• 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]

  • 5 reasons recent college grads should consider work and travel jobs

    May 04, 2017 by

     

    Recent college grads seeking work and travel jobs can often do so by finding employment with a multinational organization that has offices throughout the world. So instead of taking a year off to travel the world after college graduation, why not find a job that allows one to travel for work – and get paid for it, while gaining valuable professional and personal experience?

    1. Work and travel jobs provide unique on the job experience.

    Traveling for work, or as part of a job, is a great way to see the world, while building important professional and life skills that will benefit individuals throughout the rest of their career.

    “Experience is the best teacher,” says Ilona Jurkiewicz, head of the Early Careers Program at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm. In her role with the Early Careers Program at Thomson Reuters, Jurkiewicz leads internal and external strategy for how Thomson Reuters  will attract, assess, develop, engage, retain, and flow early career talent. This spans everything from interns and apprentices to MBAs and PhDs.

    “You can read about business etiquette, cultural nuances in offices, or the pace of change in emerging markets all you want, but nothing beats seeing and feeling these things up front and center,” adds Jurkiewicz.

    2. Want to climb the corporate career ladder? You’ll need international business experience.

    Do you have aspirations to become a CEO (6 rules for women who want to become corporate leaders), or goals to someday earn a spot on the board of directors at a large, global organization? Then international business experience is a must. For many employers, access to the C-suite or senior level roles is prohibited for those who don’t have international or multinational experience.

    “Corporations need individuals with a global mindset leading the way,” said Jurkiewicz. “Aside from a long or short term assignment sponsored by the company or moving to another company, travel is a great way to get this type of experience and skillset. This will undoubtedly provide lifelong experiences if you apply the skills you learn, and know how to talk about it.”

    Additionally, many work and travel jobs tend to be client facing as the employee is often traveling to the site of the client. “This is also a fantastic double punch,” says Jurkiewicz. “Customer service experience is highly valued in every industry, and it’s helpful to get that earlier on. The more you understand a customer and how to serve them, the more likely you will make smart and insight driven business decisions.”

    Developing a strong understanding of how to do business across cultures, along with learning foreign language skills, is essential to international business success. Traveling to different countries can help build those all-important business and interpersonal skills to work with different business professionals/leaders in different countries. Doing it now, out of college, with less personal responsibilities (for most recent college grads), is the time to do it.

    It’s not now or never, but in some cases, if it’s not now, it’s never.

    “The older you get, the more responsibilities and roots you have,” says Jurkiewicz. “You buy a house and a car, and you have to figure out how to solve for that. Your partner has a job that doesn’t allow travel, so that becomes a factor you have to take into account. A pet requires constant home care and attention. Your parents begin aging and you worry about being closer. Earlier in your career, your life is less tethered and you are also likely more easy going and willing to forego the ‘perfect’ travel scenario because you want the opportunity more than all the fanfare that goes with it.”

    3. Traveling for work builds international business and networking skills.

    A job at a large, multinational company can provide recent college grads global work and travel job opportunities, whether it’s for business trips or projects, or permanent opportunities. A recent college grad could start in a U.S. branch of a multinational organization, and transfer to a global office at any point during their career. One example: A graduate of a United States public college got a job at a large financial services organization right after graduation. He spent a few years in the Minneapolis office of that firm, then transferred to a role in Russia, where he worked for five years before moving back to Minnesota for a different role with the same company. He met his wife at that job in Russia, and together they had two kids. He returned to Russia for a family vacation last summer. The experiences, personal and professional, are things he still talks about this day.

    Many large organizations have internal programs in place for employees who want to transfer to roles across the world, which in turn, helps employees make a more seamless transition to a new country.

    “Every colleague can be a potential partner or someone to help you assimilate into the location,” says Jurkiewicz. “You just need to be open to seeing them that way.”

