Talent Circles

Thursday, January 29, 2015

There is Something Fundamentally Wrong with How We Hire

58.1 days. That’s a long time for most of us. In 58 days most of us will have given up completely on our New Year’s resolutions, forgotten someone new we met this week and won’t likely be able to recall anything that happened on this day. Even so, 58 days is the average amount of time between the day a candidate applies for a job and their first day of work. When I see this statistic, I can’t help but think that we’re doing it wrong. Collectively, as an industry, we’re doing something wrong if 58.1 days is the average.

The job market has shifted a lot over the last several years and is on solid footing at this point, making our timeliness and strategic hiring more important than ever. This job market is a significant contributing factor to the fact that 30 percent of employees are leaving their jobs this year for better and higher paying opportunities. Our companies simply cannot afford to spend nearly two months per hire, so it’s time to shake things and fix what’s broken in this process. 

It’s too long
This is the most obvious, but it’s just one of many problems. 58.1 days is longer than most people’s dating relationships. By dragging this process out for nearly two months, you are asking candidates to wait around blindly and make a pseudo commitment without any meaningful conversations taking place and minimal courting and engagement between prospective employer and employee occurring. Set the expectation within your company that hiring decisions won’t be rushed, but they also won’t be dragged out. What can you do in your organization to speed up the process?

Aptitude and evaluation should happen first
Aptitude and skill tests are all too often the last step in the hiring process but we could all save ourselves a lot of time if it became one of the first things we did. And when I say “all,” I mean that it’s beneficial for employers and candidates. In the same way that you are dating many different prospective candidates, your candidates are probably dating many potential employers, and no one likes to be strung along. By moving this part of the screening process up, both parties find out if the situation is a good fit and whether or not the skills match the position requirements. 

Recruiting doesn’t start with an open position
Employers who wait to recruit and engage prospective candidates after a job opening comes available are already losing the race. This is one of the main reasons it takes so long to complete the hiring process. You have to start building relationships, qualifying candidates and establishing a connection far before you have an opening. Otherwise, you are late to your own party.

Beyond honing the hiring process so that we’re able to snag the best employees, it’s also important that we’re making the most of our time. I can admire someone who works tirelessly to fill a position, but the people I want to learn from are those who already have a few candidates in mind when an opening occurs because they’ve been doing the legwork to connect with these individuals for months. It can no longer be the case that posting a job opening, whether on your career site, social media or a job board, is the beginning of the hiring process. We must shift our mindset to recruit along the way if we want to transform how we hire. 

 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, January 28, 2015

Recruiting Innovation is About Calculated Risks

We all want to be the best at what we do, to be on the cutting edge and always in the know. However, many things in our day-to-day work can hold us back from being able to do so. For a lot of recruiters, it’s the organizations they call home that are actually keeping them from being the best they can be. Sure, no company wants to hold its employees back from bringing innovation and gaining expertise, but it happens all too often and the majority of the time it comes from a place of fear.

Often times that fear is masked as being too busy with conference calls, PowerPoint presentations and even corporate bureaucracy. It is true that those things are time consuming, especially when it comes to office politics and the pressure that many are under to provide certain results within a particular time frame. What organizations have to realize, though, is that their recruiters who are itching for innovation will either find a way to do it off the grid, will move on to somewhere it’s welcome or will extinguish the fire and go with the flow.

Rather than forcing recruiters to quit thinking innovatively, what if organizations learned how to welcome it in a safe way? After all, not all risk is bad. It just requires some creative thinking to figure out where it fits.

Real risk vs. calculated risk
Real risk is scary. There’s no doubt about that. It’s a shot in the dark, a 50/50 chance and leaves a lot of room for error. However, calculated risk is a much smarter way to step out on a ledge and try something new because it’s a decision you’ve made based on evaluating possible outcomes and potential effects. In terms or actual decisions you’d make at work, the difference between real risk and calculated risk at work is often the time you’ve put in to make it work. Real risk is trying a new method because you heard a speaker at a conference discuss it or a peer say that he or she was giving it a try. Calculated risk takes it a step further and researches who else is using it, why they chose to and what the outcomes have been.

