Converting your workforce

Back in 2008 I went to my first Dave Matthews Band concert, sort of against my will. They weren’t my favorite band even though I had heard plenty of their music. Between my roommate from 2005 and my husband, I was not lacking any opportunities to hear their variety of songs, it just didn’t suit me. So anyway, there I was, in AutoZone park, on what I’m pretty sure was the hottest day of the year, sweating something serious with thousands of people who I was certain I didn’t have anything in common with.  And then… Willie Nelson came on stage. Like for real, Willie. Effing. Nelson. We were pretty close to the stage so the lights on the stage made it even hotter where we were, but when Willie started playing I didn’t care anymore. Then something beautiful happened, Willie and Dave performed Gravedigger together. Oh. my. gosh…. amazeballs. Then DMB played and I LOVED it! Seriously, I loved it. I don’t know why it happened, but maybe it was because everyone was having a good time, everyone was enjoying themselves, everyone was being themselves and DMB rocked that show and I was loving every minute of it. I was converted at that show. I love DMB now. If you search through my car you will find countless live trax cd’s. My phone houses a DMB Pandora station and I follow the band on my social media accounts. I even have a DMB related tattoo. Fully committed. So here is my question, why can’t the workplace be a Dave concert? At least now and then? I’m not saying let your employees smuggle joints to work in their bras and sell homemade t-shirts in the parking lot, but what I am saying is let your employees have fun at work sometimes. Let them be themselves.

Don’t let my question get lost here. I know work can’t be a concert. I also know that some people dread work  and sometimes they can be converted through experiences… like I was with DMBs music.  What are you doing to improve your employees’ experience? Is it working?

The husband and I at our most recent Dave show

The husband and I at our most recent Dave show

Rock stars need not apply

I wonder how we got started using the phrase “rock star” to describe awesome candidates. Who thought of it first? The hiring manager or the recruiter? Was it the candidate?

Rock Star

I’ve been thinking about how funny it is to post that you are looking for a rock star candidate or whatever variation you use in your posting promotions. Maybe “rock star” is a completely unappealing phrase to the person you are looking for, because my guess is you and your managers haven’t thought about the message you are really conveying. Now some positions do qualify for a rock star status candidate, but most do not.

I giggled at the first definition that came up of rock star because it says “famous and successful singer or performer of rock music”. Does anyone even make rock music anymore? I digress.. Rock stars are not created equally, so be careful what you wish for. Remember when David Lee Roth trashed a dressing room in Pueblo, CO because they were served brown M&Ms and Van Halen’s contract clearly stated the brown ones had to be removed? (Full disclosure: I don’t remember it, I’m not that old. I just read about it and yes I know it’s an extreme example and the clause in the contract actually served a valuable purpose, just let me pitch my challenge to you, okay?). These are the kind of strategic requirements that could be proposed to you by that rock star you think you must have. Think about this

  1. Not all rock stars create good music Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean they are not a star, but its important to know that not every star will appeal to your taste or needs.
  2. Rock stars can be difficult to manage. Don’t just take my word for it, ask my boss. I’m a pain. I have clear-cut opinions on just about everything. I have no interest in doing things that I know I have no interest in. I haggle over everything. I prove my point any way that I can, which even means using his own words against him. I could continue this list of hard to manage qualities I have, but for the sake of your interest I’ll stop there and tell you this, if you leave me alone for 48 hours with the tools I want I will produce results. 48 hours is all I want… oh and let me shut my door, let me crank up my Nicki Minaj channel on Pandora, let me do it my way aaaand all those other things I previously mentioned. See what I did there?  (I kid, I’m definitely not a pain to manage).  Everybody’s results have a price, you need to decide is it necessary (and feasible) to pay the rock star price?
  3. Rock stars get bored.If you don’t have what it takes to keep a rock star entertained you are headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes it means letting the rock star do what they want to do and sometimes it means making sure you have challenges for the rock star in the workplace, at least now and then.

It’s important (recruiters) to know what your organizations needs are and to sometimes bring your hiring managers back in and give them a reality check. Can you afford a bunch of rock stars? What will a bunch of new rock stars do to your work environment? Can you really retain a rock star? Consistently good performing and reliable employees are great too, everyone cannot be a rock star. Maybe you do need to go out there and get a rock star, all I’m saying is don’t be surprised when the rock star behavior/attitude come along too.

