Talent Circles

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Which Came First - Recruiting Analytics or Analytics in Recruiting?

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

The “which came first?” question is age old but lately I haven’t been thinking about it in terms or the chicken or egg, but in relation to recruiting and how it evolved to where it is today. You can’t think about the current state of recruiting without considering the thing that drives so many of our actions and helps those outside our profession understand what we do: analytics. It’s not only become a way for us in the to track and measure how we’re doing but also to help our organization’s executives see the value we bring as well. But when it comes to analytic recruiting, which came first – recruiting analytics used to measure our efforts or analytics in recruiting used to guide what we do?

Rising to the challenge
As with any aspect of the business, it’s vitally important to be able to prove the value, worth and even cost savings that HR and recruiting provide. Specifically with recruiting,
the challenge is to provide business leaders with actionable information that helps them make decisions about investments, marketing strategies and new products. But where does HR fit in since much of what we do isn’t easily linked to dollars and cents? Fortunately, while HR may not be about the numbers, recruiting is perfect for the analytics game. Analytics in recruiting are a viable way to quantify the cost and the impact of recruiting and hiring programs and even HR processes. By looking at analytic, we can measure the success, or failure, of initiatives and show business leaders what worked, what didn’t and what the next steps should be. They also enable companies to track year-to year-trends and changes to critical variables. HR and recruiting is about much more than just recruiting analytics, but the numbers provide a way for organizations to measure the value of the time and money spent on HR activities.

Before it all began
Analytics as a measurement tool are nothing new – they’ve always been a way to evaluate, prove and plan. However, they haven’t always been used so heavily to measure recruiting efforts. Recruiting has grown and evolved into more than just job postings. We have more ways to reach candidates, build relationships and create candidate pipelines. Most important to this conversation, we have earned the recognition in our organizations and with that came the expectation of providing analytics just like every other department in the company.

But if you think back to before that all began, when recruiting was low key and seen as more of a cost center than a revenue generator, recruiting was still driven by numbers. Recruiters may not have been providing robust reports to executives and may have had far fewer tools with which they could measure, but it was still all about the numbers. In fact, recruiting has a history of being sales focused, evaluating measurements like number of calls made, prospects engaged, conversions produced and even employees retained.

From the very beginning, recruiting has been about analytics. This simple fact proves that we’ve been using analytics in recruiting far before we started using analytics to measure recruiting. So in the question of which came first, the answer has to be analytics in recruiting. Recruiters have been using metrics and analytics to demonstrate their sales effectiveness since the beginning of recruiting. Now we are expanding its use to help others become aware of the value of recruiting and further guide our strategy and vision.

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Cost of Vacancy - Part Two

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

If the word “vacancy” reminds you of a flashing neon sign on an old roadside hotel, its time to rethink the term. Cost of vacancy, or COV, is an often-forgotten, yet highly valuable measure of HR and recruiting success, and it’s one that we should be using more often. Just because the term might be outdated doesn’t mean the measurement is. The cost of vacancy metric is the HR metric you can use to truly demonstrate the value of an individual position or contributor within your organization. It can be game changing.

In part one of the series, I defined COV as a measure of how much a vacancy in a position costs your organization. I talked about what it can reveal, how you can use it to positively impact your processes and even organization, and how it should be widely adopted, not just used for revenue-generating and easily measurable roles.

Here I’m going to show how I crunch the numbers. It all boils down to four key areas:

Revenue per employee
This can be the simplest or most complex aspect of cost of vacancy depending on the role you’re analyzing. Obviously if the employee is in a revenue-generating role, you can easily average the amount that employees in that role bring in. If you don’t have that data available, you can also calculate the average revenue of an employee by dividing the total company revenue by the number of employees you have. Don’t forget to account for the added value that those in operational and leadership positions bring, even if it is harder to calculate that revenue.

Lost revenue per employee, per day
Now that you have a number that represents the revenue an employee brings in, calculate how much is lost per day. An easy way to determine daily revenue lost is to divide the revenue amount found in step one and divide it by the number of work days in a year, usually about 220. It can be eye opening to see that your company is potentially losing out on that money every day the position stays vacant.

Time to fill
Time to fill is going to be your multiplier in this equation, and the averages aren’t looking great overall. The Dice-DFH Mean Vacancy Duration Measure recently revealed that average time to fill is on the rise, clocking in at 25.7 days, which is just below the 15-year high of 26.5 days that we hit last year. In this third step, simply take the lost revenue per day found in step two and multiply it by the number of days the position is or was open.

