• Onboarding best practices: from pre-boarding to the bottom line

    May 24, 2017 by

    Without a strong onboarding program, retention and employee churn become significant, cost-averse problems at most companies. But research has shown only about 1 in 4 companies even have formal onboarding programs.

    So what exactly is onboarding, and what are some onboarding best practices?

    Onboarding Best Practices: The “pre-boarding” period

    This is the period between offer letter acceptance and official first day.

    From the time a new hire accepts a job, up until the first day on the job, top employers work diligently to make new hires feel wanted, welcome and part of the team. Onboarding doesn’t start the first day on the job; it starts as soon as the new hire accepts the job. That’s why these members of the team should be in touch with the new hire (assigning a point person is a best practice top employers follow). These are people within an organization who can assist with onboarding a new hire:

    • The hiring manager
    • Someone from human resources
    • A member of the team the employee is joining
    • A cultural ambassador from another department

    Ideally the pre-boarding period sees a mix of those communicating to the new hire. Imagine starting on day one without having heard from the company for a month. Now imagine starting on day one where you already know three-four people in addition to your boss. The latter is far less nerve-wracking.

    The other important aspect of the pre-boarding stage is technology. Most onboarding portals now have a pre-boarding tool, so new hires can access the portal even though they haven’t officially started. Many “first days” on a new job contain lots of paperwork, and if the paperwork can be slid to a pre-boarding portal, this allows the company to make the first day more special and less transactional. Forms such as tax information, NDAs, health care information, the code of conduct, and more can be put into the portal. They can still be discussed on day/week 1, of course, but it will still save time and reduce the crush of paperwork often associated with a new job.

    Ah, the first day

    There is a good deal to unpack about the onboarding best practices for the first day. Continue Reading

  • Spotlight on Success: diversity recruitment and retention at CIA

    May 22, 2017 by

    College Recruiter spoke with CIA spokesperson Heather Fritz Horniak, who shared how CIA has succeeded in recruiting and retaining diverse hires. Given the seemingly fierce competition for diverse talent, CIA’s practices are worth considering at any organization that values and recognizes the benefits of diversity.

    To meet the challenge of recruiting diversity, CIA focuses on the positives

    The competition for exceptional diversity talent is fierce.  CIA’s diverse cadre of recruiters underscore to applicants the positive elements of working at CIA.  This includes highlighting the importance of CIA’s mission by sharing their testimonies about how they have made a difference in contributing to national security.  In addition, recruiters strongly emphasize the extensive benefits the CIA offers.

    CIA faces some additional challenges including  lengthy application and security clearance processes. Also, there is only one primary geographic location in the Washington, DC metro area where employees can begin their careers.

    To achieve CIA’s mission, recruiters  must seek qualified talent in diverse communities

    Diversity and inclusion at CIA is essential to achieve the organization’s  mission. The business case for diversity and inclusion is undeniable: it helps avoid groupthink and it gives any global employer the cultural understanding it needs to operate in any region of the globe.

    There is another reason to reach a diverse pool of talent. CIA knows to look for special people who may not come from the same communities that are heavily recruited by everyone else.

    Director of the CIA Michael Pompeo said, “The Agency has a fabulous history, remarkable people.  And those are the kinds of people that we’re looking for: smart people, agile people, people who are willing to sacrifice an enormous amount of their lives to go do really hard things on behalf of the American people.  And we’ll find them and take them from wherever we can.”

    You must be proactive. Diverse talent won’t just arrive at your doorstep.  

    CIA doesn’t just wait for diverse talent to arrive at its doorstep; officers go to where the diverse candidates are. They make sure their diversity recruitment strategy stays mission-focused and that diversity is integrated and considered throughout recruitment activities.

    Partnerships are key too. CIA focuses on deepening their diversity sponsorships and partnerships with key organizations and universities to gain sustained access to diverse candidates nationwide.  One example of this is the CIA Signature Schools program, where CIA’s Talent Acquisition Group is focusing on outreach and building sustainable relationships with universities and professional organizations that have a large population of diverse talent.  The University of New Mexico and Florida International University are the first two schools in the program.

    Diversity initiatives on universities and professional organizations that have high diversity populations must focus on relationships. Building sustainable relationships with key influencers can assist in spotting qualified diverse talent.

    Retaining diverse talent impacts how well you attract new recruits.

    The diverse candidates are out there. They might be harder to attract, however, because they may have numerous opportunities from which they can choose.  Where CIA distinguishes itself is in building a welcoming culture. It is not enough to just recruit diverse talent. Employees must feel welcome, appreciated and want to stay.

