The Skills HR Needs to Sustain an Engaged Workforce

The role human resources (HR) play in the workplace is undergoing a major shift.

In the past, HR concerns took a back seat to bottom line business needs. This was due in part to a lack of strong HR metrics and methods of measurement, and the balance of power between employer and employee.

But with today’s increasing jockeying for top talent, the C-level has woken up to the importance of employee engagement, retention and development.

Translating Data Into Improved Employee Experiences 

Employee engagement impacts loyalty, productivity, innovation and customer satisfaction — making it clear that an engaged workforce is not simply a nice to have, it’s a necessity for creating an innovative business that can withstand the constant flow of new competition.

This has led executives to look to HR to recreate and drive the shift towards employee-centered processes, environments and strong value-based cultures, otherwise known as the employee experience. However, a gap still exists between translating data into actionable changes.

Employee engagement is an abstract metric. Identifying a dip in your most recent engagement survey may not tell you why your people are less satisfied with their work life now than they were the month before, or how to address it. HR faces a challenge of how to make people data human.

At this critical moment, HR leaders need to open their minds to new ways of designing processes to create a totally customized and unique experience. The great thing is you won’t have to leave your organization to acquire the new skills you need.

5 Skills HR Can Learn From Other Departments 

  1. Marketing: Understanding the Employee Journey

Marketers have succeeded in reaching a better understanding of a customer’s mindset and emotions throughout their interactions with the company and the product. By creating customer journey maps they’ve found a way to categorically track each touchpoint a customer goes through until they make the decision to buy.

Studies have found that even one negative experience can deter customers from going through with a purchase. In fact, Oracle found 81 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. And 74 percent of senior executives believe a great experience is a key factor in driving customer loyalty. Furthermore, as marketers know, maintaining customers is more cost effective than acquiring new ones, making customer mapping extremely valuable.

Replace ‘employee’ for ‘customer’ in all of the above and you get a similar effect.

A negative experience with recruitment portals has been shown to deter potential hires from applying for positions. Many millennials are willing to forgo a larger salary for a better quality of work life.1 In fact, a recent survey by Fidelity Investments revealed that on average this new young workforce would be willing to take a $7,600 pay cut in exchange for immaterial incentives like purposeful work, work/life balance and company culture.

Finally, similar to customer retention, retaining employees has proven to be more cost effective than recruiting and retraining new people.

Given the success that marketers have had from creating customer journey maps, many HR leaders now utilize this methodology to create employee journey maps, tracking each phase from recruitment to exiting the company.

  1. Statistics: People Analytics

Once you have your journey mapped out, it’s time to fill it in with the factors that matter in your work environment.

The best place to start is by collecting data. Where are you falling short and where would you like to improve? Are you having trouble attracting new hires? Is your goal to help develop more female leaders within the company? Do you see a dip in engagement after your annual performance review?

The key here is to collect data regularly. An engagement survey taken at the beginning of the year won’t reflect the attitudes that developed during your company’s sudden leadership change in March. The more data you have, the easier it’ll be to compare and identify potential causes.

An array of new HR tech gadgets makes capturing and analyzing data even easier. Need to find out how much time your managers spend on coaching or who the top performers are in your company? With the rise of HR technology, solutions are available that can make your life easier by collecting, analyzing and sending the data you need.

  1. Psychology: Creating Personas

Creating buyer personas is another marketing tactic that can be extremely useful when mapping out your employee journey. Rather than thinking of your workforce as a whole, creating specific employee personas brings the human side to the process, enabling you to visualize each stage from the viewpoint of a specific person. This requires you to get into the mindset of the typical employee or the ideal hire and identify their key concerns at every stage.

Rather than looking at your workforce as a whole, thinking about a specific person with a name, role and personality will help you get a better sense of what they could be experiencing. How does Anna feel about your performance review process? What factors could be inhibiting her from gaining the growth benefits this practice should provide?

  1. Design: New Ways of Thinking

Once you’ve identified the potential pain points in your employee’s journey, it’s time to rethink processes and propose new strategies specifically designed to eliminate these barriers. Design thinking can help you.

Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends found the HR departments deemed most valuable were five times more likely to use design thinking. Even executives are recognizing the exciting possibilities design thinking can offer, with 79 percent rating it as an important or very important issue.

After analyzing the pain points identified, design thinking helps designers create UIs that enable a comfortable and engaging experience for users. This means departing from traditional models of onboarding, performance management, etc. which have been HR cornerstones for decades.

  1. Communications: Storytelling

Storytelling is a key skill every HR manager needs to learn. While executives are finally aware of the importance of metrics like engagement, HR continues to struggle to put their ideas on the agenda.

Even with C-level support, selling the major overhauls you would like to make to traditionally ingrained processes will not be easy.

Remember that people analytics is not just data. This information tells a story about the people in your company. HR’s role as a storyteller is essentially to translate this information into (at times provocative) stories that explain what employees are going through and what the company needs to do to improve. Learning this skill will pave the way for the new designs you have in store for your company.

The most important skill HR will need to learn is how to make HR data human. Low engagement cannot simply be solved by offering a new ping pong table or better lunches. Getting other departments to share their knowledge will allow you to improve your team’s skills and get HR that seat at the table.

This article was originally published on CMSWire.

When Training Is Not Enough

The Trouble With Training

There are few things in business more important than hiring the right people, except perhaps making sure they can be effective once hired.  As we move further and further into a knowledge based economy that statement becomes even more critical.  Organizations tend to focus in on ‘training’ as the mechanism for properly onboarding a new employee.  “Training” is certainly critical, it is a integral element of our framework so obviously we believe that, but when discussing the hiring processes of new personnel it’s a troublesome word.

Training is most often something procedural and tactical.  Its foundation lies in the industrial era of ensuring that your employees knew how to accomplish their basic tasks before throwing them into the day to day business operations.  This training was focused on how to *do* the required work successfully.

The Role Of Training Has Changed

This works well enough if we are only talking about the kinds of jobs where repetitive tasks make up the bulk of their work. As we’ve moved further into the knowledge based economy however those jobs become fewer and fewer.  They are replaced by jobs in which subtleties are involved, judgment is required, communications and human interaction skills are increased.  Team based environments are the norm and there are dependencies upon others for the individuals work to be successful.  More and more employees will be engaging directly with customers in social media, whether officially or unofficially.

In those environments, simply ‘training’ new personnel isn’t enough.  Learning how to login to a computer, use the voicemail system, and navigate the companies software may be valuable to removing barriers to *begin* working but it doesn’t help at all in preparing people to *do* the work anymore.

Training should be an element of a induction program, not the entire program.  Induction programs for any knowledge worker should always include education and immersion (no, education is not the same thing as training).  Why?  Culture.  In any dialog that xvalabs has regarding social business, culture is necessarily front and center.  It’s always been an unavoidable priority when you are talking about change management initiatives, and if you add social concepts into the mix it becomes even more so.

Experiential Immersion

The thing about culture is that it’s experiential in practice.  I can tell you what my corporate values are and try and describe my corporate culture to you, but unless you experience it being applied to real situations you won’t truly comprehend it.  It’s contextual.  This means educating new hires on what you value and why, giving them theoretical scenarios that they might experience and talking them through how those values might be applied to make the appropriate decisions, and then immersing them in various departments in the organization to see how that works in real life.

In many organizations this may mean investing more into new hires than they currently do.  In others perhaps it’s simply modifying the way in which induction occurs. That may seem daunting, either from a purely financial perspective or simply in regards to the additional time required before a new employee becomes fully productive.

It’s An Investment Not A Cost 

However, that ‘cost’ is virtually always an investment that pays significant dividends:

  • Employee churn decreases
  • The average time employed increases
  • The knowledge retained within the organization vs. lost to other employers is incalculable
  • The individuals productivity value to the organization increases
  • Less time managing employees with control mechanisms

On the soft side of the benefits you have:

  • Happier, more engaged employees
  • Increased loyalty
  • A distributed value system aligned from top to bottom that ensures better judgment and decision making
  • Increased empowerment, reinforced by trust systems

Take The Long View

These are just a few of the benefits, there are obviously many more, but realizing the massive gains does require a longer term view of the problem.  If you simply focus on short term efficiencies you will reap short term employees in return.  Of course, if you aren’t clear on what your corporate culture is, what those values are, and how they would be expressed that’s an issue.  That’s a conversation for another day however.

In short, an induction program should contain at least three primary components.

  • Train on the tactical
  • Educate on the fundamental
  • Immerse in the experiential

Induction is not simply about meeting your co-workers, knowing where you’re going to sit, knowing who to call for office supplies, and signing all the paperwork.  Induction should be about taking someone of known value (you wouldn’t have hired them otherwise), demonstrating that you value them, and making sure they have all the tools they need to succeed.  Or if you’d like to look at it from a managerial perspective, it’s about eliminating any excuses for the person to *not* succeed.  If they fail to add the expected value at that point then they have to own full responsibility for that.

Doing anything else is like having someone take the written drivers test before throwing them the keys to your Lamborghini.

Make the investment.  Make the time.

This post was originally published on XVALabs.

Photo Credit: CincyCAA-P Flickr via Compfight cc

What Small Businesses Are Saying About the Recruitment Process

 “People make the ultimate difference” Bill McDermott, CEO SAP

Even the best ideas can fail. Success is never guaranteed. It is dependent upon the talent, drive, and compatibility of human beings. Companies don’t just need bodies – they need people who have the talent and skills to meet the job requirements, and are a good fit for the team. Recruitment, therefore, is high stakes, mission-critical work.

To learn more about how crucial recruitment efforts are managed, particularly in small business, we surveyed 2,341 business professionals responsible for recruitment activities. Of those surveyed, 50% were in HR and 50% were in the lines of business. The survey included professionals in the US, the UK, and France across a range of industries, with an emphasis on retail, hospitality, and healthcare. All participants represented companies with fewer than 500 employees.

