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Here are some of the best questions that I use while interviewing potential employees to help find the best talent.

You've launched your startup, you've probably pinned down some investors, and all signs point to a "real" business. However, you are just getting started. Every time you add someone new to the team, they're a new "moving part" and can either make the environment better or worse--though in many cases it's a little of both.

Mosts startups like mine are on a tight budget and can't afford to hire the wrong person. Others, particularly with founders who consider their business their baby, want to make sure the person they hire is a right "fit" for the company. After all, if you're going to be working with a person closely for most of your waking hours, you want to like them and make sure you're on the same page. I'm in the middle of the two!

Here are a few must-ask questions for a business owner hiring a new team member. These answers will tell you if the person complements you business, if they're in it for the long haul, or if they'll just say yes to the first outside offer they get.

  1. Tell me about your dream job. Some people are desperate for a job (any job!) and you can't blame them. If they start talking about wanting to work for a major corporation, a clear way to climb up the ladder or otherwise suggest the job they're interviewing for will never be their dream job, it's time to cut the interview short. You won't be doing anyone any favors by moving forward with this candidate as they won't be working for you long.

  2. Why do you want to work here? This is a must-ask question for any job candidate, and it shows you both where their passions are and/or if they did their research about your company. I like founders that do their research. Startups are fueled by passion, and if a candidate doesn't even seem clear on what your venture does or why they want to work for you, that says a lot about how their work ethic will pan out. I like to hire people that know a bit about me and my company. I typically tell them to "pitch me" my company as if they are talking to a customer interested in my company. If they do well, it's a good sign they will be good. Every company needs sales people in every position.

  3. Tell me about a challenging project you managed. Even if you're not hiring for a management role, you want someone who can take initiative--after all, this is a startup environment. It also shows you how they deal with challenges and conflicts. You want a fighter, not a "flighter" in your venture. Don't be hard on them if they haven't had a lot of managerial experience as sometimes these can be amazing. You want to see how they would and have worked in the past.

  4. Explain how you go the extra mile? Everyone wears a lot of hats in a startup, and it's nearly guaranteed that anyone you hire will have to step outside of their job description from time to time. This is about flexibility, which is a must-have with a startup. I'm not looking for someone that just does their job. I'm looking for someone that goes above and beyond. One way I like to phrase this is asking them which is better: to finish a task on-time or have it be late and something everyone loves. I love hearing their responses.

  5. Do you think you'd like to start a startup one day? This might be seen as a "trick" question by the candidate, but it shouldn't. Entrepreneurs are drawn to the startup environment, even if they're not ready to do it themselves yet. They can learn a lot from your company, and vice versa. Plus, if they do have an idea and it complements your startup, you might even be able to work on it together. I like startup people (even though it's risky having them work for you). They can bring some of the best ideas ever to your business. You might even want to set aside budget for them to build out part of their dream within your business.

End each interview by asking what the candidate likes to do outside of work. You both love to kiteboard on the weekends? That might tell you a lot more about company culture fit than any other question.

Most importantly, actually follow-up on references and trust your gut. It rarely leads you astray.

Hampton, N.H. (May 12th, 2015) – CAREEREALISM, a career advice and employment branding site, published the results of its 2015 career satisfaction survey, through which its audience of 1M+ monthly readers were polled. Readers were prompted to share their level of satisfaction with their current job and/or company.

CAREEREALISM compiled the results and found:

  • 38% of participants said their job was "okay, I guess"
  • 35% of participants said they hated their current job
  • 27% of participants said they "REALLY love" their job

"With 73% of participants not in love with their current position, the reality that the majority of a company's employees are open to a new job should be a major concern of every executive team today," said CAREEREALISM founder and CEO J.T. O'Donnell. "Is your company prepared to handle unexpected turnover?"

"If employees start quitting for better jobs," she continued, "are you ready to mobilize a recruiting strategy to find their replacements? And, how long will it take you to train new hires so they reach the productivity levels of the employees you lost? The message is clear right now: workers are dissatisfied, and that can put any company at risk of being negatively impacted by turnover."

