Talent Circles

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

6 Ways to Properly Vet Prospective Job Candidates

How to Vet a Job Seeker Candidate 

While it’s a common practice for employers to call on references and confirm past employers, vetting an employee takes a bigger look into the applicant’s background. This process might include looking for prior convictions or jail time, credit checks, verifying professional licenses, or tracking employment history. The majority of all of these tasks are usually outsourced to investigative type agencies. As recruiters start to take a bigger role in the vetting process, here are a few ways to properly vet prospective candidates: 

Find a Connection: One of the best ways to gather accurate and relevant date is to find common connections. Take a look at the connections you have in common with prospective candidates and conduct your own blind interview. These types of reference checks are getting easier because of LinkedIn. If you are not only able to find out common connections, you’ll be able to find out what degree level your connections have in common.

Once you have a couple of contacts, reach out to them and ask to talk for a few minutes about your candidate. If you get a lot of responses, the candidate is more likely to get better reviews and if no one responds, well, maybe you’re wasting your time.

Google ‘Em.  One of the quickest ways to vet a candidate and locate a discrepancy is leveraging Google.  While not fail proof, googling a job seeker is a great way to vet the candidate before they actually become a candidate for a job. Searching for blogs, published articles and other professional mentions, recruiters can get insights into the prospective job seeker beyond the standard employment application or job interview. Steer clear of protected candidate information that could get you and your employer into discriminatory waters for what I call social media discrimination.

Conducting Background Checks: Once a candidate has gone through a few initial interviews they are pushed onto the next step of the interview process, and it may just be time to make a job offer. Conducting the background check is usually preceded by a job offer. Before the vetting process can begin, the employee must sign a consent form in which they allow the company permission to investigate their background.

Pre-Employment Testing: One of the best ways to test a candidate’s true skill is pre-employment testing. With the vast amount of skills testing out there this will help the recruiter find out if a prospective candidate possesses the right skills for the specific job they’re hiring for. The benefits of skills testing are numerous and outweigh the consequences for hiring someone who might not fit potential job positions. Don’t skip out on these because it's more expensive to train than to prevent a bad hire.

Video Interviewing: Video Interviewing does more than allow a recruiter feedback on standard interview questions: it allows to gain a better sense of how the candidate behaves in a more controlled environment. While under pressure it’ll show the candidates' ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills and answer questions in a quick and concise manner. With the introduction of new video interviewing services and talent networks, video interviewing will become a must in the near future to save not only the recruiter's time, but the job seeker's as well.

Invest in a Talent Network: Talent networks are hands down one of the easiest ways to vet prospective candidates. Being able to build a relationship with job seekers either active or passive will help the recruiter when a specific job position opens up. When trust is formed through talent networks, job seekers tend to let their guard down and become more open with a recruiter. This is not necessarily a bad idea on either end because it allows the recruiter to find out who they truly are and it also allows job seekers to get a better feel of what they are getting into. Before the background checks, reference screening, video interviewing, or pre-employment testing happens, it’s important to build a rapport with the job seeker. A talent network is the easiest way to do so, and is beneficial to both parties.

Vetting to Ensure Candidate Quality 

While each candidate will be vetted differently from company to company, these practices build a good foundation to follow when conducting interviews and finding a quality candidate. Make sure when vetting employees they are all done in the exact same fashion to destroy any attempts at being sued for discrimination. Ensure that consent forms are signed and easily understood before any background or credit checks are implemented. And lastly, try to avoid any type of request for information that doesn’t relate directly to the job. 

Photo Credit

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. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Don’t Be That Guy: Five Tips to Avoid Overselling Your Job Opening

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Attracting job seekers is a lot like online dating. Job seekers are out there searching for the right job match for them, sorting through thousands of job postings, just hoping that they might like one and that maybe, just maybe, that employer might like them too. But as anyone who has spent any time in the online dating scene can probably tell you, there’s one thing that is all too common and will send them running for the hills: desperation!

Several years ago, one of my close friends was frustrated by the lack of vehicle-owning, job-holding men around her, so she took to online dating to see what else was out there. Turns out, what’s out there is a whole bunch of men who never learned the art of playing it cool. During her short stint on a very popular dating website, which shall remain nameless, she received all kinds of messages from men declaring their love and asking if she’d have their children. I could go on and on about these desperate fellas, but the moral of the story is simple: when you’re posting your job opening, do not be that guy.

