Talent Circles

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three Strategic Focuses in Your Talent Acquisition and Retention Strategy

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Ladies and gentlemen, fall is in full swing. You may be wondering what crisp weather, falling leaves and college football have to do with talent acquisition and retention strategies, but if you’re anything like me, you know that fall also brings with it questions of the year that is coming to a close and the year ahead as well. It’s almost as natural as the leaves changing color.

If it’s not such a natural thing for your mind to go there this time of year, you may want to set aside time and give it some thought before the craziness of the holidays sets in and you’re up to your eyeballs in turkey and ornaments. Right now is the calm before the storm, making it the perfect time to give your talent acquisition and retention strategy some consideration.

We all know that the future success of our companies depends on our people. The talent we are bringing in and retaining will shape the company for years to come, which is why our role in the company and our strategy are so important. In fact, that’s a major theme that I’ve been seeing in my work lately. HR is and will continue to be a major factor in businesses’ overall strategies. As this happens, it will be important for your strategy to be on point as well. Start simple and build from there, beginning with these three key focuses:

Lead and develop
Recruitment is a major part of any talent strategy, but success really starts at home. Right there in your own company, you should be leading and developing employees. I don’t even need to quote one of the many statistics out there about the cost of retaining an employee vs. recruiting one because the benefits go far beyond the pocket book. When you lead and develop, you’re not only retaining your workforce but are shaping them to be the leaders your company will need down the road. Some ways you can do this is through mentorship programs, internal excellence academies, succession planning, cross training, continuing education and leadership development.

Attract and engage
Since turnover is inevitable and growth happens, you’ll want to continually be attracting and engaging potential candidates. An important thing to keep in mind here is that engaging your candidates is just as vital as attracting them. Essentially, attracting without engaging is similar to catching a fish and throwing it back. To attract and engage tomorrow’s workforce, make use of your employees as brand ambassadors, get creative with where and how you’re recruiting, make personal connections and think about a long-term pipeline rather than filling each position on an as-needed basis.

Reinvent HR
A change is happening. Can you feel the shift? HR professionals are currently faced with a challenging yet exciting choice to either embrace or reject the movement that drives how we recruit and retain our human capital. With all the changes that technology and shifting demographics are presenting, we have the option of either being part of it or being part of the problem. It may seem drastic to say that, but companies that have HR professionals and recruiters embracing it truly will have an advantage over companies that are stuck in the dark ages. Be flexible and willing to adjust your strategies, tactics and even views and you’ll be an asset.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Sourcing Can Elevate Your Talent Community

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

As recruiters, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. When we have a position open, we hit up the usual job-seeker websites, post job descriptions on social media and possibly spread the word to our usual connections. Naturally, we go these sources because they’re proven to work. Best case scenario, we get anywhere from a handful of applicants to droves of applicants (a challenge in and of itself), and worst case scenario, we get no qualified applicants that would be a good fit, and then we have to go from there. So in short, what most recruiters experience is that the current system works ok most of the time, but it certainly has its flaws. What if, however, there was a way to take your talent community from so-so to superior? The good news is that all it takes is being willing to proactively source candidates rather than sitting back and waiting for them to come to you.

Sourcing can elevate your talent community because it strengthens, grows and improves it. Read below to see tips for sourcing that can transform your talent network.

Don’t limit yourself
To break the glass ceiling of your current talent network, you have to be willing to try things that are not only new but also perhaps even a bit strange or out of your comfort zone. The key is to go where everyone else isn’t going. The fact that not every recruiter or hiring manager is sourcing makes even logical sources, like Facebook and Twitter and obscure online communities, somewhat out of the box, but don’t be afraid to go to industry- or hobby-specific online communities as well. Nothing is off limits here, and the further out you get (while still keeping it relevant), the more results you’ll have to work with.

Be active
Successful sourcing not only takes proactive effort but also requires you to be consistently active. The talent pool out there is constantly changing because people move from passive to active job seekers very fluidly, This means that a one-and-done strategy won’t work for sourcing. It’s called building a candidate pipeline for that reason. Sure, you can spend one day a month sourcing candidates and add them to a talent network but you aren’t tapping into the power of sourcing unless you remain consistent in your efforts.

Be a stalker and a talker
When it comes to sourcing, people tend to gravitate towards sourcing that requires low engagement, but it’s not always the most effective approach. For instance, connecting with someone on LinkedIn for the purpose of possibly recruiting them (what I affectionately call stalking) will make them easy to access later on and perhaps put you on their radar, but how much more of an impact would you make on someone if you engage with them by commenting on an article they shared? There are places where minimal engagement is required and places where high engagement is required, and I recommend utilizing a mix of both to make the most of your time and efforts.