Our comprehensive report details specific findings; broadly, we learned the following:


Multiple, Unrelated Responsibilities

95.2% of those surveyed also had additional job duties including employee training and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, and workforce planning (not to mention line of business responsibilities).

WorkConnect Chart

97.0% performed multiple functions within recruitment – some combination of managing candidate searches, interviewing candidates, tracking applicants, and making hiring decisions. Individuals dedicated solely to recruitment does not appear to be typical in companies of fewer than 500 employees.

WorkConnect Link

In addition to other duties and activities, 58.7% of respondents hired 10 or more people in the previous 12 months, indicating there are multiple candidate searches being managed at any given time.

Number of New Hires

Time pressure to make hires

94.3% indicated that urgency to fill the role was a key factor in the level of difficulty involved in filling an open position. Even in markets where it is common to give two weeks or more notice before leaving a position, time pressure to hire still exists across the three markets. Given the rhythm of business today and employee loyalty dynamics (e.g., job hopping), there is a narrow window between approval to fill an open position and the need to have someone functioning in that position.

Growth and evolution are main triggers

84.4% indicated that a factor prompting new hires was growth and evolution including business growth, expansion, evolving job requirements, and restructured roles. The remainder indicated the trigger was more “functional” in nature (sick or maternity leave, retirement, normal turnover, seasonal workforce, increasing overtime). This indicates a strong strategic nature to hiring activities, increasing the stakes for finding candidates that are a good fit for evolving organizations.

Prompts for New Hires

Lots of manual effort

Use of online job boards or career websites is high (72.7%), as is use of software specifically to support the hiring process (61.4%).

Still, 56.7% use printed documents and 51.7% use spreadsheets to manage hiring activities. This generally means printing resumes, manually marking them up and sorting them according to level of interest, and then using XL to track applicants through the interview process.

94.7% indicated two or more people are involved in the hiring process even though this level of manual effort is not conducive to team collaboration.

Offline Tools for Hiring


Tight labor pools

It’s a candidate’s market: 96.5% of respondents say quality of available candidates is a factor that influences the difficulty of filling a job, 92.5% say availability of candidates is a factor, and 90.3% say competition for candidates is a factor.

Tight labor pools


Inefficient processes

In this environment, where there is time pressure to make hires and it’s challenging to find good candidates, 77.7% of respondents say completing the hiring process in an efficient and time-saving way is a challenge.

Across the hiring process, 78.6% say managing postings on multiple job boards is a challenge, 76.5% indicated that keeping track of applicant status and follow-ups is challenging, and 75.7% say consolidating and organizing feedback from co-workers is a challenge.

Given these dynamics it’s not surprising that people involved with recruiting want the following:

Access to more qualified candidates 92.30%
Easier to manage job posts 84.80%
More lead time for recruitment 84.10%
Easier to collaborate with peers during candidate evaluation 83.60%
More accessible database of previous job descriptions 82.70%
More automation / less paper 80.90%
Better applicant tracking software 80.50%
More budget to promote job posts 77.40%
More staff to support hiring 74.60%

Individuals tasked with recruitment – HR and hiring managers – are craving a better way. They want access to more and better candidates, they want to move away from printing documents and filing them in folders, and they want a better way to collect, aggregate, and store coworker feedback. Ultimately, they want to find ways to move and act more quickly.

People involved in recruitment are operating under some very challenging conditions. There is a tremendous opportunity to make things easier for them by enabling better business processes like hiring triggers, job descriptions, job posting, and collaboration. The hiring process is calling for tools and technology to support the end-to-end lifecycle.

This article was written by Jeff Rosenberg, Co-Founder and Partner at WideOpen, and originally appeared on WorkConnect by SAP.

How to Recruit Like the World’s Best Companies

The world’s best companies are mission-driven, and they make more money than their competitors. Mission-driven companies have 30% more innovation and 40% higher levels of employee retention

These companies know that to achieve their mission, they need the kind of staff that will get them there; the kind of people who are highly engaged. But in 2015, this was only true for 32% of employees.

What determines high engagement levels, is corporate culture. It’s safe to assume that not many companies are paying too much attention to culture, but the ones that are, boast higher revenue.

What Does Employee Engagement Mean & Why Does It Matter?

When employees are highly engaged with the companies they work for, it means they are emotionally invested in the company’s vision and mission, and enthusiastically take ownership of their work to produce high levels of productivity. As you can imagine, the spinoff of that results in higher profits.

When staff are disengaged, they are only interested in their paycheck. These people hang around in the coffee area, watch the clock for home time, work only as much as they need to, come in late, doodle during meetings without making any valuable contributions…you know the type.

Undoubtedly, that kind of disinterest hurts the company. In fact, Hubworks reports that the cost of low employee engagement accounts for a $450 to $550 billion loss each year.

Considering that, it’s understandable why the world’s best companies boast the highest engagement levels.

Corporate Culture Determines Engagement Levels

Now, every company has its own culture. As you can see from the previous statistics, this is mostly by default; when culture “happens” to a company, rather than coming about by strategic design.

To implement a desired corporate culture, the following questions need to be answered:

  • What is our company’s mission?
  • How do we break down the overall mission into annual business goals?
  • How do we break business goals down into departmental goals?
  • What kind of staff do we need to achieve our goals?

The kind of workers you’ll need to achieve your goals will determine what business culture will attract them.

Let’s talk about Apple for a moment: Apple is considered one of the best companies to work for. It boasts a 70% employee engagement rate, even though most staff work under a tremendous amount of pressure. Apple offers its staff many perks, one of them full education reimbursement.

About this, Gallup Business Journal says:

“Apple had created an attraction strategy that differentiated the company from its competitors — and that appealed directly to the type of employee it wanted to hire. Apple’s brilliantly defined employment brand not only speaks to people with a strong desire to learn and grow, but also says a lot about the company’s culture and what it values.” 

The first step to recruit like the world’s best companies is developing a strategy to attract and retain the kind of people you need to achieve your company’s goals.

How to Emulate the Recruitment Process of The World’s Best Companies

Like attracts like. To attract the kind of workers you want, you’re going to have to create a workplace that draws the people you are after.

Interestingly, motivation levels don’t increase according to salary, so slapping a 10% increase on everyone’s pay won’t cut it. Instead, you first need to create a culture that is attractive to the people you want to attract. When that’s in place, follow a similar recruitment process of the world’s best companies, which fits your own culture and values.

Once the company has implemented their desired culture, the recruitment process begins with ad design and copy, moving on to interviewing and tests, and ending with effective induction programs.

Ad design and copy

Step number one to attract the right people is the ad. Ideally, the ad design and copywriting should be done by the marketing department, not recruitment, because the ad is branded marketing material, and needs to include:

  1. An attractive design that appeals to the people you are looking for (which is why you need to understand precisely what drives your ideal candidate).
  2. A title that stands out from the rest of the boring ads, and which appeals to your target audience.
  3. A first line that appeals to the candidate’s top internal motivator.
  4. An emphasis on what the candidate will do, learn and aim towards.
  5. Where possible, avoid specifying skills and education, especially when attitude is an important factor. Focus on attracting the right people instead of weeding out the bad apples.


LinkedIn listed a “Top Attractors” list in 2016. The top five best companies to work for include, in this order:

  1. Google
  2. Salesforce
  3. Facebook
  4. Apple
  5. Amazon

Let’s look at how they handle interviews:

But for Apple, all of the top 5 companies kickoff the interviewing process virtually, and then go on to rigorous face to face interviews. For instance, Google candidates who pass the virtual interview proceed to the next phase where Google conducts on-site interviews with four employees (not managers, but future peers) for up to 45 minutes each.

Facebook conducts 4 – 5 interviews before making an offer.

Emulating the methods of these top companies – affordable even for smaller companies – would require software like ClickMeeting which could be used not only for conducting interviews one-on-one, or with up to 25 people, but you could also use webinars to train new employees, especially if you work with remote teams.

What’s most important in the interview phase, is the information you need to find out, based on what’s important to your company.

Psychological tests are the norm for the world’s best companies because they understand that although you can teach a skill, you can’t instill the right attitude or motivation. For example, if the candidate is to be groomed for leadership, the company needs to know if the person has leadership abilities and what their leadership style is so that it fits the culture of the company.

The entire recruitment process is detailed and heavily invested in because it’s designed to attract the best and retain employees for as long as possible.

With that in mind, and following the examples of the world’s best companies, you’d aim to:

  • Allow candidates to showcase their skills, thinking style, leadership ability and whether they fit the company culture or not.
  • Ask questions around behavioral, hypothetical and case-based scenarios.
  • Provide role-specific initiatives where necessary, like role-playing a mock sales call. To determine teamwork ability, Apple places candidates into small groups for collaboration exercises.
  • Identify abilities with personality assessments and tests. Salesforce presents odd questions like “What’s your kryptonite?” so that they can see how fast candidates think on their feet.
  • Ascertain specific ability with challenges and practical exercises or tasks.
  • In interviews, find out different perspectives from the presence of a few staff members or managers.

As this article is about recruitment, it won’t go into onboarding, but the induction phase of recruitment is vital, as it sets the tone for how candidates view your company, which impacts their future commitment and engagement levels.

The world’s best companies pay a lot of attention to making the onboarding experience streamlined, professional and fun.

Being the Best at Recruiting

The motivation for modeling your company’s recruitment process after the world’s best companies is higher revenue and decreased cost.

With the end goal in mind and the realization that the top companies have the highest employee engagement rates, you’d begin identifying the ideal culture for your company, and the one that will attract and retain quality employees who will work to achieve the company’s goals.

The recruiting process starts with the ad design and copy and then moves on to interviewing.

The best companies have recruitment processes that are strategic and consist of clever ways of identifying information about candidates that can’t easily be manipulated.

Instituting recruitment processes like the world’s best companies is time consuming, but the results are well worth it, as the statistics well prove.

Photo Credit: joybenetton Flickr via Compfight cc

Where Are the Best-Hidden Talent Pools?

