CareerXroads®Update - February 2012

By Gerry Crispin, SPHR and Mark Mehler

Turning the Tables: Jobseekers Are Sourcing Employers

Glassdoor's growing suite of jobseeker tools is beginning to look like best practice examples of how candidates can improve their own experience. Having recently added 'inside connections' to their services, jobseekers can now look up jobs, find out who they know (on Facebook), get Glassdoor's estimate of the salary that will be offered, uncover employee perceptions of the firm, and read examples of interview questions used by the firm.

Now they just need to add a link to the profiles of the hiring manager and other colleagues on the team with whom they are most likely to work. Oh and how about getting the status of your job application even when the firm doesn't offer it? (Hint to jobseekers: Want Status? Check out Startwire.)

Did That Robot Take My Job?

A very well-written article in MIT's Technology Review, "Tectonic Shifts in Employment', contends that Information Technology is reducing the need for certain jobs faster than new ones are being created. Noting that, "6.3 million fewer Americans have jobs than was true at the end of 2007. And yet the country's economic output is higher today than it was before the financial crisis."

The MIT article admits several elements are in play but claims that technological obsolescence is the predominant factor. A similar case was made in Bloomberg Businessweek, Did That Robot Take My Job? at the beginning of the year. There's no question that technology destroys jobs (and creates new ones) but is the gap as wide as these articles suggest?

We're not sure.

We think the use of contingent workers, for example, has increased to astounding levels and the accounting of this headcount is almost non-existent within companies when it comes to calculating productivity from F/T. As a result, firms show productivity spikes when in fact they may be using as much or more labor to accomplish their goals.

We're also concerned about unmeasured anecdotal evidence surfacing where well-known large companies consciously ratchet their performance technology tools to push individual workers (in the service/exempt classification) to unsustainable levels i.e. burning them out by forcing them to work longer hours to meet quotas etc. (And no, we are not talking about some other country here perhaps someone has been adopting a few developing country techniques here.) These onerous practices are similar to what we used to study in grad school as abuses from the 2nd industrial revolution, 1880-1920, that led to the rise of unions.

It makes us think some of the productivity gains we report might just be sleight of hand.

Creative Recruiting Video Strategy: So Bad it is Good

Supposedly what makes this Twitter recruiting video so good is just how bad it is (and it is really bad). For us, it was good because it was all we needed to decide we would never work there.

Which Job Lottery Would You Want to Invest in 10:1? Or 100:1?

Every month we survey our CareerXroads Colloquium members & friends on a subject they think is of interest. We design the questions to quickly gather information (usually within 48 hours). We do not intend these mini-surveys to be the last word on a subject - and in fact, we often raise more questions than we answer.

Our January survey on Employee Referral Practices was typical and the results that we shared with participants last month offered a handful of interesting insights. We were particularly pleased to see that the 'yield' on referrals continues to demonstrate how valuable - to the job seeker - getting a referral has become. A hire is produced from only an average 10.5 referrals and nearly half the respondents in our survey hire 1 in every 5 referrals or better.

Candidate Experience Checklist

We expect to be issuing the Candidate Experience Awards whitepaper shortly. In the meantime, this recast checklist from John Sumser's HRExaminer post offers a useful reminder that it is all common sense - which unfortunately is often in short supply.

  1. acknowledging receipt of an application
  2. avoiding postings that say little or insult the intelligence
  3. eliminating out of date postings
  4. monitoring an application against open opportunities
  5. staying in touch with relevant information
  6. letting the candidate know when their application is going to be flushed from the system
  7. having a privacy policy
  8. providing material that is interesting to candidates
  9. eliminating unnecessary 'clicks'
  10. making sure the website runs quickly
  11. offering suggestions to those who most likely are never going to be working for you
  12. describing the hiring process (how long, what's involved)
  13. illuminating the culture with profiles of successful members of the workforce
  14. addressing known PR problems (Here at Enron, we have a renewed emphasis on ethics)
  15. having a clear and compelling message
  16. eliminating things that waste a candidate's time
  17. providing ways for candidates to build their networks

Resumes Won't Die: They Just Revert To Their Original Purpose

Imagine if you "asked applicants to send links representing their 'Web presence,' such as a Twitter account or Tumblr blog [and then they] also had to submit short videos demonstrating their interest in the position."

Apparently this WSJ article, No More Resumes, found one firm doing just that (for one job) and concluded we may be on the cusp of eliminating resumes once again. The problem is that resumes are not intended as whitepapers of indeterminable length referencing every professional accomplishment by time and date. They also aren't easily compressed into a 140 character Twitter stream scanned by some CRM knockoff with a fancy algorithm either.

Resumes are something in between.

Resumes are more than "hello" and much less than a detailed and defensible application.

Resumes are not the medium. They are not necessarily printed 8.5x11.

There is no 'standard' requiring a resume to include or exclude certain information. If there were, there would only be ONE book on the subject.

A Resume is (and should be) a means for a prospect to say "I've seen your opportunity, I want to express interest because - I'm willing to give and get more, and hope you will express the same to me" Nothing more. Nothing Less. A reasonable employer should expect this first contact to be enough to decide whether to proceed to the next stage but not sufficient to select. So why not acknowledge this stage as an essential part of the dance?

If a trusted site contained a 'personal-branded' profile designed for one purpose: initial contact with an employer of interest, then the response to the content provided could be, "we saw your resume, thank you. We like what we saw so far. As a prospect, do you want to become a candidate and officially apply? Is there anything you need to know from us before you apply?"

Unfortunately, this approach suggests that the recruiting "hub" is the CRM and not the ATS. If that were the case then the budget appropriations are all wrong.

