Are “Passive” Candidates Superior? In the olden days, before the internet, when search consultants (recruiters) received fees of 25% or more for white collar professionals with 3-5 years of experience (those were the “good” olden days, believe me!), those of us who wanted to catch the big fish, realized that the money was in finding great candidates who worked for the client company’s direct competitor. We guarded our Rolodexes with our lives. We didn’t call them “passive” candidates, (continue reading…)
I’ve lived and worked all over the US: Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago, Oregon, and the east coast. I chose to make my homebase in middle Tennessee, just south of Nashville. Tennesseans have many passions: football, music (all kinds) and fishing are at the top. I fit right in. I love football; I came here for the music; and the fishing is fantastic.
Since football season is over and the daffodils are popping up everywhere, it’s only natural to think about fishing. As I fantasized about fishing, I realized how similar recruiting is to fishing. Recruiters have distinct styles that correlate to 4 types of fishers: Noodlers, Opportunists, Net fishers, and Fly fishers. What type best describes your recruiting style?
John Sumser “published” an HRxaminer article, Star Candidate Experience in 17 steps on Jan 25.
I clicked to read it right away – intrigued – for candidate experience is not usually the focus of articles on recruiting strategy. The article was as you would expect from one of the oldest and most respected voices in Internet recruiting, John Sumser. But, 17 steps is a lot to remember. In fact, the 18th step of the article reads, “and so on.” Then John wrote, “If this list seems familiar, it might be because it’s a seven year old piece,” which links back to a post published in July 2006.
There are days when I love LinkedIn. Last week, after posting to this blog, I was reading a LinkedIn discussion about SmartRecruiters receiving a $5 Million capital infusion. There was some debate on the viability of their business model and strategy. Being a bit of a strategy geek (two degrees and too many books on it!), I was hooked. I quickly scanned the news and visited their website. I bookmarked it to revisit when I had more time.
That same evening, when I returned home after being onsite at a client’s all day, I received an email from David Smooke, SmartRecruiters marketing maven, which read, “Hey Pat, You understand the importance of a career Site. Any interest in collaborating with me and writing on SmartRecruiters’ SmartRecruiting Blog?”
Intrigued, I decided to investigate further. I listened to Wempen and Tincup’s interview with SmartRecruiters Founder/CEO, Jerome Ternynck. Jerome has a fascinating story. He was unable to find work in France, his home country, and emigrated to Poland to work. He is now in San Francisco, ostensibly to have a better vantage for the 2013 America’s Cup, but, I’m guessing he had a taste of Peet’s coffee, something I miss nearly every day <sigh>. California wine is tasty, too, but, I digress.
Tincup, as always, gave a great interview, highlighting Ternynck’s passion for zero unemployment. Now, that’s a first! Most recruiting tools are recruiter/employer centric, with secondary (if any) thoughts of benefits to the job seeker. A free applicant tracking/job posting service that cares about people looking for jobs? Whose founder is on a quest for zero unemployment? How could I say “no” to David’s inquiry?
I hope you will visit and comment on my posts. I will post links here, of course, and, now, because I have a new home to talk about talent acquisition, I will write about strategy and innovation here. For the record, I will not be paid to post; my thoughts remain unfettered. Stay tuned!
Last summer, I had the opportunity to help a friend who was having some challenges staffing his infrastructure team. I hadn’t actively recruited for over five years, but, I thought it would be great fun to be onsite, work with smart people and play with new tools such as Jobvite and Checkster. It seems like yesterday that I was having coffee with Jobvite founder, Jesper Shultz, as he shared his vision for a unique recruiting tool that would leverage social networks and help recruiters manage their applicant flow. Yves Lermusi, who developed Checkster in his post-Taleo career, was a memorable speaker at one of our NCHRA meetings. I discovered (as Raghav Singh tried to tell me) that in spite of some really cool tools, the recruitment process hasn’t changed since I first cut my teeth at the Santa Cruz Operation in the 80s.
I’ll stake my career (spanning leadership roles in technology, professional services, and HR) on three things:
1. Your company’s career site must function
Your marketing team spends a lot of money to attract customers to your site. While they are there, they will almost always look to see if you’re hiring. Any one who becomes aware of an opening you have (via employees, job postings, advertising, etc.) will go to your website to learn more. Don’t blow your biggest opportunity to attract talent with a dysfunctional site.
It needs to be easy for people to navigate and apply. If it isn’t, the best ones won’t bother. Only the most desperate job seeker will bother to click more than 3 times to apply. If your applicant flow is slow in this job market, look at your career site with a critical eye. It may need an overhaul.
2. No murky messages
Potential employees need to know what you want. Don’t be lazy with your message. Most job postings are cut and pasted versions of job requisitions, which are rarely read internally. Netflix’s jobs page is a great example of how to do it right!Treat applicants as nicely as you do your customers
3. Treat applicants as nicely as you do your customers
The dreaded white postcard or automated response that says, in essence, “we got your application. Big deal. We will review it when we get a chance, and maybe, just maybe, you will hear from us” is no way to treat future employees, who may be one of your customers.
It isn’t that hard to answer an email or return a phone call. Customer service reps are adept at this and customer service skills are important competencies for recruiters and HR professionals.
To attract people who will make a difference, focus your resources on these three things.
Vicksburg. The Civil War.
In case you missed it, we are “celebrating” the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, aka The Civil War, which was anything but “civil.” This was the culture war of culture wars. Those who live north of the Mason Dixon line will tell you the war was over slavery. Those who live south of that line will tell you it was about states’ rights. Historians’ views are more nuanced.