Identify time-saving tools
One of the things I always tell people is to have a system for keeping track of all those great candidates you’ve been sourcing. After all, you put in the time and effort to source, but when you’re ready to use the results of your findings, you may not be able to remember who it was that you had in mind, where you found them or why you liked them. If you connect with someone, don’t rely on the fact that you can go back to that website or network and track them down. Instead, keep a database that identifies who, why, where, potential positions and any other identifying factors that could help you save time when you’re ready to hire. Systems that seamlessly turn your sourcing efforts into a pipeline of candidates, such as what the partnership between TalentCircles and Swoop allows you to do. At the end of the day, what’s most important is that you can take what you find through your sourcing and use it to make recruiting and hiring faster, more effective and easier.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

Friday, October 24, 2014

4 Ways to Keep Your Talent Community Engaged

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Engaging your talent network is a significant effort that involves time, commitment and an investment in being engaged yourself. After all, at the heart of engaging potential candidates is the interactive conversation that must take place, which requires ongoing involvement on the part of human resources professionals. You share, film videos, connect with candidates on LinkedIn and use Instagram and Pinterest to give a visual identity to your company, but what happens when at the end of the day, you're not ready to hire? After all that work connecting with and engaging your talent network, it's important to have a plan for keeping them around until you do have open positions.

This kind of engagement is the type that builds a long-term pipeline of candidates and doesn't specifically focus on filling a single open position. It's arguably even more important, but building a long-term pipeline can also be a lot more difficult. There are ways to achieve it, but just as it takes an investment in time to build your network, it can take even more time and effort to maintain it. The good news is that it can bring a major return on investment! Here are four ways to help create long-term engagement and make all the work you put in worth it:

Share resources 

The phrase “you must give in order to receive” is just as true in our professional lives as it is in our personal ones, so it stands to reason that if we want candidates to continue to connect with and remember us, we must provide them value. This also makes me think of the WIFM, or “what’s in it for me,” theory. What does a potential candidate get from you? Well, through your talent network blog, videos and downloadable content, you can provide them with resources customized to the talent circles they are members of.

Both live and recorded webinars are a great way for hiring managers to meet job seekers and for job seekers to learn more about the company. It also gives you the unique opportunity to take an extended amount of time to position your company just as you need to for a specific audience. Another great aspect of webinars is that they can be a perfect combination of words, pictures and human interaction.

Live chat 
In our day and age, people want answers and they want them now. It’s not just simple impatience. It’s the culture of being able to access information within just a couple of seconds that has conditioned us to expect it. Meet your candidates where they are by offering live chat that connects recruiters directly to the candidate. To take it a step further, rather than just making it available, proactively offer it when someone visits your career page.

Email updates 
Email updates may be a bit old school but if you’ve looked at your inbox lately, you’ve probably noticed that the most successful retailers still use them. Why? Because they work. Use regular email updates to share resources, information and news that’s customized to your job seeker community directly to their email inbox. Focus on adding value and staying resource focused and you’ll stay top of mind while also providing useful content.  

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder ofBlogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Understanding the Flow of Talent in Building a Talent Attraction Strategy

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

To me, one of the most beautiful things that we as people have the privilege of viewing is the ocean. What I love about it, besides the fact that it’s just gorgeous to look at, is that it is an incredibly powerful force made of something so simple: water. We use water all day, every day and never consider it extraordinary, but when we see an entire body of it, we suddenly understand the magnitude of what it’s capable of and gain a respect for it that we never had when we were using it to rinse dishes or shower. Its power determines when the best time to head to the beach is, can cause extreme storms along entire coasts and carry thousands of people from one side of the world to the other. It’s able to do all these things because of its daily flow that pushes it to the shore and then brings it back out. In short, when water flows, big things can happen.

Being immersed in the human resources and recruitment industry, I couldn’t help but make the connection between the flow of the ocean and the flow of our talent pools and networks.

External factors affect the flow 
In the same way that rain and wind can affect the flow of the ocean, the economy can also cause a disturbance in your talent flow that is beyond your control. A great example of this is how we have seen the tides changes in the last several years as we went through a recession and came out on the other side of it. Our strategies change based not just on the needs of our organization but on the health and wellbeing of our economy. That economy is currently wider and broader than in years past and organizations are looking at staffing not only in the United States but also are focusing on growing talent strategies in a global economy.