Pick up the phone

You remember that awesome recruiting workshop I just talked about a couple of days ago? yeah… I’m going to talk about it for the next 6 months probably. I get excited when respectable, experienced pros start talking about social media and its role in todays work place.

The most obvious thing Tim talked about that made me go durhhhhh was the Facebook page for Facebook recruiting. Facebook is a little scary to personally recruit with because there are a bazillion creepers out there. At a previous job I made a page just for my office hello is it leads your looking for(to avoid creepers), but why didn’t I think of just having my own page and having each of my recruiters have their own page? Hindsight. This totally just reminded me of another thing that I had been introduced to for Facebook recruiting: the monster.com BeKnown app. Two problems with it: 1) Monster is not my favorite and 2) Just reading that it keeps your personal and professional life separate exhausts me.

Separating your personal and professional life is another topic that we touched on. I’ve been asked before “Why do you use your twitter for personal and professional? Why don’t you just have two separate accounts?” I use the same account for everything because it’s exhausting to have multiple accounts on the same social media outlet. For the most part I am completely myself on my social media accounts and the fun thing about that is, I’m not such a terrible person that I need constant censorship AND I am a recruiter 24/7 so it is part of my personal life.  The one thing that I’m not as careful with, though, is making sure I’m sharing relevant information for my targeted audience. It’s okay to share stuff you like, but if it’s not relevant to the people you are trying to attract to connect with you don’t be surprised when you are not making those connections, ya dig? The biggest thing you can do to be successful in this arena is make sure you are giving your audience more than you are taking from your audience. I’m the worst about sharing things irrelevant to my targeted audience these days because I will share something that I think is funny in a heartbeat, or an HR article in half a millisecond without thinking about those EEs or CEs that don’t care about that stuff. This is where my social media recruiting needs improvement, lots of it. (See, its okay to not be perfect with your #SoMe efforts from day one. Don’t let that scare you).

By all means, avoid just sharing job posts. Always give more than you take. And reply to people!

By all means, avoid just sharing job posts. Always give more than you take. And reply to people!

The main thing you need to know about using social media for your recruiting efforts is that it does not replace the telephone. Those of us who push social media recruiting push it because it helps you, not because it replaces anything. It’s a form of marketing to attract the talent you need. It works for you when you’re not working. Much like HR technology it is just a device to make your recruiting work faster. It is another tool in your tool belt! It is not the end all be all. It is not a replacement for the telephone. Just in case you are confused, NO it does not replace the telephone 🙂 . Pick up that phone and call people! Social media does not take the social function out of recruiting, you still have to develop relationships with people and have voice to voice conversations.

I love social media and I love it when other HR folks love social media. If you have been thinking about taking that social media step, but you have questions or you are worried, email me (hutto.ipad@gmail.com)! If I don’t know the answer I bet I know someone who does! If you have a great tip, please feel free to leave it in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you’ve found works for you.

Recruiting Revival

If there is one thing that my little soul needed it was a recruiting revival and praise sweet bearded Jesus he sent me Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn! We (NASHRM) had a full day of this recruiting duo and I promise I felt Huntsville turn on its side while these two were laying some truth down.

What did we cover? The important stuff- social recruiting, turning corporate recruiting to an in-house agency model, making your managers career agents and thinking like a sales person. You can get some heaping doses of their take on these things at their sites (tagged earlier in this post).

Why am I excited?  It is super refreshing to connect with people who know their shit stuff. It’s nice to know someone is going to challenge your excuses and it’s great to hear successful people say things like “you don’t have to go to all the meetings, tell them you’re busy recruiting”.  By the way, if you say that you should in fact spend that time recruiting.

Perfect timing? I think so. I’ve struggled immensely in my transition to the corporate world. You can watch for that post later this month when I hit my yeariversary. Corporate is full of things like policies, procedures and checklists. Not that they are not necessary, they just tend to take priority over the actual actions. I’m familiar with the things we can and cannot do legally, I know the alphabet soup we need to fear, but what I’m most interested in is getting to the right talent and connecting that talent to the right opportunity. I almost forgot it was possible to do that.recruitingworkshop

More to come over the next week or so on the breakdown of what I thought were key points, but today just a huge THANK YOU to these two guys for spending a day with us in Huntsville and reviving my little recruiting heart!

