicly available information. Hacking, asking for a password or friending someone that is a candidate before hire could be a violation of state laws — and is most certainly a violation of trust. So, build a “privacy curtain” into your hiring practices and hire a third party to manage social media screenings and track social media activity on your behalf.

This post is sponsored by Social Intelligence. Social Intelligence is the only social media consumer-reporting agency whose process and product have been reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission. Contact us to view a copy of our Letter of Review from the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, check out our FAQ page here for more on social media background screening or contact us with any questions you might have.

Social Screening and the Future of Talent Acquisition

#WorkTrends: Social Screening and the Future of Talent Acquisition

You can learn a lot about job candidates by their social media profiles and posts. But how do you accurately and fairly screen applicants, at scale? What’s legal, and what’s appropriate when it comes to social media screening?

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to Bianca Lager, president of Social Intelligence, a background-screening company with a focus on social media. Social Intelligence launched in 2010 to provide employers with pre-employment screening that’s ethical and applicable. Social Intelligence is the only social media background check company that has been reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.


What is Social Media Screening?

You may be wondering, “What is social media screening?” According to Lager, “it’s getting data from social media, understanding what people are saying online, what kind of content they’re creating and then applying that in a background-screening capacity to an employment decision.” Lager says Social Intelligence was an early pioneer in the industry.

But social screening isn’t about just Googling a job candidate’s name, which is time consuming and can results in errors. “We invest really heavily in machine learning to automate and scale social media screenings,” Lager says. Social Intelligence can identify and analyze people’s social profiles quickly, which is important to companies of any size, but especially large organizations with a lot of candidates to sort through.

But Social Intelligence isn’t interested in posts about the time you had too much to drink and took a photo with a lampshade on your head. “We’re looking for really egregious behaviors, things like racism, violence, bullying, stuff that can really affect the workplace.” Some people may wonder if it’s right or ethical to search for this type of information, but Lager says, “People are already Googling you.”

Why You Shouldn’t Do Your Own Manual Social Media Screening

While some companies believe that they can conduct their own social media background checks, Lager says there are several reasons why they shouldn’t. First, she says, your boss or the person hiring you should not be looking at your Facebook profile. “They shouldn’t know what church you go to, they shouldn’t know your sexual orientation or all sorts of other factors that could bias them against you in a hiring or employment decision.” And Social Intelligence doesn’t focus on that type of information.

She says it’s also a waste of time and resources for companies to conduct their own pre-employment checks. “When you have an intern in HR Googling someone, it’s probably not the best use of their time — and you’re exposing at least one person to a bunch of information that just shouldn’t be seen.”

Companies also run the risk of screening the wrong person. “John Smith might not be putting out real information on himself in terms of date of birth, et cetera, so how are you actually getting to the bottom of that?” Social Intelligence has worked with some of the top employment lawyers in the country to develop processes that align with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission did a full audit of the company. “We had to answer some questions from the Senate Privacy Committee, and the FTC determined that Social Intelligence was acting as a consumer reporting agency when we provide these types of reports for employment purposes.”

Why Human Input is Still Important

As great as artificial intelligence is, Lager says that human input is still important. A machine can’t detect whether someone is being sarcastic or not, so a human needs to step in and provide emotional intelligence and context. “That’s why we have a review program, very similar to Facebook, to make sure that we understand the innuendos, the sarcasm, whatever it is, at a human level.”

Say that someone uses the phrase “filthy pig.” “If you’re saying it aggressively, or in a threatening way, or as a derogatory term against police officers, that’s the type of thing that we double-check for, and our human analysis is there, too.” Because, she says, you could just be talking about your filthy pig farm — which is perfectly acceptable.

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

This week’s #WorkTrends is sponsored by Social Intelligence. Visit to get 10 free social media hiring reports.

talent acquisition

#WorkTrends: The Talent Fix

The labor market is humming right along, and competition for good workers is stiff. Is your talent-acquisition process also humming like a finely tuned machine, or are you pointing fingers at each other because you can’t recruit good employees?

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to Tim Sackett about ways to improve talent acquisition. Sackett is a 20-year HR professional who has led HR organizations and worked for HR tech vendors.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends. His new book, “The Talent Fix,” is a guide for building a better talent-acquisition team.

The Talent Ownership Question

Who owns talent right now? Sackett says that’s the one question he really tries to force every head of HR or talent acquisition to ask their executive team. Most executives will assume you want their vote of confidence and will say, “You do, you’re the person who owns it.” However, he says that’s the wrong answer, and that this type of thinking will lead to failure. Ownership has to belong to the people who actually make the selection — it has to be the hiring managers at the ground level.

“If you took your team out on a team-building exercise tomorrow and you guys got hit by a train and everybody died, your organization wouldn’t stop,” Sackett says. “The hiring manager would attend your funeral and mourn your loss and then say, ‘By the way, we have to fill this developer position.’ ” And they would go through the process of trying to find someone.

While that’s a worst-case scenario, Sackett says the goal of every company should be to let hiring managers own their own team, and own their own talent. The role of HR and talent acquisition should be a partner that provides assistance. When you’re in a meeting and someone asks, “Hey Mary, why aren’t you filling that position on your team?” and the response is that TA isn’t finding anyone, that’s an epic fail. “Executives should look Mary in the face and say, ‘What are you talking about recruiting for? Your job is to fill your team. What are you doing?’ ”

What Talent Ownership Looks Like

If you’re not familiar with this concept, it might seem inconceivable, but there are companies successfully using these principles. “I ran TA for Applebee’s, which has roughly 2,000 restaurants and 125,000 employees,” Sackett says. He notes the chain has a general manager who is the top person at each location. “They tell every GM that ‘you’re not going to be a victim; you’re never going to complain about not having enough talent, because talent acquisition is your responsibility.’ ”

Complaining about staffing is seen as saying, “You need to replace me, I’m no good at my job,” because that’s their No. 1 job, Sackett says. So a GM needs to be great at recruiting or great at retention, and they can ask HR and TA for help. “They’ll prop you up and they will give you every resource they have to help you, but you have to own it,” Sackett says.

Building the Right Talent-Acquisition Team

Sackett has worked in recruiting, so he’s been on both sides of the desk. He runs a staffing firm and worked in staffing, but also spent about a decade on the corporate TA side. One thing he said he has noticed is that half of these team members really aren’t recruiters. “They love being a recruiter in a corporate job, they love that $85,000 salary, and they love working 9 to 5 and not taking work home — but they’re not recruiters.” He says they may be doing
administrative recruiting, such as posting a job on their career site, but then they sit around waiting for somebody to apply before plowing that person through their process, and that’s not real recruiting.

But Sackett says that when he talks to TA leaders, they don’t want to let these non-recruiters go because they’re “great people.” “I’m not saying they’re bad people — I’m saying they’re not recruiters, and you want to recruit a team but you’re asking people who don’t want to recruit to be recruiters,” he says.

He says it’s like being a hunter who doesn’t want to kill — but hunters have to kill. “Recruiting is all about going out and finding the best talent. It’s not about filtering through the talent that is available that wants to come to work for your average pay, your average benefits and your average location.”

Also, even if you get great people, you can’t bring them into the organization and ask them to do the same administrative job as the previous employees. “You have to change the culture internally to make it more of a marketing-/sales-driven culture, more of an activity-based culture,” he says. “You actually have to have really great measurables and actually hold them accountable to those, so it’s basic performance management.”

