Recruiting In 3D

TMA’s Social Recruiting Summit Recap

Last week I attended the TMA Social Recruiting Summit in New York City. For a kid from New York, any trip there is nice, because in addition to being able to see some family while I am up there, I pretty much eat pizza every day and twice if I can find an excuse. Being able to cover the event gave me the ability to view the conference from a different perspective, where I could actually listen to all thecontent, while also taking in how the crowd is reacting to it.

The event itself was well attended by about 125 people, and it was nice to see that the attendees’ experience levels and industries varied greatly. This was particularly refreshing, because it brought out some of the challenges that are definitely unique to certain industries, while other times attendees were secure in knowing everyone else faces the same struggles. TMA did a really nice job on including speakers and content that spanned recruiting, sourcing, marketing and employee branding. It’s a tough feat to successfully cater to an array of audiences in a smaller conference, and it worked. Read More

The 100 Most Influential People in HR and Recruiting on Twitter

I’m very humbled and privileged to be part of this list. There are some amazing recruiters out there who are also on this list. Make sure to check them out!

Check out the list here

What Do Applicant Assessments Tell Us, Anyway?

You’ve seen it. Maybe you’ve lived it. Maybe you had to implement it, and you may even have taken it. The dreaded pre-employment assessment. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the more common types in the market are Wonderlic, Myers-Briggs, and Gallup. Sure, they are all legal, and legally defensible in court, and are praised by a vast amount of executives far and wide. But what do they really tell you?

Choices, Choices.

The types of information sought on these assessments can vary widely – from personality types, to sales acumen, to analytical skills. But in the end, how much does it really tell you about the employee you are about to hire. There are several areas to consider when looking at potentially using a pre-employment assessment.

1. What are you looking for?
If you are seeking people who have strong analytical skills, then an employment assessment that measures this might be a way to go. But without having to over-customize a solution, can you effectively get what you need? In most cases, a cookie-cutter assessment may seem like a one-size fits all, but it’s leaving out critical components about who is actually taking the assessment. A Director of Product Management may score vastly different from a Statistical Data Analyst, depending on how much of their day-to-day is spent in a purely analytical world. And, are you having your sales reps take the same assessment as these purely analytical candidates?

2. What kind of metrics are you assessing to validate the impact of these assessments on your hiring process?
Assessment without analysis is just testing. You have to look at your core metrics on this. If the point of testing is the reduce turnover in key critical roles, and to make sure that people in these roles are highly promotable, then you need to look at the data. Having detailed components about turnover, promotion rates, and performance reviews is critical in seeing how valuable this assessment toll has proven. If you can’t put a finger on seeing where the value was added (i.e. a 15% reduction in turnover in the inside sales group), then you just have a bunch of test scores. Considering the pricing on many of these products, that’s an awful lot of money spent on anecdotal data. Considering that HR is already a department that most companies consider overhead, we have to spend wisely.

3. Do executives put more weight in the assessment more than the people interviewing and selecting the candidate?
If you have C-Level people weighting the outcome of the assessment ahead of the other critical stages of the interview process (Resume, experience, interview & interview feedback, references, and background checks), then something is wrong. You’ll almost inevitably lose proven and potential “A” players because they refuse to be judged from an assessment, and/or you let them get away because some test score said they weren’t up to snuff. “A” players don’t have to tolerate the cynicism that comes with being judged on test scores alone.

I’ve worked in companies where if the test score was not a certain number, there was no hire – end of story. I think about all the people in the world who are great at writing the 30 page paper, but who are not good testers. Conversely, how many people can ace tests, but not come up with core analytical takeaways from a project? It’s a balance, and as I said above, needs to be looked at as PART of the process, not as the litmus for the WHOLE process.

4. Is the assessment linked to your organizations key indicators of success and performance?
If it is, then you can truly use this as a potential indicator for future success. Dr. Charles Handler really does some nice work in presenting views in this arena. If you’re seriously considering implementing something, his research and articles might be a good spot to start. He has a great deck on Slideshare, that might be worth reviewing.

Assessment for the sake of saying “well, we tested them, and they did well/poor” is a waste of valuable interviewer and recruiter time. I’m not 100% in favor on pre-employment assessments, nor am I 100% against. As with most people, I’m somewhere in the middle.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this.


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Cover letters? Are We Thin-Slicing Recruiting?

What is it with the love affair people have with cover letters? Is it professional? Sure. Is it a nice way to give a complete presentation of your professionalism? Check. Does it show you completed a basic course in business writing in college? Probably. But is it absolutely necessary to have in order to be considered a top candidate for a role? In my opinion, no. But that would differ from a great deal of opinions from people in the Twittersphere and Blogosphere right now.

