Category: Recruiting Rants and HR Commentary

How Important Are Change Agents at Your Company?

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The termination of Victoria Taylor set off a firestorm among community members at the popular online forum, Reddit. Users began protesting Taylor’s termination first with an online petition calling for the interim CEO’s resignation followed by her actual resignation all the while the company continues to be the conversation among mainstream media. The media firestorm ignited because an employee that was extremely popular and valuable to the online community was terminated and no information was shared with the community.

In retrospect, the company should have graciously provided Taylor a termination package allowing for her to exit gracefully, peacefully and allow the community members to adapt to the change. Unfortunately, Reddit didn’t understand the importance or power of Taylor. You probably don’t know who is a trust agent or linchpin for your own company.

How do organizational leaders figure out who their change agents, trust agents and important employees are? Not each trust agent holds a senior leadership position. Where do we find out who these people are so that we can plan for their exit, the potential backlash and other organizational challenges appropriately?

change-agents

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is workplace technology and HR anthropologist committed to making the HR & recruiting industry a better place. Mom to @ryleighmerrell. Follow her on Twitter, @jmillermerrell.

Transform Recruiting through Social Media Transparency

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3 ways to maximize post hire value

Sometimes it seems as if the entire world is on social media sites. While the use of social media is not universal, the statistics published by the Pew Research Center for September 2014 give substance to the perception.

 

  • 71 percent of all Internet-connected adults in the U.S. have a Facebook page.
  • 52 percent use at least two social media sites.
  • 50 percent of college-educated online adults use LinkedIn.
  • 70 percent of all Facebook users interact with the site at least once per day.
  • Facebook users have a median 155 Facebook friends.
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram all showed a significant increase in usage in 2014 over 2013.

 

Here is what makes corporate managers a bit nervous: All of those social media users could conceivably be talking about your company — and they feel powerless to control the conversations.

If you have the responsibility for attracting the top talent, convincing them to join your company and helping with their development and retention, you might be leery of the social media sites. After all, users can say what they want, sometimes in complete anonymity. If someone posts a comment that your company treats applicants rudely — for example, never acknowledged the receipt of a resume or rescheduled interviews at the last minute — others might have less interest in working for your organization.

Many HR professionals have chosen to ignore social media, believing that any interaction could give detractors an opening to attack. However, social media transparency can go a very long way to polish your reputation and defuse potentially detrimental comments.

Here are some tips to leverage the power of social media for recruiting top candidates.

No individual, department or company handles every situation perfectly.

You or your organization can make mistakes. Accept that fact, and be willing to admit your shortcomings when needed.

Learn what people are saying about you, especially your current and former employees.

One excellent way to do this is to check the reviews posted about your company on Glassdoor. You might be pleasantly surprised and learn that your employees value the mentoring they have received. On the other hand, you might learn that your employees feel that their onboarding process left a lot to be desired. Either way, use the feedback to rectify problems or strengthen the positives.

Do not be afraid to engage others and respond to criticism.

For example, suppose you find a scathing diatribe about how a candidate waited 10 days to be called back for a second interview after being told that he would hear from you within 24 hours. Apologize, assure the poster that this is not normal for your organization and advise that you will look into ways to make sure such incidents do not happen again. Do not make excuses, argue or “call out” the poster.

Whenever possible, post relevant news on your social site.

If you are participating in an upcoming job fair, announce it on social media. If you have job vacancies, post them on your social sites as well as your company website.

Give people a chance to get acquainted with your company, even when you are not currently recruiting.

Discuss what your organization values, its mission and its goals. Letting people learn about your company culture can make it easier to recruit them when the need arises.

Stay current on the latest technologies to make sure that your efforts are not wasted.

For example, the latest estimates show that 90 percent of your candidates use mobile devices to search for and review your jobs. You need to ensure that they can find and access your posts, regardless of the device they use.

Marketers know that word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective tools available. HR directors know that referrals from current employees or trusted associates can often result in exemplary candidates. The social media sites combine aspects of word-of-mouth advertising with personal referrals — and the results can be outstanding.

Social media needs to be handled properly to achieve the results you desire. If you need guidance on creating, implementing or managing a transparent social media presence, consult a professional agency, such as FirstJob.com, that has experience in using social media to recruit the best talent.

