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Wish lists are big this time of year, not only among kids and parents, but among employers, as well. Organizations are looking ahead to 2014 and hoping they'll find just the right kind of talent to meet or exceed their business goals. Knowing what's on those wish lists, therefore, is a critical component of any successful job search.

Not all employer wish lists are the same, of course, but as with kids, there are certain "must haves" that appear on almost every organization's list. What are this year's favorites? Well, there are a number of old standbys and a couple of new additions that are sure to put a big smile on just about any recruiter's face. And, here's the top five on this year's Happy Job Search List.

1. State-of-the-art knowledge and skills.
Employers are no longer competing against cheaper labor, but against smarter labor throughout the global marketplace. How can you wrap yourself up as smarter job seeker? Enroll in an academic program or certification-granting training course in your field and add that ongoing education to your resume. Prove to employers that you see yourself as a "work-in-progress," not someone whose expiration date has passed.

2. The ability to contribute to the organization's success.
Employers no longer need people who can do the work; they need those who will excel at it. How can you put a bow on your ability to make such a contribution? Help others be successful in their jobs. Find one or two blogs, discussion forums or other online venues where you can share your expertise with others in your field and then contribute regularly. Those you assist just might turn out to be people who are looking for great coworkers to refer to their employer.

3. A flexible approach to work and employment.
Change is the new norm in business, so employers' workplace needs are constantly in flux. How can you avoid being seen as someone who's stuck in a rigid box? Do your homework on the strategies being used in your field to reduce costs and improve productivity (e.g., telecommuting, virtual organizations) and make the effort to get yourself (and your family) comfortable with them. Then, signal that flexibility on your resume.

4. The capacity to work in a wide range of situations and circumstances.
In these days of lean staffing, employers need multidisciplinary workers who can perform competently in different assignments. How can you celebrate your good will toward organizations that make such adjustments? Acquire ancillary skills (e.g., the ability to speak a second language, knowledge of new software programs) that enable you to pinch-hit for another employee or excel at more than one job and promote that capability to employers.

5. The dedication and competence to bring originality and creativity to your work.
Employers know that what wins in today's competitive economy is innovation in product or service design, development, sales and marketing, delivery, execution and support. How can you prove you're not regifting the same,old capabilities that have always been used in your field, but instead bring an original spark to the job? Create a "smart resume" which highlights both your quantitative accomplishments and your imagination - the ingenuity you use to achieve them.

Employers know that they're unlikely to get everything on their wish list when recruiting for their openings. However, the more of those gifts you offer in your job search, the more likely it is an employer will grant you your wish and offer you a great job.

Thanks for reading,
Peter
Visit me at the all new Weddles.com

While social media has put tens of millions of candidate profiles on display, such sites are often challenged when it comes to diversity.  For example, according to the Boolean Black Belt, Glen Cathey, writing in a July post on LinkedIn Traffic Statistics and User Demographics 2013, “…African Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented on LinkedIn when compared to Internet averages….”  While the situation is apparently improving, this shortcoming could pose a risk for employers recruiting today.

Similarly, social media sites are often Wall Street challenged.  Whether they have already gone public or are still planning to do so, they are under intense pressure to find ever larger streams of revenue and profit.  For example, in 2012 The Associated Press wrote, “Once Facebook goes public, Wall Street will surely demand more. That means the social network will almost certainly have to attract a lot more users or be more aggressive with its advertising….”  As such sites troll for ever more money, the cost to employers and recruiters will inevitably go up.

Which raises the question: While social media is all the rage among employers and recruiters these days, are there other sources of passive talent that are more diverse or less expensive or both?  The answer, happily, is yes.  And, you need look no further than the seldom celebrated resume and profile databases of job boards to find one.

Getting Outside the Fad Box

According to the 2013 Global Benchmark Survey conducted by the International Association of Employment Web Sites (www.EmploymentWebSites.org), job boards are a rich source of passive talent.  Excluding the huge databases at Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com,

  • 40% of all job boards hold between 100,001 and 2,000,000 resumes or profiles in their online databases;
  • Another 31% hold between 20,001 and 100,000 resumes or profiles; and
  • a significant percentage of those resume or profiles have been in the databases for five years or more!

Those “old records” mean that many of the people who posted their resumes or profiles in those databases are now likely employed.  In effect, they are the quintessential passive prospect.

But wait, you say; many of those resumes and profiles are probably out-of-date and their contact information is likely no longer current.  Well, according to Shally Steckerl, one of the leading gurus of online sourcing, many of the profiles on LinkedIn are also incomplete.  And while finding contact information can still be a challenge, personal Web-pages and other individual references accessible with a simple browser search have made it much less so.

Equally as important, the diversity of these prospects is recognized by both recruiters and regulatory officials.  According to my annual Source of Employment Survey of almost 200 large, mid-sized and small businesses:

  • 24.3% rated the diversity of candidates sourced from a job board as Excellent;
  • 31.4% rated it Above Average;
  • And just 7.6% rated it as Below Average or Poor.

In fact, during government audits of employers, screen shots of recruiters’ resume/profile database searches on job boards are often used to determine compliance with EEO/AA regulations.