And then there is that small side bonus that it was 7 recert credits to start my next recert application!

And then there is that small side bonus that it was 7 recert credits to start my next recert application!

 

Why your choice in peanut butter tells me you’re evil…

…and other completely useless metrics!

Let me start with this: Stop making recruiting harder than it is! I don’t look for information about candidates to interpret or read into. I ask questions that matter. I look for skills that are necessary. I inform candidates. I let candidates inform me. I don’t rely on their food choices to interpret what is important to them or their favorite band to translate their moods or even their social media profile picture to show me the real side of them.

Too often recruiters or hiring managers are looking for the “magic pill” to show them how they can determine if a candidate will be a good employee or not: All of my other awesome employees love baseball, so we can’t hire anyone that doesn’t love baseball. All my bad hires in the past were people who had a C in history on their transcripts, can’t hire anyone with a C in history anymore. You get the idea. Recruiting cannot be done through a “fad diet”. It takes work and it takes talking to people. Don’t make it harder than it is by mucking up your process with the newest willy nilly testing tool that company xyz is offering to help you hire better through personality quirks and day-to-day preferences. Get to know your organization and your organizations needs as well as the people you already have, then get out there and put that knowledge to work. Use it to find good people for your organization.

Oh, you like creamy peanut butter and not crunchy? You can't work here, you'd make a terrible employee...

Oh, you like creamy peanut butter and not crunchy? You can’t work here, you’d make a terrible employee…

This topic really does bring up a lot of real feelings for me because I want you to make great hires! I can remember my last round of the interview for my current job.. it was INTENSE. I had interviewed with 2 engineers, the president of the company, an HR specialist and was headed to lunch with the HR manager and she asked me if I had been “thoroughly grilled” & if I was nervous at all…or something along those lines. I told her no, I wasn’t nervous or worried, I felt like I was myself and that I trusted them to be able to decide if I was going to be a culture fit for their organization. We already knew I was capable of doing what they needed done, this stretch of the interview was all about a fit. I think if we encourage candidates to be themselves and we train managers not to intimidate in interviews or look at the wrong signs we can improve our hiring, instantly. Too often we size a candidate up because they wore the wrong tie, like heavy metal bands, have tattoos, prefer sneakers over high heels, resume wasn’t perfect, they were nervous in the interviews, etc.

Disclaimer: I know the “be yourself conversation” is a completely different conversation when you are looking for a job because you need a job to hold you over and help you pay your bills until you make your next land in your career path. You probably shouldn’t have left your job if you didn’t have your fund where it needed to be. I do, however, understand leaving without having that fund up to par so I’m not throwing stones, just suggesting you think about the long-term effects on your career.

Because I was an #intern … a guest post

There are two things that I stress to everyone wanting to get a job after graduation (especially in the HR field): Networking and Internships. These days “entry level” requires hands-on experience which you can only get by working in the office. Not only that, but internships provide you an opportunity to test the waters and see if you even want to work in that field!

In my case, I had the unfortunate happenstance to be going to school out of state and was unable to land an internship until the summer following my graduation. In all my time studying Human Resources I thought I wanted to specialize in Benefits and Compensation, so when I started my internship I requested projects relating to that area. It was not long before I realized that, while I was good at the analyzing it was NOT what I wanted to do 40hrs/wk until retirement! Luckily for me, the needs at the company changed and I was switched over to staffing: something I had never considered as an option for me.

All of my work experience prior to this internship involved working the phones, so it was no stretch for me to pick up the phone and start cold calling possible candidates to screen them for positions. To my surprise, I fell in love with staffing.  From writing job descriptions, to sourcing, to speaking with candidates I seemed to pick it up quite naturally. It was the fit that I was looking for in a job. I was able to see the textbook knowledge I had put into practice and I learned to use tools that the school did not teach me about (ATS and HRIS, anyone?). Don’t get me wrong, staffing can be quite stressful at times, but I work well under pressure and found it much more exciting than benefits.

