What IS Diversity Reruiting?

Diversity HandsAt some point during every year of my career since 1993 the topic of diversity recruiting has been discussed with someone – hiring manager, my immediate manager, my manager’s manager, executives, other recruiters, vendors, and auditors. The conversations have not changed much since the early ’90’s.

*”What are we doing to ensure we are attracting a diverse slate of candidates?”

*”How many diverse hires have we had this year?”

*”We want to advertise on specific diversity sites so we can attract diverse candidates.”

What prompted me to write this post is an email I recently received from a company pitching their ability to recruit diverse talent and that diversity recruitment was one of the “hottest topics in corporate America” today. Really? It has been a topic my entire career and beyond! We discussed diversity recruitment in one of my HR classes in college.

Why are we still discussing diversity recruitment?

Part of the reason is the various government agencies at state and Federal levels that require reporting and proof of diversity recruitment efforts. This has spawned an industry to help you pull your data and get it into an acceptable reporting format along with advertisement plans “to meet your EEOC requirements” and companies that will post your jobs to the required state agencies for you. Another reason is that executives have not been kept in the loop on what their HR and Talent Acquisition employees are doing to meet and exceed these requirements.

My “Ah-Ha” Moment

Let me back this up a bit. During the mid to late ’90’s I met regularly with the two big job boards at the time – CareerBuilder and Monster – to discuss our recruitment strategy. I would ask their opinion on where I should post jobs to ensure that we were attracting diverse candidates.  A rep from one of these sites said – “We have demographic data on our resume database and limited data on those that apply to jobs on our site – candidates go where the jobs are posted.” I thought that was obvious but then replied “What do you mean?” Their response – “An African American is not only going to go to the African American sites to look for a job, Asian, Hispanic or women candidates are not going to only go to the sites that appeal to their race or gender – they are going to go where the most jobs are posted.” We were at lunch so I put my fork down, wiped my mouth and sat silent for a moment and then the full realization of the statement hit me.

This is before “big data”, the onslaught of ATS’s, social media and SaaS services. I was receiving resumes via fax or USPS, printing them from job boards, or receiving resume books from colleges and universities. I had no way of effectively collecting data on our candidate pool. The job boards could analyze their sites and provide information to their clients. That statement – “They are going where the most jobs are posted” – was my diversity recruitment plan. Whether it was CB or Monster back then or Indeed, SimplyHired or sponsored ads on Google more recently that was my plan. Everything else was to meet government requirements and “good faith” efforts or in some cases to pacify a VP. As time went on and technology improved for corporate recruiting I could pull my own data and show that the good faith efforts and unique sites were not going to produce a significant number of diverse hires – if any at all.

Don’t get me wrong – I have consistently pushed my teams and myself to identify new sources and unique sources over the years. In fact, a performance goal I have used many times is to have the recruiter(s) identify at least one new source each quarter. It could not just be a job board posting but a visit with the entity, and some kind of activity – resume writing seminar, interview skills workshop, or job fair. This meant that the recruiters would need to identify a local organization that supported people in some category of “diversity” and build a relationship. If we got a hire out of it – excellent and a great story to tell. If we didn’t get a hire out of it, no worries because I knew that me and my team would be better off for going out. The initial goal may have been a check box on the performance review but my team would always come back and tell me how great it was to help others and they learned something as well. To me this is community involvement or corporate responsibility not diversity recruiting.

My Definition of Diversity Recruiting

Using data from the ATS I have shown the source and diversity make-up of our candidate pool at various employers. Time and again “the statement” kept ringing true. The candidates were coming from sources where the most jobs were posted and consistently the diversity make-up reflected the community we served. Depending on your employer diversity could mean different things when it comes to recruiting. It may not about race and gender but about diversity of thought, or it is purely about the race and gender numbers and for others it is a mix ensuring that hires come from a balance of sources providing a variety of educational, race, gender, veteran, disability backgrounds.

What is diversity recruiting? To answer my own question – it is ensuring that the sources used not only identify the best talent available but expose the openings to all available candidate pools. It is not running ads in magazines or on sites that “will meet your EEOC requirements”. It is working with vendors to learn the demographics of their audience/users and making a decision on posting the job where the most eyeballs are going to see it. Job boards are still very effective in driving a diverse candidate pool and they have relationships with a multitude of diversity sites. The job aggregators will pick them up as well and that will get your posting on the search engines. It’s not sexy, it’s not that creative but it sure is effective.

