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Is Internal Referral Hiring The Best Way to Find Talent?

February 8, 2013 Leave a comment

referral hiring ATSThere’s a well known saying in the job market; “It’s not what you know, it’s who you,” and in today’s market that has never been more true. More than ever, it’s important for companies to not only keep track of who they hire, but also where they find their candidates. With so many variables involved, external resumes, various job boards, social networks, and referrals, having an effective applicant tracking system in place is vital when it comes to verifying which methods work best for your company.

A recent New York Times article profiled a large employer that receives nearly half of their new hires from employee referrals. According to this and other employers it is these recruits that are the cream that rises to the top of the crop.

But does knowing someone necessarily make a person a good candidate? In many cases it does. John Sullivan, an HR consultant that teaches management at San Francisco State University calls the job board, Monster.com, Monster.ugly and says that it carries a stigma. He also says sending a resume without a connection, preferably someone within the company, is like sending it to a “black hole.” While it does make things more difficult for the long term unemployed, it does bring in higher quality candidates. Those who spend time not using their skills do lose them, and often their network.

When companies do take the risk and hire someone who has been unemployed for an extended period of time, they often pay for it, because the employee may not be as skilled as they believe they are, and may not stay in the position either from their own admittance of their shortcoming, or because the employer recognizes that keeping them employed is no longer cost effective. Hiring a new person not only means paying their salary, but also paying for their training, background checks, and other assessments. In 2007, Training magazine reported that even established employees cost companies an average of $12,000 per year in training. That just increases for new or “rusty” workers. When over 600 CEOs were interviewed by Harvard Business School about hiring midlevel managers, they reported that it normally took more than six months just to break even.

While internal referrals are a good way to go, and do account for about half of new hires. Some hiring segments simply aren’t tracked effectively by most companies, notably contingent workers, such as temporary contract workers and freelancers, are often not tracked at all. While many companies don’t seem to make this a high priority, those who do include these workers as a part of their applicant tracking system find that they represented around 13% with the number expected to grow, Since these workers are hired for more focused tasks, employers are often able to identify a worker’s potential without making the investment of full on training. It also gets workers a chance to meet and network with others for future referral opportunities.

For many companies, internal referrals may be the way to go, however not all companies are the same. To find what works best in your organization it is important to track your own hiring process and evaluate the data specific to you.

Why your Business Needs Software as a Service

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a growing business model that can provide a great new perspective to companies that need to utilize software applications for their everyday operations.   Today, there are thousands of SaaS applications that can handle everything from corporate recruiting and lead generation to inter-organizational collaboration.

In the past, antiquated ‘bulk’ pricing methods often left companies high and dry without the desired results from a software application. Software as a Service changes the game completely, allowing companies to choose their own pricing plan and get the most bang for their buck, so to speak.

One question that often arises is: why didn’t SaaS happen before?  If it’s so great, why now?  The answer is, cutting edge internet technologies have recently allowed SaaS companies to provide their technology to clients at minimal costs by leveraging cloud computing, open development, and flexible software models.

If your business hasn’t tried out a SaaS specific to your industry, here are several reasons to get going now:

1. Ready-Made

Just as you would save time from cooking by picking up some ready-made food, SaaS is also ‘ready made’ for specific industries.  For example, SaaS Recruiting Software is tailored specifically for hiring managers and recruiters, and is often developed by them. The cost and time it would take for a company to ‘cook up’ their own tailor-made software package would be enormous compared to utilizing a SaaS solution. Deploying SaaS for your company is fast, and will have immediate results.

2.  The Most Bang for Your Buck

Many SaaS providers charge a monthly fee that can be cancelled at any point if the services provided are not adequate.    This low risk program allows a business to evaluate the success of the software package on an ongoing basis to decide if they want to continue its use.   This is in strict opposition to the B2B software models of old, that often had large upfront costs and strict contracts that required a customer to take a big risk.

3.  No Installation Required

The majority of modern Software as a Service solutions live ‘in the cloud.’  This means that these programs are fully accessible online and don’t require  installation onto a specific computer for use.  Not only does this save a business time and resources during the installation process, but it also allows a company’s employees to access the system anywhere, anytime.

4.  Expert Support

Because Software as a Service is often industry specific, many SaaS providers also are experts in that industry.  This industry expertise translates to far better support than your traditional ‘broad spectrum’ software package.  How many times have you spent countless hours on a support line, just trying to get to the right person within an organization?  With SaaS support, anyone you get on the phone will most likely be able to answer your questions.