    To help create an inclusive culture, CIA relies on Agency officers who are alumni of universities as Campus Ambassadors to their alma maters.  These officers are responsible in assisting recruiters with branding the CIA as an employer of choice on the college campus.  Students have the opportunity to see people who were once in their shoes happy with their choice of working with the CIA.  This provides a sense of ease or comfort in seeing themselves considering the same employment journey.

    Everyone, from all walks of life and from all backgrounds, should be able to be successful.  To foster that goal, CIA has numerous resources available, including the Diversity and Inclusion Office (DIO) that ensures CIA maintains a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible workplace where differences are valued, conflict is managed constructively, and all officers are willing to engage in open dialogue.  DIO also sponsors Agency Resource Groups (ARGs) that contribute to a positive and inclusive workplace where employees with different backgrounds, cultures, and talents are respected and given the opportunity to succeed. The ARGs are critical to the present and future effectiveness of CIA through their support and advancement of diversity and inclusion. They highlight and help the CIA work through challenges tied to recruitment, development and retention.  ARGs and mentoring programs can help enable all new recruits to make the transition to employment at CIA successfully.

  • Summer internship 2017: improve your search and find what you want

    May 17, 2017 by


    For students and recent grads who are looking for a summer internship, College Recruiter’s Panel of Experts has some great advice. We spoke with Vicky Oliver, Author of “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions,” and Joanne Meehl, president and primary Job Coach & Career Consultant at Joanne Meehl Career Services.  They shared excellent tips for finding a summer internship in 2017.

    What is the first thing students should do to start searching for a summer internship?

    Vicky Oliver career consultantVicky Oliver: I would go to your career counselor at college. Give yourself a deadline for drafting your resume. Encourage feedback. Realize it’s a working document. You may have to go through a few drafts of it before it’s perfect. Also, students should make sure to polish up their LinkedIn profiles. Get a nice, professional online profile up that expresses your interests. Start following groups that you feel may include some people who work at the companies where you want to work. If one of them posts an article, comment on it. Be a part of the conversation.


    Joanne Meehl career consultantJoanne Meehl: Don’t put it off. First, some self-assessment. Ask yourself: “What do I want, and why? What experience would add to my expertise? What are the 3-5 things I want to get out of an internship, aside from on-the-job experience for a potential future career?

    What you find out there in an internship may not be a perfect fit but you will learn from any internship. Even learning “this kind of role and this industry is NOT for me” is a valuable lesson.

    Search online. For example, use CollegeRecruiter.com or search Google for “internships and [city name]”. Search your LinkedIn connections for knowledge about internships or potential internships.

    Then, turn to your network: Tap your network for who they know, including your friends, their parents, your parents’ friends, professors, administrators on campus, former summer employers, you name it. The personal appeal — via phone call or email — is powerful. Be specific about what you want, for example: “Ten weeks, 30+ hours a week, would like to offer my technical knowledge while being able to participate in decisions …”  Don’t mistake flexibility for indecision: the answer “anything” when someone asks what you want does not help them help you, makes you sound unfocused and even desperate.

    What if I live in a small town, where there are no internship opportunities?

    Joanne Meehl: If your hometown is small and there’s little opportunity, you could 1) commute to the nearest larger city for an internship (not always easy), or 2) create one where you are IF it can give you solid challenge and experience. An employer may not know that interns are available, or may never have created an internship before. Show the owner/president of the company or organization what the structure would look like, based on internships you’ve done before or on your college’s publications about internships. You will need to work with internship directors on campus to show them why your self-created internship is worthy of credits but do so; they will have ideas for you AND for the employer that can help you make the experience more substantive.

    Should I consider unpaid internships? Or is an unpaid internship a bad sign about an organization? Continue Reading

  • Summer intern onboarding: good and bad practices

    May 15, 2017 by


    Onboarding should be a positive and productive experience for interns. Employers who build a successful onboarding program benefit in the short-term with satisfied interns, and in the long-term when they convert to full-time employees who can help achieve company goals. However, if intern onboarding is done incorrectly, new hires won’t likely be effective.

    College Recruiter heard from Saïd Radhouani, , Ph.D., co-founder of Nextal, a collaborative applicant tracking system, and Wes Higby, President of Full City Tech Co. They shared best and worst practices for summer intern onboarding.

