Archives For Eddie Cantave

Eddie’s article first appeared on recruiter.com. Please find a link to that post here.

Isn’t it ironic that the people who think it’s their job to look at resumes (i.e., recruiters) try their hardest to not look at resumes?

It feels almost sacrilegious to start calling out resumes because of how dependent we are on them – employers and employees alike – but they’ve been an obstacle in the hiring process for too long.

An Ineffective Tool for a Complex Problem

The resume started as a basic solution to a complex question that employers didn’t even know they needed to ask: How do I hire the right person for the job?

Unfortunately, despite its ubiquity, the resume was never up to this task.

But I’m probably telling you something you already knew, or at least suspected. In fact, anyone who’s ever had to whittle down a pile of resumes has probably reached the point where they’ve realized that the whole process is somewhat broken. How are you really supposed to compare documents – and by extension, the qualifications of the candidates they represent – when those documents aren’t even standardized?

And that’s when the shortcuts come in: “Times New Roman?! Bye Felicia!” “Oxford commas? Better luck next time!”

Resumes are the worst

Suddenly, everyone has their own “system” based on preferences, snap judgements, and made-up narratives that they use to manage the resume-screening process.

We don’t create shortcuts because we’re bad, lazy, or incompetent people. We create them because we need to find meaning in the things we do. When there’s no meaning, we rebel. We find ways to minimize how much of our resources – time, energy, and attention – we commit to the task.

But if there’s meaning behind what we do, we become engaged in the process and we do it right. Doing the hiring process right means comparing candidates’ skill sets to the job’s duties. So if your system doesn’t start and end with this comparison, can you really say you have a functioning or meaningful hiring process?

Bad Hiring Process? Blame the Resumes (Really)

How often have you seen some variation of the stat, “recruiters spend 6-30 seconds reviewing a resume”? If you’re an employer and you’re entrusting someone to review resumes in the search for the most qualified candidates, this stat should blow your mind! I can’t even decide in 30 seconds if this bag of Doritos fits into my Low-Carb-Paleo-Zone diet (it doesn’t), but we believe that recruiters and hiring managers are accurately gauging candidates in that same timeframe (they aren’t).

We can’t blame individuals in the hiring process for this dereliction of duty, though. We’ve based a giant piece of our hiring process on the resume, so any inefficiencies or shortfalls that result from that flawed process should be accepted as inevitable. If I know my mechanic is tightening lug nuts with his bare hands instead of a wrench, I really can’t get mad when the wheel falls off my car. I knew they were using ineffective tools, so how could I expect anything other than ineffective results?

Resumes are the tool we’ve chosen to assist us in performing a function, but experience, the stats, and the anecdotes should make it clear that we’ve been using the wrong tool. It’s ineffective, and it’s giving us ineffective results.

That being said, resumes are not entirely pointless. In fact, they do have a place in the hiring process – just not at the start. The start of your hiring process is about matching qualified candidates to the job by comparing qualifications and skill sets, and you can’t do that consistently when you’re using resumes.

Do yourself and your company a favor by finally “killing” the resume. You’ll find the benefits of consistently bringing on the best people greatly outweigh the temporary adjustment to how you, your father, and your grandfather hired.

 

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The last time I wrote about referrals, I hit you with the truth-stick of unlying. Despite all the studies, testimonials, and anecdotes about how amazing referral hires have been for companies, referrals are not magically superior to candidates you get through traditional sourcing methods. The real reason referrals are higher quality hires is because they go through the kind of thorough recruiting process that ends with quality hires. Good systems lead to good results.

It’s the process, not the source of the candidates, that delivers great hires to your company. When employees enter referral mode, they morph into hiring gurus. They source their network for qualified candidates. They evaluate personalities and compare it to their company’s culture. They sell their friends on the idea of working at your company. These are the bases that every company should be covering in their recruiting process, and the employees that are delivering the best referrals are doing this instinctively.

Referrals in a Recruiting Process

You’re probably spending thousands of dollars on job boards and recruiters to find qualified candidates, yet you have an untapped fountain of mini-job boards and freelance recruiters coming into your office every day. If you haven’t thought about your employees that way, now is the time to start. There’s nothing that job boards are doing that your employees can’t do as well.

CareerBuilder lets you narrow your search by location – your employees can do that. LinkedIn lets you send unsolicited messages to qualified candidates – your employees are free to reach out to their contacts with that same message. Craigslist gets a bunch of resumes delivered to your inbox – your employees can tell their friends how to get their resumes to you. The point is that you’re not losing any kind of control or functionality by including your employees in your hiring process, so use them.