Talent Acquisition Isn’t Technology

In addition, Sackett cautions against looking to HR technology as a savior. Often, he says, the new tech you might look at probably will do 90 percent to 95 percent of what your old tech does. “If you already suck at recruiting, the technology’s just going to make you suck faster, because that’s what technology does” — it allows you to move faster and more efficiently, but it doesn’t make you better at your job. “You already have to be good at recruiting, and then technology will actually make you better at it,” he says.

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

resume lies

Warning Signs: How to Spot Lies or Exaggerations on Resumes

Resumes are one of the most important tools for evaluating the experience and skills of job candidates — but unfortunately, they aren’t always what they seem.

Amber Eastman, owner of recruiting and hiring firm Eastman Group, says exaggerations and outright lies on resumes are more common than many people realize. She says it’s critical to verify all resume information through research, conversations with past employers and co-workers and by asking candidates to elaborate on the experience and skills they cite.

A skeptical eye toward a few common resume red flags can help identify a dishonest resume, Eastman says. Here are some warning signs that a candidate is not being completely honest.

Job Title and Experience Don’t Add Up

Eastman says inflated job titles are common on resumes. If a candidate only a few years out of college or who worked for a short stint with a company claims to have held an executive position, it could be a sign of something fishy, she says. At the very least, it warrants verification and careful questioning during an interview or screening process.

“People will sometimes give themselves a grander job title, but when you see someone with three years of experience become a practice leader or CEO, there should be further investigation,” she says.

Before contacting the candidate, Eastman says, she does her own research on the individual and the industry they work in to verify as many details as possible, such as on companies where they say they worked or divisions they say were shut down to precipitate a job change.

She says that some industries present special challenges when verifying information through reference checks because they can be insular ecosystems in which everyone knows everyone else. In some cases, she says, references may be unwilling to do much beyond corroborate what a candidate says on their resume. In these situations, Eastman says she turns to her own industry sources to verify as many of the resume claims as possible and to get an outside view on what really happened.

Job History Differs from Previous Resumes or LinkedIn Profile

Job histories help potential employers accurately evaluate a candidate’s experience and abilities. If a candidate’s work history departs from a previous resume they submitted, or is different than their work history on their LinkedIn profile, it could be a red flag, Eastman says.

“We often get multiple resumes from the same people,” Eastman says. “If there are discrepancies with dates or employers, then there should be a really good, detailed and verifiable explanation.”

Vague Details of Achievements

Eastman says this red flag is most commonly seen on the resumes of applicants for sales positions, but it occurs across all industries. For example, a candidate may brag about having increased sales by 200 percent at a previous position without giving any frame of reference for what the actual sales were or whether that mark met their sales goal.

“They don’t say the prior sales numbers were $50 and they sold $200 worth, versus prior sales of $2 million and they sold $6 million,” she says.

Eastman suggests asking the candidate to offer more context for these types of claims by having them tell the detailed story behind how they achieved their goal. The full story is more likely to come out this way and may well differ from the rosy picture presented on the resume.

An Overall Lack of Specifics

Eastman says she’s leery of resumes that contain general buzzwords without any concrete details that spell out the “what, how and why” of a candidate’s experience and successes. “It could be possible the candidate just added fluff to make their experience seem more impressive,” she says.

This is commonly seen in the education portion of resumes, Eastman says, where candidates will intentionally leave out the full context of their school experience. “Often people will list schools and course of study, but not specify that they did not complete a degree or certification,” she says.

Smart employers take the extra time to double-check.

the recruiter’s handbook

#WorkTrends: The Recruiter’s Handbook

How strong are your recruiting muscles? Does your organization work every day on improving recruiting skills?

In my experience, recruiting is often overlooked and downplayed. Even people who work in other areas of HR don’t always understand how important recruiting is in the employee journey.

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to Sharlyn Lauby, president of consulting firm ITM Group and founder of HR Bartender, about a subject close to my heart: better recruiting. Sharlyn recently wrote a book, “The Recruiter’s Handbook,” that outlines how to improve your recruiting skills every step of the way.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

Realize the Importance of Recruiting

“The recruiting function is important because it’s the first impression many people have of the organization. Employees remember the person who hired them,” she says.

But she didn’t always understand how important recruiting is. Sharlyn was an HR generalist, and when a boss first gave her the task of recruiting, she felt like it was a punishment. But once she took over the role, she realized how complex and weighty recruiting was.

“I’ve always worked in industries where the candidate could also be a customer,” she says. That dual role of candidate and customer means it’s important that everyone in the organization realizes that people who are coming in to apply for jobs are the same people who are purchasing rooms in your hotel or meals from your restaurant. “You have to think about the candidate/customer experience at every touchpoint along the way,” she says.

Work Together Across the Employee Experience

There’s a healthy debate among recruiters and HR leaders about where talent acquisition fits in a company’s org chart. Sharlyn says the answer to that question doesn’t really matter — what matters is how well talent acquisition teams work with other HR teams to streamline the candidate and employee experience. From recruiting to training to benefits, the experience needs to be easy and logical.

Embrace Every Resource Available

Technology has changed every aspect of HR, Sharlyn says. She sees big potential for recruiters who can use all the tools available, including social media. In the old days, we had to amplify opportunities on a personal, one-to-one level, she says. These days, social media makes getting the word out about an organization much easier and faster. She encourages companies to embrace social media and encourage employees to use it in ways that advance their work.

She also encourages HR professionals and other leaders to seek out professional organizations like SHRM, as well as local training programs and leadership-development classes.

Make Your Mark

If you’re working in talent acquisition and you want to make an impact on the business, Sharlyn says you should start by understanding the core drivers of the business. “Show people how things like interviewing are connected to the mission, vision and values of the organization. We need to know how we contribute to the organization and how we’re going to make our mark. Understand how the business operates, the key positions within the organization and how they contribute to the bottom line.”

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

structured interviewing

Stop Hiring Based on Intuition: 4 Proven Steps to Better Selection

Unstructured interviews are wildly ineffective at predicting future performance. Yet casual conversations, gut instinct and feelings are the ubiquitous means for assessing talent in today’s competitive marketplace, even at the highest levels of the Fortune 500.

In fact, over the past several years as an executive search consultant, only two clients, prior to working with us, had interview processes in place that were deliberately designed to limit natural biases and intuition. Instead, the overwhelming majority leverage the unsophisticated and futile assessment methods of generations past: laissez-faire conversations, brain teasers, work experiences and references.

The reasons for adopting such archaic approaches are multifold. First, most hiring managers and recruitment professionals have never experienced or been taught a better way. Applying a more standardized approach could be seen as minimizing the autonomy of the interviewer. Most of us think we’re great at interviewing, so we don’t see a need for change on that front. And many companies often view rigorous interview methods as antithetical to their friendly and inviting culture — they’re afraid to scare a top candidate away.

Science has the answers to these conundrums. Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming: Other than work samples and cognitive ability (IQ) tests, structured interviews are far and away the best means for predicting the future performance of your candidates.