There are a number of people out there who feel the cover letter is an essential piece of the puzzle, and key in determining the validity of a candidate. Just this week, there was banter out there on Twitter about how one Twitster would toss out the resume of a candidate who did not have a cover letter! Really? Are you that flush with candidates that you can just arbitrarily throw out potential stars because they didn’t have the obligatory “pick me” letter? I’d be hard pressed to believe that is the case with many companies in many areas, where the pool for talent is being thinned by everyone, and in a market where a large percentage of seekers are top performers, hit hard by the economy.

What I don’t get, is what are you getting from the cover letter that ensures that this candidate is better than everyone else who doesn’t have one? Writing skills? Ok, sure, but won’t the resume give you some inclination of the writing skills? Or the e-mails you have traded back and forth with them (assuming you DID e-mail with them). Most importantly, won’t their previous experience, and the phone call that you have with them tell you a bit more accurately if they are the right choice? Thing is, I think we’re becoming to focused on the quick hit, the “thin-slicing” of the recruiting process, to steal a phrase from Malcom Gladwell’s book, Blink. Don’t mistake me, recruiting is a quick moving, minute-by-minute profession, but we also need to step back at times, and make sure we’re taking in the full picture. Too often, we see no cover letter, and think “oh well they are not professional”, or “they couldn’t take the time to write me a personal cover letter?”

Lest we forget, that in this day and age, it’s becoming profitable to be a cover letter or resume writer. Do a quick search on Twitter for “cover letter” and you’ll get a minimum of 5 services in the 1st 25 tweets, for people peddling their services. (I’m not knocking it as a profession, it’s actually quite a needed service for some folks.) But, let’s remember that there’s a better than average chance, the cover letter you covet (too much ‘cov-” there? Ah, I digress) so much has a good probability of being written by someone else anyway, so it’s still not giving you the indicator of the candidate you want.

We need not kill off the cover letter. I think it’s a nice touch, and I’ll read it if there is one. But that said, let’s not let it become the determining standard. As with social media, it’s not the end game, its not the sole strategy, but more of a tool in the arsenal.

What a lovely segue to my follow-up post.


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Too many tools?

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Doostang, Plaxo Digg, I could go on and on. Is it possible that we’ve acquired too many tools in our “Recruiter’s Toolbox/Arsenal”?

Pick your poison.

In all reality, how many sites can you really keep as current and still be effective at your job? I’m a fan of the “master a few, but be aware of as many as possible”, school of thought. I mean, you never know what tools are going to start to emerge as a premier source for finding talent.

I once thought that I should get on as many of these sites as possible, network ad nauseam, connect, connect, connect and make sure everyone can find me. I learned a few things there.

  • 1. Everyone WILL find you, even if you don’t want them to. I Learned the benefit of a “qualified network” from that.

    2. If you get on too many of these sites, your quality on each will diminish, and you’ll spend more time finding your passwords than you do networking. Unless of course your job is Chief Networking Officer. (In which case, e-mail me for my resume)
  • 🙂

    I really like the approach of looking at networking like a starting pitcher. Sharpen skills in a few key areas, and like a pitcher, throw 3-4 solid types of pitches as your bread and butter (the “outs” pitches) and a few that you throw in for some changing up.

    Don’t worry, I’m not going to go off on some “Less is More” rant, like Jerry Maguire. I just think that focus in important when considering your networking approach. We’ve already become an ADD-riddled society with our technology, and the recruiters are supposed to be the very epitome of the ultimate multi-tasker, so don’t fall prey to spreading too thin.

    My personal favorites right now, are LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter and ERE, as well as being an avid reader of numerous blogs (Thank you AGAIN, Google Reader). This style won’t work for everyone, but as with the networking sites, its a choice.

    What do you think?


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    Keeping The Ambulance Chasers Away When Recruiting With Social Media

    It’s coming. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, it is coming. The US has become an incredibly litigious society in the last 20 years or so. Remember the lady who sue McDonald’s because the coffee she bought was hot, and burned her? And about 100 other similar cases over time? Well folks, soon they will be attacking recruitment practices on social media (SM) sites. Mark my words.

    As Jessica Lee highlighted this in her most recent Fistful of Talent post, there are concerns that lawsuits may rise because of the rise in recruiting on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

    Now I’ve been saying for sometime, that we’re just in the waiting period before the first company gets hit with a discrimination suit after recruiting on a SM site. Not because it is an inherently bad practice, but because it is a wide open target. From my perspective, I’m a bit leery of actively recruiting off of SM sites, not because I think it’s bad, but more because I don’t want to be the first to get hit. Our team uses a more passive approach on these sites, to divulge information about the company and it’s openings, and to formulate more of a circular recruiting approach to drive traffic back to our company site. In this way, we’re using the site for a recruitment purpose, but not necessarily sourcing off of there, per se. I recently hired someone off of Twitter (our 1st off of there), but it was someone who reached out to us, after seeing some tweets we put out there, and having viewed our career site, hence circular recruitment.

