Top 3 Best And Worst Ways To Hire Talent

I’m sure many of you remember the dark days the recent past, when we found out that 70% of employees were not engaged at work. Other recent milestones include the foot out the door report that found that most millennials work with what some might label a certain generational ambivalence. Balancing us from the other side has been a rollicking uptick in new jobs since ‘08. Now that’s slowing down too: As of April 2016, only 160,000 new jobs had been created, as the Labor Department reported.

While we may not set our hiring targets to statistics, they are revealing. It’s a tight market and it costs time, money, and morale to make a bad hire. So here are three best and three worst ways to hire talent:

Best: Play the odds. Top employers (yup, Google is one) don’t just invest in one candidate, they invest in several. Larger firms make it a policy to play the odds, and have as large a field as they can. They interview at least five, if not 10, if not 15, candidates for one job. The more choices, the higher the probability of the best fit.

Worst: Bet on one horse. Investing in one single candidate has a twofold risk. One, you’re prematurely forecasting to the candidate, which ironically may diminish their enthusiasm. Two, you may not be making the right choice. While it’s becoming harder, according to the studies, to find the best candidates, depending on your field, it may be far more damaging on the business side to make a bad hire than leave a position open.

Best: Hold hands all the way to the door. Yes: Do hone that candidate experience to a streamlined but engaging process. This is a bottom-line practice in a super-competitive job market, and there’s no excuse for not taking advantage of the tech at our fingers, including video. That means a hiring process that includes video, digital interviews, social recruiting, and a lot of social and mobile back and forth. And for video, make sure you know what you’re doing.

Worst: Don’t over-communicate. Forget about laissez faire here, or trying to not appear desperate. A culture of transparency means be honest and present. Taking the nature over nurture approach with a top potential hire is also potentially turning a candidate experience into a strange black hole, another unnecessary risk. We’re learning that the experience before hire is critical. Yet many organizations are still lax with everything from overwhelming microsites to an utterly impolite lack of follow-up. Please don’t ignore the candidate experience.

Best: Enable employees to rise towards the top. It’s now common knowledge that engagement is where it’s at. A key factor in engagement among not just millennials (who already make up the majority of the workforce) but the workforce in general is being able to grow and become senior leaders in a firm.

Worst: Don’t refine your succession process. Promoting from within has its merits. If the criteria is controversial, however, it could turn an HR dream into a nightmare. Witness Yahoo, whose flawed peer review system caused how many people to not be promoted. Check the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Having invested years in a firm, being passed over for a promotion burns even more.

Certainly there are other factors: In an interview, don’t just ask all the questions, let the candidate ask the questions, too. Don’t just have one interview, have several. Don’t be mild and gentle in the interview process and then expect that the cutthroat, hyper-caffeinated culture of the actual workplace isn’t a shock to the system. It will be, and it may shorten that honeymoon phase enough to shorten the length of the marriage. 

Do assume that candidates have formed their own perception of your firm long before they decided to apply for a job. Also assume that they expect that companies, rightly or wrongly, have worked hard to make the hiring experience reflect the company brand. Organizations may be mired in mud and indecision when it comes to polishing up the brand, but from the outside, there may not be much empathy for that. It’s a buyer’s market and it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. It’s likely time to tighten up your brand and the candidate experience.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Are Your Recruiting Practices Scaring Good Candidates Away?

Have you ever posted an opening and received very little response from job seekers? It has happened to most of us who work in HR and recruiting. We often sit and lament the fact that there are no more good candidates, but sometimes the issue is with our recruiting and hiring process rather than the candidate pool. Here are some tips for improving your process, so you can attract the right candidates.

Confusing Application Process

Whether you are posting on your company site or on a job site, you want to make a good impression. Start with a clear and easy-to-understand description of the job. I have seen a lot of postings that are simply the job description. Online attention spans can be short, so avoid uploading the job description and write a concise posting. Have a few sentences describing the job and some bullet points that highlight the minimum requirements. Include a sentence or two about the perks of working for your company. Proofread your posting to fix any typos or errors that could make a bad impression. You can link to the job description, but it should not be the thing that initially draws candidates in.

Explain how to apply, and detail what application materials you want from a candidate (e.g. application, resume, references), and state how you want to receive those items. Include the link if you have an online application, and do not forget an email address if job seekers need to send a resume in that way.

Jumping Through Hoops of Fire

Difficult application processes can scare good candidates away. Take a moment to list everything a candidate must do to go through the hiring process at your company. Start with the application. I had a professor in grad school who told me that I needed to “prune the dead words” from an essay I had handed in. She sent me away to scrutinize each sentence, and I ended up getting an A on the rewrite. Turn the same critical eye on your application and prune the dead sections.

