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Great Hires Are Better Than Frequent Fires: How Smart Recruiting Helps

Sponsored by: RocketReach

Hiring teams know just how hard it is to find candidates who hit the mark with both soft skills and technical skills.  Ideally, a new hire brings the majority of the hard skills required to do the job well. But soft skills are equally important, if not more important, depending on your company’s philosophy. In combination, hard and soft skills allow for a highly productive team and culturally rich environment.  So, how do you identify these powerhouse candidates? This is when smart recruiting tactics can make a strategic impact.

Why? Finding and placing high-performing candidates should be every HR professional’s primary goal. But if recruiting focuses more on an individual’s experience than their ability to enhance your culture or have the right attitude to learn, that hire could likely be a mismatch long term. How can you avoid this? To illustrate, let’s look closer at how we approach hiring at RocketReach

Smart Recruiting: Why Prioritize Soft Skills?

Of course, every job depends on a core technical or business skill set. However, we over-index on culture and behavioral skills because a candidate’s character matters, here. Well, not just here, but in all successful, people-first organizations.

A candidate with great skills requires less on-the-job training. But someone who’s a great cultural fit often possesses untrainable qualities that embody an organization’s values and vision. So it’s wise to get a read on each candidate’s potential to adapt to your culture and perform well with the team. 

What exactly is at stake? Well, according to a new SHRM report, over the past five years, 20% of Americans left a job because the company culture was bad. In fact, the cost of this turnover is estimated at more than $223 billion.

Here are several more findings to consider: 56% of Americans now say they feel less-than-fulfilled at work, while 26% say they dread going to work each day. In today’s talent market, finding an ideal candidate may not be easy. But hiring a strong candidate who also fits your company culture is arguably just as important (if not more so!) as hiring someone just because they have the desired level of experience.

How Smart Recruiting Leads to a Stronger Culture

Clearly, it’s important to build and sustain a people-first company culture. But how can smart recruiting help determine if a candidate is (or isn’t) a good “fit”?

1. Understand Your Work Culture

When considering your company’s culture, don’t just analyze intangible items like general employee vibes. Also include your leadership structure, core mission and vision, office environment, feedback and performance review processes, as well as overall interpersonal communication styles. These and other factors contribute to the relationships within your team and how the company is investing in its people. They also influence employee retention and how others perceive your organization.

Harvard Business Review agrees that a carefully crafted positive company culture helps develop workforce well-being. At this point, we all know how important culture is for working professionals. Every employee touchpoint, from onboarding to offboarding, influences how your organization’s culture affects your employees. As a result, people rank workplace well-being higher in importance than monetary compensation or material benefits. So, culture deserves to be top-of-mind with each new hire. 

2. Identify Characteristics That Map to Your Culture

Once you’ve clarified your company culture, let’s assume you want to sustain it. Using your analysis, you can identify the characteristics of current employees who are thriving. You can also compare and contrast those characteristics with previous employees who are better suited to a different culture. 

On the other hand, if you’d like to improve your culture, you can start identifying candidates whose soft skills align with your desired organizational direction.

For example, say your workforce is fully remote. This means collaboration is probably more challenging than in a traditional office environment. You may want to focus on candidates who demonstrate that they’re self-starters with a strong sense of resourcefulness, self-efficacy, and proactive ownership

Or, if your company’s mission and values emphasize diversity and inclusion, you may want to focus on candidates who are open-minded, adaptable, and have a curious approach to problem-solving. Try targeting candidates who seem resistant to change and more accepting of those with different backgrounds and ideas.

Of course, the idea of cultural alignment isn’t new. For example, a popular 2005 personnel study that is still cited today concluded that when employee characteristics align with company culture, their job satisfaction and performance are also stronger.

3. Interview With Alignment In Mind

After you understand the qualities a candidate needs to be successful in a given role, it’s time for interviews. Along with questions that evaluate hard skills, what are some questions you should ask to determine a candidate’s soft skills?

  1. What about our organization made you want to apply for this position?
    Pay attention to the enthusiasm and focus of each candidate’s answers. Did your benefits seem particularly attractive? Was it your company brand or careers page? Or was it the job description, itself? Do the candidate’s personal values align with your company’s? Each answer is a clue about the individual’s perspective, motivations and interests. This can determine how closely a candidate’s values align with your team’s and how you can sell them on these things down the line if they are a great fit
  2. What does your ideal next role look like?
    This can tell a recruiter tons about the type of environment in which a candidate will thrive. Do they envision working independently or in a group? What main responsibilities does this person want to own and enjoy most? Are they hoping to grow in mentorship or people management?? This can show you if your current team and environment fit the candidate’s needs.
  3. If one of your colleagues disagreed with you in front of a group during a board meeting or a meeting with leadership, how would you handle this?
    Sharing a hypothetical question about a challenging situation and asking for a suggested solution can reveal someone’s ability to listen and collaborate, think critically, and have the right attitude under pressure.
  4. Tell me about a time when you felt an employer’s culture didn’t suit your needs. Why do you believe it wasn’t the right fit for you?
    Sometimes a direct approach is the best approach. Pay careful attention to see what the answer reveals about the potential fit with your current culture (or the culture you’re working to achieve).

There are a million ways to ask interview questions that focus on soft skills and culture. But whatever questions you choose, make sure you tailor each to your company values and needs.

Hiring managers will understand the characteristics that align with an open position and the overall company culture. This frees you to get creative and keep interviews candid and human. The less “cookie cutter” your questions, the better they will serve your talent strategy in the long run. More importantly, ensure that your interview teams are trained to over-index on culture and company values – that way everyone is looking through a people-first lens. So whether you’re conducting a pre-screening interview, or you’re in a final-round group interview, put your culture front-and-center. 

5 Strategies for Defining Your Employer Brand

Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world. Just ensure it doesn’t become how people describe your employer brand.

Today’s job candidates and workers are often compelled to stay with one company versus another because of the company’s purpose and value. In other words, companies need a strong, direct, authentic employer brand that keeps employees from quitting and joining the Great Resignation. In most cases, a vanilla employee experience won’t cut it anymore.

A Modern Employer Brand

Instead of a basic, old-school employer brand, you need one that’s modern. You need a brand that reflects what your organization stands for and what talent can expect, even if it turns some applicants away.

Companies with substantive employer branding often embrace not being a good fit for everyone. Their employee value proposition statements illustrate their workplace’s true “give and get” nature. With this model, when a team member is willing to “give” in one area, they can expect to “get” something in return. It’s a reciprocal relationship that’s offered up plainly and unabashedly.

If this sounds unusual, it’s because only now are organizations strategically revising and advertising their employer brands more deeply. As employees become more critical of their work environments, many leave their longstanding positions to find companies that align with their values and goals. Especially in the ever-changing workforce, it’s important to learn from others’ mistakes so your company prospers rather than plummets.

Communicate a Meaningful Change

Even massive employer branding face-lifts, like Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, are not enough. Such a change can be perceived as surface-level and doesn’t create or communicate any meaningful change. And because in recent years, candidates have begun conducting employer brand research and digging deeper, transparency and authentic connection are key. Candidates and employees want sincerity. Candidates want to know what your company stands for to decide if it aligns with their passions and purpose. In other words, they want you to lay everything on the table as part of your employer branding.

Where, then, do you start? Below are five employer brand research tactics that will help you define and establish a genuinely distinct employer brand that reflects not only where your company is today but also where it will be tomorrow.

1. Assign a range of leaders to an employer branding committee.

As with any initiative, your employer branding efforts require commitment. An employer branding committee will help construct your employer brand from the ground up and serve as a strategic resource moving ahead.

To get the most out of your committee, including team members from across departments and verticals such as talent acquisition, marketing, diversity and inclusion, and sales will ensure that you aren’t overlooking any key issues as you flesh out what your employer brand means.

2. Host an employer branding kickoff meeting.

After inviting critical players to the table, hold a workshop to allow everyone to get on the same page regarding your employer branding goals. Hold this workshop in person, online, or both. After all, quality employer branding should be geographically agnostic.

During the event, review your employer branding elements. Try to get a handle on how all departments and groups see your organization. Are there disconnects, such as between your mission statement and the experience of workers as measured by employee insights like exit interviews? These are the areas to start cementing your preferred employer brand.

3. Conduct interviews with members of your leadership team.

A huge reason for misalignments between the employer brand you want and the employer brand you have is that leaders’ aspirations don’t always match up to your employer branding expectations.

As part of your conversations, find out what your company leaders demand and admire about their employees. Attempt to get a sense of what working for them looks like so you can revise your employer brand accordingly. Remember that you want your employer brand to be transparent when presenting your organizational work life.

4. Complete focus groups with a cross-section of employees.

Now that you’ve heard from the people steering the ship do a little research to learn more about the daily experiences of employees. Hold about a half-dozen two-hour sessions with up to 10 workers in each session. Use these focus group sessions to find out why the employees chose your organization and what motivates them most — and least. Try to understand the “give and get” exchanges happening. Don’t be surprised if you realize that your employer brand is more complicated than you might have thought.

5. Gauge the market’s view on your employer brand.

At this point, you should start to have a fleshed-out idea of your employer brand. How does it match up to your competition? Ideally, you want your employer brand to gain attention because it’s compelling or engaging. Therefore, spend time investigating the employer brands of your talent competitors.

Check out Glassdoor ratings, social media posts, and other markers of general brand sentiment. Be sure to check out job descriptions, too. Everything you learn can be folded back into maturing and solidifying your employer brand.

Final Words

Years ago, employer branding seemed easy: Pop a ping-pong table in the breakroom, offer beer on tap, and you were done. In 2022, high performers are looking for something deeper and more substantial out of their employee experiences. They’re looking for companies with employer brands that are straightforward and real and that offer workers a chance to be a part of a company they know they can trust and believe in. Developing a research strategy and research infrastructure for employer branding enables you to be that for them.

The Future of Recruiting

Remember the olden days when potential candidates applied to a handful of jobs online and waited for a response? Remember in the stone ages when prospective hires mailed out paper copies of resumes and awaited a phone call or a letter? Well, according to an SHRM survey of over 1,500 talent acquisition professionals from 28 countries, COVID-19 accelerated a shift toward digital-first recruiting.

EBI has reported that the average corporate listing receives 100 to 250 resumes. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job seekers who received an interview only have a 36.89% chance of receiving an offer. They apply to jobs widely in a ‘spray and pray’ mentality. For recruiters, the challenge is no longer finding applicants but rather finding the right people in this barrage of resumes. And with virtual hiring likely being here to stay, perhaps it’s time recruiting adapted for today’s hiring culture.

Our Guest: Ben Green, Hirect

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Ben Green, PR Manager for Hirect. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Ben now plays a key role for Hirect. A free, mobile chat-based hiring platform that instantly connects startups, founders, CEOs, and hiring managers with candidates interested in the growing startup sector.

When asked about virtual recruiting in the COVID era and the future of recruiting, Ben suggests that the virtual trend might be here to stay.

“With more remote work and work from home flexibility, they (recruiters) can attract talent from pretty much anywhere and connect with them instantly,” Ben says. “Everything can really be done online, uninterrupted, and I believe it’s the future of work and recruiting moving forward.”

For those with less time and resources to meet every candidate in person, virtual recruiting also makes the job much easier. But with so many different recruiting technologies out there, how can organizations choose the right one for them?

“There’s definitely several factors to consider,” Ben explains. “Tech versus non-tech, seniority, the position, scale, size of your team. All these things will determine what your budget is and what the tool ROI can be as well.”

The Big Benefits of Virtual Recruiting  

There’s a lot of talk about bias right now. How does virtual recruiting help recruiters and hiring managers eliminate this from the hiring process?

“Ideally, the focus should always be primarily on candidates’ skills and experience, but really the true way to eliminate bias is through blind resume screens,” Ben says. “AI can certainly help with reading or grading applicants without taking into consideration a lot of the personal details and information.”

Beyond helping to eliminate bias, Ben feels that integrating technology and AI in recruiting has vast potential. It benefits both recruiters and job seekers, particularly from a filtering, searching, and matching standpoint.