Graph 070915-Graph-ViewOnCurrentRole-01

As you can see, it's important for a company to select job candidates based on who they think will fit into their company culture. Once a company is aware of what makes their company a great place to work, they will look for job candidates that they know match that specific culture; making them more likely to love what they do everyday.

If your company is interested in learning how to make your company culture awesome or is seeking resources on the topic, please download this free ebook.

About CAREEREALISM

CAREEREALISM, a privately-held career advice and Employment Branding company, was founded in 2009 on the belief that "every job is temporary." The purpose of the site is to help people solve their career and job search problems. CAREEREALISM connects the top talent with the best companies by telling stories that showcase what makes a company's culture unique. The company is the leading online destination for career advice and employment branding intelligence.With extensive experience in career counseling at large companies, founder J.T. O'Donnell has created an organic platform built to share experiences, provide feedback, and suggest how companies can reveal their talent brand. For more information please visit www.CAREEREALISM.com.


Are you using Facebook to screen candidates? You might want to think twice according to research...

Back in 2012, we learned that Facebook stalking would tell you if a person was worth hiring. Researchers at Northern Illinois Universityfound that they could predict job performance based on just 5-10 minute reviews of college students’ Facebook pages, based on interviews with their employers six months later. Many people were angry about the study; to this day, I get irate comments on those old posts from people who think it’s invasive for potential employers to judge them on a social media profile designed primarily for their friends. Those people may be relieved to hear about new research that suggests Facebook is bunk as a job performance predictor.

The new study – from researchers at Florida State UniversityOld Dominion University, Clemson University, and Accenture, which will be published in the Journal of Management — involved the recruitment of 416 college students from a southeastern state school who were applying for full-time jobs and agreed to let the researchers capture screenshots of their Facebook Walls, Info Pages, Photos and Interests. The researchers asked 86 recruiters who attended the university’s career fair to review the Facebook pages, judge the fresh-faced seniors’ personality traits and rate how employable they seemed. Each recruiter looked at just five of the candidates, and got no other information about them (such as a resume or transcript). A year later, the researchers followed up with the now-graduates’ supervisors and asked them to review their job performance. The researchers were only able to get in touch with 142 supervisors — just 34% of their original sample — but that’s higher than the 56 bosses contacted in the previous study.

If Facebook really is being used by employers as a primary tool to judge applicants, the results are disturbing.

"Recruiter ratings of Facebook profiles correlate essentially zero with job performance," write the researchers, led by Chad H. Van Iddekinge of FSU.

So who were the folks getting the low ratings that didn't necessarily lead to their being horrible employees? Low ratings went to profiles that included profanity, photos of people getting ‘slizzered,' strange profile pictures, religious quotes, and sexual references. Low ratings also went to profiles of people who "had traditionally non-White names and/or who were clearly non-White." Uh oh.

The hypothetical employment pool was 63.2 percent female, 78.1 percent white, 10.8 percent Hispanic and 7 percent African-American. The recruiter on the other hand were mostly white and split as to gender. The recruiters looking at Facebook profiles tended to rate women higher than men, and white individuals higher than African-American and Hispanic candidates. But those ratings were not predictors of their actual job performance.

"Our results suggest that Blacks and Hispanics might be adversely impacted by use of Facebook ratings," says researcher Philip Roth of Clemson. (The equally disturbing possibility here is that we'd see the same thing when those recruiters interviewed those people in person.)

Roth says that human resources staff should warn managers away from using Facebook to review their applicants.

"A lot of people are drawn to it. There's a big allure to using Facebook. Hiring managers say they want to get a sense of the applicant's character. It really appears hard for people to stop themselves from doing it if they don't have an HR background," says Roth. "I wouldn't want to use a Facebook assessment until I had evidence it worked for my organization. There needs to be a track record of this working before you use it. I don't think the track record is there yet."

There are limitations to the study: it's looking at college graduates rather than more seasoned employees who might "exhibit greater maturity and more vigilance regarding what they post online." And it was an evaluation of Facebook in a vacuum with no other relevant criteria about these potential worker bees. But it does suggest that Facebook in a vacuum isn't a good way to decide who you're hiring. So you might want to keep on actually looking at transcripts and resumes for now, employers.