The flow should be steady and continuous

You’ll never sit on a beach and watch waves crash on the shore, only to find that they completely stop for a few minutes and then begin again. A flow, by definition, moves smoothly and continuously. What this looks like in your talent flow is that you are able to maintain your workforce through high and low tides, whether slow or swift. This truly is one of the most difficult things we face in maintaining a workforce because it can be difficult to anticipate what’s coming next. However, you can maintain a steady flow of employees through relationships and engagement, with long-term prospects in mind. This means that companies must focus heavily on employee retention while also engaging prospective candidates as part of a candidate pipeline. When you ignore the long term, the flow will eventually be interrupted.

A steady flow gets things accomplished 

There’s a reason people use terms like “I’m on my work flow” and “I have a gym flow going” to describe the fact that they are focused, consistent, energized and getting things done. Just as the flow of the ocean helps to carry enormous ships thousands of miles, when we are in a flow, we make things happen. It’s no coincidence at all that it takes some small movements from us as individuals to help make waves. When hiring managers are in their flow, they are essentially helping to create a talent flow. This may look like consistently engaging prospective candidates, proactively recruiting, ramping up retention efforts and many more things. It’s all the small things that seem to only make ripples around you, but when you take a step back, you see that you have some serious momentum going.

When you experience flow within your talent pool and network, good things happen. Positions are filled quickly and candidates who fit the needs are ready and waiting, work productivity isn’t disrupted and your employees are more satisfied overall.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Engagement Economy Starts with Your Candidate

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

We all know that the candidate experience is a major part of employee engagement but often times we can’t see beyond the initial touch points. The unfortunate part of this is that the initial touches are just that, touches. Just as it takes multiple instances to make an impression in advertising, it takes multiple instances to truly make an impression on your potential candidates. Reaching a candidate with one touch vs. many touches is similar to the difference between a single transaction and a bustling economy. In order to create an engagement economy, there must be ongoing, repeated transactions between candidates and recruiters.

This engagement economy is directly related to building a talent network. It’s through this economy that long-standing relationships are built and groups of job seekers are curated.

Improve recruitment and retention 
I mentioned above what the engagement economy can do for your candidate experience, but what should be added is the fact that a true engagement economy includes all the players – actual candidates, potential candidates, permanent employees, temporary workers and contractors. The reason it’s important to include all these others is that losing or gaining them has such an impact on your bottom line, so by default, they are part of your engagement economy. Any type of worker whose presence or absence affects your company should be engaged in order to minimize turnover. Don’t forget that it’s just as important to retain your current workforce as it is to recruit talented people.

Help to qualify candidates 
One major benefit that an engagement economy provides is help in qualifying or disqualifying a candidate before the interview process ever begins, or in some cases, before a position even opens up. It’s not about making snap judgments about someone, which is easy to do when you only have one engagement touch point, but instead is about getting to know them over time through many interactions. In fact, it allows you to look beyond the resume and see if the person is a good fit. In the engagement economy, you can judge by engagement instead of just experience.

Focuses on tomorrow, not just today
An engagement economy at your company helps to shift some of the focus from the challenges and successes of today to the potential success or failures you could experience in the future. Internally, an engagement economy helps you take advantage of improving employee engagement each day so that two years from now, your employees are even more equipped to do their jobs and are satisfied and committed to the company. The engagement economy in relation to your recruiting efforts helps you build long-term relationships with candidates, shaping your pipeline so that when positions do open up, it’s a no-brainer as to where you will go to fill them.

All in all, an engagement economy created through multiple transactions and interactions will transform your hiring. The way it utilizes both your recruiting efforts and current employees is powerful.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

Monday, October 20, 2014

Diversity Recruiting is a Long Term Strategy

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

I’m thankful that diversity is a hot topic especially in Silicon Valley and within the technology industries. Companies are establishing mentorship programs, offering scholarships and focusing recruitment efforts on female and minority candidates especially in STEM. Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, TalentCircles CEO has completed extensive research on diversity recruiting on the subject of veteran and military hiring.

But tackling the topic of diversity at your company can and will not be accomplished with the implementation of a single training program or the implementation of a sourcing platform designed for you to reach female and minatory programs. As I mentioned previously sourcing is only half of the solution and that includes your diversity recruiting and retention efforts at your company.

I want to focus here on long-term candidate pipeline building and candidate targeting through a combination of efforts including digital storytelling and employment branding focused on building a large community of active and engaged members of the diversity community in a variety of areas that provide an ongoing candidate pipeline. The key here is not just focused on the numbers of your talent network or talent community, but the quality interactions and ongoing value you bring to these individuals to help lift up not only your organization but to set the standard in your own recruiting efforts for your competitors and industry.

