CareerXroads®Update - January 2012

By Gerry Crispin, SPHR and Mark Mehler

Normally we 'push' two commentaries and observations on articles, events and conversations we think worthwhile to share every month or two. One we call "Update' which we have been sending out since 1996 (it can be opted in or out here) and the second is titled 'Bellwether' because it focuses on short takes about trends we think useful to our CareerXroads Colloquium members. We combined the two this month because the beginning of the year is all about trends, past and present, just no predictions (OK, just one).
We invite you to keep in touch and join us during the year at the various conferences where we speak or simply attend.

11th Annual Source of Hire Survey: Channels of Influence

We've sent the invitations to 200 large and competitive firms to participate in our annual Source of Hire Survey this month. It is designed so that we can crunch the results in less than a month and publish. If your firm hasn't received an invitation you can still take the Source of Hire Survey.

This year we are trying to expand the notion that multiple sources influence what you attribute as the primary source. The challenge, as always, is to do it in a way that can be answered quickly and accurately. (Note: We do eliminate small firms from the survey before we even start to look at results.)

OK. One Prediction and One Prediction Only for 2012.

Educational Technologies (broadband video, collaboration tools, e-learning development tools, marketing and distribution tools, apps, etc., etc.) passed a tipping point in 2011 and will change 'training' and 'learning' business models forever. 2012 is the beginning of the end for current approaches to how we attend conferences; collaborate at seminars; develop ourselves and our colleagues; train our subordinates; support local-tax-based school systems; matriculate at college and much more.

This article in Forbes: M.I.T. Game Changer (passed on to us by Carmen Hudson) begins by noting an M.I.T. announcement from December 19, 2011 that it will offer online courses for free beginning in January (not its current decade-old OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative with 2300 courses online anyone could audit but) "a new online learning initiative, internally called M.I.T.x, which combines research, technical innovation and new online learning opportunities" and where "Students using the program will be able to communicate with their peers through student-to-student discussions, allowing them an opportunity to ask questions or simply brainstorm with others, while also being able to access online laboratories and self-assessments." Individuals who complete the program will receive a certificate of completion.

The comments at the end of the article are well worth reading and include many naysayers who, in our humble opinion, missed the point that tens of millions of people around the world and currently cut off from ever attending college can, in the future, access knowledge vetted by some of the best and brightest minds in the world, and develop and collaborate with a learning network.

Whether or not a learner has 'experienced' a college campus or formally been granted a degree is just not as relevant from a global, long-term perspective. Demonstrating that someone knows what they can do with what they know (and with those they've developed a network to do it) is increasingly what matters.

But that isn't the whole point either. Anyone who has looked at a TED presentation (any TED presentation), heard the Khan Academy story or sent a friend a link to an archived ERE Expo session after watching it live has to suspect that something new is in the wings. When students (of every stripe) can access low cost, just-in-time learning objects that offer interaction with the author, networking & collaboration and ability to demonstrate mastery, you've got a winning model.

Trainers, educators and learning developers might look at this expertly developed list of the Top 100 Learning Tools for 2011 compiled by Jane Hart. How many are you familiar with? How many of these would enhance your content; expand your reach 100 fold; create an interactive and collaborative platform to upgrade your content continuously?

Will geo-location learning events disappear? Not a chance but the cost and the expectations of going to a conference, attending a live seminar, traveling to a training, even matriculating at a college will escalate both in cost and expectations.

Sitting in a darkened room in a lecture format in 2012 just won't cut it at a national conference or a college campus. Searching and finding content that is video-streamed live (or recorded sub-rosa by any number of attendees) has gotten much easier. If we can 'huddle' with our fellow students, chat with the instructor and participate in the learning from our home or office, we're going to spend much more time doing that and learning what we need to learn when we need to learn it.

If we do attend in the flesh, we will want intense, face-to-face participative involvement emphasizing networking, hands on activities where highly specified outcomes are promised. This will draw attendance but not much else. Conferences are already shifting their focus from what goes on in their concurrent sessions to what goes on around them.

Learning From the Poorest Among Us

Speaking of Educational models, the best TED show we reviewed in 2011, hands down, was the Barefoot University. A few excerpts:

  • "If you should have a PhD or Masters - you are disqualified to come [as a professor]. You have to be a cop-out, a wash-out or a drop-out to come - you have to show you have a skill you can offer [to others]."
  • "We want to develop professionals and we define a professional as a mixture of Competence Confidence and Belief."
  • "You don't need a degree or certificate to put on the wall; you are certified by the community you serve."