    Multinational organizations also can provide access to global educational and training tools, either for business trips, or for permanent relocation. For example, Thomson Reuters subscribes to Culture Wizard, which allows employees to set up profiles of the employee’s home country and the country they are traveling to, to learn about the difference in culture, and business in those countries. “This helps professionals assimilate faster and avoid quirks or issues that can come up,” says Jurkiewicz.

    International companies invest in language courses for employees, ranging from Rosetta Stone to apps like DuoLingo. Others provide soft skills training and training on how to communicate in different settings and cultures. That type of training is invaluable, especially early in one’s career, because those additional skill sets can help them become more valuable to the organization, and in turn, help earn a promotion, or take on new responsibilities sooner in one’s career.

    4. Traveling for work develops important soft skills not taught in the classroom.

    But you don’t have to be an aspiring CEO or board member to benefit from a job that allows you to see the world for work. Studies of large companies report that one of the skills most often missing in new hires is resilience, says Jurkiewicz. Traveling – and being challenged daily in a new environment – builds resiliency, because it forces recent college grads how to survive and thrive outside their comfort zones.

    Traveling for work develops these additional soft skills, says Jurkiewicz:

    • The ability to develop new relationships: “Individuals who have developed strong networking and relationship building and management skills, and nurture new contacts through travels will likely be more successful – both right now, and in future jobs and opportunities,” says Jurkiewicz.
    • How to handle the unexpected: When you travel, you always have to be ready for the unknown. What if your luggage gets lost and you have a business meeting? What if your flight is delayed or you get re-routed? What if no one speaks English in the Airbnb you have booked? These are real world skills that require you to think on your feet and problem solve, and really enhances your ability to flex when the moment arises.
    • Self-Discipline: Travel for work requires you to be disciplined in managing a lot at once, including your personal life back home, your work life, and of course you as a person while always being in changing circumstances. It forces you to adapt to new routines and to be disciplined in how you use your time and ensure you don’t just get stuck in travel mode.
    • Long distance relationship: This may seem silly, but if you are in a long distance relationship and don’t need to be in one location all the time – then a job that requires a lot of travel is perfect. You never know, it might even lead you toward the location of your significant other.
    • Air Miles: Many companies let you keep your own air miles, so that means a perk for you as you can use them for personal reasons!

    5. Overseas work and travel jobs allows one to plan vacations around work trips

    In the U.S., vacation time is often limited, especially for recent college grads. By having a job that requires travel, you can often add on personal days to explore that location or adjacent cities/sites. It’s a built in vacation once the work is done.

    “This is a great way to maximize your time off and always feel like you have mini vacations or extended breaks,” says Jurkiewicz.

    It’s important to remember that not all work travel is glamorous, says Jurkiewicz.

    “Your personal relationships can really suffer from a lack of face time and consistency,” she says. “Your health can also suffer. Being on the road means not being able to control what you eat, or how you exercise, and the days can be long. You can also really suffer from jet lag which seems okay when the adrenaline is pumping, but you can crash very hard. It takes a lot of work to ensure you are able to take care of yourself while always on the road.”

    Traveling to other countries for work presents great opportunities for recent college grads. It can help develop professional skills that last a lifetime. And it can allow one to see parts of the world they may never have an opportunity to see if it wasn’t for that job. Recent college grads, now is the time to consider a job that allows you to travel for work. Use these tips to find success, and work and travel job that propels you to career success.

    For more tips on the benefits of traveling overseas for work, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

     

  • Onboarding new employees starts before first day on job

    May 02, 2017 by

     

    new employee who is not onboarded the right way is going to have difficulty finding a sense of belonging inside an organization, says Scott Redfearn, executive vice president of global HR at Protiviti, a global business consulting and internal audit firm.

    “Employees who don’t have a meaningful career experience aren’t going to last, and they will not perform to their full potential,” says Redfearn.

    The reality is, the process for onboarding new employees starts well before the new hire’s first day on the job. Successful companies know this, and set up a series of touchpoints and check-ins to ensure new hires feel welcome, and are prepared, before the first day on the job.