    8 essential elements to successful intern onboarding

    Saïd Radhouani spells out below seven steps for ensuring interns are set up for success:

    1. Before anything else, your onboarding program needs to begin prior to day one — even before work begins.
    2. A personal welcome. It is very important to schedule a real moment for your new interns to be personally welcomed. Interns lack experience and might need a special treatment to facilitate their integration within the professional environment. Their first day’s experience can have a big impact on their integration within the work environment.
    3. Site visit and org culture. After welcoming them, it’s important to organize a site visit and give them an introduction about the workspace culture and the business background. This will help your them to be included in the day to day life of your organization.
    4. Introduce them to the team. Once the intern feels familiar with the environment, it’s important to present them to the team that they will be working with. This will lay the foundation for their sense of belonging.
    5. Appoint both a manager and a mentor. While the manager will manage the work of the intern and ensure projects stay on focus, the mentor will have a role of a facilitator. The mentor will be in charge of providing any information (not necessarily related to the intern’s project) that will help the intern in their role.
    6. Clarify expectations. The manager has to clarify expectations from both sides: what the intern is expecting to get from the internship, and what the manager is expecting to get from the intern. To do so, it’s very important to provide a real work assignment and define the success criteria.
    7. Assign challenging and relevant work. Allowing to your intern to work on challenging and relevant tasks that are recognized by your company is one of the best ways to ensure the success of the internship. Once the work assignment has been done, the intern should be given the necessary documents and tools to allow them to get the necessary information. Ideally, the manager or the mentor should provide a reference checklist that the intern can follow to make sure that they are getting all what they need.
    8. Define communication plan. The manager should define the communication plan with the intern. Every intern should send a written report to their manager at the end of each week. This will help the intern to work on their communication skills and write down their work progress. It will also help them to raise flags whenever they hit a roadblock. If they need to write a report at the end of the internship, they will have a lot of materials from these communications. This also will help the manager to track the progress and appreciate the work or raise flags on time.

    Intern onboarding gone wrong: Common mistakes employers make

    Wesley Higbee, President of Full City Tech Co., shares five common onboarding mistakes made by employers.

    1. Treating everybody the same.It’s important to have a process or checklist. Just don’t standardize it too much. Tailor the plan to the candidates you’re hiring. If new hires have accolades in sales, for example, don’t put them through a sales training program.
    2. Waiting periods for benefits.There’s nothing to gain by withholding vacation days, health care, etc. Waiting periods connote cheapskate and can create mistrust. If you don’t trust new employees enough to give thembenefits on day one, why are you hiring them?
    3. Not making expectations clear. If you throw them to the wolves without ensuring everyone is on the same page, of course you will find that they don’t perform up to your expectations.
    4. Not including new hires in the process of assessing what they want to learn.You cannot force feedinga training without also learning what motivates them and where they want to grow.
    5. Not learning from new hires.Learning is not a one-way road. There are plenty of candidates you might hire that have more to teach you, than you have to teach them.

    Signs the internship is going well

    “Two things,” says Radhouani, will tell you whether things are on the right track. “Clear communication and measurable progress.”

    If the onboarding was done successfully, then the intern will have clear objectives and all the necessary information to achieve them. During the weekly meetings with the manager, it should be clear how much progress is being made. Another good indicator is how well the intern has integrated within the team.

    Keep informed of recruiting best practices by staying connected with College Recruiter on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube. Hiring soon? Would it make sense to have a brief conversation about your hiring needs? Consider College Recruiter’s advertising solutions, or email [email protected]


    Said Radhouani of Nextal, an applicant tracking systemAbout Saïd Radhouani: Saïd is tech entrepreneur passionate about Big Data, Search and Digital Marketing. He built teams from scratch and put in place strategies and platforms that serve some of the largest Web and mobile properties in Canada. He founded Big Wisdom to help organizations to leverage their data and make optimal decisions in their digital journey. Big Wisdom provides services from strategy to implementation to support in content management, search, knowledge management and analytics.


    Wes HigbeeAbout Wes Higbee: Wes helps organizations make the leap from today to tomorrow. He started out in software development helping organizations tackle business opportunities. In working closely with customers as a consultant, he realized there are many needs beyond the software itself that nobody was taking care of. Those are the needs he addresses today, whether or not technology is involved. Wes has a passion for sharing knowledge. He speaks professionally on webinars and conferences to help organizations improve.


  • Ideas for designing a meaningful onboarding process

    May 08, 2017 by


    An onboarding process is a crucial element of any hiring strategy. Even though the actual hiring is now complete, the transition into the organization – both before the first day on the job, and within the first few weeks are crucial to ensure a new hire gets off to a good start. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 33% of new hires look for a job within the first six months of starting.

    Now consider this, also from Harvard Business Review:

    Harvard Business Review explains onboarding

    The survey also pointed out that nearly 1 in 4 companies don’t even have a formal onboarding process, and half have one, but only view it as “somewhat successful.”

