Talent Circles

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Touch Cycle: Human Resources as Marketers

Several years ago I had a conversation with an emerging marketer who I thought was doing amazing things.  While our worlds (human resources and marketing) seemed very separate we quickly realized over cocktails that things were very much the same.  In the consumer-facing business world, marketing professionals design and develop content and conversations taking into account what they call the “touch cycle.”  It’s those interactions with a brand a consumer has that influence their overall perception of their brand and lead them to buy. 

HR as Employer & Employee Brand Management

In HR and recruiting, we are always selling, negotiating, and marketing to our target audiences depending on our company role or focus.  Immediately, I saw the similarities in internal human resource engagement and recruiting where we develop points of conversation, reassurance, and information to engage the employee.  We, as HR keep our employee population informed, engaged, and most important we listen.  We are the employer and employee brand management managers marketing to our current, former, and future employees. 
This also holds true for external recruitment and employment branding where the moves are strategized and choreographed.  We, as employers plan our fall internship or recruiting campaigns devising a series of touch points where the job seeker will learn about the job.  We give job seeker candidates opportunities to listen and watch and learn about the organization either online or in person using video, Twitter updates, or a college job fair. 

All Employee Survey and the HR Touch Cycle

In fact, we often work with an HR touch cycle completely unaware.  In most every company I have worked for, the human resources team has oversaw the execution of the company’s all employee survey.  I learned very quickly upon administering my first survey that engagements and improvements should happen all year round.  Employees as well as managers need to be reminded the plans, actions, and changes made as a result of surveys from year past. 

I saw a pattern emerging as I sat in my first survey results session where employees admitted that they had completely forgotten about a program implemented or changes made as a result of that survey. Employees need to be re-educated, reminded, and marketed in order for the survey results to be accurate.  And that’s where my first touch cycle sprang into action even if I wasn’t fully aware.  It just made sense. 
  • ·      Choreograph Touches.  My team planned our strategy of educating my staff on our survey objectives, wins, and positive as well as negative changes made as a result of the survey.  We set out with a plan of focusing our efforts 4-6 months before the survey to reinforce our efforts through repetition and using different touch point mediums like break room signage, manager scripts for team communication, and written messages in emails, memos, and newsletters. 
  • ·      Listen and Watch.  An employee survey action team was created at each location.  Employees created brainstormed solutions, researched their ideas, and presented them to the location’s management team.  One team won over their managers and added a popcorn cart to the break room.  Another used the company’s focus on physical fitness and healthy living to add a Frisbee golf course to the back of the property.  My involvement in the group was minimal outside of scheduling meetings and facilitating.  I listened, watched, and observed. 
  • ·      Reinforce Behaviors.  Our employee survey action team helped to accomplish this task as word virally spread among team members and good behaviors were reinforced.  Employees made new suggested and new award and recognition programs were developed.  Turnover decreased, as did my number of employee complaints and investigations. 
  • ·      Evaluate and Expand. Facility managers and my HR team met quarterly to discuss the results of the survey discussing what was working and what did not.  We developed an employee survey action team communication board from these meetings publishing meeting notes and programs in progress.  This also aided in our marketing and re-education efforts as we neared the next annual survey. 

The Future of  Human Resources is with Marketing

How do you see the HR touch points and marketing playing into your role as a human resource manager and recruiting professional?  How is this idea of marketing playing a more important role in your job?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

h/t to that emerging marketer, Chris Wilson who is known as the Fresh Peel.  Check out his 2009 post on the Touch Cycle.  

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

Photo Credit 1 & 2

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

3 Ways to Engage & Build the Candidate Relationship

Your candidate recruitment strategy can no longer be set it and forget it when it comes to applicant tracking and job postings.  As increased competition grows for qualified job seekers, companies must learn how to foster and build a long-term relationship with a job seeker.

Candidate Relationship is a New Approach for Employers

This long-term relationship called candidate relationship management is one of the most misunderstood and under-utilized strategies today in my opinion.  A 2012 Aberdeen research study called TheFuture of Candidate Relationships found that on 2% of companies surveyed are focused on a long-term approach to this initiative.   Instead of being a half glass full kind of girl, I see opportunity and the fact that the market for creating and build a strong candidate relationship is wide open in that nearly 98% of companies are not focusing on an area that is one of the solutions to fulfilling a company’s long term talent acquisition goals. 
But the question remains, how does one actually focus on candidate and job seeker relationships, here are 5 ways to get you started on building and engaging the passive as well as active job seeker. 

How to Drive Engagement and Relationships in Candidate Recruitment

  •       Provide Feedback.  The job search process can be a long and frustrating process.  Job seekers are often left with unanswered questions which lead to anger and aggressive behaviors.  Take Taylor Grey Meyer who after being rejected 30 times by the San Diego Padres wrote a counter offer where she asked the prospective employer to “Suck Her Dick.”  The story went viral with many criticizing the Padres organization and their recruitment process.  Imagine how frustrating a job seeker like Taylor must be to send this message.  Taylor’s milking her 15 minutes of fame her story appearing on national television and in most publications. 