Companies tend to focus on the short term goals of filling positions that need to be filled, but what about recruiting not only passive candidates, but filling your pipeline with a diverse candidate pool? A company can create a strategy that focuses their efforts on diversity recruiting, but it in to be successful it’s important to create more of a long-term strategy. The long-term candidate pipeline is one that takes nurturing, branding, and digital storytelling.

Nurturing: Creating a long-term strategy consists of nurturing and taking care of the candidates in the pipeline. This means providing content and resources to help build your candidates while your company is not actively pursuing them.

Digital Storytelling: Digital storytelling means that your company needs to tell a story through multiple channels. This might include webinars, blog posts, ads, or word of mouth from happy customers. Each piece of media must play into another and work as an overall campaign in order for your story to be told across the Internet.

Employer Branding: This type of branding is something that practitioners strive to perfect in order to make hiring and recruiting much easier. When a company is able to brand their company as a “must-work” for company, candidates will start flocking without the practitioner having to spend a lot of money filing requisitions.

Being able to nurture, story tell, and brand your company in a way that screams diversity hiring will allow companies to create compelling storylines when it comes to the type of employees that work for their company. Each of these three parts places a crucial role in how a company will be able to hire for their next position. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

Friday, October 17, 2014

How Recruiters Can Learn From Baseball & Talent Development in the Minor Leagues

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

I’ve mentioned before that talent is the number one priority for CEOs in 2014 from the Conference Board. Two strategies really exist in order to recruiting either you recruit already qualified candidates to your organization or you develop and implement a strategy for engaging and developing raw talent to grow in your organization just like baseball has done and the minor leagues.

I realize that planning and recruiting for the future takes a herculean amount of money, time and effort. But as I mentioned before, insanity is defined as continuing to do the same thing over and over again without any change. That’s exactly what we are doing in putting all our eggs into the action of recruiting already qualified candidates who have the exact set of skills that we need. We need to establish a minor league for our company.

That minor league goes beyond just campus recruitment and entry level hiring efforts. It means establishing a training and development program for highly competitive and technical areas particularly STEM positions. We give these candidates stability, resources, education and experience using a formal program in exchange for a signed contract for time spent at our company.

When candidates fall into a pipeline and are given an opportunity to learn and grow within a company it’s important that they’re given the necessary tools to succeed. Minor league baseball teaches us that practitioners are able to create programs and grow candidates through programs that enhance training and development.

There are two major reasons to create these types of programs with the final result as a signature on the dotted line:

Build education and knowledge for the company/franchise: Within the baseball reference, the idea of the minor leagues allows players the ability to learn the franchise and understand the basics of the game before signing on the dotted line and growing into the major leagues. The same works for the workplace. Understanding how a company operates and the dynamics involved gives candidates the opportunity to learn the industry before being offered the permanent and official position within a company.

Exchange resources and sharpen skills: When a company offers an internship it’s usually to see how they deal with adapting to a current environment with the resources they’re given. Whether it be mentorship or different opportunities within a company, companies are looking for interns to develop their skill set before a final job offer is granted. The minor league in baseball works just like an internship does, but without the promise of making it to the major leagues.

No matter what you’re looking for when it comes to working in the human resources field it’s important to understand the major benefits of creating programs with the idea of having that signature on the dotted line at the end of the program.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to Get Unstuck in Recruiting & Hiring

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Many of us are likely in the middle of building and budgeting our 2015 recruiting planning and strategies. How we recruit, attract and retain our workforce has changed dramatically in the last 4 years. The importance of creating a strategy that drives results is more important than ever especially in this extremely competitive hiring and talent economy.

Maybe as you are building your plan you are thinking about how to get unstuck from your current strategies in recruiting and hiring.

Talk to your candidates and recent hires
In order to understand where your successes and failures happened it’s important to first know what they were. By talking to candidates and recent hires you’re able to get first-hand knowledge on what worked and what didn’t. Recent hires will have a fresh perspective on the process and have nothing to lose when it comes to providing real feedback on the overall process. Practitioners should be able to take constructive feedback and learn from their successes and failures.

Evaluate the successes and failures of competitors
The best way to recruit talent is to not only see what your competition is doing, but to do it better. If there is a certain type of candidate that your competition is continuously getting over you, it’s time to take a look and see why they’re recruiting stronger candidates or a certain type of candidate. Evaluating the successes and failures of your competition gives you data that you’re able to take back and use for your own recruiting and hiring strategies.