    There’s likely a very strong correlation between a lack of dedication to a company wide onboarding process and how quickly new hires may feel disengaged and already searching for a different opportunity.

    Studies show that a dedicated onboarding process is important for employee retention. So how can an employer improve their onboarding process? Start by following industry best practices.  

    The 35,000-Foot View: Change the question structure

    At Wipro, an IT Consulting firm, the Human Resources department made one small change to the onboarding process. In addition to the normal paperwork and introductions of Day/Week 1, both HR and the direct manager of a new hire asked them one simple question:

    “Who are you when you’re at your very best?”

    This allowed new hires to reflect on their strengths and uniqueness and how those characteristics could apply to this new role. As a result, rather than feeling alienated or anxious about this life change, employees felt more confident and empowered — which ultimately led to higher retention numbers (a metric Wipro tracks) and better performance as measured through customer satisfaction. This was literally a minor change to their overall onboarding process; they simply added one question to how Day 1-2 unfolds and saw a marked increase in performance (at least in part) as a result.

    Facebook shows how to make an onboarding process meaningful

    Antonio Garcia-Martinez was a startup founder and eventual Facebook product manager. He wrote a book called Chaos Monkeys about Silicon Valley culture, and conducted an interview with UPenn’s Wharton business school to promote it. He discussed Facebook’s onboarding process:

    Your first day at Facebook, you’ll have two emails in your inbox. One is a sort of generic, “Welcome to Facebook.” And the second one is, “Here’s a list of software bugs to fix.” On your first day, you’ll pull a version of Facebook’s code to your personal machine that’s your version of Facebook. You’re encouraged to go ahead and make changes, upgrades, improvements, whatever, from day one. You’re actually entrusted with that much authority. Facebook is literally a quarter of the internet everywhere in the world, except China. Here, some 22-year-old engineering graduate has a version of it on his machine and he’s going to push a change to it today.

    Think about that. Facebook is one of the biggest sites on the Internet — over 1 billion active users — and on Day One, a new hire can make changes and upgrades to the code. That’s markedly different from “fill out this paperwork, watch this HR video, and walk around saying hi to managers in the doorway of their office.” If you’re entrusted with real responsibility and meaning from day one, it would stand to reason that you’ll feel a long-term connection back to the organization.

    Buffer’s three-buddy system

    Buffer, a social automation platform with a large percentage of remote workers, uses a three buddy system in their onboarding process. The three buddies are:

    1. A “leader” buddy: This is an experienced member of the team the new hire will enter; this type of buddy is trained on having tough conversations around work elements and culture fit. It’s similar to a conventional mentor.
    2. A “role” buddy: This is someone who understands, or has previously held, the direct role that the new hire will play. They work with the new hire to understand the specific role and how to maximize performance in it within the first 45 days.
    3. A “culture” buddy: This buddy helps the new hire learn the unique aspects of Buffer’s internal culture, and helps them navigate to spots where they can fit in or even propose team events.

    A new hire is introduced to the buddies prior to official Day One, which speaks to an important element of any onboarding process: There needs to be activity between a signed offer letter and the first day on the job. That can be as simple as giving the hire access to a portal where they can complete forms, (lessening day one paperwork), or it can involve the introduction of work buddies or other team members.

    Realize employees have “fresh eyes” and an outside perspective

    Companies can get disrupted when leaders spendt so much time together that “groupthink,” or homophily, resultst. It makes it very hard for leaders to see new ideas if a “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality begins to be normative.

    A new hire, by definition, is a fresh set of eyes. At Joie de Vivre Hotels, for example, they are encouraged to point out potential customer pain points and new approaches on day one. This again speaks to trust and responsibility. You just completed a hiring process with this person and decided they were the right candidate for your job opening. That implies you will trust them to do their job, so why not give them a voice from day one? We can all use the outside perspective.

    Make your onboarding process fun!

    Onboarding should be fun

    Photo credit to Bloomberg

    That’s the message from the onboarding process at Rackspace, which includes music, games, food, a limbo bar, and more. This might seem juvenile to some — aren’t workplaces supposed to be professional at all times? But as noted business consultant and thinker Robert Poynton (among others) have argued, letting adults embrace the idea of “play” (often left behind in your teens) is a great motivator and incentive to want to come to work and do your best there. Rackspace (and other companies) build these elements of fun right into the onboarding process. Imagine coming home to your significant other after a day like the above photo versus a day of filling out HR forms. Which job are you more excited about? Which one can you already see yourself still at in six to 12  months?