5.  Real Time Collaboration

Because many SaaS packages live online, they tend to stress a collaboration and ‘social networking’ aspect that many older software models tend to forget.  We live in a world where Facebook and Twitter are mainstays of communication, allowing for real-time updates and news.  Online SaaS takes a similar Web 2.0 view of business, allowing employees to communicate and view incoming data in real-time.

Improve your Company’s Interview and Applicant Selection Process

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s an understatement to say our team spends a lot of our time thinking about hiring and recruiting. Over the last decade we’ve gained experience by heading recruiting companies and corporate recruiting departments, which eventually lead us to start a company that builds recruiting software. Team building has always been an integral piece of our experience.

When we started our first company an important piece of advice we got was to develop a detailed selection process. This process involved creating a framework to evaluate our applicants efficiently and rapidly to keep up in an extremely competitive market. We even enlisted the help of an industrial psychologist to streamline our interview process, which still works today.

One thing we’ve noticed is that most of our customers are also in very difficult environments for finding good people. Engineers, IT guys, sales stars, marketing masters and various other talent is hard to come by. In addition, the recovering economy makes this pool of top talent even smaller than usual.

So how do you make your hiring process more efficient? First, get your hands on some simple and amazingly efficient applicant tracking software.

Second, start interviewing smarter. It is clear that finding the top talent is becoming harder and harder, so you need to adapt. Instead of only looking to increase your hiring throughput, try to build on the skill-sets of current employees to increase their value. Think of it like a baseball team’s farm system, structured to build talent over the long run. A well run interview process won’t only prevent bad hires, but it will also prepare for a long tail recruiting efficiency.

We practice creating simulations of real-world situations during our interviews to reduce the risk of bad hires and also to allow us to measure a candidate’s ability to adapt. Overall, there are three key characteristics and metrics that that we often refer to during interviews:

Start with Ability

Obviously, if the potential candidate does not possess the ability to do the job at hand, none of their other qualities matter. It doesn’t matter if this person can fit into the corporate culture or the long term picture if they aren’t able to complete the task at hand. There is no point in wasting your time, as well as the candidates’, if they can’t pass the test of basic requirements for the job. That is why we always start with a measure of the candidate’s ability, which most often is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

Move onto Talent

Talent is most often gauged through posing problem solving situations to the candidate and seeing how they react. This will tell us how this person’s skill set can be optimized for our company’s long term objectives, like scaling a product or expanding to new vertical arenas.

Finish with Character (last but not least)

If a candidate is extremely skilled, has all the abilities to complete the job, and fits into a company’s long term objectives, they would seem like a shoe-in. However, if their character doesn’t jive with your management practices and work culture, they shouldn’t be a sure hire. Character is symbiotic with employee retention: employees that don’t fit in, probably won’t last.

Some ways to measure character are interview questions that test a person’s behavioral and psychological disposition. The person’s responses can be measured not only with the content of their answer, but also on their delivery (body language, inflection, etc.)

Even if you have the best tools in the recruiting business, your interview process needs to be polished to make good hires. This ‘balance’ between an efficient process and wise assessment requires training, feedback and strategy on all fronts.

Top 5 Ways to Organize your Small Business

October 12, 2009 Leave a comment

blackboardRunning a small business or start up can be a daunting task because most of the primary day to day responsibilities often fall on the shoulders of one or two owners.  There are a multitude of tasks to keep track of, including accounting, hiring, marketing, financial forecasts and deadlines for clients.   Sometimes, it can be overwhelming for one person to juggle so many different tasks simultaneously.

I’d like to take a moment to go over several simple tools and methods to help small business owners keep track of and prioritize the various tasks involved in operations.

1.   Use a Whiteboard

Whether it’s a whiteboard, blackboard, bulletin board, or a simple notepad, try to keep a weekly log of primary tasks up front and center.  While there are a plethora of online programs and tools for organizing daily/weekly tasks, it helps to back it all up with a basic pen and paper list.    It is integral to have this weekly ‘grail’ to refer to when you hit a wall – try placing it in the center of your office for everyone to see.  Utilize different colors or check boxes to re-enforce accomplishments or the completion of a task.

2.  Use Google Documents

While Microsoft Word is still the standard in word processing, Google Documents has several advantages that make it the perfect online tool for inter & extra-office collaboration.   Need to brainstorm a list of potential clients for your wedding cake business?  Simply hop on Google Docs, create a new sheet, and share it with as many collaborators as you like.  The whole team can then log onto the document and make edits ‘live,’ to avoid the hassle of huge email chains or lengthy phone conversations.  Also be sure to try out Google Spreadsheets, a MS Excel alternative that allows you for seamless organization and collaboration.

