Monday, January 31, 2005

How teens use the web

Jakob Nielsen's most recent usability alertbox focuses on how teens use the internet. It would make excellent reading for all who design recruitment websites targetting this group.

His recommendations include:
What's good? The following interactive features all worked well because they let teens do things rather than simply sit and read:
• Online quizzes
• Forms for providing feedback or asking questions
• Online voting
• Games
• Features for sharing pictures or stories
• Message boards
• Forums for offering and receiving advice
• Features for creating a website or otherwise adding content

Whist maybe not all of these are appropriate (remember they go to you because they are interested in a job, not for interactive features about not related topics) some of them certainly are.

In one firm we implemented message boards staffed by a young intern. It was both hugely popular but also dramatically reduced our support costs. We could get back to everyone within our ambitious 1 working day service aim (often much quicker) and we didn't have to answer the same questions over and over again. What's more we were given a free 'improve your website' tool - if they ask the question the chances are they can't find the answer.

A second instance we used a game (well a competition) to increase awareness in a particular activity the company did (very well) but wasn't known for. The multiple choice competition asked 5 simple questions, the answers being available on the public corporate website. We built a great database and what had historically always been a trouble area became oversubscribed overnight.

These techniques can be effectively translated to recruitment sites. The trick is understanding the behaviours and how you can use this to your advantage.

CSR and Recruitment

Workforce Management have published an article entitled The recruiting payoff of social responsibility which detailed the first survey I had seen on the effects of CSR on recruitment. To quote:
Researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Barbara (in 2003), surveyed 800 MBA students from 11 leading North American and European business schools and found that 94 percent would accept a lower salary--an average of 14 percent lower--to work for a firm with a reputation for being environmentally friendly, caring about employees and caring about outside stakeholders such as the community.

Of course this sort of information has been known from internal surveys for some time. Ask staff what they value about the organisation and they will often respond about CSR related themes, especially if they involve active involvement from staff.

Many companies have a CSR section on their site. Recruitment department would benefit from linking to it from directly.

Nokia's use of voice on its recruitment website

(Via Bowen Craggs regular BC Tips email)
Nokia these days is about communications. It even uses the line 'Connecting People' in its advertising.

What is worth looking at is the People at Nokia section, a common element on many careers sites. What makes this site unusual is the use of voice where selected staff answer selected questions in an online 'interview'.

As Bowen Craggs noted:
Careers sections are the most-visited area of many company sites, particularly by students and new graduates. Combined with the jobs market going through a ‘seller’s’ phase, especially for the best-qualified talent, this puts an extra premium on getting the pitch right. Nokia shows how creative thought and execution can achieve that .

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Lots in the news today...

Lots in the news today. A few useful things below:

Australia's Business Review Weekly published an article called "Head-hunters picnic". Unfortunately you need a subscription to read it online however the article focuses on Seek.com.au, which it says has 60% of online recruitment and is considering a float this year.

It also looks at tightening labour markets with comments on how recruitment companies are becoming stronger and the ability for clients to lower fees is becoming weaker.

Finally, it has a list of 'How to keep staff'. Here it is:
* Start a retention strategy at the beginning of the employment cycle, not when someone says they are thinking about leaving.

* Managers need to stay in touch with the workforce. No workplace is perfect, so there is an enormous need to listen and respond.

* Get the right people in the right job in the first place.

* Extend maternity/paternity leave and allow employees to buy more leave.

* Offer flexibility.

* Ensure the workplace can effectively manage the different generations and their working styles.

* Try to offer career mobility within the company for those likely to get restless.

* Offer real, effective career planning.

* Make all employees understand, and feel a part of, the company's direction and offer challenging and satisfying work opportunities.

* When someone leaves, speak to them and find out why they are going.


Remember that these measures can apply to some people more than others and that you want to know which people you want to keep and which ones you are less upset if they leave.

The Orange County Register (link to journal, article not online yet at time of writing) has an article on a ruling yesterday that First American Corp has to pay Fidelity National $43.2m for recruiting a James A Magnuson and 30 of his team from Chicago Title, a Fidelity subsidiary. Magnuson had signed a non-compete agreement.