    But as Jessica puts it, and as I’ve seen it in other posts out there, SM CANNOT be your only method of recruitment. Sure, if you are seeking people with SM backgrounds or certain creative skill sets, these might be a strong source for you, but hopefully you are supplementing this with other sources. You’ve got to cast a wide net to source and identify the best of the best out there, and one or two sites won’t get you there.

    The ambulance chasers will always find something to file a suit against, and people will always look for a way to get rich quick at someone else’s expense. But a well thought out, and well rounded approach to your recruiting will hopefully guard you from any frivolous accusations. You should be taking an active look at your process, and evaluate where you might have any risk exposure.

    Plan accordingly, avoid the mob.

    Plan accordingly, avoid the mob.


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    Job Board Leopards Changing Their Spots………… Again

    I’ve taken some notice lately of the current trends in the job board marketplace lately. It seems that many of the boards are looking to transition from the old model of “post & pray” to more of an Ad Network-centric approach.

    Update & Disclaimer: I’m not an Ad Network or job board employee, so I won’t try to define the industry, but I realized I neglected to define an Ad Network. So, here it is as Wikipedia defines it. Mea Culpa, I digress, and we move on.

    What we’re seeing in the marketplace is a dramatic shift from what the bread an butter of the job board business model has been since the mid-90’s. It started with the ability to post your open positions, and have people fax a resume in (because, really who was using e-mail in a widespread format in 1995?), then progressed to overwhelmed in-boxes (which is/was/will be every recruiters nightmare), and then finally to the redirection to the career site. All of this still amounts to a theory of putting it out there and seeing what happens.

    We then experienced the Sourcing Revolution, where it became commonplace for (good) recruiters to actively source candidates. we saw user groups, technical forums, LinkedIn and professional sites become the chum tank for the sharks. If you were out there, you could be found. This too, still applies today, but has gotten vastly more mature in the approach and technical style, thanks to blogs, and training seminars, like AIRS, using available techniques like Boolean searching.

    Now, with the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, we’re starting to see more of the job boards move toward sponsored ads, and impressions that (allegedly) drive traffic back to your site, and ultimately drive people to your postings, assuming it will lead to more candidate flow for you. Having done an impression campaign in the past, I’m not yet convinced it will work the way it is intended. I mean, I see tons of trailers online and on TV for movies – I’m AWARE of them, but it doesn’t necessarily make me want to see it more. The hope here for job boards (we think) is that they will be able to capitalze on the market of people who are actively using the social media sites, and other popular avenues, and can cash in based on the recrutiing departments metrics tally that they are getting traffic from Ad Network related content. But isn’t that really the same as ye ol’ “post & pray”? Perhaps the only difference is that someone on the job board side is posting it, and you as the recruiter, are not.

    But the folks who dream up the next big thing at the job board headquarters know what they are doing. They see that so many of these corporate and TPR clients are cutting, slashing and burning external costs at an alarming rate – both because of the economy, but because of better trained recruiters. That means less money year on year, in total contract value (CV). If the CV decreases, so does the revenue and ultimately the stock prices. NOT GOOD, if you are waiting on that bonus. Now, they can provide a “value-add” (and I challenge anyone to tell me that the job board sales rep did NOT use that term when they tried to see this to you – it’s their go-to hot button) service with the Ad Network. A colleague of mine was able to just cut 5k off of his most recent contract with one of the larger job boards. He declined the Ad Network package, and impressions, because his company has a strong social media presence, and strong brand. Had he taken it, he’d be paying 3-5k more than his old contract. So the brass at the job boards has struck some more gold to keep revenue at least where it is at, if not higher.

    My question is will they stick with this, can they sell it widely, and will they be able to truly prove the worth of this, or will the Ad Network model go the way of the dodo bird and “post & pray”?

    The end of boards as we know them?

    The end of boards as we know them?

    What are you seeing?


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    No Twitter, What now? Goin’ Old School…

    Twitter had a massive outage today for a good portion of the day. Luckily for me, it was when I was trying to use it this morning, and couldn’t access TweetDeck or Twitter directly. Apparently it was a Denial of Service issues that had to do with hacker activity. I wonder how many people became paralyzed for just a few minutes while it set in that the mighty “Twit” was down.

    It took me a minute, admittedly. I thought,  “Nah, must just be my computer, Twitter can’t be down.” Oh sure enough, it was.  After coming to grips there, I was utterly amazed how much work I got done in the following 2 hours. I sat down and got some cold calls done. I miss that on days I can’t get to it.  I’d have gotten it done eventually, but not by getting sucked into perusing the Twitter site for over an hour. You can get lost in that site!

    It’s good to see that good old fashioned Non-Twitter work still lives on….


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