The challenge, then, is how to begin implementing this proven yet unfamiliar process. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as it might sound. Here are four steps to get you started:

Summarize What Candidates Can Expect

As the candidate enters the room, ensure unplanned small talk is kept to a minimum. Any improvised forays into one’s personal interests can unconsciously lead to biases early on in the process. Instead, warmly introduce yourself, define the role, list the key competencies and explain how the interview questions will be structured. Be sure to let them know how long the interview will last, how many questions you’ll be asking and how you’ll be scoring each candidate. Also, point out that you’ll be taking notes so they don’t get distracted by it after a tough question.

Inform interviewees that the reason for such formality is to ensure every candidate has the same experience. If there are no questions on process, it’s time to begin.

Ask the Same Job-Related Questions in the Same Order

Because you’re hiring for a well-defined role, determine which competencies are the most critical for success. Then, draft seven to 10 thought-provoking, open-ended questions that test for these attributes.

For example, to test for one’s ability to persuade and build unanimity among stakeholders, the interviewers might first ask a broad question: “Tell me about a time you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.” Dive deeper with follow-up questions: “How did you prepare for the presentation?” “What was the desired outcome, and what points did you emphasize to drive home your proposition?” “What was the result?” “What did you learn from that experience, and what could you have done differently?”

To ensure consistency throughout each candidate’s experience, it’s imperative that both the baseline questions and the follow-up questions are preplanned and delivered in the same order.

Maintain Consistent Interviewers and Clearly Defined Rating Scales

Naturally, no interviewer rates the same way. Despite every attempt to minimize biases, we’re all susceptible to unconscious influences. In order to ensure that each candidate is scored equitably, there should be a consistent set of interviewers. Ideally, there should be no more than four interviews in total, and interviews should be conducted by a well-trained and diverse group of colleagues: a peer, a boss, a subordinate and a cross-functional neutral party.

Interviewers should rate candidate responses using a cohesive scale. For example, at my executive search firm, we use a rating scale of 1 to 5. The ratings represent “awareness,” “basic,” “intermediate,” “advanced” and “expert,” respectively.

But it’s not enough to simply give each level a general label. You should also leverage existing subject-matter experts in that role — or the hiring manager if it’s a new position — to define what specific behaviors should be displayed at each level.

For instance, if you’re assessing the candidate’s ability to empathize with a broad set of stakeholders, you might define “awareness” as “occasionally attempts to create a safe environment for asking questions and sharing outcomes.” A score of 5, or “expert,” on the other hand, might be defined as “considers the needs and emotions of others and the constraints of the circumstances when considering a course of action.”

The key is specificity. The clearer you are in defining ideal behaviors at each level, the less ambiguity and variance the interviewers will face.

Rate Candidates Immediately After Interviews

Many of us can’t remember what we did yesterday. How much more difficult is it to recall a detailed response to an interview question hours after it was given? It’s nearly impossible!

This is why it’s important that interviewers score candidates immediately after they leave the room. In your notes on each question, be sure to include actual examples given by the candidate and why that justified their final score. These notes will be crucial for discussing candidates — and breaking any ties between them.

Finally, each interviewer should give final scores to all candidates, and the candidate with the top scores among the four interviewers should be selected.

That’s it! This simple, structured interviewing approach will revolutionize your ability to predict the future performance of your next hire. Plus, because each candidate feels like he or she is on equal playing ground throughout the assessment process, his or her overall experience with your brand will improve and your Net Promoter Scores will soar.

AI hiring

How AI Makes Hiring More Accurate and More Personal

AI is projected to catapult from a $643.7 million market today to $36.8 billion by 2025. Bersin by Deloitte calls it one of the ten major trends changing everything about how we build and manage the world of work. It’s becoming an incredibly powerful tool for recruiting, though not always understood. There are two questions I often hear:

How can we use AI to better match skills to openings?

How can we use AI to make the entire recruiting and hiring journey better, and improve candidate experience?

Before delving into specifics, consider this: Essentially, if A, then B. Just as AI is changing the game, we have to change how we see it: it’s a tool with multiple benefits at once. In other words: if we are better at sourcing the talent to find those with the right skills to match the right job opening, then the candidate experience will be better.

In this regard, AI is a positive disruption that not only improves how we find candidates, but how they experience the process of being found. All along the recruiting journey it works faster and more efficiently by profound degrees. And at the same time it has a tremendous impact on candidate experience. Let’s look at common pain points to recruiters and candidates and see how AI improves the outcome:

Recruiter Pain Point: Too Many Applications

A common pain point among recruiters is the sheer onslaught of digital applications — whether or not an applicant is actually qualified, with the required skills. We can’t put too fine a point on this: Job seekers spend an average of 49.7 seconds reading a job description, and 14.6 seconds of that is spent on the actual requirements of the job. Then, many just hit send. According to Glassdoor, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes on average. Of those, four to six are called for an interview — and one gets the job. Getting from 250 resumes and 4 to 6 callbacks per job is a whole lot of sorting.

AI Solution: Finding Soft Skills

AI can use pattern matching to connect the dots between job requirements and the skills and training listed on a resume. Machine learning means that AI can also get better at this the more it works, from building a bank of alternate phrases and variations it recognizes to tailoring its rankings to factor in other criteria. And AI can find soft skills just as quickly as hard skills. For instance, consider Arya: this new AI recruiting platform learns who the ideal candidate is through a combination of machine learning, big data and behavioral pattern recognition.

AI Solution: Assessing Fit

AI can also take an extremely educated and predictive guess about how a candidate may do in the long term, addressing concerns about ROI without bias. AI can use past hiring and employee records and patterns to get a clearer picture of the relative success and fit of a hire — and can identify potential blind spots of training gaps, enabling companies to put the services in place that support a better outcome.

Candidate Pain Point: an Overlong Application Process

Let’s face it: the digital environment has changed many job applicants’ perception of time. To a candidate in this digital environment, hours feel like days and days like weeks. Time, particularly for digital native generations, has shrunk — and the etiquette of responding to a message has radically changed. This is just one point of friction out of many in terms of how a candidate experiences the application process today. A delay in getting notified can feel like a rejection even if it’s not.

But while recruiters famously spend an average of 6 seconds reading a resume, finding the right hire for one job may take more than 20 hours. (And rare indeed is the recruiter tasked with filling one job at a time.) The wait — particularly if a candidate has been contacted by an organization’s hiring team — can feel like a hurry up and wait hustle, and may sour a candidate experience. Whether the result is a turn towards a different employer, or simply an element of disengagement in the process, it can stop a recruiter-candidate relationship before it starts. But recruiters simply don’t have the time or, most often, the person power to contact every applicant every step of the way.

AI Solution: Recruiters Don’t Do the Heavy Lifting

Allocating the heavy data sorting to AI frees more time for reading the resumes that actually matter. It means that unqualified candidates can be notified faster, and qualified candidates are really qualified — and the recruiter has had more time to spend getting to know them on paper before an interview. But additionally, AI can work as the messenger. For example, when a promising candidate is found with the qualifications and skills that match, Arya can reach out with a personalized message. If a candidate is interested, the connection has already been made — and a recruiter can take it from there. Instead of radio silence, there’s AI at work for you.

The myth that AI-powered recruiting is impersonal and inaccurate is just that: a misassumption about the power of AI. With the ability to greatly increase searches to radically cut down on searching time, as well as a way to reach out and develop a talent pipeline, AI enables recruiters to get back to what they know how to do best: spend time getting to know promising candidates, and find the best fit for each job. And for candidates, AI enables frequent contact and a faster process that improves their experience — and may just affect their decision to join your organization.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.

retail hiring

How Retail Hiring Will Change in the Next 5 Years

The shopping experience has changed a lot over the past 10 years. But the experience of applying for a retail job is pretty stuck in the past.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 there were nearly 5 million retail sales jobs in the U.S. While the retail industry is changing fast and moving from brick-and-mortar to online, retailers still employ a large demographic of Americans. And retailers that want to attract and retain those workers will need to stay innovative.