Playing it cool with your job openings while still attracting the right candidates may actually be easier than you think. I find it best to let the company’s employment branding and great qualities do the talking. I’ve found through experience that when we sell the job, I end up filling that job requisition all too soon.

Provide the right information, then stop talking. Just because someone wants to read your job posting, that doesn’t mean they want to read a novel. Make sure your company information and benefits information is available for the recently offered candidate to review and if needed on their own time. Of course you need to share about the job and your company, but there is good information and then there is wasting space.

Good information is descriptive instead of being vague, addresses the needs of the job seeker and provides background information about the company but not a 20-year history lesson. Overall, your job posting should leave the job seeker saying “I want to know more” and “I think this would be a good fit,” just as a good online dating profile would.

Your job posting is not an infomercial.

It doesn’t need rhetorical questions, such as “Do you love making lots of money while also having a flexible schedule?!” It shouldn’t contain a dozen exclamation points, use all caps or make obviously-extravagant guarantees. A job posting is a marketing document and should be treated as such. .

Don’t let your posting become stagnant.

Let’s face it, some positions are hard to fill. I have seen some job postings stay up on websites for months before the position is filed and the posting is taken down. Reposting the same job opening over and over again sends the message to the candidate that either you are too picky to fill an opening or your workplace has a revolving door. If you think about it, there is nothing appealing about a job that it seems like no one wants, so do what you can to switch it up when a posting needs to be up for a long period of time. Consider updating your job posting and other employment branding messages so that it stands out to candidates that may have already seen it and for whatever reason breezed past it. You might also even think about removing it from your go-to website for a while and posting it somewhere new.

Recruit but don’t stalk.

As a recruiter, I once had a job seeker call me 32 times in a single day to follow up on the job. While recruiting is an important part of hiring top employees, seeming too eager in your recruiting is just as detrimental as not recruiting at all. Nothing says desperate like a recruiter or HR manager who wants you more than you want them. Play it cool and reach out to worthy candidates, but leave the ball in their court. Use your instincts to know when to follow up and when to wait until they contact you. There are suggestions out there about how to recruit effectively, but it really should be looked at case-by-case.

Don’t try to make a hard sell.

A job posting that has three paragraphs intended to sell the job raises red flags for candidates. We all know people who only talk about themselves and more times than not, they’re making up for insecurities by doing so. The same can be said for a job that needs to make a hard sell to job seekers. Rather than just talking about what is so great about your company, focus on how the job seeker’s needs and how they will benefit from working there. Consider what most people in that type of position desire. Is it the opportunity to be creative, the chance to grow professionally or an established path for advancement? Share those things and tell how the position allows for that.

Overselling the job has its pitfalls. In the end, job seekers are adults and need space to do our research and come to our employment decision our way. This is where employment branding comes into play as the job seeker can be educated and sold on your workplace over time while you do the same. Overselling the job is more work than reward. Plus, it sends your candidate and their network the message that you are a desperate employer looking for an employee.

Photo Credit.

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, February 19, 2013

When Recruiting, Be Where the Candidate Is

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

In an emerging social world candidates can be found almost anywhere on the Internet. According to the Candidate Experience Survey employers are consistently relying on the use of Career Sites to elevate their presence online in the recruitment space. Not only do 96.7% of employers communicate with prospects online before they apply directly through career sites/talent networks, but 86.7% of employers use notifications tied to these sites as a way to reach out.

Talent networks are becoming more and more beneficial to both job seekers and recruiters. Think of your career site as the center of your recruiting and job posting universe. Job seekers view your website as a resource for jobs and company information as a destination except when you don’t have a job opening available for the job they want. This is where a talent network really comes into play. Take advantage of the opportunity to capture candidates where they are and initiate a real candidate-company relationship.
For recruiters, being able to build a community full of talent and a combination of passive and active job seekers gives them more flexibility when trying to fill a job vacancy. You may already have some one in your community. When you combine a career site with a talent community, the job seeker becomes a person and not just a resume.