Looking to hire top talent for your company? You could simply rely on posting opportunities to a job board, but then you’ll have to wade through piles of resumes to get to the qualified candidates. Traditional hiring methods are useful to a certain extent, but if you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve in your industry, there’s a better, more purposeful way to search by tapping into hidden talent pools.

Think about it: If candidates are encouraged to network beyond their resume and cover letter, shouldn’t employers do the same? Just as marketers study demographics to better reach their target audiences, employers should identify where their potential employees are and how best to reach them—especially those who aren’t in plain sight.

Here are seven hidden talent pools and how to dive into them for your hiring needs:

  1. Stay-at-home moms and dads. This demographic craves the opportunity to work hard while being available to raise their family. If yours is a company that offers a flexible work environment, make certain you’re effectively marketing to the work-from-home talent pool. While some employers use the allure of kegorators and lunchtime dodgeball leagues to get employees into the office, there are plenty of experienced candidates willing to forgo it all for the big-time perk of a home office.
  2. When these hard-working men and women come back stateside from their tours of duty, they want to continue their hard work in fulfilling careers as civilians. Here’s where you’ll want to broaden your search geographically as much as possible. After all, the military is known for frequent relocation, so you should think that qualified candidates would be willing to once again move for a promising opportunity with your company. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic, the unemployment rate for Veterans was down 5.1% in 2016, showing that more companies are realizing this hidden talent pool has talent.
  3. A Career Builder study reported one-third of employers are looking to hire immigrants in 2017. About half of IT companies are recruiting immigrant talent, while financial services (38 percent), professional and business services (37 percent), manufacturing (30 percent), transportation (30 percent), health care (21 percent), and retail (18 percent) are following suit. If your company falls into one of these categories—and even if it does not—consider how hiring immigrants, many of whom are multilingual, can positively affect your bottom line.
  4. Disabled individuals. A diverse workforce extends to include those who have visible or invisible disabilities. By hosting virtual career fairs, you make it easier for physically disabled candidates to disclose their disabilities and focus instead on their qualifications for the jobs you are offering. We still have quite a ways to go in hiring disabled individuals, but companies who already do reap the benefits of loyal employees.
  5. Company alumni. It used to be that people stayed at a company for much of their career. These days, career hopping is the norm—and so is returning to a company. Boomerang employees is a trend that’s not going away anytime soon, nor do employers want it to. If you’ve ever had a good employee leave, think about how happy you’d be to see him or her come back a couple of years later, wiser and with more experience. Bonus: Onboarding the second time around is likely to be quicker and pain-free with returning employees.
  6. Word of mouth. This method is not only a good way to find new talent, it’s also an excellent opportunity to find out how engaged your workforce is. It’s simple: If your staff enjoys working at your company, they will be more likely to want friends and acquaintances to join them on the job. By recruiting this way, you’re more apt to create a congenial atmosphere because there are people who already know the incoming candidates.
  7. Social media. Tech savvy job seekers know their next opportunity might be out there online, but not necessarily on a job board. Instead, they’re looking to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Social media is about building relationships, so why not start building those relationships early and often with job candidates?

No offense to job boards, but they’re just a part of the big picture when it comes to hiring talent. By taking a multipronged—or pooled, as it were—approach to your recruiting, you will find more qualified candidates who are looking to work for employers just like you.

A version of this was first posted on

5 Tips to Spot A-Players in a Job Interview

Did you know that “33 percent of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone?” According to info gathered by Undercover Recruiter, first impressions are incredibly powerful, but as a hiring manager, you should put into practice the right tactics to make sure you are hiring the best possible candidate.

With big and small companies competing to hire the most talented candidates, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to spot A-players effectively. After going through the resume screening process, the job interview is the first chance for managers to meet the aspirants in person. Hence, making the most out of this opportunity is decisive to recruit top talent.

Here are some useful ideas and tips to help hiring managers detect the real gems during a job interview. 

  1. Always look for potential, not just past success

Reading the resume will give you an idea of the aspirant’s merits and abilities, but previous achievements don’t mean future success. When looking for top talent, it may seem more appropriate to choose candidates who have done a similar job with brilliant results. However, when hiring employees for a startup or small company, the ability to grow and adapt to extremely challenging environments becomes more significant than previous accomplishments.

On top of that, a young, bright and self-motivated employee can perform much better with a lower salary than a big shot that can be approached by another company with a better offer anytime. 

  1. Ask the right questions

You have limited time during a job interview so make sure you ask the  to identify the top candidates. Each question you ask during the interview should have a clear purpose and well-defined criteria to measure if the applicant fits in with what the organization needs.

As an interviewer, you should craft questions to discover if the candidate has the following abilities: specific skills for the job, organizational and leadership skills, initiative, problem-solving mindset, the capacity to work under pressure.

  1. Make applicants complete a task

A good way to test some of these skills is to present the candidate a real life case study and ask him or her to come up with a solution. People who have the right thinking process will be able to come up with brilliant ideas even when given minimal guidance.

There are different types of tasks you can present to your candidate depending on what you want to address. For instance, if you want to figure out if the candidate is innovative and a fast thinker, you can pose a complicated puzzle. Here is a case in point:

“Mr. John has 25 horses, and he wants to pick the fastest 3 horses out of those 25. He has only 5 tracks, which means only 5 horses can run at a time, even he don’t have a stopwatch. What is the minimum number of races required to find the 3 fastest horses”?

You can find the answer and other interesting puzzles on

  1. Do they ask the right questions?

The moment when you ask the candidate to ask any questions is a great opportunity to pay special attention and find out if you are in front of a genuinely talented employee.

As career experts recommend, motivated candidates show that they have “prepared and have thought it through. It’s important not just to ask a question that you could find the answer to online, simply so you have something to ask. Instead, ask a mixture of open questions, which help you to find out more, whilst displaying your interest in the company and the role”.

Questions about the culture of the company, training, current challenges, performance evaluations and opportunities for professional development show that the candidate is interested in working for the organization and looking forward to taking an important step in their career.

  1. Interview top candidates as many times as you need

Don’t feel embarrassed about asking candidates to come for one more interview. You are making an important decision, and you need to be sure you are selecting the right person. You not only need an individual who can perform the job better than the others but also someone who fits in very well with the company’s culture and gets along with all the team members. To get their opinion, if possible, arrange an interview with each member of the team and your top three candidates. Once the best candidates get to know all your team members, you will have a better idea of which one is the best fit for the team.

Although conducting many interviews can be tedious and time-consuming, think about it as a necessary investment. Hiring the right person from the beginning will save you time in the future and will be decisive if you want to exceed the business objectives.

Photo Credit: joshtasman Flickr via Compfight cc

How to Grow Your Company Without Losing Its Culture

Hiring dilutes your culture unless, along with resumes and skill sets, you look at a candidate’s personal alignment with your company’s core values.

The concept of startup culture, which is synonymous with open innovation, agility, risk-taking and bootstrapping your way to success, has become the antithesis to traditional corporate hierarchy. Most small businesses (and even some large corporations like Samsung) want to emulate the success formula of startups. That begins with defining a clear company culture around the core values of its founders.

It’s a process that happens almost organically in any startup. What’s challenging later is preserving and scaling your company culture as your business grows, as more people join the team and it becomes more successful.

Facebook is one of the most highly valued companies in the world, but it hasn’t forgotten its roots, even designing its now much larger workspaces to have the same feel as when it was a scrappy startup. Its corporate headquarters still has cement floors, an open layout and walls the staff is encouraged to write on.

However, staying true to its culture has been a very deliberate process, something that often eludes other companies experiencing rapid growth. As your hiring ramps up, and funding rounds come in, that’s when your culture is most at risk. So, to avoid diluting the true nature of your company culture, follow these strategies:

Never deviate from your mission.

Would it surprise you to learn that Netflix still uses the deck created in 2009 to define its culture today? Despite the evolution of its business model, Netflix still values the same nine key behaviors and skills in its workforce (judgment, communication, impact, curiosity, innovation, courage, passion, honesty and selflessness).

Think about the value set your team members must have, and circle back to it often in team meetings, company outings, employee reviews and elsewhere.

Don’t neglect cultural fit during the hiring process.

Bringing a mismatched candidate on board can disrupt the entire ecosystem of your company, becoming a costly mistake. That’s why Joshua Reeves, CEO of Gusto, says each hire, whether it’s the tenth or the thousandth, should meet the same rigorous hiring standards. The job interview process should be less a sales pitch than a search for alignment between the company and a candidate, he says.

Stick with a strong onboarding process.

During the early days of a startup, each hire is a big deal, garnering the personal attention of the company’s C-suite. But as time goes on, HR departments take over the process of getting new employees up to speed. That’s practical, but it doesn’t mean that company leadership should be disconnected from the process altogether, writes Matt Barba, cofounder, and CEO of Placester, a real estate marketing platform. “Leaders in particular should remain active, making appropriate introductions and injecting a personal touch in order to attract top candidates — all while conveying and preserving your work culture.”

Make sure your people own the culture.

Facebook culture has scaled so successfully because it doesn’t just belong to the executives, says Lori Goler, Facebook’s vice president of people, in an interview. “If we have 10,000 people who work at Facebook, you would have 10,000 people tell you that they own the culture. We hire people who are like that. We express it to them during the hiring process and the recruiting process. We talk about it on their first day and their first week.”

Look for long-time employees to preach the culture.

When subscription beauty box company Birchbox expanded rapidly, and as a result, sought to hire people with expertise that was even beyond the company leadership’s, they realized their early employees had a critical task — to keep the culture of the company thriving. “The old guard didn’t come in with as much industry experience, but they are super-skilled at ‘Birchbox’ — at our vision and practices,” explains cofounder Katia Beauchamp.

Identify the gaps, but fill them carefully.

Bringing in specialists as a business grows is a best practice, but you shouldn’t sacrifice cultural fit in the process. As Doug Bewsher, CEO of San Francisco-based tech firm Leadspace, explains: It’s not just about hiring someone with a dazzling skill set. You must be clear about who you are as an organization and what you’re trying to do, so that you can find people who align with your goals.