Sean Little is the VP of Marketing for FirstJob, a marketplace for recent college graduates looking for quality career opportunities. Sean has previously written articles for Elite Daily, General Assembly, SmartRecruiters, and others. When not busy trying to help recent grads find their dream job, Sean can be found out in San Francisco partaking in live music.

Millennials: How to Help Them Tackle their Personal Financial Crisis

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In 2013, New York Life released the results of a survey that included respondents from three generations. Although the survey covered a number of different areas, the responses regarding financial satisfaction were particularly revealing. Approximately 68 percent of the baby boomers expressed satisfaction with their economic situation. Among their children — the generation Xers — 51 percent stated that they were financially satisfied, and for their grandchildren (millennials), the number dropped to just 49 percent. An important element in the lack of financial satisfaction hinged on the perception among millennials that they perceive that the things their grandparents took for granted — home ownership, a comfortable retirement and a steady job providing escalating income — may be much more difficult for them to attain.

The Retirement Picture: Gloomier for Each Successive Generation 

Since millennials began entering the workforce during the first decade of the 21st century, they have been forced to deal with a variety of challenges that were not commonly encountered by the previous two generations. As a group, baby boomers could build a satisfactory retirement plan based on their employers’ pension plan and Social Security, supplemented by a mortgage-free home and relatively little consumer debt. Generation Xers lived through the trend away from employer-provided pensions to employee-funded plans, such as the 401(k). Although home ownership was still within their reach (again, as a group), they have been slower to pay off a mortgage and faster to incur consumer debt. They have also been more inclined to trust that Social Security will provide a retirement income.

Millennials are Becoming Pessimistic about Obtaining Financial Security

Millennials, on the other hand, express doubt that Social Security will still be available by the time they retire. However, many of them state that they are unable to save for their retirement because all of their earnings must be devoted to more immediate needs — such as buying a house.

Millennials are Typically Saddled with Substantial Debt by Graduation

In addition, millennials are often deeply in debt by the time they earn their degree, thanks to student loans and credit cards used to finance their education. According to the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average cost for attending one year of college at a public university is $19,300 and almost twice that amount at a private college. On average, according to a report by CNN, students graduating in 2013 had education-related debt of $35,200. Amortize this over 10 years with compounding interest — and it is easy to see why many millennials feel they cannot afford to contribute to a retirement plan.

How Employers Can Improve the Outlook for Millennials

There are a number of ways that employers can help millennials make their futures brighter. Many government agencies have recognized assistance with student loans can be an effective way to attract and retain employees. For example, some school districts will help with student loans for teachers who agree to teach at low-income or inner-city schools, and some states offer similar programs for healthcare professionals working in underserved areas. Although employers in the private sector are typically less likely to pay off an employee’s student loan, there are still ways they can help.

Make sure that new hires receive information about any retirement plan that the company sponsors. Provide information on when employees become vested, for example, or the amount of any matching contributions. 

Educate employees on the benefits of starting to save early for retirement. A financial professional, such as a CPA or 401(k) plan administrator, could give a presentation or provide educational literature.

If employees might be eligible for a “forgiveness” program for their student loans, make sure they have the information on the program. Provide them with the necessary forms needed to apply for the program. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a downloadable toolkit for assisting employees with their student loans that is geared to non-profits and public service or school district employees. 

Offer incentives for employees to complete certain training courses or actions. For example, some businesses offer incentives for meeting with a financial planner, signing up for the company’s 401(k) plan, contributing to an IRA or attending a seminar on managing consumer debt. The incentives could be contributions to the employee’s 401(k) or a monthly payment on the employee’s student loan.

Helping Millennials Secure their Retirement is a Win/Win Scenario

Although some employers feel that it is not their place to concern themselves with their employees’ financial health, it is actually beneficial to the enterprise to do so. Employees who feel financially secure tend to be more productive — and employees who feel that their employers care about them tend to be more loyal. Therefore, even in a troubled economy — and perhaps, especially in a troubled economy — it is sound business sense to help millennials deal with their personal finances in a proactive manner. Such programs can pay handsome dividends over the long term and have a direct impact on the enterprise’s bottom line. In short, these programs can be just as beneficial to the employer as employees.