Building risk into your strategy
Another important part of taking a calculated risk is understanding how it fits into your organization’s overall strategy. It’s not enough to know how others have used it. You’ve also got to know why it makes sense for you to use it. How does it help you achieve your recruiting goals? Going even further, how does it help achieve the organization’s overall goals? Companies and recruiters that want to be successful and always on the cutting edge make innovation, and it turn risk, part of their strategy. They build in wiggle room for both time and money to leave space for growing, experimenting and implementing innovative solutions.

Breaking down barriers
Building risk into your recruitingstrategy also helps to break down barriers to innovation. One of the very most basic barriers is leadership not being open to new ideas. By establishing that it is part of your strategy and determining how each idea fits in the plan, you’ll avoid a few headaches of trying to convince others that it’s worth the calculated risk. This also gets rid of the ego problem that some have when others bring new ideas to the table. It’s normal to feel insecure when someone brings up a method that you’ve never heard or thought of, but we have to remember that we can’t be experts in everything, so we have to let some things go. By putting aside your ego, your company’s recruiting could be elevated to an entirely new level. Change of any type can be hard, but when we make room for innovation, you never know what can happen.

 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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to Engage Your Target Candidate During The Work Day

By Jessica Miller-Merrell
One of the first obstacles we come across when we’re ready to reach out to a candidate is simply contacting them at a time and place where they’ll respond. It’s easy to forget that a recruiter’s call email or InMail may not be their first priority during the workday. After all, the types of candidates you aim to reach likely have very full days, so it’s essential to know how they’re spending this time and most importantly, how they want to be reached. 

Last year, Pew Research Center conducted an online survey about workers’ use of technology and revealed some surprising findings about what tools are essential. Email came in as the number one essential technology with 79 percent saying it was important at work. Next in line was Internet, followed by landline phone, cell phone and finally social networking sites, with only 18 percent saying these sites are important at work. 

How to Win at Candidate Communication & Engagement 

The reason this survey is so important to recruiters is because it shows where and how employees communicate, and allows us to factor that into developing recruiting and candidate engagement strategies. While I think these results aren’t necessarily representative of all candidates, it gives recruiters a place to start. I would recommend using these findings as a launching pad and discovering through experience how your candidates prefer to interact and engage with your recruiting and talent acquisition team. Talk with them to understand when, why and how they want to communicate.

No matter which method you use, ask yourself whether or not it’s a communication you would read/listen and respond to. Start these four categories to help guide your strategy.

Is Your Communication Welcomed?
Is your communication welcome in their email, voicemail or LinkedIn inbox? Is it something that will annoy them or peak their interest? Not all communication has to be solicited, but it should always be relevant and clear.

Many candidates, such as engineers in Silicon Valley, get multiple emails from recruiters each day. At the very least, all candidates likely deal with an enormous influx of communication day to day. Make sure yours are noticed with customized, unique messages that are targeted, focused and relevant.

When communicating with a candidate, meet them where they are and avoid making demands or assumptions without their input. Plan phone calls around their schedule before considering your own and always be more accommodating than you are asking them to be. This is the reason I have been known to do phone and video interviews evenings, weekends and holidays. Sometimes the best way to engage them is to be flexible to their needs.

Often the most welcome communication is one that comes after a door has already been opened, such as responding to a tweet or email, or asking them to engage while also discussing a mutual friend or a project you know they were involved in. One-way conversations between candidate and recruiter are so 2014. 

 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, January 26, 2015

How to Recruit in the Era of Personalization

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

We live in a time where one-size-fits-all marketing is no longer the standard. All around us, companies are aggregating data with nearly every purchase we make, website we visit and even the apps we use, and then using that data to customize ads, emails and more. We’re in a time when every person receives their own unique ad campaign targeted specifically at what marketers believe will sway us. If this sounds like personalization you wouldn’t be a fan of, keep in mind that it also goes far beyond marketing, and we welcome it with open arms. My home thermostat knows when I walk through the door and customizes the temperature to what I like. When I turn on my TV, Netflix suggests movies I might like based on my past preferences and when I visit LinkedIn, it seems to know that I’m somehow connected to that person I met at a conference last month. Recruiting is personal just like our expectation of the internet of things.