The UK's Independent has several interesting articles on recruitment. First a look at why refugees are struggling to find work,one on the staffing issues in the UK nursing sector, and the 'unethical' practices of some recruitment firm, and some other less interesting articles about graduate recruitment, mostly written for graduates.

Richard Donkin writing in the Financial Times discusses the latest report from the Saratoga Insititute Key trends in Human Capital, A Global Perspective. He notes:
In 2003, for example, it estimated that in Europe some Euros 1.5bn were invested in leadership training. However, its research has produced little evidence so far to demonstrate that these investments have produced any significant return.

Another surprise, given the strengthening commitment that companies claim to be making in diversity programmes, is that the proportion of women in managerial posts across European companies covered by the study, fell back between 2001 and 2003 by 1.9 percentage points to 24.6 per cent.

The proportion of women in professional posts during the same period fell even more markedly from 33.6 to 29.3 per cent.

In the same period the proportion of women in the total headcount remained stable at about 39 per cent.


Finally, the South China Morning Post has an article about Oracle's recruitment practices in China (not online at time of writing).

The article talks about the 'cultural fit' tools the firm's Asia-Pacific organisational design team designed, how the interviews are conducted in English, how it sets out it's expectations openly at interview (how many firms miss this one?) All new hires are assigned a buddy.

The article goes on to note:
While Ms Woo (HR Director) is aware that staff retention is becoming a key issue elsewhere, it does not concern her too much. "Oracle realise they must pay competitively and regard this as a 'hygiene factor' - one of the first things you must clear up," she said. "We have found, though, that the crucial thing in attracting and holding on to good staff is how much they believe in the company and its future direction. The 'techie' people admire the products and management vision and want to contribute to the company; others enjoy working in a competitive environment where new things are coming in every day."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Decrease in staff loyalty in Canada / Phychological testing

A Watson Wyatt survey, reported in Canada's Globe and Mail finds that 46% of employees said they would consider moving companies if a comparable job was available, up 9% from two years ago.
The survey found that only 40 per cent of employees feel they have opportunities for growth, development and advancement with their current employers and only 27 per cent believe there is a clear link between job performance and pay.

The article discusses a few companies responses, and further Watson Wyatt comments.

A second article in the Globe & Mail looks at Psychometric testing in detail.

Techniques from Direct Marketing

DM News have an article on '24 Key Database Marketing Techniques' which makes great reading for those involved in attraction strategy, employment brand work or recruitment marketing.

Replace the word 'consumers' with 'candidates' and most of the techniques become viable. When was the last time you analysed the quality and value you have built up in your various databases?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

ChevronTexaco - almost great

Catching up on a copy of the FT I picked up at Schiphol on Monday night I see a striking, full page ad from ChevronTexaco:
Where do we find our most talented employees?
Pick a country

The advert read with a well written 10 line copy about how 96% of their employees globally are hired locally.

The last time I recall such employee based corporate brand advertising was in the late 90's when I was at JP Morgan. At the height of the 'War for Talent' era the corporate ad slogan of 'I work for JP Morgan' was extremely powerful. Whether it was in Milan, Helsinki, Paris or Bangalore everyone knew it. It was a powerful recruiting tool.

ChevronTexaco had a link at the bottom of the page so I followed it. Another well written page explaining in more detail the localisation efforts. I was impressed at this stage. Not only is such advertising a great internal moral booster but it also sends a clear message - we believe in our talented individuals and are proud of them.

The page had two links for further information - both to corporate and social responsibility info. I would have thought a career page would have been useful, but as the Careers tab was still on the left menu I could forgive them this. (Note to their marketing people - read 'Linking the corporate and employment brands')

I click on Careers and then look at 'Why ChevronTexaco'. Have a look, you will find the following
Global opportunities
We have operations and employees in more than 180 countries. You may want to travel and work in different locations around the world. Or, you may want to stay and grow in one location. Whatever your path, as part of ChevronTexaco, you career will have an impact. Globally.

Now tell me, is building one of your key employment brand messages 'Global opportunities' when your corporate marketing team are promoting localisation policies such a great move. (I acknowledge that it doesn't say everyone should have a global career but we know that only 4% of their staff get to work outside their country)

Come on guys - HR, Marketing - talk to each other.