    Use your onboarding process to beat back silos

    Percolate, a marketing software company, has multiple departments present to a new hire between Monday and Friday of their first week (this happens for every new hire), including:

    • People Operations/HR
    • IT
    • Sales
    • Marketing
    • Design
    • Product Management

    Noah Brier, Percolate co-founder, discussed what happens in the product management session, stating:

    In this session, PMs explain the structure of the product team and Percolate’s approach to developing software. “Even if the new hire doesn’t need to know the technology stack that we use, we want all employees to be exposed to our technology,” says Brier. “In this meeting, we introduce the concept of the manager’s versus the maker’s schedule to educate every new hire on how to work with engineers. We get granular: don’t interrupt engineers, especially if they have headphones on.”

    Percolate doesn’t do these deep dives simply so that each new hire knows what all the teams do. Brier says it’s about “understanding the philosophy of each team” and how they all “fit into the broader mission.”

    One of the bigger complaints in most offices is silos, or poor communication between two departments. This aspect of an onboarding process certainly seems like a good way to address that problem from the very beginning of a hire’s tenure.

    Onboarding process: The bottom line

    Certainly, any effective onboarding process needs to begin with shared responsibility, caring about the program, and believing that an investment in people will pay off. Then, the processes themselves need to be formalized relative to your specific company culture. These examples could work for you. These examples can work for employers of all sizes, if implemented correctly. Even if they aren’t an exact fit, taking small steps, from successful onboarding processes from other employers can help make the onboarding process meaningful and engaging, as opposed to transactional and form-driven. That’s a win for the employer, and new hire. 

    Keep informed of recruiting best practices by staying connected with College Recruiter on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube. Hiring soon? Would it make sense to have a brief conversation about your hiring needs? Consider College Recruiter’s advertising solutions, or email [email protected]

  • Technical recruitment should focus on design thinking

    May 05, 2017 by


    It’s not news that there is a technology skills gap in the American workforce. The research, however, has mostly focused on technical recruitment that seeks coders and programmers. Devry University’s Career Advisory Board conducted research that taps into “applied technology skills”. Recruiters, including technical recruiters, should know the difference, know where these skills belong in their organizations, and how to find candidates with these skills.

    College Recruiter spoke with Alexandra Levit, workforce consultant and author, including of the international bestseller “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.” Levit dove into the research results to help recruiters find the people and skills they need. This is Part 2 of 2 of our conversation with Levit to hear her insight into technical recruitment and interpretation of the survey results, to provide tips for any recruiter seeking tech skills. A week ago she spoke to us about identifying applied tech skills and important considerations when recruiting for those skills.

    Levit is part of College Recruiter’s  Panel of Experts, which is a group of experts around the country who regularly provide top notch advice for both talent acquisition professionals and entry level job seekers.

    Scroll down to watch the video of our conversation with Levit about why design thinking matters to technical recruitment. 


    Design thinking is key to closing the technology skills gap

    To close the gap in tech skills–both applied and hard skills–recruiters must understand what design thinking is, and screen for it. Levit defines design thinking as a strategy for innovation. “It uses creative processes to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

    Design thinking is not widely understood yet, which means the bulk of recruiters do not yet know what it s. Recruiters should educate themselves and their organizations about promoting it in the workplace. The recruiters who get ahead of the trend and spot the candidates who can leverage design thinking, may win big in the “war for talent”. To do this, evaluate candidates for traits like innovation and creativity.  Essentially, you are looking for people who can approach old problems in new ways, and who aren’t afraid of upsetting the status quo. These are the “outside the box” people.

    Creativity is very important to business, even in tech roles

    Creativity is one of those skills that is becoming increasingly important. So much so that we are starting to see an “A” added to “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) recruitment. “STEAM”, of course, includes the arts. “People see the writing on the wall,” says Levit. Technical jobs will become automated, but if you have creative people, they can anticipate problems, even crises. For example, creative tech types can create games and simulations that will help people discover new solutions. They will help your organization discover answers that are not obvious.

    Just because an employee knows how to develop databases today, doesn’t mean a machine won’t take over his or her job in the future. The value employees must bring is the ability to solve difficult problems.

    Another big takeaway from the survey is that recruiters, including tech recruiters, should take a good look at whether they really need hard technical skills in new employees. Overall, says Levit, organizations overemphasize their need for hard tech skills. Of course, if you are recruiting for information security, you need those hard skills. But don’t confuse hard skills with applied tech skills. “Know the difference,” says Levit. As she explained further in part 1 of our conversation, “applied technology skills means just having a general understand of how to use technology to solve business problems. It doesn’t mean that you’re actually the one implementing the technology on an everyday basis.”