For job seekers, a talent network is a sort of entry point into your company, which allows them to interact on a more personal level with recruiters. Instead of submitting a resume into the metaphorical black hole, job seekers are allowed to interact with recruiters who are ultimately making the decision to move forward in the process. They view video and chat with recruiters in real time. No longer do they have to wonder where their application goes after submitting. Talent Networks as a place of interaction for both job seekers and recruiters is a win-win.

Employers can no longer rely on last-ditch efforts when sourcing top talent. Recruiters run hopelessly posting, praying and sourcing for candidate instead of taking a more strategic and proactive approach with a candidate and potentially their future employee. Each candidate enters the funnel at different stages and it’s up to recruiters to be able to start communicating with them on the candidate’s terms. The Candidate Experience Survey asked candidates at what stage they entered the relationship with a potential employer. The majority of those responding indicated that they had some level of relationship with the employer at a later stage, which shows they are ultimately the employers to lose.

On the same note, the remaining 47% have had no relationship with the company, which includes following, being a customer, family/friends who work for, or being an advocate for the company. This shows that recruiters are leaving an untapped network of potential top talent. This survey also suggested that those who have had no previous relationship with the company are 20% more likely to be hired than the 53% of those who have interacted.

Being available wherever the job seeker happens to be one of the most important aspects of recruiting and sourcing. Establish the initial relationship as soon as you can and you’ll have your dream candidate before you know it.

Photo Credit.

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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why a Realistic Job Preview Helps Qualify Candidates and Reduce Employee Turnover

A Realistic Job Preview (RJP) is a recruiting approached used by an organization to communication the important aspects of the job prior to them offering you the position. Applicants are then able to make a more informed decision based on their own perception of the job and determine if they think they will be a good fit. As the unemployment rate continues to hover over an unhealthy figure it’s important to make sure the candidate is not only loving the environment, but can perform the tasks needed. The RJP gives candidates a more holistic picture of the job.

A RJP helps both the employer and the candidate. For the employer they are matching the job requirements with the applicant and the employee is matching their needs with the organizations culture and specific job requirements. Job satisfaction, tenure, and performance are all traits that are benefited when performing a RJP.

Why should employers offer a Realistic Job Preview?

Since an RJP offers a real view of how the candidate will perform on the job it’s an essential task when the cost of hiring is so high. Efficiency is a key priority in the recruiting industry. According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, a bad hire can cost anywhere from $25,000 - $50,000 each year. Some of these mistakes are beyond the control the person recruiting, but offering a RJP could counteract some of those downfalls.

Pre-empting Employee Turnover

A significant reason for using Realistic Job Previews is to not only for increasing job satisfaction, but to decrease employee turnover. RJPs give employees a more realistic picture of the job, which will either make them, want to accept or decline. More often than not, it's hard to truly describe the job environment to a potential candidate and sometimes things are better than they seem and a RJP will help detour the creation of over-selling a workplace. There’s nothing worse than a hiring manager telling you how great a job is and that a move from your old company to theirs is a smart choice. Knowing the type of work environment you’re getting yourself into works wonders in the area of employee turnover.

Sourcing Qualified Candidates

It’s no secret that a resume often embellishes the qualifications of a potential candidate. A RJP helps an employer find the adequate candidate, i.e. someone who is qualified for the job in theory based on the resume, but also in practice, based on what the job actually entails. It has happened time and time again where a job applicant needs a job so bad that they say they are more skilled than what they really are. Aside from testing sometimes the best way to determine candidates' ability is to throw them to the wolves in a mock job environment.

A Realistic Job Preview is a perfect for both the employer and employee. Has your company ever offered one of these previews? What were the benefits and downfalls to your experience?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Candidates as Customers

HR beware! Upsetting your job applicants could cost more then just your time. Sometimes we forget that those who are applying for jobs in our company are sometimes our customers. According to the Candidate Experience Results over 21% of candidates said they were or have been customers to places they applied. As buying power increases in our growing economy it’s becoming more likely that those who are applying for jobs are customers. This number will surely double within the next decade.

