How to Screen Potential Candidates Online – Top 7 Tips

The Undercover Recruiter

Recruitment and Career Secrets Revealed

How to Screen Potential Candidates Online [Top 7 Tips]

There are many terms for it in the corporate recruiting world: data mining, identity research, online screening or social recruiting. No matter the term, more than 90 percent of employers say they use social media to find employees.

For most employers, this online screening is an important part of their due diligence – using public information posted by the candidates themselves. If you, like most employers, are planning on looking into the Internet presence of your potential hires, here are a few ways to make sure you do it right.

1. Start With a Search

GoogleYou may be surprised just how much information you can find with a Google search, but it would be your first step when digging into a potential employee. Of course, a search can become clouded with results if a candidate has a common name, so dig a bit deeper into their resume to cross-reference employment claims, association membership or volunteer work. Google can supply a wealth of information if you can target your search properly. Opening a Google Alert on each of your candidates’ names can provide ongoing monitoring throughout the application and interview process.

2. Don’t Wait to Check Their Profiles

If you want to get an accurate view of a candidate’s social media profile, it is important to be proactive. Start researching them before your first contact to arrange an interview or call. Though they are actively searching for jobs, many candidates can be short-sighted in regards to their online personas, only cleaning them up once they know someone is interested. However, a 2010 Technisource study showed that 50 percent of applicants would not change or delete content from their profiles, even if they knew a potential employer would be checking their page.

3. Look for Repetitive Behavior, Not Isolated Incidents

Taken on their own, some pictures or status updates should not immediately invalidate an applicant. It’s important to be realistic about employee behavior. Look beyond occasional images and posts to see if the applicant has a personality or sense of humor that would fit with your company. Only if the candidate shows a pattern of objectionable behavior should you consider losing their application.

4. Find Candidates Who Build a Brand

While too many potential employees may torpedo their job hopes with inappropriate pictures, political rants or dubious associations, just as many will be responsible administrators of their online persona. These candidates will be readily identifiable with even modest digging. Here are a few things to look for on major social networks:

  • Facebook – Look for candidates who share content related to their industry, rather than updates about where they partied last night. Even better, just stick to the Info Page to get a sense of how the candidate portrays themselves. This might not show you who is a party animal, but it will help you avoid some ethical and legal gray areas.
  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn should be every recruiter’s dream. Many people will use it just to share their job status and resumes, but with the wide range of discussion forums and online networking tools, LinkedIn makes it easy to identify candidates who are engaged in the industry and looking to advance. Of all the social networks, searching LinkedIn should give the clearest snapshot of what sort of employee a candidate might be.
  • TwitterTwitter gives much more visibility for online screening, and it can say a lot about any candidate. While Facebook pictures can tell you a lot about someone, how a candidate interacts with a global audience can be more telling. Look for people who engage positively and intelligibly with people and companies.

5. Don’t Penalize Responsible Candidates

It can be tempting to respond negatively to prospective employees who have their online presence so locked-down (or nonexistent) that you can’t find any information on them. Is this candidate too good to be true or just hiding something? More often than not, it just means that the candidate is a responsible manager of their online presence.

Negativity bias is a natural thing for recruiters who are denied information, but a potential employee who is responsible enough to tend their social media will probably make a responsible employee. Rather than penalizing employees who show little information, dig into the information they have provided. Call their references, dig through their contacts on LinkedIn and prepare some extra questions for an interview.

6. Be Consistent With Your Screening

While these public online searches may not be as regulated as a background check, employers should still be careful with what they find. It’s easy to discriminate with information found online, especially since people willingly provide so much through social media. Make sure that you are only screening candidates to see if they would be an appropriate fit for your company culture and work ethic. It is much harder for a candidate to prove discrimination occurred following an online search, but creating inconsistent screening methods is an easy way to land in hot water.

7. Follow Up With Candidates

Finally, don’t let your screening be the end of the story. If a candidate looks like a great employee on paper, don’t let a few online indiscretions rule them out. Follow up on their interests and passions in an interview and ask for reasonable clarification of any concerns you may have.

Cara Barone is the Social Media Marketing Manager at Kforce, a provider of staffing and solutions. Cara also manages Knowledge Employed, a career advice blog for job hunters, seasoned employees and hiring managers. Follow her on Twitter: @CaraBarone

inShare3

photo by: Juancho 507

Guest Blogger

This post is written by a guest blogger. If you are interested in submitting a guest post, check out our Guest Post Guidelines – we look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

You might also like:


5 Ways to Boost Your Twitter Profile


7 Ways College Students Can Benefit from LinkedIn


Time for a Change in Recruitment Sales?