    Watch the video of our conversation with Alexandra Levit about how design thinking and creativity matters to technical recruitment: 

    Alexandra Levit career consultantAbout Alexandra Levit: Alexandra is a consultant for all things workplace. Her goal is to prepare organizations and their employees for meaningful careers in the future workplace. A former nationally syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and writer for the New York Times, Fast Company, and Forbes, Alexandra has authored several books, including the international bestseller “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.”


    Keep informed of recruiting best practices by staying connected with College Recruiter on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube. Hiring soon? Would it make sense to have a brief conversation about your hiring needs? Consider College Recruiter’s advertising solutions, or email [email protected]

  • Do you know what applied tech skills are? One skills gap analysis says recruiters should. [video]

    May 01, 2017 by


    It’s not news that there is a technology skills gap in the American workforce. The research, however, has mostly focused on hard tech skills like coding and programming. Devry University’s Career Advisory Board conducted a skills gap analysis that taps into “applied technology skills”. These are tech skills which you should find in people outside of the IT department. Recruiters should know the difference, and know how to find candidates with the right skills.

    College Recruiter spoke with Alexandra Levit of Devry University Career Advisory Board. She is a workforce consultant and author of several books including the international bestseller “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.” Levit is also part of College Recruiter’s  Panel of Experts—a group of experts around the country who regularly provide top notch advice for both talent acquisition professionals and entry level job seekers. Here,

    Levit dove into the research results to help recruiters understand applied technology skills and how to find people with the skills who can help their businesses grow. This is Part 1 of 2 of our conversation with Alexandra Levit about recruiting for tech skills. This Friday she will join us again to discuss how technical recruitment should focus on design thinking.

    Scroll down to watch the video of our conversation with Levit.


    Applied technology skills are different from hard technology skills. Know the difference.

    Employers have been saying for a while that technology skills are lacking, but Levit says that Devry’s skills gap analysis was showing two categories of technology skills that employers were referring to: applied technology skills and hard technology skills. “They are different,” she says, “and what you need depends on the type of job you are [recruiting] for.”

    “For technology to be effective, it has to integrate people, processes, data and devices.” Someone who can do that has applied technology skills.

    To assess whether a candidate has these skills, ask them a question like, “How have you used technology to solve business problems”? or “How have you used cutting-edge tools to improve outcomes of a project or previous position?” You’re looking for someone who can demonstrate they know how to apply technology—social media, development tools, etc. in their overall strategy to improve efficiency, productivity, or other everyday business issues.

    Hard technology skills, however, are the skills you typically find in the IT domain. Applied tech skills? Levit thinks “everybody needs to have them.”

    It’s a common false assumption that millennials have these skills. Just because they are app-savvy and have grown up immersed in technology, doesn’t mean a recent college graduate will be able to leverage technology to the fullest effect. You have to evaluate the skills of each individual.

    What does the skills gap analysis say about recruiting? 

    Recruiters may be unsure of themselves at first, but willingness is critical. Levit says, “Software has, in many cases, evolved to a point that you don’t need programming skills to use it handily in a business setting.” Someone with a non-tech background, say a liberal arts grad, may be just as competent using certain software as a computer science grad. You don’t need programming skills, for example, to use software in a business setting. “Recruiters need to stop thinking of IT in a bubble. Open your opportunities to all types of students – you may be surprised.”

    Employers should evaluate how much they expect grads to ready to hit the ground running.

    Every year, research shows that the expectations of employers remain extremely high. They strive to hire candidates who are oven-ready right out of college. “As much as they tout development programs,” says Levit, “hiring managers don’t want to have to train new hires.”

    That’s a problem, of course, when you consider the growing tech skills gap.

    According to Devry’s research, employers are also saying that new employees lack the motivation to train in areas where they might not have studied, or understand the importance of being cross-functional. However, employers should remember that millennials didn’t grow up with the mindset of leveraging technology in business problems—that was always held in the domain of IT”. Employers should start to take more “ownership of the up-skilling of their own workforces”, says Levit, especially by utilizing the skills they have in house to train new employees. “It’s not hard, and in many cases, it’s not particularly expensive. For example, have IT set up a low- or no-code platform for developing business applications and do a couple of sessions teaching employees how to use it.”

    You will find that people who have used software before, which is virtually everyone now, will pick it quickly. “The next thing you know, you’ve got people developing applications in all different functions of the organization.”

    Young professionals truly want to help do better business. On top of that, learning new skills can not only be fun, but it can affect their commitment and engagement at work.

