Talent Circles

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Seasonal and Holiday Workforce Hiring Guide

Fall is upon us.  And yet for many companies in the retail, hospitality, and restaurant industries, the holiday and seasonal hiring is just beginning.  So while for some the holiday season is a time to slow down, reflect, and cut loose, it’s the busiest time of year for many other managers and employees alike.  This 2012 holiday season is expected to see an increase of 700,000 workers many of them working in the industries I described above.  Kohl's a popular discount department store is expected to increase seasonal hiring by 10%.  As someone who’s spent the bulk of her human resources career working in these high volume and seasonal industries, it can be tough.  It’s extremely important to plan in advance when developing your holiday and temporary hiring strategy.  Customers of these industries expect store shelves to be stocked, quick checkout, correct and delicious orders, and customer service to be delivered. 

Holiday Staffing Best Practices

Planning your holiday hiring strategy is essential to end the fiscal year with a bang.  It’s more than just mass and speed interviewing candidates.  It involves planning, communication, and recruitment marketing to find the right job seekers to fill those open positions driving sales and the customer experience.
  • ·      View Last Year’s Sales.  Pull your last year’s weekly sales as well as the number of employees hired by department and job.  If available, talk with your management team about what the challenges were last year and where gaps existing and begin to plan your temporary staffing plan looking at sales per hour for the entire location and different departments. 
  • ·      View Your Location’s Sales Forecasts by Week.  It’s important to understand where and when payroll hours are being added.  In a retail setting, you would hire stockers and truck unloaders as the holiday product push begins so store shelves can be filled.  Cashier and sales positions are hired later and are trained just before sales begin to increase from average levels. 
  • ·      Tiered Hiring.  Don’t hire everyone at once.  In these types of industry verticals, payroll is life.  Interview and offer job seekers immediately building a candidate war board with expected start dates based on sales predictions.  Over hire by 10-15% knowing that background checks will fail and job offers won’t work out. 
  • ·      Host a Job Fair.  Nothing feels more productive than scheduling yourself and your managers a one day 4 hour block of 30 minute interviews.  With 10 managers, you can knock out 80 interviews making job offers on the spot.  This goes a long way in hiring quickly and efficiently.  Managers can schedule their time appropriately in a single four hour interval instead of being pulled away in 30 minute meetings that always seem to be inconvenient. 
  • ·      Recruit Your Customers.  The best seasonal workers are often regular customers at your place of business.  Share your holiday staffing openings with them using bag stuffers and signage around the store.  Find creative ways to reach your audience using a talent network or my favorite, holiday hiring signs posted in the stalls of the bathroom. 

  • ·      Communicate.  Communicate.  Communicate.  I learned quickly my first holiday season that it’s important to set clear expectations and communication guidelines with your team especially those that are temporary workers.  Make them aware of the hour requirements including evenings and weekends, but make sure to make the interactions, engagements, and announcements fun.  Happy employees are productive employees and can make a difference between an awesome or okay holiday sales season. 

Successful Seasonal Staffing with Temporary Employees

Developing a holiday hiring strategy takes work, research, and a team effort going beyond human resources and working directly with general managers and the rest of your company’s store management team.  Work with them to understand their objectives and point of contention to make sure that your 2012 holiday staffing plan goes off without a hitch.  

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

6 Ways to Build Your Fall & Spring Intern Program

As college career fair season nears, it’s important to focus on developing a dialogue and employer brand with those prospective employees and interns.  Last week, we discussed recruitment strategies as part of planning your campus recruiting efforts.  But more importantly, how does one build an intern program?  Like building a gingerbread house, you start at the beginning.  Here are six ways to get you started in building a formal and organized internship program that turns your interns into life long employees. 

