Talent Circles

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The contextual quality of content is what births talent networks

By Kevin W. Grossman

Fascinating. The fact that there are legions of fetal cells that hang out inside a mother for decades after she gives birth – and that they might even help heal her when she's sick or hurt.

But whether they hurt her or not isn’t as simple as it seems, according to research by Dr. Kirby Johnson at Tufts University, which I learned about from a recent Radiolab podcast. At first, when Kirby and his team were analyzing the data, it seemed as though (and they romanticized as such) that maybe the fetal cells were actually helping healing the mother’s liver infection, or bladder infection, or whatever ailed her.

Not the case – in fact, sometimes they fetal cells were actually attacking the Mama’s organs and cells. (The Mama is what I affectionately call my wife, the mother of our lovely two little girls.) There are lots of variables that, depending on context, change the impact on the Mama.

The research continues, but it got me thinking, and you knew that was coming, about how the Mamas in your world of work and recruiting – your company career site, your company referral program, your online social networks, your talent network service, your applicant tracking system – how all of these give birth to your new employees.

Then even after new hires are birthed, there are those fetal cells that remain, meaning those who you didn’t hire. Except now they stay to be healed in a sense, not to heal, and they’ll leave to hurt if there’s no reason to stay (think slamming you on social media, Glassdoor, Vault, etc.). Whether or not they do stay to be healed, well, that all depends on a lot of factors that are based on content and the contextual quality of that content.

For example:
  • How much of your true company culture is revealed?
  • How much relevant industry content is shared?
  • How much career development advice and resources are given?
  • How easy is it to learn about other jobs they may qualify for and to apply for them?
  • How easy is it to collaborate (and commiserate) with others who have stayed, including those birthed and hired on?

There are many more examples where those came from, but the fact remains that if you want to improve the candidate experience for all who linger and long to be hired, then it’s the contextual quality of content that births those talent networks.

And heals them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Job Candidate Experience: Treating people well is excellent business

By Marylene Delbourg-Delphis

How many times have HR Professionals heard Gerry Crispin discuss the importance of providing an outstanding candidate experience? How many companies truly act on his recommendations? Not enough. To evaluate how your company fares, check one of Gerry Crispin's presentations or make sure to catch one of his talks. If you believe that your company is ahead of the curve, apply for the Candidate Experience Award.
The HR Copernican Revolution: Caring about Candidate Experience is not just "nice to do." It's mission-critical for all of a company's departments. Look at it as a mandatory HR Copernican Revolution: Your company is no longer the center of the universe — candidates are. While companies may still believe that it's a privilege to "offer" a job to a candidate and that candidates should abide by whatever rules companies decide to set, Gerry Crispin opportunely reminds that "candidate experience is what THEY say it is, not how you think you've designed it."
Many companies still have the mindset that people should just be happy to get a job, especially at times of significant unemployment. Sure, unemployed persons will see the opportunity to land a job as a godsend. Will a positive result make them necessarily forget about their painful experience to get it? Unlikely. They may just leave for another company at the first opportunity, simply because they never had the personal feeling of being truly valued and desired in the first place: companies spend fortunes hiring, but the costs of talent churn are outrageous!
Candidate Experience is even more important for candidates that do not have the right profile for the job at a given time. It's key to send a courteous rejection letter; however, not all companies do. That's a huge oversight:
  • Over 50% of job applicants are unlikely to buy from or recommend a company that mistreated them.
  • Even more importantly, candidates have all the capabilities to tell their stories, and not all of them are just disgruntled creeps. They are human beings, and may become the talent that will make your competitors shine.