Am I suggesting that you should ignore the talent on social media?  Absolutely not.  I’m simply pointing out that social media is not the silver bullet in recruitment and that the seldom celebrated caches of passive talent found on job boards deserve a look as well.

Thanks for reading,

Peter

Visit me at the all new Weddles.com

Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American DreamThe Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hang Onto the Job of Your Dreams, The Career Activist Republic, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, and WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet.  Get them at Amazon.com and at the all new Weddles.com today.

Stephanie Anderson Stephanie Anderson has been on the job just over a month as a portfolio manager and onboard specialist for the Franklin Johnston Group, but she is already making a big difference for this Virginia-based apartment developer. She not only oversees three of the company's communities, she plays a key role in the recruiting and training of new staffers. 

Anderson started in the business seven years ago as a part-time leasing consultant and worked her way up through the ranks. She comes to Franklin Johnston after having served as the Senior Community Manager for Management Services Corp.'s (MSC's) Harbor Village Apartments in Richmond, Va. More importantly for her current position, she served on the MSC Legacy Training Committee, which offers continuing employee education. She had also served as a training mentor for new employees.

She sat down with Operations Insights recently to discuss how she is taking what she learned at MSC and is applying it to her new responsibilities at Franklin Johnston.  

What follows is our chat:

NATIONAL APARTMENT ASSOCIATION: What are your current duties and responsibilities?

STEPHANIE ANDERSON: I oversee three properties in my portfolio, but that is just the smaller portion of my job. The big picture of what I do is what's called onboard specialist. That means I am actively involved in the recruiting phases of new employees. Once the employees are hired, I bring them on and do a new employee orientation with them. I talk about the history of the company and all of the wonderful things they are going to be exposed to with the company. I mentor both current and new employees. I provide educational resources to them, everything from online training to in-classroom training, promoting the NAAEI designation. You name it, I do it!

NAA: Why is it so important to onboard staff correctly?

SA: All too many times, we find in this industry when people are hired, we need someone pretty quickly. We don't have what some would call "a bench," which is what my company is promoting. We get employees ready to take that next step up. So, when a position becomes available, we have somebody already trained and ready to go. The onboarding process means that we have more time to bring people on slowly in the company -- to interview and find the perfect candidate that not only fits the position, but fits our company culture. Once we bring them on, we want to make sure they are trained right. We don't just want to throw them in. I remember my first day years ago. They said, "Here are some floor plans, here is your computer, and have at it." That's the way the industry has been set up, and we don't want to do that.

NAA: And you've only been on the job a month?

SA: Yes, but we're a brand new company. We just opened this year, and we went from zero to 6,000 units overnight.  Life is just a whirlwind right now, and the great part about it is we get to set the standards and decide where we're going to go from here.

NAA: In just the first month, how have you already been able to put your personal stamp on things?

SA: The great news is the company hired me because they saw that not only was I a go-getter, but that I have a lot of great ideas that they wanted me to implement here. What I have done so far is start a new online training program called LeaseHawk, offering a university set-up called Wings where I can go in and set up specific tracks for our different positions here. What I'm talking about is taking, let's say, an assistant property manager. He or she is ready to be a property manager, but there are no openings yet and that person still needs some additional training. He or she is able to go in and take the classes I've picked for him or her that I feel is going to take someone with the assistant property manager knowledge and get them ready to be a property manager. Think about it from the standpoint of college. You know that in order to get your degree, you have to take certain classes. You do have electives, just as this program also has electives. But you have your basic courses that you need to get that degree. This is very similar. You have a goal in mind to take the next step up for promotion, and these are the classes that are going to greatly prepare you for that next position. We're also going to coordinate that with some one-on-one training and mentoring by me and some on-site training by anyone else who is already involved in that position.

NAA: Did you run a training or mentoring program at your previous job?

SA: I did. We had a training program called Legacy, and it was named that because we were giving a gift to our employees to make them better at what they do. It was not only for new employees, but current employees as well.

NAA: Congratulations on winning the 2013 NAA PARAGON Award for Certified Apartment Manager of the Year.

SA: Thank you! That was definitely a highlight of my year for sure.

NAA: You were able to achieve a 99 percent occupancy at Harbor Village Apartments. What were some of the initiatives that helped you do that?

SA: At my last company, I was given the opportunity to be creative. Every community has a pool, a staff. We all have similar amenities and floor plans, give or take some square footage. But what's important are the little things that set you apart. One of the things I did was create the Extra Mile program. It started at my property and then went companywide. I plan to roll the program out here, as well. What we did was create these door tags that maintenance would put on, let's just say, one building a week depending on the size of the community. The goal was to get to each building roughly twice a year. The tag would read: "We want to do what you need help with in your home. Let us know." The residents would then take the tag and tell us what they needed done, whether it was some pictures hung or their garbage disposal unclogged. It benefited the resident because it gave them the sense that we really wanted to help them and that they are not a burden. From our aspect, it not only helps in that the resident feels good but we're getting in each unit to make sure that routine maintenance is also taken care of. Because we are going the "extra mile" for them, we would also attach a package of Extra gum to the door tag. It was cute, people loved it, and it got rave reviews. It definitely helped with resident retention. Mind you, during this time, we were doing up to 9 percent rent increases on our renewals. We had to keep doing little extra things to create more value, since we weren't offering any new amenities yet the rent was going up.