What it costs your people
We know that turnover has an effect on employee morale and often leads to employee dissatisfaction or can become the cause of even more turnover. If you can look at a vacant position and point to higher than average turnover or a spike in turnover, that cost should be included in your cost of vacancy. This is one way we can monetize the non-revenue costs of losing an employee, which are sometimes far greater than the monetary costs.

Utilizing a cost of vacancy measurement and metric provides a straight forward view of what an open position really costs. It also appeals to senior leadership in a way that employee turnover, cost per hire, quality of hire or candidate experience never will. When you’re looking to put a number to what you already know is costing the organization, COV is the best approach.

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Cost of Vacancy - Part One

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

As human capital leaders we spend our days hiring, engaging, training, strategizing and supporting the business interests of the larger organization. We focus on the people who are directly responsible for the success of the company. To help our organizations understand our value, there are a number of widely accepted HR and recruiting metrics that we, and the bosses, use to make sense of what we do and put a dollar figure on our efforts. We focus a lot on HR and recruiting metrics like turnover, cost per hire and quality of hire, but I think we are looking at it from the wrong perspective. There’s a bigger picture that we’re missing, and I think that focusing our efforts not just on the cost of hire or quality of hire but the cost of vacancy will help make things a bit clearer.

What is cost of vacancy?
Cost of vacancy is the dollar figure that having an open position is costing your company in revenue. The number, like quality of hire, is hard to calculate because revenue is sometimes hard to realize, but it’s worthwhile to use this as a more comprehensive measurement of the value of human capital. What makes cost of vacancy so much more valuable to know is that it combines several of the key measures we often look at, with the most basic being lost revenue.

It’s the only way to measure the total cost of an open position and should be considered in all of our business forecasts, changes and plans for short term, as well as long-term growth.

Sales and beyond
Cost of vacancy isn’t just limited to income-generating positions like sales or production-focused employee jobs. There’s a cost of vacancy for every single position in one way or another. For instance, cost of vacancy in operational and supporting organizational roles are harder to monetize but even more important to know because of the impact those roles have on the company. The cost is often hidden from those who don’t understand the impact that these employees provide for the organization as a whole, but it should not be forgotten. This is just one example of those hard-to-monetize positions that need to be evaluated for cost of vacancy because they have an enormous impact on the company.

Why you need to be measuring it
If you’re not already measuring and evaluating cost of vacancy, give me just a moment to sell you on it. Cost of vacancy doesn’t just clue you into what you’re spending every time an employee is fired or leaves voluntarily. It also sheds light on where you can improve as an organization. For instance, you may become a lot more interested in reducing voluntary turnover when you see that cost of vacancy number in all its glory, leading to a beefed-up employee engagement and development program. If involuntary turnover is to blame, quality of hire is obviously going to be your number one suspect. Hitting a little closer to home, you may find that cost of vacancy is being inflated by a sluggish recruiting process, which may encourage you to discover ways you can reach more candidates or make use of technology that frees up your time to engage with candidates.

Watch for part two of The Cost of Vacancy to see how I crunch the numbers and to find out why it could be a game changer for your organization.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why Branding is Essential to Your Future Success in Recruiting

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

We’re in a time when the job-market landscape is a candidate’s dream. The economy is looking up and unemployment is low, which means that candidates have more options than they’ve had in years. And it’s not just that they have options. They have more access and opportunities to connect with employers before they apply for a position. This leaves them in a unique position to get to know whether or not a company is a good fit and has what they’re looking for before ever stepping in the door.

In order for employers to stay competitive and continue to bring in the type of candidates they’re looking for, it’s imperative to go beyond the job posting and start looking at a total solution. What will make the difference is a unified marketing campaign that conveys your employment brand both online and in the real world. We’ve got to start thinking less like traditional HR pros and more like marketers.

Branding and recruiting
You know what branding means to retailers and service companies. You see the same campaign across many channels, all pushing you to make a buying decision in favor of their brand, whether you’re online, flipping through the Sunday paper or visiting a store. Recruitment branding follows the same idea. Essentially, it’s the process of creating a consistent marketing message across all channels. Your brand reinforces and supports your marketing and recruiting efforts with the goal of engaging and building awareness with candidates about career opportunities with your company.