The company I interned with must have been happy with my performance, because at the end of my internship I was hired on part-time and later promoted to full time. It was a wonderful experience because I was able to hire interns of my own to share my knowledge with them. While I have since changed companies, I owe a lot to the company who hired me as an intern. It offered me invaluable experience and provided a way to get my foot in the door. While the internship was unpaid, it more than paid for itself with experience that I would not have gotten otherwise.

Intern

 

Bio:

Melanie has a Bachelor’s in Human Resources from the University of Alabama in Huntsville where she served as President and Treasurer for the student chapter of SHRM. She has been working in a staffing-related role since May 2012 and is active in the local SHRM community. She spends a lot of her time volunteering and has an HR blog (http://welcome2hr.wordpress.com/) written from the viewpoint of an entry level HR professional. She is passionate about mentoring HR students and continues to help with the UAH-SHRM chapter.

I want to be… an #intern

In two weeks, I will complete my first summer internship. Although an internship is primarily sought out for experience, I have learned much more about the real world than how to put difficult equations to practice (engineer, here).
My internship search actually began two years ago, as a Sophomore in college. I attended the career fairs that I was always advised to, and flirted with numerous recruiters from various companies. I had minimal luck, but ended up scoring an interview with an aerospace firm close to home. I really wanted this internship, so I prepared diligently for the interview, not thinking to apply to other engineering firms online. After receiving a second interview, I was unfortunately notified that I had not been chosen.
Last year, I took a different approach to the internship hunt. I decided to attend the career fairs as before, but also applying to as many programs online as possible. This is my biggest piece of advice: apply, apply, apply. For every hundred internships you apply for, you may only score one interview. It seems like overkill, but that is what it takes. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket like i did two years ago.
After weeks of filling out applications and a handful of interviews, I finally received two offers for the summer. Despite this great news, I was in a predicament. While one company had a more prestigious name, the work was more business-like and less technical. The other company was much smaller, but promised exciting technical projects. In the end, I chose the latter option, and couldn’t have been more pleased.
This summer, I contributed to a real assignment that a customer will see. I was able to to apply skills I have learned in college (microprocessor operation) and learn new ones in the process (script programming). At the end of the summer, I will present my findings in front of my fellow interns as well as the CEO and President of the company.

No coffee?
Aside from the technical experience I’ve gained, I’ve also learned a lot about corporate culture at the company I work for. Due to its size, the company is more connected to its employees, providing them with special benefits and family concern. Employees also enjoy company-sponsored events, such as picnics and holiday celebrations. Although I am unsure about my final career plans, I do know for sure that I would prefer a smaller firm over a large one.
Finally, I have learned what it means to live in a new place, starting anew with a blank slate. I was unfamiliar with the city, so on the weekends I explored new restaurants, parks, and coffee shops. I started with no friends, so I chose to spend time with my fellow interns. I even started playing Ultimate Frisbee (I was a little late in the game), meeting friends there. All in all, my internship experience was golden. I accomplished my primary goal: to learn something. And on the way, I just happened to meet some amazing people that I can call friends.

My name is Andrew Mortellaro and I am an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Florida.

Secret Squirrel: The candidate guessing game…

As someone who is excited about process improvement I’m always questioning the way we do things. Not in a “that’s stupid” kind of way, more like “I want to know more and I want to understand the process” kind of way (probably a skill that could use some fine tuning). Anyway, the last few days I’ve been meeting with a team of people who are involved in some big hiring decisions for a project I’m working on. Some of these people are HR some are not, some are experienced in the interview process some are just helping us out for logistic purposes. Listening to the group give their opinions on our interviews has become extremely interesting to me. I always tell people when they are asking for advice on how to get hired, how to stand out from the crowd and so on to just be themselves because there is no one way that guarantees you will impress your recruiter, or whoever you are interviewing with. As I heard comments like “If you don’t even have at least a Sunday shirt to wear…” or “his answers sounded too rehearsed…” I thought to myself-how often do we focus on the wrong things? Why do we recruit the way we recruit? I used to always tell the recruiters that worked under me that it was NEVER a deal breaker if a machinist didn’t have an A+ resume… (staffing industry tip alert*) the machinist job is to be good at being a machinist not at writing a resume, our job as recruiters for our clients were to let our clients know why he was going to be a good hire… Now that I find myself recruiting for a company on the inside, I still believe this, I need a forklift driver to be good at driving a forklift not writing a resume. I didn’t explain to the candidates coming in for an interview what to wear specifically, so I don’t care that he wasn’t wearing a sunday shirt. [in fact when a candidate did ask what they should wear I told them to wear what they would feel comfortable in for an interview…a panel interview is intimidating enough I wouldn’t want to force them to wear clothes they weren’t comfortable in too!] I did tell the candidate to expect to meet with multiple people as this was a panel interview and to take the time to do some further research about the company before he came on site, I appreciate that he took that advice seriously and was prepared for an interview. For the record one of my biggest pet peeves is when a candidate shows up for an interview and asks “what do yall do here?”… ughhh? Why do you want to apply for a position here and not even know what we do here?