HR trends for 2005

The UK's Personnel Today recently ran an article entitled Market Trends for 2005.

An interesting note from Zoë Lewis, of Odgers:
"The term 'business partners' is becoming over-used," she says. "While a lot of people describe themselves as this, they lack the exposure at senior level to actually influence or advise."

Well said!

The article goes on
Some predict this will lead to HR hybrids. "HR/marketing roles will use marketing's experience with customers to tap into and make sense of employee insights, says (John) Ingham (of Penna Consulting)

You read it hear first ;-)

Emerging role - Human Resources/IT programme manager

The Boston Herald ran an article on 17 Jan (sorry I can't find it online) about an emerging role in organisations - the Human Resources/IT manager.

The paper defines the role as
For the most part, Schafer said, the human resources/IT manager will be part of the IT department and report to a CIO or to someone who reports directly to a CIO. In smaller companies, though, the manager will report to human resources, but the support piece of the job will remain in IT.

Among the tasks assigned to the human resources/IT manager is assuring consistency in the way people-management processes are implemented and used, Schafer noted. For example, the manager would ensure that incentive programs are administered consistently across the group.

Technology is obviously becoming a more and more important part of HR as HR wants to deliver more personalised services directly to the employee, especially in the form of shared services and for the smarter, intranet delivered services. Managing the implementation of this is of critical importance.

I am not entirely sure that this is SO new. HRIS managers are common in most large organisations. The change is probably the scale and impact of the technology.

Job security in UK public sector

The Financial Times reported yesterday that equal numbers of public sector employers expect to cut and increase staff over the next year.

The article notes
the findings also point to a tight labour market throughout the economy but in the public sector in particular. More than 40 per cent of employers surveyed at the end of last year said that one or more of their vacancies attracted not a single candidate. In the public sector the figure rose to 60 per cent.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Technology driving job trends

A short article on Reuters noting that the reluctancy of employment to grow in the US has been due to companies gaining the productivity improvement of the large investment in IT made in the late 90's.

Linked article: Technology advancement and the demand for labour

Europe's immigration policies

Christopher Caldwell's article in Saturday's FT (subscription needed) examines several issues which face companies in Europe, and the states in which they operate.

The article discusses last week's EU green paper on economic migration which could give some workers receiving an American-style 'Green Card', a permanent work-residence permit.

It argues that without a plan to attract more immigrants Europe will not have fewer immigrants, it will just have less legal ones. The International Labour Organisation has recently predicted that Europe could face a 22% drop in per capita income unless measures are taken to reduce the forthcoming labour shortage.

Many companies have started to gain from the newly expanded Europe and the opportunities brought by a larger pool of talented workers, but whilst this is significant geographic mobility of labour is still quite strong and the solution is probably most successful at the margins.

I see no reasons to expect Europe to become more open to immigrants, if anything an aging population could be expected to be less welcoming. Given this it seems likely that companies will build more of a network of interconnected centres around the world, attracted to areas where there is a strong supply of talent. R&D will be a prime candidate for this type of approach, as will any area which is not directly dealing with customers.

What will this mean? Due to the increase in demand for services as a population becomes older or more wealthy and the increasing localisation that this promotes we can expect to see a larger proportion of customer-facing roles in many societies. This does not suggest that roles such as design can depart as great design is usually seen serving local communities, especially of early adopters. Being near the customer can be beneficial.

What is certain is that companies and individuals will adapt. The doom merchants won't be right, economies are dynamic.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Making the case to the CEO

An interesting email arrived today from an old acquaintance:

Hi Andrew,

We're putting together a presentation for a major multinational to convince its chief executive that he needs to invest more in the website. From the point of view of recruitment/HR, what in your opinion would be the 'killer' argument / fact/ example to put before the king?


Is there a killer argument? I am not so sure but here goes:

Thanks for the email.

Before you can convince the CEO to invest more in the HR and recruitment parts of his internet site you should be confident that they believe that they should be communicating to all stakeholders more effectively. Employees and job candidates are one very large group. The internet is one channel.

