Five Tips to Win the War for Talent in 2017

When you have a low unemployment rate and a growing economy, it’s a job seeker’s market. In fact, 63 percent of full-time employees are looking for a new job right now. In other words, the companies that offer the best employee value will attract not only those who are out of work but the best of the best who are seeking greener pastures but not necessarily in a rush to jump ship.

With 70 percent of Gen Y employees and 50 percent of Gen X workers planning to spend fewer than five years in their current roles, don’t you want your company to be the one that wins the war for their talents?

To stand out from the crowd of employers, here are five tips to implement now:

1. Make it all about the perks (well, almost). Don’t worry, you don’t have to install a giant slide or hire an on-site sushi chef to make a strong impression. Perks can encompass any benefit that lets your employees know they are appreciated. Some to consider are free food, a superior health care package, flex time, or even having a pet-friendly office. If you think these things are superficial, consider that 43 percent of millennials in a Met Life survey said they’d switch jobs if given more flexible hours elsewhere.

What to do: Survey your employees to get a sense of what type of perks they’d appreciate most. Are they more apt to enjoy a game room or half-day Fridays? Then, begin incorporating a couple of benefits that fit your budget and appeal to the majority of your staff. Even small efforts can go a long way.

2. Cough up the cash. Of course, no one wants to be underpaid for his or her hard work, so a competitive salary offering is key to recruiting survival. Unfortunately, there’s often a disconnect between what employers perceive to be fair compensation, and how staffers actually feel about their paychecks. The 2016 Payscale Compensation Best Practices found that 78 percent of employers believe their salaries were adequate, but only 45 percent of employees said they felt valued by their employer.

What to do: To ensure you’re offering a fair wage, consider doing a market study to get a better sense of what your competitors are paying their top talent. Then, offer at least that, and/or try to sweeten the pot with additional perks.

3. Create a culture of innovation. No one wants to feel like a cog in the wheel—today’s employees want the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to help their companies succeed. While removing the traditional hierarchy structure from your firm might be extreme, having more of an open-door policy that welcomes new ideas and opening up collaborative projects to a variety of team members is a good start.

What to do: Provide staffers with autonomy and professional engagement, but more important, give them permission to fail. Innovation cannot happen if everyone is worried about of making a mistake.

4. Give them room to grow. As I mentioned earlier, people don’t necessarily want to stick around in one company for an extended period, and that’s usually because they end up stuck in a rut. Businesses that find ways to keep their employees engaged and challenged will have more success attracting and retaining talent. In fact, a recent report found that 63 percent of workers rank training programs as one of the top drivers of culture.

What to do: Give your employees a reason to stay by offering training and development programs, promoting from within, and helping them advance their careers.

5. Be inclusive. When the same few people make all the hiring decisions, you can end up with a homogenized workforce—and a limited talent pool. Instead, leverage your entire network of employees to help source potential candidates, which can contribute to broadening your search for talent.

What to do: Begin using an employee referral program to include your workforce in the hunt for talent, and incentivize them. You might also bring different members of the organization beyond HR in on the candidate interviewing and vetting processes to get some new perspectives and help identify the best cultural fits for the company.

A version of this was first posted on

Four Ways To Make Candidate Experience A Recruiting Brand Win

We are all job seekers. You can bet that at some point you’ll get contacted by a recruiter, whether or not you are: actively looking, entrenched in the C-suite (especially then), a hungry upstart in new clothes, even wanting to notice — chances are, you will. There’s a moment when we, even more a moment, shift to the mindset of a candidate — we remember there are jobs to be had, new firms to work in, new things to do. In that sense, we’re all just waiting to be, well, activated. Weird and awesome all at the same time, huh?

My friend Kevin W. Grossman was recently reminded of this when he was contacted by a recruiter himself. As he points out, recruiting predates human resources by thousands of years — Julius Caesar practiced employee referral incentives back in ye ole days of 55 B.C. And wars or not, there have always been talent shortages — which means the better experience you can provide job seekers, the more competitive advantage you can gain.

Let’s look at four key parts to the candidate experience we can all do better at from a brand, leadership and recruiting angle:

  1. It’s a small world

Not to be cavalier, but candidates expect to be treated well. To ignore that is to possibly lose not only them, but their possible employee referrals down the line (remember Caesar). The Talent Board, responsible for the annual Candidate Experience Awards (CandEs), recently looked at data gleaned from some 250,000 completed surveys on the candidate experience (from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand). A quarter of the candidates who say they had a bad experience said they would go out of their way to discourage others from applying. And 60 percent of those who had a positive candidate experience said they would go out of their way to encourage others to apply.