Anyway, I know I’ve said it before, did we change the way we recruit and forget to tell candidates or did candidates change the way we recruit and we are trying to catch up? Chicken? Egg? Here’s my opinion, 2 generations at once was a triumph, the more you add the more difficult decision-making becomes. Your old school opinions are the “sunday shirt” opinions… Your new school opinions are “Are you available for a Skype interview? BTW we wear jeans M-F and we are okay with the occasional telecommute” and so on. Somewhere in the midst of the generational melting pot we’ve decided we will recruit for skill and culture so we can be forward thinking companies and maximize our potential and run lean and create mentorship opportunities, etc. Ok-I’m starting to run all over the place with this, again, hang with me. Are we expecting candidates to know that’s our goal? No. So we tell them that is our goal. And we wait… and wait… to see how they respond, right? Well we know what we mean & just because we say it, doesn’t mean the candidate knows what that means. It’s easy to recruit for skill, no doubt about that, but culture brings a new element to the table. So tell your candidates what kind of culture you are looking to build, tell them what that means to each employee and the goals of the facility and what the expectations are of the candidates as far as meeting/sustaining those goals. Then wait for the reaction. Then see if they are excited. If they understand. If they are on board. Don’t keep it “secret squirrel” and then be bummed when they didn’t exceed your expectations. Create open communication with new hires on how they can contribute to the culture and the company goals and coach them when necessary. Nurture that from the beginning and eventually those people will be the ones teaching your new hires how to react to the expectations of the culture, start at the beginning! And don’t be afraid to define the organizations definition of the culture they are building. I was talking with an HR friend who said that a recent candidate she interviewed had impressed her because he repeatedly mentioned that he was looking for a second family and that meant something to her because she deals with so many people who “could give a shit less about the people they work with” and later I thought “Well, what if that’s what family means to them?” This is a great example in my mind because people say “I want to be treated like family” or things like that, but family may not be the most important thing to that person so they may define family a bit different from how you or I would.

What is the most important thing, in your opinion, that a candidate must do in the interviewing process to get hired?

recruitingmeme

Staffing Firms & Culture Recruiting: They CAN go together!

Recruiting is an ever-changing role for any successful organization… Recruiters are tasked with finding/thinking of new ways to attract top talent for the right $ all the time. Depending on the industry you could have some fierce competitors, are you up for that? Do you know how your competition is recruiting? Are you watching them for ideas OR are they watching you for ideas? I try to work by the philosophy “Don’t fear the competition, be the competition” and have been successful in that for the most part.

The Industry I Know:skeptical baby

What I see time and time again in the staffing industry is “blind ads” or “we can’t give you the name of the customer, because they don’t want people contacting them”… sure, uh huh, yeah right… What does that translate to? Most of the time that translates to: “We are afraid we aren’t doing a good enough job servicing this account to be open with you about who we are recruiting for & it’s possible you could apply directly through them or you can apply through one of our competitors. Not only are we afraid we aren’t doing a good job or that we are overcharging for our attempts at hiring for them we are not willing to start working harder at what we do.” Give or take a few lines this is USUALLY what is happening (I say usually because you do get that customer occasionally that specify do not tell them it is for our company or something along those lines & then there is the possibility that they think you’re from a competing firm fishing for information [and if you are, shame on you]). When you’re doing this, you can’t hire for a culture fit and lets face it culture fit is on its way to being more important than a skill fit these days. I think that’s wonderful and I think we will continue to see a fantastic ROI on culture focused recruiting, but are you having your staffing firm recruit for your culture? *Don’t wait until a hire is on your job site working their “probationary period” to decide if they are a culture fit, you can find out sooner if your firm is focused on this vital need.

