CareerXroads®Update - June 2011

By Gerry Crispin, SPHR and Mark Mehler

Since 1996 our Update has been published 10-12 times each year and aims to share commentary, observations, perspectives and data we come across during our staffing adventures. We hope you continue to enjoy it and pass it on to friends. All are invited to register for the Update for free. Coupled with our Bellwether, a provocative monthly look at trends we share with CareerXroads Colloquium members, we are always willing to challenge the accepted wisdom or poke a little fun at the staffing industry and ourselves in the process.
We invite you to keep in touch and join us during the year at the various conferences where we speak or simply attend.

It's Time Black Holes Stopped Stealing the Starlight: Apply Now

Our galaxy may have its share of black holes but, here and there, bright lights are shining and we would like to name them. You may be one of them.

And that's why The Candidate Experience Awards were launched.

For several months now TalentFunction, The AccidentalEntrepreneur and CareerXroads have been engaged in conversations about the viability of creating and delivering an award to recognize firms who go beyond the latest tools and focus on the quality of the experience they deliver. We reasoned it was time to thank staffing leaders who quietly push to re-align their recruiting processes to mirror an engaged work environment (our preferred way to drive business success in the next millennium). We even created a survey to test our notion about whether firms would step-up to apply for the CandE Award and nearly 50 recruiting leaders responded with a resounding yes. The time is right.

We created a non-profit (TalentBoard) to avoid conflict of interest, found sponsors (see the website) and a venue to deliver the award (HR Technology Conference).

We debated for two months about how to approach the 'application' and ended up, after considerable testing, with 40 questions that dig into five aspects of the candidate experience:

  1. the period before the prospect applies;
  2. the actual experience of applying;
  3. the experience of candidates who never will become finalists;
  4. the finalists;
  5. and, part of the on-boarding period.

We also realized we better walk the talk ourselves so we've promised a confidential phone call to every firm that completes the award application (yes, it is free) - especially those that don't go forward. We hope to build a description of best practices that anyone can use for comparison and to improve their experience. Those who do go forward and are willing to ask some of their candidates to confirm their claims will be acknowledged in October at an HR Technology session and then feted at a special reception.

We wish there could be hundreds of winners.

We hope there will be dozens.

Judges (soon to be announced) will help us identify the companies with distinctive stories we can share.

Come see how your firm stacks up.

(Kudos to Chris Forman, Startwire and Elaine Orler, TalentFunction for starting us down this particular road as well as to the sponsors lining up behind this idea.)

Is the Myth of Education about to Burst? "A Bubble is Something Overvalued and Intensely Believed"

This TechCrunch article by Sarah Lacy starts off by saying "This article will piss off a lot of you." It certainly caught our attention and at least 257 others who commented, at times, VERY LOUDLY.

The story is about Peter Thiel, PayPal founder. Wealthy and opinionated, he is acting on his belief that education has been oversold. He is paying 20 kids, 20 years of age and younger to drop out of college for 2 years. He is paying them $100,000 a year.The article is well-written and examines the point and counterpoint to education as a bubble but it is the comments where you see the frustration or blind faith to which Peter is reacting.

Our job requirements for a college graduate or 'equivalent' seldom if ever accept an 'equivalent'. If you can remember when the last professional role you filled was w/o a degree, it is because [the event] was so unusual.

Busted: Facebook Uses Flacks to Plant Stories about Google

We been told that the new 'transparency ethos' has somehow eliminated the petty, back room, semi-illegal, un-empowering and un-engaging behaviors of companies who all now want to be on the best places to work lists.

Apparently not.

Despite the fact that literally every act is discoverable, there are still a few firms that seem to enjoy ethical risk-taking that may send millennials with a conscious running for cover. According to this Business Insider story, Facebook hired Burston-Marsaller (one of the world's pre-eminent PR firms) to purposely spread false rumors about Google invading the privacy of users.

I'm wondering how that will translate to recruiting at the social media site or the PR firm for that matter. Maybe they'll just raise the pay to assuage any pangs of conscience - - - or, better yet lie and say they did.

Pass This On To Your HR Counterparts - Revolution/Evolution in HR 2011

Spare, succinct and hitting the target in every phase, this extremely well-written whitepaper offered by Deloitte is one of the best general trends piece we've seen.