Touch points
Thinking like a marketer means you’re focusing on the end buying decision in all that you do. For candidates, the decision to buy occurs when they apply for a position with your company. The way that marketers achieve this is through repeated touch points. On average, consumer brand recognition doesn’t even occur until there have been seven touch points. If we translate this to recruiting, this sheds some light on exactly how much connecting and engaging we must do to get a candidate to the purchase point where they’re seriously interested in the company. This is why branding is so essential to your recruiting efforts. In recruiting, there are three things touch points must be:
  • Consistent - To make the most of your efforts, be consistent with your ads, postings, engagement and outreach. There’s nothing worse than starting over every time you reach out to a candidate because you’ve gone too long between touch points.
  • Supporting – You’ll likely have many different touch points, from conversations in your talent network to meeting someone at a career fair. Consider how each touch point is supporting the others. Is the message you use when you meet someone in person consistent with your career site? Where are you guiding them after the initial contact? And is your touch point sequence organized in a way that allows each one to build on the one before?
  • Ongoing – Remember the phrase “out of sight, out of mind”? Well it applies in recruiting too. Much of your efforts will be focused on long-term relationship building, so while you shouldn’t bother or overwhelm a potential candidate, your efforts should be ongoing. 
If you can remember that the hiring and recruiting process mirrors the consumer marketplace, your touch points will be moving in the right direction. Candidates, like consumers, want to relate to a company prior to applying. They want to understand company culture, philanthropic interests and leadership style to see your company and theirs can align. Use this desire to your advantage and put those touch points to work.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She's the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Video Broadcasting is Key in Your Employment Branding & Recruiting Strategy

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

I don’t know about you, but my Internet time is largely spent viewing videos rather than reading. Given the choice between watching a short video or spending even just five or 10 minutes reading an article, I will choose video every time. If this sounds like you as well, we’re not alone. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2017, 74% of all Internet consumed will be video. While most recruiting team don’t currently rely on video for employment branding and it doesn’t make up a significant portion of their strategies, that’s going to change.

There’s nothing new about video, but what is new are the platforms on which we’re viewing it and the way it’s being used. If the only way you use video is a company culture video put on YouTube and imbedded on your LinkedIn page, it’s time to rethink video entirely. We market to candidates in the same way retailers do, so we’ve got to follow their lead and adapt to the changing landscape of how our users interact online.

Where it’s happening
YouTube will live on and we can continue to pay agencies to create recruiting videos, but real-time video is the next wave and it’s happening through platforms like Meerkat and Periscope, both live video-sharing platforms that just launched a few weeks ago. Much like Instagram and other social networks, they offer a very personal and engaging way of talking to your network in real time.

When it comes to recruiting, Meerkat and Periscope are powerful mediums but they are limited on what they offer. They are one-trick ponies. I love these tools, but I prefer to put my recruiting team in the driver seat and use an HR technology platform like TalentCircles, which integrates video into their existing platform, allowing for live broadcasting, recorded video and video interviewing technologies.

The future of video broadcasting in recruiting
Recruiters can use these live video-broadcasting tools to attract potential candidates, reach the lurkers, create conversations, and get to know candidates. As with any social network, you don’t own the connections or contacts within your community and you don’t control the unique experience they receive on Periscope or Meerkat, but you can facilitate a positive interaction and gain immediate feedback on whether or not it’s being well received.

Video broadcasting also offers real time perspectives, testimonials and engagement that can’t happen with recorded or scripted videos. Participants become part of the production and are able to learn, engage and invest with you and your recruiting team on the fly. The power of live broadcasted video is the unscripted nature where broadcast attendees help steer the video and not just watch, but experience it.

It’s the visual representation of the power of social networks. While the broadcaster might be responsible for sharing, the community is ultimately in control, making video even more appealing than ever before.

Video broadcasting combines what we love about social recruitment – easy access, two-way conversations and wide reach – with the appeal that video has in our day and age. From retailers to recruiting, video broadcasting is the next big thing in marketing. Is your employment branding and recruiting team ready?

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Let’s Keep Recruiting Simple, Shall We?

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

Recruiting is really pretty simple. Or it should be at least. When you think about it, it’s just the process of finding, selecting and hiring employees to fill open positions at our organizations. We need good people to work at our companies. It’s that simple! And yet, we manage to make recruiting and hiring so complicated and convoluted that it takes nearly two months to fill a single open position at our company. Sure, there are other factors that get thrown into the mix, but at the end of the day, why do we make recruiting more complex than it needs to be?

I’ve found that the simplest processes are often the ones we tend to take for granted and even overlook. There’s no place this is truer than in recruiting. In an attempt to make things easier and more efficient, we end up bogging the processes down. Recruiting is all about finding talent to accomplish a set of tasks or goals for a given job, plain and simple. We’ve got to quit making the search for talent harder than it should be.