If you’re going to get this started, you need make sure you cover these steps.

1. Let your employees know that you’re hiring.

The team shouldn’t be surprised when Bob shows up on the first day and needs help figuring out where the coffee machine is. You should start the referral process the same way you start the recruitment process: with a job description and a list of requirements. Make an announcement that lists the position and qualifications, and actively request that your employees consider who in their network is a good match.

2. Reward their effort.

Money is the best way of doing this, but information is a close second. Keeping the employees who are participating engaged in the process with updates and feedback can go a long way towards making your employees feel like they were rewarded for their action. Even if you decide on someone who wasn’t their referral, your employees will still appreciate the feedback and honest effort to include them in the hiring process.

3. Make it easy for your employees and their referrals to find the job.

Social media is king when it comes to sharing, so don’t be afraid to use all your social channels — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter — to share job postings with your employees, who in turn, can share it with their own network.

Having a formalized referral process isn’t a replacement to traditional sourcing methods. It’s just another tool for you to use to maximize the visibility of your open position, and it needs to be used alongside your job postings on CareerBuilder, Indeed, etc. When the goal of a hiring process is to find the right person for your job, you can’t just rely on one method or one source for candidates. You have to cast a wide net to get as many people into your pool, so that you improve your chance of finding the best person for your job.

When you think of great corporate cultures, places like Google are the benchmarks. The praise they get for their employee-centric perks would have you believe that opening your checkbook and scheduling an appointment with Willy Wonka is all it takes to have a great corporate culture. Unfortunately, it’s not easy. You can’t just focus on the ping-pong tables and catered lunches and think, “We should be doing that too!”

Managing Your Corporate Culture

What works for Google may not work for your company. You need to look past the amenities to understand the reasons behind having them there in the first place. Companies that truly have a great corporate culture understand that it is not something that you can buy from a catalog and have installed in your office over a long weekend.

True corporate culture is organic; it’s nurtured by the relationships that exist within your company. If you want to manage your corporate culture, you first have to manage these relationships.

Facilitate collaboration between employees:

Companies today are gung-ho about creating the type of congenial atmosphere that blurs the line between workplace and lounge. It might look like these places are just designed solely to cater to our inner kids, but really, they exist to get their employees to interact with each other. These companies pack their offices with diversions and design their spaces with open layouts in order to minimize the barriers between employees. An office with no barriers is an environment conducive to collaborating, and collaboration is a must for a great corporate culture.

You don’t want the type of workplace where employees just show up, keep their heads down, and leave at 5:00p.m. There’s an emotional toll being paid for working under those conditions, which, in turn, hurts employee morale and engagement at work. Studies show a positive correlation between engagement and performance, so you want to encourage the type of workplace that feels open and welcoming, not one that feels oppressive and stifling.

These poisonous workplaces are also a waste of a valuable opportunity. Collaboration, at its most basic, is just the exchange of ideas. One person has a thought on their mind and shares it.  Maybe she finds others with similar thoughts. Maybe someone hears her idea and creates a solution. Or maybe it goes nowhere but just serves as a reminder to others that they can bring up their own ideas too.  But without the freedom and opportunities to collaborate, what happens to those ideas? They wither away.

A corporate culture that encourages collaboration encourages these moments of creativity and brain-storming. You don’t need to force employees to have buzz-wordy, idea-generating meetings; just give them the freedom to meet face-to-face with each other and talk, and the results will speak for themselves. Once employees understand that these opportunities are there and that you’re receptive to the ideas that flow from them, they will take advantage of it. A collaborative environment is one of those things that once it gets going, turns into a perpetual motion machine; it will run on its own until an outside force stops it.

Create a dialogue between management and staff:

The relationship between managers and the people they manage is inherently imbalanced. Usually managers just tell the people under them what to do and that’s the only direction communications travel in that relationship. Companies with a great corporate culture have moved past that archaic dynamic. One-way communication between managers and the people reporting to them is damaging to corporate culture. It ruins morale and robs companies of a very important perspective from the people on the ground floor.

Just because someone is a manager, doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t listen to the people who report to them. Who knows more about current conditions with suppliers, customers, products, and other employees than the people who interact with them every day? Your managed employees have a unique vantage point by being on the ground, and can see things that would be invisible to the managers perched on high. That’s why companies with great corporate cultures make it a priority to mine their own people for information and feedback.

If you want to kick your corporate culture up to the next level, embrace that dialogue. Your management team shouldn’t seem unapproachable or hostile to feedback from their employees, even if that feedback is about them. And not only should you beCoporate Culture open to these conversations, you should actively seek them out. Feedback is the name of the game, and whether it’s coming from clients, customers, or employees, you can bet that it’s going to reveal things that you and your management team overlooked or would have never seen.