Sean Little is the VP of Marketing for FirstJob, a marketplace for recent college graduates looking for quality career opportunities. Sean has previously written articles for Elite Daily, General Assembly, SmartRecruiters, and others. When not busy trying to help recent grads find their dream job, Sean can be found out in San Francisco partaking in live music.

Candidates Aren’t Cattle. Why Email Isn’t Effective in Recruiting and Hiring

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cows in a farm

As the years go by, I find that email becomes less and less of a useful tool for me, and I’m not alone. While it’s true that we all still use email at work, we’ve also moved many of those conversations that once took place in email to other platforms. From texting to Gchat to Facebook Messenger to SnapChat, the way we’re communicating is changing every day. With many of our conversations moving to social platforms and mobile phones, we’ve changed the way we work, engage and search for jobs. Our conversations are more of an interactive experience than an exchange of monologues, our attention spans have been shortened and we’ve come to expect that the information we need will be right at our fingertips.

Why Don’t Recruiting Emails to Candidates Work?

Of course, each platform has its benefits and drawbacks. For instance, most of us will never use SnapChat for serious business conversations or Facebook Messenger to ask the CEO a question. This means that while many of our conversations are happening outside our inboxes, email will still be a viable communication resource in the future. The problem is that in it’s current state, email isn’t effective in recruiting and hiring.

Recruiting emails to candidates don’t work for a lot reasons. Moving forward, our email communications must reflect the way our candidates are communicating in the other parts of their lives. Take a look at these five tips for improving your response rate and engagement level with email.

Keep it simple

A long, drawn-out email won’t do anymore. People don’t have the time or attention span to read a five-paragraph message, so keep your email short, sweet and to the point. You can expound upon your points later and create an interactive conversation.

Spell things out

People are mobile, so draft your message accordingly and spell things out. Give them what they need right there in the email. For instance, write out location addresses of where your candidates are traveling to in the email rather than linking to a map so they can copy the address into their Google or Apple maps for directions and routing. Think of how you use your mobile phone and use that to guide your decisions.

Use your real email address

No one likes being asked to interview, only to later receive a generic thank you email that says it’s from “do not reply.” People like connecting with people, so use your actual, real email address as a test for 60 days. I guarantee it’s not as time consuming as you might think and will lead to better results.

Do your research

When you’re sending a candidate interest email, do your research and customize the email uniquely to the person. They are more likely to respond to a custom message that grabs their attention, especially in a job market where the candidate is in the driver’s seat. Don’t sent a blind mass email to 75 candidates and then be frustrated when no one responded to your canned message. Candidates are human beings who want to feel special not like cattle being herded to your job opening.

The reason engineers are leaving LinkedIn is due to the mass messages, de-personalized and spamtastic InMails that are sent to them 5-10 times a day. Do your research not just about the candidate but also work to really understand what the job requirements are. Anyone can do recruiting but being successful at recruiting requires good relationships, moving faster and most importantly doing the work.

Provide information

Attach links to additional resources and information your candidate or target job seeker might be interested in, but briefly summarize as well since no one wants an email that’s just full of links. You can also make your email stand out by providing them with access to a welcome video or a candidate packet that includes information about work hours, locations and benefit offerings.

There is no magic formula for great emails, but I can tell you that emails are still an effective way to reach job seekers. Job alerts in the job board as well as corporate career sites are an effective candidate and website traffic driver. That’s because these messages are controlled and personalized by the candidate and not the recruiter.

 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is workplace technology and HR anthropologist committed to making the HR & recruiting industry a better place. Mom to @ryleighmerrell. Follow her on Twitter, @jmillermerrell.

5 Ways to Get Job Seekers to Quit Stalking Jobs through Recruiters

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Woman being followedAs a recruiter job applicants who won’t give up can become a problem. While determination and a willingness to keep trying are both admirable traits, so is learning to take no for an answer. Before you allow your frustration to overwhelm your common decency, take a look at your communication process and see if implementing these methods might not eliminate some of the “stalkers”.

Follow up with your candidate.