Staying true to your company’s roots is challenging, but definitely doable if you keep these strategies in mind — just ask Facebook!

A version of this was first posted on

How to Prove You Have the Skills Tech Recruiters Value Most

Recruitment in any industry is a difficult process. Finding staff that are not only qualified to the role, but fit into your company (and will stay with you) is important if you want the process to be sustainable and financially prudent.

In the tech industry, there are even more considerations and pitfalls when trying to attract the best talent. To find out what recruiters in the industry were looking for (and struggling to find), tech job recruitment specialists, Modis, spoke to 500 IT decision makers. So, what do they want, and how can candidates show it?

Teamwork and interpersonal skills

31 percent of recruiters said that teamwork and interpersonal skills were the most difficult skills to find. While so-called ‘soft skills’ may not be the most obvious requirement recruiters look for in tech roles, this highlights how important these skills are. While working in tech and IT does often require a mind with the ability to focus on and complete tasks without supervision, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work with other people. When applying for roles in the industry, candidates should emphasize their ability to work harmoniously with others and give practical examples to support their claims.

Project management

While management of others is a specified role and doesn’t necessarily need to be a requirement of every tech job, the ability to manage your own projects is vital. Surprisingly, it seems to be lacking in many candidates, with 21 percent of decision makers saying it was the hardest skill to find when looking for appropriate staff. So, what do interviewers look for?

“They have to have a methodology,” Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group says. “Maybe they use software, or a book, or they just have years of experience.” Demonstrate your process when applying for roles and use real life examples when possible to give your experience a practical edge. You could even demonstrate a plan using your process with knowledge of the company you’re applying for to really show off your skills.

Security and infrastructure

You don’t have to look far in the news to find a story about hacking, leaked documents or a company’s website being compromised. So, it makes sense that recruiters see practical knowledge about security and infrastructure to be an important part of any tech recruit. However, 22 percent of those surveyed said it was still one skill area they struggled to find staff with.

Stay up to date with trends and news in the industry, mainly because this will help you do your job more effectively, and mean you can spot threats early. However, it will also demonstrate to an employer that the security of their business is a priority to you and make you seem like a safe pair of hands.

A loyal track record

A proven track record of employee loyalty is always a good sign of an employee’s intentions. Over half of recruiters surveyed (58 percent) said a candidate with five or more years at their previous post was a more attractive prospect to them. While this isn’t something job seekers can necessarily work on as a skill, it should factor in to your decision making when assessing job prospects and changes in role. If you’re thinking about changing your current role after only a short space of time, consider the reasons you’re doing it, and the ramifications of a patchy resume. Lots of short stints at different companies can appear inconsistent and ‘flighty’, so sticking out a job for a few extra months, even if it’s not your thing, can mean a stronger looking track record for the future.

There are some huge skill gaps when it comes to tech recruitment. While some of them, such as security and infrastructure, can be addressed with training, others such as social skills are often inherent. The tech industry, by its nature, does attract candidates with analytical minds. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t be analytical and social, but it means if you are, and you demonstrate loyalty and an ability to take control of project and drive it to the next level, you’ll have recruiters knocking down your door.

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Recruiters Share Their Pet Peeves

It isn’t always easy finding a career that fits like a glove, but the pressure to do so is great for many of us. We are aware that our career comprises a significant part of our identity, and to a certain extent, our happiness at work impacts our happiness at home. We want to find a career that means something, that inspires and motivates us, and matches our personality type.

Finding such a job can be difficult, and once you have answered all the right questions and set your sights on your dream industry, you don’t want to let any opportunity slip through your fingers. You don’t want to diminish your chances by crafting a lackluster CV and you don’t want to be laughed out of an interview. You want to impress, you want to stand out, and you want to land that job.

The problem is, we’re not mind readers. We aren’t recruiters and we don’t know what they want. What do they want to see? What do they hate? I reached out to a number of experienced, enthusiastic recruiters, hiring managers and CEOs, all of whom are eager to share their pet peeves, bugbears, and frustrations when it comes to CVs and interviews. With any luck, you can avoid the following pitfalls.

Don’t waste space on your CV

CVs need to be succinct, informative, and well-presented. They need to get across as much information as possible in a small amount of space, so don’t waste it. This is something one of our experts, Rachel Carrell, CEO of Koru Kids, points out:

“The biggest issue I have is when I see people discussing the intricacies of the role they performed, rather than what they achieved in the role. As employers, we don’t just care about what your job is. We care about whether you did that job well. We’re not going to know unless you tell us. For example, if you have a job where your duties are to refill staplers, don’t waste time discussing this. Instead, tell me that you filled forty staplers in one hour, which remains the company record. Always emphasize the achievement. You can do that with any job, from CEO to stapler-filler.”

It’s not just what you say — it’s also how you say it

Mark Hughes, co-founder of Tutora Ltd, points out the importance of confidence during an interview. There is a reason confident candidates are more successful at interview. They are effectively looking the recruiter in the eye and telling them: ‘I’m the right person for this role. I’m capable of performing this job well. I am a good fit for this position’. When you are sure of yourself, it is easy for the recruiter to believe in you, too. Unfortunately, certain linguistic quirks can trip us up and turn the interviewer off:

“We’re currently recruiting for a few positions, and we found a promising candidate. We called one to discuss inviting them to interview. I quickly discovered they had a terrible habit of ending every sentence with an upward inflection. Everything they said sounded like a question and it gave the impression they were lacking in confidence. Not great for someone who would have to give advice to students and tutors every day!”

Don’t make a recruiter’s life difficult with an awkward filename

You might know how to write a CV that will wow your interviewers. You might have all the required skills and experience. You might be the perfect match. But if you label your CV something obscure and unhelpful, it will likely get lost in the hundreds of CVs already submitted for that particular position. This is a habit that gets under the skin of Luke Nicholson, Head of digital PR for Exposure Ninja:

“When you send in your CV, try to make the filename really obvious. This is something your interviewer will really thank you for. Try something like ‘John Doe_CV_Name of Position at Name of Company’. If you do what so many others do and simply name your CV ‘My CV’ or ‘My Updated CV’, your file might get confused with dozens of others.”

Don’t forget to do your research

An interview is important for you and the recruiter. This is costing them a lot of time and money, and they want to make sure they hire someone enthusiastic and dedicated to the role in question. For this reason, it is essential that you research the company and the industry prior to the interview. Don’t rely on your dazzling personality to carry you. Show your recruiter you’ve done more than buy an expensive suit for the interview. This is something Inigo Antolin, Head of Marketing for Blossoming Gifts, points out:

“One of the unattractive attitudes that anyone can show during a job interview is a lack of interest in what is happening in the sector they are applying to be a part of. I work in eCommerce, an industry that it is constantly evolving. I always ask candidates to discuss the latest trend they have uncovered, or to cover a recent article that really made an impression. Any marketer should be able to answer these questions easily, Those who stare at me blankly might just as well say ‘sorry. I don’t really care about this opportunity’.”

Don’t be too flashy or outlandish with your CV

We all want to stand out, and none of us want to put our recruiters to sleep with a boring CV. However, all too often, candidates go the other way and go to extremes. This can be just as damaging and although it might certainly make your CV stand out, it may well do so in the wrong way. Paz Tafrishi, managing director of Recruit Gold Class, points out:

“The worst thing you can do is have overly complicated CVs! We’ve seen it all. Loads of tables, different colored fonts for no particular reason, varying font sizes, and random bold or capitalized letters. This is interspersed with large chunks of white space. The overall effect is simply messy and unattractive. When in doubt, go simple and professional.”

Don’t give the appearance of being a flight risk

This is something you need to keep in mind during your entire career; short stints in a number of jobs over a small time period will hardly make recruiters look at you favorably. Although it is becoming more and more common, hiring managers are displeased by job hopping, as it demonstrates a pattern and shows you’re probably a flight risk. Recruiting a new hire costs a lot of money. Companies want to make sure they get the right candidate and they can’t afford to take risks. This is something Kevin Ronson, CFO of, points out:

“For me, the biggest red flag in a CV is job-hopping. If I see a person has had several short-term jobs in a row, it gets concerning. If I see that someone goes from job to job — whether it was their decision to leave or they were let go — then it is likely they will not spend a significant amount of time at my company. So I do not hire them. I throw out their CV and move onto the next applicant.”

An important lesson to learn from the experts above is that they are hoping you’re a good fit as much as you are. They want to like you, they want to connect with you, and they want to be impressed. As long as you do your research and go the extra mile to make their lives easier, you’ll be that much closer to securing the job you’ve applied for.

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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

5 Tips For People-Oriented HR Management

What makes a professional hiring manager? Dealing with budgets, business priorities, and tons of paperwork is essential; but is it what employees need and expect to see from us? After all, human resources are about people, aren’t they?

In 2016, 70.6 percent of HR professionals called “influencing the company culture to have more authentic, people-oriented managers” their top priority. With more than $2 billion plunged into HR technology, the emergence of new, more people-oriented, trends seems clear.

Together with gamification, video hiring, and other HR trends of 2016, this year brings more tech challenges for us to implement in order not to trail far behind. Focused more on people, they help to create a positive company culture and not earn the reputation of the worst HR ever.

So, what can you do for employees?

Manage their performance

2017 is the year when performance reviews will become a regular part of hiring managers life. Performance management apps are team-centric and cloud-based today, which makes it easier for us to keep track on employees.

Performance appraisal software, such as Saba Cloud or Performly, allows workers to understand their role in a company’s success, boost productivity, and unleash their potential. Featherlight helps to manage real-time performance, Weekdone enables to monitor accomplishments, and PerformYard lets you document and performance results.

Most of these applications feature online assessments, allow managing performance by teams, and integrate with other HR tools and employee directories.

Train them

Professional development is a must for employees, and they would thank you for interesting and engaging training programs. Make this training more effective with new solutions in HR tech, such as Workday Learning or Fuse Universal.