3.  Use Recruiting Software

If you are a small business is the process of finding the best talent available, the task can become process intensive and  fairly complex.  Keeping track of multiple candidates, reviewing resumes and tracking progress can drastically slow your company’s forward movement.

One way to combat this small business brain freeze it to utilize a recruiting software package to track applicants, manage resumes, and provide a collaboration tool for your hiring managers.  Many modern day recruiting software solutions live completely online, making it incredibly simple to access and utilize with the click of a mouse.

4.  Prioritize with Flexibility

Sometimes, when it’s just you and 500 different tasks, there will be a tendency to jump from one task to another before completion. This can be good and bad.  It’s good to be flexible and not bang your head against any one task  if you aren’t making any progress.   Sometimes it helps to step back, breathe, and come back to something with a new outlook.   However, if your mind wanders too far and too often, nothing will end up done.  Try to find the balance between priority and flexibility that allows you to find a natural rhythm in completing weekly tasks.

5. Early Calls

If part of your business involves contacting potential clients, cold calling, emailing or collaborating with various individuals, I would suggest using the first half of the week for this.  People have the natural tendency to be more receptive during the first half of the week.  After Wednesday many potential business contacts begin to fade into their weekend shelters.  Getting a hold of these people on Monday or Tuesday will make the second half of your week far more productive.

Top 5 Best Looking Online Applications

September 1, 2009 Leave a comment

As the summer winds down many people will start to slack on their workout regiments and dieting fads in preparation for the winter. Beach-toned bikini bods will give way to blubber concealing puffy knit-sweaters, and soon enough only the summer memories will be keeping us going through the dark winter days.   Lucky for us, the most beautiful online software applications will continue to show skin throughout the winter, keeping their interfaces trim and efficient as ever.

‘Best-Looking’ is a category more often found in high school yearbooks than software design reviews; application critics are fonder of specific terminologies like ‘navigational elements’ and ‘interaction design.’ I’d like to throw the specifics out the window and concentrate on the straight-out best looking, curvaceous, saliva-inducing app. designs on the web.

1. Pandora:

The online radio service, Pandora, has long been the hallmark of a slick online application. From its refreshing, cool blue color scheme to its curvy card-like song icons, Pandora is a looker.   Pandora also has an integrated advertising platform that completely swaps the entire application background when a new advertiser appears. Although many would say this large design migration is disturbing, it actually sits better than tiny ad swaps or ole’ the inescapable hovering banner trick.

2. Tumblr

This Twitter competitor lets users ‘tumble’ various stories, links, images and videos out to the web. Although twitter wins as far as it’s ability to efficiently reach a group of followers with a message, Tumblr gets the award for prettiest ‘real-time news platform.’ Tumblr’s beauty may be the result of the site’s user base, who are fond of posting dazzling landscapes, closeups of delicious foods and quirky pictures of star wars figurines in real-life situations.   Beyond the appealing content, Tumblr possesses a simple yet attractive interface that keeps the people coming back to it.

3. Newton Analytics

Newton Software is a recruiting software solution that is fully accessible online, offering features that allow businesses to announce jobs, review resumes and track applicants.  The company recently launched a new reporting suite, Newton Analytics, that is simply beautiful to behold. Clearly the reporting functionality is quite advanced, allowing users to analyze dynamic data and target bottlenecks before they happen.  Newton Software is  equally advanced in its stand-out design: providing slick graphing modules, handy drop down menus and a relaxing blend of colors.

4. Google Adwords

Google recently upgraded the look of its money-making advertising platform, going from about a 4 to a 10.  The new adwords interface very closely mirrors the Google Analytics platform (which could also be considered a contender for best-looking.) Fancy graphs, soothing gradients, and enticing new tabs are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the updated Adwords.  Although many nay-sayers complain about Google changing up a tried-and-true design, the newer version proves that it doesn’t hurt to be good looking.

5. Hulu

Although Hulu.com was launched with a public bias it was able to eventually gain footing as a very popular video portal.  Hulu certainly posses advantages over YouTube in its exclusive access to network television content, but it also has the edge when it comes to looking good.  Watching online video content on Hulu is akin to watching a football game from the owner’s box:  it’s not as nitty-gritty as many other ‘bleacher’ video sites, but it feels exclusive and has a multitude of perks.   From the background dimming options to the slick control panel to the wide-screen view, Hulu is clearly the centerfold of online video.