 

Related posts:

  1. Social Media and the Effect on Employee Recruitment [INFOGRAPHIC]
  2. How to Improve at Online Sourcing [Top Tips]
  3. How to Use TalentBin for Social Recruiting [Tips + Video Interview]
  4. INFOGRAPHIC: How To Recruit Passive Candidates Online
  5. Who Are You? You Recruiters Know Nothing!

Filed Under: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Recruitment, Screening, Twitter Tagged With: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, online, screening, Twitter

Advertisements

Employee Resolutions for 2013: They Want a Raise – and Maybe, a New Job

HR NEWS & TRENDS
Employee Resolutions for 2013: They Want a Raise – and Maybe, a New Job
by John Hollon on Nov 30, 2012, 10:20 AM | 0 Comments

When was the last time you actually kept a New Year’s resolution?

If you are anything like me, you probably go into the new year with all sorts of great intentions and plans for how you are going to change for the better. But life goes on, other things happen, and you find you’re lucky if you can even remember your New Year’s resolutions anytime after April 1.

That’s why this new survey from Glassdoor and conducted by Harris Interactive about employees work-related resolutions for 2013, although entertaining and fun, should be read with a bit of a skeptical eye.

The younger you are, the more you want a raise

According to Glassdoor, “One-third (32 percent) of employees said that a salary raise is their top work-related resolution for 2013, followed by looking for a new job (23 percent), improving their performance/rating by their supervisor (21 percent), attending work related training (16 percent), taking/using all their vacation days earned (13 percent), and socializing with work colleagues more (9 percent), among others.”

Then, there was this bit of additional detail: “Younger employees are more focused on securing a salary raise in 2013, as 40 percent of 18-34 year olds say a raise is their top work-related resolution, compared to 33 percent of 35-44 year olds, 20 percent of 45-54 year olds, and 27 percent of 55+ year olds. While most employees favor a salary raise in 2013, employees 45-54 years old say their top resolution for 2013 is looking for a new job (24 percent). Also, 2 percent of employees said their top work-related resolution in 2013 is to help get their boss/supervisor fired.”

Well, I fear for the 2 percent who want to help their boss/supervisor get fired, because that can be a pretty perilous business and more something you would see in Dilbert than actually happening in real life. On the rare occasions when I have seen somebody try this, it almost always ended with the employee, and not the boss, getting shown the door.

Here’s what Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor’s career and workplace expert who has led global HR departments at Electronic Arts and PepsiCo, had to say about the survey results:

As employment confidence gradually improves, it’s no surprise to see employees looking to wrest back control over their own destiny, which is why we see their focus on more money, a new job or a fresh commitment to their on-the-job performance. But good economy or tough economy, adequate and expected take home pay is always top of mind and employees are sending a clear message that they want this most – not only during this holiday season, but next year, too.”

What extra perks would employees prefer?

The Glassdoor survey also asked employees about what extra perks they would most want to be given during the holidays. Again, the list isn’t all that surprising, because money and time off (predictably) top the list above.

The only thing that jumped out at me was that “holiday party with open bar” made the list of something employees might want. Now, I like a good party as much as anyone, but who asks for that rather than a bonus, raise, or more time off? Glassdoor’s Rusty Rueff puts this into perspective when he says:

When it comes to holiday perks, be sure to communicate and draw a line of sight to what made the perk possible. For example, are we partying tonight because the company achieved its annual goals? Did a specific department surpass projections? It’s essential to explain to employees what made a perk possible so they understand their hard work is appreciated and recognized, as well as providing history and context if next year isn’t as good.”

Yes, it is important that employees know what behavior helped them to get rewarded, but isn’t that the basis of a good rewards and recognition system, anyway?

Glassdoor’s 2012 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Glassdoor from November 8-12, 2012 among 2,059 adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,066 are employed full-time/part-time. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

New Year’s resolutions are fun to make and talk about, but unless you have super human willpower, you probably have a hard time keeping them just as I do. When I read this survey of employee wishes and resolutions, what jumps out at me is less about the specifics of what workers are thinking about and more on what direction their thoughts are heading.

In other words, if you look at this another way, this survey tells you again that employees are largely dissatisfied — with their jobs, their pay, and where they are in their working life. No wonder so many employee engagement surveys come back with such bad results.

But that’s just my take. Your view may be a little different.

So again, take this list from Glassdoor with a grain of salt, because like most resolutions, these ones will probably be long gone and forgotten by the time February 2013 rolls around.