Embrace the universe! Keep your candidates informed at all times in the process and go even further, welcome the universe onto your own planet! Welcome candidates into your "TalentCircles." The candidates for whom you don't have a position today may be people you need tomorrow. Why "re-source" them when a little bit of forward-looking thinking might drive your time-to-hire to almost nothing down the road. Candidates that you will never hire are valuable: they can still admire your company and refer people that are more useful to you! Even at a time when everybody is high on "big data," the world is actually small if you look at it from a network standpoint.
Candidates are people. Just as customers expect a good experience when a company cannot accommodate an immediate need, candidates demand a good experience even when they don’t land the job. A rejection letter is great. Giving the opportunity to a "rejected" candidate to remain in your circles and still help you is even better: candidates will forget about the disappointment and, instead, feel empowered with a purpose. They can become your ambassadors and eventually find you better people than who they are without feeling belittled. They may even be enchanted: as Guy Kawasaki likes to say "nobodies are the new somebodies."
In fact, treating people well is not just good business, it’s often excellent business!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Catching talent! We should expect more of portable and flexible in the world of work

That’s why I downloaded it. So at some point I could join a online meeting or webinar remotely, from the comfort of my own iPad.  

And that’s all I wanted to do the first morning of the Recruiting Innovation Summit this week, to join and run an important online meeting from the comfort of an armchair in a hallway adjacent to the event. This is a popular virtual meeting product that I assumed wouldn’t have failed – but it did. I tried five times to join that friggin’ meeting, and each time it failed.

I’ve seen a lot of apps – both native and browser-based – and I’m still amazed at the seemingly lack of effective user interface (UI) testing. I’m sure you’ve heard various iterations on the phrase, “If you don’t use it, you’re gonna lose it.” And if your users don’t use it…well?

To be fair, lots of technology companies, including those in HR and recruiting, have some level of UI proficiency on their product development teams. But again, all I wanted to do was join and run a virtual meeting, and I couldn’t.

Just as busy, progressive professionals want to take their online profiles with them wherever they go, the same folk want to (and do) take their virtual offices with them wherever they go – that’s the kind of world we live in now. It’s an evolution of sorts, the world of work pushing us to be “on” at any time, dialing it up and down as needed, and us pushing back, dialing it up and down as needed. This includes seeking out and exploring new job opportunities.

A growing contingent of professionals expect portable, expect flexible, expect a more diverse world of “easy buttons” that actually work. Here’s a juxtaposition though – when asked at the summit whether or not the attendees have a mobile-optimized career site, only about 2 of 200 raised their hands. 

Make it easy for talent to signup at talent fairs using Talent Catch!

Add to that the fact that according to Gerry Crispin and the Candidate Experience Awards research, only a little over 50 percent of companies have applied for their own jobs online.

What if I wanted to hit a hallway adjacent to an event I was attending and have a quick interview with a recruiter? Or even just simply finishing applying for a new role via a social referral I received? Or join a talent network via simply clicking on “Connect with Facebook” or “Connect with LinkedIn”?

What if indeed. We’ve only just begun.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Strategic choice: Create and nurture nimble talent networks

How refreshing it was to hear it. Not that I disparage LinkedIn as a valuable sourcing service; it is used by more recruiters than any other online network. But for the first time of late I heard a recruiter at a decent-sized company lauding the use of Quora to source and network, not LinkedIn. Quora is an expert network where questions are posed and answers are given about a variety of topics from a variety of industries.

That’s one of the biggest wins when it comes to recruiting these days – being flexible, nimble and opportunistic. Finding where your target talent is and going to them. Then creating talent networks and nurturing them, on their own ground as well as yours, whether you hire them or not.

This is a critical key to hiring and retention and one of many valuable takeaways from the recent San Francisco event War For Talent, Winning the War for Startup Talent. And what an appropriate place to have the event, since San Francisco is the center of the startup universe these days (and the past few years).

Blech. War for talent? I know it’s a highly competitive marketplace for the highly specialized skills needed today, especially those needed for technology startups. According to economists quoted in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, “Job growth since the end of the recession has been clustered in high-skill fields inaccessible to workers without advanced degrees or in low-paying industries.”