I welcome your thoughts.

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Recruiting Is Like…..Life!

LifeOver the course of my career I have heard, read and stated that recruiting is like dating and saw it used again during a recent discussion on LinkedIn. A few years ago I realized that I no longer liked the “recruiting is like dating” analogy and noticed that some of the commenters expressed a similar “over use” of the analogy. To me recruiting is like everyday life.

Recruiting has shifted from behind the Oz like curtain to “transparency”; “employer branding” and “candidate experience”. Candidates have become savvy about their job search and treat it similar to other life choices versus spray and pray applications.

Think about it:

  1. Recruiting is like the college admission process – High school students researching what school will best meet their needs geographically, socially, financially, if the college has a solid brand and then make a decision to apply to a set number of schools in three categories: “no chance of getting in but will apply”; “my ideal school and should get in”; “safe schools”. This to me represents the standard recruiting process – colleges seeking applicants, high school students seeking a place to continue their education.
  2. Recruiting is like the fraternity or sorority rush – Freshman entering college have heard of the Greek system and have either made a decision prior to going to college that they will or will not rush, some are unsure and check it out and others have no opinion and go to a rush event because a friend is going. This could be equated to a career fair. Quick meet and greet then a decision is made whether to proceed or not by both involved parties. Some people walk away turned off and others feel that joining will enhance their college experience.
  3. Recruiting is like house/apartment shopping – (see my previous post here) – House hunters can use on-line tools to find housing in a desired neighborhood, close to work, and within their budget. Candidates using similar tools can review the job postings in a desirable geographic area, salary information and if the employer has good ratings or comments before making a decision to apply.
  4. Recruiting is like shopping for a mobile device – Research, short list, engage with the seller and ask questions – information exchanged. Maybe you buy from them and maybe you don’t but now you are in their equivalent of a talent community. They can market directly to you and you can opt out or allow them to do so until a deal too good to turn down pops up.
  5. Recruiting is like finding a pet – A decision is made to add some kind of animal to your household. The prospective new animal owner researches how to obtain the pet, what may be involved in caring for it, visit a shelter, breeder or other purveyor of animals and seeks to find the one they feel will be a nice long term addition to their home.
  6. Recruiting is like finding a – daycare provider/babysitter; gym/fitness center; volunteer organization; car; restaurant the entire family will enjoy; vacation rental….

The job search and recruiting experience has changed. Sure the core components are the same – have a need, post the job, source, screen, interview, offer and close. It all depends on the needs of the candidate and the employer. The candidate may be looking for a company that will give them two years of experience in a field before they apply to grad school, they just need a paycheck, they are seeking a long term career with one employer, they are unhappy with their original career choice and looking to make a change, they need part-time work. Most of the dating analogies refer to the employer and job seeker hoping to find that long term match but what I described could be termed – flings; one night stands; sugar daddy/momma; relationship; rebound; affair.

In today’s world recruiting and the job search are like most everyday decisions or interactions. Employers are marketing (posting, sourcing, social media, videos, career fairs, referrals) to attract potential candidates and candidates are treating it like a consumer purchase.

What are your thoughts?

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What The Job Seeker Should Know About HR

Maze Find A JobHours spent perfecting the resume, researching companies, practicing interviews, networking and submitting the resume to your target companies – and maybe even some non-targeted firms. Hours, days, weeks waiting for a response – any response outside of the automated email from the potential employers. Why haven’t they called or emailed? What is wrong with them? Can’t they see I am the PERFECT fit?!?!

There is no simple answer to give jobseekers about the internal HR or recruitment functions of companies. Prior to the great recession HR departments at larger organizations down to mid-size companies most likely were staffed with dedicated HR Generalists and Recruiters. This allowed for the workload to be split and the recruiters would be focused on finding talent for their company. Now the continuous stream of reorganizations with (what feels like) almost every company the HR departments have been decimated. Where a department once had resources for recruiting, employee relations, benefits, compensation, generalists, managers and directors have now been reduced to generalists handling the majority of the work while they have seen their peers laid off. The larger companies may still have resources dedicated to each function within HR but the staff levels are much smaller with the remaining employees carrying heavier workloads.