John Hollon is Vice President for Editorial of TLNT.com, and the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com. An award-winning journalist, he has written extensively about HR, talent management, and smart business and people practices. Contact him at john@tlnt.com, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnhollon
Tags: Change management, Compensation, Engagement, Generational issues, HR management, HR News, HR trends, paid time off, salary increaseShare on emailShare on linkedin|More Sharing ServicesMore

 

3 Things You Need to Do to Close the Prize Hire (Confessions of a Recovering Headhunter)

Some good ideas here for corporate recruiters…..

3 Things You Need to Do to Close the Prize Hire (Confessions of a Recovering Headhunter)

by

Adem Tahiri

 Nov 28, 2012, 6:21 am ET

I’ve always thought corporate recruiters could learn a lot from “headhunters” — not because I’m biased due to years spent in third-party recruitment (both as a recruiter and manager). It’s just that when I came to the “other side” I noticed one glaring weakness.

Corporate recruiters are very “process driven” and not very good, well, “hunters”; at least that tends to be the case for corporate recruiters newer to the profession. They get the procedures down quickly but they just haven’t been exposed to the world of recruiting and closing higher-level talent. More senior corporate recruiters, on average, have been exposed to both sides and may already use some of the principles I’ll discuss.

A few quick facts about recruiting top talent in the U.S. Currently in the U.S. unemployment is hovering around 8%, yet, more than 52% of employers (according to the Wall Street Journal) say they cannot fill their positions. How can this be? How can we have, in this economy, a jobs gap of nearly 4 million?

We have a lack of talented folks out there. In the U.S., we graduate nearly five times as many liberal arts majors as we do engineers. What this means for you (Mr. or Mrs. Corporate Recruiter) is that top talent is hard to find, and it’s only going to get harder. Before the “great recession” one of the greatest worries in recruitment was the “coming shortage of a skilled workforce” due to retirements of baby boomers. With Wall Street and 401(k)s rebounding, it’s no surprise to see that, in this market, a machinist can essentially “write their ticket.” Stop for a moment, read that again and let it sink in. Wow.

What this means for you, the corporate recruiter, is that Jane Engineer is in demand and knows it. Yes, unemployment is high, but for a Petroleum Engineer? It’s less than one half of one percent; wow. Your organization is depending on you to find these skilled folks and to close the deal on an offer. This is where “thinking like a headhunter” will help you. Headhunters only know recruiting the skilled, the sought after. If they didn’t, no one would pay their outrageous fees. While we can’t go over every trick and tool to snag top talent, here are three simple things you can do in your next interview to land the “prize hire”:

Ask Open-ended Questions

There are two types of questions (as anyone in sales can vouch): open- and closed-ended. Closed-ended questions are “yes/no” questions like, do you have a dollar to spare? Open-ended questions are of the philosophic variety (call me the recruiting Socrates!) and have no definite answer.

The reason this is so important to landing the “prize candidate” is the same reason it’s important in sales: open-ended questions get people talking. Ask questions that are pointed, but open, like: “If there were a handful of things you could change about your current position, what would they be”?

You can’t be afraid to ask that. As they indulge you, take notes, as these are what I call “doctor questions.”

Just like a doctor asks you “where it hurts,” you want to find the pain and write it down. The pain is what you will use to close the deal.

Side note: open-ended questions are great tools in general. Not just in landing a “prize candidate” but in increasing the quality of your talent pool and avoiding mistakes. They essentially give bad candidates “enough rope to hang themselves,” which is good for you.

The Most Important Words in Recruiting Are…

A mentor (and a boss) of mine, years back, found me on a day when I was unusually ornery. He wanted to know why I was feeling so melancholy. When I told him I had had yet another in-demand candidate back out of a job on me, he gave me invaluable advice in this simple phrase: “the most important words in recruiting are: If, Then, is that Correct”.

I can’t tell you how much those words have helped me. In the short term, I stopped feeling like a victim but in the long term they meant much more.

Likewise, I hope they will for you too. The reason these words are so powerful is because it not only “closes” the candidate but it finds any objections they may have while you still have a chance to overcome them.

As you ask your open-ended, “pain” questions and find the pain along the way, you should try minor closes: “so it sounds like, Mr. Candidate, if you had a job with XYX then you’d make a change, is that correct?”

Those small yes’s will lead to the big one at the end when you finally ask for the offer. Just remember to use those magic words: “If, then, is that correct.”

Let Me Paint You a Picture

Finally, you’ve done it. You closed the “prize hire.” They’ve accepted. Well done. Your work is still not done, since 1 in 4 employees making over $60,000 accepts a counteroffer. Know the math — don’t fool yourself. Before I end an interview I always address the issue of a counteroffer; again it goes back to those “pain questions,” which are like ammunition.