  •       Personalize Your Message. Thirty-three percent of companies fail to provide any type of response to the job seeker according to the 2011 Candidate Experience Report.  Those that do take the time to personalize the message can stand out from the crowd.  Companies who put in the effort build their employment brand positively.  I recommend providing the job seeker with recommended tips or suggestions in the form of an e-book or blog post. 

  •       Build a Collaborative Network.  Relationships are like gardens and are only as good as the time and effort spent cultivating them.  Truth is that your prospective workforce has options, which makes developing a candidate relationship of the utmost importance. Build a talent network that goes beyond an email distribution list and create a conversation that is sure to make you stand out from the rest. 

Grow Relationships through a Talent Pipeline

Like any consumer relationship, job seekers want to be recognized, rewarded, and engaged.  And with only 2% of companies creating a meaningful dialogue with their prospective talent pool, the bar is set very low.  But for employers who are looking to build talent pipelines and networks for the long haul, this is a chance for you to really shine. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It

By Marylene Delbourg-Delphis

A refreshing short book by Peter Cappelli, Director of Wharton's Center for Human Resources! This is a must read for any HR Professional, of course, but even more for anyone who is in a management position and has the power, or simply the will, to put an end the current "crippling employer-employee standoff." The purpose of Peter Cappelli's book is to get "America's job engine revved up again."

We are all familiar with the litany of complaints: Companies can't find skilled workers, schools are not providing the right kind of training, the government doesn't let in enough highly skilled immigrants, prospective employees don't want jobs at the wages that are offered, etc. If perception and scattered research might give some weight to such complaints, Cappelli demonstrates that they don't add up when looked at holistically, and that they come across as urban myths.

Are we a nation of un-qualified people? In a market with a lot of job applicants, companies tend to look for purple squirrels or unicorns. Are job seekers unqualified for not fitting a paranormal job description? Does it allow us to jump to the conclusion that "there is a skills gap" when the hardest-to-fill jobs appear to be those that often require the least skills? In reality, lots of job seekers are overqualified: "When applicants far outnumber job openings, the overqualified bump out those only adequately qualified... And the proportion of overqualified has more than doubled over the past generation." Cappelli sees very little evidence of an actual supply problem and asks a valid question: Isn't it a paradox that the US would rank seven among 39 countries (survey performed by Manpower in 2011) in terms of employers' complaints about an inability to fill jobs, while in China, the new global rising power, these complaints are half as frequent? Does China have a larger pull of "qualified" people?  No — simply millions learn on the job and do so very quickly, just as generations of Americans have. In the end, the analysis shows that skills aren't the issue, but market-determined wages are...

Are your kids less intelligent that you were at their age? Nobody wants to believe this, but businesses are quick to assume that today's workforce is more flawed than 20 years ago. There is no evidence to support this "good old days bias" either. Cappelli indicates that US student performance has actually improved over the past decades. In addition, studies by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OCDE) do not show any absolute decline in US scores. Emerging countries are simply catching up — and they do not belittle their workforce nearly as much as we do. Another great point: the history of Russia "reminds us that an economy's success is not related to education in any simple fashion."

So what's wrong? Job seekers and employers talk at cross purposes. Is it reasonable to expect job seekers to have done the work before because companies don't want to train people? While it's certainly valid to fear that a newly trained employee might go to the competition, it's equally logical to wonder why a newly trained employee would leave... Maybe this was not the right hire in the first place... Maybe the very culture or a non-existent culture of the company is the problem. Is it reasonable to assume that filling a job vacancy is akin to replacing a part in a washing machine — what Peter Cappelli calls the "Home Depot Syndrome" — and assume that people are mere cogs in the industrial machine? This may not be the safest angle to increase a company's productivity or creativity, or to even motivate people to join a company.

Cappelli mentions two major problems: The first one is the automated software used to filter job seekers — it allegedly complies with the mandate of equal treatment of all candidates, yet ends up generating pervasive unfairness: people can't find jobs even though there are millions of open positions. How long will the legal requirements be an excuse for using antiquated software? The second one is the loss of power of the HR function: "Not coincidentally, the United States has the weakest human resources in the industrialized world." The ultimate call is certainly to re-empower human resources, and re-empower recruiters —give them a strategic role. Brain drain is the death of companies, and so is brain blindness: "Millions of unfilled jobs are costing the economy billions of dollars in lost business," reminds Cappelli.

This little book is a powerful eye-opener. As I was reading through it, it seemed to me that what is initially presented as a sort of standoff between job seekers and employers may not be that willingly created by employers, and may raise a broader question about the ability for established companies to realize that economic survival in a global economy is more about building and nurturing talent and less about "filling" positions. The vast majority of the people who look for the perfect match today would not be hired in their own company. They benefited from a system when trust in people and intra-entrepreneurship mattered, which is the deep history of this country: the US started the modern industrial revolution thanks to millions of "unqualified" people — and Cornelius Vanderbilt left school when he was 11.