In addition to being insightful, that two-way communication also serves to add value to every position in the company. It’s very easy to think that you’re a just lowly call center rep when nothing you say, hear, or think will impact the company in a meaningful way. But if you had the ears of the people you report to, suddenly that job is as important to the company’s success as anyone else’s. You know that you have the opportunity to offer feedback that could change the company at its very core. That kind of pride in your job is what creates the levels of engagement that top companies spend good money trying to force.

Reevaluate how your corporate culture can serve your employees:

The final relationship that impacts your corporate culture reflects the value the company puts into the employee. You can look at your employees as either cogs or investments. If they are cogs, then they are replaceable pieces, designed to perform a specific function, that keeps your company running. This line of thinking is dehumanizing and anathema to a good corporate culture.

If they are investments, then they are something that you expect to devote resources to in order to improve them and increase your return. This line of thinking is what leads to type of corporate culture that employees boast about and competitors copy.

Like other types of investments, once you understand that you can increase your return by improving the core piece, you’ll start to view your employees in a different light. You’ll want to understand who they are, what motivates them, and what they need to be as successful as possible in your company. If you want that top-notch corporate culture, your thinking is going to need to evolve in a way that recognizes the challenges and obstacles in your employees’ lives, and helps alleviate them.

That’s why some companies that take the time to understand the challenges of being a parent offer daycare services, or flexible schedules that allow parents to work around their child’s schedule. That’s why companies that take the time to understand the challenges of emerging technologies will pay for their employees to attend seminars and receive training in those new technologies.

The point of shifting the dynamic of the relationship from “cog in the machine” to “investment in your portfolio” isn’t to do nice things for your employees out of the goodness in your heart; it’s to set your employees up to be as successful as possible in your company. That’s a win for you as well since you benefit directly from a better-trained, more-skilled employee.

Treating them like cogs leaves no room for professional growth. It leaves no room for them to develop into better, more skilled employees. It only leaves them trapped in their predefined space until they either move on or breakdown. When the company-employee relationship is operating the way it should – where the employee is treated like someone the company wants to prosper – both of those outcomes become much less likely.

Back to Google — is their corporate culture the amenities it provides or are the amenities it provides the result of their corporate culture? I say it’s the culture that leads to the amenities. The interpersonal relationship that Google wants to encourage are what make those amenities work. If you want to build a great corporate culture, you cannot focus on the bells and whistles of your workplace – that will come later. Instead, you need to focus on nurturing relationships within your company.

Employees need the freedom and encouragement to collaborate with each other, for the sake of morale and innovation. Managers and the employees they manage need to have an open communication channel that takes into account the perspectives from both sides. The company needs to embrace the idea that employees are an investment that need resources to maximize their personal and professional growth. There’s no checklist for pieces you need to have for a great corporate culture, but if you keep these goals in mind, your version of a great corporate culture will develop on its own.

In the first part of this article on the skills gap myth I explained how to overcome the skills gap myth by increasing the size of your talent pool.  But getting more candidates into the pool isn’t the only way to address the skills gap.

There’s a reason the “skills gap” isn’t called the “skills void.” Technically, you can find qualified candidates for every skill set imaginable.  There’s just a lot of competition between employers for those talented few.

The companies that do the best in these competitive industries are the ones who are the best at snatching up and retaining those skilled employees. It’s not luck that allows them to retain their talent; it’s a focused effort to make their company more appealing.

skills gap myth - corporate culture matters

Watch for the Culture Gap

Google isn’t struggling to attract programmers because programmers want to work for Google.  Google has done an amazing job of creating a corporate culture that people want to be a part of – they understand what their ideal employees want and they deliver it.  If you can create that kind of culture at your company, your perception of the skills gap will change too.

If you’re struggling to bring on new talent or are hemorrhaging the talent you do have, then it’s probably because your company is losing this culture battle. Fix that: Examine your company culture and see what new ideas you can implement to make your company more attractive to candidates. If your company stands out as a great place to work then you’ll attract more of the available talent.

Conceptualization Gap

The conceptualization gap is the discrepancy between what it takes to get the job done and what you think it takes to get that job done. A dentist with a background in home appraisals? A social media marketer with 20 years of experience?
 