Every organization is set up differently from who performs specific duties to systems and processes. When applying to a company it will be difficult to know who might be looking at your resume. Here is a small sample of the different approaches within companies:

• RPO – Recruitment Process Outsourcing – this model is typically used within larger organizations for the “high volume” roles that are heavy on transactional interaction. For example call center positions or front-line retail roles. In this model, the company has outsourced the recruitment function to a staffing firm or vendor that specializes in volume recruiting. A job seeker’s resume may never be seen by an employee of the company or spoken to by one until the in-person interview stage.
• Spaghetti Against the Wall – obviously not an official methodology but a phrase used when company recruiters who forward all resumes to the hiring managers for review and wait to be told who to call. In this model, only a small number of resumes get reviewed with an even smaller amount being called for a pre-screen. The recruiter or HR Generalist may also be supporting multiple departments with 25 – 30+ openings and performing all the administrative tasks associated with processing new hires. In some cases, the person reviewing and forwarding the resumes has minimal to no recruitment training.
• Dedicated Recruiters with support staff – this approach is most beneficial to the company and job seeker. The recruiter has a viable workload of open positions giving them time to effectively review resumes, call candidates and conduct a solid pre-screen. They have an excellent working partnership with the hiring managers and a deep understanding of the business. The Recruiting Coordinator handles the administrative tasks helping to ensure that the candidate and hiring manager have a good experience. Top talent can be culled from those that apply as well as those the recruiter has sought out through other channels. This should help bring in talent that, in theory, will improve the overall performance of the company with reduced turnover.

In today’s environment it is hard to know what type of approach a company may have with their HR department. Understanding that HR departments are varied and operating with reduced staff without any reduction in workload can explain why a jobseeker does not receive a phone call. Knowing that the person who does call may not be a well qualified recruiter but purely conducting a high level screen for fit will help set expectations. Lastly, as hard as it is to do so, try to envision the HR person dealing with an elevated amount of stress and frustration just as the HR person should try to do the same for the job seeker on the other end of the line.



This post was originally created for the job board Jobsite – now defunct.
Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

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The Comeback – Two Year Hiatus is Over

Stretching  STREEEETTCHHH – creak, pop, shake, shake, shake – ok let’s get started.

I have been meaning to re-start my blog writing for a while now and similar to those that take some time off from working out the excuses are easy. Not enough time today I will do it tomorrow – I’m just not in the mood to exert any more energy – Work is getting in the way – I’m not really sure where to begin….

All valid in our minds at the time but we all know what it really is – stall tactic. So, today I decided that’s it – shake off the excuses and get writing. I hope to be able to post at least once a month and have content that will be considered valuable to readers. If not, I count on your feedback directly on the site or through the social channels to improve and provide relevent content.

My last post was about two years ago during another unwanted job search. I did some writing for a now closed job board during that time and plan on using some of those posts on this site. I hope to not have another gap like that again and if I hit writer’s block or no movtivation during a month my plan is to post whatever is on my mind recruiting or non-recruiting related.

I spent the last two years getting my head straight after experiencing a second lay-off within two years. Talk about shaking your inner foundation and ego. I am thankful for all those that kept me going during that time. I focused on my family, new job, external activities (volunteering, youth coaching) and lurking on the sites to keep in touch with the trends in recruiting.

The result – I am ready to share again, ready to put myself out there, ready to engage with the thought leaders within recruiting to discuss, argue, challenge, entertain and ready to learn, grow and hopefully help others.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to the conversation.

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Recruiting is Not Like Dating – More Like House Hunting

In the mid 1990’s a prolonged discussion between myself and a hiring manager was going on about why he should select his top candidate. He had interviewed five candidates and told me he had a top choice so I felt that there was not a need to see additional candidates. I quickly thought of a comeback after he stated that his reason for wanting additional candidates was just to be sure he was making the right choice. Seeing his wedding ring I commented “…so, when you proposed to your wife did you tell her that she is the one but that to be sure you need some time to search the market?” His response was a friendly explicative then the ok to extend an offer to our top candidate.

From that point I had compared recruiting and dating off and on with hiring managers over the years. When blogging became popular within the recruitment space I read several articles/posts also making this comparison and wish I had started blogging sooner to trump those that had written and broadcasted my shared comparison.