NAA: Do you have any other "creative" stories you'd like to share?

SA: I love DIY stuff, or "Do It Yourself." If you go to Peachtree and Great American, you can buy some cute things on there. But if you're buying there, so are your competitors. You really have to stand out. So, I taught my staff to always do the DIY stuff. Water bottles, for instance. You can put your own logos on them. You go to Sam's Club, you buy a package of water bottles, there's 24 of them, and using a Publisher program you might already have on your computer, you create your logo, and you put it on the water bottles, and display them in a clear-glass refrigerator in your rental office. Your vendors or your prospects walk in, take a bottle, and they're carrying it all over to all the places they are going. It's free word of mouth, yet we're offering a service in that we are giving those thirsty a free product.

NAA: What a great, little basic idea!

SA: It's so cheap and so easy. You can pay companies to do this for you, but most properties are on a pretty strict budget. Any way you can cut costs but still not cut what you are doing is a plus.

NAA: This article is going to run in our November issue. So, is there anything coming up in the last part of the year or in the first quarter of 2014 that has you excited?

SA: We are a development company. Right now, we do a little bit of third-party management. But predominantly we build properties from the ground up, and we take it all the way through the management process. We have a lot of new developments that are coming in the area. We have some in the Northern Virginia area and some in the Peninsula and the Virginia Beach area.  As a result, we're really excited about what 2014 is going to bring for us. For me personally, what we are looking to be as a company is best in class and the preferred employer of choice. We want to have a long waiting list of people who want to work for us.

By Teddy Durgin

Stephanie Anderson has been on the job just over a month as a portfolio manager and onboard specialist for the Franklin Johnston Group, but she is already making a big difference for this Virginia-based apartment developer. She not only oversees three of the company's communities, she plays a key role in the recruiting and training of new staffers. 

Anderson started in the business seven years ago as a part-time leasing consultant and worked her way up through the ranks. She comes to Franklin Johnston after having served as the Senior Community Manager for Management Services Corp.'s (MSC's) Harbor Village Apartments in Richmond, Va. More importantly for her current position, she served on the MSC Legacy Training Committee, which offers continuing employee education. She had also served as a training mentor for new employees.

She sat down with Operations Insights recently to discuss how she is taking what she learned at MSC and is applying it to her new responsibilities at Franklin Johnston.  

What follows is our chat:

NATIONAL APARTMENT ASSOCIATION: What are your current duties and responsibilities?

STEPHANIE ANDERSON: I oversee three properties in my portfolio, but that is just the smaller portion of my job. The big picture of what I do is what's called onboard specialist. That means I am actively involved in the recruiting phases of new employees. Once the employees are hired, I bring them on and do a new employee orientation with them. I talk about the history of the company and all of the wonderful things they are going to be exposed to with the company. I mentor both current and new employees. I provide educational resources to them, everything from online training to in-classroom training, promoting the NAAEI designation. You name it, I do it!

NAA: Why is it so important to onboard staff correctly?

SA: All too many times, we find in this industry when people are hired, we need someone pretty quickly. We don't have what some would call "a bench," which is what my company is promoting. We get employees ready to take that next step up. So, when a position becomes available, we have somebody already trained and ready to go. The onboarding process means that we have more time to bring people on slowly in the company -- to interview and find the perfect candidate that not only fits the position, but fits our company culture. Once we bring them on, we want to make sure they are trained right. We don't just want to throw them in. I remember my first day years ago. They said, "Here are some floor plans, here is your computer, and have at it." That's the way the industry has been set up, and we don't want to do that.

NAA: And you've only been on the job a month?

SA: Yes, but we're a brand new company. We just opened this year, and we went from zero to 6,000 units overnight.  Life is just a whirlwind right now, and the great part about it is we get to set the standards and decide where we're going to go from here.

NAA: In just the first month, how have you already been able to put your personal stamp on things?

SA: The great news is the company hired me because they saw that not only was I a go-getter, but that I have a lot of great ideas that they wanted me to implement here. What I have done so far is start a new online training program called LeaseHawk, offering a university set-up called Wings where I can go in and set up specific tracks for our different positions here. What I'm talking about is taking, let's say, an assistant property manager. He or she is ready to be a property manager, but there are no openings yet and that person still needs some additional training. He or she is able to go in and take the classes I've picked for him or her that I feel is going to take someone with the assistant property manager knowledge and get them ready to be a property manager. Think about it from the standpoint of college. You know that in order to get your degree, you have to take certain classes. You do have electives, just as this program also has electives. But you have your basic courses that you need to get that degree. This is very similar. You have a goal in mind to take the next step up for promotion, and these are the classes that are going to greatly prepare you for that next position. We're also going to coordinate that with some one-on-one training and mentoring by me and some on-site training by anyone else who is already involved in that position.

NAA: Did you run a training or mentoring program at your previous job?