Why simple sometimes isn’t so simple
I know that saying it should be simple doesn’t make it simple. One of the best analogies I can draw here is that trying to simplify recruiting is kind of like attempting to lose weight. It’s simple in theory, but not so much in practice. All you need to do is burn more calories than you eat, but it doesn’t feel that way. Simple isn’t synonymous with easy.

Yes, recruiting is simple. But no, it’s not that easy. One of the most significant reasons recruiting turns into a complicated, convoluted process is because others so heavily influence it. Sure, you know your goal and what you need, but add in dozens, if not hundreds, of candidates, a hiring manager and leadership at your organization, and you’re now juggling the needs and desires of several parties. There are also external factors, like scheduling conflicts, paperwork, organizational constraints and candidate uncertainty that complicate things even further. Last but not least, even the technology we use deserves a finger pointed at it every now and then because unless we’re using the perfect tools for us and in exactly the right way, they too can become a hindrance. 

Back to basics
Recruiting can be simple. The concept isn’t complex, but we tend to get swept up in the specifics and details and lose focus on our end goal. Somewhere among the 17 clicks in our ATS and the 150th resume we reviewed, we forget that we are simply matching a candidate to a hiring manager with the expectation that they can and will do a job. I propose that we get back to that. That we focus on the one thing recruiting has always been about: the people. I say we cut the clutter, use only the technologies we need, ask the right questions, and simplify our processes.

There will always be distractions, always be people who want to complicate things and always be external factors that influence what we do, but we do have the choice to rise above it all and play good old fashioned job matchmaker. In some ways, simplicity is a state of mind. The path with the least resistance to accomplish that simple goal is the best way. Let’s keep recruiting simple, shall we?

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

4 Tools to Monitor & Measure Your Employment Branding Efforts

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

Employment branding is one of the most powerful tools recruiters have available to them today. It’s not only the newest and hottest thing in recruiting but is also one of the most worthwhile things you can do in the race to bring in the best and brightest. Today, recruiting teams are building an overarching strategy for their recruiting and hiring efforts that combines marketing, branding and recruiting. However, there’s a common misconception that many are playing out through their strategy, and that it the belief that employment branding only exists in social networks.

It’s true that social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram give you the perfect platforms to flex your employment brand, but it goes far beyond those spaces. Employment branding should be centered around campaigns, not just social networks. It’s for this reason that we should be measuring them not only through social analytics but a number of other tools as well if we want to grasp their full impact.

For new marketers and recruiters in this space, employment branding all about a balance of efforts between creating and executing campaigns, educating team members and executives as well as measuring and monitoring current campaigns. With tools beyond the standard social measurements, we’re able to see the whole picture of how our efforts online, through social and in the real world, measure up.

To help with doing this, here are four of my favorite tools:

Google Analytics
In my opinion, Google Analytics is the starting point for measuring your efforts. It’s simple to adopt, easy to understand and extremely enlightening. This tool can show you how people are finding your website or careers page, what they’re interested in on your site, how long they’re spending there and so much more. As a free tool, there’s really no reason not to make this part of your measurement.

Social Recruitment Monitor
This website is a unique tool that shows you which companies are doing the best job of recruiting through social media. You can add your company to the list to see where you rank each week, but you can also use it to compare your organization to other companies. Take a look at the top contenders and see what they’re doing compared to your efforts. Sometimes measurement is about more than just numbers, so take the time to evaluate others’ tactics. 

URL builders and cookies
URL builders and cookies allow you to track potential candidates’ moves with the goal of gaining a better understanding of what’s working in your campaign and what’s not. URL builders allow you to create a unique URLs for each social post, link in a blog or job posting, giving you insight into which links are clicked the most and therefore showing you which ads, posts or even phrases work best. Cookies are used when a candidate visits your website or careers page and shows you how many pages they visit, where they visit and much more.


RivalIQ is a tool that not only helps you measure and monitor your own efforts but gives you a peek into what others are doing as well. You can use it to monitor your social, SEO and content marketing efforts. RivalIQ also shows you what other employers, your competitors, are doing as well. It’s one of the most complete tools I’ve found for monitoring not only social efforts but also nearly anywhere else your employment brand reaches.

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Rediscover the Lost Art of Recruiting

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

Automation has become an enormous part of our everyday lives, from coffee makers turning on at 6 a.m. sharp to Gmail sorting through emails to Amazon auto-shipping another order of paper towels. Both at work and in our personal lives, we’ve become so reliant on it that we don’t even think about it. It’s just as true in recruiting, where like the rest of the world, we rely automation to drive results, improve productivity and simplify tasks. However, it’s more important in recruiting than possibly anywhere else to remember the basics.