Each stakeholder group needs to look at company information in a different way. Let's think about the CEO announcing they are opening a new factory, then the shareholders will want to know predicted returns, the customers how this will cut the waiting list for the products, suppliers how this will change their supply chains and candidates if this creates new opportunities. Each stakeholder group needs the information with a different emphasis.

You can get an understanding of the size of these groups by looking at where people go on the existing site. Of course this will give you an understanding of the size of the group, not the importance of it.

Research that we've done shows that there is considerable overlap between the stakeholder groups with customers also likely to consider employment with the firm. Therefore giving candidates a great experience could aid building stronger customer-loyalty.

Recent reports show that online is the largest channel for recruitment communications and advertising (even if the CEO still expects to get his next role from a call from one of the big search firms). It can be effective, efficient and timely. It is a channel in which it is possible to build loyalty with a large number of individuals.

The great news for the CEO is that the HR / recruitment part of corporate websites is one of the most neglected. If they move quickly and with intent it will be possible to build something which competes aggressively with their competitors for the best talent, and to take a leadership position in this market.

It is not necessarily the investment that you need to get, it's their commitment and energy. A good start would be to take one of their brightest marketeers and get them to focus on this stakeholder group, building content and improving the experience. If they create a user-focused site candidates will tell their friends.

I hope that helps

Andrew


What do you think? Add a comment and we'll use the best.

Update

Shel Holtz posted a follow-up to this on his blog.

Bob Lutz on managing change

I've been fascinated by Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM's new FastLane blog. Like many bloggers I have been impressed by this demonstration of building community with GM's stakeholders.

His views of managing corporate change (a transcribe of a recent presentation) are well worth a read.

One of my favourite bits:
One of the more disturbing features of our current preoccupation with change is the presumption that all change is good. Look at the language that the human resources people put on employee review forms today: 'Does the employee embrace change?'

I conjure the image of fast trackers desperately looking in every nook and cranny of the company for some undiscovered and unembraced dollop of change that they can put their arms around and squeeze.

That's silly, of course. Change has no inherent normative value at all. Some change is good. Some is bad. People ought to be evaluated based on whether they can tell the difference, not on whether they obediently and mindlessly embrace unexamined change.

This week the job of a 'change agent' is top of my priorities, given that I am presenting on the subject to a senior group next week. What are the issues? How will the change agent's role change over time? How do you measure their contribution?

In times like this there is nothing better than a bit of experience.

Why new communication channels fail

Shel Holtz has posted an article about why some new communication channels fail within companies. He notes that:
Whenever IT is the only department involved in the launch of a new technology, technology is all employees get. "Here you go everybody. We've installed e-mail for you. Godspeed."

As a result, employees figure out how to use the technology based on personal preferences rather than a companywide imperative.

A good summary from a leading commentator on corporate communications.

HR struggling with metrics

A survey by The Conference Board looks at the shift towards implementation of HR metrics that link to company strategic targets, but points out that there is a long way to go. It notes that:

The survey shows that companies are still struggling to mesh people metrics with overall corporate goals. Only 31 percent of survey participants say that HR executives in their companies have a strong understanding of strategic key performance indicators. Even fewer (25 percent) surveyed consider their HR leaders capable of linking people measures to such indicators or (16 percent) believe that HR professionals receive extensive training to connect people measures to strategy.

While 51 percent of survey participants say that the HR professionals in their companies are partially capable of identifying talent critical for implementing strategy, only 22 percent say these executives are fully able to identify strategic talent pools.


A full report is available to buy.

Having more than one boss

The Guardian had an article about the stresses of having multiple bosses for PAs and secretaries in the UK. Job design and clear communication, of course, seem the solution.

Friday, January 07, 2005

When to use cost per hire

There are many voices saying cost per hire is a poor target, most of them saying quality per hire is a more important aim (there are issues with this, especially in the accurate valuation of something which is often partially subjective)

Well, cost of hire does have a place, but that place is unlikely to be found in the overall aggregate.

Aggregate cost per hire figures are poor indicators or success and focusing on them is likely to have detrimental effect. Cheap hiring is often slow, without a customer focus.*

Another reason cost per hire is usually wrong is that calculations are often poor. Too often the cost of a recruiters' time is ignored (or aggregated over the whole year). What you need to do is define a 'cost per hour' of each recruiter and assign this. Probably your largest cost stops becoming invisible.