    Given uncertainty in the future of H-1B immigration, take the opportunity to invest in domestic talent

    Right now, the H-1B visa program admits roughly 65,000 skilled workers and 20,000 graduate students to the U.S. annually, according to Levit. Many of those visa holders are in the tech sector. However, it is becoming hard to predict what will happen with immigration and visas, with the new administration.

    Levit advises, “If I were an employer, I would take this opportunity to partner with educational institutions to ramp up and develop our American-based talent”, because we don’t know how feasible it will be to sustain a visa program.

    Watch our conversation with Alexandra Levit as she dives deeper into the research results and explains how recruiters can understand and find applied technology skills:



    Alexandra Levit career consultantAbout Alexandra Levit: Alexandra is a consultant for all things workplace. Her goal is to prepare organizations and their employees for meaningful careers in the future workplace. A former nationally syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and writer for the New York Times, Fast Company, and Forbes, Alexandra has authored several books, including the international bestseller “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.”

  • Predictive analytics and interview bias

    April 28, 2017 by


    The following are excerpts from “Predictive Analytics, Bias and Interviewing”, written by Kevin Wheeler of Global Learning Resources Inc and The Future of Talent Institute. Published to College Recruiter blog with permission from Kevin Wheeler.

    To download the full white paper, click here.

    For centuries people have been captivated by the idea of predicting the future. Crystal ball gazers and fortune tellers all promised to be able to do this. They played on our biases, weaknesses and gullibility and counted on us attributing chance occurrences to their predictive powers.

    But the rise of predictive analytics gives us the ability to reduce uncertainty by applying statistics and determining the probabilities that future patterns will emerge in the behavior of people and systems.

    By tracking things such as our location, Facebook likes, re-tweets, where we check-in, what and when we buy, what we search for and so on, analysts are able to make reliable predictions on our future behavior. When aggregated, correlated, and combined and then analyzed with the tools of statistics this data becomes not only relevant but commercially valuable.

    Commercialization that plays on our predilections

    Predictive analytics has had tremendous commercial benefits. Firms such as Amazon are built on predictive analytics that help them predict what we will buy, how much of it and when so that they can stock warehouses and order products before they are needed. Most retailers are investing in hiring analysts, which is a growing field.

    Biases that impede truth

    All humans have biases and many that tend to impact human resource professionals and recruiters.

    The selection and hiring of people is fraught with bias and subjectivity. Psychologists have assembled long lists of these biases which include our tendency to reject new evidence that contradicts something we believe to be true. Or the tendency to search for and remember information in a way that confirms our preconceptions. Recruiters need to do everything they can to make objective and unbiased decisions – even though perfect objectivity is never going to be possible. I offer a few suggestions below on how to reduce the impact of biases.

    There are numerous common biases. For example, if we believe that people with high GPAs, for example, are better workers, then we will seek evidence to prove that and dismiss any that contradicts it. We call that confirmation bias.

    Recruiters also often rely too heavily on one trait or piece of information when making decisions -often the first piece of information acquired or the information obtained from a trusted source. If someone recommends a candidate, for example, that recommendation may outweigh any facts that contradict or suggest that the person is not so good.

    Analytics can help dispel many of these [biases], but only if the results of the analysis are believed and acted on.  We need to trust the data more than our gut, and although data is not always right, the percentages are on the side of the data.  There are also many instances where our biases were unconsciously built into the algorithms that analyze our data, so it is important to understand what is being measured in an algorithm and with what weighting.

    Analytics can offer insight and help make sense of mountains of data that have been beyond our reach. Analytics can help us make choices that are based on facts. They can provide us insights and reduce uncertainty. But, as with everything, there are dangers. We need to troll the waters of data with care, ethics, and human judgment.

    What you can do to reduce bias

    Each of us has a responsibility to actively think about our prejudices and biases and work to manage their impact on our decisions.

    1. Know Yourself: What are your biases? Think about what you like and don’t like in people and then ask yourself why do I think this way?  You can ask yourself what you are really looking for in a candidate – is it something like GPA or age or a very specific kind of experience — and then ask yourself, what’s the evidence for this to be a decision factor? Is this really evidence that the candidate will perform well or just a self-fulfilling prophecy because of my bias?  Biases are hard to discover, hard to articulate and even harder to objectively measure.  But if you work at it, you can reduce the number of them and their impact.
    2. Prepare Neutral Questions: When you prepare for an interview, make sure that your questions are not aimed at bringing out a bias of some sort. Keep them job-specific and relevant to the work you want the candidate to do. Never ask about age, politics, or anything that is not job relevant.

    Read more concrete advice for reducing your bias by downloading the full white paper here.