This isn’t exact, but my conversation to a candidate is kind of like: “Mr. CFO tomorrow, you’re going to go into work and tell your boss you’re quitting, so let me paint you a picture of what it’s going to look like. All of the sudden all will be well, the XYZ issues you told me about will be solved, and your boss will probably offer you a raise. When he does, I hope you ask yourself, ‘why didn’t he or she offer me this before? When this happens, what do you intend to do?’”

It’s not a comfortable conversation, but I’d rather put the very real scenario that they probably haven’t thought about in their head before they get there. When they do, I don’t want surprises.

No recruiting process will ever be perfect, and there are tools that both corporate and third-party recruiters could learn from each other. However, a lot of the corporate recruiters I’ve managed tend to treat interviews like interrogations. They focus on questions directing a candidate to proving themselves, such as “why did you leave your last job” or “why should we consider you?” They’ll mention some selling points about the company, but the real psychology of a sale lies in asking questions and listening, and then using that information to close your target.

If you’re a corporate recruiter and take anything away from this article, I hope it’s that in order to get the “prize hire” you need to sell them (and close them) as much as they need to sell you. If you take nothing else away, you’ll be a better recruiter for it. Best of luck.

Subscribe to the ERE Daily for all the latest recruiting news.

WAYS TO BE HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE AT WORK

  • November 25, 2012, 12:10 PM GMT

Ways to Be Happy and Productive at Work

Getty Images

The Source has teamed up with the iOpener Institute for People and Performance to find out how happy and fulfilled readers of the Wall Street Journal are at work. The institute has designed a survey to help you establish how happy you are at work, and along with the article below, you can figure out how you can increase your happiness and be more productive. Complete the questionnaire now.

What in the world is happening in the workplace? Economic data over the last couple of years shows a confusing picture of productivity. The U.S. reported a modest increase due to downwards wage pressure, while the U.K., outperformed by France and Germany, has reported more employment but less output.

South African productivity has hit a 46-year low, while even China and India which have been fueling their economies with cheap labor are seeing costs rise as investors eye up cheaper countries or territories in which it’s easier to do business.

Productivity is a combination of many things: traditionally it includes investment, innovation, skills, enterprise and competition. But there’s one key ingredient missing here.

The happiness of employees.

Employees who are the most productive are also the happiest at work.

We know this because the institute has gathered data since 2005, tells us that when you are unhappy or insecure at work you withhold your best effort. You are simply less productive when you’re looking to balance the psychological contract between you and your employer. Which is the reason it matters for both bosses and employees.

So where are you? If you want to assess what’s affecting your performance,complete our questionnaire to get a personalized mini report.

And what do we know about employees who are happiest at work? Our research tells us that they are:

  • Twice as productive
  • Stay five times longer in their jobs
  • Six times more energized
  • Take 10 times less sick leave

And we’ve found other benefits.

Happier workers help their colleagues 33% more than their least happy colleagues; raise issues that affect performance 46% more; achieve their goals 31% more and are 36% more motivated.

If there’s a positive effect, they demonstrate it. Every organization needs happy employees because they are the ones who effectively tackle the tough stuff and turn ideas into actions.

So what should organizations, bosses and individuals do? Our research show that everyone needs to focus on the five drivers of individual productivity because they propel performance and ensure that employees are happy in their work too.

Driver 1: Effort

This is about what you do. You’ll never be productive without clear goals or precise and well-articulated objectives that lead to those goals and without addressing problems that arise on the way. That means the ability to raise issues and have others help you solve them too. That’s what leaders need to make happen and what employees need to push for.

Constructive feedback helps you contribute even more while personal appreciation goes a long way to boosting productivity. Interestingly, negative feedback which is poorly given doubles sick leave, according to our data, and increased sick leave of course affects productivity levels. So one practical thing organizations can do is teach their managers how to give great feedback.

Driver 2: Short-Term Motivation

This is about staying resilient and motivated enough to maintain productivity levels. Our data shows that resilience hasn’t taken a knock over the past few years, but motivation has. It dropped by 23% during 2010 and climbed back by 17% during 2011 but there has been no improvement in 2012.

Of course reduced motivation means it’s harder to maintain high performance and maximize output.

Good organizations encourage motivation by helping employees own issues and take responsibility. And they do that at a level that fits with an individual’s skills, strengths and expertise levels. Those employees are encouraged to work on what they are good at, to prioritize what they do and to build efficiencies into their work.

Driver 3: How Well You Fit Into a Firm

Performance and happiness at work are both boosted when employees feel they fit within their organizational culture. Believing that you’re in the wrong job, feeling disconnected from the values of your workplace or disliking your colleagues is dispiriting and de-energizing and all of that feels much worse if decisions in your workplace feel unfair.