Where cost per hire is more valuable is tracking at the micro level, especially at describing the costs of sourcing applicants.

Start coming closer to the real cost of each source and 'cheap' sources suddenly stop being cheap. Proactive sourcing (using web searches etc.) is time intensive. You want to assign a true cost to each channel.

When you do this you can start measuring the true cost of using each channel and therefore determine the most effective ones. Get some great data and you can split it a multiple of ways.

Measuring cost per hire is like measuring GDP - it will get revised over time. Say you run a national ad for a role and the ad costs USD 10,000. You hire from this and your cost per hire takes the full USD 10,000 into its calculations

Two months later one of your colleagues takes on a role, does a resume search and finds someone that applied to the earlier role. They were wrong initially, but for this new role are spot-on. The hire is made.

The USD 10,000 charge is now split over two roles and that ad becomes better value.

Whilst you might not be interested in knowing how much Bill in purchasing cost to acquire, you are interested in knowing costs of each sourcing channel. You really need to be thinking of each marketing thing you do and determining how to track this spend. You need to understand how marketing for one role impacts the costs of another.

Looking at cost per hire this way is useful as it enables you to make decisions that will influence the efficiencies of the marketing mix of future roles. Aggregate information won't help you run a better department, it will only tell you what you have done and history is something few of us can change.

* Of course, if you were being really smart you could look at the cost of not having someone in the role for the period of the search, and then the slow hire becomes very expensive, very quickly.

The shifting face of HR

David Kippen, whose blog I referred to recently, has posted a comment to one of my earlier articles which I recommend all in HR take time to read.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Redeployment - great hires on your doorstep

Why do we all miss some of the best solutions because they are staring us in the face?

I have yet to meet a company who is truly great at redeploying its people. Not just the ones on the 'talent list' but the whole workforce. Successful hiring is about getting the right person into the right job at the right time and many firms simply don't do this.

I have also to meet a firm who devotes as much money, resource or energy to redeploying its people as it spends on hiring new ones.

Why should this be so high on your agenda. Well a few things:

Redeployment saves money.

Do the sums, even count in time involved. Significant savings is another way of looking at it.

Redeployed staff are more productive

The time it takes for someone to become fully productive in a job is reduced if the person already knows the organisation. They have a network in place, know where to find information, know some of the history. These things take time. The ability to 'hit the ground running' if far greater if the individual only needs to learn the new job, not the organisation as well.

Redeployed staff are less likely to leave.

There is a simple relation between time spent in the firm and chance of leaving in most firms - the longer you are there the less likely you are of moving on. Results such as 35% of staff leave in their first year but only 2% of staff leave between their 15th and 16th year are common. Given that many surveys show the cost of replacement is somewhere in the region of 150% of salary then hiring staff who aren't likely to leave should be a high priority.

Redeploying staff helps staff feel that they are being developed

Challenge and staff development usually come very high to the most important factors of job demand. Development isn't just about a training course, it is about situational learning, new challenges. This sort or development is more productive for the firm and ultimately more firm-specific.

focusing on the internal labour market means you lose less to competitors

One of the most stupid HR policies, but one that I see over and over again is 'you must be in your role for X months before you can move on' or 'you must ask your manager's permission before applying'. Do your staff need to ask permission or be in a role X months before applying to a competitor?

Everyone has roles that don't pan out the way they expect (see those 35% leaving in first year figures). As a firm you need to accept this and make it as easy for your staff to move onto something where they are the right person.

How about targeting managers on how many of their staff move on within the firm?

What does this mean?


Well just posting an ad on your corporate intranet won't work. It will get the active seekers but hiring is about getting the best person, and that person might be passive. Have you built an internal CV database? Does the hiring team know what people want to do next? Be active. (You will need a good process here but it is possible).

You should be thinking of job publicity. How about your internal audit team having an open day (or evening) with an explanation of what internal audit is all about? Get them to meet the team, chat with people who have moved on to great things after a post in the department. Create some buzz.

Bring in technology. Build employment related stories and send them to interested parties. Create 'good news' which is targeted towards a future hire and let people subscribe to these channels. How about RSS for that? Do your colleagues really know what other departments do, where the opportunities are? Build interest communities.