  1. Get social

After that Come to Jesus moment staring into the workplace bathroom mirror, when we realize our supervisor is a psychopath, our workplace culture will never fit our values, or that “advancement” means getting an software upgrade and incentives include logo post-its, where’s the first place most of us go? We reach for our mobile phones, Google searches and social media. But most organizations still do not yet understand the importance of mobile and social for job seekers. A recent social recruiting DICE webinar offered this unsettling (to me) fact: that while 93 percent of recruiters plan on using social in the coming year, only 18 percent of them say they feel confident in their social skills. Big skills gap comin’ at you.

  1. Talk to me

An essential part of the candidate experience continues to be the interview — in the “don’t fix what isn’t broken” category of candidate experience that, too often, someone seems trying to replace with a lesser process. The CandEs 2014 awards showed that the interview is crucial for candidate as well as employer; among its other purposes, it’s the essential drill-down to potential fit. It’s also expensive, requiring travel, time and resources. But in terms of ROI, there’s no replacing it.

Some interesting takeaways here:

  • For candidates who did not have a good interview experience, 16.4 percent said they felt the interviewer did a bad job determining if they had the skills and abilities to perform the job they’d applied for.
  • Follow-up has some weaknesses: while only 15.4 percent stated they had not received any information for follow-up or next steps after an interview, this small percentage is reflects a far too major oversight, and could be a make or break on whether or not they actually went through with the hire.
  • Finally, nearly 61 percent said there was no feedback after the interview, a woefully missed opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t.
  1. Flip the Script

Which brings me to the most essential step we need to take:  a serious shift in perspective. As my friend pointed out, we have yet to put a larger frame around recruitment as a profession, not just an occupation. Over at Jibe they created two fictional job seekers to remind all of us of just what candidate experience is really like. I think they are on the right track with the idea of “walking a mile in another’s shoes” approach to this leadership and culture mindset. Thinking like a job seeker also dovetails with the fact that job candidates are, in essence, consumers, and that they factor in the issue of employer brand. A LinkedIn survey in the UK found that more than half (53 percent) of job seekers polled would not accept a job offer from an organization with a lame employee brand — which includes poor job security, dysfunctional teams, bad leadership, current or ex employees who have bad things to say, or a shabby reputation in the industry.

We’ve got our work cut out for us.  While a good candidate experience may not have the most profound effect on your hiring success “yet”, a bad one certainly will — and there’s a proven ripple effect. There’s a lot of rumblings in this direction: a great chat coming up on this very subject, and, coming up at the end of this month, the next CandEs conference in Fort Worth. The more data we gather, the more surveys, the most we actually discuss this, the better it’s going to be.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Big Data Is A Big Deal

Big Data is all the buzz these days. And with good reason. It is a vast storehouse of information that – with the right algorithms and filters – can be turned into actionable insight. Nowhere is Big Data more valuable than in Human Resources and Talent Management. People often ask me “Meghan – Why do you speak about seeing people in 3D?” Well world – This is one key reason why.

For decades the gold standards in hiring were the resume and personal interview. But a resume can hide a thousand faults and interviews favor those who are articulate and personable. HR and Recruitment staff often had to rely on instinct in making the final decision. By creating new streams of verifiable information about potential hires, Big Data is changing that. As LinkedIn‘s VP of Talent Solutions and Insights, Dan Shapero says: “Recruiting has always been an art, but it’s becoming a science.”

Big Data’s greatest HR value may well be as a predictive tool. By analyzing the skills and attributes of high performers, Big Data allows organizations to build a template for future hires. HR and Leaders can learn what to look for with incredible precision. The results of these analyses can sometimes be surprising. Degrees from fancy colleges have, in some organizations, turned out to be lousy predictors of success. Similarly, an impressive resume may not necessarily mean someone is good match for your organization. Big Data is democratic, supporting a meritocracy and enabling companies to make smarter decisions; Google has an entire HR division devoted to “people analytics” which measures qualities such as social skills, flexibility, emotional intelligence, initiative, attitude (negative or positive or AKA “good fit” vs “bad fit”), and perseverance.