Figure out what information you need to determine if a candidate is a good possibility and base your application on that. Job seekers often spend a lot of time filling out detailed applications for multiple employers. Consider a shorter pre-application with only the necessary information, and then have those you call for an interview provide more detailed information on a full application.

Next, look at any pre-employment tests. Are they necessary? Do they give you the information you need to decide if a candidate is a good fit? I had a former co-worker who recently told me she gave up on applying for a job after they sent her a two-hour personality profile that she needed to complete. The company lost out because she was a good employee when I worked with her. While a personality profile can be a good tool to help make a hiring decision, it is a lot to ask a candidate to put that much time into such a task before even getting a job offer from you. Explore less time consuming options to get the information you need.

Making a Bad Impression

I once worked for an HR Director who would storm out of her office when she was a bad mood and snap at whoever was nearby. On one particular day, our HR Assistant was her target, and she snapped at him for something minor while candidates sat in the waiting area by his desk. I stepped out of my office as this happened and saw the looks of shock on the candidates’ faces. It did not reflect well on us as a company when the first thing they saw was an employee getting yelled at.

Be aware of what your office looks like to a candidate. You want to show them that your company is a good place to work. If they see yelling and unhappy people, they are likely to go elsewhere.

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Employee Referral Programs: How To Expand Your Circle

Written by Ziv Eliraz, CEO, Zao

There’s a reason why employee referrals are touted as the #1 hiring source. Each referral is a credible thumbs-up from a trusted member of your organization, confirming that the candidate is qualified for the job and will fit-in with your culture. Plus, when tons of people are responding to your job postings, referrals can be an effective way to separate the good from the bad, while accelerating time-to-hire.

It’s all good. So, why not expand that model?

Traditionally, referral programs have been built around an organization’s internal network, with employees identifying likely prospects. However, smart companies understand that their external network is filled with potential sourcing allies — business partners, vendors, professional peers, college connections, even former employees. It just takes a different approach to get them on board.

Four ways to extend your referral program reach:

1) Incorporate Rewards

Relevant rewards can be a powerful incentive. Plus, they work. Research shows that when companies offered rewards to trusted members of their external network, 41% of referral hires came from those non-employees. As a result, referral hires were 69% higher than through employee channels, alone.

Tip:  Make sure the value of the reward is calibrated to the business result. For example, a token gift card or social recognition could be given to acknowledge a hot lead — while cash compensation would be more appropriate when a referral is interviewed or hired.

2) Go Mobile

Consider contractors and other virtual contributors members of your workforce. Although they may not be employees, they can still provide value through referrals. However, because many operate from remote locations, your referral program should be accessible on-the-go — through smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. This lets your external network easily refer candidates wherever and whenever the opportunity strikes.

Tip:  Create an employee referral app or a mobile-accessible portal that is tailored specifically for external network members. This helps them feel like they’re part of the program, and makes it convenient to participate.

3) Automate The Process
While your external network can make a significant contribution to your referral pipeline, recommending candidates is an added duty they must perform without immediate reinforcement. Try to make the referral process as quick and easy as possible by automating the process. New technologies can automatically compile jobs, sending relevant reminders to the correct people at the right time, and recommending appropriate next-step actions. Automation not only keeps the referral program continuously active, but also guides your external stakeholders in their role.

Tip:  Rolling “push” communication is a smart idea. For example, you can automatically share job updates every Wednesday at 3 p.m., or whenever your network is most active. That way, your program participants learn when to expect information. Also, it’s wise to personalize message content — sending relevant messages to the right people. This avoids frustration for participants, who would otherwise have to search for information they need.

4) Incorporate Game Dynamics

Gamification uses game-based strategy, learning and mechanics to increase engagement in non-game systems. While it may seem like an uncommon strategy, 70% of the world’s top 2,000 public companies will have integrated gamification into at least one business application by 2014. In this case, it can be a fun way to involve external parties in your referral process, using quick feedback, creating friendly competitive challenges and other methods that keep your participants engaged.

Tip:  A great way to introduce game dynamics is through a leaderboard or a point-based tracking system. Members of your network can see how they’re contributing to the overall referral process, and see how they compare with top performers. This not only creates a sense of friendly rivalry, but also offers ongoing feedback that helps remind participants that their recommendations are not being ignored.

Tap Into Your Full Sourcing Potential

Of course, employee-only referral programs aren’t a bad idea. However, at some point, there is a limit to how many people an individual employee knows directly. While your internal network can provide some excellent referrals, your external network can amp up the quality and diversity of potential hires. Although you may not think of external allies first, they can be a great referral resource because they understand your organization’s culture, they know your business needs, and they often have a vested interest in your success.

What do you think? Do you involve your external network in the employee referral process? What kind of results have you seen?

Ziv Eliraz-001 (About the Author: Ziv Eliraz is Founder and CEO of Zao, social employee referral platform. Connect with Ziv on LinkedIn and Zao on Twitter and Facebook.)

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