Here’s how you can tell:
-Have they been to your job site to meet with anyone besides you or the rest of the HR team?
-Have they gone to your website? Do you know if they know your mission and vision statement? [go ahead and ask them] -Have they sat down one on one with supervisors to find out what is important to them?
-Have they taken the time to get a feel for the staff that’s already working there? Particularly the long termers…?

puzzle

These are just a start, but they are absolutes that you can expect from your staffing firm and no, not for an extra fee. Staffing firms everywhere just set fire to this blog post I’m sure, but as long as you’re paying more than a 30% mark-up then my mind doesn’t justify raising the bill for this. Everyone wins when your staffing firm recruits correctly: less turn-over + higher quality = less chaos for the recruiters and your HR staff! At some point I had a lightbulb come on and started being open with candidates about what job sites I was considering them for and this helped us weed out several candidates that decided they were not a fit- ON THEIR OWN! I started encouraging candidates to go to the company’s websites and take a look around and get back to me if it raised questions for them, good or bad; or maybe the company Facebook or twitter, etc. This opens the door to make a match from both ends and add value to the on-site interview because they have had a chance to prepare questions specific to the job site, not to the staffing firm. If staffing firms can recruit for you the way YOU can recruit for you then it totally makes sense to outsource this function #expectmore…

Social Media Part 2: The chronicles…

So as an extension of the last post (go read about it before you read this!) this is the story of the first bad comment on our business Facebook page. GASP I know right? For the  most part we don’t get bad comments on our personal page, I mean Facebook is a place for us to be friends with people who think like us right? ahahahah I kid I kid… moving on.

The Very First Time… So someone gets on our wall and posts some gibberish along the lines of complaining because we didn’t do our job-because we didn’t hire them. Blah-d Blah-d Blah-d. Please, kind sir, step into our office and begin telling us how to recruit. You clearly exhibited a high level of professionalism the first go around so after your Facebook rant we are sold! You are the person we are looking for! I, being responsible for our office operations and our Facebook page, F-R-E-A-K-E-D OUT! What do I do? Who do I ask what to do? This is uncharted territory for us? Commence throwing blank papers in the air and running around in circles screaming useless cries for help. My first answer-do nothing. So, I did nothing. I ran through all kinds of scenarios in my head-including the thought that what if the VP saw it and decided that was it, we were shutting down the Facebook and good riddance! A bit later I had decided that I had crafted the perfect professional response and I was going to handle this like a pro! WRONG. One of our other temp employees had seen it and taken it upon hisself to comment back explaining that my staff and I were beyond excellent at our job and we probably didn’t hire this creep because he wasn’t qualified and clearly sucked at life. Oh. My. Gawsh! What do I do now? Commence throwing blank papers in the air and running around in circles screaming useless cries for help. [let me explain further why they are useless-no one is there to hear me!] Alright, so let me put the kibosh on this-still going to handle it like a pro! WRONG! Now I have given them time to argue and for two more people to jump in, all defending us (which was nice, but irrelevant). With no more energy to run around in circles I decided to delete the whole thread and move on with my life.

What did I learn?

  • That some of our employees recognized our hard work and didn’t hesitate to stand up for that
  • You can never make everyone happy
  • Our reputation was on the line more than ever. Now it wasn’t about someone having a bad experience and telling their neighbor, it was about someone having a bad experience and telling OUR Facebook audience that consists of applicants, current employees, former employees, clients, potential clients, local businesses.
  • We had to take our customer service to the next level
  • We had to work harder
  • And I had to do some research

What do I know now?

  • Don’t hide from the bad comments. Use it as an opportunity to show your audience that you can take constructive criticism and that you care about issues.
  • Don’t delete them!
  • If it’s not a viable complaint, your audience will recognize that and will still take into consideration your response… and sometimes defend  you. [however let me be clear that I don’t support the idea of letting an argument happen on your business page, but that’s up to you!]
  • Don’t delete them!

I messed up the first time because I broke a primary rule, but cut me some slack, remember how I told you it was uncharted territory for us, it’s because it was! Now the second time I handled it like a pro and I’ll tell you all about that one tomorrow!