SA: I did. We had a training program called Legacy, and it was named that because we were giving a gift to our employees to make them better at what they do. It was not only for new employees, but current employees as well.

NAA: Congratulations on winning the 2013 NAA PARAGON Award for Certified Apartment Manager of the Year.

SA: Thank you! That was definitely a highlight of my year for sure.

NAA: You were able to achieve a 99 percent occupancy at Harbor Village Apartments. What were some of the initiatives that helped you do that?

SA: At my last company, I was given the opportunity to be creative. Every community has a pool, a staff. We all have similar amenities and floor plans, give or take some square footage. But what's important are the little things that set you apart. One of the things I did was create the Extra Mile program. It started at my property and then went companywide. I plan to roll the program out here, as well. What we did was create these door tags that maintenance would put on, let's just say, one building a week depending on the size of the community. The goal was to get to each building roughly twice a year. The tag would read: "We want to do what you need help with in your home. Let us know." The residents would then take the tag and tell us what they needed done, whether it was some pictures hung or their garbage disposal unclogged. It benefited the resident because it gave them the sense that we really wanted to help them and that they are not a burden. From our aspect, it not only helps in that the resident feels good but we're getting in each unit to make sure that routine maintenance is also taken care of. Because we are going the "extra mile" for them, we would also attach a package of Extra gum to the door tag. It was cute, people loved it, and it got rave reviews. It definitely helped with resident retention. Mind you, during this time, we were doing up to 9 percent rent increases on our renewals. We had to keep doing little extra things to create more value, since we weren't offering any new amenities yet the rent was going up.

NAA: Do you have any other "creative" stories you'd like to share?

SA: I love DIY stuff, or "Do It Yourself." If you go to Peachtree and Great American, you can buy some cute things on there. But if you're buying there, so are your competitors. You really have to stand out. So, I taught my staff to always do the DIY stuff. Water bottles, for instance. You can put your own logos on them. You go to Sam's Club, you buy a package of water bottles, there's 24 of them, and using a Publisher program you might already have on your computer, you create your logo, and you put it on the water bottles, and display them in a clear-glass refrigerator in your rental office. Your vendors or your prospects walk in, take a bottle, and they're carrying it all over to all the places they are going. It's free word of mouth, yet we're offering a service in that we are giving those thirsty a free product.

NAA: What a great, little basic idea!

SA: It's so cheap and so easy. You can pay companies to do this for you, but most properties are on a pretty strict budget. Any way you can cut costs but still not cut what you are doing is a plus.

NAA: This article is going to run in our November issue. So, is there anything coming up in the last part of the year or in the first quarter of 2014 that has you excited?

SA: We are a development company. Right now, we do a little bit of third-party management. But predominantly we build properties from the ground up, and we take it all the way through the management process. We have a lot of new developments that are coming in the area. We have some in the Northern Virginia area and some in the Peninsula and the Virginia Beach area.  As a result, we're really excited about what 2014 is going to bring for us. For me personally, what we are looking to be as a company is best in class and the preferred employer of choice. We want to have a long waiting list of people who want to work for us.

MOOCs are massive open online courses. They're the next big thing in higher education. They link hundreds, sometimes thousands of students in free educational programs offered on the Internet. What's that have to do with recruiting? They've learned how to deliver content that adults will read.

Tragically, job postings are often ignored by the very candidates recruiter most want to reach. That's not a criticism, just a fact. Passive, high caliber talent has the attention span of a gnat, so getting them to focus on an opening isn't easy.

Sometimes, however, we make grabbing their attention harder than it already is. How? It begins with our vocabulary.

We use language in our job postings that only an employer could love. Talking about a job's "requirements and responsibilities" may be the way we've always described vacant jobs, but, in this case at least, tradition is a trap. People's behaviors and preferences have evolved and so too must the job posting.

What do job seekers - and especially the passive top performers -most want to read in a job posting? They want to know "what's in it for them." That means the ad must answer five key questions:

  • What will they get to do?
  • What will they get to learn?
  • What will they get to accomplish?
  • With whom with they get to work?
  • How will they be recognized and rewarded?

Yes, those answers present a job's requirements and responsibilities, but they do so from the candidate's perspective. They provide information as candidates want it articulated, not as employers have traditionally presented it. They adhere to the most basic of consumer principles: always put yourself in the customer's shoes.

But, here's the rub. Even with the right vocabulary, a job posting is likely to remain unread, at least by the best talent. Why? Because more often than not, it's presented in the wrong format.

The Handcuffs That Keep Adults Reading

MOOCs apply the latest research in adult learning to capture and hold the attention of tired, stressed, overworked and, occasionally, lazy adults. And, their completion rates - the number of people who successfully pass the end-of-course exam - is proof positive that students are actually reading and absorbing the content.

At the risk of trivializing some very sophisticated studies, the key concept MOOCs use in their content delivery is to format it in bite-sized pieces. It turns out that most adults - a population that includes active as well as passive job seekers - have the attention span of a gnat. Or, to put it in more general terms, adult minds tend to wander if not stimulated regularly.