They are online platforms focused on video collaboration and other interactive methods of learning, including features for curation and data-driven recommendations. Employees consider such category of learning products efficient, and they are ready to develop new skills with online resources about math, writing, time management, and more. 

Manage their wellness and activity

2017 is the year for the utilization of HR technology solutions for employee wellness, engagement, and recognition. The number of tools to manage activity and work-life balance grows for hiring managers to improve the work environment.

Use solutions from Oracle or Ultimate Software to manage what employees do, how well they take care of their health, and how happy they are. Such tools have built-in analytics engines to view workers wellness and give insights on how to boost their productivity and make them work better.

Encourage communication

Tools for evaluating an employee’s real-time engagement become critical infrastructure for companies, as they help to understand workers needs and consider corresponding changes. Integrate those tools with your performance management system, and you will join the 85 % of executives considering employee engagement a top priority.

Encourage communication by using HR software: Trakstar helps to keep employees informed about employers goals and expectations, and ReviewSnap improves real-time feedback for workers to learn how their performance fit into the objectives of the company.

They are great to encourage mobility and connect staff members. 

Analyze them

The rise of people analytics is among the HR tech trends of 2017. Predicting a staff’s behavior, thoughts, and desires, you will know how to implement all corresponding changes effectively.

Survey software works best here. Graphical reporting features of SmartSurvey or Dub InterViewer allow getting data from employees to analyze their changes and recommend training they need for better performance.

New tools for people analytics include:

  • tools, analyzing e-mails to assess how people’s communication and time management practices differ, encouraging lower-performers to change behavior.
  • tools, monitoring workers’ locations and voice tenor to see when they experience stress and reorganize facilities accordingly.

Don’t forget about talent acquisition

The talent acquisition market is enormous today, so embrace it to hire the right talents for your company. Social media can help you here, but the latest HR tech from Lever, Gild, and SmartRecruiters would not be wise to miss.

They are recruitment management systems, handling everything: sources, analytics, interview management, candidate scores, their onboard relationship management, and more.

So, make the most out of your job performance by using HR technology to find strong candidates, manage them, and help them fulfill potential. Make your hiring strategy more people-oriented, and no one will have the heart to say you are a non-specialist in the profession.

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Five Marketing Strategies HR Should Embrace

Are you struggling to attract top talent to your organization? Do you wish your current employees would do more to promote your brand’s message and help recruit new prospects? Are you doing an “OK” job but feel there are areas you could improve?

Even if you can’t hire a marketer for your HR team, you can still adopt marketing strategies to amplify your brand and its message. The right marketing strategies can help you attract talent, boost employee morale and, in turn, encourage your current employees to become your biggest brand advocates.

Here are five marketing strategies your HR department can adopt right now—even without hiring a marketing manager for your HR department.1.

  1. Develop a consistent brand voice.From recruiting talent to sharing the benefits of various employee programs, your messaging should be consistent. Marketing pros excel in this area, and you can benefit from adopting their techniques. Make sure all benefit plans and job descriptions are consistent across platforms—internal emails should match the messaging on the website, which should emphasize the same key points as your LinkedIn page. To ensure consistency, first, establish your company culture and determine how you will convey that through various channels. There’s one caveat: You do need to change your messaging based on your audience, but your brand should have one clear, consistent voice.
  2. Bring all employee programs together in an easy-to-use dashboard. Marketers initiate different campaigns for each of their initiatives, track results, and modify the campaigns based on metrics that include engagement, conversions, and brand recognition. But all the campaign results are housed on one central platform—typically, a customer relationship management tool that integrates with a content management system. HR directors can—and should—use similar tools. This applies to both recruiting campaigns and communications about employee perks and benefits programs. Including details for all employee programs on one dashboard makes it easy for employees to understand the programs and take advantage of them. It also makes it easy for HR management to track results.
  3. Be creative when trying to “sell” a new position.Create benefit-driven ad copy that is fun to read and reflects your brand. Take it one step further than the “who, what, when, where, and why” to tell employees and prospects exactly what’s in it for them. Don’t forget to use a variety of media to reach your audience. Some people are more likely to engage with video, while others prefer written content or even an audio podcast. Reports say conversion rates on recruitment emails reach 40 percent or higher when the email includes a video featuring real employees or some aspect of gamification.
  1. Experiment with new channels and platforms to reach new prospects in exciting ways.Once you’ve honed in on that compelling message that will engage and entice your audience, share it across a variety of social media platforms. While most HR efforts tend to be concentrated on LinkedIn, experiment with new channels to reach a new audience.
  2. Create employee brand advocates.It’s just a short leap to creating brand advocates among your existing employees when you follow the four suggestions above correctly. In fact, it might even begin to happen on its own. Your best employees will promote your brand—and talk about what a great place your company is to work—in their own social media networks.

But it doesn’t hurt to give employees some guidance. Establish social media guidelines for employees so that your brand remains consistent, even though your team members may develop messaging in their own voices. You might even consider incentives for employees who successfully recruit others through their personal social media efforts or rewards centered on specific campaigns. For instance, you might have a “leader board” that tracks the number of followers employees have, and the number of times they tweet about a particular initiative. At the end of the month, the winner might receive a restaurant gift card.

Think Like a Marketer 

As your company’s HR director it helps to think like a marketer—that is, view all your communications from the perspective of your prospects. Make sure to focus on the benefits of a specific program or position, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your tactics.

Above all, keep your brand’s voice consistent with your company culture. And make friends with those in the marketing department, in case you ever want to bounce ideas around. After all, you’re in this together and an organization’s ability to attract and retain the best employees benefits everyone.

A version if this was first posted on

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Where To Find Great Talent For Your SMB

Hiring and retaining great talent is one of the biggest challenges of today’s SMBs (small to mid-sized businesses.) On the one hand, knowing how to engage employees and keep them motivated is key to improving job performance and to achieving outstanding results. But before you get there, you need to be able to find and select the most talented candidates for your organization.

So, how can you hire great talent and where should you look to find exceptional candidates? Follow these tips, and you will begin a smooth and successful hiring process.

Hire great talent from your competitors

If you want to hire people who have the right expertise and know your industry inside out, who better than your competitor’s employees? They are the ideal candidates because they may already have strategical connections and these relationships developed over the years will be a priceless acquisition to your company.

When taking this approach, you have two options: you can contact people who are still working for your competitors, or you can get in touch with old employees that you know no longer work for the organization. If you go for the first alternative, remember to offer them a salary increase as well as other attractive incentives. It is important never to ignore a non-compete agreement and if you are not sure about how to proceed, ask a solicitor to help you out. If you opt to aim for ex-employees, you may want to stay abreast of your competitor’s personnel movements to be able to contact them as soon as they leave the company. In any case, it is highly recommended to develop an online relationship with them via Twitter or Linkedin, before you get in touch directly. This social media connection will help you increase your chances to hire that desired talent and show your interest gradually.

Look for prospects on social media and blogs

Another way to find great talent is looking for references in your industry in social media channels and blogs. Professionals who run blogs about your industry or have work-related social media accounts with engaged followers are showing a clear commitment to their profession and are potentially better hires.

The best way to approach them is to start a relationship via social media. Before you contact them to work for you, you can connect with them on Linkedin and Twitter, comment on their posts and retweet their best tweets. If they have an influential blog, you can share their posts with your business accounts and help them amplify their reach.

Consider hiring remote staff members

As Nicole Fallon Taylor explained in one of her articles on Business News Daily, you have to “expand your search area.” “If your company is located in a competitive hiring market, you’d be better off searching for top talent in a less competitive area,” said Anthony Smith, founder, and CEO of CRM software company Insightly. “Technology allows for smooth collaboration and communication no matter where employees are located, so you don’t need to lose out on experts in your field because of where your company is based.”

Old fashioned networking still works

According to The Wall Street Journal’s guide on how to hire your first employees, an entrepreneur’s best option for finding talent usually is networking, “start-ups typically find their first 10 or 15 employees this way”. And they recommend “asking for referrals from your friends, industry colleagues, and advisers, such as your accountant, attorney, board members and organization members. If one of your advisers or colleagues recommends somebody, they’ve done some of your employee screening work already”.

The pull marketing strategy adapted to hiring

You have probably heard of the push and pull marketing strategies. In the first case, you take the product to the customer while in the second instance you get the customer to come to you. Well, this marketing strategy can easily be adapted to hiring, and if you are running a startup or SMB, this option is highly recommended.

This approach to finding great talent entails making your company extremely attractive to grab the interest of key candidates and invite them to come to you. And as Sharlyn Lauby explains in her article 3 Ways to Find Top Talent for your Startup, for Open Forum, “finding talent doesn’t always have to be about companies making the first move. Creating an environment that entices candidates to come work for you is a sound strategy.”

As companies are competing to hire the best talent in each field, running a small to mid-sized business, you need to be smarter and create a talent recruiting strategy. Use a combination of the tactics mentioned and invest time and resources to make sure you hire the team that will help your company grow in the right direction.

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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.

4 Key Steps To An Extraordinary Workforce

If you want an amazing workforce, it’s not just about hiring. It’s about marketing. You need to shift your thinking of the workplace as an amorphous collection of desks to a product, and embrace the concept that in order to hire the best you have to market to the workplace on multiple channels.

Here are 4 key steps to do it:

1.) Reconsider your recruitment channels and their effectiveness.

If you’re just trying to glean recruiting channel data by using LCA models, it’s not going to work. First, consider candidates as buyers, and then treat them accordingly, constructing an entire journey of content for candidates to encounter.

LCA is a myth, according to many; it takes a series of clicks and re-clicks, visits, consideration, reconsideration, another jump onto the company website and a hop to social media before a potential hire decides to apply. So make sure you’re measuring the success of your recruitment campaigns across social channels and all promotional content, as well as the job posting itself.

2.) Go deeper into social.

A recent SHRM study found that social was more important than ever: a full 65 percent of companies said they found new hires via social channels in the past year. Social networks, social media presences, and of course the networking powerhouse LinkedIn were found to be critical.