This is where we are. As consumers and individuals, we have come to not only enjoy personalization but also have grown to expect it. So with everything else around us providing customized experiences, why is it that so many recruiters and HR pros still haven’t gotten the memo? We’re past one-size-fits-all marketing and we’re past one-size-fits-all recruiting and retention.

First things first: listen
We may not feel like retailers are listening to us or that Netflix cares that we like the new show they added, but they do. The information they gather from our likes, dislikes and habits is exactly what allows them to provide a unique experience. Similarly, our industry must start listening critically to those it wishes to recruit and retain in order to create an experience that those individuals connect with. What might you find when you set out to listen? You may discover where and how your targets prefer to communicate, how aggressive of an approach is right and even unique characteristics that connect you to them.

Connections are everything
Marketers may use targeted ads to remind us what we were looking at on their website yesterday, but recruiters and HR professionals have an even more powerful tool. Relationships are not only essential to successful recruiting but also provide a distinct advantage over those who cast a wide net and never connect. Relationships and connections allow us to provide the ultimate customized experience for candidates and employees as we learn about each person as an individual. Through these relationships, we’re able to gain knowledge about what’s motivating a move, where a candidate would fit best, similarities between candidates and more. Most importantly, a relationship allows the candidate or employee to get to know the company better and provides a tangible tie that a one-size-fits-all approach never could.

Go back to the basics
At the end of the day, you may not be able to personally connect with every candidate you wish to hire and every employee you want to retain, but you can use basic knowledge and customization to create an experience that sets your company apart. Start with simple and basic tools, like making sure to use a candidate’s name in correspondence, responding to their inquiries and following through on promised communication. These things seem basic, but it will create a more positive experience than most companies are offering.

 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, January 23, 2015

How to Engage Your Best Job Seeker Candidates in Four Easy Steps

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

In the world of job searching, it’s a buyer’s market. Job seekers are enjoying this period of time in which unemployment is the lowest it has been in years and while it’s still a competitive environment, the landscape has shifted for this crowd in the last few years. This is great news for job seekers and our economy, but it also means that recruiters and hiring managers are being challenged in ways they hadn’t been for several years.

To meet this challenge, recruiters are going to have to focus first and foremost on candidate engagement. You may find that some positions don’t require constant communication and relationship building, but when it comes to recruiting the best candidates and filling technical or highly-skilled positions in competitive industries, these things are a must. It’s time for recruiters to step out of the box and out from behind the job posting to uncover and attract exceptional passive job seekers. Catching the attention of these candidates all starts with communication.

Tell a story
When passive job seekers are searching for their next position they gather as much information as they can and evaluate their findings. Passive job seekers aren’t going to reach out early on to ask questions or find out more about your organization, so it’s essential that what you present tells a story. One of the most valuable things you can do within your recruitment strategy is to use digital storytelling to present your employment brand and company culture. There are many ways to do this but an HR technology, such as Talent Circles, can elevate your storytelling tremendously. Whatever the method, your story should be unique and personal, as well as convey that your company is more than just a brand.

Target your search
In this setting, engagement is defined by the small touch points that are specific and unique. In order to achieve these multiple touch points, you’ll have to target search efforts and prioritize quality over quantity. By identifying a handful of potential candidates to engage, you can personalize your message for maximum engagement.

Get personal
While it’s essential to have resources that speak to all job seekers, there are positions you’ll want to focus more time and effort on, which is where you have an opportunity to get personal. A great place to start is with something relatively small, such as throwing away the Tweet template you’ve been using for the last year and reaching out to candidates with a personal Tweet. You can also create personal videos, make phone calls rather than emailing, and even follow up with prospective candidates you’re vying for with a gift tailored to them. 

Be respectful
As recruiters, we sometimes start to see candidates as products that we’d like to acquire, losing sight of their value as a person. Make it a top priority to be respectful of their time, experience, knowledge and expertise throughout the process. Remember that there are many considerations for taking a new job, and most of them have nothing to do with you. A great recruiter knows that each candidate is different, but all deserve respect for what they do and who they are as a person. 

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, January 19, 2015

Amazing Grace: An Infographic to Inspire Young Women!