As absurd as these examples are, they are no different than packing on a list of unnecessary requirements for your job. When you have a tight candidate pool, there’s no reason to cut candidates for not possessing skills you don’t need from them.  Your first priority in hiring is to bring on someone who can do the job. If you need extra qualifications just for kicks, then you’re needlessly disqualifying candidates.  A near-perfect candidate has three years of experience instead of five? So what?
 
Even the wording in your job app betrays the conceptualization gap.  Today’s job descriptions are full of vague terms about intangible traits that aren’t critical to do the job.  In fact, it does the exact opposite because every candidate ends up believing that description fits them.
 
Think hard – are all your requirements essential to doing the job and do they truly qualify applicants?  If not, you need to retool the job description to focus on the actual skills you need to have the job done right.

Compensation Gap

While the other gaps point out how you’re not making the most of your current, dwindling candidate pool, this gap is about why that pool is shrinking to begin with.

There’s a reason why through-out history we see spikes in education and specialization in certain areas. It’s usually the professions that pay well.

Many of the industries that are suffering from the skills gap used to serve as the backbone of America’s blue-collar middle class. So what happened over the last 40 years that dissuaded people from pursuing those careers? Those workers stopped being able to support a family on those wages. The outgoing crop of skilled workers came into their industries earning enough to afford a mortgage and car loan, with enough left over for vacation and retirement. What are the prospects for the replacements you want to bring in?

But the compensation gap isn’t just about paying skilled candidates more. It’s also about paying what it would take to draw your ideal candidates away from other industries.

How much would it take to get a mechanic to change industries and join your team? How much would it take to get that high school student to pass on culinary school and join your apprenticeship program instead? It’s those questions that will set you on the path to closing the “compensation gap” and attracting the quality candidates that you want.

The gulf between skilled jobs and qualified candidates is often seen as a sickness, when in fact it’s a symptom of poor hiring practices. Don’t just treat the symptoms! Employers are the ones who stand to benefit the most from curing the sickness, so the onus is on you to find and take the right prescriptions.

Focus on what you need to make your business the best business it can be, for you and your employees, and you’ll see just how ephemeral that “skills gap” is. And if you’re still having trouble, take two Elements and call us in the morning…☺.

Imagine if it was your job to make sandbags. You head over to the beach with a bunch of empty burlap sacks and a rake because the beach is obviously where you go if you want sand.  After a full day’s work, you’ve barely managed to fill even one sack.  Would that mean that there just isn’t enough sand on the beach?  That there’s a sand gap?  No. It would mean you tried to use a rake to scoop up sand. That’s what the skills gap myth looks like: trying to solve hiring needs in an ineffective way, coming up empty, and then blaming your troubles on a “skills gap.”

Like sand on the beach, the skills you need are on the market; you need to adjust your recruitment methods to discover them.

Any gap that exists isn’t because of a lack of talent, but rather a lack of effective sourcing on the part of employers. If we’re going to fix the perceived “skills gap,” we need to first tackle the underlying causes that affect your ability to find qualified candidates.

skills gap myth

Manage the Aptitude Gap

Sourcing qualified candidates often gets undermined by employers fixating on job experience. The logic goes that the only people qualified to fill your position are the ones that have done X job for Y years and know how to use Z program. Unsurprisingly, this line of thinking will only uncover a fraction of the qualified talent that’s available.  Even in an industry with standardized positions and skill sets, putting too much emphasis on experience will lead you to ignore candidates who have the aptitude to learn on the job.

Skills are not innate abilities, magically awakened at puberty like X-Men powers — they are learned. Everyone learned their job skills from someone else. Your company should be that “someone else” for the right candidates.

Invest in understanding what core competencies are necessary for new employees to learn what you have to teach. Then, tailor your sourcing to identify those traits in your candidate pool. That simple adjustment to your hiring process will result in a deeper pool that contains both candidates who can do the job now and those who will be able to do the job in time.

Address the Training Gap

Do you know an industrialized nation that doesn’t have a skills gap problem? Germany. Why don’t they? Because they have almost 17 times more people per thousand enrolled in apprenticeships than we do in America.  A 2009 National Household Education Survey (NHES) found that only 1% of Americans have reported being in an apprenticeship.

Maybe “apprentice” still hearkens back to days of young boys sent to oppressive homes to learn silver-smithing, only to have their hand disfigured in a smelting accident (Have you not read Johnny Tremain?!).

But the purpose of apprenticeships isn’t to cripple able-bodied lads; it’s to teach a new generation of workers a set of skills they don’t already have. Historically, this is how civilization prevented a “skills gap,” yet employers today have decided to give up on that tried and true method.