“With the AI matching algorithms that we have at Hirect, the candidate pool can be narrowed down almost instantaneously based on any number of factors,” Ben explains. “For candidates, AI can help them wade through a lot of the irrelevant posts… and find ones that match their specific or unique criteria.”

But Ben is quick to point out that you can’t rely on AI alone to find the right applicants. Making sure you have a really granular job description and an interview process that encompasses certain skills is also key. And these often require a human touch – something Ben believes there will always be a need for.

“There’s really an art to the close,” Ben says. “Trying to relay a founder or a CEO’s passion or vision to really inspire a candidate to join a young business or a startup… That just can’t be replicated through technology.”

I hope you enjoy this #WorkTrends podcast, sponsored by Hirect. In case you missed it, you can listen to the podcast here. You can learn more about the future of recruiting by reaching out to Ben Green on LinkedIn.

3 Key Steps to Creating a Great Candidate Experience

The world of recruitment has undergone a power shift in the last decade. With job openings at a record high and alarming talent shortages in some industries, candidates have more decision power than ever before. They can afford to be more selective. As a result, businesses are enhancing their hiring strategies to reach top talent, and candidate experience has become the buzzword of the hour in recruitment circles.

There are three steps you must follow to create a great candidate experience. But first, let’s get down to basics and define what candidate experience is.

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience refers to the perception a job seeker has about a prospective employer. It encompasses all touchpoints between job seekers and organizations, from the initial point of contact all the way to the job offer acceptance. The goal is for candidates to feel appreciated and respected throughout the whole process.

Why is candidate experience important?

A negative experience in which the candidate feels unheard, uninformed, or upset can hurt your recruitment success and reflect badly on your company as a whole. A positive candidate experience, on the other hand, can be beneficial in many ways. It helps to:

  • Secure top talent
  • Shape your employer branding
  • Increase your brand awareness
  • Give you an edge over the competition
  • Attract more candidates
  • Draw in more customers
  • Improve the quality of hires

With all that in mind, here are three steps to a great candidate experience.

1. Make your employer brand shine online.

Have you ever heard the phrase: “Treat candidates as you would treat your customers?” This adage has never been truer. In today’s job market, it’s crucial for you to create a good reputation for your company, not only as a provider of goods or services but also as an excellent place to work. You want people who come across your online content to regard you as a great potential employer. To do this, consider the following.

Social media

Social media could be the first place a potential future employee finds out about your company. So use your social pages strategically. Find out which platforms are most used by your target audience and focus your effort on these platforms. Building an online presence on social media takes time and effort, but it can greatly enhance the way a candidate perceives you as an employer.

Careers page

Visitors coming to your career page want to know what your openings are and what it’s like to work for you. Don’t hesitate to include authentic pictures of your current employees with quotes about the company and its culture. You can also post fun pictures of recent team bonding activities, for example.

Advertisements

You already advertise specific jobs in your postings, but you can also run broader “brand awareness” ads for your hiring needs. These ads serve not to fill a certain spot but to showcase your employer brand and enhance your reputation as a place to work. Talent can be scarce nowadays, and you want to be a job seeker’s first choice. So don’t hesitate to be creative in your hiring methods, for example, by trying out a video ad!

2. Simplify your application process.

Today’s Internet users expect web pages to be user-friendly. They want to be able to find what they want quickly, with the least clicks possible. This applies to younger generations of users but also older ones. So, whoever your ideal candidate is, make sure your whole application process is as smooth as possible. To ensure that happens, consider the following:

Mobile

This is crucial in 2021. Numbers taken from international job platform Talent.com’s internal database show that over 70 percent of the site traffic comes from mobile devices. Since the mobile trend shows no sign of abating, it’s up to you to adapt your application process to modern job seekers’ desires and habits. This means making sure your job postings are accessible through mobile and even optimized for mobile.

Quick application

Put yourself in a job seeker’s shoes and review your current application process. Are there any bugs or malfunctions? Are there redundant steps that could be removed? If so, work on your application process to make it as user-friendly as possible. To achieve this, you could automate certain elements or work with a job platform that offers on-site quick applications.

Jobs postings

In the war for talent, you want to catch the best candidates before your competition. In this context, your job postings can’t be just a list of requirements. They must also encourage people to apply and join your team. Highlight what’s in it for them and why they should pick you. Present your company culture, benefits, and perks. You want to make your job postings as appealing as possible to attract talent.

3. Establish a constant, clear, and fluid communication process with candidates.

Communication is key. And during the applicant process, communication can take many forms. In order to create a great candidate experience, it’s important for recruiters to create functioning communication channels and to have great communication habits. Here’s how:

Honesty

Be honest and transparent before, during, and after interviews. You want to establish an environment of authenticity. When candidates see that you are honest with them, they are likely to be honest with you. This saves time, builds your credibility, and contributes to the development of authentic relationships.

Clarity

Candidates want to be kept in the loop. They want to know if they’ve made it to the next round of interviews, ideally quickly. Therefore, it’s important for you to be responsive and candidate journey map with your candidates. Make sure candidates know what to prepare, how long each step of the process will be, and when they can expect to hear from you.

Tact

Tactful rejection contributes to a positive candidate experience. Not every qualified applicant can be chosen, and it’s your job to communicate your selection in a respectful manner. You can find free rejection letter templates online and adapt them to your needs. You can even give rejected candidates constructive criticism, which could make them more likely to re-apply in the future.

Conclusion

Providing a great candidate experience means making your employer brand shine online, simplifying your application process, and establishing a constant, clear, and fluid communication process with candidates. To keep track of candidates, don’t hesitate to use an applicant tracking system (ATS) or utilize a candidate journey map. It can help you understand your candidates’ states of mind and the challenges they face at each stage of the journey.

How Recruitment Marketing Strategy Can Improve Candidate Experience

How vital is candidate experience to a company’s recruitment marketing strategy? Look no further than a Talent Board study that listed the top three reasons candidates end the application process: disrespect of time (37 percent), poor recruiter rapport (32 percent), and length of the hiring process (29 percent).

Those numbers point to how pivotal creating a positive candidate experience is in attracting qualified, top-tier applicants. Candidates these days can be highly selective, exiting the talent funnel at the first sign of trouble. A customized, memorable experience keeps companies competitive and their talent pipelines brimming. Candidate experience should be a critical element of marketing your company and strengthening brand perception.

The candidate experience in recruiting should provide a picture of not only the duties and responsibilities of a role but also the culture, mission, and values of an organization. It should answer common questions: “What happens after I apply?” “When will I hear back?” “How many steps are involved in the hiring process?” It should set expectations and provide a realistic preview of how candidates move from one phase to the next in the hiring process.

A thoughtful, transparent, and candidate-friendly application experience can be a valuable part of any company’s marketing strategy. Finding the tools and tactics to round that approach into form is essential.

Creating a Positive Candidate Experience With Marketing

Even when you think you’ve perfected your candidate experience, perception doesn’t always match reality. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that 49 percent of candidates in high-demand fields turn down job offers due to a poor experience as an applicant.

Employing the right recruitment marketing strategies ensures everyone knows what to expect from the start. These tactics reduce any uncertainty or confusion during the critical stages of the candidate journey where talent can easily be lost. The right candidate marketing strategies also allow you to showcase why someone should choose your organization over other options.

You always want to build a foundation of trust with candidates. That’s what happens when you focus your marketing efforts on candidate experience. You develop a bond with those “right fit” candidates as they learn who you are as a business and why your company is the right fit for them.

How to Improve the Candidate Experience During Recruitment

Given all of this information, it’s natural to wonder how you can go about creating a positive candidate experience that will resonate with top-notch talent. Here are six places to start.

1. Spotlight the process in a variety of ways.

Not everyone consumes information the same way. And with that comes the need to vary the delivery format of essential information during the hiring process.

Besides telling candidates what to expect—both in the recruitment process and while on the job—consider incorporating educational content such as blog posts, infographics, and videos into your recruitment marketing strategy. A human-interest piece from an applicant’s perspective can also help pique the interest of potential hires and create a more marketable candidate experience.

Our company regularly features this type of content in our digital ads and on social media, educating while driving talent to our website.

2. Keep communication consistent during the process.

Clear and regular communication is essential to creating a positive candidate experience. As often as possible, keep talent informed on all subsequent steps and provide a rough estimate of the timing.

Let candidates currently in the queue know when to expect a response and consider communicating all pertinent information across different mediums. Email is an obvious choice, but you might also employ automated messaging, chatbots, and text messaging to be even more responsive while supporting the variety of communication preferences modern candidates have.

Many companies now use automated communication platforms, 24/7 live chat support, and help desk ticketing systems to meet the urgency people often feel during the application process.

3. Humanize the experience.

As the world gets more automated, it’s easy to lose that human element in our day-to-day interactions. Even when talent prefers to handle everything digitally, there are still opportunities for warmth and humanity within the candidate experience during recruitment.

Automation and other recruitment technology shouldn’t be reserved for only rare occasions, though. You can’t beat the speed and immediacy it affords your candidate engagement activities. But you still must ensure all messaging and visuals support your brand and effectively convey the culture candidates will be joining while building a relationship with your candidates. Each touchpoint is an opportunity to strengthen the foundation.

4. Leverage testimonials.

People trust people more than brands. If employee testimonials aren’t already part of your recruitment marketing strategy, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with job seekers on a more impactful level.

Share employee experiences with candidates, connect them with people on the floor, and never forget to capture feedback on the entire recruitment process to improve your candidate engagement strategies continually. You’ll never be able to spot any gaps if you fail to ask for this valuable feedback.

5. Customize the candidate journey.

Candidates are consumers. And like consumers, they want customized experiences during the recruitment process.

Make sure you have a solid candidate engagement platform. This allows you to tailor the experience to suit each person’s preferences. At the very least, choose recruitment technology that offers candidates a choice in the type and frequency of communication on job applications as well as career opportunities that fit specific criteria. The move will help in personalizing interactions and creating a positive candidate experience.

6. Align the candidate and employee experience.

The candidate experience should be a window into the employee experience. If one falls short, you’re doing a disservice to all parties involved—including your business.

Make sure talent truly experiences what it would be like to be an employee. We go as far as providing virtual reality job previews for many of our positions. This ensures candidates feel confident they know what to expect on day one. Conversely, make sure the employee experience matches all the pomp and circumstance of the candidate experience in the recruitment process.

Otherwise, people won’t stay. They’ll likely also spread the word, damaging your reputation with other potential recruits. Own all facets of your business and see it through from start to finish.

The importance of candidate engagement can’t be overstated. It requires time and attention to get it right. Even then, you might miss the mark a time or two. As long as you set clear expectations early in the process, stay in regular contact with candidates, and never lose the human side of your organization, you’re moving in the right direction.

Image by Olivier Le Moal

Talent Acquisition Requires Better Candidate AND Recruiter Experience

As we start to put the crushing impact of the pandemic behind us, businesses — and the talent acquisition function of HR in particular — continue to face a dilemma.

On the one hand, the hiring process must be efficient. On the other hand, it’s difficult to make hiring personal — more human — when so many potential candidates apply for every job. Any lack of efficiency means your business is trailing the competition. But a lack of personal touch may drive away candidates. Winning the war for talent depends largely on striking a balance in this all-too-gray area. 

This episode of #WorkTrends will help. Today, we discuss HR technology designed to help businesses like yours find that happy medium. 

Our Guest: Alex Murphy, CEO of JobSync

With me today is Alex Murphy, an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor to start-ups and other companies in the Talent Acquisition Technology (TAtech) industry. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of a 2021 TalentCulture HR Tech Award winner, JobSync. At JobSync, Alex and his team create a simple, seamless, and secure hiring experience for employers and candidates. 

I started my conversation with Alex by asking why many of the tools available to HR today fail to meet the needs of candidates and recruiters. Alex described the root cause of the issue perfectly:

“Companies and buyers try to make the decisions that make their teams more efficient. But adding more standalone systems actually makes their teams less efficient. When a company gets to be hundreds and thousands of people, there are often 50, 80, 100 different data points unique to that company.” Alex added that far too often, vendors don’t design those systems to work together. And, despite the best of intentions, it sometimes brings the hiring process to a halt.

“There isn’t enough understanding around how to get that data to come together and to create that interoperability that connectivity we all need.”