Our investigation of fairness at work doesn’t tell a good story. It tumbled 19% in 2010, rose 9% during 2011 and has been flat-lining during 2012. According to the U.K.’s Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, fairness is connected with discretionary effort: if decisions feel fair, work gets done. If they don’t, employees look for other ways of getting what’s missing, which is when equipment gets broken, work gets sabotaged and things go missing.

Good firms can address this by being as transparent as possible about why decisions are made, explaining why resources are allocated in the way they are and making sure that their approach is as equitable as possible.

Driver 4: Long-Term Engagement

This is about commitment and the long-term engagement you have with what you do and your organization. Having to work hard in a job you feel stuck in is energy draining at best and, as we’ve found, associated with higher illness at worst.

Our data reveals that one of the key items that creates commitment is a belief that you’re doing something worthwhile. And this is particularly important to Generation Y — those born in the early 1980s. If your digital natives, those familiar with digital media and technology, don’t feel they are doing something worthwhile, they’ll be eying the exit and intending to leave within two years; and our numbers clearly tell us that money won’t solve this problem.

In fact more than other generation, Generation Y need to believe in the strategic direction that their employer is pursuing. The more Generation Yers believe in the leadership’s corporate strategy, the less likely they are to leave.

This tells employers that they need to regularly and convincingly communicate the corporate strategy, along with tangible proof of how that strategy is being implemented and the contribution it is making not just to the bottom line.

Driver 5: Self-Belief

If you’re not confident you won’t make decisions, take risks, or spend cash. Confidence is the gateway to productivity and our data shows that a primary indicator of confidence is that things get done. We also found that things get done better, faster or cheaper because people are confident of the outcome.

Right now confidence has a significantly lower average than the other four drivers and that’s a problem because you can’t have confident organizations without confident individuals.

And productivity works in the exactly the same way.

When we collect data, we ask employees how much time they spend “on task” or engaged with their work. This ranges from 78% for those who are most on task, to 41% for the least.

Just to be clear, the people who are most on task also have the highest levels of all the five drivers as well as being the happiest employees at work. In real terms, that 78% is equivalent to about four days a week while 41% is just two days a week. This represents a huge productivity cost to any organization.

In effect an organization is losing about 100 days of work a year for every “unhappy” employee.

If leaders, organizations and industries want to manage productivity and move it in the right direction, it’s time to understand these five drivers, investigate the numbers and to recognize the serious outcomes that happiness at work can bring.

For the second year running, The Wall Street Journal (Europe) is running a global happiness at work index in conjunction with the iOpener Institute to see who’s happiest at work. If you want to take part, click here to get a self-assessment in Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, German, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish. The iOpener Institute will be reporting back on the results of readers clicking through in six weeks’ time.

The iOpener Institute for People and Performance is an international consultancy which conducts research to find practical solutions to workforce issues.

 

 

THE NEW HR COMPETENCIES

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2012

The New HR Competencies  by Cathy Missildine-Martin, SPHR

This past summer at the SHRM National Conference, hosted in my fair city of Atlanta, GA, the new HR Competencies were announced.

I personally had been waiting on these for awhile as I remember participating in the research for the project.

Here are the 9 competencies as determined by SHRM:

1) Technical HR Knowledge (like comp, talent management, recruiting, etc.)
2) Ethical Practice
3) Impactful Communication
4) Consultation
5) Critical Evaluation
6) Global and Cultural Effectiveness
7) Relationship Management
8) Organizational Leadership and Navigation
9) Business Acumen

I was very happy to see that “Critical Evaluation” made the list because I have felt that a competency that included measurement and analytics had been sorely lacking in other models.

I LOVE Organizational Leadership and Navigation as I believe that is what HR people are supposed to be doing.  Here is the formal definition:

The ability to lead or maneuver initiatives and processes within the organization with great agility.

I think the “with great agility” is the part we as HR professionals need to concentrate on.  The ability of HR professionals to ebb and flow with the business is key.

The rest of the list I had pretty much seen before..so no big surprises there.

What do you think about the new list?  Any competency missing?

DISTILL YOUR MESSAGE TO AS FEW WORDS AS POSSIBLE

 | 

Nov 26, 2012

Distill Your Message to as Few Words as Possible

Your customers are constantly being bombarded with new information. Simplicity has never been more powerful.


It’s amazing how complex our lives have become.  Nothing’s simple anymore.  Think about it.  Even your Facebook page has a million things going on.  The increase in complexity has led to a decrease in focus.  It’s hard to know what even matters anymore.