For that reason, a MOOC lecture is interrupted every 15 minutes with a test of attention - an inquiry which forces students to absorb, think about and react to the content. And, job postings should be organized to do the same.

Every three paragraphs, a job posting should insert a test of attention - an inquiry that acts like a set of handcuffs on the reader. These inquiries should be carefully crafted to help the reader (a) better understand the information that's being presented and (b) relate it to the answers they seek to those five key questions.

This format prevents the job seeker's attention from wandering because they aren't just reading the ad, they're participating in it. They experience the content rather than simply being shown it. They are challenged by rather than spoken to, and that stimulates their interest, especially if they are high caliber talent.

Like resumes, there are plenty of critics of job postings and yet, they remain the lingua franca of employer-to-candidate communication. For that reason, it's important to get their vocabulary and format right. And the key to success is to craft both for adults, for they are the readers we're trying to reach.

Thanks for reading,
Peter
Visit me at Weddles.com

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented the federal government from recognizing state-granted same-sex marriages, was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment by treating same-sex couples differently than heterosexual couples.

As a result, federal agencies are rewriting their regulations with respect to benefits offered to married same-sex couples. For example, the Internal Revenue Service recently announced that legally married same-sex couples will be treated as married for federal tax purposes, regardless of the state in which they live. Similarly, on September 18, 2013, the Department of Labor clarified that legally married same-sex couples will be treated as married for Employee Retirement Benefit Security Act (ERISA) purposes, regardless of the state in which they live.

Although it may seem intuitive that a change in federal law—striking down a provision of DOMA—would affect the application of all federal laws pertaining to marriage in the same way nationwide, this is not necessarily the case. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a perfect example. The FMLA provides job-protected leave for qualified employees who need to provide care for family members, including spouses, with qualifying medical conditions. Significantly, however, the FMLA defines spouse as “a husband or wife as defined or recognized under State law for purposes of marriage in the State where the employee resides.”

Therefore, following the Supreme Court’s ruling, FMLA leave is now available to married same-sex couples who reside in the 13 states, and the District of Columbia, that recognize same-sex marriage.[5] Employees who reside in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage do not qualify for FMLA leave to care for an ill same-sex spouse, even if they were married in or work in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.

Employers may choose to grant leave for employees to care for same-sex spouses or domestic partners that is akin to FMLA leave, but should not refer to such leave as FMLA. Employers should also stay abreast of state law developments on recognition of same-sex marriages because of their potential impact on employer obligations under both state and federal law.

In Texas, state recognition of same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships remains in flux. On April 29, 2013, the Attorney General’s office issued an opinion providing that the Texas Constitution, which prohibits the state from recognizing “any legal status identical or similar to marriage,” prevents the state or state agencies from providing insurance benefits to employees’ domestic partners. This opinion significantly affects same-sex partners because they are not eligible for common law marriage status like unmarried heterosexual partners.

The Texas Supreme Court indicated a potential shift, however, when it recently agreed to hear two cases that challenge sections of the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code that define marriage as between one man and one woman. Both cases involve same-sex couples who were married in Massachusetts and now seek to divorce in Texas. Texas courts have generally held that, because they are unable to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex, they are unable to grant a divorce for a marriage they cannot recognize.

Oral argument for both cases is scheduled for November 5, 2013. The outcome could have significant impacts on employer obligations under both state and federal law.

James H. Kizziar, Jr. is a partner with Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in the firm’s San Antonio, Texas and Washington, D.C. offices. He is Special Counsel to TAA for labor and employment issues. Amber K. Dodds is an Associate with Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in the firm’s San Antonio office. Both Kizziar andDodds represent management in all aspects of labor and employment law.

Why are these rules so important?  Because passive, high caliber candidates are different from everyone else in the workforce.  They are almost always employed.  In order to recruit them, therefore, you have to convince them to do the one thing we humans most hate to do: change.  Your ad has to convince them to go from the devil they know – their current employer, boss and commute – to the devil they don’t know – a new employer, a different boss and an unfamiliar commute.

Rule #1:  Turn Titles into Magnets

Job postings are not position descriptions; they are electronic sales brochures.  Their purpose is to sell top candidates on the opportunity inherent in an opening.  That can’t happen, however, unless they are attracted to an opening and intrigued enough to pause and read it.  So, give your job posting titles a magnetic pull by using the three most important triggers to action among passive prospects, separating each with a dash:
◾Location – top talent want to work where they live so begin the title with the postal code abbreviation (e.g., CT) for the state in which the opening is located:
◾Skill – top talent want to see themselves in the job, not some HR job title (e.g., Programmer III) so next add the skill (e.g., C++ Programmer) they use to describe the work they do;
◾Sizzle – top talent are herd animals so ask the top performers in your organization why they came to work there and use that factor as the concluding element in your title.

So, here’s how a good title  might look: CT – C++ Programmer – Great team with a unique project

Rule #2: Develop Content for Them, Not You

Requirements and responsibilities are words only recruiters could love.  They say absolutely nothing important to top talent.  Those prospects are interested in the same information, but they want it presented in a way that indicates “what’s in it for them.”  So, describe your opening by answering five questions:
◾What will they get to do?
◾What will they get to learn?
◾What will they get to accomplish?
◾With whom will they get to work?
◾How will they be recognized and rewarded?