We asked Kimberly Carroll, principal at HR consulting firm IA, how she sees recruiting and hiring changing among her retail clients.

Goodbye to Paper Applications

“If you can’t hire people quickly, you’re in trouble,” she says. If you’re working with paper applications, like a lot of retailers still are, you slow down the hiring pipeline and deter young applicants. “Especially with seasonal hiring, you need to be able to get candidates in quickly and stay in contact with them.”

Many retailers hire thousands of seasonal employees around the holidays. When you have to manually process paper applications, you can’t quickly assess, hire and onboard candidates — and you likely can’t stay in touch with them about future openings. For all those reasons, paper applications are quickly on their way out as companies move to fully digital hiring processes.

A Better Application Experience

Even the retailers that offer online applications for hourly employees still have big opportunities to improve the user experience. “These days, it’s all about the candidate experience,” she says. Retailers can take a page from tech companies’ playbooks and spend more time understanding their users: the applicants.

“Create a more unified experience,” she says. “Don’t send applicants to different apps and websites to do E-Verify and background checks. Keep them on one online platform, with one look and feel.”

Same-Day Hiring

Carroll mapped out a typical retail hiring scenario. A candidate goes to the mall to apply for jobs. They fill out a paper application, they talk to the store manager — and then they leave the store without a clear answer about next steps, since the manager has to get the employee into the system and go through approvals to make a hire.

But other retailers, maybe at the same mall, support same-day hiring. The candidate can walk a few yards away from that first business and get a job on the spot. “As soon as an applicant leaves, you’ve lost them,” she says.

Amazon is a retailer that’s set a new standard for hiring speed. At Amazon, candidates can fill out an application online and schedule an interview, after which they can be hired on the spot and even start working that day.

When it comes to competing for retail talent, it’s all about speed, Carroll says.

Daily Pay

Not only are companies figuring out how to hire someone right away, Carroll says she’s talking to companies that are paying employees every day.

“Companies are looking at paying retail employees on a daily basis. They’re saying, ‘Can we support that? And if we can, why not do it?’” She says employees are drawn to the instant gratification of immediate pay for every day they work, instead of waiting for a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly check.

Retention Programs for Hourly Employees

For most brick-and-mortar retailers, the largest employee demographic is hourly workers. Retaining hourly workers is always a challenge, but there’s an opportunity to retain and promote those employees, offering them growth beyond entry-level positions.“If you keep losing those employees, you’re losing the skill set you might want in the future. So, the most successful retail organizations are building leaders from within, focusing on retaining more of their hourly workforce,” she says.

She suggests building a career path that starts at the entry-level, hourly position. “People put such a focus on higher education, but there’s nothing wrong with starting at an entry-level job and moving up,” she says. “Take an interest in those employees. Teach them skills, help them process, and turn the job into a career. Retailers need to extend their retention programs to hourly workers, not just salaried employees. ”

5 Ways AI Makes the Hiring Process Easier (1)

5 Ways AI Makes Hiring Easier

It’s one thing to see AI coming our way in HR. It’s another thing to know the best ways to harness it to improve sourcing and hiring success. AI isn’t just on the horizon — it’s part of some very forward-thinking recruiting and hiring programs already. Given how tight the job market is, AI is a way to give organizations a tangible edge on the competition. It facilitates a far more accurate way to see a far greater range and depth of talent — which means it’s easier to find better candidates — and more of them. And AI enables hiring teams to make and maintain radically better connections with talent, garner a far better sense of fit over a whole spectrum of criteria and frankly, be more human than we’ve been in a long time.

There’s no reason for any organization to shy away from AI’s capability — whether a big Silicon Valley firm or a small and lean startup. And leveling the playing field and reaching the same candidates as a larger organization, let alone a direct competitor, is just a matter of knowing how to use AI.

So, we decided to break down AI into five best practices along the hiring journey. We’re using a hypothetical hiring team we’re calling Talent Inc. to look at the five critical phases of talent acquisition, and how Talent Inc. draws on AI for tremendous advantages that result in better hires. This is an approach any hiring team can take:

Finding Talent

Our ambitious recruiting team at Talent Inc. has been tasked with sourcing 250 new hires for a growing company. These are positions from entry-level to senior management, covering a whole range of functions. Talent Inc.’s objective is to stretch their reach as far as possible to find the largest pool of talent they can. Their last AI-powered hiring campaign for this company was highly successful — and they still have all the data on the search patterns and strategies that found the best hires. This time, the team draws on that data to source a larger pool of similar candidates for the company’s new locations. They create a wireless “geofence” around specific locations. Automatically, the sourcing program gathers hordes of resumes of geographically segmented and promising candidates. Meanwhile, the team looks at the existing data on previous candidates and hires to see where there might be interest in relocating or moving up the ranks.

Making Connections

Since AI tools have done the heavy lifting for them, the team at Talent Inc. is ready to start sorting through the resumes of qualified candidates and reach out. They tailor their approaches to what they already know about these candidates — collected via AI — to make these vital first connections, using hiring events, social and mobile messages, and personalized emails. They begin to put together prospective talent pools for each level of hire, and start digging into resumes to see if they’re coming up short or sourcing sufficiently. They automatically set up and maintain an ATS. Since the whole team is working on the same platform with access to the same information, they can quickly set up automated tasks for AI to complete that will help them pinpoint ideal candidates for each position, and they can start reaching out to candidates who stand out.

Tending to the Talent

Even before they start screening for skills, competencies and experience, there are already conversations going on between prospective candidates and the hiring team. It’s not the hiring people doing the talking: there’s no phone tag or cumbersome emails. Instead, the candidates are engaging with a sophisticated virtual assistant. Candidates who show interest can do a pre-screening quickly with a chatbot, asking questions and getting a clearer picture on the position. Each conversation offers dynamic, responsive messaging and produces data on the candidate that the virtual assistant can share with the team at Talent Inc.

In the time it might take to reach out and have one initial conversation with one candidate, countless exchanges have already taken place and candidates are already engaged in the application process. There’s now a whole pool of candidates entering the talent pipeline, already having a positive experience and interested in finding out what comes next. Many of these candidates are digital natives, well used to interacting with chatbots and at ease with the process — and to them, the process implies that the employer is appealingly forward-thinking in its approach to business and people. Now candidates can start having real-time conversations with the recruiting team, who already know a great deal about each candidate before they talk — and can tailor their conversations based on what they know.

Making Sure the Fit Is Just Right

With 250 positions to fill, there’s little time to spend on potentially poor hires. But AI has already created predictive analytics on who may make the grade and be a great fit. A whole array of criteria has been used to create screenings and pinpoint promising matches, and the HR team can rely on the data to help narrow down the best candidates for each position — and find candidates that might be better fits for other positions they may not have applied for.