Well the same is true for your customers.  The noise is so deafening sometimes that your most important message can easily get lost in the shuffle.  What are you trying to tell me?  What do I need to know about you and your products?  What is it you want me to remember about you, your company?

Everybody’s talking at once, saying so much, that customers can no longer remember what we started talking about in the first place.  Tweets are flying through the atmosphere as thick as a flock of birds, filling minds with an endless stream of useless information, and crowding out the few things that were really worth knowing.

Why is this so important?  Because the world is noisier now than it’s ever been, the competition is tougher and more global, and your customer is being bombarded around the clock with a massive stream of messaging that makes it ever more difficult to remember you and your company.

What can you do about it?  Focus on simplicity.  To be truly memorable, to be the one product or service that people remember when the dust settles, you need to narrow down your message, streamline your sentences, cut out all the fluff, and deliver one–yes, just one–strong, simple message, and deliver it clearly and concisely.

One of the most valuable skills in the world is the ability to explain complex concepts in simple, easy-to-understand terms.  Writing lots of words is easy.  Making your point with an absolute minimum number of words is really hard.  Yet it is so much more effective.  Mark Twain once said: “I would have written that shorter, but I didn’t have the time.”  Find the time.

Imagine you had a quick minute to tell a potential customer why he should do business with you.  Because in today’s world, that’s all you have anyway.  Write down what you want to say.  Now cross out as many words as you can, each time reading the sentence again to see if it still delivers the point you want to make.  Keep crossing out words until you have created the shortest sentence you possibly can.

Next, go to one person and deliver your simplified pitch.  As soon as you are done, have that person tell a person who wasn’t in the room what you just said.  The goal is this: if a person who hears your simple message can repeat it pretty accurately to the next person who asks what your company does, you’ve got it right.  If they don’t say exactly the words you want repeated–to build your brand and establish your company’s unique value–go back to the drawing board and simplify it some more.  Keep it brief, straightforward, and clear.  Eliminate any industry-specific jargon.  Avoid the noise and clutter.

There is an elegance in simplicity.  Simplicity does not mean removing features, benefits, or services from your product.  It means distilling what’s most importantabout those features, and explaining them in the fewest words possible.  Go ahead, write yours down, and get busy crossing things out.

(Admittedly, I probably could have written this column in only two paragraphs.)

Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of ColorJar, is a serial entrepreneur who was on the founding teams of Priceline.com and uBid.com. He is also a frequent public speaker on the topics of innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership. @colorjar

 

GREAT HR METRICS …from the HR Capitalist

November 26, 2012

GREAT HR METRICS: Innovation Spend/Effectiveness at Your Company…

I’m on the record as liking Revenue Per Employee as the best macro metric on HR effectiveness.

But that’s macro, let’s get micro. Training $$ per employee? Turnover percentage? Does that include involuntary?

<Yawn>….

Let’s roll out something cool, like evaluating innovation spend vs peers. Check out this chart from Business Insider today that shows R&D spend as a % of revenue (email subscribers, display images or click through for the post)

Sai052510

As they say… daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.

So, you can measure your spend on innovation as a percentage of revenue. And when you do that, it tells you some things you would expect – namely, that your competitors are doing what you thought they were doing. Microsoft, Cisco and Google – all leading the pack at over 10% of revenue spent on R&D.

But that of course, tells you nothing about effectiveness. Apple? <insert evil laugh>. Spends about as much Dell – YES DELL – on R&D.

WOW.

Things that make you go “hmmm”

On to the next one.

Signed – in search of metrics that provide clarity on talent issues.

Posted by Kris Dunn on November 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM in Innovation, Talent | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

5 Myths of Human Resources Management – Forbes

11/21/2012 @ 8:05AM |1,791 views

5 Myths Of Human Resources Management

SAP GuestSAP Guest, SAP

By Ray Rivera, Director, Solutions Management, Workforce Planning and Analytics, SAP

One of the more popular features in theWashington Post is its “5 Myths” opinions column, where commonly held misapprehensions about politics, society, and even science are weighed against evidence. Often, the evidence is obtained from top-tier academic journals, large-scale government studies, or national databases, and addresses topics characterized by vigorous, though misinformed debate.

HR is one of those fields where numerous myths endure. Part of the reason is HR tends to be more professional practice than rigorous academic discipline, so there is no foundation of basic science that informs both practitioners and researchers. Indeed many have lamented about the chasm between the two, and have called for a closer partnership. Nevertheless, several myths pervade human capital management (HCM). We’ll explore five of them.