It is a complete 'summary' of the challenges, issues and core trends in HR and not a few of them fall right into the lap of Staffing as leader. We're particularly a fan of the section on analytics. The whitepaper suggests a five phase evolution from 'nothing' to 'leading' and identifies the following eight entry points:

  1. Workforce planning and optimization. What types of talent do you need across your businesses and geographies - and where are demographic shifts creating gaps in your supply-demand forecast?
  2. Recruiting analytics. As you focus on near-term needs and future generations, what are your most effective strategies for attracting critical talent?
  3. Retention risk analytics. Which categories of employees and which specific employees are flight risks? Why?
  4. Organizational design. What organization structures can help you manage growth in the "new normal?"
  5. Leadership development. Who will replace your current leaders and when? What is their probability of success?
  6. Workforce safety analytics. How can you anticipate workplace accidents before they happen to improve compliance, productivity, and lower costs?
  7. Workforce transitions. How can you make more effective workforce deployment decisions related to mergers, acquisitions, realignments, market opportunities, and competitive threats?
  8. Health and productivity. How can you more effectively correlate benefits and related investments in wellness with productivity?

The whole paper is well worth the read and sharing internally.


We are hearing more people refer to what they are doing with Talent Communities as "Curating Talent." Curate is a verb. It means to select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition). This appears to be another way to examine the staffing supply chain without becoming emotionally involved in the fact that you are impacting people's lives and therefore might have some responsibility to them.

Stop it.

Measuring the Right Thing is Crucial to Social Media in the Future

Over and over, the legitimate effort to apply metrics to our profession gets sidetracked when it comes down to the specifics. This is especially true with Social Media and all the noise it generates. Often we seem to be moving down measurement blind alleys that will be unlikely to help our long term cause: hire qualified and fully engaged candidates.

Recently, Mark and I were asked the following question:
"Your Sources of Hire study for 2011 states 88.5% of firms surveyed consider social media part of their Direct Sourcing efforts. But, I'm guessing that the folks who participate in this survey with you would be skewed to be among the most sophisticated portion of the corporate recruiting community. Do you believe that's the case? So, do you think one can make the leap and extrapolate that 80-something % of US employers across-the-board are using social media to recruit in 2011? Does that sound right to you?"

Part of our answer went something like this:

  • 15 years ago it would have been silly to ask recruiters "What percent of your hires involves the use of a phone?" The question is meaningless because the answer is a partial description of the means to an end and not at all crucial to the decision process (unless of course the ubiquitous use of phones was denied to either you or your candidates.)
  • 5 years ago it would have been just as silly to ask recruiters "What percent of your hires were made by recruiters using email?"
  • And, within another couple years the question "What percent of hires involve mobile social media?" will be as inane as the rest.

The question we should be asking isn't how many were hired but "How is Social Media used in the decision process?"

  • What data is important to influencing a qualified prospect to become more interested in converting to an engaged candidate?
  • What access at what cost can social media offer to our firm and our pipeline of prospects that will increase our supply chain conversion rates downstream?
  • What sequence of touch-points constitutes a 'budding' relationship that is likely to end in a productive employee?
  • How does [ultimately] the performance of people we hired who first assessed us through social media before applying compare to those who were found, vetted and wooed but never bothered to do their own due diligence?

Social Media isn't a 'Source' as much as it is an enhancement of the means to communicate interactively - for employers to find job seekers and jobs seekers to penetrate firms for transparency, to dig out relevant content, to analyze options and to execute in real time.

With all the hype to eliminate job boards and other means to attract attention, on any given day a job seeker might look at a digital billboard on the side of the road while contemplating a boss who is standing in the way of progress. And people, for any number of reasons, type the term 'job' into a Google search string 45,000,000 times a month. Not a few are delivered to good and bad job description links on job boards, or links from SEO or SEM. It's what comes next that is key: a phone call, an email, a conversation connection on Facebook, Linkedin Group or your firm's talent community.


'Haystacks' are getting bigger. Application volume per requisition has grown from 100 to 267 in last 4 years according to CLC (Corporate Leadership Council's Todd Sapperstein).