In each case, the hiring team can take time to get to know each candidate, whether in conversation or formal interviews, as the human recruiters are freed up from repetitive and tedious administrative tasks now being executed by the AI software. While the average recruiter only spends six seconds on a candidate’s resume, the team at Talent Inc. gets to know all the great candidates they can — and based on the data already gathered, there’s lots to talk about

Keeping the Hiring Process Going

Providing an outstanding candidate experience that really conveys the potential employer’s brand is a one of Talent Inc.’s core values. All the portals and dashboards prospective hires are using during this process are layered with the look, feel, mission and message of the employer. Interviews are being set up with the top-tier prospects within the company, but the employer and the hiring team have partnered on a new initiative of different interviewing tools.

A recent study on LinkedIn found that key hiring trends for 2018 include different kinds of interviews and conversations, adding more of a human side to the classic mano-a-mano. That may include online skills assessments — which may be built around the data AI has gathered already on candidates. There are VR options for “trying out” the position in the virtual workplace, job “auditions,” video interviews, and far more casual interviews that set both interviewer and candidate at ease and allow for more meaningful and spontaneous conversations. The data intelligence has enabled recruiters to use their emotional intelligence. Soon Talent Inc. has recommended a pool of terrific candidates for the expanding firm, is monitoring and facilitating the application process, and has also maintained connections with those who may not apply this round, but may in the future.

“21st-century HR isn’t about playing it safe,” noted IBM’s David Green in a recent article by Arya on the role of AI in HR. AI has enabled our hypothetical recruiters at Talent Inc. to keep their employer ahead of the competition — sourcing the best talent in an extremely short window of time using the power of data and AI, and the freedom these tools give them to provide a terrific candidate experience that reflects the employer and sets up hires for engagement and success.

Every interaction has added to the data gathered on each candidate, and improved the recruiter’s understanding of the relative strength and fit of that candidate with regards to the company. AI has predicted outcomes and suggested plans based on previous successes to drive better hires and forecast future hiring needs. AI has also kept a close watch on any skills gaps or problematic screenings, reducing risk and paying attention to ROI, while recruiters are spending more time with each candidate, establishing a connection and a relationship. The result is a whole crop of promising new hires who can help the organization continue its growth.

And based on the data gleaned during this hiring phase and over the course of onboarding, development, and indeed the employee journey, AI can improve the next hiring push even more. If I could pat the team at Talent Inc. on the virtual back, I would.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.

Talent Board Candidate Experience Research

The 2017 Talent Board Candidate Experience Research: 4 Takeaways

How’s your candidate experience looking?

And just as importantly, how does it stack up to your competition?

In this year’s Talent Board candidate experience 2017 research, we heard from 220,000 job seekers from around the world who applied for jobs at more than 300 employers.

Through these candidate surveys, we built a picture of the current state of candidate experience, as well as the tools, processes and technologies employers use to shape that experience.

So what’s the big picture result?

We took one step forward. And…one step back.

What’s Improving

Here’s the good news for people obsessed with candidate experience (like me): Over the past three years, we’ve seen an overall incremental positive trend among very satisfied candidates. Candidates who give their experience 5/5 stars say they’ll increase their business relationship with the employer. That means they’re likely to apply again, refer others and buy stuff. That trend is true across all three global regions we survey.

Figure 1. A Great Candidate Experience

What’s Not

While happy candidates are more likely to stay loyal to employer companies, unhappy candidates are more likely to sever their relationships with companies. More 1-star candidates (who rate their candidate experience at just one out of five stars) say they’ll sever their business relationship. This is not good news. Candidates who are less likely to apply again, refer others and buy stuff if can certainly impact the business bottom line.

Figure 2. A Poor Candidate Experience

So what’s the takeaway for employers?

Improving candidate experience is a long game, with a lot of ups and downs along the way. Asking candidates (most of whom don’t get the job) to rate their experience isn’t for the faint of heart. But the insights you learn are worth it.

If you’re dedicated to improving your organization’s candidate experience, here are four lessons you can learn from this year’s research.

What We Can Learn from the 2017 Candidate Experience Research

Open New Communication Channels

Corporate marketing and customer service aren’t the only teams today using social media channels and websites to serve “customers.” Savvy employers are making their recruiting teams available to answer questions during live chats on career sites and social media, as well as experimenting with chatbots to answer general employment questions. The latter frees up the recruiting teams to have more hands-on time with potential candidates already in play.

Walk in the Candidate’s Shoes

Employers must be willing to admit that their existing application process may not be working. In order to think about the application process from the candidates’ perspective, more and more organizations are thankfully applying for their own jobs, especially the CandE Award winners, and are reaping the benefits of incrementally improving their application process.

To Set Yourself Apart, Focus on Communication and Feedback

CandE Award winners continue to differentiate themselves by communicating more with candidates, giving candidates feedback earlier in the recruiting process, and asking candidates for feedback even before they apply for a job. Most candidates who have an overall “very poor” 1-star and 2-star candidate experience — representing tens of thousands of candidates in the Talent Board research — are getting very little if any consistent communication or feedback, a missed opportunity in a highly competitive talent marketplace.

Remember the Connection Between Candidate Experience and the Bottom Line

As I shared, candidates who had a negative overall experience say they will take their alliance, purchases and relationship somewhere else. This means a potential loss of revenue for consumer-based businesses, and a loss of referral networks for all companies. Plus, it means losing potential future-fit and silver-medalist candidates. However, the good news is that those who had a great overall experience say they’ll definitely increase their employer relationships – they’ll apply again, refer others and make purchases when applicable. These aren’t just the job finalists either, or those hired, but the individuals who research and apply for jobs and aren’t hired. If you need a data point to tie candidate experience to business results, this is it.

We’re already looking ahead at next year. If you’re interested in participating in the 2018 Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards benchmark research program, you can register your organization now.

build a long-term recruiting strategy

3 Ways to Build a Long-Term Recruiting Strategy

In a talent crunch, it’s easy for recruiters and hiring managers to focus on filling open slots. But that approach can give you tunnel vision when it comes to the candidates who could be a good fit for other roles.

Organizations need to move away from a requisition-style talent strategy and build candidate-centric recruiting models, says Kurt Heikkinen, CEO of Montage. “You’re not looking just for the gold medalist for a specific position; you’re building talent communities and pipelines and finding ways to place those silver medalists, too,” he says. “If you get too refined in your selection process, you might not be fast enough to win the gold or silver candidate, or even the bronze.”

Here are three tips for rethinking your recruiting process.

Think Proactively

First, examine your business and workforce, and consider where you expect them to go. Your talent strategy should take a more holistic and long-term perspective to take advantage of a deeper pool of candidates, Heikkinen says. Determine the kinds of skills you’re looking to acquire and the kinds you can develop, as well as the personalities and traits that are the best cultural fit. Doing so will make you proactive rather than transactional when mapping out talent needs, Heikkinen says.

“You want to interview someone on who they are, not just on the basis on how they might fit for one job,” says Krista Allen, branch manager of finance and accounting at Addison Group. If they are a culture fit or have good communication skills, you may be able to train them on the skill sets they need to know for a position that may come up later.

Measure and Record

Using digital tools will take your interviewing process past “gut feelings” into pinpoint accuracy about a candidate’s suitability for your organization. Assessments can help indicate how and why a second-place candidate might be good for your organization in another capacity, Heikkinen says, eliminating the need to start the search process all over when it’s time to hire again.