Recruiters and hiring managers should already know that any question that asks a candidate to reveal information about his or her national origin, citizenship, age, marital status, disabilities, arrest and conviction record, military discharges, or personal information is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But while avoiding these subjects sounds easy enough, it's not always glaringly obvious what questions might be construed as inappropriate – even when they seem harmless on the surface.

BELOW IS A GUIDELINE TO AVOIDING 10 INAPPROPRIATE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS – WHILE STILL GETTING THE INFORMATION YOU'RE LOOKING FOR.

Ask this: What is your current address and phone number? or Do you have any alternative locations where you can be reached? Not that… How long have you lived here? Like the question above, this one alludes to a candidate's citizenship. Stay away.

Ask this: Are you able to perform the specific duties of this position? Not that… Do you have any disabilities? or Have you had any recent or past illnesses and operations? You may want to know about a candidate's ability to handle certain responsibilities or perform certain jobs, but asking about disabilities or illnesses of any sort is not the way find out (legally, at least).

Ask this: Are you a member of any professional or trade groups that are relevant to our industry? Not that… Do you belong to any clubs or social organizations? You might simply be trying to learn about a candidates interests and activities outside of work, but a general question about organizational membership could tap into a candidate's political and religious affiliations or other personal matters.

Ask this: Have you ever been convicted of "x" [something that is substantially related to the job]? Not that… Have you ever been arrested? Questions about arrests or pending charges for jobs that are NOT substantially related to the particular job are off-limits.

Ask this: What are your long-term career goals? Not that… How much longer do you plan to work before you retire? While you may not want to hire an older worker who will retire in a few years, you can't dismiss an applicant for this reason.

Ask this: Are you available to work overtime on occasion? Can you travel? Not that… Do you have children? or Can you get a babysitter on short notice for overtime or travel? You might be concerned that family obligations will get in the way of work, but you can't ask or make assumptions about family situations. Cut to the chase by asking directly about the candidate's availability.

Ask this: Are you available to work within our required schedule? Not that…What religion do you practice? or What religious holidays do you observe? Again, you might simply be trying to discern a candidate's availability, but leave religion out of it.

Ask this: Are you over the age of 18? Not that… How old are you? or When did you graduate from high school? If you know a candidate's age, you could find yourself facing discrimination charges at some point. Your only concern should be as to whether the candidate is legally old enough to work for your organization.

Ask this: Is additional information, such as a different name or nickname necessary in order to check job references? Not that… Is this your maiden name? or Do you prefer to be called "Ms.," "Miss," or "Mrs.?" Be sure to avoid any question that alludes to a woman's marital status – as well as anything that could be construed as a question referring to national origin or ancestry (e.g. "Your name is interesting. What nationality is it?").

FROM Q&A TO Z: YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE INTERVIEWING

There is nothing more important in the hiring process than the interview. At the very least, the interview process is a networking event – an opportunity to brand your company in the eyes of a potential employee, brand advocate or customer.

At the very most, the interview process will help you find the right fit for both the job and your organization overall (and, as a bonus, reflect well on you for finding this person). Either way, the interview is a crucial process that – if executed correctly – will ultimately help move your business forward.

Readers will walk away with the following takeaways:

  • Steps to take to prepare for the interview
  • The importance of body language
  • When to raise the red flag (and when to let it go)
  • The best and worst interview questions
  • How to avoid asking inappropriate interview questions
  • What the candidate wants to know



Mary Lorenz Mary Lorenz is a sr. copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.

 

Writing Job Description I got an email not that long ago from a woman applying for a Master’s degree level position. She wanted to show me the response she received from her application. What follows is the depressing tale of the terrible job description.

After submitting her application, she received this in response as part of the job description that would need to be adhered to...





Physical Requirements:

  • Ability to work at a computer workstation for periods up to 4 hours at a time and for up to 8 hours per day for up to five consecutive days
  • Ability to speak on the telephone for a total of up to 3 hours per day
  • Ability to sit for up to 3 hours without breaks at meetings
  • Ability to perform repetitive movements, such as typing, filing, and the use of commonly used office machines and supplies

Depressing.