Rule #3: Sell First, Explain Later

Passive candidates have the attention span of a gnat, so it’s critical that you lead with your strength when composing your ad.  In effect, you have to convince them to read on before you can convince them your opening is right for them.  So, begin every job posting with an enticement – a hard-hitting summary of why the position is a rare and extraordinary opportunity.  First, tell them why it’s a dream job with a dream employer and then provide the details of “what’s in it for them.”

Rule #4: Use a Format That Gnats Would Like

Given the short attention span of passive candidates, you have to make your message accessible in the blink of an eye.  These candidates aren’t looking for a job so they simply aren’t going to plow through the thick, pithy paragraphs of a typical job posting.  The most they will do is scan your content so make it easy for them to do so.  Replace your prose with headlines and bullets, so they can quickly get an accurate picture of the position and decide if it’s right for them.

Rule #5: Get Them to Act Even if They Don’t Apply

Writing a job posting for passive, high caliber candidates is an investment of your time and talent, so make sure you derive a meaningful return on that effort.  The optimal response, of course, is an application, but if that doesn’t happen, make sure you have a fallback.  Offer them two additional ways to act on your opportunity: give them the ability to refer the opening to a friend or colleague (because top talent know other top talent) and invite them to join your network of contacts so you can keep them informed of other openings in the future.

Unfortunately, most job postings today are a modern medical miracle.  They are a cure for insomnia in 500 words or less.  To avoid that outcome, write your job postings using the five rules for seducing top talent.  They’ll be much more likely to fall for your opening if you do.

Thanks for reading, Peter Weddle

 

Don’t Post a Job, Advertise Respect – Where Does Your Candidate Experience Begin?

Peter Weddle, wrote a compelling newsletter January 3rd, 2013.

Part two of this edition focuses on the nature of the job posting as a communication medium to enhance the Candidate Experience. Peter’s suggestion is just one more example of great practices which contribute to staffing process improvement. With Peter’s permission, the article is provided below.

Peter also mentions the recent focus on the candidate experience. One organization in particular that has raised the visibility on the candidate experience is the Talent Board and their Candidate Experience Award. The list of the 2012 award winners can be found here. A white paper with highlights from the 2012 submission and evaluation process will be released in late January 2013. Look back here for a link to the report.


Candidate Experience Award

Don’t Post a Job, Advertise Respect

Job postings are now routinely used on both job boards and social media sites. These online communications remain the most widespread method of candidate sourcing, yet are disparaged and ignored at almost every recruitment conference. Why? Because recruiters intuitively grasp the cost-benefit advantage of job postings, but all too often don’t grab hold of their power. They use job postings to describe a job, when they would be better served by delivering respect.

There’s been much written and spoken over the past couple of years about the importance of optimizing the candidate experience. In a highly competitive recruiting market, top performers will always gravitate to where they are treated best. As a consequence, the organization which gives candidates a distinctive and memorable experience will have a formidable advantage in the War for Talent.

That experience is typically defined as what happens to a candidate while they are passing through an organization’s recruiting process. For the candidate, however, the experience starts well before that point. It begins when they first encounter an employment opportunity. That interaction sets the tone for everything else that happens between the organization and the candidate.

Thanks to their heritage in print publications, job postings have traditionally been viewed as advertisements or announcements. Indeed, all too often, job postings are simply classified ad copy or position descriptions re-purposed online. They sell or inform, but they do not engage the candidate. They generate applications from active job seekers, but have little or no impact on the passive prospects who make up the majority of the workforce.

What’s the best way for your organization to engage that passive population? Publish job postings that deliver respect. Use word choice and content to signal to candidates that you recognize and value their talent.

A Respectful Job Posting

There are many facets to a “respectful job posting,” but the following four are among the most important.

Number 1. Use vocabulary that corresponds to the reader’s self image. Top performers never think of themselves as a supplicant for work (even when they are in transition) and they seldom have a resume, so engage them by using more respectful terms and phrases. Address them as a “candidate” or “prospect” rather than as a “job seeker” and ask them to submit “an application” rather than “a resume.”

Number 2. Tell the reader how long it will take to complete the application. Top performers are almost always employed and thus consider their time to be quite valuable, so engage them by acknowledging and showing your respect for that point of view. Indicate how much time they will have to invest to apply for your opening and whether they must complete the application in a single sitting or can do so over several periods of time.

Number 3. Give the reader the information that’s important to them. Top performers don’t care about an opening’s requirements and responsibilities, so engage them by respecting their wishes and telling them what’s in it for them. Describe what they will get to do, learn and accomplish in your organization and its opening and with whom they will get to work and how they will be recognized for their contribution.

Number 4. Show the reader that your organization is courteous. Top performers don’t like being left in the dark or ignored when they apply for an opening, so engage them by treating them as politely as you would a guest. State that your organization will acknowledge the receipt of their application and provide the email address from which it will arrive so they can ensure it doesn’t get caught in their spam filter.