You already have the talent and knowledge of your employees at your disposal, so use them to help train the next generation of employees.  Formalize this process into a real training program.  It can be done in house, as a collaborative effort with other business in your industry, or with the assistance of local schools.  If you don’t do anything, then you’re just letting that valuable knowledge base go to waste and leaving positions at your company unfilled.

If you choose to do it in house, there are a few steps to get started:

  1. Designate an area in your workplace where employees can learn, practice, and implement the skills you’re teaching.
  2. Encourage employees to find a mentor and formalize that relationship by asking the employee’s manager to check in periodically with the mentor.
  3. Keep an eye out for new technologies. Employees learn faster when they’re excited about something new.

Training alone still won’t be enough. In the second part of this article we discuss the conceptualization and culture gaps, which both play a role in the propagation of the skills gap myth.

Read on for, The Skills Gap Myth: The Effects of Culture, Conceptualization and Compensation.

gen yChange is upon us, and like all change, you have the choice to fight it or adapt to it.  With the workforce shifting every day towards a younger generation and their expectations of the workplace, business owners are finding the established ways of doing things are being challenged.  There’s a demand for a new workplace that’s being shaped by a new generation who are motivated by a new set of priorities.  It would be easy to attribute this desire for change to the naïveté of a coddled generation, but like a cold in a classroom, Gen Y are just the carriers of the new order.  Soon these changes will be the new standard, and even the old guard will have to adjust.  Here’s what to be on the lookout for:

1. Work-Life Balance – what’s happening?

Technology – email, smart phones, and social media – has made it a matter of fact that we’re always within reach of our managers, co-workers, and clients.  The hard line that used to separate our work and personal lives is now a faded smear.  However, with France and Germany leading the way, and Gen Y providing the grassroot demand for change, that hard line is about to be redrawn.  The days of expecting your employees to answer work emails at 10pm from their kitchen table because you think it’s important, will soon to be a memory.

Why you should embrace it:

Don’t be scared of the sudden communication blackout that happens when your employees punch-out; it’s the trade off for a healthy work-life balance.  Studies show that this balance results in higher productivity, higher job satisfaction, lower turnover and associated replacement costs.  And it makes sense.  That time away from work allows employees to relax, recharge, and refocus.  When they return to work, their energy and engagement levels are at peak performance levels.  So in exchange for not interrupting their leg day at the gym or a Dr. Who marathon on their couch, they end up being better employees when they’re actually at work.

2. Social Recruiting – what’s happening?

Our newfound connectedness is fueling one of the more important trends in hiring: social recruiting.  If you want to see just how far you can push that envelope, take a look at the latest move from Tony Zsieh at Zappos.  Unlike traditional efforts, social recruiting requires consistent and continuous engagement with your audience, even when you’re not hiring.  In essence, you’re pulling back the curtain that hides the whos, hows, and whys of your company in order to build a more personal relationship with an audience that includes increasingly more Gen Y candidates.

Why you should embrace it:

Gen Y wants that personal touch from their employer.  They want to see the social causes you support, the issues you address, and the employees you honor.  It’s a move away from the faceless corporations of old, towards companies that seem like fun places to work.  By building up your social presence, you’re conveying that your company values more than just balance sheets and profit statements.  Even if you’re not hiring, the social infrastructure you’re laying down is keeping a host of interested candidates on deck.  When you are finally ready hire, these are the candidates that are going to be the most enthusiastic and motivated to join your company.

3. Corporate Culture – what’s happening?

A lot of what I mentioned above is just a reflection of your corporate culture. You can present an image on social media, but if you’re not actually delivering on it in the workplace, then you’re dropping the ball. That’s the difference between attracting the best candidates and retaining your best employees.  For many in Gen Y, the culture fit between an employer and themselves has supplanted wages and benefits as the dominant factor in choosing who to work for.  As a result, companies are tailoring their recruitment process to screen for those who are a cultural fit for their company.  They understand that where there’s a poor fit, they can expect to see low morale and high turnover.

Why you should embrace it:

If you’re a small business or in a competitive industry, you should be celebrating this shift.  The standard used to be that companies lost out on talent if they couldn’t compete with the compensation packages that their competition offered.  Now that Gen Y is a growing share of the workforce, you have another option to snatch away the type of high-performing talent that used to be out of reach.  Instead of focusing on paychecks, you can focus on creating a workplace that’s more fulfilling and rewarding than your competitor’s.  Embrace the idea that work can be a place you look forward to going to everyday.  Target the candidates whose desires and aspirations are aligned with your company’s mission.  Create an environment that nurtures and rewards the personalities of your employees.  Moves like these are what will make your company stand out and, in turn, attract the best candidates.