TOP 5 TERRIBLE THINGS YOU CAN DO IN A JOB DESCRIPTION

….and how to make them better!

Physical Requirements Section. As in the example above, physical requirements can be very rigid and soul-sucking. Who looks at that list and says, “Sign me up! I can’t wait to sit for 3-hour meetings without being allowed a potty break.” Now, granted, there are deeper corporate culture problems here that are red flags. I have to ask, why would a non-profit organization (which this was) restrict their employees’ movements, breaks, and methods of working to such a degree? But aside from that, this type of language on a job description is anything but inviting to a prospective employee. What it screams out to us is that the managers in this organization treat their employees like children. And it makes the place sound like a sweatshop!

Make it better: Yes, sometimes it makes practical sense to include physical expectations for the work, like if the job requires lifting 50-pound packages all day. There are also legal considerations for including physical requirements. If you must include them, use language that really ties the requirement to the mission, the bottom line, and the result that the individual is expected to achieve.

2. Built-in excuse: “It’s not in my job description” There’s a great blog post from Rosetta Thurman about this particular topic. After giving an example of a tedious, laundry-list of job responsibilities, she comments: Does this sound like the kind of job anyone would be chomping at the bit to apply for? And we wonder why organizations end up attracting employees who aren’t passionate about the mission. The organization doesn’t even sound passionate about the mission themselves!

Amazingly, these lists are often detailed to the point of absurdity. Of course, you can’t possibly list every responsibility that a person has on a daily basis, so there’s the ubiquitous and often mocked finale: And all other duties assigned. Ugh! Are employers so afraid of their people complaining “It’s not in my job description!”? That is exactly what you’re setting them up to do, by the way.

I did a quick job search just for fun, and found this golden nugget right away. The company breaks down the duties and responsibilities into categories, noting the percentage of time spent in each category. It’s so detailed, I couldn’t even get the whole thing in a screen shot…it just keeps going and going!

Make it better: Don’t list every activity an individual would have to perform to get the job done. It’s an impossible task. Instead, clarify what results are expected. This is the core of a Results-Only Work Environment. For example, for a marketing manager, one of their results could be to increase the number of leads and customers through effective marketing campaigns. But if the result isn’t making a difference to the ultimate outcome of the organization, then it’s just an empty goal. Achievable but meaningless.

Determine if the measurable goal is right by tying it directly to the outcome: In order to make life fun and easy (outcome) for our customer, our XYZ campaign is designed to increase defined targeted leads by 7% (results measure). We will monitor customer satisfaction scores and conversion rates (meaningful outcome measure) to determine if increased leads impacts the outcome. Always define a clear result tied to the outcome or mission of the organization so that the goal is meaningful.

Job Descriptions Stifle Creativity and Innovation. Expanding on that last point, when you create a list of activities for your employees via a job description, what you’re saying is: “This is how you’re going to work. It doesn’t matter if these things have nothing to do with your result. It doesn’t matter if you have creative or more efficient ways of getting it done. We will tell you how to do your job.” You limit the scope of your employee’s role within the organization. If it’s not in their 2-page list of “activities” then why should they do it? The thing about freeing your employees to focus on results and only results, is that they come up with amazing new solutions to old problems. “The way things have always been done” is a business death wish. You want them to be free to be nimble and change with new trends and technologies. They need to feel trusted to find the best ways to meet goals. They need to be free to collaborate with other departments or offer ideas to the CEO about how to change a process or service.

Make it better: Give your employees some motivation to innovate and be creative. This indeed goes beyond just a written job description, and hits at the core of how your business operates. That kind of philosophy automatically translates to the person who is reading the job description. And here’s a shocking idea: Let your employees (who are quite capable…that’s why you hired them, right?) figure out what activities they need to perform to achieve that result.

Nobody reads them anyway. Why are you writing a job description? Is it primarily for legal, HR, and the managers? Hopefully, one of the reasons has a trace of something to do with attracting the right talent. It’s a marketing tool, and yet most job descriptions are written like an internal, bureaucratic memo. No one wants to read it, and it will be forgotten the moment the person is hired. That is, until they need to reference it for #2.