A job posting works best when it operates as a talent engagement platform rather than as an advertisement or announcement. And, engagement is best achieved with a posting that uses both vocabulary and content to convey an organization’s respect for the reader.

Thanks for reading,

Peter

Visit Peter at Weddles

Employment-at-will policies should focus on what employers can and can not do under the NLRA

By James H. Kizziar, Jr. and Judy K. Jetelina
Bracewell & Giuliani LLP

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Office of General Counsel recently issued two Advice Memoranda clarifying whether employment at-will language in an employee handbook, applications or other employment policies violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by “chilling” employee rights under Section 7 of the NLRA.[1]

Concern had arisen among employers as a result of findings in an earlier unfair labor practice charge indicating that certain employment at-will provisions violated the NLRA. The Advice Memoranda issued October 31, 2012 reflect a commonsense approach by considering the context of most at-will employment provisions in employee handbooks.

In the first Advice Memorandum, the NLRB Office of General Counsel considered the following language in the Rocha Transportation Employee Handbook:

Employment with Rocha Transportation is employment at-will. Employment at-will may be terminated with or without cause and with or without notice at any time by the employee or the Company. Nothing in this Handbook or in any document or statement shall limit the right to terminate employment at-will. No manager, supervisor, or employee of Rocha Transportation has any authority to enter into an agreement for employment for any specified period of time or to make an agreement for employment other than at-will. Only the president of the Company has the authority to make any such agreement and then only in writing.

In the second Advice Memorandum, the Office of General Counsel considered the following language in the Mimi’s Café Teammate Handbook:

The relationship between you and Mimi’s Café is referred to as “employment at will.” This means that your employment can be terminated at any time for any reason, with or without notice, by you or the Company. No representative of the Company has authority to enter into any agreement contrary to the foregoing “employment at will” relationship. Nothing contained in this handbook creates an express or implied contract of employment.

employeehandbookIn the unfair labor practice charges filed against Rocha Transportation and Mimi’s Café, the claimants alleged that the bolded language in the handbooks violated the NLRA “because it is overbroad and would reasonably chill employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights.”

In rejecting these claims, the NLRB Office of General Counsel stated that any language that potentially violates the NLRA cannot be read in isolation but must be considered in context. The employment at-will policies at issue did not explicitly restrict employee Section 7 rights to change their at-will employment status through concerted activity among themselves, or through union organizing.

Further, there was no indication that the policies were implemented in response to union organizing or that the policies had been applied to restrict protected concerted activity by employees. Thus, the handbook provisions would only be unlawful if employees would reasonably construe the policies “in context” to restrict their Section 7 activities.

The NLRB General Counsel concluded that the handbook provisions did not require employees to refrain from seeking to change their at-will status or to agree that their at-will status could not be changed in any way. Instead, the handbook provisions simply made clear that the employer’s own representatives were prohibited from entering into employment agreements that would provide for other than at-will employment and were not authorized to modify an employee’s at will status.

The Rocha Transportation provision clearly indicated the possibility of a modification of the at-will relationship through a collective bargaining agreement ratified by the company’s president. Further, the clear meaning of the Mimi’s Café provision was to reinforce the purpose of the at-will policy, i.e., that the handbook did not create an express or implied contract of employment. The NLRB General Counsel noted “[i]t is commonplace for employers to rely on [such] policy provisions . . . as a defense against potential legal action by employees asserting that the employee handbook creates an enforceable employment contract.”

The NLRB General Counsel distinguished the prior American Red Cross Arizona Blood Services Region case which had raised concerns among employers about the liability of at-will disclaimers. In that case, the employer was held to have violated the NLRA by maintaining the following language in an acknowledgement form that employees were required to sign: “I further agree that the at-will employment relationship cannot be amended, modified or altered in any way.” The NLRB General Counsel stated that this language required the employee—through the use of the personal pronoun “I”—to agree that at-will status could not be changed and was “essentially a waiver” of the employee’s right “to advocate concertedly . . . to change his/her at-will status.”

The NLRB guidance on at-will provisions in employee handbooks, employment applications, employee acknowledgment forms and other employment documents has clarified that at-will policies phrased in terms of what the employer can and cannot do, rather than what employees can and cannot do, generally will not violate employee Section 7 rights under the NLRA. Employers should carefully review their employment at-will policies for compliance with the NLRA.

James H. Kizziar, Jr. is a partner with Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in the firm’s San Antonio, Texas and Washington, D.C. offices. He is Special Counsel to TAA for labor and employment issues. Judy K. Jetelina is counsel with the firm. Both Mr. Kizziar and Ms. Jetelina represent management in all aspects of labor and employment law.



[1] NLRB Office of the General Counsel, Advice Memorandum in Rocha Transportation, Case No. 32-CA-086799 (Oct. 31, 2012); NLRB Office of the General Counsel, Advice Memorandum in SWH Corporation d/b/a/ Mimi’s Cafe, Case No. 28-CA-084365 (Oct. 31, 2012).