The problem with the way many recruiters are working is that they see technology as a replacement for human interaction, but this idea is fundamentally against everything we know about recruiting. We know that recruiting has always been and always will be a relationship-oriented, high-touch business, which means a computer will never be able to replicate all that a recruiter does to bring in the best and brightest.  And that’s exactly why it’s time to rediscover the art of recruiting, and find out what it means to be human driven and automation supported.

Technology is not a substitute for engagement
HR and recruiting’s use of technology must go hand in hand with exercising good-old-fashioned human interaction and relationship building. It requires a perfect balance of the two and an understanding of when to use each. Above all else, engagement should be where you’re focusing the majority of your time and energy, so be careful not to get in the mentality that the recruiting technologies you use are doing the work for you. Technology and automation enhance what we do, but they’ll never replace it.

Put technology to work the right way
The value that technology and automation bring shouldn’t be ignored. There’s a reason we’ve become so technology dependent. It makes things easier. The best way you can use these tools is to first of all choose the right ones and secondly, let them take care of tasks that take away from you being able to engage with candidates. Put technology to work so you can make time for conversation-focused recruiting.

Build a reputation of excellence with your candidates
If we’re going back to the basics of how we recruit and why we do what we do, then I have to talk about the reputation companies gain with candidates over time. This area, above all else, is so heavily reliant on the people doing the recruiting. A reputation of excellence is gained over time by doing things the right way and valuing human interaction. While technology makes your job easier and can support and reinforce your efforts, candidates will remember you above all else.

Always make time for follow up and feedback
Don’t put in time and effort in the beginning only to let those connections fall by the wayside. Make follow up and feedback part of your normal routine, and use technology to help you track and remember this. Technology and automation can even be used in your follow up and feedback, but remember that from beginning to end, or from the first interaction to the last, the human element is key.

Recruiting is built upon a foundation of conversations and relationships, but when executed properly, technology can support and enhance what we do. Its magic lies in allowing us to place the focus back on the lost conversation and engagement-oriented history of recruiting. 

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

Friday, April 10, 2015

How to Grow an Employer Twitter Chat

By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

Twitter is a unique recruiting tool that just keeps getting stronger. I mentioned in part one of this Twitter chat series that there’s something wonderfully challenging about parsing your message down to 140 characters or less, but it’s what makes Twitter a great recruiting tool and so digestible as we read dozens, if not hundreds (or for some of us, even thousands) of Tweets each day.

It’s for that reason that I began holding Twitter chats years ago, and why I still think they’re incredibly valuable in recruiting. They’re simple to host, can be low cost or free (depending on how you advertise) and give candidates a rare opportunity to connect with recruiters. What more could you want?

As great as Twitter chats are, though, success doesn’t happen over night. Most start out small and expand slowly over time as word spreads and your following grows. They require a great deal of planned guerilla marketing and consideration of the value they bring to the talent community. If you want people to spend their free time engaging in this way, your Twitter chats need to serve a purpose for candidates.

If you’re ready to reap the benefits of an active, engaging Twitter chat, here are the ingredients you need to make it happen:

A short, simple hash tag
Your Twitter chat hashtag helps participants keep up with the conversation and files all the messages in the conversation for reference later. Choose a hashtag that has staying power (don’t base it on a weekly theme – keep it the same every week), is simple to type and isn’t being used elsewhere on Twitter.

Actively involved candidates
How do you get candidates involved? Ask them! Put out a call for them to suggest questions and topics for your chat. They’re much more likely to participate or tune in if their specific question is going to be answered.

Regular hosting
People have to get in the habit of attending, so keep a regular chat schedule. I recommend weekly chats for the best results.

Broadcast your chat
Yes, it is work related, but that doesn’t mean your friends and family aren’t interested. They may even pass the info along to a potential candidate. Don’t be shy about what you’re doing; let the world know.

Seek help from allies
Invite guest hosts from within your company, particularly if you have multiple openings in that area or a lot of interest from candidates about a specific department.

Guest host other Twitter chats
Gain exposure and experience by guest hosting job search chats like #internpro, #jobhuntchat and #omchat, which already have a following.

Creative marketing wins on Twitter
Get creative in your marketing, shout it from the rooftop and focus on growing your Twitter following beyond the chat because it’ll give you an even broader audience. And don’t forget to take advantage of email signatures and LinkedIn headlines to market your Twitter chat.

Find an ally in marketing
Connect with other people or organizations for a mutually beneficial relationship that will help you grow your following.

Use social advertising
Don’t be afraid to advertise outside of Twitter. Cover all your bases and use Facebook and LinkedIn advertising to promote your chat as well.

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