Make it better: Make your job descriptions outcome-based, readable, enjoyable, and attractive to outsiders! And while you’re at it, take a step back with a fresh set of eyes on your corporate culture. Ask yourself why the control, the requirements, the laundry lists – even the document itself – is necessary in the first place.

*Disclaimer: Please do not take this post as legal advice about what job descriptions should or should not include. I based this post on our top-of-mind thoughts and…well, common sense.

What are some of the worst job descriptions that you’ve seen?

Hiring managers and recruiters need to be aware that there are certain questions they can and cannot ask military veterans during job interviews. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects the rights of veterans during civilian job interviews.

What you CAN'T ask:

  • About Guard/Reserve training time requirements or potential deployments. The USERRA protects military service members from being discriminated against for their time required for service.

  • About the type of discharge they received. We’ve all heard of honorable versus dishonorable discharges. But it’s more complex than that. What IS okay to ask is if they received a favorable discharge, just limit it to a “yes or no” answer. FYI, a service member can receive a discharge that is less than honorable, but still favorable for a variety of reasons.

  • Do you have PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury? Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants or employees with disabilities.

What you CAN ask:

  • Whether they have served in the military. The applicant can choose not to answer the question. If the veteran says yes, he or she is required to provide only the following information:

    1. Period of service (years)
    2. Rank/grade at time of discharge
    3. Type of training and work experience receive while in service as relevant to the job they are interviewing for

  • Have you read the full job description? Will you be able to perform all duties and responsibilities as indicated in the job description? This allows the applicant to answer yes or no, without disclosing disabilities.

  • Transferability questions. Frame your questions around types of job skills that are needed at your organization and for the particular role you are interviewing for, such as: personnel management, training, interpersonal communication, problem solving, process improvement, etc.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information provided is general in nature and may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances. To learn more about hiring and interviewing veterans, see the Guide to Hiring Veterans from the White House Business Council or contact an attorney.


Krista Williams Krista Williams brings over 15 years of Recruiting and Human Resources experience to her role as a Strategic Director with Seven Step RPO. In this role she is responsible for ensuring that all assigned client service delivery objectives are achieved. Krista focuses on driving team compliance and production to meet expectations as well as building and fostering client relationships. She is passionate about driving innovation as well as attracting, attaining, and retaining the best possible talent. Prior to joining Seven Step, Krista worked in corporate positions managing various aspects of recruiting, human resource systems, and vendor relationships in industries including healthcare, retail, banking, energy services, travel/hospitality, and contingent agency recruitment for companies ranging in size from a boutique firm with 10 individuals to a Fortune 15 company with over 200,000 employees. Krista works out of Seven Step’s Boston office and resides in Riverside, RI with her husband and two children.

Friday, 06 June 2014 10:02

How to Pre-Board a New College Grad

Do you remember your first job out of college? You walked into the office sporting a spiffy suit and tie combo to express the perfect balance of ‘seriousness’ and ‘personality.’ The college degree you had recently earned gave you a steadfast confidence and belief that you could change the world. Expectations were high. You were ready to roll up your sleeves and get involved. But instead, you found yourself drowning in HR paperwork and training videos. Remember the disappointment?

An employee’s first few weeks are crucial not only for setting the tone, but also for building excitement and team spirit. In fact, a successful employee onboarding program can begin as soon an offer letter is signed. At GoodHire we have crafted a “Pre-Boarding Program” to help jumpstart the conversation you can have with your future employees. The Pre-Boarding Program consists of four main stages: Cover the Basics, Support Transition, Give Introductions, and MaintainEngagement.

1. Cover the Basics.

Covering the basics entails identifying and finishing any logistical work within the office before your new hires arrive. This includes setting up their workspace and organizing all necessary paperwork in advance. For example, if you are planning on running a background check on your new hires, you can use tools like GoodHire to obtain digital consent ahead of time. By preemptively taking care of these tasks such as these ahead of time, you can ensure a smoother transition when the new hire starts. Additionally, with many of the preparations already taken care of, you can devote your full attention supporting new hires when they arrive and take care of last minute emergencies that may arise.