But don’t just rest on the same old tropes. There are niche groups, industry blogs, and new outlets like Vine, the video platform in which each video is 6 seconds or less. Vine’s tight format is ideal for showing the key aspect of a job — which certain firms, such as a mechanical engineering firm has successfully used to attract candidates. Social networking sites are among the top four top channels for sourcing candidates, according to the 2015 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Survey (along with employee referrals, online job boards, and corporate websites), but now that social networking is expanding in all directions, don’t just go back to those same letters of the alphabet (f, b) and think you’re done.

3.) Showcase real-life, day-to-day experiences to candidates.

A can’t-stress-it-enough, hugely-massively-intensely critical factor in successful hires remains cultural fit — 43% of companies in a recent study said cultural fit was the most important factor in making a new hire. Not the much-ballyhooed cliché of “We all love foosball” cultural fit, but the very fabric of the workplace and its people. If you don’t transmit that effectively — and accurately — to a candidate, it’s a guessing game. And the disconnect between image and reality may just leave a permanent bad taste. So take off some of that slick veneer and show the grain. If you’re interviewing a candidate, invite them to conference into a daily meeting, and connect to staffers in their prospective department. Companies, don’t be shy.

According to the Talent Board, a huge takeaway from the 2015 round of CandE (Candidate Experience) awards is that candidate experience plays an ever-increasing role not only in engagement but referrals. Seventy percent of candidates said they are likely to apply to the same employers again, and 70 percent said they were likely or extremely likely to refer a peer to the employers to which they applied — whether or not they’d been hired (a majority had not).

4.) Stay friendly and build that pipeline.

The fluidity of the mobile and social workforce also means we’re never really done talking, and the brevity of the chitchat means a lot of back and forth to get the whole picture. Moreover, candidate experience doesn’t stop at hire/not hire. The employer’s brand is very much at stake. Not sure about that? Here’s a compelling stat: according to a recent survey on candidate behavior by Career Builder, 65% of job seekers say they are less likely to buy from a company they didn’t hear back from after an interview.

I’ve described the talent pipeline as a great big, exaggerated funnel that requires serious tending. It’s also a resource that needs to be optimized for the right fits, so the talent is there, aligned with the right types of jobs, competencies and skills. To best pinpoint the best candidates, get to know them. Just because they were passed up for one job, don’t drop them: keep in contact. Don’t think about filling an open position. Grow that pipeline, and nurture everyone in it like the potential brilliant hire they may be.

This is a new hiring economy: complicated, competitive, but also, with a seemingly infinite reach into more and more channels. It’s like Cable TV back in its beginnings: a thousand channels was like the Wild West until we got to know it. But the switch to envisioning employees not as hires but as customers is what gives companies the edge. Make the candidate experience a wonderland of good faith and authentic interaction, a keystone of your employer brand, and as far as recruiting goes, you may have a very good year.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

4 Tips For Finding And Retaining Tech Talent

Hiring is a gamble. The cost of a bad hire is high — tens of thousands of dollars down the drain, from onboarding and training, not to mention re-recruiting, re-onboarding, etc. And the job market for tech talent is tighter than ever: if tech pros aren’t a needle in a haystack, they’re a very popular — and poachable — haystack.

According to the BLS, in the 10 years from 2014-2024, employment of computer and information technology occupations will grow 12% — far above the average for all occupations, swelling from 3.9 to 4.4 million jobs. Credit the cloud, big data, mobile and social, and the burgeoning Internet of Things. But the supply of candidates won’t keep pace. We’re already facing a narrow recruiting field. By 2018, it’s estimated that the U.S. will face a shortage of about 224,000 high tech workers. The pressure to find the right candidates is going to get worse.

Wondering how to recruit and hire the tech talent you need? Here are four tips for staying ahead of the curve:

  1. Call in an expert.Tech is different; it is all about very specific, tangible skills. Not all recruiters know how to assess them; some aren’t even sure what they are. A survey last year found that 67% of CIOs were well aware they were facing increasing challenges to find qualified IT talent. One solution: team up with a tech pro on recruiting — they have the skillset and knowledge base to accurately assess the tech skills of potential candidates, and help your company make smart hiring decisions.
  1. Go big and innovate. Welcome to your tech recruiting base: there are some 53.5 millennials in the workforce. Millennials tend to prefer innovative workplaces and benefits they can actually use. They like flexible schedules, work-from-home options, and an employer culture that respects the fact that its employees have lives (and families). Rather than scrambling to layer a perks package like a veneer of sugar coating around a fat salary that still can’t match the offers of Silicon Valley giants (for instance), consider more enticing, millennial-relevant benefits. Align your employer brand and recruiting platforms to better speak to the most innovative workplace values. 
  1. Make a problem your solution. No riddle here: transparency in the tech industry has peeled the layers off an unsettling lack of diversity in the workforce. Mention of that 2013 blog that revealed 90% of Pinterest’s engineers are male can still evince shudders. But a push towards diversity — as reflected in events like Grace Hopper — is an ideal way to widen the recruitment pool. Given the proven advantage diverse perspectives have in the workplace, and the fact that without a broader (and more secure) talent pipeline, the supply of tech talent is going to shrink even more. It’s a no-brainer to be recruiting with diversity in mind.
  1. Improve engagement.Here’s one thing we know: the workforce is shifting to a revolving door sensibility, even on payroll jobs. And while there may not be a proportionate increase of qualified tech candidates, the pressure’s on. The number of employers in IT planning to hire is above the national average, at 44 percent, and a recent study found that tech companies in the Fortune 500 have the highest turnover of any industry (including poaching). One way to keep your talent: keep the grass green.

True technical expertise is hard to find — and it’s just going to get worse, or better, depending on your ability to stay ahead of the competition. But one thing’s clear: whatever your workplace, whatever the size and scope of your organization, you’re going to need it. And hiring for tech needs requires a far bigger picture than simply filling the 14th floor. So don’t be short-sighted. That’s not going to keep your talent. They’re smart. So get creative, leverage your advantages, and go for it.

This post was first published on Forbes.


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.

Eight Employer Brand Essentials To Spice Up Candidate Experience

Secret sauce. Special recipe. If it sounds like recruiting has turned into a mystery cooking show – it has. The good news is that we’re honing this new global, multigenerational, myriad-channeled cuisine.  We’re finding scopey, tastier, far more effective strategies for recruiting tech talent and engaging our candidates. 

Here are the top eight ingredients:

  1. Start With Fresh Talent

More arenas acknowledge that talent is the basic commodity in tech recruiting, and considering individual talent as the basic goal of recruiting, and not just filling spaces, is what’s going to set companies up for successful hiring. Given the gap between more jobs we need to fill and less talent we need to fill them, tech candidates in particular are well aware of that. 

  1. Mix With Due Diligence

We’re getting better at due diligence when it comes to recruiting, doing a better job researching our candidates, and personalizing our approach. DICE’s 2015 Tech Candidate Sentiment Survey found that50 percent of tech candidates really wish HR recruiters did more homework on them and their backgrounds, which is well below the 63% who said so in 2013.

  1. Simmer In Human Contact

Despite mobile and social, despite video conferencing and (coming soon) holographic interviews, the face-to-face experience is still invaluable as the candidate moves up the ranks of vetting. One savvy tech recruiter noted that despite everything else lining up, chemistry is critical, and it’s certainly an ingredient we can’t keep refrigerated in the cloud until hiring time. Sometimes it really boils down to two people in a room.

  1. Set The Whole Table

Uber recently poached 40 top researchers away from Carnegie Mellon’s hallowed robotics department. South Korea’s app and tech industry is not only rivaling Silicon Valley, it’s proving to be more global and more innovative, pulling top talent from the U.S. as well as other major sources. The simplest way to think of the gap between talent and hiring is that it’s like a buyer’s market — to switch metaphors here, you just have to offer the prettiest, most awesomely tricked out house.

  1. Your Employer Brand Matters

Every employer has a different perceptible brand, but awareness of it starts well before the hiring process. Talent Board’s 2014 Candidate Experience (CandE) survey polled some 95,000 candidates who had applied to about 150 companies in North America: about 44% said they conduct two hours’ research before submitting an application. They’re not just looking at products and services, they’re looking at values as well. Given today’s pace of information, two hours can glean an entire universe of data and impressions, good to — bad.

  1. Brand ReallyMatters

There’s employer brand, and company brand. Another stat from the 2104 CandE survey found that attracting talent starts well before anystrategic

outreach: candidates form their own bias based on many different channels of content. 52.3 percent of candidates said they had a previous relationship with the company — as a customer, consumer, a friend or relative of an employee, or an advocate of the brand. Obviously that works for huge icons like Apple or Google, but big or small, legacy or shiny new, nothing related to brand is off the table, ever.

  1. Shop Globally And Extensively

From job sites to social media to global job boards, there are countless ways for candidates and companies to find each other, and using them all needs to be the new normal. Internship programs and workforce development opportunities often glean international candidates; heading to universities and colleges can pinpoint fresh talent. You need a steady pipeline for effective recruiting.

  1. Don’t Use Artificial Flavors

Remember the real estate analogy I sprinkled in here a few bullets back? Let me qualify: that awesome property had better be real: Facades and artifice won’t work, either with more seasoned candidates or the younger generations, who we know hold integrity, transparency, mission and values in extremely high regard — so high that they may simply walk out the door if faced with a profound “this is not what I thought it was” moment.

There are all countless terms for what we do wrong, such as spray and pray (which is more costly than effective). And there are tasty terms for what we get right, including that critical first contact, onboarding. Making the onboard experience rich and flavorful is part of any recipe for successful recruitment. At one Tampa Bay area tech firm, the CEO visits each year’s crop of new recruits. To attract talent away from traditional meccas, the company also provides a whole range of perks, from employee compensation for referrals to retreats to the Bahamas to a thriving, creative, active workplace culture.

We have a lot of cooking to do: one recent survey showed new hiring now falls short by 36% percent globally; and more than half (54%) of the firms surveyed said that shortage had a serious impact on their ability to fill client needs. But here’s the bottom line: talent knows where it’s valued, and that’s the table you want to set.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.