Big Data also widely expands the hiring pool. HR can go online to sites such as TalentBin and LinkedIn and search the world for that perfect hire. A prospect doesn’t even have to be looking to switch jobs. Intuit recruiter Jennifer Hasche, puts it like this: “We found TalentBin to be a massive timesaver and critical tool in our discovery of top talent.”

For anyone looking for a job, Big Data is a game-changing way to increase your visibility. The greater your online presence, the more organizations will become aware of you and your accomplishments. Make yourself known on social media and networking sites; update your profile with new achievements and skills. The goal is build a three-dimensional online portrait of yourself; this can include pictures, letters of praise and recommendation, slideshows, videos, and even your old-fashioned resume. The goal: to make HR look at your online self and say, “We need to hire this person.” By the way, don’t ever deny anything negative in your past: Big Data exponentially increases the odds of it becoming known.

Big Data is a great people detective. It’s unbiased and discovers talent. The right algorithms can pinpoint hidden potential by harvesting and then filtering reams of information to deliver a star in the making. If you find someone who is passionate and engaged — on his or her own time – in online forums and communities that are fanatic about, for example, games or digital infrastructure or cloudware, you have uncovered some very important predictive data.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by Big Data, there is just so damn much of it. So remember: be selective. Know where your organization’s needs and Big Data intersect, and exactly what kind of data you need. You can ignore the vast majority of Big Data. But that sliver you do use can lead to unprecedented hiring success. All you need is one or two nuggets of data. Stay creative and open to all the possibilities.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 06/23/2013

photo credit: Buzzword Bingo: Big Data via photopin (license)

When Sizing Up Employees, Don’t Forget Culture Fit

Over half of employees who voluntarily leave their jobs do so within a year of hire. Although some amount of turnover is inevitable, a level this high suggests that employers are collectively overlooking something important. Enter culture fit. Although long recognized as an influential factor in employee retention, culture is still relatively infrequently assessed during selection. Culture can seem abstract at first, but HR professionals need not shy away from it. Culture can (and should) be understood, measured, and incorporated in the hiring process to help maximize selection effectiveness.

What Is Culture?

Organizational culture is really quite similar to societal culture: it is the set of values, norms, and behaviors that are shared across individuals within an organization. It is that intangible “something” that defines an organization, influencing everything from marketing and leadership activities down to how people dress and speak to one another.

Why Should We Care?

Culture is a large, although frequently overlooked, portion of the hiring success equation. Assessing skills and abilities can indicate whether a person can perform a job’s tasks in any organization, but assessing culture fit can indicate whether a person is likely to be successful at your organization. An individual with an eye for detail and strong interpersonal skills could likely fulfill customer service duties for any company. If that individual is lively and thrives in a dynamic environment, though, she will probably be unsatisfied in such a role in a company whose culture is centered around formality and following traditional protocol. Understanding your culture and considering culture fit during the hiring process, then, can improve the probability that new hires will be happy in your company and stick around for the long term.

What Should HR Professionals Do?

Hiring for culture fit requires some self-reflection. Those in charge of the hiring process should thoughtfully identify the things that set their organization apart from others. Look around and ask yourself, “What motivates and drives our employees?” What is it that sets your company apart from your competitors and really defines who you are? Is it a sense of creativity, innovation, and being on the cutting edge? Is it a sense of social responsibility and a concern for the greater good? Is it tradition and pride in reliability and quality? In order to get the best understanding of your unique culture, be sure to reach out to employees at all the levels of the organization. After all, the people make the culture.

After you have a clear picture of your organizational culture, determining culture fit is really as easy as determining skill or ability fit. Modern assessments can measure a vast array of competencies critical to culture fit, from integrity to competitiveness. Once you have narrowed your candidate pool to those with the necessary skills, you can use assessments to pinpoint the candidates who can best fit your culture. Interviews, too, can be targeted to assessing aspects of culture fit, as can less frequently used options such as realistic job previews.

Whatever the method, the goal of assessing culture fit is the same for all HR professionals: understanding company culture and ensuring that selection efforts are aligned with that culture to maximize hiring success. Employees are more apt to feel satisfied in a culture where they feel they are a good fit, and employers are likely to see greater commitment and better retention of their employees. When it comes to hiring, culture really is king.

About the Author: Dr. Katherine A. Sliter works as a Talent Measurement Consultant at Performance Assessment Network (pan), helping businesses to understand how to hire and retain top talent. She holds a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and has taught, practiced, and published in the areas of assessment design, data analysis, and applied psychometrics.

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