Not only will this mean you redeploy people better, but they will start to refer people they know. Ask them if they know someone suitable and remind them of your referral programme.

So, what are the problems?


Well, first is to get over the traditional HR mentality and starting seeing it as a great opportunity. You need to communicate that you want to help them manage their careers (yes, take some of that responsibility back, just like you have done for that talent list already). There are decisions to be made, many will be highly political. You need good sponsorship for this.

Second, there is often a perception that your own staff aren't as good as external people (where are the stats to prove that all new hires are better than existing staff?). This happens because of what economists call 'Asymmetric Information'. The Economist describes this as:
When somebody knows more than somebody else. Such asymmetric information can make it difficult for the two people to do business together, which is why economists, especially those practicing GAME THEORY, are interested in it. ... This kind of asymmetry can distort people's incentives and result in significant inefficiencies.

In this case you know far more about your internal candidate than the external one. The external one presents only their best aspect so there is an impression that they are more talented. Better selection data can help reduce this, as can standardising the process for internal and external candidates. Either way, you need to know it exists and deal with it.

Getting deployment and the internal job market to work could be your most valuable contribution this year.

Wage inflation especially for manual workers

Further evidence of the polarisation of labour demand emerged today when the UK's Daily Telegraph published an article on wage inflation.

It reports that

Basic pay rises hit 3 per cent in November, up from just 2.2 per cent in September, with particularly strong rises among manual staff. Total pay rises, including bonuses, remained steady at 2. 8 per cent, and stood below the latest official figures for October that put the growth in average earnings in both the public and private sector at 4.2 per cent

...manual staff saw their basic pay jump from 2.6 per cent to 3.6 per cent between September and November, compared with a rise from 1.9 per cent to 2.7 per cent for clerical staff and from 2.3 per cent 2.7 per cent for managers.

Andrew Walker of Croner who conducted the research commented

Basic pay rises hit 3 per cent in November, up from just 2.2 per cent in September, with particularly strong rises among manual staff. Total pay rises, including bonuses, remained steady at 2. 8 per cent, and stood below the latest official figures for October that put the growth in average earnings in both the public and private sector at 4.2 per cent


Related previous article: Technology advancement and the demand for labour

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The internal brand

David Kippen on his Thought Strategy blog has posted a wonderful article on what he describes as the 'internal brand'.

This is a man who certainly 'gets it'. Well worth a read.

Need for accessible recruitment websites - for all

This time last year I was involved in an industry group setting some guidelines for recruitment websites. It was quite an exciting project with organisations such as McKinsey & Company and Macromedia advising the group.

I would love a US reader (& I know that is most of you) to give me a perspective of the US perspective, but from a European, and especially UK perspective it is clear that many firms are failing in this area.

Why should you be worried about disability access? I think that there are two main issues:

1) Disabled people make up a significant part of the workforce, or at least working age. There are 6.9 million in the UK, about 386 million worldwide. Missing out on these people is foregoing a large number of highly talented individuals. You can't be serious that 'we want the best people' unless your market is as broad as possible.

2) In many countries, a company relying on web-only applications with an inaccessible website and system is breaking the law.

There is a great website which discusses this more than I ever could called barrierfree-recruitment.com I would recommend reading it, sending it to all your colleagues and your IT department with a 'do we comply?' message. Your IT department can download Macromedia's excellent white paper.

What prompted me to put this on? Well it was Nestlé's statement on their recruitment website that:

please note you will not be able to access this system if you are using a MAC or any other kind of Internet Browser software apart from Microsoft Internet Explorer (eg. Mozilla or Firefox).


Call me cynical but I would imagine a company as large as Nestlé could afford to get their site tested (and hence usable) by most of the main browsers. This site gets about 25% of users using Firefox, but is probably unusual. Even so given designing to web standards costs little and makes absolute business sense. On the subject they could also have tested to ensure that when you progress you don't get a 'SAP Internal Server Error' message. At the moment Nestlé is a great example of 'how not to do it'.

Being able to read using a screen-reader such as Window-Eyes or JAWS should be a high priority. Given that Apple has announced system level screen-reading support into it's next version of the operating system I predict Apple will pick up a large proportion of the disabled community quite quickly. Screen readers are expensive.