The Old Ways Of Working Are Not Working

The future of talent has arrived. Today’s businesses are competing for the most innovative and the brightest, and it is time to step up to the plate or step aside. What does it take to recruit, evaluate and retain a 21st century workforce? Well, here are some things you need to consider:

1)    The Old Ways Won’t Work: Cultivating top talent is essential if you want your business to adapt and thrive. According to a recent survey just 34% of executives believe their talent acquisition efforts are up to the job of preparing the workforces their companies will need in the future.  They’re right. Executives need to focus on building the company’s employment brand. Today’s companies must market their brand not just to consumers, but to potential hires too. Leveraging social media and professional networks to mine and build talent communities is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the outreach process. Video, collaboration programs, and employment engagement platforms are just a few of the tools companies are using to build the workforces of the future. Leaders are becoming more social by the minute. 

2)    Use Big Data to Build and Retain Talent: Top talent is still a rare commodity, but the pool of potential employees is global. Leveraging big data and talent analytics is essential to identifying skilled candidates and measuring the quality of hires. Put simply, statistical tools can help you locate the proverbial needle in a haystack. Otherwise, you might as well be aiming at a dartboard blindfolded.

3)    Community Building: Community building is not just important on the job, it is an important way companies are attracting the right recruits. For example, companies like GM have used employee generated content dispersed through social media to attract and build talent-based communities. Innovative practices like these are helping companies expand their talent pool.

4)    Interface is Everything: To reach potential employees you must connect with them using the same tools and technologies they use. Think candidate experience. Essentially, this means giving potential hires a great experience with whatever platform, device or channel they choose to use when interacting with your company. Top-quality candidates have more choices than ever. If they can’t connect with you seamlessly, then they’ll likely pass you over in favor of someone else.

5)    Employee Engagement: Today, hiring a recruit is only the beginning of an extended process. Employee engagement is indispensable towards maintaining a deep bench and a motivated workforce. Creating a connected and collaborative workplace environment helps assure that employees have open lines of communication, team-building tools and the feedback they require to do their jobs. Today’s recruiting is not your mother or father’s recruiting. The emergence of global markets, social media, and analytic tools is transforming the business of hiring and retaining employees. Companies need to out-smart, out-innovate, and out-hustle the competition if they want to have the inside track when it comes to attracting the highest quality candidates. If you want the best and brightest to work for you, then you had better be the best and the brightest at acquiring talent.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

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How Facebook Is Recruiting Exceptional Talent Today

Facebook, the largest social network with 1.55 billion monthly active users, is consistently one of the top employers in America. Don’t you wonder how a company with nearly 13,000 employees and 49 offices around the world manage to lure top talent year after year? Let’s examine Facebook’s magnetic appeal and see how we can all learn from it to recruit exceptional talent.

Facebook Recruitment Relies on Fit, Unique Tactics, and the Ability to Change

Fit comes first at Facebook; if you don’t share common values that drive the rest of the team, it probably won’t work out. “We want to make sure that we approach recruiting in the same way that we approach the design of the product and the services that we deliver to the world,” said Miranda Kalinow-ski, Facebook’s head of global recruiting, in an interview with in an interview with Business Insider. “And that’s with the focus on connection. We want to connect to our candidates in the recruiting or inter-viewing process pretty deeply.” This means everyone from engineers to accountants should be driven to make an impact that will help connect the more than 5 billion people who aren’t using Facebook yet.

But the fit is just the beginning: Talent, diversity, and a strategic screening process are also critical. Re-cruiting company Recruiting company ERE dissected some of Facebook’s recruiting methods and identi-fied the most important aspects of their HR philosophy.

  • Facebook sees employees as vital corporate assets. The company understands the value of its workers; they put a dollar value on employee assets to make calculated risks with recruiting and retention practices. Recognizing the actual value of employees makes it easier to prioritize their growth and success, instead of keeping a narrow focus on the end product.

The company commits serious time and effort to the recruitment process. It has some of the most unusual and innovative approaches to attracting new staff. Facebook:

  • Acquires businesses for their human capital. Some companies buy small enterprises for their customer base or product; Facebook pays close attention to existing talent within the firm. This lets them acquire an entire team that already works well together instead of piecing together something new.
  • Has flexible but specific acceptance standards. Applicants don’t need to demonstrate formal education to get a job, but they do need to have the skills, commitment, and drive to make things happen. Evan Priestley didn’t finish high school, but he landed a job with Facebook by devising an innovative solution to a Facebook puzzler posted to Red-dit.
  • Uses internal resources to attract recruits. CEO Mark Zuckerberg acts as the chief re-cruiter, speaking in schools and other public forums to get attention and raise Face-book’s profile. The company also puts a high value on employee referrals, using “Ninja Hunts” to identify engineers who would fit well.
  • Stages onboarding as a six-week boot camp. It may seem intense, but boot camp lets recruits get their feet wet before they settle into a particular department or specialization. At the end of the six weeks, each person identifies the team and project they’d like to join. This flexible onboarding process helps every new employee move into an area where they’re most likely to thrive.
  • Provides employees with exceptional HR benefits and perks. Facebook is well known for its out-standing benefits, including free, high-quality food and unlimited sick days. Happy hours and other campus perks encourage communication and collaboration. Employees socialize and work in the same environment—a mix carefully calculated to inspire new and innovative ideas.
  • Embraces constant change.. The tech industry changes rapidly, and Facebook understands that to stay relevant; it needs to be ready. The company values people who take risks; rather than worry about mistakes, it’s more afraid to miss an opportunity.

Recruit Exceptional Talent in 2016

You can use Facebook’s recruiting wizardry as inspiration to make meaningful changes; to improve em-ployee engagement and satisfaction as well as your ability to meet strategic business goals. How? Try this:

  1. Think of recruitment as akin to product marketing. Smashfly, a recruitment marketing platform vendor, is built around a concept it calls “recruitment marketing“—the idea that finding the right candidate is a very similar process to acquiring ideal customers. If you market your compa-ny to the talent you want, using the same channels they use, you can more effectively reach and attract the right people. Use brand advocates as part of your efforts; they’re an effective way to leverage employee networks, humanize your brand, and provide insight into company culture. Recruitment marketing doesn’t replace recruiting; it enhances the process.
  2. Be creative but true to your company’s core. Facebook understands the core traits and values that drive its success, but every company is different. In Australia, Ikea included hidden career instructions inside product packaging. Google used a mysterious billboard to bring intrigued en-gineers to their door. If it engages candidates and aligns with your recruitment goals, it can help improve talent acquisition.
  3. Never stop looking. Some businesses pick up the pace of recruitment as a reaction to business needs or employee turnover. But this is another way recruitment is like product marketing: If you only make an effort when you need quick results, you’re too late. Always be on the lookout for qualified candidates, and nurture a recruitment strategy that maintains a constant drip of ac-tivity and engagement.

Facebook wins at employee recruiting. Companies can’t all be like Facebook—and don’t need to be. Look for recruiting ideas that make sense within your organizational framework, and don’t be afraid to learn from a few mistakes along the way.

Smashfly is a TalentCulture client but the views expressed in this post are my own.

A version of this was first posted on Huffington Post.

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The Manager’s Guide To Developing A Growth Mindset

A dramatic shift in the job market has led many companies to turn to feedback to improve employee retention rates. Unlike in the past, employees are feeling less tied to company loyalty and freer to take on new opportunities. Millennials in particular are notorious for their job-hopping tendencies, with most being expected to stick with each job for less than three years. Employee turnover can result in major costs for your company, and significantly impact company morale. Think about how much time you’re already spending recruiting new people to replace those who left.

Attracting top talent will also become more challenging as potential hires are not only looking at salaries, but also quality of the work environment. Rating based reviews on websites like Glassdoor are helping hires become more selective and raising concern amongst companies over the potential for disgruntled employees to scare off new talent. As companies focus more on trying to reverse this trend, feedback has emerged as a way to better engage employees.

To some, giving candid feedback more often may seem counter-productive, but a 2009 Gallup Inc. study shows that 98% of employees fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback. As a result, companies are investing more in new feedback technology to encourage the exchange of feedback between managers and employees. Faced with the challenge of satisfying a more demanding employee population, managers will be responsible for using this technology to infuse the workplace with a greater feedback culture.

Why is feedback important for me as a manager?

While the entrance of Millennials into the workplace will present new opportunities, it will also require adjustments to your management style. The top two most commonly cited reasons for employee turnover are problems with management and a lack of opportunities for professional development. In fact, a 2014 study by Deloitte University revealed that two-thirds of Millennials believe managers are responsible for providing them with further development opportunities. In other words, managers must become more open and engaged in their employees’ career growth to meet their expectations.

When given effectively, providing your employees with more feedback is one of the best ways to demonstrate your involvement in their professional development. Giving your employees’ advice on how to enhance their skills and helping them to develop career goals is a powerful way to motivate your team. Even if you don’t have any constructive feedback to give, giving positive feedback is a great way to acknowledge an employee’s work and make them feel valued within the team. In the long term, feedback can significantly boost team spirit and productivity.

Feedback is not only helpful for improving your employees’ performance, but also allows you to pinpoint adjustments that need to be made to your management style. Employees might be reluctant to voice concerns about your performance as a manager until it’s too late. Creating an open environment in which employees are encouraged to give you feedback in return will foster greater trust between you and your team, and alert you to potential conflicts before they heat up.

Changing your mindset

To realize the benefits of a feedback culture, you and your employees will need to overcome common misconceptions about feedback. As a manager you may be hesitant to give constructive feedback to your employees and risk hurting or offending them. When it comes to your top performers, you may stick to showering them exclusively with praise as a way to demonstrate how satisfied you are with their work. When it comes to receiving feedback from your reports, you may feel uncomfortable or even defensive when given constructive criticism. You may question whether opening yourself up to feedback will undermine your position as a manager.