Next Level Talent Acquisition: Improving Candidate and Recruiter Experience

Alex went on to say that without that connection, it is difficult at best to serve candidates and recruiters well. As a result, recruiters become Excel jockeys, and the expectations of candidates are left unmet. There must be a better way, right?

“That’s why we exist. We create these prebuilt connections between the various systems to be able to enable that data flow. It’s important… it’s imperative…  it’s a requirement that the company has a company-first and client-first point of view.”

I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to recruiter efficiency and candidate experience, any discussion of talent acquisition must include “and” — not “or” — statements.

So you can learn more about the importance of an HR Tech stack that treats candidates and recruiters well, I encourage you to listen in to this week’s episode of #WorkTrends

And be sure to connect with Alex on LinkedIn and Twitter!

 

Image by Daniil Peshkov

3 Ways Recruiting Technology Improves Candidate Experience

The pandemic’s fallout illustrates an impactful point: Employees are more resourceful than leaders sometimes give them credit for being. As employers, our recruiting technology must match their level of resourcefulness or we risk providing a bad candidate experience.

Most of our company went remote soon after the pandemic lockdowns began, and everyone adjusted accordingly. Supervisors didn’t have to hold their employees’ hands or provide additional layers of oversight. Over time, the trust between managers and their teams increased.

Of course, going remote so quickly required having the right people in place and having the infrastructure and technology necessary to support our teams. Especially the technology. An Ivanti survey revealed that 85% of workers believe they don’t have the technology they need to produce effectively — a demographic our team did not want to be known for in a competitive market.

The workforce is becoming increasingly more talent-driven. Even with fewer job openings, qualified candidates are carefully plotting their next career moves. For recruiters, this move means they have to work diligently to create engaging and applicant-friendly hiring experiences. And that’s where a thriving tech stack comes back into the picture.

The 3 Core Benefits of Recruiting Technology

Sourcing, recruiting, and hiring talent requires person-to-person interaction and collaboration. That doesn’t negate the importance of recruiting technology, though. With the use of technology in the recruitment process, hirers can become more efficient, improve the candidate experience, and better serve the people they’re trying to place.

How else could an active recruitment professional complete multiple tasks for multiple clients in various stages of the application process — and still sleep? Below are just some ways emerging online recruitment tools and tech processes help augment candidate engagement strategies.

1. Technology fosters humanity

Contrary to what some people might think, online recruitment tools have improved our personalization with associates. By leveraging solutions like AI chatbots to carry out repetitive duties, we can concentrate on the human element of recruitment interactions.

While a chatbot answers basic questions or helps candidates pick their preferred employment tracks, a live recruiter can conduct in-depth interviews. This keeps everything flowing seamlessly without overburdening recruiters.

Measuring the effectiveness of personalized candidate engagement strategies can take several different forms. Make use of a net promoter score (NPS) and also conduct a survey that asks applicant recipients questions like “What is the likelihood that you will recommend our agency to someone else?” Log and chart your NPS as you incorporate new technological components into the mix to see how they affect the NPS to track the benefits of technology in recruitment.

Another measure of candidate engagement success is your app-to-hire ratio. As you implement new technology and improved candidate touchpoints, you should expect to see this metric trend down as more applicants complete the candidate journey and receive job placements.

2. Technology increases efficiency

Applicants don’t want to linger in the pipeline for too long. With online recruiting tools, we can hasten the cycle from posting an advertisement to locking in the right applicant. It’s remarkable how quickly people can move through frictionless digital systems without going through an old-school manual application process.

The key here is to provide flexibility. After all, you want to keep candidates moving through the process. But not at a pace where they feel like they are being rushed or “sold” into open positions. Let the applicant help determine the pace. The same seems true of Hilton; the hotel and resort chain scaled its hiring processes by leveraging predictive AI and ditching outdated assessments. Their move toward installing hiring software reduced its hiring from six weeks to five days.

To gauge how much the use of technology in the recruitment process improves time-to-hire speed, set and analyze relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, our company uses opportunity centers as in-person recruitment locations where we track how many candidates are submitted to the client we’re hiring for at the time. After adding tech, we have seen our productivity steadily increase. This metric is now 40% better than when we started — and we’re always open for improvement.

3. Technology helps meet candidates where they are

To improve the candidate experience, recruiters must meet applicants on their terms and expectations. Technology helps us keep satisfaction higher by removing common obstacles to developing a positive working relationship with candidates.

Case in point: We’re moving toward omnichannel communication choices to give candidates information where and how they want it. That includes text, email, or perhaps also a direct message.

When you transition to a multichannel recruitment approach, you can often decrease the amount of time between when a candidate gets a message and responds to that message. It’s possible to measure that time frame as a KPI. It is also wise to keep tabs on which channels offer the most direct path toward candidates.

Candidate Experience: The Real Benefactor of Recruiting Technology

The use of recruiting technology is hardly new. Still, it has become so essential that it’s challenging to improve the candidate experience without paying attention to your tech stack. Use technology to augment your recruiters by removing redundant and time-consuming tasks. Ultimately, you’ll free them up to create better people experiences.

You don’t have to add every new advancement that comes along — but keep an open mind. And learn the many ways you can free up your team and improve your brand equity with tech. Your candidates will thank you. And so will your bottom line.

 

Image by Olena Yakobchuk

4 Tips for Conducting Better Online Job Interviews

In 2020, 82 percent of business leaders surveyed by Gartner pledged to continue remote work arrangements permanently. This translates to millions of people working from their homes and the need to improve how we hire people virtually. So how do we conduct better online job interviews?

Virtual hiring has risen as an enormous concern for organizations going partially and fully remote. Most human resources professionals and recruiters have extensive training in interviewing. However, their experience tends to be limited to an interview process that includes at least one in-person component. And evaluating applicants without the advantage of face-to-face interactions brings unique challenges.

Odds are, your business will grapple with this issue sooner or later, particularly with today’s penchant for remote working. To ensure better outcomes, try adopting the following tactics for your online job interviews.

Leverage Position-specific Tech Platforms

Every job requires specific skill sets. Case in point: An entry-level customer service representative needs different talents than a marketing manager. In your role, you must design interviewing journeys that allow you to clearly evaluate candidates based on the position available. Fortunately, plenty of SaaS providers have created portals to help you meet your placement goals.

For instance, your organization routinely might need more IT professionals. How will you confidently evaluate each candidate? The answer lies in the right tech stack additions. Daniel Borowski, a founder of Coderbyte, says to look at code assessment platforms that contain libraries of pre-programmed coding challenges, as well as virtual interviewing rooms with video and whiteboards. Take the time to investigate cloud-based software for your most common online recruitment needs. You’ll feel more comfortable with your selections.

Expand Your Interviewing Steps

If your company has been around for a while, you probably have a standard in-person interviewing process. For example, maybe you post job descriptions on Indeed, use HR tools to identify top candidates, arrange interviews, and then decide. Yet what works in more traditional recruitment may not provide you with enough information about virtual applicants.

So dust off that old process and map out possible new steps.

Look for specific gaps in your current process:

  • Could you add more online group interviews?
  • Perhaps change the flow of your interviewing process?
  • Conduct phone and Zoom interviews before making offers?

Adding extra steps can fill in the blanks and make you feel better about your choices. Just resist the temptation to lengthen the process timeframe too much – or you could lose talented job seekers to competition ready to move quicker through the hiring process.

Develop and Deploy Pre-hiring Tests

Around eight out of 10 companies already use automated pre-assessment testing software in the earliest stages of their virtual interviewing, according to research from SHRM. Predictive assessments streamline top-of-funnel recruitment strategies, allowing you to concentrate your efforts on high-quality candidates. Yet you should feel free to initiate pre-assessment testing in later-stage segments of the online job interviews, too.

The right testing method allows you to gauge everything from an applicant’s commitment to core ability. Just make sure you test consistently for each role to avoid hiring bias. As an example, you might ask your top sales team candidates to generate online proposals. You would give them parameters, need-to-know information, and a due date. Once you receive all the proposals, you can evaluate them based on fit. As a bonus, you’ll know which applicants can hit the ground running and which would need extensive training.

Revisit Your Employer Brand

Even to a candidate who may never set foot in your headquarters, workplace culture matters.

Every organization maintains cultural norms and expectations—even 100 percent remote businesses. Consequently, spend time refining and defining your cultural standards. If you have trouble putting them into words, ask current remote, in-person, and hybrid employees for feedback. The information you gather can help inform your job descriptions and interviews.

Once you’ve refined your employer brand, ask yourself how you can tell if someone will mesh with that brand and their work team. More specifically, determine how you’ll know if they’re a fit if you only see them on a screen?

Experience shows that asking thoughtful questions about their working preferences is a great place to start when gauging fit within a brand, culture, and team. Next, ask what they want from their job experience. Then, sit back, listen, and take notes.

Remember to factor in the importance of cultural adaptability, too. An analysis evaluated by Harvard Business Review asserts that adaptability plays a huge part in an employee’s overall success. Therefore, even if a top candidate has limited immediate “fit factors,” the candidate may adapt to your culture rapidly.

Even after a year of experimentation, conducting online job interviews may not feel yet intuitive. Give yourself more time to adjust. Simultaneously, put strategies in place to make your online job interviewing process better and your choices easier. You’ll end up putting more of the right people into your open positions.

 

Photo by Fizkes

[#WorkTrends] Why Recruiters Must Care About Candidate Experience

In a survey conducted in 2019 by Brandon Hall, less than half of the responding companies believe they effectively create a great candidate experience.

That same Brandon Hall survey reported that 73 percent of companies care about delivering an excellent candidate experience. As a former recruiter who painfully lived this issue, this data point warms my heart. It means we can work together to significantly improve the experience job seekers receive as they look for new work. I have to say: it’s about time.

Especially in what can seem like an upside-down, mid-pandemic world, every applicant deserves an excellent candidate experience.

Our Guest: John Salt, Candidate Experience Evangelist

My guest this week on #WorkTrends is John Salt, a passionate advocate for job seekers everywhere. John has over 25 years of experience in the recruitment marketplace, both within large matrix organizations and small to medium-sized businesses. When it comes to candidate experience, John is a go-to guy! I jumped right into our conversation by asking him, “What is wrong with the candidate experience?”

“There’s plenty wrong!” John quickly said. He added what he sees as the most significant issue: “People used to talk about ‘processing the candidate.’ And I think a lot of the experience is still rooted in that process. I’m a strong believer that you don’t process people — you process fish or process vegetables, and you’re trying to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible. With people, you must take your time, same with the candidate experience. Because one of the most fundamentally important things people do in their lives is applying for a role where they can exercise their talent, where they can add value.” In response, John says, the employers don’t always reciprocate with a great experience.  

“Today’s candidate experience is clunky; it’s a hassle. And it doesn’t always work properly, so 96 percent of people that start to apply for a job on a mobile device, for example, don’t finish.”

Improving the Candidate Experience

After agreeing — because we see it all the time, even at some of the best employers — I asked John to tell us about tactics we can use to improve the candidate experience. John’s answer gave me even more hope:

“Well, the first thing I would say is you don’t need to utilize all technologies available when trying to make the candidate experience better because those technologies don’t talk to each other. Plus, too many people involved have been satisfied with blaming others, saying ‘That’s a job board problem’ or ‘It’s an ATS problem,’ or ‘It’s a candidate problem.’ There’s been a lot of finger-pointing, but nobody’s really embraced the available solutions.”

John finished his thought: “I love using sites like Airbnb because they know I’ve made a booking before, and the technology fills in the information for me. So instead of asking an applicant to enter the same data over and over again, as too many sites do, John says, “Use smart technology that enables an employer to say, ‘I know something about this candidate already.’ There are plenty of job platforms that already know a lot about a returning candidate, but do they ever bring that over in a seamless, smart, integrated way? No, they don’t.”

John adds, “Could you imagine if retail or hospitality ran the same way? That company just wouldn’t exist very long.”