    This is especially important for the recent college grad embarking on their first journey into the real world. The process for onboarding new employees is the employer’s opportunity to make a great first impression, and show recent college grads their company is a good place to work, and that they will be given an opportunity to grow and succeed.

    “Employers should realize that some recent college grads are still in the process of understanding the difference between their initial dreams and reality,” says Max Dubroff, an HR consultant and former adjunct professor with the University of Phoenix who taught Masters level courses on management and organizational behavior.

    “They may have thought for years that they would get into one of the best-known companies, but even if your company doesn’t make those best places to work lists, or even if it isn’t a Fortune 500 organization, you have the opportunity to show them the value of a good/great job in a good/great organization.”

    Onboarding should engage new employees before the first day on the job

    At Protiviti, new campus hires start the onboarding process months before their actual start date, because in many cases a student will accept a job offer during the fall semester, but not actually start until after graduation the following May, says Redfearn. These new hires are also assigned a peer advisor who meets with them before they start and new hires are even invited to holiday parties, community service activities, and other office events where they can meet their future co-workers.

    “Once candidates accept an offer, we begin integrating them right away,” says Redfearn. “During this time, we communicate often through email, webinars, social media, and in person.”

    Before a new employee walks through the door for the first time, employers should have already share the organization’s history, vision, and mission.

    “Insight into the company’s purpose and plan for success will help immerse new employees into the workplace culture more quickly,” says Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Experience at Ceridian, a human capital management firm.

    Sharing this type of information can be done through a portal that new hires can access before they officially start, or simply direct them to any relevant public content from the company website or blog that addresses the organization’s values, says LaMere.

    How important are these steps? Robert Half Finance & Accounting research shows new hires have less than three months to prove themselves in a new job. Many recent college grads are looking for guidance, and good employers provide that through a strong onboarding program.

    Doing little things provide big value. For example, Steve Saah Director of Permanent Placement Services with Robert Half, encourages employers to send a welcome letter to a candidate immediately upon acceptance of the job offer. Consider including some kind of company ‘swag’ with the letter, if it’s available.

    “This gives them a warm welcome and gets them excited to start in their new role,” says Saah. “It also reinforces that the candidate made the right decision in accepting the offer.”

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  • 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.

     

    Keep informed of recruiting best practices by staying connected with College Recruiter on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, 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]

  • How recent college grads can ace the second job interview

    April 27, 2017 by

     

    Almost every job interview boils down to three key questions in the mind of the interviewer, says Steve Koppi, Executive Director of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Mass) Career Development Center.

    1. Can this candidate do the job
    2. Will this candidate do the job, and
    3. How will this candidate fit in or get along with others?

    “These same principles apply to second round interviews,” says Koppi. “The good news is that you have cleared at least that first hurdle. The employer believes you, the candidate, can do the job, and you have the skills and knowledge they are seeking in a new hire.”

    Thao Nelson, Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Career Services at the Indiana University Kelly School of Business, is also a former recruiter. She invited recent college grads to a second job interview when they convinced Nelson of these three things in the first interview:

    1. That they can do the job and provided strong, impactful, and relevant examples
    2. They really wanted to work for her company.
    3. That they were likable, and she or others on the team would enjoy working with them.

    A job seeker who makes it to a second job interview has demonstrated they have the background, core aptitudes, and transferable skills to do the job, says Cheryl Goodman, Talent Development Manager with Alexander Mann Solution’s, a talent acquisition and management firm with clients in 80 countries. Goodman is based in Cleveland, Ohio and heads up Alexander Mann Solution’s new graduate recruitment program.

    In the second interview recent college grads are “being assessed for long-term potential to thrive within the culture and contribute to the company,” says Goodman. “It’s about ROI, too, because the company will be investing in your career launch and professional development, so they are looking to be sure that’s a wise investment.”