Ramya Gogineni is Marketing Manager at Udemy, a marketplace for online learning. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA Anthropology & MPH in 2008 and is on a mission: helping more women find their place in computer programming! 

By Ramya Gogineni @Ramicube

The stats around women in computing are dire. Only 12% of computing jobs in the US are held by women. The number of computer science graduates who are women today has decreased to 18%, compared to 37% in 1984. Yet demand for software developers is expected to grow between 28%-34% by 2020. 

We need more female voices in tech and the time is now. Let’s rediscover forgotten heroes like Admiral Grace Hopper, a true pioneer. She not only invented compilers but also what would eventually come to be COBOL, a computer programming language still in use today. 

I wanted to find a unique way to share the story of Grace Hopper and show everyone that women have always had a place in computer programming and are darn good at it. So I teamed up with artist Pablo Stanley and created a comic to inspire women to pursue careers in computer programming and technology. You can find the complete original comic over at Udemy, along with courses to learn computer programming. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5 Ways to Drive Real Innovation in Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

In general, recruiting isn’t usually viewed as the department or industry where innovation happens. It is common that business leaders and others outside of our industries, don’t always understand, or grasp everything it takes to recruit, engage and hire the best candidates for their company. It’s not that your business leaders don’t care, it’s just not their area of expertise.

Innovation in the area of talent acquisition isn’t about generating the most buzz or being the most unique, it’s about the strategies, plans and execution that generate results. These desired results go far beyond just the number of hires. We must also consider things like cost, timelines, the use of resources and the long tail metrics like retention due to recruiting and hiring done correctly.

1) Research
As a recruiter, you have to be diligent in understanding your target audience. Each position you have to fill is different. You have to tailor your approach with every role, making sure you know and understand how to reach and gain the attention of the best candidates for that position. It also goes back to the idea of making your company known in various places where qualified talent is available, even prior to needing to fill a position. By researching your options and getting your company’s name out there on industry websites and social media platforms like LinkedIn, it will make the process even easier for you once it is time to hire because you did some of the legwork beforehand.

2) Metrics
When it comes to analytics, metrics, and data, they don’t just help you justify your actions and gut instincts. The numbers provided help you build better formulate recruiting strategies and campaigns. There is value to be found in trends and forecasting. Having an idea of what might be coming down the line and then being prepared for it allows you to remain proactive and focus your efforts accordingly.

3) Proactive Recruiting
It is important to focus on the long term and relationship building with your ideal candidates. You may find a person who would be a valuable asset to your company but doesn’t currently fit any open positions that you have been tasked to fill. By maintaining even basic relationships with these candidates, you keep your company in the forefront of their mind and will have an easier time placing them in the right position down the road.

4) Technology
Technology goes beyond just having an updated applicant tracking system to the tools, tech and resources that help you quantify your current efforts and help you make smarter decisions in the how, when and why of recruiting. Beyond tracking, it should help you save time and space while expediting your processes.

5) Understanding Your Market
This ties directly in with the research aspect. Once you have collected your information it is important that you make sure to understand it and the people you are trying to attract. YOu must understand the market in terms of localized recruiting efforts, industry trends and economic indicators. Doing so will help you make the best decisions and lead the way to efficiently filling positions with qualified talent.

Real innovation only looks easy on the outside. It takes meticulous planning, research and efforts that are far reaching. Just looking at the five points above, it is easy to see how these things weave together. When done properly, these items feed into each other and move you along in the process of recruiting.

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, January 12, 2015

How Recruiting Can Build a Relationship with Their Corporate Marketing Team

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

More and more, different areas of business are having to startembracing and using marketing techniques. In the societal shift toward more intense marketing approaches and social media, it is almost required for other industries to start doing some of these sames things in order to be successful. While our target audience consists of talent whereas marketing is aimed more at a  customers base, recruiting directly faces the public and has the capacity market the company they are a part of.

The movement intertwining marketing and communication efforts into our existing recruiting and talent acquisition efforts is upon us in the form of employment branding. Recruiters have not traditionally been considered marketers so there is some ground there to be gained. Recruiting and marketing already do so many of the same things, there is a lot of room there to work together and compliment one another. I often get asked how or even if recruiting should work with their existing corporate marketing and communications team. The answer is a resounding YES.