The Business Case for a Better Experience

Before our conversation ended, John explained why the companies that offer an excellent candidate experience will attract the best talent, and why the best talent will naturally find their way to the companies that provide an exceptional candidate experience:

“So much is going to be automated; the best hirers will be those that put the human touch into the experience. There are many ways you can do that — some require automation but seem like they have a human touch. We see great examples in shopping, gaming, travel, and hospitality; these are the industries that are leading the experience. HR can catch up quickly!”

Want to learn more about how HR can greatly improve the candidate experience? Be sure to listen to my entire conversation with Josh. I not only learned a great deal, but I was inspired to continue to work even harder this year to help improve this critical component of hiring!

 

Find John on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Photo by Benzoix

[#WorkTrends] Hiring Hourly Employees, Improving Candidate Experience

Hiring hourly employees — for retail, travel and hospitality, hospitals, restaurants, and warehouses — is more critical now than ever before. 

So why don’t we make the hiring process easier? And why don’t we treat those on the front lines better?

We’ve been counting on our frontline staff members, many of them hourly employees, for nine months now. And we’re about to start rebuilding workforces. So soon, there’s likely going to be a tidal wave of organizations hiring hourly employees. 

So as your company tries to beat the competition and attract the best talent, and as you work to improve your employer brand, there are two words you need to think about seriously: candidate experience. This means this week’s podcast is just for you!

Because this week on #WorkTrends, we’re taking a deep dive into the best way to provide a super candidate experience for hourly employees.  

Our Guest: Quincy Valencia of Alexander Mann Solutions

With the inevitable hiring surge soon to begin, I’m thrilled to be joined by Quincy Valencia, Vice President – Product Innovation, at Alexander Mann Solutions. Having worn many hats throughout her 20-year career, Quincy has firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by candidates, recruiters, hiring managers, leaders, and vendors. In her current role, she leverages her passion for challenging the status quo as she designs new products that bolster AMS’s leadership position in the global recruitment industry. So who better to talk about something we don’t talk about enough: The challenges ahead of HR, recruiters, and hiring managers responsible for hiring hourly employees?

My first question for Quincy was simple: “Why do so many organizations leave hourly employees out of the candidate experience equation?” Her answer was both nostalgic and a reminder of far we need still need to go when hiring the best hourly candidates:

“It’s a vestige of old. Going back to the 90s, you had a personnel department. Everybody had the same process: People would come in, fill out the application, and you would hire. Later in that decade, technology came in, and we designed new procedures around old processes. Through the decades that followed, we’ve continued to promote the same old processes developed and designed for your salaried professionals — and not hourly employees.”

“Hourly workers have been looked at as more of a commodity — they kind of come and they kind of go. Turnover is higher. This work is not meant to be your forever job, and so that’s been okay.”

Improving Candidate Experience When Hiring Hourly Employees

After saying I firmly believe we should treat every employee as a valued member of a team — as humans — I asked Quincy why candidate experience is so vital now. Her answer was heartwarming: “Look, it is 2020. We’ve learned a lot about who really supports our businesses. And we know those people want us to treat them with the integrity, dignity, and respect they deserve. These are the people on the front lines of our economy. They are often the face of the businesses we all frequent. That should translate into your candidate experience, now so more than ever.”

Quincy added: “As our organizations are trying to grow and rebuild and survive this global pandemic, there’s a renewed focus on how we are competing for this talent. We’re having to really focus on the needs of the candidate. Fortunately, I’m seeing employers give this issue the due consideration it’s been deserving for a long time.”

So how do we improve the candidate experience? As anticipated, Quincy was ready with some real solutions to our very real challenges. “Number one is speed. Go through your application process. See how long it takes, how many broken links there are, and how many steps and clicks it takes. In a lot of cases, you’re going to be frustrated.”

Quincy continued: “Number two (or maybe 1A) is mobile. Applicants must be able to apply from anywhere. A lot of people don’t even have laptops or desktops anymore. So close to 70% of all job searches, certainly within the hourly category, begin on a mobile device. And then, number 3 is communication. Make sure you are not letting candidates go into that black hole of ‘I applied, and I’m never going to hear from you again.’”

Candidate Experience 101

Sure, some of this sounds simple enough. But how many of us are actually walking through our own application process? How many of us know how well we treat our candidates, including hourly employees? Quincy and AMS have certainly invested the time and energy necessary to understand their candidate experience — as we all should!

Listen in, and learn exactly what AMS is doing to attract, train, and retain top talent in the hourly category — and what a seamless hiring journey looks like as we approach 2021 and, finally, the end of the pandemic.

I’m grateful Quincy Valencia had the chance to stop by #WorkTrends this week and bring our front line employees front and center. I, and the TalentCulture team, thank Hourly by AMS for sponsoring this episode.

Find Quincy on LinkedIn and Hourly by AMS on Twitter.

A Special Offer: The Hourly Hiring Guidebook

It’s time to treat hourly employees with the dignity and respect they deserve. So, we’ve partnered with Hourly by AMS to redefine how great the hiring journey can (and should) be for your hourly job seekers.

Download your copy of The Hourly Hiring Guidebook: Defining a New Standard for Candidate Experience today.

And start providing a better candidate experience tomorrow!

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Photo: Vlada Parkovich

4 Proven Ways to Improve Recruiting and Remote Hiring

To say COVID-19 has changed the recruiting and remote hiring would be an understatement. For a start, it’s likely you’re relying more heavily on the expertise of the rest of your HR team, your recruiter, or business leaders while navigating the interview and remote onboarding process. To help you improve the remote hiring process, we’ve put together our top four tips for interviewing virtually, including how to answer some tough questions from candidates.

1. Decide on the Remote Hiring Process 

Before you do anything else, decide on the steps involved in the remote hiring process. Make sure everyone understands the types of interviews and stages the candidates will have to go through. This also allows an opportunity to offer candidates an outline of what to expect. This will be an unfamiliar situation for most, so planning and preparation are key. For example: The free version of Zoom limits meetings to 40 minutes. So, ensure everyone understands the rigid time frame.

If you’re using an agency to help you? Be sure to allow for scheduled follow-up calls with the agency. This will help to keep the process you’ve decided on to move more efficiently.

2. Produce an Information Pack for Candidates 

A great employer branding tool, an information pack can be prepared by and sent to the candidates before the interview/s. The pack can include: 

  • Background information about the company
  • What they should expect from each stage of the interview process 
  • What you’re looking for in an ideal candidate 
  • The technology and login details required (for example: Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.)
  • Point of contact details throughout the interview process 

Sending this information to the candidate will help them have a great candidate experience. It will also allay some of their anxiety while enabling them to prepare to the best of their ability.

3. Encourage Managers to Use a Scorecard

A job interview in person is hard enough. Throw in video technology, and the degree of difficulty increases. When it comes to video interviews, keep your job as simple as possible. That way, you can focus more on making a fair assessment of each candidate. One way to do this: Produce a scorecard unique to the position the candidates are interviewing for. By isolating the top skills or qualities and giving them each a score out of 5, 10 or 20 (depending on the weighting of each), it allows you to quantify where a candidate sits. The scorecard can also help eliminate unconscious biases. After all, managers will only score in relation to the candidates’ demonstrated skills.

4. Prepare for Tough Questions from Candidates 

During the remote hiring process, chances are there will be questions you and the hiring manager may not know how to answer. So prepare ahead of time for some of the most common candidate questions. Below are a few of these questions with tips on how to prepare for them. 

What’s the workplace culture like? 

As the majority of candidates going through the remote interview process won’t have been to your offices, you should explain what it’s like for a newcomer. Things to mention include virtual social activities, daily/weekly catch-ups and the technology you use to keep your staff connected. 

Once hired, what should I expect from the onboarding process? 

The minute details are not helpful here. Instead, provide a high-level overview of the virtual onboarding process. Mention any hardware that would be sent to the new starter’s home and give an outline of the first week of induction/training sessions. It may also be worth mentioning if your workplace organizes a work buddy for new starters and who would be responsible for leading the onboarding process, whether it’s someone from the HR team or the new starter’s line manager. 

How well is the company working remotely?

This question is a good opportunity to mention any wins or challenges the company has faced. Assure the interviewee a remote onboarding process exists. You can also mention how regularly the company meets online and the other ways everyone keeps in touch – whether by Slack, Zoom, emails or phone calls. 

What has your company learned from the transition to working from home? 

Similar to the above, think about any learning curves the company has faced while working from home, whether they have had to do with systems, communication or staff surveys. A candidate may also want to know if the company now recognizes the value in working from home if this wasn’t already in place.  

What types of measures are you looking at to return to the office safely?

While you’re probably still figuring out the details of the policy that will allow a safe return to the office, you should be able to mention the aspects you’re considering. These could include staggered start times, transport options, an increase in remote working or providing PPE. 

Tell me about your flexible working policies?

The answer to this question is likely something all candidates will want to know. If you aren’t already aware, talk to management to find out the company’s thoughts. In some cases, work practices aren’t affected or will not be reduced. In that case, then simply explain why the company has taken this stance. 

The remote hiring process is new for many of us. Which makes this is a great time to learn new hiring methods. Put these tips to work, and hire the best candidates!

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

Promoting Diversity and Maintaining an Inclusive Culture

As the spotlight has brightened on racism. In response to recent miscarriages of justice, the emphasis on identifying racism within other aspects of life has also grown. As business leaders, it is vital to stand with the advocacy for change. Although oftentimes difficult, encouraging honest discussions around diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is crucial. 

For many, this conversation is not new. Dated ideologies and racist operations have influenced hiring practices regularly. Those out-of-date paradigms have also permitted a single race and gender to employ higher positions for decades. According to Fortune, high-ranking officials within 16 of the Fortune 500 companies are 80% men, and 72% of those men are white. In order to break this flawed mold and implement diversity, much work has to be done by industry leaders. 

The Advantages of Promoting Diversity and Inclusivity

Fostering a diverse and inclusive organization has many benefits such as increased profit, impressive talent acquisition, as well as the strengthening of employee bonds. Yes, conversations surrounding diversity and inclusivity can be difficult. However, this is the opportune time for leaders to disrupt archaic norms. And it is the perfect time to implement hiring practices that seek out brilliant talent from every background. 

So, what can business owners and leaders do to promote diversity and maintain an inclusive culture? With these advantages below, leaders across any industry can recognize the essential nature of workplace diversity. 

Financial Gain 

From a business standpoint, racial diversity in the workplace isn’t merely a perk. In fact, diversity is a necessity for competitiveness in corporate America. Not only do inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, but many consumers actively seek out organizations with diverse decision-makers. Additionally, these brands can also build stronger audience connections. 

Further, it is no secret that marketing a business can be difficult. However, inclusive marketing can be a different beast altogether. Within marketing, there is a heavy lack of cultural intelligence from brands, and this void can result in minimized profits as some audiences won’t purchase from you due to a lack of acknowledgment. Campaigns without cultural intelligence run the risk of coming off as tone-deaf or insensitive. They perhaps then result in public outcry, concluding in a company apology with a promise to “do better.” 

By investing in employees with different perspectives, lived experiences, and understandings of diverse markets, you can promote your business from several unique standpoints and gain a competitive edge. This allows a separation from competitors, and perhaps engagement from consumers outside of initial target audiences. Subsequently, you can net greater profits, while exhibiting your care for people of different races, genders, ages, sexualities, and identities. 

Expanded Talent Pool 

 For most leaders in the highly competitive business world, acquiring the best talent is priority. Exclusively employing talent of a particular ethnicity, age, or gender minimizes the talent pool you can choose from. With that said, having an organization run by one race or gender can only reflect narrow perspectives. That scenario, perhaps inadvertently, also demonstrates to the public that you don’t recognize a necessity for diverse opinions.

Hiring with cultural diversity in mind — which encapsulates race, culture, age, religion, sexuality, and gender identity — expands your talent pool. This expansion permits your organization to solely focus on what candidates can bring to the table such as: skill sets, experience, and creativity. By eradicating those subconsciously biased candidate limitations, you can prioritize and encourage mind-expansion and exploration for your company. This can equate to bigger, brighter innovations that may not have been otherwise explored. This eradication also improves your brand’s attractiveness and invites new consumers. 

As your organization flourishes due to new minds with intersectional inputs, your brand has the opportunity to convey a modern attractiveness that invites more talent acquisition, fortuitous business opportunities and more financially prosperous avenues. 