    What to expect in a second interview

    A candidate who makes it to a second interview can expect to be presented with scenario-based questions, such as how they would respond to certain situations and why, says Goodman.

    Continue Reading

  • 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

  • 10 reasons why college grads should consider entry-level sales jobs

    April 25, 2017 by

     

    Entry-level sales jobs present a great opportunity for recent college grads to learn professional skills that last a lifetime. And below, a variety of entry-level sales professionals, as well as business owners and sales executives with experience at companies like Google, IBM, AOL, and Dell Computers, talk about the unique and life-long skills developed through an entry-level sales job. Here is what every recent college grad needs to know to succeed in a career in sales:

    1. Sales jobs are not restricted based on one’s degree

    Recent college grads and entry-level sales professionals who are able to participate in a company-sponsored sales training program will learn skills that last a lifetime, says Maddy Osman, an SEO content strategist and digital marketing professional. Before she started her own business, Osman worked as an account representative for Groupon, where she went through over two months of cold-calling sales training, graduating among the top 5 of 25 trainees in her class. Osman says she still refers to the sales materials she learned in that training and applies it to her digital marketing role.

    “Even if you never work in sales again, you’ll learn about psychology, and negotiation, which will help you when getting a new position, negotiating for a higher salary, or creating strategic partnerships,” said Osman.

    In her role at Groupon, Osman worked alongside employees who majored in liberal arts, theater, marketing, and history, to name a few. The common denominator among those who were successful was that they were outgoing, and/or held student leadership roles at their college or University.

    “There wasn’t one area of study more represented than another,” said Osman. “So it’s not necessarily about the degree – as long as you have one.”

    That being said, one doesn’t have to go through a dedicated sales training program to succeed in entry-level sales jobs. Learn why below.

    2. Everyone can succeed in sales – even those who don’t think they can sell

    Mac Anderson graduated from Miami of Oho in 2015 with a degree in marketing. Anderson achieved a lot while in college, working a part-time job at a bar/restaurant, volunteering for two non-profits, and maintaining a full course load and active social life.

    “I learned a lot about myself by trying new things and making a leap of faith,” said Anderson.

    Anderson had a wide variety of other experiences too. He coached a traveling youth baseball team, and was a laborer on a construction crew. He also worked in sales, marketing, and logistics for a non-profit called Top Box Foods.

    But it’s his current entry-level sales job at ParqEx that has Anderson buzzing about where his career is going. ParqEx is a marketplace (mobile app + website) that allows owners of underutilized parking spaces to rent out their parking, by the hour, day, week or month, to a driver in need of convenient, affordable parking. ParqEx specializes in hard-to-park neighborhood and has partnered with many local neighborhood organizations and chambers of commerce to solve the parking nightmare.

    “I honestly never thought of myself as a salesman because I did not think I had the right characteristics,” said Anderson. Soon after Anderson started in his current role, he was presenting to a group of over 100 builders (and potential clients) – an experience that has played a key role in him developing a positive, can-do attitude, and desire to succeed in sales.

    “I have learned that I can do literally anything I set my mind to,” said Anderson.

    But many recent college grads are afraid to do what makes them uncomfortable, or not familiar to them in their job or career. Especially early in their career, and especially if it’s a 100 percent commission-based sales job. That’s why many recent college grads shy away from sales careers. But it’s been the exact opposite affect for Anderson, and has helped him thrive as a professional

    “Getting out of your comfort zone is essential for personal and professional growth,” says Anderson.

    Every sales person has a different style, says Anderson. That’s why he feels there’s no one-size-fits-all template to sales success. “Just try new tactics, do what feels right for you personally, and always be positive and confident,” says Anderson. “You will get comfortable and find your style.”

    Kevin Cote, Director of Sales at Namely, a leading HR, Payroll, and Benefits platform for mid-sized companies, agrees.