1. All training is beneficial

A multibillion dollar business in its own right, training is universally recognized as a necessary component for remaining competitive. Ample, high quality training is no longer considered a perk, but rather a fundamental component of high performance work systems, and a key differentiator in developing an employer brand. It is so highly regarded by employees that it can be seen as a substitute for wage increases, particularly in the public sector.

But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Research has demonstrated there are optimal levels of spend and hours beyond which there is a decreasing rate of return on investment[i]. Furthermore, not all types of training content yields a positive return. For example, hours of sales training are just as likely to be associated with decreased sales revenue in the following year as increased sales revenue, or not associated at all.

Nor do all employees benefit equally. Effective onboarding training may help early career stage employees achieve quicker time to proficiency, thereby increasing business performance. But it may be of little effect to a mid-career manager, who would more likely achieve business benefits with executive development or interpersonal skills, and only after a few years of tenure.

For analytics, training represents a huge opportunity to increase both its effectiveness and efficiency. Return on training investment can be maximized by gaining precise understanding of which employees (or groups of employees) should be offered training, along with how much, when, what content, and at what stage of their tenure.

2. GPA is a good predictor of high performance

If HR leaders in a lot of knowledge industry companies were to be frank, they would admit they have no idea if candidates for hire have the potential to become high performers. This is no big surprise, particularly since little of what would indicate superior talent is observable either during interviews or in most job situations. So we assume that past success predicts future success, and one of the most ready metrics is GPA.

And why not? Many of the skills needed to achieve a high GPA are also those needed to succeed at work: diligence, intellectual insight, ability to learn abstract concepts and apply them to real situations, and the discipline to complete tasks.

The fact is GPA may occasionally predict short-term performance for some roles requiring little or no prior experience. What little validity GPA might have applies to persons straight out of school, in roles requiring mastery of classroom training content before becoming fully proficient. In other words, success in school situations predicts success in future school situations, not on the job.

Analytics can help us discover invalid predictors so that we can eliminate them from employee selection procedures. Conversely, analytics can help us locate accurate predictors of workforce performance from across larger data sets, and develop competency models and job descriptions that better capture true requirements. Better information leads to better matches, in contrast to the fishing expeditions that characterize most companies’ employee selection.

3. Financial incentives are the best way to drive performance

One of the worst ideas to come out of academia in the last 50 years is the so-called principal-agent problemIt states that executives cannot be trusted to act in anyone’s interest but their own, and need to be threatened or bribed by shareholders in order to behave. Over the past few decades, this cynical notion has infected the entire job hierarchy. As a result, managers and HR professionals often believe the most effective way to get employees and reports to perform is to offer fast money. This is at best a half-truth.

Money does indeed motivate, but not always in the way we want. Because most organizations have only a partial understanding of what behaviors drive performance, they cannot always be sure what they are paying for. Dysfunctional incentive systems will get dysfunctional and sometimes prosecutable results, whether by employees gaming the system or by perverse controls that unwittingly incentivize the wrong behaviors.

In most cases, financial incentives intended to drive performance are effective only in roles where the performance criteria are completely unambiguous and easily measurable, individual performance does not depend on the contributions of coworkers, and necessary job tasks have a clear beginning and end. Those ever popular short-term performance incentives such as spot bonuses tend to be just that, short-term, and do little to increase engagement or long-term performance.

Compensation and performance management represent major opportunities for analytics, by crafting highly specific programs that provide just the right kind and amount of incentives, monetary and non-monetary, short-term and long term, private and public. Analytics can also provide guidelines for developing control systems that reward legal, ethical, and prudent risk taking among managers.

4. Consulting experience predicts manager talent

Few myths are dearer to “War for Talent” combatants than the idea that experience as a strategy consultant, particularly at a Big Three firm, is a signal of exceptional senior management talent. Even Google, whose founders used to proclaim sophomorically on their job board that, “We are not a conventional company. Nor do we intend to become one.”, demands significant consulting or investment banking experience in most roles involving strategy. Like a lot of organizations, Google thinks it can differentiate itself by hiring people from the same talent pool who have been trained and reinforced by practice to think alike.

So why do we see a lot of successful managers who are former management consultants? The answer is selection bias. It is the same reason a lot of successful naval officers are Naval Academy graduates. It also distorts the view of what experiences actually predict success in senior management.

The fact is there is very little scientific evidence to support consulting experience as being a sure bet for adding to senior management bench strength. Consulting talent may in fact be the opposite of what is needed to be a senior manager, as consultants tend to be more entrepreneurial and autonomous workers, less inclined to socialize into the organization. Frequently, they have little patience in dealing with numerous administrative tasks, particularly those detailed and recurrent ones necessary for successful implementation of would-be brilliant consulting advice. Former consultants often falter in people management skills, and accepting constructive feedback.