4. Flexibility – what’s happening?

Making slight accommodations for employees is nothing new.  Sometimes an employee needs to come in late or leave early for personal reasons.  Most employers are pretty liberal about working around the sudden hiccups of life because that flexibility was meant to be the exception to the rules.  Going forward, you can expect that flexibility to be the norm.  The onus won’t be on employees to arrange their responsibilities around the company’s hours, but rather on employers to offer a certain level of freedom to their employees in order to accommodate their lives.

Why you should embrace it:

Gen Y was brought up to embrace their individuality, and they carry that mentality to work with them.  The one-size-fits-all work schedule harkens back to the days of Henry Ford and rote assembly lines, not the modern workplace where employees are seen as valuable contributors.  Don’t think of flexibility as Gen Y trying to play by their own set of rules, but rather as Gen Y maximizing their productivity.  If you subscribe to the new demands for flexibility, then you’re setting up windows of time where you allow your employees to figure out what their most productive schedule is.  That’s a direct benefit to your company.  Dollar for dollar, hour for hour, when employees have some freedom to their schedule, they produce better results.  That’s why there’s a growing niche of companies who are experimenting with the standard work schedule, offering policies like unlimited vacation time and compressed work weeks.

5. Reputation – what’s happening?

Remember when the only insight you had into a company was from well-crafted commercials, or some ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the new cat orphanage for abandoned cats who don’t read good?  Those days are over.  Companies can’t hide behind an image and mascot that they paid a public relations firm to research and cultivate.  Websites like GlassDoor and Indeed are giving current and former employees an outlet to opine on their experiences at work.  Good or bad, these reviews shine a light on employee-employer relationships that doesn’t get covered anywhere else.  These days, it should be considered due diligence for a candidate to research the kind of reputation a potential employer has.

Why you should embrace it:

For a generation that demands more from their employers than just a paycheck, this honest look behind the curtain is just another tool at their disposal for evaluating whether an employer is a good personal fit for them.  Does the company respect its employees or treat that like disposable tools?  Are they fair or abusive? These are the types of questions that Gen Y wants answered before they commit to work somewhere.  As an employer, you should be keeping tabs on your reputation because it’s actionable information that impacts how most candidates – especially those in Gen Y – will view you.  You can either address any criticisms that seem to be endemic to the company, or incorporate the positive feedback when you’re defining your corporate image.  Either way, you’re strengthening your company and making it a more attractive place to work.

 

Gen Y is not some aberration in the history of human advancement.  Yes, their motivators and priorities have shifted away from what their parents and grandparents expected, but that’s nothing new.  Every generation has broken rank with the conventional wisdom of their predecessors.  But as Gen Y grows and becomes the dominant hearts and minds of the workforce, their sensibilities are the ones you’re going to have to cater your recruitment process and workplace culture around.  Don’t try to write-off the trends they’re bringing with them under the misguided assumption that Gen Y just doesn’t know any better.  Instead, embrace that shift so that you’re in a position to bring on the best and the brightest that their generation has to offer.

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Sometimes you have to jump into that new millennium (+14 years) and embrace the breakthroughs that are at your fingertips. There’s a reason CD players, Napster, and M. Night Shyamalan were all mercifully put down like rabid raccoons. Progress and innovation have rendered them all obsolete. The role of the resume as the central piece to the hiring process is on that same path. You have other tools at your disposal to identify the best candidates for your job besides the resume. So if your recruitment process still begins and ends with the resume, then you’re doing it wrong.

 

Resumes ignore personality fit:

All employees are not created equally; different employees thrive in different environments (and hopefully you’ve already done the work to define what sets your environment apart… if not, try our EVP Checklist.) Some employees do better when they’re allowed more autonomy; others do better when they have a set routine to follow. Some are better at working on one thing at a time; others are great at multi-tasking. Resumes give you no insight into an applicant’s personality, which means you have no insight into how your position matches up with their strengths, priorities, or optimal working conditions. If you want to set an employee up to succeed, then you should make sure that whomever you bring on has the right personality to match the position.

 

Resumes ignore culture fit:

Matching the personality of an employee with the culture of your company is as important as matching their skills to the requirements of the position. An employee whose values are not aligned with the company’s values runs the risk of hurting morale or distracting the team from reaching common goals. If a resume can’t tell you that an applicant plays well with others, then that resume is leaving out a valuable piece of information that can determine how successful a new employee will be at your company.