    “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” says Cote. “The only way to grow in sales and win business is to be confident in asking difficult questions, navigating awkward or tricky objections, and mastering the science of being comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”

    3. Sales is perfect training for future CEO or business owner Continue Reading

  • How to negotiate salary: Must-read tips for female college grads

    April 20, 2017 by

     

    Many recent college grads are unprepared to negotiate salary during an entry-level job interview. And in the long run, they pay the price – financially, that is.

    According to a recent Paysa study, younger workers, or those with only 0-2 years of experience, are 42 percent likely to be underpaid. The same Paysa data also found that women in markets across the U.S. are 45 percent likely to be under-compensated while their male counterparts are only 38 percent likely to be under-compensated. Paysa is a Palo Alto, California-based company that uses proprietary artificial intelligence technology and machine learning algorithms to analyze millions of data points, including compensation information, to help employees understand their market salary.

    But the reasons for these gender salary discrepancies vary based on a number of factors, however, says Chris Bolte, CEO of Paysa. In many cases inexperienced job seekers – including female recent college grads:

    • Do not know what their value is at that company
    • Do not know how to have a conversation about salary with the hiring manager
    • Are uncomfortable/afraid negotiating for more money due to any number of factors, including being new to the workplace, concerned the offer will be revoked, or because they are interviewing with an intimidating manager.

    But there is one glaring difference between young men and women, according to Sylvia RJ Scott, Founder of Girls’ C.E.O. Connection™ (Girl’s Creating Enterprising Organizations), a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to engaging and equipping females as entrepreneurs. In February Scott spoke to a group of young women who were members of the Theta Beta chapter of the Delta Delta Delta sorority at Colorado University Boulder. She discussed the topic of salary negotiation with the group, all juniors and seniors, and will be sharing a salary negotiation reminder checklist before they graduate this spring. Scott says female college grads are often too timid or afraid to boast about their academic, athletic, internship, or related work experiences when negotiating salary during an entry-level job interview.

    Their male counterparts? Not so much…

    “Males are not afraid to promote their accomplishments,” says Scott. “Women need to do the same. Be confident without being arrogant.”

    During an interview, females should focus on explaining how internship, club experiences, or extracurricular activities are relevant to the job, says Scott. Providing employers/interviewers with examples about what was accomplished in those experiences that can be transferred to the real world is key.

    “Know what you bring to the table from other experiences in college,” says Scott. “Be prepared to express to the employer how this background fits the job description. Do not hold back on tooting your own horn.”

    But keep in mind – most entry-level positions have a set salary, leaving little room for negotiation, says Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Experience, Ceridian.

    “Gaining a realistic expectation of entry-level salary amounts within similar industries, or the range for entry-level positions – through research and due-diligence – is a first step to determining what a reasonable salary might be and whether or not one has a strong case to negotiate further,” says LaMere.

    As women embark on the entry-level job search, they should be prepared to advocate for themselves.

    “Define your goals and ensure you have a solid understanding of your current capabilities in comparison to the role you are seeking,” says Linda Taylor, HR Manager at FedEx. “When negotiating or advocating for yourself, be confident that your voice is important. Whether it’s your gender, education, or skills, tap into your unique point of view and showcase how you can help the company succeed.”

    When you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to express your ideas or have the confidence to ask for what you want, says Taylor. But women should search for employers who celebrate differences and encourage all team members to be themselves.

    “Push yourself to be confident by practicing with little steps that can pave the way to big victories,” says Taylor. “Raise your hand in a big lecture class, ask a question at your first meeting, or conduct proactive research to see how your job offer compares to similar roles at other organizations. As you prepare for a first job, make a commitment to think and act like you would in the role you’re seeking, and stick to this mindset during the interview and negotiation stages.”

    Data driven discussion should drive salary negotiations
    So how do female college grads overcome obstacles to a fair entry-level salary? Start with research.

    Figure out what others like you are making at that company. Paysa offers tools that help job seekers understand what they should be paid at a specific company. Job seekers can also use salary calculators like the one College Recruiter offers.