How to Build Your College Internship Programs

  • ·      Ask Your Audience.  If you have an existing internship program or have hired recent college graduates, start by asking them for feedback and insights immediately.  You can do this using an informal meeting or focus group or an online survey to gather insights, information, and recommendations.  Starting any program requires research, asking questions, and developing a best practice from those that know.  
  • ·      Get to Know Career Services.  Your college or university career services is a great way to start building and creating your internship program.  Ask them about best practices on campus, and what tools and strategies are most effective to reach the student population.  Don’t forget to get to know the specific college program career services representatives.  These individuals work for the college directly and although they are affiliated with career services, they are the specific college degree program’s first point of contact for their students. 
  • ·      Talk to Your Peers.  Learning from others is a great way to establish and build an internship program at your work.  Companies like Disney and Google have some of the best intern programs in the world.  Most students need structure and a more formal curriculum to learn best.  Interns are not just warm bodies at low wages used to work menial jobs.  They are our future leaders and employees so it’s important to focus on their experience, learnings, and what works.  Ask around.  I guarantee, you’ll learn a thing or two. 
  • ·      Gather Intel on Social Media.  Social media is a great resource for informally polling and building relationships with your audience.  Reach out to students at your college campus who are on Twitter.  Research popular college hash tags, specific degree program chats, and different intern program blogs and resources online.  Listen and engage, but most importantly listen.  It’s the best way to research and learn about the audience you are trying to reach. 
  • ·      Share Knowledge and Resources.  Sharing resources and information online through social networks and email newsletters is a great way to establish creditability and build your employer brand.  You can either take the time to build an internship or young professional blog for prospective internship applicants driving them to your careers website and information or share with them great resources from other websites.  Writing content and articles takes time.  Depending on your company’s budget, time constraints, and commitment level, you can make the best decision. 
  • ·      Establish a Work Team.  Whether it’s hiring an outside expert to help you navigate and create an internship program that keeps students talking or using internal employees and resources, it’s important to establish a work team with formal and specific deadlines.  These team members need to be passionate and committed to developing an internship program that out does your competition. 

Developing an Internship Program

Successful internship programs do not have to be complex to be effective, but they must be organized and provide the students within that program valuable learning experiences and information.  Take the time to gather feedback from your interns throughout the process allowing you to improve your program on the fly.  

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

4 Campus Recruitment Strategies That Work Every Time

Cooler weather is in the air and not a moment too soon.  We take a break from the triple digit heat and enjoy a time filled with football, chili, knee-high boots, back packs, and sweaters. For many organizations, fall also signifies the time when recruiters begin interviewing and building relationships with university students who are graduating next spring or students interested in spring and summer internship programs.  Whatever your reason, fall is the perfect time to recruit top talent and fill your candidate pipeline

Candidate recruiting and building your candidate pipeline isn't easy.  It takes planning, research, and trial and error searching for methods that work on each individual college campus you recruit on.  For recruiters, who are looking for university recruiting strategies and channels that differ from the competition, here are three effective options sure to get your organization noticed by undergrads, interns, and recent grads alike.  

Out of the Box Campus Recruitment Strategies

  • ·      Work with students associations.  While career services offers candidate databases and the opportunity to source and mine students directly, student associations offer a way to engage active the student population.  Recruiters can increase their prospective candidate pool by talking to students who have an interest in a certain career path but may not have the a traditional degree in business but have a work experience in marketing or graphic design. 
  • ·      Target students with social media.  A 2011 Cisco World Technology report found that 81% of college students and young professionals are logging onto Facebook once a day.  Companies can run targeted ads towards these student populations and craft content that draws them in.  Connecting with young professionals on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter allows for students to learn about and engage your recruiters in unique and different ways.  Set yourself apart from your competition by using social media to stand out in your campus recruitment efforts. 
  • ·      Take the hiring & selection process online.  Students have odd and unpredictable class schedules, social activities, and work.  Their busy lifestyle makes attending traditional in person campus recruiting events and job fairs a challenge, and recruiters miss out on meeting organized, qualified, and eager candidates.  By taking pieces of the hiring, candidate engagement and selection process online with a community or talent network, you are able to reach a wider student cross-section increasing the quality of the job seeker you attract.  This increases the number of touches in the candidate touch cycle and probability the young professional will research, learn about your organization, and engage with you. 
  • Capture your talent, literally.  Avoid the hassle of accepting resumes or having your students fill out scraps of paper at job fairs.  Use mobile technology through the power of your iPad to capture talent in a moment's notice.  Students enter their contact information in under 30 seconds allowing you to connect with them easily after that college career fair.  Called TalentCatchtechnology and tools like this make follow up and engagement a breeze especially when TalentCircles already offers these features for clients.  