Work Flex as a Turnover Reduction & Employee Retention Tool

Work flex is fast becoming a great way to retain, recruit, and engage your employees.  Companies that provide these different type of flexible work arrangements are seeing increased employee retention, lower recruiting costs, lower employee absenteeism costs, and higher levels of employee productivity and engagement.  The impact can be huge especially when you factor in the cost of employee turnover to range from 150-300% of an employee’s first year salary.

Companies like UPS have seen an employee turnover reduction of as much as 50% after implementing their corporate work flex program.  The trend is growing as 77% of employers are now said to offer some form of work flex according to the 2012 National Study of Employers.  The transition to the new work flex mindset requires trust between employee and manager as well a new style of management where leader manage using many new technologies like video conferencing, instant messaging, and using internal collaboration and workplace tools like Yammer and Jive.

Types of Flexible Work Environments & Programs

Traditionally, there are five different types work flex programs that companies consider.  Each one presents different pros and cons depending on the type of position, its job requirements, and industry where your company works.

  • Flex/Alternative Work Schedule. A flex or alternative work schedule is a scheduling arrangement that permits a variation from the employee’s core hours in starting and departure times, but does not alter the total number of hours worked in a week.  Many companies offer flex schedules allowing for employees to leave work early for family obligations and arrive later so less time is spent commuting during peak hours.
  • Flexplace/Telecommute.  A flexplace arrangement is an option that allows an employee to work at home or another off-site location, for a specified number of hours per week, and for a pre-set, limited duration.
  • Compressed Work Week. A compressed work schedule allows an employee to work a traditional 35-40 hour workweek in less than five workdays. Many compressed work schedule options may be negotiated. For example an employee might work 4 ten hour work days.
  • Job Sharing. A job share arrangement is a form of regular part-time work in which two people share the responsibilities of one regular, full-time position. These positions are regular part-time and as such must involve at least a 50% commitment. Two individuals typically work 20 hours a week sharing the compensation, benefits, and position requirements and responsibilities.
  • ROWE. This stands for Result Oriented Work Environment and was founded at Best Buy.  Managers don’t count their employees work hours or even require that they maintain a traditional work schedule.  Meetings are optional so long as employees continue to meet performance and work productivity standards.  Those that don’t are handled using traditional work performance warnings and write ups.

You can learn more about work flexible programs and schedules and how they impact Oklahoma’s future and current workforces by attending the Oklahoma Ready to Work Conference Friday, October 26th.  Register here.  Read more about how skilled workers are impacted by the improving economy. 

The Right Kind of Confidence

by Peter Weddle

The journalist David Brooks once famously opined that "Human beings are over-confidence machines." We aren't as smart as we think we are, nor are we as smart as we need to be. That's especially true when it comes to networking in a job search. Brooks bases his assertion on a survey done among executives in the advertising and computer industries. They were each given a quiz on their industry knowledge and then asked to rate how confident they were of their answers. The advertising pooh bahs thought they were right 90 percent of the time, when in actuality, 61 percent of their answers were wrong. And, the computer hotshots were even more off the mark. They estimated their answers to be right 95 percent of the time, when in fact, 80 percent were wrong. Now, some may say that such over-confidence is endemic among managers and executives, but not among the rest of the workforce. Regular people are much more self-aware. Or, are they? These days, an awful lot of regular people are 100 percent confident that social media is the answer to executing a successful job search. They are absolutely certain that the path to re-employment runs through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. So, what do they do? They devote countless hours to meeting virtual strangers on the Web and ignore the many connections and friends they have right in their own backyard. They rely on contacts when relationships will serve them better. Network With the People You Know Networking on social media sites is important, but it is not the only or even the best way to tap the job market knowledge and connections of others. Where's the proof that's so? Ask yourself this question: Who are you more likely to help, a friend you met through your daughter's soccer team or someone you've only met through an invitation to connect on LinkedIn? The Golden Rule is golden because it represents the epitome of human behavior. We all may aspire to its lofty standard, but in our day-to-day interactions, we are simply more comfortable investing our limited time, effort and connections in people we actually know. Moreover, to "know" people means that we have done more than read what they've posted about themselves on their Facebook page. And, that's the real challenge of networking. It's one of those rare words that actually says what it means: it's netWORK, not net-type-a-couple-of-invites-on-LinkedIn. Networking is an exercise in two-way knowing. In order to get to know a person, we have to interact enough with them for them to get to know us. We have to establish a mutual sense of familiarity and trust, the twin pillars of a relationship. And, as I point out in my book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System, each of us has more relationships than we realize. A partial list includes: All of your current friends; All of your friends with whom you have lost contact over the years; The mentor you have today and any mentors you may have had in the past; All of your former bosses; All of your current coworkers; All of your former coworkers; If you're a member of a professional, technical or trade association or society, all of the members of that group whom you've previously met; If you've ever served on a task force, special project team or select group of any kind (for your employer, academic institution or association), all of those with whom you served; and All of your former high school, trade school, college and graduate school classmates and those in the classes ahead of and behind you whom you knew. Network with those people - enrich your relationships with them - and you'll have plenty of reasons to be confident about the outcome of your job search. Thanks for reading, Peter Visit me at Weddles.com Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, WEDDLE's 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, and Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.

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