Adopt More 3rd Party Tactics Internally: Risky but Even More Rewarding

Greg Savage's article last month on Recruitingblogs, Keeping it real. Six tactics for hard-core recruiters in 2012, was written for 3rd Party Recruiters but we think some of his points (modified slightly) are relevant for discussion inside a corporate setting:

Fire clients - now.
We think some of the hiring managers within corporations are so bad, churning new hire after new hire, that they shouldn't be supported by staffing unless they are fired or their Talent Management colleagues fix their management style.

Spend less time on social media.
What? Blasphemy you say! SM may be the future but without centralizing your pioneering efforts, measuring the results and teaching people how to use it, it can cost heavily in productivity and efficiency.

Spend more time on the oldest social networking tool we have - the telephone.
And just how are these skills measured internally? Training and practice are in short supply here.

Focus money on productive activities.
How deeply does the cost of activities within a firm get disseminated? You can't get transparency externally if you don't have it internally.

Increase innovation and [learning] time on talent acquisition.
Every person in Talent Acquisition needs to have a voice, development opportunities and the time to experiment - and then share their results. This may seem counterintuitive but it is the focus here that is important.

Focus only on things over which you have control.
We would change this last to take responsibility for fixing the things you have control over and, if you have less control, volunteer to support others to find shared solutions.

Boat-Hand Humor: Realistic Job Previews - how not to

Joe Murphy's (Shaker consulting group) excellent blog and video show that creating realistic job previews to help reduce unqualified applicants isn't so trivial an exercise. As a tool we need to master however, this is already a critical component in converting prospects to candidates.

SourceCon: Taking the Temperature of the Staffing Space

(adapted from our Sourcecon was held in Atlanta's downtown Aquarium February 8-10 and this niche recruiting conference offered plenty of action for everyone interested in tracking, hunting and engaging candidates.

With over 200 attendees it was the largest gathering of its kind to date and, because its specialized focus is so technical, it afforded us with a glimpse of how the best minds in our profession are employing the newest staffing tools that have been bubbling up everywhere.

The presentations ranged from formal sessions on how to dig deeper into social media to one-on-one unpublished and private hacks shared by the elite after hours in a local bar- Sourcecon After Dark. (Normally we go to a bar after dinner to have a nightcap so this was definitely a different experience watching geeks gather around laptops and challenge each other to find purple squirrels.)

It wasn't all technical tactics though as several talks, including an excellent one by Aida La Chaux from Yahoo, a CareerXroads Colloquium member, who shared her insights into developing, leading and supporting sourcing teams while staying aligned to the business - particularly through times of adversity.

Additionally, on Elaine Orler's (TalentFunction) technology panel, corporate staffing leaders, Anne Dewys (Spectrum Healthcare), Chris Havrilla (Independent Contractor) and Theresa Hightower (Intellectual Ventures) offered critical business insights about how the enterprise tools (CRM, ATS) employed by Sourcers need to change in the future (this was the same day of Oracle's announcement to buy Taleo). And Adam Lawrence's (Alexander Mann) excellent keynote on sourcing's role in building trust globally touched a Candidate Experience nerve that needs to be expanded in several directions.

Even older technology (think office phone) became the focus for awhile as Conni LaDouceur enthralled the audience by playing tapes of successful calls into firms she had targeted in order to learn everything she could about the firm's people - titles, responsibilities, reporting relationships and teams (whose online presence by the way was limited or non-existent). These calls are priceless training tools for direct sourcing and should be discussed openly in every firm. Sourcing skills clearly aren't limited to one medium.

Glen Cathey was outstanding as the Master of Ceremonies and shared his journey and lessons learned as a recruiter, sourcer and leader in the field. A former Sourcecon MC now with Hodes, Jim Stroud, gave one of the most entertaining and energizing talks laced with plenty of apps and ideas to start the conference off.

Ending the conference was a talk by Eric Jaquith that had the audience begging for more as he shared some of his 'tricks of the trade' (that will likely cause a few vendors to shudder). It was also a highlight for me because he first put the focus of his presentation into the context of a winning hand of poker. He bridged the gap from technique to goal by linking the tactical 'features' of the tactic to the 'benefits' leading to a successful placement strategy. I believe this will be a classic and would love to see his detailed description of a 'high hand' put into a whitepaper. It deserves some serious attention.

Kudos to Amybeth Hale (currently at ERE but soon headed for Microsoft) for putting this program together and to ERE for their pioneering efforts at streaming and archiving this content (I hate the word curate). It is all (PPT and A/V) available here

Sodexo's Social Media Strategy

This Sodexo case study posted by Marion Muller recently covers the company's Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and CareerSite efforts. Well written, it has several learning points we agree with including the importance making people accessible (2-way communication) and focusing on transparency of content.

However, we're not actually sure the post is about a 'strategy' since it fails to provide a context for the business or what they wanted to accomplish as much as it documents a set of choices for engaging prospects and candidates. Still, it always helps to see where others have been.

ROI on College Hires from Elite Schools

Peter Cappelli contrasts the value of hiring from elite schools in this HRExecutive column. ROI might not be as obvious and Peter Cappelli's Wharton colleagues might be wondering what possessed him.

Pre-Assess Candidates for Leadership traits: Sense or Nonsense

Notwithstanding the previous post on the value of an MBA, we were recently intrigued by friends - practitioners - who are in the midst of developing a service to pre-assess leadership capabilities of 'early career' professionals.

We don't know if there is a market for candidates, solely comprised of early-career professionals that meet a valid "standard" for leadership but - - -we thought we would ask you. Click here to give your opinion in five minutes or less.