Finally it is worth having a think about how people will use your site. Will smartphones be a good channel, or even gaming consoles. You should be asking your designers to think about viewers other than standard computers.

Update:

US sites worth reviewing include business-disability.com; hirepotential.com; jobaccess.org; justonebreak.com. A great online tool to give you an idea of how well your website performs is available at the Bobby site from Watchfire.

Work becomes more demanding / less certain

Canada's Globe and Mail has surveyed several prominent HR commentators on changes in the world of work in 2005.

Among the findings are a concentration on office productivity through redesign of roles and an increasing use of temporary and contract staff.

What leaders really did

A wonderful article in The Daily Telegraph entitled Captains of Industry tend to be good sports. It is worth reading the full article, especially those of you involved in graduate recruitment. Highlight - 95% of top business people had leadership roles at school.


Update:

The survey form which the article is based is also commented on in The Independent, BBC News and the Financial Times

84% would leave for more flexible hours

A report in the FT says that a survey by recruitment consultancy Woodhurst has found that 84% would leave their company for a job with more flexible hours. 88% would leave for more money.

It is worth noting that many recruitment company surveys survey the people that they know, thereby asking people already interested in leaving (and hence getting very high figures). The similarity in the figures matches my early findings on the links between desire for more money and work-life balance.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Thinking of the customer

Gretchen on the Technical Careers @ Microsoft threw in one of my favourite themes recently in a wonderful post on the success of her blog:

I've said this many times, but often when corporate recruiters think about their 'customers,' they consider their company as a whole, their hiring managers, the VPs they support, even the individual interviewers. But all too often, they place a lower emphasis on what I consider to be one of the most important customers... the external applicant. Besides being committed to ensuring external applicants have a positive, smooth experience, in-house recruiters need to understand the importance our external applicants play in the livelihood of our company. You buy our products. You use our services. And a recruiter serves as a key ambassador of the company. Treating an external applicant with deserved respect can make the difference between a future customer ... or an ex-customer.


You can see my findings about treating the candidate as a customer in a few posts; in 'Understand what matters to the candidate', in 'Do you know more about your customers than your staff' and in 'Linking the corporate and employment brand'.

Recruitment managers pandering solely to the desires of the hiring manager is rather like a marketing manager thinking their only client is the head of manufacturing. Sure they need to act in a professional manner, providing relevant feedback and responding promptly but those should be taken as granted. In the short term it is unlikely that they have an alternative channel.

Far too often HR folk think that employment brand (which is after all a subset of the corporate brand) is a question of working with an ad agency to make their advertisements pretty. It isn't. It's about working through all of your recruitment activities and saying 'how would I feel if I was a candidate going through this'. Few do this really well.

So, get rid of those 'if you don't hear from us presume we don't want you' messages (is it really too much for you to figure out how to reject someone so they will want to come back again for another try). Would you buy from Amazon if it took 1 hour to go through it's buying process? No, so why do you make candidates go through a similar time to apply? Do your competitors?

External recruitment companies on the whole have a much better attitude to the candidate. They realise that they have to be sold to, and the best ones will do so in a sustainable manner (ie so they get referrals because they are professional). And guess what - that is now what you the internal recruiter are benchmarked against. If you take 2 weeks to respond to a CV and the agencies take 1 day at most guess who they think is smarter? In fact the 24 hours is now what they expect and your 2 weeks is seen as poor performance.

The customer is king, and in a tight labour market your candidate is your main customer.

Recovering from a 'break'

I'm starting to get back from the prolonged Christmas / New Year break, ploughing through the emails, catching up on news etc.

The break was good & a great time to do some relaxing (never very good at that one) and spending some quality time with my wife and family. Skiing started to get better after a late snowfall here in the Alps. Megeve on Boxing Day was lovely and it was great skiing with my father again. Since then we've skied Megeve again (busy but enjoyed a very fast 2km piste and some 'between the trees in the powder' fun) and The Grand Massif / Flaine area which was a bit stony (and all the blacks were closed).

Over the coming days I will publish a few articles that I have been thinking over. Of course, if you have any suggestions please drop me a comment.