Investing in Candidate Relationships

One of the most essential components of any talent acquisition strategy is to engage with talent and manage that relationship. The goal is for organizations to treat candidates with the same attention they give customers. Your candidates are extremely important in industries like professional services, retail, technologies and hospitality, or generally speaking in a area where demand exceeds supply. According to a recent report by Aberdeen’s “Customer Experience Management: Using the Power of Analytics to Optimize Customer Delight,” customer relationship management is a series of multi-channel activities which address employer branding, analytics, and technology.

The only way for employer branding to survive the job search process is to create a candidate-centric approach that prioritizes the candidate experience with the same focus given to the customer relationship in any business. The fact that customers are becoming your workforce should highlight the importance of treating candidates with the same care as you would when a customer walks into your store. The biggest problem with being able to respond to every applicant is maintaining some type of repository that allows you to do it quickly and efficiently. HR departments are understaffed as is and any type of slip could cost the company thousands of dollars in not only bad hiring, but in disgruntled customers who have applied.

Don’t upset your applicants.

There has been a plethora of discussion on the transparency of the Human Resource professional and the black hole of the candidate capture process. Candidates will apply for the job and more often than not, don't even get a simple turndown letter, or they can interview with no follow-up at all. Left wondering if they have any type of chance to get the job for which they applied, candidates are upset at the entire process. Although communication is not required for every applicant, there are some instances where the status of the job cycle should be communicated. The cost of no communication could be lost product sales, lost referrals, and ultimately less money in the bank.

Job applicants know that the job market is competitive and saturated. As a recruiter or HR professional, it’s important that you provide a strong employment brand by treating job applicants with dignity and sympathy during the job process. As someone in the profession you are quite aware that you cannot offer the job to everyone that applies, not even all those qualified candidates. Going the extra step to provide excellent customer service will retain customers past the job search process. Even the dreaded form letter that turns down a candidate goes a long way. No one likes being thrown into the black hole of doom. Think when you as an HR professional you have applied for a position. Think how upset you are when your kids apply and are left in the dark!

Have you ever had a horrible experience when applying for a job that you quit shopping at said company? Let us know.

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.

The Great Candidate Quality vs. Quantity Debate Part Two


In Part One of this series we outlined the specifics behind the right times to pick quality over quantity and vice versa. If you’re a company that has had bad experiences with mass hiring and not necessarily picking the right candidates for the job, you’ll find these benefits to be very true. Hiring for quality has its perks and they’re good perks too!

Before we get into some of the top perks of hiring quality over quantity, here are some quick pointers on hiring quality employees.

Use Validation Testing. There’s nothing worse than a candidate coming in for an interview and saying their amazing at this and that, then not having a clue once they’re hired. Prevent this with using specific testing software that’ll see if the candidate really knows what they’re talking about. People lie on their resumes all the time. Prevent yourself from being lied to.

Use Referrals. The average time it takes to fill a job position using a referral is 29 days opposed to hiring someone off the street at 39 days. Use your employees to recruit their friends. We all know someone who knows someone who is good at whatever job position you need to be filled. Use your inter-office connections! Give incentives!  

Now that you know a couple ways to hire quality candidates, here are the benefits that you’ll reap from taking the extra step. The right employee can have an amazing impact on the success of your business. A quality person can do more with less. He can bring fresh ideas to the table. She can self-motivate and go above and beyond the job description.

Increased Productivity. This one seems to be a no-brainer. If you hire quality candidates and you treat them as such, they will be brand advocates and want to work hard for your company. Your success will be their success. According to the most recent Gallup calculations actively disengaged employees – those that are least productive – cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity. 

Decreased Turnover. Hiring a candidate that is not only right for the job, but fits into your company culture will result in decreased turnover.  If you’re hiring awful candidates not only will the high cost of training cripple your company, but also the loyalty within your office will suffer.

High Morale. You might wonder how this is derived as a benefit from hiring quality over quantity. Office dynamics play a huge role in the success of a company. If everyone is able to do their job right and even throw out game-changing ideas, your company will be on a metaphorical high all the way to the top of the Fortune 200/500.  After all, who doesn’t want to work for the leader in a particular industry? Put the proper people in place and they will take you there.

The pros and cons to hiring for quality over quantity could be listed out for decades and the debate over which to hire could span a lifetime. Based on what was learned from Part One, the coin could be tossed both ways. No matter, which way you go, know the benefits of hiring for quality.  What do you think? Quality or Quantity?

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.