If this sounds familiar you may have what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck terms a “fixed mindset” towards feedback. People with a fixed mindset see their intelligence and personality as static features. Constructive feedback is therefore taken personally and can elicit a more emotional response. People with a “growth mindset”, on the other hand, see their abilities as learned traits which must be exercised and enhanced to develop over time. People with growth-centered mindsets will view feedback as a way to re-assess and hone their skills.

Remember that employees with fixed and growth mindsets may react differently to your feedback. If an employee becomes defensive or emotional when you review their performance, this may be a sign that they have a fixed mindset. To create a positive feedback culture, it’s essential that you coach your employees on how to open themselves up to and benefit from feedback.

How to create a feedback culture in the workplace:

  1. It starts with you

Become a role model for open communication by asking for more feedback. Creating an open environment in which employees feel comfortable reviewing your performance will help you to improve your management skills and encourage them to see feedback from a different perspective. It is likely that some of your reports will be hesitant at first to give you honest feedback. Here are some ways you can break down these barriers.

  1. Encourage employees to come to you for feedback

Be sure to make yourself available when employees seek feedback and follow up with them after giving it. Giving your employees feedback more often will motivate them to come back to you for advice when they need it. The most important part is to learn how to give a mix of positive and constructive feedback and work on delivery. Communicating feedback in a clear and constructive way will ensure that it’s received well and taken into consideration. The following guides will go into greater detail on how to deliver effective feedback.

  1. Promote peer to peer feedback

Getting used to giving and receiving feedback from each other will help employees improve their interpersonal communication skills and build a greater sense of team spirit. There may be some employees who continually take on an informal mentorship role. Help them to develop their potential leadership skills by providing extra training on how to give effective positive and constructive feedback. See our series of feedback guides for employees to get some inspiration.

  1. Identify and coach employees with fixed mindsets

Employees with fixed mindsets will need extra coaching to overcome their defensive tendencies. Consider holding one-on-one sessions where you can discuss their reactions to feedback, and come up with a plan to overcome their inhibitions. For tips on how to hold effective one-on-ones see here.

Summary and take-aways:

When given and received effectively, feedback can be a powerful tool to not only improve professional skills, but also to motivate, increase productivity and raise the profile of your company’s work culture. However, as a manager you will not only need to adjust your mindset towards giving and receiving feedback, but also that of your employees’.

  • Ask for more feedback from your employees
  • Encourage employees to come to you for feedback
  • Promote peer to peer feedback
  • Coach employees on how to achieve a growth mindset

A version of this post was first published on the Impraise blog.

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How Leaders Hire Top Tech Talent

The competition to hire top talent, especially top tech talent, has never been fiercer. And no wonder. There is no substitute for raw tech talent. It can take your organization to a whole new level of performance. Here’s a little not-so secret: one sizzling star employee is worth 50 so-so employees.

The question becomes: How do you find these stars and then successfully recruit them for your company? Especially the passive recruits — those people who are perfectly happy in their current positions and will only leave when an offer is really tantalizing.

What you don’t want to do is contact them cold with a form e-mail and a generic or uninspiring job description. What you do want to do is slowly engage them in a genuine dialogue that intrigues, engages and inspires them to want to make a bold career move and discover your employer brand and other offerings.

Fortunately, social media and other technologies have handed Leaders, HR and Recruiters breakthrough tools to facilitate this delicate recruiting dance. Social networks and the vast amounts of professional and personal “big data” available today make it possible to get to know a potential recruit before you make that crucial first contact.

The key here is to mine and leverage the networks and data looking for a recruit’s true interests and passions, and to see where they align or dovetail with your organization’s mission, vision and values. Culture fit is always an important consideration.

A simple search of Google, Facebook and LinkedIn (and more) can uncover valuable insights into a recruit’s history, accomplishments, motivators, personality and passions. Then there are technologies and companies that can perform this profiling and vetting process for you. The bottom line in any case is actionable information.

Once you feel you’ve got a clear, 3-D picture of the talent you want to woo, you can take the first steps. You want to personalize your initial contact, key it into something you know will pique their curiosity. Don’t mention a specific job in your opening. Talk about the kind of work they’re passionate about, and how you may be able to offer them fresh and rewarding career challenges that will help them grow and flourish. Remember to keep the focus on the skill set and personality characteristics of this person, not on you or your organization at first.

Don’t throw around a lot of buzzwords or try to dazzle talent by tossing in references to the latest technologies. The latest technologies are a given these days for tech talent. It’s the big picture, interesting and innovative challenges that will excite them. So be specific. Talk about what your organization has accomplished, and wants to accomplish in the future. Get them interested in outcomes. Focus on the work.

Do leverage any connections you may have to the candidate. If you’ve both worked with some of the same people, that creates an instant common ground. If the person has done something amazing or interesting, reference it. This could be a product development strategy, a blog post or completing a triathlon.

Don’t overload the first connection. The goal is initial personal engagement. Mention an opportunity, and then ask to schedule a ten-minute call or video connect to discuss it, sometime in the near future. If the talent agrees to this, go for it and keep your promise to follow-up. You can then line up someone they will be working with directly, preferably a leader or someone very hands-on with the technology, to be a part of the next step of the recruiting process.

In the follow-up, get them talking. Although social media and data mining has given you a full picture of the recruit, the more they talk, the closer you will be to closing to the deal. Listen. Respond specifically, never generally. Ask them about what they’re working on and look for passion points – those places where their voices grow excited, their adrenaline flows.

Remember that the potential recruit has probably (definitely) researched you and your company brand since your initial contact. So make sure your profiles and posts are up-to-date, savvy and intriguing. That said, never be immodest or pushy. When someone (recruiters often get a bad rap for this approach) pushes too hard, the natural human instinct is to pull back.

Finally, invite them in to see for themselves what your organization is doing. Don’t fall into the recruiting trap of putting on a unrealistic or flashy show that does not genuinely reflect your workplace culture when candidates phone screen, video interview or arrive for an in person round – that’s false advertising and usually comes back to haunt you in the form of an unhappy, disillusioned, unsatisfied employee.

As I’ve said many times – a one size workplace culture fits no one. Use these guidelines and tools, provided by social media and technology, to craft a customized approach that will exponentially increase your ability to connect with, hire and hopefully retain superstar talent.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

photo credit: Expression via photopin (license)

Leadership Is Catching A Mobile Recruiting Wave

Leaders, Recruiters and HR pros (even if it’s a team of one person) have a true breakthrough tool in mobile recruiting and hiring. And its usage is growing exponentially. Over a billion job searches are conducted on a mobile device every month. That adds up to a global talent pool that is far and wide. As a result, mobile-friendly career sites with intuitive job application processes are becoming an essential part of innovative recruiting teams worldwide.

According to Aberdeen research, “SoMoClo [Social and Mobile Computing] enables organizations to provide their end-uses the experience that is connect (social), everywhere they go (mobile), with access to data whenever and wherever it’s needed (cloud).” It all adds up to a business imperative for any organization that wants to find and hire stellar talent.  And Brandon Hall Group recently reported, “Mobile technology is driving big changes in talent acquisition. The number of candidates using mobile devices to search and apply for new job opportunities is growing exponentially – especially in international markets where a mobile device is often the only access people have to the Internet.”

The key, of course, is implementing a system and process that works for your unique culture and hiring strategies. That’s where the real leadership and technical savvy comes in. There are numerous programs and apps out there. How do you find the right one?

Here are five steps to help guide your process.

1) Don’t be blinded by bells and whistles. A lot of HR Technology finds are dazzling in design and ease of use (both important btw) and in the array of information they can collect. All well and good – if (huge if) it jibes with your organization’s needs. Why buy a Mercedes if a Honda will get you where you want to go? So know what your requirements are and take a wary view of too much razzle-dazzle. There’s an old saying in Hollywood: “Big office, small movie. Small office, big movie.” Wise words.

2) Don’t be afraid to ask for outside expertise. You don’t want your team spending forever and a day plugging into the mobile recruiting research if they are not interested or ready. So consider hiring outside talent to set it up for you and advise regarding adoption. But be wary (see above) of any consultant “expert” or sales rep who tries to oversell you. This comes back to knowing your unique workplace culture needs and communicating them clearly to everyone in order to engage the right help.

3) Understand the SoMoClo landscape. Educate yourself on the various programs and apps available for hiring and onboarding job applicants. A background check app, for example, makes sense for many organizations. And a referral app lets employees deliver a well-rounded portrait of talent they think might shine and be a great fit in your organization. Filters that disqualify, or highlight, applicants based on your organization’s needs can save a lot of time and money. Caveat: some of the most talented people in the world are idiosyncratic types who may have strange holes in their resumes. You don’t want a filter that disqualifies these people who may fit your workplace culture. Video interviews are another priceless way to gain a well-rounded sense of a long distance applicant. There are a lot of tools out here. Know which ones match your needs. 

4) Develop a mobile optimized career site. Your career and recruiting site will be talent’s first impression of you. Make sure it’s an honest reflection of your mission and workplace culture. Creating a mobile optimized career site is the place to start.  Starting with a mobile landing page, one that includes some info about the role and your employer brand. The last thing you want to do is misrepresent your company. That’s a prescription for poor hires and future talent retention problems. So find a voice that speaks directly and plainly to talent. Let them know who you are and what you stand for – and that you respect them. Applying for a job is stressful; make the candidate experience process as painless as possible. Find an engaging voice and you’re on your way.

5) Put some passion into it. All employees want to feel engaged in their work. And stellar talent wants to be passionately engaged. So shoot for the top in your mobile recruiting. Don’t settle for adequate, or “will probably get the job done”. Don’t skimp on the initial resources needed to find, engage and ultimately hire top talent. Think world class, think superb, think Wow! And put that energy into your mobile recruiting strategy.

Mobile recruiting excites me because I’ve seen the research, enjoyed many conversations with leaders and know it’s potential to help the recruiting process, onboarding and overall candidate experience for brands across the globe. It’s the present and the future. Ride the wave.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Photo Credit: via Compfight cc