Better Engagement and Satisfaction 

As one can probably imagine, being a “token” person of color in the workplace isn’t fun. When employees work amongst others who look like them or share lived experiences, a workplace confidence is bred, thus inspiring collaboration, innovation and creativity to take place. 

Employees need their ideas, opinions and perspectives to matter. Likewise, employees want to work for a company that entrusts people like them who also actively advocate for positive change. When employees feel respected and valued, especially if they may have endured ridicule in the past, aspects of work like productivity, engagement, and overall satisfaction within the workplace is improved. 

This is vital because boosts in company morale and workplace culture only benefit your organization. Happy employees equate to enhanced production, which equates to higher brand attractiveness and in turn, increased company profits. 

Maintaining an Understanding Organization and Prioritizing Inclusion

In efforts to promote diversity within your organization, below are a few strategies to help start off the process of consistently seeking to be more understanding and inclusive.

Take an Honest Internal Look

How do you assess the current state of diversity within your organization? Analyze how many people of color you currently employ, as well as previously hired and sought out for recruitment. This can provide insight on the level of (or lack of) diversity. This data can also show any discriminatory biases that occur within your company, unknowingly or otherwise. 

Consistently Educate Yourself and Your Staff

There are many misconceptions around what discrimination looks like. So it is important to outline what words and behaviors are unacceptable at work. Teach your staff about micro-aggressions and what discrimination may look like to people of various, intersecting backgrounds. In addition to this, be sure to emphasize the impacts of discrimination, big or small, and stress a no-tolerance policy. 

Promote an Open Dialogue

In efforts to grasp difficult topics, learn from each other and get to know each other on a personal level. Encourage employees to unpack biases and/or racist tendencies. Emphasize how harmful it is to act on those beliefs. During these discussions, tread lightly. After all, you don’t want to offend employees, Nor do you want to force someone to discuss personal adversity.  

As industry leaders, this is your chance to spearhead positive change by implementing workplace diversity and inclusivity. It is important to note that no one has all the “right” answers respective to ending discrimination in the workplace. No one can tell you exactly how to eradicate biases. Nonetheless, these issues are serious. And organizations must diligently protect those at risk of enduring injustices.

Overall, focus on harmonizing the workplace by creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone — irrespective of race, gender, age, sexuality, disability, identity, and/or religion.

Photo: Ricardo Resende

Is Diversity Baked Into Your Hiring Process?

A few years ago, we were asked to help a market leader that was intent on changing its culture to be more creative and innovative. (Sound familiar?) The company was spending a million dollars on messaging and elaborate company meetings to help “get the word out” and create excitement for this new, transformative initiative.

But even as its leaders spoke eloquently about the need for change — even hiring a guru to guide their efforts — few process changes were made, and they were hesitant to reconsider the kind of people they hired. They talked of needing people who were “cultural fits” even as they held meetings in which they touted the need for cultural change and disruption.

Why traditional hiring practices backfire

The company’s hiring practices were similar to those we see in most organizations, perhaps even your own. After candidates were identified, an internal team of “high performers,” along with HR representatives, reviewed the applicants’ résumés to ensure they had the requisite experience. Unfortunately, this meant most applicant experiences were similar. The unintended result? A candidate pool with little experiential diversity.

But it didn’t end there. After “qualified” candidates interviewed with the hiring teams, they were ranked by the group. If any members of the hiring team had a concern about a person, those concerns were noted. Strong objections by a couple of group members, as a practical matter, were enough to give a candidate the boot.

Predictably, the least objectionable candidate — who typically looked, acted, and thought like other members of the group — became the team’s preferred choice.

If we want change, we need to expect challenges

When we asked the hiring team how the hiring process supported a culture of innovation, team members told us that their hiring criteria included experience in helping organizations change.

Pushing back, we asked the team to consider which types of people would contribute different and creative ideas. What employee characteristics would help the organization change? For instance, had they valued people who were:

  • Diverse in race, ethnicity, and background?
  • Rarely satisfied with the status quo?
  • Impatient and not always willing to take “no” for an answer without significant debate?
  • Disruptive, at times disagreeable, and willing to question authority?
  • Not easily managed?
  • At times, slow and hesitant to make decisions based on what was done last year? (Creativity takes time.)
  • Unwilling to go along just to get along?

 Their response neatly framed their hiring challenges:

“Why would we hire someone who is hard to manage, never satisfied, and always questioning what we do? We’re pretty good here, you know. If we hired people who we knew would consistently challenge what we learned yesterday, we’d never get anything done.”

We say we want change, but do we?

Yes, we say we want to change. We say we want creativity. We say we need diversity, but do we honestly believe it?

The truth is, even if we’re committed to recruiting more diverse teams, we’re often painfully unaware of how our hiring processes give preference to people who are more like us. As a result, we often allow the long-term effects of our biases, knowingly or unknowingly, to be hidden in our collective consciousness, in our culture. Over time, groups that cling to such processes tend to become more homogeneous, not less.

Even when we manage to hire authentically diverse teams — composed of different backgrounds, races, genders, ages, perspectives, and beliefs — we expect everyone to come together in a fabled “kumbaya” moment.

True diversity begins with intention

Recruiting a more diverse and successful team begins with intention. The kind of intention that’s required is more than a desire or wish. It’s a conscious, mindful choice based on a belief that diversity is critical to the team’s success. It requires that we create processes that are built for diversity. Our preference for people who look and think and act like us is strong and can only be overcome with a structured commitment to embrace people who often make us uncomfortable.

So, where should we start? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Start early. It’s easier to become diverse before biases have become ingrained in our hiring practices.
  2. Be clear on the type of people you hope to hire. Do they share your values? Are they competent? Good thinkers? Willing to change? Ready to speak truth to power? Confident? Good leaders? Having clarity is a necessary first step to building a successful hiring process.
  3. Recruit blindly. Superficial aspects of a person’s bio often outweigh an applicant’s talent or potential. The fix? Implement a blind submissions process — stripping away names, ages, and gender. Create a process in which people cannot “see” the applicants when initially judging their competence.
  4. Put more diversity, of all types, on your hiring team. The research on this is clear: a diverse hiring team will recruit more diverse members.
  5. Expand your personal and professional networks. Our personal preferences are affected by our experiences. For example, research shows that fathers with daughters are more likely to hire women. Having more experience with an unrepresented group makes their inclusion more likely.
  6. Confront bias when you see it. When we tolerate bias, we teach that it’s acceptable.

Learning to appreciate our differences — and to embrace diversity — is what ultimately fuels an organization’s competitive advantage. Only when people challenge us to think and act differently can we create the remarkable. So, let’s get to it.

Photo: Bethany Legg

Why You Should Recruit Introverts — and How

In this extrovert-biased world of ours, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Many job candidates aren’t making it past the hiring process to get the jobs they’re qualified for. The reality is that if introverts don’t interview in a bubbly, enthusiastic manner, they likely won’t make it to the next round. And if they don’t share their accomplishments with confidence and bravado, they’re likely to be overlooked for positions in which they would thrive. 

The costs to our organizations of this lost talent are staggering to consider. 

Yet, emerging evidence shows that the tide is turning. In a 2019 Workplace Survey of some 240 introverts, a promising 38% of respondents said their organizations demonstrated a willingness to hire and promote introverts. And as general awareness of introversion increases, it may become less of an exclusionary factor. 

Hiring a diverse workforce is just the first step. Companies must also do the work to create places where people of all temperaments feel included and experience a sense of belonging. When introverts can see many different pathways to success and opportunities to thrive, it’s more likely that they’ll stay in an organization and do their best work. 

Consider How Introversion Impacts The Job

In the hiring process, weigh whether personality actually makes a difference for the position. 

Susan Schmitt, group vice president and head of human resources at Applied Materials, says, “The main thing that matters on temperament: Is there any element of this person’s temperament, nature or behavior that will impair them in this particular role or a future role?” 

In essence, how might their temperament work for or against them in that particular role? Susan gave the example of a new hire that appeared to have low energy during the interview process. “She was somewhat slow in her responses, thoughtful and reflective, which led some interviewers to think she may not be right for the role. But her skills, knowledge, experience and education were super strong, and her capacity for complexity and conceptual capability were outstanding.” The team hired her. 

“This hire became a success story, and she ended up becoming a vice president. Had she been dinged for her low-affect personality in that first interview, think of the lost contributions,” remarked Susan. 

To ensure that people with introverted personality types are included and embraced within your organization, make certain that introversion is a key dimension of diversity within your larger talent management strategy. This would establish that an introverted candidate who didn’t come across as the kind of person an interviewer would “like to have a beer with” wouldn’t get shot down for that reason. After all, not every position requires a candidate to be great at after-work socializing, right? Furthermore, if everyone inside an organization knows the introvert-inclusive criteria for hiring and promotion, then they can build a stronger introvert-friendly culture throughout. 

Through hiring greater numbers of introverts and embracing all personality types in our organizations, we may one day reach a critical mass of introverts who are recognized, respected and heard for their wise and understated input.

How Can You Attract Great Introvert Talent?

Here are some ways to ensure that you cast the widest net and seriously consider introverts in all hiring decisions. 

  1. Give them a sense of what it’s like. How do potential recruits view your company? Ryan Jenkins, Millennial and Gen Z expert, says that companies need to manage their YouTube channels and make sure they offer people the experience of seeing what it is like to work for your company. Introverts, who like to research and spend time in reflection, will be looking to social media channels to figure out if they have a connection to your brand. You may never even see those potential introverted hires if you have a sparse online presence. 
  1. Create an introvert-friendly interview process. Integrate these three strategies: first, prep the room. Avoid blazing lights and noisy areas. Consider chair placement; sitting too close together can be off-putting for introverts who value personal space. If it’s a group interview, seat the candidate at the middle of the table rather than at its head, so the candidate feels less scrutinized and can make eye contact with everyone. 

Next, schedule adequate time. If you schedule yourself too tightly between interviews, you may feel pressured and impatient if the person doesn’t respond quickly enough, especially if you are an extrovert. Introverted candidates are likely to pause before answering questions, and you want to provide them with the time they need to fully express themselves. 

And finally, attend to energy levels. One hiring manager said that she noticed her more introverted candidates were “not the same people at the end of the day. They deflated without a chance for breaks with back-to-back interviews.” To avoid overwhelming the candidate, only put people on the interviewing schedules who are essential to the process. Consider breaking a packed interview schedule into two days. 

  1. Check your bias at the door. If you’re more extroverted, beware of projecting your bias about introverts onto the candidate by wishing they showed more emotion or visible energy. If you’re an introvert, you’re more likely comfortable with a slower pace and pauses, and the possible self-effacing manner of an introverted interviewee. Check yourself for confirmation bias — that is, the tendency to seek answers that support your case and point of view while minimizing other important responses. Diversify your pool of candidates by being open to everyone. 
  1. Employ paraphrasing. Reflecting back what you heard gives candidates a chance to modify or validate what they said. It also offers a needed pause for introverts so they can process what’s being said in a reflective way. Both introverts and extroverts will appreciate the chance to clarify their thoughts and round out their responses.
  1. Use AI tools (with caution). Using artificial intelligence screening is receiving more attention as one solution to reducing the costs of hiring and to promote more diversity. AI can allow you to cast a wider net and includes those with introverted temperaments who might not be considered in the initial screening process. Digital interviews record verbal and nonverbal cues of candidates and analyze them against position criteria. But many experts suggest using a slower approach rather than a full-scale adoption of these tools at this stage, as they can bear unintentional biases. 

To capture introvert talent, think beyond hiring (and promoting) for personality. It starts with checking your own temperament bias and valuing introverts in your talent management process. 

 

Photo: Ben Stern

#WorkTrends: Incorporating New Hires into Work Cultures

The big question: Can managers effectively integrate new hires into a company work culture when everyone is working from home? The answer is a resounding yes. But how?

To explore this question further, Meghan invited John Baldino to share strategies that can help businesses successfully hire and onboard top talent remotely. John is the president and founder of Humareso, an HR firm that’s helping organizations not only manage their talent, but better onboard new hires into the culture.