As long as you’re in contact, there’s no need to wait until the new hire’s start date to give them basic information. Go ahead and send new hires important dates and documents they may need for the upcoming onboarding process. If your new hire is a fresh college grad, this will likely to be his or her first job and first time interacting with an employer. Set the bar high by providing the ultimate HR experience.

2. Support Transition.

For all college-aged new hires, joining a company isn’t merely a transition into a new job; it is often a transition into a new phase in life. College grads often relocate for their new job, find housing, and learn how to navigate a new city. Supporting a transition well may entail allowing them to take the time to enjoy their graduation and a summer vacation so that they don’t feel rushed and stressed. Providing ample time gives them breathing room, time to say goodbye, and a chance prepare for what’s to come.

At GoodHire, we’ve found that giving the summer off after graduation is a great way to encourage students to take the time they need to attend to any personal matters so they are focused, ready, and excited to work on their first day. If giving the summer off is more than your company can afford, consider other ways you can assist these new grads such as providing a relocation bonus or other tutorials and informational resources.

3. Make Introductions.

Prior to your new hires’ start date, make sure to introduce key employees and coworkers along with the company culture and values. At this point, you are no longer selling the company, but rather presenting important facts and ideas about the company in more detail. This is also a time to set the tone and attitude of the workplace.

Creative ways to make introductions include sending a swag box crafted by future managers, having everyone on the team send a congratulations email, setting up a Google hangout with all new hires who are starting at the same time, or hosting a dinner the night before they start.

4. Maintain Engagement.

As an employer, it is important to maintain communication between the time your new hire commits to your company and their first day at the office. Touch base frequently and show that you value them as team members by creating bi-weekly or monthly email updates. Consider adding new hires to the company-wide newsletter or inviting them to company happy hours and events. College grads may receive different job offers even after they’ve committed to joining your organization. By maintaining engagement through these small gestures, you can ensure that your new hires remain loyal to you.

We hope that the guiding philosophies of our onboarding program will inspire you to design your own successful pre-boarding program.

When asked to pinpoint their most significant threats, respondents to the 2014 IAEWS-Job Board Doctor Global Benchmark Survey didn’t rank Craigslist in the top three.  However, they did list the commoditization of job postings and the growth in “free” job sites as key areas of concern, and Craigslist has certainly had an impact on both.  The following is the first of a two-part post that addresses the Craigslist challenge by looking at the site’s shortcomings from an employer’s point of view. – ed.

Craigslist has built a reputation as a great resource of free and low-cost classifieds online, especially among company recruiters operating with limited budgets. But as the years pass, it’s become clear that relying on Craigslist to fill local job openings may require more time and money than its reputation suggests. In fact, in many cases, using a traditional job board is a more cost- and time-effective strategy than posting on Craigslist.

From the early days of the site, Craigslist has offered a very easy method for posting listings: you simply select a city, then a category, open an account and post your job. This ease of use was a breakthrough in the often complicated online recruiting space. Over time, virtually every online job board has created an equally easy posting method, typically relying on e-commerce to generate revenue from each job posting. 

Free also was the clear differentiator between Craigslist and most other online job sites. As founder Craig Newmark liked to explain, his goal was to help boost communication between communities of visitors, not generate revenue. Eventually Craigslist began charging for job listings in many markets, which Newmark explained as a great way to filter out fraudulent and frivolous job postings.

Newmark added that keeping the posting fee low – $25 to $75 dollars per month depending on the city – allows Craigslist to retain its position as the low-cost provider compared to the major job boards, a position the site actively promotes (http://www.craigslist.org/about/job_boards_compared). Low pricing also helped Craigslist cement its relationship with the demographic that the site cultivated from its beginning: teens, students and singles who relied on the site to help them find cheap furniture, a used car, a new partner (for the night or forever) and an entry-level job.