Analytics can help organizations determine precisely what work experiences, prior knowledge, and activities truly indicate superior management talent, instead of relying on a process whose only justification is that companies with a reputation for being smart are also doing it.

5. HCM is the same thing as HRM

HCM and human resource management (HRM) concern two different parts of the business: the former, processes and communication; the latter, assets and investments.

HRM oversees a critical administrative function that has evolved from a time when the personnel department was the steward of the labor/management relationship. Its duties are centered on extensive recordkeeping, compliance verification, and payroll management.

HRM involves significant hands-on care of a delicate balance of power, keeping channels of communication working between the layers of the organization. HRM’s development from the 1940’s to the present has been driven almost entirely by changes in government regulations and policies, and therefore tends to react to changes rather than being a change agent. HRM is highly labor intensive, and automation can drive HRM effectiveness only partially.

Human capital is an economic force that drives the accumulation of national wealth. Human capital can appreciate and depreciate, and is both a private and public good. Yet human capital does not have property rights, and therefore remains absent from most financial statements unless a transaction takes place under narrowly defined conditions.

How human capital becomes transformed into business value is still a black box, as human capital asset dynamics are only partially understood. HCM analytics seeks to turn the black box of human capital investment into a glass box, using both deep subject matter expertise, and skillful manipulation of data. Yet learning one thing often requires unlearning another. Extinguishing other HR myths may be a necessary first step in bringing transparency to the black box.

[i]See for example, Sugrue, B., & Rivera, R. J. (2005). State of the industry: ASTD’s annual review of trends in workplace learning and performance. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training & Development.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

5 Things That Really Smart People Do

Nov 14, 2012

5 Things That Really Smart People Do

Don’t get in the way of your own learning. Here are five ways to step aside and continue to increase your smarts.

Einstein

Most people don’t really think much about how they learn. Generally you assume learning comes naturally. You listen to someone speak either in conversation or in a lecture and you simply absorb what they are saying, right? Not really. In fact, I find as I get older that real learning takes more work. The more I fill my brain with facts, figures, and experience, the less room I have for new ideas and new thoughts. Plus, now I have all sorts of opinions that may refute the ideas being pushed at me. Like many people I consider myself a lifelong learner, but more and more I have to work hard to stay open minded.

But the need for learning never ends, so your desire to do so should always outweigh your desire to be right. The world is changing and new ideas pop up everyday; incorporating them into your life will keep you engaged and relevant. The following are the methods I use to stay open and impressionable. They’ll work for you too. No matter how old you get.

1. Quiet Your Inner Voice

You know the one I am talking about. It’s the little voice that offers a running commentary when you are listening to someone. It’s the voice that brings up your own opinion about the information being provided. It is too easy to pay more attention to the inner voice than the actual speaker. That voice often keeps you from listening openly for good information and can often make you shut down before you have heard the entire premise. Focus less on what your brain has to say and more on the speaker. You may be surprised at what you hear.

2. Argue With Yourself

If you can’t quiet the inner voice, then at least use it to your advantage. Every time you hear yourself contradicting the speaker, stop and take the other point of view. Suggest to your brain all the reasons why the speaker may be correct and you may be wrong. In the best case you may open yourself to the information being provided. Failing that, you will at least strengthen your own argument.

3. Act Like You Are Curious

Some people are naturally curious and others are not. No matter which category you are in you can benefit from behaving like a curious person. Next time you are listening to information, make up and write down three to five relevant questions. If you are in a lecture, Google them after for answers. If you are in a conversation you can ask the other person. Either way you’ll likely learn more, and the action of thinking up questions will help encode the concepts in your brain. As long as you’re not a cat you should benefit from these actions of curiosity.

4. Find the Kernel of Truth

No concept or theory comes out of thin air. Somewhere in the elaborate concept that sounds like complete malarkey there is some aspect that is based upon fact. Even if you don’t buy into the idea, you should at least identify the little bit of truth from whence it came. Play like a detective and build your own extrapolation. You’ll enhance your skills of deduction and may even improve the concept beyond the speaker’s original idea.

5. Focus on the Message Not the Messenger

Often people shut out learning due to the person delivering the material. Whether it’s a boring lecturer, someone physically unappealing, or a member of the opposite political party, the communicator can impact your learning. Even friends can disrupt the learning process since there may be too much history and familiarity to see them as an authority on a topic. Separate the material from the provider. Pretend you don’t know the person or their beliefs so you can hear the information objectively. As for the boring person, focus on tip two, three, or four as if it were a game, thereby creating your own entertainment.

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies@awesomeroar