Enabling candidates to use digital tools on their end can help you create a searchable record that makes second-place finishers easier to recall when you have a new opening. “If you follow the traditional process of a resume and a phone screen and interview notes, over the course of a couple of months that information is limited and recall is difficult,” Heikkinen says. “But if you’ve provided the candidates with a chance to share skills and experiences through video, you have a recorded profile with deeper information and faster recall.”

Stay Connected With Second Place

Even if you don’t hire someone you’ve interviewed, you know they made it through several hoops to get where they did with your organization. To build a deep talent pool, you’ll now have to keep those candidates interacting with your company even as they consider their other choices, Heikkinen says. Use on-demand text messaging and chatbots to keep those second-place finishers informed about new job openings and opportunities with your company.

Building and sustaining these connections with candidates who almost (but not quite) made it will give you a talent community you can tap into when the need arises. “Relationships matter,” Allen says. “Use technology to keep in touch with these people so you’re ready when a hot job comes in — then you’re not scrambling and reactive.”

How to Leverage AI Recruiting to Make Better Hires

How to Leverage AI Recruiting to Make Better Hires

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HR and recruiters don’t tend to take things at face value. For good reason: we’re called on to rely on our educated judgments. We’re in the business of futurecasting, person by person. We find the best talent with the most potential for doing great things for an employer in the near future, and we do it over and over again. But we’ve been up for a turbocharge for a long time. A career path that is this intense, combining administrative, personal, and strategic tasking constantly needs sophisticated ways to advance above old archaic practices we no longer want to rely on. With AI, we have it.

AI conducts its own version of futurecasting. It’s a fast and efficient supporting player that can scale up our efforts and free us the bandwidth so we can focus on the one-to-one. Fact is, AI is rapidly disrupting recruiting in a good way. But ask someone what it means and you may get a head-scratch. For anyone who’s been looking for a simple basic explanation of what and how AI recruiting works, here it is. One caveat: let’s not call this “AI for Dummies.” No one here is a dummy, and no matter how sophisticated AI is, talent acquisition needs your acumen, intelligence, and expertise.

Here’s a breakdown of five ways AI is taking recruiting to the next level, and knowing how to leverage what it’s capable of — that’s the ace up our sleeves.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is sometimes defined as the ability to “act without having to be programmed,” but what that means is that AI can comprehend, reason, and learn from every data point, interaction, and outcome. AI puts incredible muscle and speed into analyzing vast amounts of data and arriving at very specific, data-driven observations and predictions.

One way it works: It can find out if a certain hire might be a good fit or whether an employer is going to suffer from a skills gap. It can look at how we’ve been recruiting and find the weak points to make predictions and recommendations. And it can refine its own processes, looking at prior successes and failures to amplify or reframe its own approach.

Big Data

The cloud has essentially blown open the universe as far as the capacity for data. We’re now measuring data in terms of hundreds of zettabytes, being processed and archived and reprocessed and parsed at incredible speed. What we have to work with now was inconceivable even a year ago, let alone a decade, and its revolutionized talent sourcing. It’s not just about static information: this is data that can be accessed and analyzed from countless angles — with statistical models, predictive algorithms, innovative filters, with actionable results.

One way it works: Instead of a recruiter having to devote long hours to manually search through 200 contacts on a spreadsheet, AI creates a recruiting nerve center that can search and analyze massive volumes of applicants.

Pattern Recognition

Old-school recruiting, particularly for rapidly expanding organizations, could feel like searching for a needle in a haystack and like reinventing the same wheel over and over. AI can identify and learn from a recruiter’s most successful patterns — and then replicate them, adjusting for all manner of contexts or requirements. It can also find instances of bias and create ways to overcome them.

One way it works: we can take a job description, and use hiring successes from the past to find the most likely qualified candidates — wherever they are, from a database to a job board to social media. We can identify the likelihood of a hire being a success, identity the potential skills gaps or blind spots of weak points, clarify our best sources, and above all, retain the information. It becomes part an organization’s proprietary wisdom, building up a strong foundation for recruiting successes to come.


There’s message — the DNA and brand culture an organization conveys, and then there’s messaging — which is, often, the way that DNA and culture are carried out into the talent market. What AI does is facilitate fast, effective, and dynamic messaging. It begins to build relationships with the right candidates as soon as they’re identified, engaging and even pre-screening them before they have their first real contact or interaction with a recruiter. But it’s not an alienating or generic form of messaging. It’s multilayered, highly attuned and customized to the individual organization and the individual candidate — based on the information already learned and collected, and integrated with an ATS.

One way it works: Chatbots are no longer an alien life-form online: they’re a part of our entire system of communication, commerce, fact finding, an accepted form of exchanging information. AI can provide meaningful, relevant answers to candidate’s questions, and then share this with the recruiter. It makes it possible to spark engagement, maintain and build a connection, and then pass the best candidates to the recruiter to get them started on the actual process of hiring. All without cumbersome emails threads, phone tag, or awkward texts.


AI packs a powerful punch: it can process massive amounts of recruiting, hiring, engagement, performance and behavioral data from millions of prospects. It can focus and search for skills, behavioral and even cultural matches. But even more than that, it empowers recruiters with the single most important resource to stay on target: a viable, dynamic, visible talent pipeline.

Frankly, it’s a game-changer: AI is a game-changing innovation that brings the best of HR to organizations no matter their size, location, or field. In this highly competitive talent market, it gives recruiters a vital resource. It enables recruiters to move candidates into the pipeline and keep track of them automatically, an effective way to maintain visibility across the broadest possible spectrum of talent that enables recruiters to act when they see a potential great fit. It’s also another way to overcome unconscious bias and increase diversity and inclusion.

What AI does is enhance the recruiting across the whole journey. It provides recruiters with a far broader and more accurately gathered pool of candidates, the tools to engage candidates sooner and more effectively, and the means to tend to a pipeline that can be searched and refined according to scaling or changing needs. It’s not really an option, either — as AI becomes part of how organizations function now, it’s changing the very Future of Work — even before we bring the talent to the door.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.


5 Ways to Rethink Your Recruiting Strategy

5 Ways to Rethink Your Recruiting Strategy

Over my three-decade career, I have had the opportunity to work with many HR teams. Overall, if I had to grade HR’s effectiveness in bringing in the talent necessary for long term success, I’d give them a mixed review.

Even though many HR pros would argue that one of their key roles is recruitment, my observation is that HR teams tend to focus more on the administrative aspects of the role — managing payroll and benefits, coordinating training and development plans, ensuring compliance, and administering reward programs.

I was always concerned that HR leadership didn’t give a high enough priority to recruiting. Recruiting the best people means defining and acquiring the skills and competencies necessary to deliver superlative performance and to meet the challenges of a highly competitive environment.

I think HR can make a difference in discovering the best people and bringing them into the organization. But they have to change the way they work and approach their mandate differently.

Here are five ways HR leaders can redirect the HR team’s energy and produce better recruiting results.

Think About HR as a Strategic Player

Redefine human resources to be 80% strategic tool and 20% practitioner. Getting strategic means having a deep understanding of the strategic game plan of the organization and then translating it to what it specifically means to HR.

At many organizations, that might mean taking a hard turn away from practicing the discipline of HR, and starting a new role leading the execution of the people piece of the organization’s strategy.

As the president of the data and internet business unit for a major telecom organization, I held regular sessions with HR leadership to present and clarify not only the strategy for my business unit, but the strategy for the entire organization. My goal was to refocus their priorities away from practicing HR to serving as a strategic support. We invested considerable time in defining exactly what they should be doing to support the strategy and enable its success.