John stresses communication as a key component of any culture, but especially important for remote workplaces. Seasoned employees may have the advantage of familiarity, “but that’s not really fair to the new person coming in,” John said. Managers need to take an intentional approach to communication that isn’t just about the nuts and bolts of tasks at hand, as Meghan noted. It’s got to have plenty of room to be human and have real conversations. 

Where are the blind spots? Look at the camera, John said. Too many of us don’t know where to look, and that can make for very awkward meetings. And that’s as true for managers as for anyone. So we all have to make sure we’re comfortable with the tech. And don’t try to make eye contact, because it doesn’t translate on video. You’ll look like you’re not looking at the person you’re talking to. Just making sure the tech is up to date is important as well, and that’s every company’s responsibility. We all have to get more comfortable with the technology and being remote, Meghan said. It’s a steep learning curve, and we’re still on it. 

So much has changed in the process of hiring. Consider the old normal orientation schedules — which played an effective role in portraying a company’s culture. Now we need to deliver that via chat across managers and departments, said John. But you can’t glean the essence of a culture (let alone participate in it) in just a few days of Zoom calls, Meghan said. Build in the time to let it all sink in. And make sure your managers have the resources they need to support new hires, and can provide flexibility to accommodate the new work/life construct.  

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with onboarding? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies help bring new hires into the work culture? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders better shape an onboarding strategy? #WorkTrends

Find John Baldino on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Constantinos Panagopoulos

#WorkTrends HR + Marketing: Employer Brand Superteam

Meghan M. Biro brought not one but two guests to the #WorkTrends podcast this week: Diane Adams, Sprinklr’s Chief Culture and Talent Officer, and Grad Conn, Sprinklr’s Chief Experience and Marketing Officer. The topic: what happens when HR and marketing really work together on talent strategies. In this case, the result is nothing short of alchemy. The two will be appearing at the upcoming HR Transform conference, later this year. “Creating a Winning Culture Where People Thrive Personally & Professionally.” The #WorkTrends audience got a taste of things to come.

Diane and Grad Conn talked about the approaches they’re using at Sprinklr to attract engage and retain top talent — which openly draws on the best of marketing and HR in order to build a workplace culture that people can be proud of — and are. They shared marketing strategies that cross over from customer engagement to candidate and employee engagement. Brand messaging takes on a whole new meaning when it has to do with the employer — but when your employees are on board, the benefits extend directly to your customers as well.

Diane talked about how they built a dynamic partnership between HR and marketing, establishing values for Sprinklr that drove stellar employee as well as customer experiences. She said, “We referred to it as The Sprinklr Way —  our foundation for how we live, how we work, and how the values of our employees and our company are then transcended externally to our customers. Happy employees, happy customers.” 

“People sometimes think of marketing as just an external function. But you have to sell to your own employees just as much as you need to sell to customers,” Grad pointed out.  

This was a conversation that hit home: employer brand isn’t just an idea, it needs to be a reality in every organization. In this era when your employer brand is only as good as the outside world’s perception, crafting an authentic and appealing culture is a smart business strategy. As Meghan noted, given today’s focus on crafting great workplace cultures, “it all makes sense.” 

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. 

Twitter Chat Questions 

Q1: Why are some employers losing ground at attracting and engaging talent?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations create a great workplace culture? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations better bring in and keep top talent? #WorkTrends

Find Diane Adams on Linkedin and Twitter
Find Grad Conn on Linkedin and Twitter

This post is sponsored by HR Transform.

Photo: NeOn Brand

#WorkTrends: Great Expectations: Living Your Employer Brand

This month TalentCulture has been focusing on how people and companies can learn to do better. Nowhere is that more crucial than in the sphere of employer brands. We’re in an era now where companies don’t have full control over their brand: no matter how they present or package it, the outside world may have a wholly different take that outweighs the best intentions. But an employer brand isn’t just an academic exercise, as Meghan M. Biro noted on the latest #WorkTrends — even if that’s how many companies are approaching it now. 

To better clarify the link between employer brands and profitability, Meghan brought in Debra Ruh, a visionary in the field of employer branding. Ruh founded Ruh Global IMPACT, a firm that focuses on branding as well as digital marketing and global disability inclusion strategies (and more). She’s also the mother of an amazing daughter who inspired Debra to focus on the true essence of diversity, and why we need to embrace human potential right now.

We’re talking about intelligence when we haven’t even decided as a human species what that means,” Debra said.  “The human potential is there. We really need to rethink what we mean by that — and stop deciding that certain people don’t belong in the workforce.”  By doing so, she added, companies are shortchanging the power of true diversity — a proven driver of higher levels of innovation and performance. Witness companies like Amazon, Barclays and Atos, who are bringing people with disabilities into their workforce, and programmatically expanding their commitment to inclusion, with strong business results. By so doing, they’re also shifting the perception of what their brand truly stands for. They’re not just talking the talk, they’re walking it.

What’s key, Meghan noted, is understanding all the touchpoints involved in a brand, and who really controls it. The days of grumbling in public and getting a cease and desist are over — in a sense, the brand is now owned by those who perceive it. And its fate has more to do with that, and with the perception of market influencers, than the company itself. But our expectations are higher than ever, both agreed. “We want our brands — especially the brands that we work for — to stand for more,” Debra said. Tune into this great conversation to find out how to shift a brand into a desirable, authentic, diverse culture. And have faith: it’s never too late to course-correct.

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. 

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some employers failing at becoming an employer of choice?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations become an employer of choice? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations live their employer brand? #WorkTrends

Find Debra Ruh on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Adi Goldstein

#WorkTrends: Why Companies Need to Value a Great Candidate Experience

Ever since the Talent Board started researching candidate experience, at least some employers have been paying more attention to improving the applicant’s journey. Applying to a company can unearth all sorts of issues — including what #WorkTrends guest Kevin W. Grossman calls the “black hole of candidate experience.” 

This was a tete-a-tete between two colleagues that insisted on keeping the conversation looking forward not back. To get out of the morasse of a bad candidate experience, companies are going to need to truly step up and place a higher premium on better CX — and we’re claiming that moniker to stand for all the candidates out there trying to connect with the employer of their dreams. 

Kevin, who’s a longtime TalentCulture Community friend and President and a Board Member of the Talent Board, dug into the Talent Board’s latest research report, including its good news: more candidates are happier about their experience overall and would be willing to increase their relationship with that brand, whether as an employee or a consumer (you can’t think of one without the other). But there was less-than-good news as well, including a vexing rise in the “resentment rate” — with candidates so disgruntled they don’t want anything to do with a brand anymore, whether it means applying to work there or using its products, or both. A big takeaway: in work, as in life, we really do put our money where our mindset is, and vice-versa.

Chief among common hiring infractions these days are the automated, generic, “sorry you’re not right for the position” messages, which are the wrong way to leverage technology, or not providing any responses at all — which Meghan noted was inexcusable for recruiters today. But the two focused on the positives, including brands getting it right, such as recent CandE award winners Walgreens and Kronos, and innovative ways employers are keeping the connection going with candidates. Frequent and well-considered communication, chatbots, feedback — it’s all good, they noted. And when it works, the value for companies goes well beyond a single happy hire.    

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode..

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some employers failing at candidate experience?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations create a better candidate experience? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations value candidate experience? #WorkTrends

Find Kevin Grossman on Linkedin and Twitter

 

Photo: Ben White

5 Ways to Build a Great Candidate Experience in 2020

Heading into a hiring spree for the new year? Last year, the Talent Board Candidate Experience Research Report found that if a prospective hire has a negative candidate experience, they’re increasingly willing to sever their relationship with that employer. This year? That report’s packed with good information to map to better strategies right now. With 61 million members of Gen Z beginning to join the workforce, companies need to bear it in mind. These digital natives have high expectations for work/life balance, inclusivity, technology and who they want to work for. And first impressions count. 

We know that a great candidate experience can pay off in long-term dividends, leading to a better employee experience, better engagement, and a stronger chance your new hires will be willing to rep you as an employer to their peers. But the most important result is that it leads to an applicant staying with the process through to the final interview, and then if it leads to a hire, they — and you — feel great about the move. To optimize the outcome, focus on these five simple pillars: 

Communicate Better

Quality communication and feedback are key factors in improving candidate experience. According to the Talent Board report, candidates who were able to ask a chatbot questions consistently rated their candidate experience higher than those who weren’t. Additionally, candidates who communicated with a chatbot were 80% more likely to increase their relationship with the employer, and candidates who received mobile text notifications during the research process rated their candidate experience 50% higher than those who did not.  

Be Human

But: no matter what generation, candidates prefer hearing from a live human within the first few steps of their application process. Despite multiple rounds of emails or preliminary video interviews, candidates may get frustrated if there’s no sense of a person on the other end, particularly Gen Z. This generation wants to believe in your company’s mission and find the work meaningful, starting with personal interactions — that’s how they know the prospective employer values them as an individual.  

Reject with Tact

When it comes to rejection, candidates still want to hear the bad news straight from the horse’s mouth — and not from a robot’s. Positive candidate experience ratings jump upwards of 28% when an applicant receives a phone call rather than an automated email rejection. It will also go a long way towards keeping the candidate in your talent pool for future openings. Rejections should be considered and considerate: especially with a young candidate, make sure the criteria and the reasoning is clear, and leave the door open. 

Be Curious

Employers who ask candidates for their feedback on the hiring process increases that candidate’s positive feeling about the organization. According to the Talent Board report, when candidates are asked for screening or interview feedback, there’s a 148% increase in their willingness to increase their relationship with the organization. That simple act of asking for (and listening to) feedback has the potential to create exceptional employee loyalty in advance.  

Be Consistent

Consistently treating candidates well breeds trust and trust is foundational for a true, human sense of engagement. Make sure your message and your process are consistent end to end. If there’s any doubt, map out all the touchpoints your organization has with a candidate. Create a checklist to address how you can treat candidates better, from branding to technology. Is the branding inclusive? Are you offering an application process that offers self-service and is self-populating? Also: make sure your job listings and your job information are consistent everywhere, whether on your career page or job boards. Candidates should feel good about your organization no matter what kind of interaction they’re having. 

We’ve got more sophisticated hiring tools than ever. But here’s a modern irony: it’s imperative that we go back to the basics in terms of how we use them. Respect candidates’ time, energy, and attention spans. Consider their need to feel like they’re valued, like their questions will be heard and answered, and that there are people — not just algorithms and bots — genuinely interested in who they are. Provide plenty of information about the process as well as the position; and about the organization’s values and culture as well as the next forms they need to fill out. Think person, not just process. And no matter the outcome, remain gracious. Might seem old-fashioned, but it’s back in style.

Photo by Wyron A 

Finding Gen Z Talent in 2020: Three Predictions

TalentCulture asked Kristen Ribero, Director of Enterprise Marketing for Handshake, for three predictions on how we’ll be finding Gen Z talent in 2020. It’s all about democratizing opportunity and building diverse teams; sourcing tech talent beyond STEM; and proactive, personal outreach. Here’s what she had to say:

Prediction 1: We’ll Democratize Opportunity and Build More Diverse Teams 

Employers recruiting early talent traditionally tapped into a few “core” schools that were either selected by proximity or by whether a leader at the company attended that school, which resulted in a pretty homogenous talent pool. 

Instead, we’ll start more effectively democratizing opportunity — by enabling employers to find talent based on numerous attributes that help determine fit, from any school, anywhere. And there’s plenty of information out there. Gen Z’s search for authenticity enables their greater freedom of expression and openness to understanding diverse perspectives. Gen Z grew up on mobile phones, social media, and are true digital natives. While early talent recruiting has shifted digitally, the attributes and values that set candidates apart remain largely the same.

We’ll use targeted talent marketplaces that have the potential to connect candidates with like-minded employers. Not only does this ensure a more seamless cultural fit, it also increases the likelihood of an employee being successful. And we’ll be combining high tech and high touch to do it.

From the talent side, Gen Z values individual identity, and are careful with how they craft their niche personas. They also value diversity, and want to work at organizations that embrace people from all walks of life. By carefully curating their own online presence, Gen Z can secure engagement from relevant employers through these targeted marketplaces. And that enables a better match through targeting for both employers and prospects.