I now disagree with this comparison. I think a better analogy to the job search for candidates and recruiters trying to find candidates is the house hunting (or apartment shopping) experience. Consider these:

  • People start their house hunting search by going to the internet and either doing a general Google search or going to a site like realtor.com
  • People have specific wants when trying to find a home – location, size, local amenities, school district, culture of the neighborhood
  • People conduct research on the home and neighborhood by viewing the potential residence on-line, reading reviews of the neighborhood (or builder), asking their friends or family members if they know anything about the  neighborhood
  • New listings receive a good bit of activity when first posted then the activity slows considerably with only serious shoppers taking a look

Recruiters and candidates are using similar tools to find, research and gauge if they want to learn more about each other in ways that house hunters and realtors operate.

There is also one other factor that many people forget during both types of searches. The little annoying detail that gets glossed over by company reputation, salary, benefits or that the little annoyance can be fixed once they start (think move in).

What most people do not realize is that the little annoyance becomes a major frustration because just like in an interview or house hunt it only showed up for a brief moment. It could be a light switch in an odd place, or a squeaky stair only stepped on once or twice – it could be a clunky application process or a quick comment that changes were made recently. In these cases the savvy seeker will question what they noticed and typically the recruiter will have their response prepared to put any concerns at bay. However, just like in a home, once within the company that little annoyance is now with you all the time, it grows into a major frustration.

As recruiters we try to brush over the annoyances that might turn a candidate off or away from our opportunity. Sometimes we are confused on why a top talent candidate did not stay with the organization for very long and when asked they state what appeared to be small concerns during the interview ended up becoming major distractions. When boiled down it is that classic “fit” argument. The recruiter should recognize if the fit is not there and the job seeker should as well and be willing to pass on the opportunity.

Candidates are becoming more and more savvy around the job search process and can find out information about organizations through many channels. As recruiters we are typically prepared to answer questions around the small annoyances and are just as savvy in convincing the top talent to join our organizations. My advice is that when a seeker does bring up minor points to treat them as major because those are the ones that will make or break their decision and if you are honest with the candidate it will help move your organization forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

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Recruiting – It Has (almost) Come Full Circle

The last four years has brought on a change within the recruitment industry – corporate and third party – that at the minimum has sparked conversation around brand, candidate experience, how candidates are sourced or how they find open positions. Several articles have been posted stating how much recruiting has changed and that certain aspects of it will fade away or (gasp) are already dead. To me, it appears to have come full circle – almost.

During the pre-internet/applicant tracking (ATS) timeframe the strategy to find top talent included:

  • targeted campaigns in print advertising with select outlets that would drive the right talent to mail or fax in a resume to the organization
  • partnerships with schools and career service centers for the intern and entry level roles that included campus visits, presentations, interview days, meetings with professors and campus groups
  • research of key professional associations, industry conferences, and either attending events or finding a way to receive a directory of members
  • effective employee referral programs

These were typically done through manual processes, phone calls, letters and monotonous work of opening each paper resume and quickly scanning for fit. I remember spending hours with hiring managers developing recruitment strategies around finding the right talent to apply to our print ads in various niche magazines and newspapers. We did not want hundreds of people to apply because that meant a large amount of work going through the responses.

When the internet and ATS usage gained speed and exploded in the late ’90’s the strategy changed a little but the core points above were still a strong foundation within recruitment plans. With the advent of key word search (boolean) on job boards and in ATS’s the mindset moved from ensuring the right talent applied to bring in as many as possible because maybe our methods before missed some really good talent. These systems could hold thousands of resumes and in time millions. Recruiters would brag to hiring managers that XX number of candidates applied to a posting and that number was typically in the hundreds. They would then add to their bragging that due to the internet or ATS technology they could whittle down the number to a select few and screen them for the role.

The use of the internet and ATS tools built a wall between the recruiter and the applicant. No longer was a fax number, mailing address or email address contained in postings. They were replaced with web site addresses or generic email addresses and phrases like “no phone calls please” or “no faxed or paper resumes accepted”. Recruiters (mostly corporate) were now behind a curtain that only privileged candidates who were contacted would be able to see behind it.

However, as the internet evolved and it moved from one-way communication to two way (web 2.0) recruiters were being exposed via tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google searches, or other on-line communities. Those that started in recruiting behind the curtain realized they needed to gain certain skills or use the skills they learned during college in social media settings to effectively communicate with candidates. The recruiters that started pre-internet spouted that the changes were not silver bullets but just another communication tool and recruiting is still the same thing as it was 15, 20, or 25 years ago.