As I wrote recently, it’s not really a war; it’s a mobilization of innovation and motivated minds — the leaders, the builders, the doers, all the combined skills that make up the “startup” and of course the money that make it all happen, with barriers to business entry lower than they’ve ever been.

Take the opening keynote speaker at the War For Talent event, Ron Conway, co-founder of SV Angel. Ron talked about how recruiting and hiring should be the number #1 priority for startups, that these firms are the job creation engines.

He emphasized that anyone can be recruited at any time and referenced his time advising Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Early on Zuckerberg spent hours a day recruiting (still does) and was quoted as saying, “If you're not fatigued from recruiting, you're not doing your job. You should always be replacing yourself.”

In fact, a lot of companies are fatiguing their recruiting teams left and right, trying before they buy in today’s market (and trying to find before they buy). For example, developing internship programs and then sourcing whom they should really hire over time. Remember, many highly specialized skills are a rarity in hot markets like the Bay Area.

But even if you've got a great product and your growth trajectory is vertical, those are only table stakes in Silicon Valley and other markets. People want their minds blown to join a company – they want the emotional connection with everyone they’d be working with and for.

Recruiting industry thought leader Kevin Wheeler referenced this week in an ERE.net article that 2.1 million people resigned their jobs in February, the most in any month since the start of the Great Recession. He goes on to write:

“This is startling given that the economy is not strong and that millions are out of work. The natural inclination would seem to me to be to hunker down and hang on to the job you have, no matter how bad it is. That is what happened in previous recessions. Yet these were disgruntled, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled people who voluntarily, many without other positions or jobs lined up, chose to leave.”

Again, it’s the mobilization of innovation and motivated minds and the companies that are winning are creating and nurturing flexible, nimble and opportunistic talent networks.

Go ahead. Blow their minds.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

People make it happen, not the resume

By Kevin W. Grossman

So, if you’re a vendor or consultant and you make this pitch, “Make sure your resume is ATS ready today,” I’m going to tell all the job seekers to run away, and fast.

Because making sure their resume is ATS ready today means you’re making sure it’s black hole ready. Today. And everyday like it always is when applying to jobs solely via career sites that go directly into applicant tracking systems.

That comment may get some calls, but hear me out. We’ve had this conversation before. Although I want the resume to die a horrible death, I understand that there’s still a huge part of the career management industry keeping them alive, making it better and making it work for you, the job seeker. To all my friends in this industry, please forgive me, as well as those in the talent acquisition space, as I also understand it’s probably not going anywhere for years to come.

But I still want the painfully ubiquitous resume to die a horrible death.

Why? Because it’s a self-serving piece of inconsistently formatted and fudged professional drivel that really doesn’t help me hire true quality of fit; it doesn’t help me make an emotional connection with my potential employees.

Knowing folks that already work here, and/or meeting and getting to know other applicants, employees, hiring managers, recruiters, HR pros and management in an online and/or offline setting – these are what make for stronger connections when looking for employment.

Resumes – or better yet, online profiles – are necessary when it comes to getting your skills and experience noticed, but as I wrote in my last article, it takes a community to retain an employee and it takes talent circles to create relationship-based hiring. And it does.

According to recent social media recruiting research from my friends at The A-List (which you can download here), employees hired via personal referral connections that include friends, family and across all social networks, have a much lower turnover rate than those who are hired through other sources. And social networking hires trend to higher job satisfaction and feel better informed about the opportunity prior to accepting a job.

Last week I was at the HRO Today Forum, and during the opening keynote panel, Where do Jobs Come From: The Birds & Bees of Labor Flows & Job Creation, one of the panelists – Scott Case of Startup America Partnership – enlightened the crowd with this bit of wisdom:

"It's people making this sh$t happen."

What he was primarily referring to was startups driving job growth, but I’ll take it a step further and say it’s people in talent networks and circles that make it happen for job seekers, not the resumes.

It takes a community and relationship-based hiring indeed.