Prediction 2: We’ll See Tech Talent Who Aren’t STEM Majors

Gen Z who haven’t necessarily majored in STEM are increasingly applying for technical roles. Their knowledge of programming languages and other technical skills supplements their coursework — without needing to major in STEM related fields. Of the women who applied for software engineering roles on Handshake, 35% majored in curricula other than STEM, according to Handshake’s Women in Tech report. And in their profiles on the site, it’s clear they have the skills and know how to show them off.

So what we’re seeing is that declaring a major isn’t the only indicator of required skills for a job. Employers are realizing this too, and adjusting their search criteria.

There are other factors here: Research shows that Gen Z  job seekers are more financially motivated than millennials, and the majority of Gen Z employees value salary over other job perks. Technical roles are in high demand, and they tend to be higher paid.

Gen Z is careful to craft a niche identity that’s persuasive and unique enough to set themselves apart. They don’t know a world without technology, which means they are more tech-savvy than previous generations. And they’re leaning in on hard skills as equally as soft ones. Of the 35% of women who applied for software engineering and developer roles I mentioned, their majors include business analytics, communications, marketing, language, and political science.

So employers will get better at looking beyond traditional attributes to find the talent they need. Instead of pinpointing STEM-specific majors, coursework, and GPA, they will lean on a candidate’s hard and soft skills to provide a more accurate assessment of their likelihood to succeed in a role.

Prediction 3: We’ll Take a More Proactive, Personal Approach to Outreach

Proactive employer communication to potential candidates will become a key factor in attracting Gen Z talent. From 2018 to 2019, we observed employers proactively reach out to 4x more students. Employers can tap into this generation’s need for connection by delivering encouraging, personalized messages. In Handshake’s student survey, 95% told us that they engage with employers that send personalized, proactive outreach. While tech has provided more seamless ways for people to connect, Gen Z still prefers to learn from real people. So high tech and high touch are effective complements.

As far as messaging, here are two examples: a message that won’t fly with Gen Z talent, and a message that will. First, the one you don’t want to do:

Hi there,

I’m reaching out to you from [company]. I see that your graduation date is coming up, and I wanted to invite you to check out our job openings on our website. Let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks,

[recruiter’s name]

The message lacks personalized components like a recruiter introduction or student’s name. The student can’t easily decipher how this organization would be a good fit for them. Students are more likely to engage with messages that mention how their background is ideal for a role they’re hiring for. And the CTA is weak: the only indicated action is to check out job openings, but there’s nothing in there about actually applying. That’s a missed opportunity.

Here’s a much better example:

Hi [candidate’s name],

My name’s [recruiter’s name] and I’m a recruiting manager at [company].

We’re currently hiring a sales representative in our [city] office, and based on your background in business at [university] and passion in customer service, I think you should apply!

Don’t take my word for it. One of your [university] peers, [name], now works in this function at [company]. If you’re interested, I’d love to introduce you two so you can learn what it takes to thrive here.

We are also going to be at [university]’s campus next month, so let’s plan to connect in person if that’s easier for you. Please RSVP here.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Warmly,

[recruiter’s name]

What works in this message is the personalization of first name and institution name, along with the fact that an on-campus event is attached to the campaign. The recruiter also suggests an opportunity to introduce the student to one of their peers currently employed by the company. The next step, and a great way to increase the effectiveness of a message like this, is to arrange a scheduled follow up.

 

The Age of the Super-Recruiter

An Interview with Sanjoe Jose, CEO and Cofounder of Talview

The challenges in hiring span from finding the right talent to finding the technology to help make successful hires. And we’ve seen an incredibly fast-paced phase of innovation in the field. At the forefront are leaders like Sanjoe Tom Jose, cofounder and CEO of Talview.

Sanjoe is passionate about making hiring easier with cutting-edge AI and machine learning-based technologies. He’s also likely one of the rare innovators who turned down an offer from Google to strike out on his own. Instead, he built Talview — which stands for ‘talent view.’ The firm’s Instahiring Experience platform is the first to bring the one-click consumer experience to a hiring context, radically shortening an organization’s time-to-hire. 

We talked about how AI can be leveraged to transform the whole hiring journey, about his thoughts on the market, and why certain hiring teams are AI-averse — despite the fact that given today’s talent race, recruiting needs, and deserves, a real shot in the arm.

What market problems are you trying to solve?

In speaking with our customers, hiring lag or a long hiring process is their biggest challenge. Businesses always need talent as soon as possible. But hiring lag also impacts other key hiring metrics — such as Quality of Hire, since the best candidates are only available in the market for ten days. This is especially critical in the gig economy, where companies can’t spend 2 months to hire someone who might only be employed for 6-12 months. Long hiring processes and not being able to provide remote functions also impact the Candidate Experience: 57% of candidates drop out of the hiring funnel due to a long hiring process. Companies also need a way to showcase their culture, values, and expectations to candidates before they’re hired, as it will help new hires ramp up quicker.

In your view, how is the candidate experience broken?

The back-and-forth process between employer and employee can easily become slow and confusing due to the time it takes to screen and select the best resumes, contact the candidate, arrange an interview time that suits both parties, and organize for someone to conduct

the interview. It’s not just a lack of speed that’s hurting businesses’ hiring process, either. The quality of the candidate’s experience as they go through the different stages of the funnel is also suffering at the hands of inefficient and aging recruitment practices. Job applicants are often forced to take off work to make multiple trips to attend interviews in person, and once they’re in the final stages, an offer can take weeks. A poor candidate experience also means applicants drop out of the funnel, and they’re less likely to reapply to the same company in the future.

Let’s talk a bit about solutions. How can technology fix some of these problems? 

In our own firm, we base solutions on three propellers: Remote, Automate, and Reuse. Generally, organizations need to be able to complete screening assessments and interviews online — they should not have to rely on physical face to face, especially if the best talent is remote. This can be done through live and recorded modes, saving candidates as well as recruiters immense time while both parties are still deciding if there’s a good fit.

And there are so many routine recruitment processes that are still completed by humans when they could be automated, such as screening resumes and scheduling interviews. Automating these processes frees up recruiters ’so they can spend time on far more value-adding activities,such as conducting final-stage interviews. And automation should be able to function round the clock, so candidates don’t have to wait to hear back from recruiters, and their questions can be answered immediately by a chatbot. 

Finally, recruiters and candidates as well need a way of streamlining the process when this is a repeat applicant. That means recording all application and interview data — so it’s available to reuse when a candidate reapplies to work for the same organization, and they can be fast-forwarded to the relevant stage. There’s no reason they should have to go through those assessments and interviews they already completed when they applied previously. Reuse just makes it easier.

How do you leverage AI and machine learning in your platform? What phases are you using AI and ML for in terms of the hiring journey? Is it end to end?

Yes — we’ve leveraged AI and ML to automate and drive more insights — all the way from the top of the hiring funnel right through to the moment of hire. From the start of the process, these technologies are used to screen resumes, derive additional insights from interviews and expertly match candidates to their ideal roles. As the candidate goes through each step from the location of their choice, computer vision is leveraged to authenticate their identity and administer multiple variety of skill based assessments. During the interview process, the technology assists hiring managers in conducting an objective interview — by building a behavioral profile of the candidate that leverages speech recognition and natural language processing, and giving suggestions as to areas hiring managers should probe from a non-technical skills standpoint. With companies struggling to assess soft skills accurately, these kinds of behavioral reports help companies hone in on communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills.

Do you think organizations can benefit more from recruiting platforms that are all-in-one inclusive?  

I do. While there are many pinpointed solutions that impact one or two steps in the hiring process, disparate systems can pose problems for enterprises, such as time-consuming, inefficient data entry and reconciliation processes. It’s more effective to have a seamless experience. Inefficiencies can lead to user dissatisfaction for all parties involved. And while some organizations do try to integrate disparate systems themselves, the performance is far from optimal and adds major overhead. We wanted to be enable the true digitization of hiring, and provide a platform that could be integrated with any of the leading Applicant Tracking Systems. I think that’s the kind of solution both sides want — the candidates as well as the hiring teams.  

My last question: What would you say to companies that are reluctant to shift to AI and machine learning for recruiting and hiring?

AI offers significant benefits while applied in the recruiting process, and hence is bound to become a significant part of every organization’s recruiting strategy sooner or later. AI can be leveraged to automate a lot of mundane tasks recruiters today perform — like matching a resume to the job description and scheduling of an interview. It enables recruitment teams to become true strategists and candidate experience champions, and ensure the best candidates join their organizations. It would be wiser for teams to leverage the benefits of AI and become super-recruiters than to get left behind.

To learn more about Talview, visit Talview.com.

What HR Teams Can Learn from ‘The Experience of Work’ Report

The rise of technology has introduced a lot of workplace issues that many of us couldn’t have imagined when we began our careers in HR. If you were learning the ins and outs of recruiting 20 years ago, did you ever consider whether an algorithm might introduce more bias into your process? Did you even know what an algorithm is?

These days, everyone in HR has to be a tech expert. But making sure the amazing technological tools at our fingertips are used to the best of their capabilities is a challenge. Complicating this is the need for a phenomenal employee and candidate experience. We’re fortunate to live in a booming economy, but this means that HR has a responsibility to make sure that work is everything it can be.

That means it’s time for HR to turn to a new ally: IT. Thankfully, the team at The Economist Intelligence Unit offers some new advice in their study on the work experience. Here are my three big takeaways on how HR can take a leading role in ensuring that technology paves the way for an amazing employee experience.

Make Sure Your First Impressions Have a Wow Factor

When we think about first impressions for new employees, we think about their first day at the office. We think about creating engaging presentations and making sure a new hire speaks to all the right people.

But how often are we thinking about the period between when someone accepts an offer and comes to work? The report relates how Merck & Co. has gone out of its way to optimize this process. Over the course of two years, the company started an initiative called “From Now to WOW.” The company designed an online welcome center where new employees are able to download all the HR documents they need and also all information on their new jobs and relevant coworkers. The company also moved to digitize new-hire agreements. Previously it had taken an average of seven days to complete those agreements; now it takes half a day.

It’s an interesting story that shows how the candidate and employee experiences have changed and even blurred together. When onboarding is optimized, employees are able to see how the company’s digital office works and get familiar with it. By contrast, imagine if your next hire isn’t wowed. It might cause skepticism right out of the gate.

Get HR and IT on the Same Page

Our comfort with technology in the workplace is hugely important to the way we work. But with so much of the employee experience tied to the tech tools that employees use, HR can’t be solely responsible for the employee experience. For the future of work to be everything it can be, HR and IT will have to join hands to create an Avengers-like superteam that can make the employee experience unparalleled.

But creating that superteam is going to be tough. The report’s section on the toughest barriers preventing HR and IT from collaborating effectively says that 34% of survey participants cited “lack of mutual understanding,” 32% blamed a “lack of common objectives/key performance indicators” and 19% said the other party is not interested in collaboration. In other words, more effort needs to be made to create clear, open lines of communication between departments. The survey also found that in companies with higher productivity and engagement, IT and HR are sharing goals, hiring with expertise in both IT and HR, and are sharing KPIs. Overcoming these barriers seems to be yielding positive results.

I know HR and IT don’t seem like natural partners, but neither were Iron Man and Captain America. An organization should have one goal: to empower its employees to do their most effective work. For that to happen, HR and IT need to work together. Look for ways to build connections between the two functions. Perhaps consider that your next HR hire should have a background in tech or even IT; speaking that common language will certainly help.

Technology Helps Your Employees Find Meaning

Many of us want to make sure our employees are personally fulfilled by their work, an especially important consideration for millennials and members of Generation Z.

But finding fulfillment isn’t just about organizational values. As part of the study, San Diego State faculty member Aveh Abhari examined how technology can help employees find meaning in their work. “Employees are looking for a working style in which they are empowered and encouraged to make decisions, participate in dynamic work environments, take on challenging projects, experiment with various self-development opportunities and learn new ways to contribute,” he writes. “… [T]echnology can help by monitoring employees’ experiential needs, designing more engaging work routines, enhancing productivity and visibility, and supporting internal experiments to personalise work processes.”