1) Ask for help. Maybe all your looking for is a retweet or maybe you are seeking advice on the best way to optimize your job listing for SEO. Ask for corporate marketing for help. It is as simple as starting a conversation. Let them share their knowledge. Simultaneously you’ll learn about the many ways how recruiting is just like marketing.

2) Offer your assistance. It is a two way street. You can benefit from them and they too can benefit from you. Start small. Maybe it’s a simple retweet of a recent blog post or social share of a great infographic or customer video. By sharing each others content you gain exposure and create brand consistency.

3) Take them to lunch. Everyone loves being taken to lunch. That alone will start you off on the right food. This is your opportunity to start building a bridge. There is a different mood to a lunch setting. It allows you to make things a little bit more relational. When you are able to establish relationships it gives you more opportunity to learn and ask a lot of questions and maybe answer a lot of questions as well. Interactions like these allow you to build that rapport.

4) Talk metrics. Share what you measure and why. You may find there is some overlap. You may also find that there is data you can share. You are working for the same company. The more opportunities you find where you can assist and benefit from each other, the better. The more you help each other out, the better that rapport will continue to be.

5) Find their pain point. By offering up a potential solution, you have the opportunity to establish credibility. If you are able to help them out, in doing so you may also even create further opportunities for you to suggest that you and marketing should combine your efforts in the future. You can make it a win/win for everyone involved.

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, January 9, 2015

Recruiting is Personal

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Recruiters often don’t realize that for a candidate, the job search can be an extremely personal experience. Aspects of the process, specifically their success or failure, can be tied directly to the financial freedom and the ability to achieve their personal dreams for both them and their dependents. For many, a new job and the income sustained from that job could be the solution to getting by or achieving happiness or fulfillment.

Still, in many instances, the recruitment process remains one of the least personal interactions in an organization. It’s focused on pushing people through an ATS and relies mostly on simplistic email messages and auto responders in order to communicate with candidates. The only real engagement has with an organization often only happens during a formal interview or negotiation. This is the fatal flaw in the recruiting and hiring processes. Our interactions with talent need to go beyond this. It will have positive effects on both the candidates as well as our companies.

Your Candidates Want To Invest In You
Recruiting is personal because a job is a huge part of every person’s life. A person who works 40 hours a week is spending approximately 37% of their waking hours working. That is a significant time investment that is bound to influence one’s value. To be given a position doing something they find fulfilling can be your employee’s direct line to personal happiness, wellbeing and freedom financially.

Going beyond recruiting, if a candidate is selected and had a good experience in the recruiting process, they are more likely to start their new role on the right foot. If they are not selected but still had a good experience, they are more likely to apply again for a position better suited for them or send other qualified talent your way.

You Should Want to Invest in Your Candidates
Whether or not you offer a candidate a position, you have the ability to directly influence their self worth. It should be expected that when someone is not selected for a role, there will be some level of disappointment. Instead of just letting your system send them an automatic rejection letter or email, you can provide them with constructive feedback that can help them when applying for other jobs in the future. In some cases, just adding your personal touch will help them not to feel discarded when they are not selected. This will reflect well on your company.

Your personal approach could be the difference that leads a qualified candidate to accept a position with you over another company. The interview process goes both ways. If they are qualified for a position you are trying to fill, they are likely qualified for other positions elsewhere as well. Your personal approach could be the element that sets you apart and draws in the qualified talent

Recruiting is personal because its about the people and no amount of automation or technology can change this fact. Only companies who wake up and realize this fact and proceed to improve, enhance and personalize their recruiting, hiring and onboarding efforts can and will win the war for talent. It’s a certainty.

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, January 7, 2015

Why Social Recruiting and Sourcing is not Enough

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Social media is without a doubt one of the most significant sources of recruiting and sourcing candidates. This was proven by the Aberdeen Group in “Talent Analytics: Moving Beyond the Hype,” a study that revealed that 82 percent of companies are using social media to source candidates. To me, this means two things. First, I’m excited that the human resources industry is keeping up with the times and making strides to meet candidates where they are. But the second thought I had about this is that for some of us, it means onto the next thing.