I think it has evolved and is similar but a recruiter can be much more effective than pre-internet. The same foundation remains as my bullet points above. Take those points in today’s terms:

  • develop an employment branding campaign that will attract the right talent to your company – this could include social media, job boards, niche industry sites, video, mobile and believe it or not – print
  • university relations and campus programs that can now be managed through on-line tools directly with the school or through other tools that have significantly reduced the workload on building those partnerships but increasing the effectiveness of on-site visits
  • research of specific industry associations, contact lists and networking events can now be done in minutes instead of hours or days
  • automated employee referral campaigns making it easier for tracking, reporting and payments/recognition

There is a mantra I use in managing recruiters today that I know grates their nerves because it goes against the mindset of the “post and pray” days between 1999 – 2008. Less resumes, less interviews, more offers. That is how recruiting has almost come full circle. In 1995 I did not want 200 resumes mailed or faxed to me and today I do not want 200 resumes submitted to a non-high volume role. I want to make sure the role is marketed to the right candidate pool, enticing enough to have them apply and given today’s tools I can quickly and effectively identify top talent through the use of various internet resources. In addition, I want top talent to find me and connect with me about opportunities within my organization, no more curtain to stand behind.

As recruiters we have always adapted to new technologies and in some cases blown out the use of a tool that was not considered as it’s original intent. When developing a recruitment plan are you relying on spray and pray that will create a habit of sit and wait recruiting, or is it an active program that drives the right talent to your organization and a go out and seek mindset? I believe the latter will move your organization forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

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I’ve Heard This Before…

Recently we moved into a house where the previous owners had left a very nice set of Encyclopedias and a special edition Philadelphia Inquirer “America: What went wrong?” from 1991. It was a nine part series that touched on everything from the “dismantling of the middle class” to jobs going to Mexico (now China) and the lack of salaries keeping pace with the rich, to big business tax breaks, the expansion of a global economy,  to health insurance, the decline of pensions and how Capitol Hill is influenced by lobbyists. The article states on the front page it will “…show how millions of Americans have fallen victim to a combination of rulemakers in Washington and dealmakers on Wall Street.”

Does this sound familiar? Have you heard this before?

I have. Do not expect me to present my opinion on these hot button topics or try to explain them. If it took two Pulitzer Prize winning reporters two years and thousands of miles of travel to conduct interviews, research and write their series, there is no chance I can present mine in a single post.

In reading the series and reflecting on those times I remember it was not much better then than it is now. In the early ’90’s we were in a serious recession and though I was in college I read article after article about how it was the worst time in recorded history for college graduates to find a job. Several of my friends who had graduated in ’90 – ’93 spent months looking for work. Most ended up in fields outside of their major. Several moved back home and some never could get their careers started and remained in entry level roles for years.

My first job out of college did not pay enough for me to live on my own and remember buying groceries on my credit card knowing full well I would not be able to pay the monthly bill. It was tough seeing the bank account always around zero. I wanted to make it on my own, I wanted to live independently but my main motivation came from my parents who informed me that if I moved home I would have to pay rent. Who wants to pay rent to their parents AND live by their rules?

I do agree that this recession is worse, and it is much tougher on people to find jobs in their chosen careers or just viable work. Especially those recent or new graduates. There are plenty of stories of how people have been creative in finding work, landing that perfect job, or having an extremely short job search. However, for every success I have a feeling there are five to ten stories of no success. This sounds so familiar to the early 90’s and 00’s recessions.

A key difference this time around…social media. People being able to reach out to friends from several years ago and reconnecting. The ability to find a job, a network connection, a reference check all through various sites that have given candidates a great opportunity to connect. Candidates have access to recruiters and hiring managers like never before and that is helping.

As with the job search in the ’90’s and about 10 years ago the job search is still about connections. Whether it is old school networking or if it is the new way through social media channels it pays dividends to build your connections/network before, during and after your job search.

Recruiters have access to an abundance of information on candidates through the same channels and that makes the search for talent that much easier and yet that much more complicated. Appreciate the fact that we impact people’s lives everyday and that by being smart about our recruitment techniques and identifying the best fit for our organization (and not just dropping a candidate because of how long they have been out of work) we will move our companies forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

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