    “Having a respectful, data-driven discussion with the recruiter or hiring manager that highlights your desire to take the job, but also starts the negotiating process, is important,” says Bolte.

    Highlight positives of position
    During the interview/negotiation, job seekers should cover key points and focus on positives by:

    • Expressing that the job with the company is an awesome opportunity.
    • Expressing how the company mission and values fit your goals.
    • Expressing that you see great learning and growth opportunity and are ready to make an impact/difference.

    Present your salary talking points – based on data

    Then, when discussing salary, tell the recruiter/employer the following:

    • That you want to be sure to get a competitive market compensation package.
    • That you’ve been conducting research, talked to other recruiters, companies, and professionals in the same industry/type of position, and “it seems that your offer is not as competitive as it needs to be. Specifically, it appears to be approximately <20% – insert real number from research> under market.
    • “What can you do to close that gap?”
    • Wait and listen…..

    “At this point, the recruiter or hiring manager may ask you what it will take to close the deal, so to speak,” says Bolte. “I would recommend going back to whatever the broad number is you learned from your research.”

    The company will likely get back to you with:

    • An adjusted compensation package the is somewhere between their original offer and your ask.
    • Your full ask.
    • A statement saying that their original offer is the best they can do.

    Confidence is key
    “These conversations with managers can seem intimidating/scary but they don’t’ have to be,” says Bolte. But it takes research, dedication and practice to succeed. “Go get it done,” adds Bolte.

    Be realistic
    When a recent college grad (regardless of gender) is starting out in their career, they may think – through lack of experience – that they should be making more than what’s being offered. But remember, that first job, or entry-level job, is a starting point, says LaMere. If there is room to negotiate on salary on an entry-level position, be reasonable and sensible.  It is important not to price oneself out of the market.

    During an interview, when a potential employer asks what would be an ideal salary, a good answer would be: “I would like to learn more about the position first,” putting the onus on the potential employer to be the first to name a number. Once a salary number is on the table, use Bolte’s advice above to approach the topic. Once a final offer is presented, don’t be afraid to take a day or two to think through the position and the opportunities that it offers, beyond just the pay, says LaMere.

    “While salary negotiations may be daunting for some new grads, as long as they do their homework about the job and pay range, are reasonable in their expectations and prepare themselves for the process, they will ultimately achieve the success they are seeking – both from an entry-level learning experience to start their career, and their salary compensation, for their efforts,” says LaMere.

    Additional salary negotiation and job interview preparation tips for female recent college grads

    Like any aspect of the job search, being able to successfully talk about salary, or negotiate salary comes from preparation. Scott offers these salary negotiation tips for female college grads:

    • Reach out to alumni from your school, sorority, or industry-related clubs who have previously held similar entry-level jobs and ask for advice or tips.
    • Get advice from a college career center counselor, many who have resources or experience helping college students and recent college grads with salary negotiations. They also may have contacts within their network who can help.
    • Get advice from female instructors and adjunct professors who know or still work in the industry.
    • Understand cost of living factors: Location and cost of living may play a factor in the salary offered. An entry-level job in San Francisco or New York City may pay more than a job in Biloxi, Mississippi, for example. But make sure whatever salary is offered is relative to the cost of living pending on location.

    Female college grads need to know their worth going into the interview/negotiation and show it. Do so by following these tips, from Scott:

    • Walk in with confidence, dress professionally no matter what the position. This is true even if the company is known to dress casual.
    • Practice in front of a mirror and watch the body language. Ask someone to role play as the person doing the negotiation. Try to find a female that has gone through the process, and get her feedback.
    • Be prepared to discuss what else can be negotiated to increase the compensation package if it does not meet expectations/research. Does the company have a tuition reimbursement package, flexible work schedules, more vacation time? It’s worth asking.

    Want more salary negotiation and job search advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.