So if you’re finding that your investments in technology or the employee experience aren’t what they could be, remember that you could be holding your employees back — personally as well as professionally. As Abhari writes, “it is the personal meaning of work that inspires an employee to go above and beyond expectations, not the rewards or praise they receive.”

Read the full report for more insights.

This post is sponsored by Citrix.

There’s a Smarter Way to Do Job Descriptions

Whether you’ve been in the HR or people management space for 2 years or 20 years, you’ve probably seen a lot of changes in terms of technology and processes.

You post jobs online, track and analyze candidates with AI, measure the pulse of your organization, provide real-time feedback to employees — all in a bid to be more productive, strategic and stay ahead of the huge demands on your shoulders.

But whether your role is more strategic or tactical, there’s one key item that you’re probably contributing to regularly which hasn’t changed with the times: job descriptions.

What’s the Matter with Traditional Job Descriptions?

First, let’s be clear what we’re talking about with “job descriptions.” A lot of people use job description and job post interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different.

After all, if you hear “job post”, you probably think of a one-off document you post to a job board that doesn’t have much connection to the interview process … let alone the rest of an employee’s lifespan at the company.

A properly built and well-utilized job description, on the other hand, can be a dynamic, central record that enables other HR programs: your hiring process, assessment and development programs, and employee engagement and retention programs.

Job Descriptions + Competencies = Smart Job Descriptions

So how do you turn your job descriptions into tools that integrate throughout the employee lifecycle?

It comes down to mapping the demonstrable, measurable skills and behaviors needed for success to the job description.

These skills and behaviors actually have a name, and you’ve probably heard of them before: competencies.

Competencies unify all HR processes across the entire employee lifecycle according to one common, measurable framework.

They’re built through extensive job analysis, research and a structured development process. They consist of leveled indicators to differentiate between basic, intermediate and advanced performance.

By mapping the competencies to jobs, your job descriptions are transformed into talent management tools that can be used throughout the employee lifecycle.

Your Job Descriptions as Talent Management Tools

Let’s unpack that a bit. Here’s how job descriptions with mapped competencies can be used across the employee lifecycle.

  • Hiring & Selection: This comes down to being able to carry out structured, behavioral interviews, with questions based directly on the required skills and behaviors. That way, interviews are carried out in a structured, consistent manner … and your company’s hiring decisions are made based on consistent criteria.
  • Assessment & Development: Again, the competencies on the “smart” job descriptions allow the actual job description to play a central role in your assessment programs. This may take the form of self-assessment, supervisor assessment, or the ever-popular 360 assessment, often used in leadership roles. If gaps are identified, the organization can provide employees with learning resources pre-mapped to competencies to develop and strengthen those gaps.
  • Engagement & Retention: One of the most powerful motivators to keep top employees engaged is opportunities for growth. With your competencies mapped to every job, there’s total transparency on exactly what skills and behaviors, at what levels, your people need to demonstrate in order to take their next step (or even reach their dream job).

The Smarter Way to Build Job Descriptions

This approach to job descriptions has significant benefits to your company’s employees. An employee within this system has a sense of purpose and alignment. They know exactly what they need to do to reach that next level in their role (and increasingly-popular career pathing programs can provide a huge incentive for the best talent to stick around). There’s a system that they can wrap their head around, and once again, it all revolves around that initial job description they were hired to do.

For you, the busy HR professional, using the right job description software can make implementing these systems easy and greatly improve the job description creation, editing and revision process.

You’re already using technology for almost everything you do. You want to spend your time strategically, so you have the freedom to work on projects that make a lasting impact. You’re looking to build better processes for your company and get the recognition that you deserve for doing so.

The world of work has changed so much. Isn’t it time that your job descriptions did, too?

This post is sponsored by HRSG.

About HRSG

HRSG’s CompetencyCore is the only software platform making use of Smart Job Description technology. Our software allows you to easily create smart job descriptions by mapping competencies, utilizing exclusive AI technology, with the click of a mouse. Get a demo or join our upcoming webinar on May 8, 2019 to learn more about building Smart Job Descriptions.

#WorkTrends: Live from HR Transform, Part 1

Kevin and I recently traveled to this year’s HR Transform conference in Las Vegas. Although HR Transform is one of the newest HR tech conferences in the country, it’s already a must-visit on any HR professional’s calendar.

But we know that not all of you could make it this year. That’s why we’ve put together two special #WorkTrends episodes straight from the convention floor. In this episode we talk with some of the amazing speakers from the conference about all things HR tech. They had amazing insights on the candidate experience, both now and for the future. In our next episode, we’ll feature conversations with HR tech vendors from the show.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Why Is the Candidate Experience So Important?

Does it seem like “talent” is a buzzword these days? The reality is that the C-suite is finally catching up to what we’ve been saying in recruiting all these years: The best businesses have the best people.

“Executives are coming to understand just how important and how much of a competitive advantage talent is,” says Margie Elsesser, vice president of talent brand and strategy at Quicken Loans. She says this conversation is especially important because of changing workplace demographics — younger millennials and members of Generation Z bring a different set of expectations to the workforce, and creating the best candidate experience is critical. “We need to treat that differently than we ever have in the past,” she says.

Mariah Lang, former head of people and talent at Ro, notes that the candidate experience isn’t just about interviewing the candidate; it’s also about the candidate interviewing the organization. She recommends introducing flexibility to your candidate experience, even asking them who in the organization they’d like to meet. “I’ve had high-level executives who were like, ‘I want to speak with a customer service team. That’s where I’m going to get the real sense of culture from,’ ” Lang says.

What Changes Are Needed So That Early Potential Becomes Future Talent?

The sad reality is that many of our best and brightest are overlooked in our educational system. “If you go to public school in a low-income neighborhood, you do not have access to AP Computer Science,” Freada Kapor Klein says. Kapor Klein is the founder of SMASH, an organization that provides STEM education to students in lower-income areas.

SMASH is in its 16th year, and soon will open its eighth campus. One hundred percent of its alumni have graduated high school and been accepted into college. Kapor Klein says that while she believes in her organization’s work, the private sector needs to step up to ensure that STEM education is available throughout the U.S., no matter the ZIP code. “Every company needs tech talent,” she says. “Companies need to be demanding more of our public school system.”

With AI, Will There Even Be Job Candidates in the Future?

Even though we’re in a booming job market — and seeing people like Kapor Klein doing amazing work — there’s still trepidation about the future of the candidate experience … and the employee experience. That’s right, I’m talking about our favorite topic: artificial intelligence.

Author Ravin Jesuthasan says the narrative around automation is overly apocalyptic. While we often believe there’s a binary choice between AI and human workers, he says that’s untrue. “We know from four industrial revolutions and about 250 years of history that automation doesn’t affect jobs,” he says. “What it primarily affects is tasks.” In short, automation frees workers from laborious, repetitive tasks, letting them focus on work that requires more analysis and emotional intelligence.

AI also gives companies a better means of providing services to customers. Jesuthasan singled out a British retailer’s call center as an example: When customers call in with a complaint, the call center’s system is able to chart their emotions. An algorithm then chooses the best representative for that customer to speak with. If the customer is angry, for instance, the artificial intelligence will match him with a service representative who was hired for her emotional intelligence and who has received special training for high-stress situations. The result is a win for the customer, for the organization and for the call center representative, who is best able to use her talents.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Buying New HR Tech? Make Candidate and Employee Experiences a Top Priority

As I noted in my previous post, 2019 is going to be an amazing and challenging year for HR tech buyers, thanks to the growing wealth of platforms, solutions and services we have to understand and choose from.

Understanding our options is a big part of our challenge — but it’s only one part. We also need to make our buying decisions based on the effect they’ll have on other parts of the organization and on the business itself. We’ve spent the past decade or more transforming the HR function and our businesses. Naturally we need to empower these ongoing transformations through the technologies we buy, and that means keeping a few key concepts in mind as we sift through our options.

For instance, our candidate and employee experiences should be paramount concerns as we weigh our HR tech options.

It’s well-documented that poor customer service affects customer retention, referrals and potential new business. Social media has given consumers an open forum to share both good and bad product and service experiences to all who will listen. And now the same is true for job seekers; they have similar open forums and a parallel power to influence the world’s view of our brands and, in particular, other candidates’ view of our employment brands.

We ignore that power at our own risk.

Candidates Are Our Customers

For too long employers were resistant to treating candidates as the primary customer of recruiting. Job candidates today want a unique customer experience with employers they’re interested in — starting before they apply and running through the hiring process and beyond — from the humans and technologies they interact with at our companies.

Candidate experience is made up of every single interaction with a potential employer — from the pre-application stage through the various rounds of interviews to the offer and onboarding. All the tech tools and systems our companies leverage across these stages affect how candidates perceive their experiences (good and bad) and the likelihood that they’ll want to work for our companies. Technology is an integral part of all of these candidate interactions.

I’d argue that most candidates couldn’t care less about the technology stack and how the company uses it for recruitment — unless they’re in the HR tech business, that is. But if the technology causes disruption and angst in the overall experience, they sure as heck aren’t going to forget the bad experience. Nor will they forget an extraordinary experience, sharing both the bad and the great.

And share they do. Candidate experience benchmark research from the past eight years from Talent Board (the nonprofit research organization program I currently run) shows a clear trend, year after year: Nearly 80 percent of candidates will share their positive experiences with their inner circle (close friends, spouses, peers, etc.) and over 60 percent will share their negative experiences.

Why the Employee Experience Is So Crucial

Employee experience actually overlaps the candidate experience because employers today continually have to re-recruit employees to retain them. That means that however the experience ultimately manifests itself in the employees’ perceptions, it will affect their willingness to refer others to our organizations.

Talent Board candidate experience benchmark research indicates that internal candidates (current employees) are 40 percent more likely to refer others based on their experience compared with external non-employee candidates.

Analyst Josh Bersin is now focused on productivity as the true benefit of improving employee experiences. We all want to just get things done, and doing so leads to greater health, happiness and engagement at work. The fewer disruptions the better. However, our everyday communication technologies, employee HR systems and other tech tools are highly disruptive. In fact, according to Bersin research, the average company has seven different communication systems, and 70 percent of executives expect to buy more. Tech vendors are inventing them as fast as they can.

The truth is we all want technology to work for us, not disrupt us. We’re consumers and we want seamless experiences and solutions that save us time and energy, not add to the clutter we face. The same goes for employees who depend on the HR technologies we provide them to get their work done. Most midsize and enterprise organizations have multiple HR systems that employees access on some level, which really complicates their experience, especially if they have to have separate logins for each system or app.

One of my favorite quotes is from the poet Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That’s really the crux of all candidate and employee experiences — how all the interactions with people, processes and technology make them “feel” day in and day out, whether they’re applying for a job or just going about their work and trying to get things done.

Differentiating the Candidate and Employee Experiences

Candidate and employee experience are not one-size-fits-all, but we’ve had to create HR software and technologies to be scalable and, hopefully, profitable. Tech customization has been a cash cow for vendors for years, nickel-and-diming customers just to keep the system running (but not necessarily more up-to-date).

Today cloud-based software is giving more configurable freedom to HR buyers to address the candidate and employee experiences. According to HR technology analyst Stacey Harris, vice president of research and analytics at Sierra-Cedar, 50 percent of organizations have at least one major HR system in a cloud environment. Plus, as she wrote in her 2017-2018 HR Systems Survey White Paper, major HR tech transformations were down 26 percent in 2018 as organizations shifted strategies from basic HR technology functions to tools that will differentiate the experience of employees and provide greater insight to leaders.

HR technologies are complex and evolving, and their impact is felt in every facet of a business — especially since a big part of every business is the people who grow and sustain it. Our organizations count on us and our teams. This includes working closely with finance, IT and other functions to select, implement and maintain of all our HR and recruiting technologies.

Yes, we need to be knowledgeable experts when it comes to HR tech. And we need to think very strongly about the HR function’s needs and performance when we’re purchasing HR tools and technologies. But if we want to buy tech that’s actually going to benefit everyone it touches — and help fuel ongoing organizational transformation — then factoring in our candidate and employee experiences is every bit as critical to our purchasing decisions.

In my next posts, I’ll share 12 important guidelines you need to consider before making HR tech purchasing decisions.