A couple of weeks ago, my spouse, Jim, and I took a few days off and decided to meander (he thinks any speeds under 75 are slow) south on the Natchez Trace. We stopped along the way at Meriwether Lewis’s murder site (a real cold case) and several Native American mounds. Our final destination? Vicksburg, the site of a long, grueling and determinative battle in this war.
Jim, who is writing a novel about female spies in this war, is an expert. Me, not so much. In fact, except for the local Civil War sites in the Franklin, TN, area, this was my first visit to a major battlefield. A century and a half later, the site is almost pastoral, with rolling, grassy knolls (if you can overlook the obvious cannon guns and bunker sites) with tall trees and beautiful memorial monuments. However, the Visitor’s Center film, and a gun (cannon) firing demonstration, set the context for our 16 mile drive tour of the site. Tens of thousands of men, on both sides, hunkered down for weeks. Air was acrid and ash laden — not breathable. People ate dogs, cats, and when necessary, rats. Vicksburg citizens vacated their lovely homes to “hole up” underground — literally.
Yes, we definitely do. I do, anyway. This morning, I duked it out with my partner of 20+ years, over where the fly spray was and why do we have bottles of something poisonous in our pantry that are unlabeled and at least two years old, and why does he want me to throw things away, but won’t let me get rid of his college (half-century old) clothes?
In the office I share, we duke it out (much more quietly) over which news channel should play in the lunch room. I tried to get the manager to rotate between Fox and CNN (the “liberal” station). I didn’t even try for MSNBC, but I wanted to! The stations are supposed to rotate every week, but mostly it’s on Fox, until a few of us can’t stand it anymore and complain.
At my client’s site, there’s a prominently posted sign “congratulating” ladies for flushing — and promising to tackle the men’s room next. Which makes me wonder — who wrote the sign? Who would care about flushing status of both genders’ toilets? I think I’ll call her (gotta be female, right?) the “potty” blogger!
Every office lunchroom I’ve ever been in has a sign saying “Please don’t leave your dishes in the sink!” It is prominently posted over a sink full of dirty dishes.
We love a good fight. We celebrate victories; we celebrate those who are brave enough to fight for us, now that we no longer have a draft; we play war games; we fight on Facebook™.
What we haven’t learned, is to channel our desire to tussle into something that will actually do some good.
What if, at home, we took those combative attitudes, worked with, instead of against, each other, to tackle our fitness programs? Our clutter? Our weeds?
What if, at work, instead of dueling over coffee cups, we worked on winning strategies to conquer our markets? Our processes? Our product quality?
What if, in our communities, instead of shout downs in our town hall meetings, we decided to compete with other communities to see who could be the best at educating our citizens, of all ages, races, and incomes?
What if, as countries, we decided to tackle the big things: corporate self-interests that don’t serve the greater good, runaway pollution, promoting tolerance and ending corruption?
Oh my goodness! I hear Jim calling me from the kitchen. He wants to know if he can throw away the extra blender top I’ve been saving! I can’t believe it. He’s going through the junk drawer! “Stop! I need those syringes for the horses!”
Never mind. I have battles on the home front to fight. I’ll tackle the big questions — later!
The question of the “perfect” candidate is one that anyone who touches the recruiting process must eventually confront. I explained a few of the challenges in my previous blog post and I have been poking around to see what practical tools exist.
I began with a long conversation with Lucia Erwin, a Silicon Valley workforce planning pioneer and HR strategist. She said that one of her biggest consulting challenges is when she wants to conduct an environmental scan for talent. That’s because often, when companies are scanning the external environment, they are looking at competitors, industry trends, governmental regulations, not the talent pool. Managers often assume that whatever they need in the way of skills will be there. This reminds me of building The Field of Dreams, if you have the jobs, they will come.
This discovery prompted me to interview Greg Nicastro, CEO of My Perfect Gig. I first discovered MPG a couple of years ago while having coffee with a former colleague from SCO (The Santa Cruz Operation), John James. John listened to my impassioned rant about talent and how it’s the people who make the difference between winning and losing companies and that if you have the right team, you can solve any problem, etc., etc. Then John said, “You need to check out My Perfect Gig. They are doing something really interesting.”
Two years later, their model is even more intriguing than when I first discovered it, MPG gives companies real-time information about the supply of and demand for talent in a specific market. Rob Roberts, VP of Product for MPG, showed me how they can show employers the current available supply of specific skills and experience levels by geographic location. Additionally, they show who else is looking for those skills. He did a sample search for software developers with Ruby-on-Rails, SQL, and Java. There were several thousand candidates in the market he selected. Then, he added Python. Whoops! The pool shrank from thousands to a few hundred.
CEO Greg Nicastro explained that when he joined MPG, he was looking at the product from the perspective of the recruiter, but, as he talks to more and more companies, he’s realizing that the ability to have a current snapshot of talent can be enormously valuable for companies when formulating their talent strategies and workforce plans. MyPerfectGig is like Google Earth with street views for talent acquisition executives. He stressed, that while MPG gives companies a very clear picture of the current state of the talent supply and demand, equally important, “MPG leverages that data and our advanced search smarts to generate very well matched short lists of technical candidates—I like to think of it as the last mile or candidate ‘cull to quality.’ ”
MyPerfectGig’s solution is targeted to help talent acquisition leaders find the best available talent fast. However, I think the real opportunity for visionary HR strategists, is to use tools like theirs to form their talent management strategies. The value of accurate information cannot be overstated.
To gain competitive advantage based on a talent strategy, companies must be go beyond rhetoric to actual implementation. That requires actionable intelligence, the ability to look at trends, in order to make the most effective talent investments. Accurate information will help you answer questions like: Do I need to hire skills? Develop skills? Send people to training? Outsource? My next blog article will feature several thought leaders who are working to address the need to spot talent trends.