 

Resumes ignore motivators:

Work is more than a place we go to earn money. Today’s workers are looking for reasons beyond a paycheck to commit themselves to their job, and resumes are a poor tool for uncovering what those motivators could be. Motivators — like mastery, autonomy, and purpose — are strongly correlated to job satisfaction and engagement, which in turn are strongly correlated to productivity. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, then you should figure out what the motivators for your top candidates are. The right candidate is the one whose motivators overlap with what the position offers.

 

Resumes ignore YOU:

You are the most valuable source for judging a qualified candidate. You know exactly what skills and experience a successful hire will need to do the job well; applicants don’t. Resumes end up being a long list of skills that were useful in their past positions or strengths they feel they can bring to any job. Now you’re stuck guessing if the skills and experience an applicant listed would be a good fit for your position when you should be evaluating those candidates based on criteria you know are essential. Stop relying on industry standards and guesswork to figure out if a candidate is the right one for your company. Customize the recruitment process to answer the questions that you know need to be asked.

Resumes have been a standard part of the recruitment process for a long time. They still have a place in the recruitment process, but their importance has been mitigated by the introduction of new methods of evaluating applicants. Relying on resumes is like relying on hammers to fix everything in your kitchen. Both are just one tool in your arsenal, and sometimes they aren’t even the best tool to get the job done. Looking for an alternative? Use online employment applications and questionnaires that allow you to customize questions for each specific job.

Man typing keyboard jewelryIt’s kind of amazing the amount of flak that job boards like Craigslist and CareerBuilder are getting from hiring managers.  It seems that there’s a growing consensus that job boards are ineffective tools for sourcing candidates.  Call me a detractor, but there’s nothing wrong with job boards.  It’s the lack of a process for utilizing them that’s the real problem.  Simply put, if you’re not using an applicant tracking system in tandem with a job board, you might as well throw your stack of resumes in the air and hope the right one lands in your lap.

Take a look at your sink. Imagine that instead of that nifty faucet with its spout funneling the water into your cup and its nozzles controlling the flow and temperature, there was just a hole at the top.  Without the faucet, you have no control over how much water you’re getting, where it’s going, or even how hot you want it.  The only way that your sink serves as a useful tool in your kitchen is if it’s paired with a faucet.  Otherwise all you have is a really effective way to soak your kitchen and/or possibly drown.

So therein lies the problem with job boards.  It’s not that they don’t deliver; it’s that they deliver too much – like a sink with no faucet.  Hiring managers are losing faith in job boards because they are getting overwhelmed by dozens, sometimes hundreds, of applications.  The problem with getting that many applications is that it’s simply too many to manually sort through.  There are undoubtedly qualified candidates in that pool, but finding them is like finding that needle in a haystack.

You’re not a robot and you don’t have an infinite amount of time, so at best, reviewing every application for the right mix of skills and experience is going to be a massive, time-consuming effort.  But dumping that entire pool of applicants into the trash bin isn’t a smart move because there are qualified candidates who match up well with the job.  You need a solution that that combines the speed and accuracy of a robot with the skills of a hiring manager.  You need a solution that efficiently sorts through the applicant pool so that you can find those qualified candidates.

NewHire is an applicant tracking system that hundreds of companies have used to hire thousands of employees, with the vast majority of those hires coming from the biggest job boards.  This isn’t so much a pitch for NewHire as it is a testament that job boards are not the useless avenue of recruiting that some hiring managers would have you believe.  For your money, there is no better way to reach as large an audience or to get as deep an applicant pool as through a job board.  However, if you want to maximize the benefit you get from using a job boards, you need a system in place that cuts through the unqualified applicants and just delivers the candidates you want to see.

Running businessman.

Late last year Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, let it slip that bad hiring decisions probably cost his company around $100M!  It turns out that even companies with millions of dollars to spend and entire departments dedicated to bringing in talent can flub the hiring process if they aren’t careful.  There are certain steps you can take to maximize your chances of finding the right candidate, and like any process, skipping some steps can result in a shoddy product.

Here are the pitfalls that you need to watch out for if you want an effective, efficient hiring process.

1. Not understanding the job

If you don’t understand the duties and responsibilities of the job you’re hiring for, then you’re not even in a position to bring in the best candidates.  The purpose of a hiring process is to match the job to a person that can do the job.  When you have an inaccurate understanding of the job, then your ability to find that right candidate will suffer.  To minimize inaccuracies, get input from people that do the job or people who work closely with someone that does the job.  Their perspective will help you understand what you need to look for in candidates.

2. Rushing the process

Hiring is not a race.  It takes time to identify the candidate with the right combination of personality, motivators, and experience.  Rushing the process robs you of the opportunity to learn about any relevant traits in your candidate.  Use the interview stage to get to know the person behind the resume and application.  That extra bit of insight is the difference between knowing a candidate is a good fit and hoping a candidate is a good fit.