Yet, 18 years after the launch of Craigslist, the site is losing effectiveness as a recruitment source under the weight of its own success. Job seeker traffic has grown exponentially in most Craigslist cities through the years, and the still shaky hiring market for many job seekers has accelerated that traffic growth. At the same time, the growth in job postings has stalled in many cities in parallel as other recruiting alternatives have emerged.

The result, say recruiters, is that every Craigslist job posting is inundated with applies, and given the demographics of the typical Craigslist visitor, that influx of applies has created a backlog of work. Instead of receiving 30 applications for a position, among which one or two may be worthy of an interview, companies of all sizes report receiving hundreds of replies within 24 hours of each posting. Yet the number of qualified candidates who apply remains the same or has fallen for many positions, recruiters say, which translates into multiple hours spent reviewing an overload of resumes searching for the needle in the haystack.

This issue is a familiar one to anyone who has posted a listing of any kind on Craigslist. Since all listings are posted in reverse chronological order, the newest listings get the most prominence. When a company posts an opening for a receptionist on a Tuesday at 10am, the window for responses to roll in starts at 10:01am, but typically ends later that day as other postings push the receptionist listing further and further down the queue. While it’s true that search results pull in older listings, those results also show in reverse chronological order, so the receptionist job falls below new listings for receptionists each time another job in that category is posted.   

The problem is exacerbated in markets where Craigslist charges for job postings. If a gas station posts a listing for a mechanic for $25, and none of the applicants in the first 24 hours is a good match, the likelihood that the station will receive a relevant application through the rest of the 30-day post is very small, recruiters say. To refresh the flow of new applicants, the station must re-post the job for another $25 to have the listing jump back to the top of the list. In some cases, employers post jobs four and five times before attracting a qualified new hire. At $25 or more per post, Craigslist becomes an expensive option fast, not to mention time-consuming given the flood of unqualified applicants, say recruiters.

To be continued in part II.

When asked to pinpoint their most significant threats, respondents to the 2014 IAEWS-Job Board Doctor Global Benchmark Survey didn’t rank Craigslist in the top three.  However, they did list the commoditization of job postings and the growth in “free” job sites as key areas of concern, and Craigslist has certainly had an impact on both.  The following is the second in a two-part post that addresses the Craigslist challenge by looking at the site’s shortcomings from an employer’s point of view. – ed.

Craigslist has built a reputation as a great resource of free and low-cost classifieds online, especially among company recruiters operating with limited budgets. But as the years pass, it’s become clear that relying on Craigslist to fill local job openings may require more time and money than its reputation suggests. In fact, in many cases, using a traditional job board is a more cost- and time-effective strategy than posting on Craigslist.

In addition to the concerns I addressed in my first post (Tuesday 5/20), another common issue raised by hiring specialists is Craigslist’s lack of customer service. Once a job is posted, returning to the site to make edits or remove the ad isn’t difficult, as long as you’ve saved your confirmation email. But if you require a live person to ask a question about any aspect of Craigslist’s posting process, you’re typically out of luck. Craigslist communicates with its customers solely via email, and given the size of its databases compared to the very small size of its customer service team (of which Newmark himself is a member), few customers receive replies to their support requests.

To be sure, there are exceptions to this trend depending on the job being advertised. And employers in smaller cities say they tend to fare better than their colleagues in medium to large markets. But for evidence of the larger trend, look no further than comments posted each day on Craigslist’s own user forum. It’s an insightful way to view the challenges recruiters face with the site nationally. Some examples include:

  • When I post a help-wanted ad, I get flooded with resumes from people who aren’t qualified and I have to post several times to find a qualified candidate. If I were paying to post, I wouldn’t post here anymore.” – a contracting firm

  • We’ve been trying to post job ads for several weeks now. The ads are accepted and appear in our account but never appear on the site. I can’t tell you the number of hours we’ve spent trying to re-post so the ads will appear. We’re now at our wit’s end and have sent several help requests but haven’t even received an acknowledgment.” – a non-profit agency

  • To pay $25 a day to find someone (yes, per day because ads are lost after the first day due to volume) is too much. We can only pay a dishwasher minimum wage, so $175 a week to advertise is a lot.” - a restaurant
Alternatives to Craigslist abound for recruiters. There are a wide range of sites that also reach national audiences at fees that range by zip code. But recruiters typically report the same issues with national general interest sites, including a burst of response immediately after postings go live – often less qualified geographically given the national nature of these sites – and then a fast decline over a few days.