It may sound simple, but sometimes all it takes is a thoughtful phone call or email to satisfy an applicant looking for information to eliminate the applicants from stalking jobs. Since only 39% of applicants not selected are typically contacted with a personal phone call or email, it’s easy for them to feel left in the dark.

While the applicant in question may never be right for your company, they may have friends who are, and up to 81% of them will share a positive experience with their inner circle, which could lead to well qualified candidates for future hiring searches.

Be Honest.

It may seem simpler to just lie, but honesty prevents a lot of problems. Share what information you can. If you know the interviews won’t be conducted for three weeks, tell them that. If you know there is something this candidate can do to improve their chances, share it with them.  The more you share, the less the applicant will quit stalking jobs.

Your goal should always be to get the position filled with the best qualified candidate available. Why not be on the applicant’s team when you can? They are, after all, only looking for something you already have, a good job.

Automate Your ATS.

With today’s technology there is no excuse for shoddy applicant tracking. You can automate everything from a welcome message to a personal email or text letting applicants know when the job listing has been closed or they are no longer being considered for the position.

This can free up your time and eliminate a lot of excuses for missed messages and the like. Automated messaging can also prevent a lot of unnecessary calls from applicants who simply want to know their resume was received.

Provide resources.

Job applicants genuinely want to be the best candidates they can be. Adding resources to your automated messaging is a great way to make this happen. The online world is rich with great employment resources that can be shared for free.

Simple resume building tips, links to guides on finding employment and the like can be a simple way to keep them improving. Who knows, the applicant that wasn’t quite ready may fill a key role in your organization in the future.

Give them actual feedback instead of a canned message your attorney approved.

When you don’t quite make the cut you want real answers, don’t you? When it is within your power to extend that courtesy to a fellow worker, do it! Sending out form letters is so twentieth century. With the technology at your fingertips it only takes a few moments to send what might prove to be some invaluable advice.

Keep it positive and stay focused on things that are within their power to improve. Tips on personal appearance, skills to add to their resume and interviewing technique are helpful. Commenting on the fact that their braces were distracting is insulting and unnecessary.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is workplace technology and HR anthropologist committed to making the HR & recruiting industry a better place. Mom to @ryleighmerrell. Follow her on Twitter, @jmillermerrell.

3 Cost Effective Ways of Attracting the Best Talent to Your Organization

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money

 

Finding the best talent and hiring them before your competitors is always a good feeling, but it’s a misconception to think that in doing so you have to spend big bucks. If you want to get a head start on the competition and win while keeping costs down, start recruiting in unconventional ways. Today’s millennial candidates don’t just compare salaries and then decide on an entry level job offer, they consider many more requirements and facets of a company before making their final choice. Landing these candidates requires that you look at your hiring practices, perks, and unique company opportunities and characteristics to draw them in.

The Law of Attraction for Hiring

Imagine your ideal fresh graduate job candidate and then focus on all their positive qualities. Then, do the following:

Target Your Advertising – Why put your ad on a large all-purpose board? All that does is force you to weed through extra unqualified candidates while your competitor already is interviewing their top choices. Find boards that specialize in the type of candidate you seek. You can even check out social profiles and narrow the list this way. Doing more legwork up front is going to help you cut down on the qualifying you have to do later. More work now means less work less later and you’ll appreciate the extra work you’ve done come interview time.

Offer Unusual Perks – If you’re looking for someone who will give a little extra without necessarily wanting overtime pay, you might be looking for someone with an altruistic bent. Offering perks that attract that type of person can go a long way to getting what you want, like paid volunteer days to their favorite charity or support in money and event sponsorships for a specific cause. The perks should represent your company culture and the mission you’re working towards. The perks don’t have to be insane like around the world trips, but offer benefits that show the employee you care about them as a person and value who they are outside of the office as well as in.

Create One-of-a-Kind Opportunities – If you can offer travel to those wanting new experiences or a special training program your competitor doesn’t have, it can be a way to draw the best talent. Don’t forget to include unusual experiences that the candidate might seek, like scuba-diving lessons for someone that works in an underwater archeological dig. Your company is full of unique and interesting people for new hires to learn from and work with so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Candidates get post fatigue with all the run of the mill descriptions that are out there so make yours unique and eye catching. Make the new grad jobs descriptions sound as fun and exciting as possible!