Reach Qualified Candidates on Campus and Beyond

Whether it’s recent college grads or students seeking their first internship program, qualified candidates have options.  It’s important to engage and build relationships with them early and often.  Creative university recruitment strategies can help reach your target job seeker in new and different ways lowering your time to fill and making for happier hiring managers.  

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, September 5, 2012

5 Ways to Create Communities of Influence in Candidate Engagement

We all want to surround ourselves with people we know, like, and trust especially when it comes to work.  That’s why when a new CEO or President is named to an organization; it’s common to have him/her hire a new team of trusted advisors and executive staff.  Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s new CEO is currently making staffing and hiring changes in her senior ranks with the addition of her new CMO, General Council, and EVP of HR in the last week. 

Communities of Influence Benefit Candidate Engagement

These communities of influence are important for recruitment, retention, and candidate engagement for all levels of an organization, and it is important that Mayer chooses her team wisely.  Managers from all levels of an organization use this approach except that the team quickly become stagnate or filled with group think.  Because while we want to work with people we know, like, and trust, often times these are people who share our same beliefs about business and work making creativity, innovation, and new products almost impossible.  So how do we engage top talent that pushes us to do better through our networks and communities of influence? 

Simple, we hire those that make us uncomfortable.  Change is hard but getting others to believe and change themselves is even harder.  That’s why I’ve always been of the opinion to hire those that drive me nuts.  They rub me the wrong way and open me up to new ideas, suggestions, and ways to improve our team or business.  If we strictly hire based on past relationships and our communities of influence, we miss out on opportunities to elevate our performance and ourselves.  I might not like that approach in the short term because these individuals drive me nuts, but in the long term they make me a much better leader and manager than I ever was or could have been without the diversity of thought and action from my team. 

  • ·      Hire Those That Challenge Us.  As I mentioned earlier, different points of view make us well rounded and expand our horizons.  Avoid group think and hire for skill not solely based on the person you like the best. 
  • ·      Develop Streams of Conversation.  Mayer has a long-standing relationship with these individuals and knows their history.  She can draw on their experiences having sat back and watched their professional careers develop.  By developing streams of conversation with the long term in mind, you will always have qualified members within your talent community to choose from. 
  • ·      Mentor Others.  People want to be connected with those that can help them.  Develop a reputation for mentoring and providing sound advice to those within your industry, and people will find you making your community of influence stronger and broader than ever before.
  • ·      Embrace Change.  There is one thing in this life that is always constant and that is change.  Constantly build your networks, relationships, and contacts focusing on life-long learning.  Doing this will open you to new opportunities and relationships simply because you are open. 
  • ·      Provide Value.  The most sought after candidates have choices just like Mayer’s new team.  Whether you provide value to them and your community through mentoring programs, blogs, or helping them with their professional development, find out how you can provide value in a way that fits your professional goals, aspirations, and schedule.  Even taking an hour a week to schedule phone calls or meet for coffee is a start.  Providing value doesn’t have to take hours when it’s focused and genuine. 

Growing Your Personal Talent Network & Employer Brand

Building communities of influence to fill future roles can seem risky, but through your interactions including candidate engagement you are setting an example and helping future business generations grow and learn.  These interactions help to elevate your company’s employer brand as well as your own making your own personal talent network and individual employer brand stronger than ever before.  

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