Define the New Skills You Need in Your Organization

Develop a specific people acquisition strategy with a focus on the new skills and competencies your organization will need to succeed in the future. It should be a strategy on its own rather than a component of the overall HR strategy and should outrank other more pedantic elements on the HR task list.

Then, move beyond strategy into doing. Make a tactical implementation plan to recruit new individuals and develop existing talent. Assign key milestones and accountabilities.

When my team implemented this process, we identified specific individuals we wanted to bring to the organization, as well as employees who should move laterally to apply their skills to different roles. We also had to make the tough call about employees whose skills were no longer relevant to the strategy of the organization.

Get Buy-In From Other Business Leaders

It’s important that the leaders responsible for delivering the overall strategy to the market understand and approve the people strategy. They are the clients of HR who depend on the right people with the right competencies being available at the right time.

All too often, HR views its client as the chief executive and other executive leaders when it should be focusing on the business leaders charged with executing the organization’s strategy.

As a leader, I made it a priority to engage HR in business matters and ask for their leadership to deliver a people plan that enabled my organization to achieve its business goals.

Dive Deep Into Your Target Talent Pools

Once you know what skills your organization needs, it’s time to actively engage with those talent communities. If, for example, software development skills are critical to delivering the organization’s plan, it’s HR’s job to find out where developers share their experiences and hone their competencies. They must embed themselves in those organizations and cultivate relationships with high-potential individuals who could be recruited at the appropriate time.

The end game for HR: build a brand of being the go-to organization for people with that skill set.

Change the Way You Measure HR Performance

How are you currently measuring performance? If bringing in new skills is a strategic priority, measure and reward it. Implement an internal report card that rates the performance of HR on strategic initiatives.

HR should not see themselves in the human resource management business. The prime objective of HR is to recruit the people with the skills and competencies needed to advance the organization’s strategic agenda. Period.

how to reject candidates

How You Reject a Job Candidate Defines Your Recruitment Strategy

An organization’s HR team can create advocates out of any applicant—even the rejected ones—by ensuring each candidate has a positive experience. But too many organizations ignore, or blunder through the potentially unpleasant part of the recruitment process in which hopeful candidates must be told “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Delivering bad news can be a daunting task, said Diane Nicholas, a consultant at WK Advisors, a division of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, based in Oak Brook, Ill. “When companies fail to provide feedback and close the loop with unsuccessful candidates, they miss out on the opportunity to end the process on a high note and ensure that the candidate walks away with a positive lasting impression.”

When candidates are rejected in a dismissive manner—or worse, if they never hear back from an employer at all—that news travels fast, said Brin McCagg, the CEO and founder of RecruitiFi, a crowd-based recruiting platform in New York City. “Whether it’s through social media or word of mouth, potential candidates will get wind of your hiring process. Even a generic response is better than no response.”

Experts agree that HR should be trained to consider the candidate rejection process a vital piece of the company’s recruitment strategy, with immediate and long-term benefits to the company, if done well.

“Your response is a direct reflection on your company’s brand,” McCagg said. “There’s plenty of reasons to put as much time into considering your rejection strategy as you put into your hiring strategy.”

The Medium Is the Message

Experts agree that if candidates have taken the time to actually interview for a role, they deserve a phone call. “You owe it to finalists to speak with them directly,” said Chad MacRae, the founder of Recruiting Social, a social recruiting firm based in Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada. “Don’t hide behind an e-mail. When the candidate answers the phone, inform them you have an update, ask if it’s a good time to speak, and if it is, rip the Band-Aid off and get it out.”

Nicole Belyna, SHRM-SCP, strategic recruitment business partner at Thompson Creek Window Company, in Lanham, Md., lives by hard rules when turning down candidates. If they have interviewed in person, they receive a call. If they went through a phone screen they receive a personalized e-mail. If they’ve applied, but did not interview, they receive a general e-mail letting them know that they were not selected. “I have never declined a candidate via text message,” Belyna said. “Call me old fashioned.”

To Be Safe or to Be Honest?

There are varying schools of thought on what recruiters should say to rejected candidates—for example, whether to give a general, neutral reason for not moving forward or instead offer constructive feedback.

The safe option goes like this: “Thank you for applying, but we have decided to pursue other applicants.” This one is popular with HR and legal counsel because it’s easy to maintain, and keeps recruiters from getting into uncomfortable arguments with candidates or making inadvertent, discriminatory statements.

Providing specific reasons for rejection or trying to coach the candidate is admirable, and some applicants may be grateful for the honest feedback. But the approach can backfire when the applicant debates the decision or uses what was said to file an employment complaint.

“I find that the best way to communicate rejection is to be honest and straightforward,” McCagg said. “Be truthful with candidates and they’ll appreciate your honesty. There’s no need to string them along or tell them that a position may open up in the future. If that’s true, fine. If you’re just sugarcoating their rejection, then it’s the wrong way to go about it.”

Nicholas said that while she thinks it’s important to give feedback, there are times when recruiters should hold back, especially if candidates are being rejected for something of a personal nature. “I tell them they have a great background, but they don’t have a certain piece of experience that the employer was looking for,” Nicholas said. “I always leave them with hope. I tell them if something changes, I’ll be back in touch. I emphasize the positive and minimize the criticism.”

McCagg sees every rejection as a chance for candidates to improve. “Maybe they’re missing the necessary training or certificates, maybe they have a number of typos in their resume. If you find certain deficiencies, you can give them a tip or pointer on how to learn and grow for next time. Just make sure you’re constructive about it.”

MacRae advised those in the hiring process to debrief following interviews and record each candidate’s pros and cons in the organization’s applicant tracking system. “That way recruiters have it at their fingertips when they follow up with candidates,” he said.

Danielle Marchant, a partner at Recruiting Social, explained that if communication with the candidate was open, honest and authentic throughout the hiring process, rejection will be less uncomfortable. “If you’ve nurtured your relationship along the way, there won’t be as much recoil. They’ll understand you see their value even if you’re not moving forward.”

Dealing with Pushback

Recruiters delivering bad news to candidates must be prepared to deal with emotional and confrontational reactions. Inevitably, candidates want to know why they were rejected.

Belyna said that in her experience, more candidates ask for a second chance. But some can grow nasty. “I had one candidate become very nasty and irate. He responded to my e-mail with a phone call to tell me what an unprofessional idiot I was for not selecting him. He demanded that I have someone else interview him. He went on to tell me that I had made a big mistake and he was going to contact my boss and CEO. He never called, and coincidentally, he recently asked to connect with me on LinkedIn.”

Nicholas tells rejected candidates: ” ‘I understand this is hard to accept, but ultimately do you really want to work at an organization where they feel you don’t fit?’ I let them vent for a while, especially if they are very emotional, then I come back and empathize with them and get them back on track to focus on something else.”

She finds that offering a respectful decline will elicit a “thank you” from candidates more often than not. “Most are grateful that you got back in touch, because so many times they are left hanging, and they have no idea whether or not they are moving forward.”

Thinking of the Future

For Belyna, ending on a high note is nonnegotiable. “If I feel a candidate may be better suited for another role in my organization, I will talk to them about it,” she said. “If there isn’t a relevant opening, then I encourage them to stay in touch via e-mail and LinkedIn.”