If you watch this video you will come away with major thoughts about what might be done with little or nothing - - - and how we've not begun to tap out-of-box-thinking on how to select those who can do almost everything with nothing [hint: Nona].

Disability Rule Being Proposed: Needs Reasonable Employer Accommodation

This LATimes Article: Plan to boost employment for disabled workers, suggests that the government will require federal contractors to set a goal of having disabled workers make up at least 7% of their employees.

However, as is normal with good ideas that get government attention, the proposed rule suggests employers (who decline to hire someone who has declared themselves as disabled) must write a report. See this SHRM article on these new paperwork requirements (available to members only). We think the best part of this is it is still 'proposed' and gives your lobbyists time to weigh in.

Twitter Goes To Court. Will You?

Is tweeting part of how you get your message out to prospects and communicate with your company's candidates? Do you drive (or ask) the people you have sourced to 'friend you' on Linkedin even before inviting them to join your company's Linkedin group? It might be time to consider a conversation about whose social media accounts are in play during the sourcing, wooing, selection and onboarding of your prospects and candidates: the company's accounts, the recruiter's accounts or, more likely, both.

It seems companies are waking up to the customers that former employees are walking away with when they leave. Even when they leave on good terms as a recent NYTimes article about a former employee connecting to 17,000 prospective customers points out. Face it; we are a litigious society and (nothing personal but) your employer will react if they believe you (or the aggregate of many of you) are impacting their bottom line.

It may only be a matter of time before employers consider whether their Talent Community is more closely associated with current and former recruiters and sourcers than the firm itself.

While we think it best to tweet under your name for some things and separate company-related name when dealing with marketing your firm's employment brand or responding to specific inquiries from candidates, it is difficult to separate work and personal comments.

To keep your personal tweets (and tweets about your own joy and pain at work) separate from the posting of jobs and responses to job inquiries requires discipline. But, as @Phonedog_Noah discovered in the Times article, there may not be a long-term acceptance on using a Twitter Handle that was connected to your job after your job is history. Staffing leaders need to set protocols for who owns what social media accounts now.

Predicting the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow: Possibilities versus Priorities

We've read more than100 staffing predictions for 2012 and it seems like they all have something in common - - - they are obvious.

Will Mobile, Social Media, and Talent Communities continue to make inroads in staffing strategies and tactics? Is it possible that Job Boards will have to evolve if they want to remain relevant to the way firms will find prospects in the future? Would you suppose the mergers of best-in-breed technologies with enterprise solutions will continue? Will we all end up in the cloud?

When it comes to integration of technologies and processes we're more likely to read nuanced discussions by folks like Ed Newman, Jason Averbrook or any of the forums moderated by Bill Kutik at the Linkedin HRTechnology Conference Group.

Predictions are entertaining and worth noting for their potential but not necessarily a priority. Practices that competitive firms are changing today and investing in for tomorrow are the issue. Rather than listening to what consultants (with an agenda we might add) are claiming may be done at some vague future moment isn't as important as learning what your colleague and sometimes competitor is doing right now.

Some Thoughts on Talent Communities

This brief but solid list of practical notions by Gautam Ghosh is well worth thinking about for 2012 (another thoughtful blog by Gautam emphasizing the marketing component of SM is also good). In part, Gautam said:

  • Talent communities are where people go to connect with fellow professionals and learn. Hence they are more "communities of practice" than anything else.
  • Talent communities are [also] places one goes to find experts.
  • Talent communities are [also] places one goes to build their own personal career brand.
  • Companies must engage in talent communities by letting [THEIR] internal experts connect with and build their own networks.
  • The best Talent Community Facilitator would be an expert in the roles - not necessarily a recruiter.
  • The focus on jobs/recruiting has to be secondary to the above.

These, mostly 'declarative' statements, should make every staffing leader stop and think about whether a) you believe them to be true and, b) if so, can a company reasonably achieve these goals while cherry picking continuously from this same community for currently open jobs.

The answers are not so obvious and in 2012 we suggest participating or lurking at Marvin Smith's excellent Linkedin Group, Talent Communities Development where the discussions are lively and raise even more questions.

Best General Review of 2011

Zeitgeist 2011: Year in Review

Toward a Workable Sourcing Definition: Three Layers

@Jeremylanghans from Starbucks pointed us to this excellent article by @SarangBrahme, Digging For Gold: Three Layers of Candidate Sourcing. We liked Sarang's three layer approach that separated low hanging fruit, talent communities and dark matter into their own buckets. Seems to us that training and rewards for the skills, knowledge and experience required would be different for each.