I’ve never been one to live by the bandwagon mentality. You know, if everyone else is doing it you should be too, and in the same breath, if no one else is doing it, then I probably shouldn’t either. In fact, by the time everyone else is doing it, I want to be onto the next thing.

In our industry, most of us don’t set out to become a living legend. Most of us simply want to do a good job of sourcing the best talent. But those who crowd source their decision making based on what their peers or competitors are doing aren’t just keeping themselves from becoming industry leaders. They’ll also be the ones taking the leftovers. If 82 percent of companies are using social media, then we’re no longer trendsetters for our use of social media in recruiting.

Going where social media can’t
Social media itself is an effective method for sourcing, however it is a one-sided tool that focuses only on finding talent through social media channels. It doesn’t provide a solution of what to do with what you find. The next highly adopted recruiting and sourcing tool will be something that takes social sourcing much further: the interactive talent community. An interactive talent community is the answer to the question of what happens after you find talentthrough social recruiting. It provides a way to store your sourced profiles and track the actions your recruiting teams have taken to reach out to qualified candidates.

Beyond the social, beyond the network
Since we’re talking about social media and what one does with the information gathered there, it’s important to note that the problem has been addressed before, though never really successfully. The attempt to solve this problem came in the form of a talent network that allows recruiters and practitioners to store information. The simplest and most common form of this is essentially an email management system. The basic goal for recruiters is to have website visitors provide their email address to express interest in future job openings. The problem is that most talent networks never go beyond the standard automated emails. There’s no interaction, relationship or engagement. This type of non-responsive strategy plays a part in candidates’ increasing frustration about the candidate experience and lack of engagement from company recruiting teams.

The next wave

For a talent network to be successful, it must actually be an interactive talent community that enables you to engage and build relationships with candidates whom you have made an initial point of contact. It’s no longer enough to recruit on social, and it’s no longer enough to offer a one-sided talent network. We must go beyond social media and social sourcing by offering an employer-controlled and branded environment that helps connect the candidate to your recruiting team.

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, January 5, 2015

The Difference Between Dumb Luck and True Luck in Hiring

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

There are two types of recruiters in our industry – those who let candidates come to them and those who go after candidates. We know that the success of a recruiter often lives and dies with their ability and desire to proactively source candidates. However, the common view from outsiders is that it’s all about luck. But we know that the way recruiters work is far from completely running on luck, although there is a type of luck that recruiters also must rely on.

Luck is deceiving because it’s typically only categorized in one way – plain, dumb luck. But luck can actually mean a few different things. It can be true dumb luck, the type where you bet on the winning horse for the Triple Crown and your best guess was truly a shot in the dark. You rolled the dice and won, simple as that. But the other type of luck is what I like to call true luck. It involves planning and research long before something comes to be. For an outsider looking in, it’s hard to discern which type of luck you, as a professional, are leveraging. And to most people it may not even matter which luck you’re utilizing, but once you sit down and talk to business leaders, recruiting professionals or CEOs you can easily get a sense of which type of luck they are favoring.

Jac Fitz-Enz, author of the book “The New HR analytics,” describes the difference between dumb luck and true luck as being preparation. Sure, planning seems simple enough, but just like there is more than one type of luck, there is more than one type of preparation. The best kind of preparation doesn’t simply mean getting ready. It’s more about predictive planning. According to Fitz-Enz, there are four steps that make up what we simply call preparation.

The first step in predictive planning is to survey internal factors and external forces to see how they affect, or could affect, your organization. This lets you know where you’re starting and what you need to plan for.

The planning portion of predictive management takes what we know about succession planning a step further. In the past, succession and staffing planning has been structured while it should be something fluid that makes use of critical thinking, not just tradition.

Since most human resources processes are considered to have inputs, throughputs and outputs, analysis should reveal how to optimize the inputs and throughputs so the outputs are maximized.

All the things that have been observed, including strategic, operational and leading factors are combined to tell a story, and in this case, it should be of the future.

I like to think of predictive planning as preparation on steroids. This systematic, yet flexible approach to gearing up for what’s around the corner is far more effective than what most of us call preparation. By using this predictive planning model, we’re setting ourselves up for true luck, the kind that combines our hard work with being in the right place at the right time. And as you’d probably guess, true luck beats dumb luck any day.

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