3. Drawing out the process

A drawn out process is a cover for not knowing exactly what you’re looking for or how to find it.  Throwing unnecessary hurdles at candidates for the sake of thoroughness will cost you time and candidates.  While you’re scheduling your top candidates for another interview with yet another manager, a company that’s on the ball will swoop in and lure them away with a job offer.  Sit down with your team and figure out what skills, motivators, and work-style the ideal person for that position should have.  Then figure out the most efficient steps you can take (tests, interviews, etc) to identify that person.

4. Hiring on the cheap

Hiring is expensive – there’s no way around that.  Recruiting the best candidates requires you to cast a wide net and spend resources to screen the pool until identify the right one for the job.  You wouldn’t expect to find an All-Star by searching playgrounds and sandlots, right?  The same logic applies to expecting to stumble on high-caliber candidates using minimal resources.  Does this mean you need to break the bank?  No, but you need dedicate as many resources to the process as it takes to reach the type of candidates that are the best fit.

5. Ignoring personality

Personality goes deeper than just having a nice person around the office.  It also factors in to how they do their job, what duties they’re best suited for, and which environments they’d be most productive in.  By ignoring how a candidate’s personality would mesh with their duties, you’re hurting your company AND your candidate.  You’re wasting resources to bring in someone that’s not an optimal fit for the job; your new employee is stuck in a position that’s not the best use of their talents.  Invest resources into finding out what’s behind the experience and skills, and you’ll be in a position to make an informed decision on who is really the best person for the position.

6. Failing to vet

While this problem is usually a part of the cheap hiring process, it’s not exclusive to it.  Companies spend thousands of dollars on advertising, profiling, and testing, but then decide that their gut feelings on a candidate are enough.  Unless you’re psychic, your gut feeling won’t tell you if your new accountant has an embezzlement conviction in his past, or if your new route sales rep has a few DUIs under her belt.  The vetting process isn’t so you can fill your payroll with angels and saints, but rather so you can see if someone has a history of behaviors that would be detrimental to your company’s success.

 

The key to an effective hiring process is that you have the correct elements in place to filter your applicant pool until you’re left with the best candidate for the position.  Doing anything that doesn’t move your company towards that goal is a waste of your resources and your candidates’ time.  However you run your hiring process, take some time to examine it for these pitfalls, and then take the necessary steps to address those issues.

abstract-13640_640 referrals

It’s no secret that employee referrals are the gold standard in recruiting.  Studies, testimonials, and hiring trends all confirm the same thing: referrals are more productive, more engaged, and more committed than employees referred through a job board.  Yet for all the praise that hiring managers heap on referral programs, not every position can be filled by someone that knows someone.  Sometimes you’ll need to tap into a larger applicant pool than your employees can supply.  Below are the keys to replicating the success of employee referrals, even when your applicant pool is made up of strangers from a job board

Qualified Applicants

Employees that participate in your company’s referral program don’t just message all their contacts: “My company is hiring.  It pays money.  Who wants it?”  Their referral is a reflection on them, so they’re more likely to recommend someone they feel is a great fit for the position.  In order to do that, they need to consider the job, what its requirements are, and what skills are necessary to be successful.  Then they need to examine their circle of contacts to find the best fit.

That’s the same process you need to follow — examine an opening to uncover the skills and traits needed to be successful, then create a job posting that sets your company up to identify those qualities in your applicants.  If done correctly, you’ll be able to make the same informed decision about the people in your applicant pool as your employee is able to make about her friends.

Productive and Engaged Employees

There isn’t anything inherently magical about referral hires that make them more productive and engaged than employees you find through job boards.  In truth, the reason productivity and engagement are higher among employee referrals is because your employees screen their contacts for the ones that are the right fit for the position AND the company.  Even though it’s an informal process, those employees use their personal history with their contacts to find the one whose personality fits in the best with how your company operates.  If there’s a “round hole” position available, then the contacts they refer are the round pegs, not the square ones.

There are resources available that allow you to effectively identify the round pegs, square pegs, hexagonal pegs, etc.  If you invest in personality assessment like DISC, PIAV, or MBTI profiling, you have an opportunity to find the applicants whose personality aligns with the job and the company.   In aligning workplace personalities with your company’s style, you create something valuable for your employees.  Their job becomes more than just an appointment in their schedule; it becomes something they look forward to doing and doing well.  It’s that value that motivates employees to be more productive and engaged at work.