Recruiters can attest to this strategy paying off. “Years ago, I declined a candidate because he wasn’t right for the role I was filling,” MacRae explained. “But twelve years later, I hired him for a different role, at a different company, in a different city. This time, he was the right person.”

This post originally appeared on SHRM.

5 Common Bad Hires and How to Prevent Them

5 Common Bad Hires and How to Prevent Them

Recruiters and hiring managers both dread the same scenario: After the first month on the job, the new hire is not the person who shone brightly during the interview and screening process.
Maybe he or she needs more time to acclimate, but warning sign behaviors could also signal that a big mistake was made.

Here are five types of typical bad hires and how to prevent them.

The Bad Attitude

A new hire with a jerky attitude is one of the biggest nightmares for a hiring manager. Offering constructive criticism from a fresh perspective could enlighten co-workers, but being disrespectful or insubordinate, endlessly complaining, or expressing that things were better “in my old job” are troubling.

“A poisonous attitude is not consistent with a high-performing culture, and this kind of behavior has a strong negative effect on all employees who come into contact with the new hire,” said Kelly Marinelli, SHRM-SCP, an attorney and president and founder of HR consultancy Solve HR in Boulder, Colo.

To avoid this problem, beware of candidates who are confrontational or negative from the get-go, said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at recruitment software company CareerBuilder. “If they can’t be positive in the interview, it could be a sign of worse things to come.”

Marinelli recommended requesting feedback from others who come into contact with the candidate on interview day, such as the receptionist, the parking attendant or the server at lunch. “It’s tough for [someone with] a bad attitude to maintain the facade ceaselessly, so you may get lucky and catch this bad hire in the act before it’s too late.”

The Flimflam Artist

New hires who lack the skills they said they had are another huge letdown for hiring managers. Maybe they’re interview aces but they embellished or exaggerated their qualifications and experience.

“Good interviewers can assess the level of understanding of certain skills, but it’s always possible that a candidate lacking in the appropriate skill level but who is a great communicator could slip through the cracks,” Marinelli said.

These types of hires quickly lose credibility, which impacts trust and working relationships, added Sharlyn Lauby, SHRM-SCP, author, speaker and president of ITM Group Inc., an HR consulting firm in Weston, Fla., as well as writer of the HR Bartender blog. “Depending on the skills they embellished, they could hurt someone or cause damage. There’s a potential liability to the business.”

Lauby recommended verifying candidates’ skills and experience with background checks where appropriate and using behavioral interviewing questions to get a sense of a candidate’s depth of experience with a skill.

“My favorite way to avoid this disappointing new hire is to include a work task assessment in the hiring process,” Marinelli said. “It’s not just a test to see if candidates actually possess the skills they are representing, but also a great opportunity for them to see if they actually enjoy performing the work that the employer needs in the role.”

Marinelli cautioned HR and hiring managers of the importance of ensuring that a new hire is properly trained in company-specific processes and tools. “Make sure new hires have a full and complete opportunity to perform in the new role before labeling anyone a bad hire,” she said.

The Helpless One

There will be an expected learning curve for all new hires, but if new employees can’t get a grasp on the tasks discussed during the hiring process within a reasonable amount of time, make the same mistakes continuously, or require oversight for even the simplest of assignments and are unwilling to make decisions on their own, they become more of a chore than an assist.

“There is an expectation that after a certain amount of time and training, employees are able to do certain tasks on their own,” Lauby said. “If that doesn’t happen, the company needs to understand why. Is it the employee? Or has the organization failed in some way to give the employee the tools they need to be successful?”

Many organizations are asking candidates about their “self-learning” skills, she added. Candidates could be asked a question like, “Tell me about a time when you had to learn something on your own. What was it that you learned, and how did you go about learning it?”

The Ghost

These are the workers who can’t be found. They just started but they already come in late, leave early or disappear during the day with personal excuses, or they immediately ask for vacation time.

“Of course, there may be many understandable reasons that your new hire is late or requesting time off, but you don’t want it becoming a habit,” Haefner said. “Make sure you have a conversation about paid time off and punctuality before a candidate is hired so you can identify any legitimate barriers to them keeping their contracted hours.”

The Climber

New employees who quickly begin angling for a new position could be a problem. In some workplaces, this isn’t an issue at all, Lauby said. “But in workplaces where paying your dues is an important part of the culture, it can create some friction. Other employees might feel that the new employee is being disrespectful even if the new hire is highly qualified.”

Climbers may be able to be identified during the interview and screening process by asking about their expectations, she said. “We have a tendency to cringe at the traditional interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ but it could be an indicator of candidate expectations. The other thing is for the organization to set expectations. If the company expects employees to work their way up, let the candidate know. Don’t let it become a surprise.”

Employers could also consider using the climber to their advantage, Marinelli said. “Direct this hire’s energy toward learning, growing and stretching in the role, and you may find there’s a diamond in the rough that you can turn into your best employee. The downside, however, is when the climber loses interest too quickly because no immediate promotion is forthcoming. This hire can quickly turn into the bad attitude example if employers aren’t careful.”

Spotting a climber in the interview process is complicated, she added. “When you ask an interviewee about future career plans, goals and dreams, most are unlikely to say they’d like to stay stationary. You can’t assume every potential hire who wants more in the future is a red flag. Then again, if you have an interviewee who is asking about other jobs during the interview, you can be relatively certain that it’s a problem.”

Learn from Past Hiring Mistakes

Experts recommend that HR document what went wrong with bad hires and incorporate what was learned into the organization’s hiring process going forward. “A good hiring process requires not only preparation but consistency, documentation and continuous analysis of data so that successful methods can be captured and continued, the need for training can be identified and addressed, and poor processes can be discontinued or adjusted,” Marinelli said.

Additional tips include:
Be clear about your company’s values, culture and the role, from the job description through the interview process. “The key to a successful hiring process is to provide a clear definition of responsibilities for the job, as well as the cultural fit required for success,” Haefner said. She added that in order to improve the chances of hiring the right person, recruiters shouldn’t just recycle the past job description every time a role needs to be refilled. “Take a new look at your needs and the skills you need added to your team,” she said. “Also, remember to keep an eye on the intangibles. A candidate’s skill set isn’t limited to functional abilities—it also includes how well he or she works in a collaborative environment.”

Clearly identifying the company’s values and culture helps interviewees opt out before they become employees if it isn’t what they’re looking for, Marinelli said. “For instance, if the company’s values include intensity and drive, and a candidate is looking for a laid-back environment, it’s best to know this upfront.”

Practice team hiring techniques by involving future co-workers. “One of the best things about peer interviewing is that applicants are able to get a more ‘boots on the ground’ idea of what it’s like to work for your company,” Haefner said.

Involve subject matter experts during interviews in order to ask specific, technical questions to determine the potential hire’s level of expertise. “Subject matter experts are a must in the interview process,” Marinelli said. “If they are not available in person, employers should consider videoconferencing them in or having them participate by phone. If there is no internal subject matter expert available, employers should consider bringing in an outside resource to participate in the interview process, especially for critical roles.”

Be diligent about reference checks. “View reference checks as a valuable opportunity rather than as a chore, and go beyond simply verifying titles and dates of employment,” Haefner said. “Ask the right questions and you may receive insight far beyond what you’ve learned from a resume or even an interview.”

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