Even if your company isn’t rolling in recruiting cash, you can still make an impact with hiring by getting creative and using these cost effective ways to recruit and land the best talent.

Sean Little is the VP of Marketing for FirstJob, a marketplace for recent college graduates looking for quality career opportunities. Sean has previously written articles for Elite Daily, General Assembly, SmartRecruiters, and others. When not busy trying to help recent grads find their dream job, Sean can be found out in San Francisco partaking in live music.

Understanding the Psychology of Job Rejection – Part 2

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Woman lying on couch  listening to her therapist

This is a two part series on job rejection psychology. Click here for Part 1

Is Job Rejection Normal?

Some job rejection is a normal part of even the most successful career cycles, but what about those workers who experience longer periods of rejection? When the job search stretches on with no end in sight, are there repercussions beyond the financial?

Many psychologists believe so and as more workers are experiencing it, being able to understand the effects of long-term job rejection is essential, since many of the candidates you interview may be experiencing some of the fallout.

The Loss of Status

Among the not-so-easily-named effects of long term unemployment, and job rejection, loss of status ranks high. We all recognize that status is a contributing factor in over-all feelings of success and satisfaction in life but it may be much more. Mark Van Vugt, PHD, in his Psychology Today article subtitled, “The Titanic Effect and why Oscar award winners live longer” points out that among Hollywood actors, those that have won an Academy Award for acting live on average four years longer.

While this may be anecdotal evidence, it points to an idea called Status Syndrome, or, as he calls it, the Titanic Effect. Studies have shown that throughout history people with higher societal status have lived longer healthier lives. One factor is obviously that money allows for the best diet and healthcare, but, even primates with no economic structure, such as baboons, exhibit similar life expectancies. Those who rise to prominence typically live longer, healthier lives, while those at the bottom of the tribe, tend towards illness and early death.

Loss of status through job rejection and long-term unemployment is a blow to the human psyche. The loss of social relationships, circles of influence and the feeling of making a meaningful contribution can lead to negative thought patterns. This in turn can affect health, leading to depression and serious medical conditions. The effects are not always readily apparent, but they can be quite serious.

Social Isolation

While job rejection in the short term may not make one a social pariah, long term unemployment can, at least in the mind of the unemployed worker. Loss of daily contact with coworkers, embarrassment, shame, and inability to engage in normal social circles due to finances can all play a role in unemployed people’s tendency to withdraw socially.

In the beginning, friends and coworkers understand and will often try to help their friend maintain a normal social life, but after months or even years, it becomes difficult to maintain those ties. Since shame and embarrassment play a huge role, those who are long-term unemployed often beg off, rather than let friends continue to pay. This eventually leads to the friends feeling some rejection and an eventual drifting apart.

John L. Manni, Ed D, suggests that people dealing with job rejection and long term unemployment find others to spend time with. The social interaction, it turns out, is a vital link to health and human sanity. Not only that, but an active group can provide volunteer services, allowing them to contribute to society in a positive way and possibly regain some of their lost status.  You can read more about it in his article on Psychology today.

Getting a Handle on it

When job rejection and unemployment seemingly become a way of life, it is easy to assume that it is not going to change, and that any change must come from outside yourself. After all, you have done your part and it hasn’t worked.

No matter what the circumstances there are always at least two things you can change without help from the outside, according to John L. Manni Ed D, your thoughts and your actions. It is easy to become so focused on the search for employment that we give up on the rest of life. Manni suggests that job seekers should find ways to keep busy doing things they enjoy, such as exercising, gardening and reading.

This not only fills the time and wards off depression, it will also improve your mood so that when the right job interview does come along, you’ll be ready to put your best foot forward. By focusing on positive actions, you can encourage positive thoughts. One way to accomplish this is to spend some time each day doing something that helps someone else. Even something as simple as driving your kids to school every morning can give you a sense of purpose and make it easier to focus on positive thoughts.

This is a two part series on job rejection psychology. Click here for Part 1

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is workplace technology and HR anthropologist committed to making the HR & recruiting industry a better place. Mom to @ryleighmerrell. Follow her on Twitter, @jmillermerrell.
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