Recession's Ongoing Impact

This recent SHRM poll, The Ongoing Impact of the Recession-Global Competition and Hiring Strategies is relatively straightforward with statements like: "Organizations that are struggling to find skilled workers are looking overseas and in the military to fill their open positions, according to new research by the Society for Human Resource Management."

Still, the poll has solid results staffing leaders may want to share with other Talent Management leaders in their firm:

  • More than one-half (52%) of organizations that are currently hiring full-time staff are having a difficult time filling those positions.
  • Of that group, nearly one-quarter (24%) of respondents said they have hired workers from outside the United States to fill those positions.
  • Also from that group, nearly two in five (39%) said they have hired U.S. veterans for open positions, and another 15% said they are either considering or plan to hire veterans in the next 12 months.

Government Standard for Time-to-Hire is Still Too Loooong!

Bill Leonard's recent HR Magazine article, Wanted: Shorter Time to Hire (requires membership), was an eye-opening update on the May 2010 executive memorandum directing the US Office of Personnel Management (and other Federal agencies) to reform their hiring process. The original memo called the candidate experience into question with meaningless, subjective essays and an average 135 days time-to-hire (never defined) being singled out.

To put the challenge into perspective Bill's article notes that each year the federal government receives 21 million applications to fill 350,000 openings (that add to, replace or support 2.1 million Federal employees).

The good news is the essays are gone and the time-to-hire has dropped to 105 days. The bad news is the replacement tests are one-way and un-proctored. One of the government's consultants had the hubris to claim that now the Government has helpful lessons for the private sector because they are experts on high volume recruiting.

Really? If those lessons include suggestions like getting rid of essays and building requisitions- based pipelines that last 100 days, we probably don't need to go back to the future. 100 days time-to-fill on average would drive most firms out of business.

Every top performer who doesn't leave is one less you have to replace

December's HR Magazine article, Who Will Stay and Who Will Go (requires membership), by Kathryn Tyler offered some unusual advice we endorse from a staffing viewpoint: "Train and require Managers (not recruiters or HR) to systematically interview their best performers."

This initiative to reduce turnover that might be saved by early intervention is called "Stay Interviews." The training and script described by the author was transparent i.e. "I want to talk with you today about the most important reasons you stay with us - especially those areas that I may have more control over." Having a Manager ask questions such as these:

  • "When you travel to work each day, what are you looking forward to?"
  • "How does working here compare to what you thought it would be like"
Were examples that could be extended and customized based on level, etc.

Only one firm's results were presented in the story: a health care firm, which claimed a 72% reduction in turnover among veteran nurses. Seems to us that limiting the tactic to top performers makes good sense, the incentive to deploy would be the likelihood your best performers are being sourced. It also cuts down on the pressure to offer counter offers, a last resort tactic we seldom find worthwhile.

Lessons from Successful Networkers

Bill Barnett's Harvard Business School Blog Post: Lessons from Successful Networkers is indicative of how mainstream networking has become. The blog offered "examples of people who've built powerful - but very different - networks. One's tiny; the other's enormous. Each was assembled in a very different way."

What we expect to use in recommending to our friends in transition is the main point of the blog: you must build it before you need it. (Even better than the advice is the quality of the 22 comments.)

Should You Outsource? One Professor's Point of View

Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor Professor of Management and director of the Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School, writes a monthly column for HR Executive Magazine and his focus last month was on Outsourcing. Assessing the business risks and balancing your conclusions in terms of the need for reliability versus responsiveness is the precis of this column but the details are worth reviewing.

Brazil: "The only thing the country has in common with BRIC is growth"

Gerry kept us up-to-speed during his 10-day trip to Brazil with 25 HR leaders last month. His six blogs on the trip are easily accessible and cover a range of observations and learning:

  1. Prepping for Brazil: Another Excellent Adventure
  2. Getting to Rio: Good News and Bad News
  3. First Meeting is with a Jedi Knight - No, Really!
  4. Brazil is a country with some big numbers
  5. "Brazil is the beautiful lady at the party. Everyone wants to dance with her"
  6. Brazil Epilogue: Where Companies Can Grow Without Losing Their Soul

What's next? He's headed to Israel at the end of February to examine recruiting among the entrepreneurial nation.