Holding up more effectively are niche sites that target the job market by one or more narrow criteria, ranging from industry or function to geographic and demographic. For instance, job boards offered by trade magazine web sites and associations tend to deliver a narrow, targeted response of applicants to job listings aimed at that audience. In these cases, the niche sites typically charge posting fees ranging from $25 for seven days to more than $500 for 30 days, but recruiters say the return on investment is good since they tend to receive higher-quality applicants to review. Recruiters seeking an engineer in San Francisco that post the position on IEEE.org, for example, will tap into the niche of a site targeted to the engineering profession. 

Recruiters also report that newspaper and television career sites with a high penetration of visitors in a local market remain a strong source of qualified applicants who live in that market. Most local newspapers maintain an online audience penetration of more than 40% in their markets - and often higher - despite recent drops in print circulation and viewership, reports the Newspaper Association of America and National Association of Broadcasters. 

The bottom line is that when recruiters consider online resources for attracting job candidates, the result often mirrors the quality of the source. As the adage goes: you get what you pay for, both in terms of quality and the time required to identify those qualified applicants.

Thursday, 15 May 2014 20:43

The Truth About Talent

Talented people aren't job seekers. Ever. They're career activists. They never look for a job, but they are always searching for a way to advance themselves in their field. And, that's how you recruit them.

The conventional view of the workforce is that it is composed of just two cohorts: active and passive job seekers. These groups aren't of equal size, however. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at any point in time, just 16 percent of the workforce is actively in transition. That means that the passive population accounts for the remaining 84 percent ... only it doesn't.

There is actually a third cohort in the workforce. This group is probably as large as the active job seeker cohort, but is composed of people who behave in exactly the opposite way. They are non-job seekers. They will never voluntarily leave their current employer. They are, in effect, "unrecruitable."

For most recruiters, therefore, the target demographic is the 68 percent of the workforce who are recruitable passive job seekers. But, here's the rub: these people aren't job seekers at all. They don't think of themselves as job seekers, nor do they act that way. They are, instead, career activists.

Career activists are a cross-generational slice of the American workforce bound together by a common aspirational goal. Whether they are 25, 40 or 55, they all want to be the best they can be in their profession, craft or trade. They want to express and experience their talent on-the-job. And, they proactively seek out employers with the culture and opportunities that enable them to do so.

A Distinction That's More Than Semantics

Career Activists are seldom recruited with conventional strategies and tactics. As I detail in my book, The Career Activist Republic, these individuals are unlike traditional job seekers. The key to recruiting them, therefore, is to focus on the factors which distinguish them and they alone share. Here are two.

They are almost always employed. The only way to recruit them, therefore, is to convince them to do the one thing humans most hate to do: change. You have to persuade them to go from the devil they know (their current employer, boss and commute) to the devil they don't know (a new employer, boss and commute).

That can't be accomplished with a job posting that is a cure for insomnia - a classified ad repurposed online or a position description from the HR Department. It takes an "electronic sales brochure" - a consumer oriented message that sells both the organization as a dream employer and the opening as a dream job. 

They listened to their mother. What was the first lesson your mother taught you? "Don't speak to strangers," right? Career Activists are risk averse. They have something to lose - their current job. So, they will only consider a career change when it is presented by someone they know and trust.

That's why so many InMail and email messages go unanswered. They are the product of seeing social recruiting as a "contact sport" - the focus is on the number of followers, friends and connections rather than on the caliber of the interaction with them. A better approach is to fashion social recruiting as a "team sport" and to give top talent the experience of being a member of your team - make them feel as if your employer already cares about and supports their career advancement - even before they have expressed an interest in an opening.

The truth about talent is simple. They're different. They know it, and they expect employers to know it, as well. Those that do AND demonstrate that's the case in their recruiting strategy and tactics will have a genuine advantage in the War for the Best Talent.

Thanks for reading,
Peter
Visit me at Weddles.com

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