Use metrics and reporting to guide evaluate ongoing
What has worked best in the past? What time of job requisition gives you the most candidates? What quarter do you tend to hire a stronger workforce? All these questions and a whole lot more can be answered by the use of metrics and reporting. Understanding the who, what, when, where, and whys of your recruiting strategy will help you recruit stronger candidates in a more efficient manner. Make sure when implementing new strategies you’re able to track and measure the success or failure of a certain campaign. This will allow you to recruiter smarter and faster in the New Year.

Learn from the failure & success of you peers
Although you have an entire team of recruiters or practitioners it might not always be understood that they’re working together. Take a play out of your fellow recruiters playbook and see where they’re succeeding and where they’re failing. In recruiting there is no need to re-invent the wheel when working on recruiting the same type of candidates. Take a look at your co-workers and learn from each of them and you’ll be recruiting better in no time. Working as a team is always better than working as an individual.

With 2015 just a few months away it’s important to take an inventory of your entire recruiting strategies that have worked and those who have not worked and then create a plan involving your most successful techniques. If you haven’t started planning, you’re behind! 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to Measure and Understand Your Source of Hire

The source of hire is an important one, and also one that is extremely hard to define for those that believe that a single engagement with a candidate does not often lead to an application for employment by a job seeker. The sources that lead to hiring candidates are some of the most important metrics and analytics recruiters can leverage to build their recruiting strategies.

Source of hire is defined as the point of origin that leads to a candidate completing an application for employment that ultimately leads to them being hired and working as an employee of a company. Your source of hire is the recruitment equivalent of what programmers and the technical community call a source code. It’s the foundational code or programming language that is written to create the framework for your website or technology.

Like source of hire, source code if not written correctly can set the stage for a series of ongoing technical headaches and issues for not only your engineers and programmers but the users of your technology. Sometimes your source code is elusive and is hidden behind excessive script codes, code manipulation and hidden content. In the recruiting and hiring industry, I call this the human touch cycle. In that the last engagement with a candidate who you ultimately hire is not often actually your source of hire, but it is the only one you can directly link to the hiring activity.

The human touch cycle refers to the number of brand touches between the candidate and the recruiting team. Without HR technologies that use cookies to capture website visits and information, it is extremely hard to determine the number of touches it takes to convert a candidate. It is nearly impossible to determine the original interaction that drove the candidate to consider your company for its employment opportunities.

This simple fact is the reason why we rely on the last activity that closes the deal and converts the candidate. It is the easiest and most direct activity to measure when hiring. It is extremely hard to measure the date, time and point of origin where the first contact occurred because it often occurs over long periods of time and using a variety of different websites, engagements and in person activities.

Outside of measuring the last touch that ultimately leads to the candidate conversion, recruiting teams can also conduct extensive research with their own candidate pools and recent hires to understand the activities and frequency that lead to the final candidate conversion activity. Doing so lends to more targeting messaging and strategic recruitment activities that ultimately save your recruiting team time as well as money.

A little work, time and effort up front can provide a positive return on investment and lead to better retention and a higher conversion with future candidates.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sourcing in Recruitment is Only Half the Battle

The explosion of social media redefined the way we source, recruit and hire candidates. Through social media the ability to engage companies and products, gave rise to the expectation that candidates should connect with recruiting teams directly. And with this increase in social media activity, the human capital industry saw an increase in internet research what is also referred to as online sourcing.

Sourcing is the act of researching for passive qualified candidates within social networks, forums, online databases and communities. These source candidates are then qualified and passed onto a recruiter for a specific open job requisition at a company.

The process is repeated with the same result. Potentially thousands of sourced passive candidates are effectively caught and released back into the mainstream talent pool by a single sourcer at your company. The sourcing activities continue as the immediate need for qualified candidates is great at your organization. Your sourcing team continues researching and combing the internet for talent, and the cycle never ends. Did I mention that the definition of insanity is the process of repeating the same action over and over and over again?

Simply sourcing for talent using a catch and release strategy is a recipe for recruitment insanity.

That’s because sourcing in recruitment is only half the story. Recruitment teams need to focus on mentoring, relationships and engaging those candidates. There should be no candidate release when a qualified passive job seeker is identified sourced for your company. Instead of capture and release, recruiting teams must employ and capture and engage strategy. Capture and engage is a strategy that compliments and enhances your current sourcing and research efforts but is focused on your organization’s long term talent needs.

Sourcing is just one important piece of your recruitment strategy. Building relationships, engaging job seekers who exhibit an interest but might not yet have the skill or experience level for a current open position, is not a reason to turn your back on them. This is an opportunity to establish a relationship and help mentor candidates for future job positions by leveraging your talent community.