    Kevin Wheeler of Global Learning Resources and Future of Talent InstituteAbout Kevin Wheeler: Kevin is the founder of Global Learning Resources and The Future of Talent Institute. He is a consultant, sought-after public speaker, writer, and university lecturer.   Kevin is the author of hundreds of articles on talent management, career development, recruiting, human capital, leadership, and on corporate universities, strategic planning, workforce planning, and learning strategies. Global Learning Resources and The Future of Talent Institute work to help organizations discover emerging trends that impact the talent marketplace and help organizations implement creative talent strategies to meet the challenges of the future.


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  • 6 tips for writing a great sales job description [Examples of good and bad]

    April 26, 2017 by


    Every day that a sales spot is left vacant in your company means revenue is being lost. In addition to losing money, an unfilled sales role can wreak havoc on customer relationships, day-to-day operation, and overall productivity in the workplace. The goal is always to fill the position as quickly as possible, which might tempt you to cut corners when you are writing your sales job description.

    Posting a less-than-stellar job description won’t help you in the long run since it will likely attract the wrong individuals. Applicants may not be qualified for the position, or they may not fully understand what the job entails. Writing a top-notch posting will attract job candidates who want to work for your organization and who have all of the qualifications and skills that you seek. In fact, a compelling sales job description may even attract the attention of top talent from other organizations. So how do you post a great sales job description that will attract the right candidates?

    1. Company Profile

    Writing a company profile might seem like an afterthought for a job post, but it should be the first thing to show candidates. Describing your company brand is critical to attract the right candidates for your role. In addition to describing what your company does, describe your core values and company philosophy. Also make sure to describe the work environment in as much detail as possible. For example, if the role is in a corporate environment where employees suits and ties every day, a millennial who is used to wearing jeans and hoodies to work might not be a good fit. Adding details about your company culture, such as a casual dress code, free lunches, and other company perks will help you attract candidates with a similar work style.

    1. Talk it Through

    Figuring out what to include in your job description is the most challenging part of the process. Start by having conversations with your best sales reps about the day-to-day activities of the position. Ask them about the day-to-day specifics, and longer term expectations. Having this conversation with someone who is performing well in the role will give you valuable insight into the qualifications you should be seeking, and what it takes to succeed. The goal is to write a job description that incorporates phrases and words that elicit an emotional response, rather than using a boring corporate tone or loads of buzzwords.

    1. Perfect Your Job Title and Summary

    Continue Reading

  • Three key employer branding strategies to recruit college students

    April 19, 2017 by


    In today’s competitive talent market, successful employer branding strategies go a long way toward attracting top college students and grads to your organization.

    However, the particulars of your employer brand – what your message is, how you deliver it, the aspects of the organization you choose to emphasize – will depend almost entirely on the segment of the talent market you wish to attract. If you are trying to engage entry-level workers in the media industry, your employer brand should look very different from an employer who wants to engage mid-career professionals in IT.

    When it comes to attracting college students and recent grads, what should your employer branding strategies take into consideration? We talked with a few experts on college recruiting to find out.

    1. It’s More Than Lip Service – You Have to Genuinely Care

    At the very basic – and most crucial – level, employer branding strategies aimed at college students and recent grads need to be genuine. If you’re simply paying lip service to the concept without actually taking the time to explore what student talent wants, young candidates will see right through the ruse.

    “You hear a lot about the ‘candidate experience’ and ‘employment brand,’ and it reminds me of how big tech companies used to talk about their small business customers in the ‘90s,” says Kristen Hamilton, CEO and cofounder of student-focused predictive hiring solution Koru. “[There is] lots of talk about systems and programs without a focus on understanding and empathizing with the experience of the customer – or the early career candidate in this case.”

    Instead of “treating candidates anonymously,” Hamilton suggests employers leverage technologies and techniques that allow them to “measure which candidates will align with their organization before a hire is made.”

    Employer branding should always start with identifying what kind of talent thrives in your organization and then tailoring your message to the talent in a sincere and truthful way. This is doubly true when it comes to students and recent grads.

    Tom Borgerding, president and CEO of college marketing firm Campus Media, notes that many of today’s college students are “cynical about the messaging, marketing, advertising, [and] promotions of just about everything.” If your efforts to build relationships with and market your brand to them are not genuine, they won’t be interested.

    “A clear, honest, direct message will go a long way with this audience,” Borgerding adds. “Even better: Give them proof behind what you are saying.”

    1. One Size Does Not Fit All: Customize Your Messaging

    Speaking of the need to be sincere and truthful in your employer branding messages: Students and recent grads will be much more receptive if your branding is tailored to a specific audience rather than a general slice of the population. Continue Reading