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The latest news, trends and information to help you with your recruiting efforts.

Posted November 12, 2010 by

Employer Branding Is More About the Candidate Experience Than Fancy Graphics

Kelly Bartkiewicz of MARSJonas Barck, marketing manager for Universum Communications, invited me to attend their employer branding conference this past Wednesday at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. In addition to the facility being absolutely top notch, so was the content.

At about 2pm, a recruiter for one of the many Fortune 500 employers in the room commented that his takeaway from the day was that employer branding was a lot more about delivering a positive candidate experience than fancy brochures, web sites, pamphlets, or career fair giveaways. Yes! In one sentence, the recruiter absolutely nailed it. All of the fancy collateral in the world won’t result in the improvement of your organization’s brand unless there is real substance to back-up the style. In other words, actions speak louder than words. If you tell candidates that you have a collaborative work environment — which Gen Y loves — then they better not walk into your office and find a Dilbert-esque cube farm.

One of the presenters who did a great job talking about branding was Kelly Bartkiewicz, Personnel & Organization Director – Talent Management at MARS. You’d think that with all of their wonderful candy, pet food, and other consumer goods that branding would be the least of their problems and yet it actually is one of their most significant problems. You see, consumers and therefore candidates have preconceived notions about MARS because MARS has a strong consumer brand. But that brand isn’t what they want to project to their candidates because working at MARS is a lot different than eating their candy or feeding your dog Greenies or any of their other pet-related products. So MARS has to stay true to its consumer brand yet also carve out a different employment brand. That’s not an easy task but it seems that Kelly and her team are having real success in achieving that goal.

Another large but very different organization that we learned about was the National Security Organization. Lori Weltman, marketing manager, delivered the keynote presentation on how the NSA connects with its candidates. As a very selective intelligence agency, it takes them months and months to go from the point of initial contact to extending an offer of employment and just that delay frustrates a lot of candidates and inevitably costs them some good hires. Yet they’ve also learned that their candidates value working on some very, very leading edge technology without the pressures of earning a profit this fiscal quarter and their candidates want to do real, meaningful work that helps their nation. So the NSA focuses is branding messages on those and other hot button issues. Unlike MARS, the NSA has no consumer brand as it doesn’t sell anything to consumers. Yet that lack of consumer brand presents challenges to the NSA as they need to explain what they do to an awful lot of very highly qualified and difficult to hire candidates. Again, Universum picked a great presenter as Lori did a great job of communicating their tactics and strategies and her employer seems to have great success in achieving their goals.

Kudos to Universum and all of the presenters. The conference was informative, engaging, and well worth the time for everyone in attendance.

Posted October 29, 2010 by

Leading Businesses Launch Training Initiative to Prepare U.S. College Students and Young Professionals for the Workforce

Today, Business Roundtable and HR Policy Association announced the release of JobSTART101: Smart Tips and Real-World Training, an online course for college students and recent graduates that introduces the professional skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. Even in a time of soaring unemployment, a survey revealed that 61 percent of U.S. employers report difficulty in finding qualified workers to fill vacancies at their companies. JobSTART101 addresses the gap between employers’ needs and workers’ skills by helping students understand the real-life challenges and expectations of the workplace.

The United States needs a well-equipped workforce that is prepared for the challenges of today’s job market. However, many college graduates do not have an opportunity to learn what employers expect and have not developed the professional skills that will help them succeed after they are hired.

“While our nation remains focused on job creation, it’s equally important to focus on ensuring that our workforce has the skills and training needed to succeed in today’s economy. Business leaders are concerned that many entry-level employees lack the communication and analytical skills that are necessary for sustained job success,” said William D. Green, Chairman and CEO of Accenture and Chairman of Business Roundtable’s Education, Innovation and Workforce Initiative. “JobSTART101 helps prepare new employees meet the challenges of the job market which is essential to building a competitive workforce.”

JobSTART101 is a first-of-its-kind course that’s free and available to college students and recent graduates nationwide. The course includes interactive components such as videos and course workbooks that cover topics ranging from how to communicate and solve problems to how to develop a professional persona that helps drive a career for long-term success. It is designed to be engaging and fast-paced, with the option for students to complete the entire course in approximately 90 minutes or tackle the six topical modules one at a time.

“A student or young professional who spends 90 minutes with this course will be a more productive employee and experience greater satisfaction in his/her first job without having to undergo extensive – and expensive – coursework or training,” says Alexandra Levit, an expert on business and workplace issues and the online instructor for JobSTART101.

Prior to today’s release, a group of college students provided feedback on the course. Six institutions participated in the pilot evaluation: California State University at East Bay, Coppin State University, DeVry University, Duke University, Northern Virginia Community College and University of Michigan. The majority of students reported that the course engaged their interest and included useful information and relevant examples that would help prepare them for situations they would face at work.

The need for JobSTART101 was identified by The Springboard Project – an independent commission of thought leaders convened by Business Roundtable – who recommended specific actions that would help Americans get the education and training they need to succeed in the evolving economy. The experts urged employers to better communicate workforce needs and expectations to students and increase American’s workplace readiness and competitiveness.

Posted October 21, 2010 by

Human Capital Supply Chain

Human Capital Supply Chains book coverOne of the people that I hoped to meet with at the recent HR Technologies conference in Chicago was Tim Giehll, CEO of Bond Talent. Tim has over 30 years of experience in the staffing industry with an emphasis in technology and manufacturing. He’s drawn on his years of experience of managing workforces at IBM, Manpower, Sequent Computers, Chen Systems and Control Data in which more recent work with helping over 800 staffing firms automate their operations.

Tim wanted to discuss the new book that he co-wrote with Sara Moss, co-founder and CEO of The Code Works Inc.. The book, entitled Human Capital Supply Chains, initially put me off because I really, really hate the term “human capital.” I find it, quite frankly, dehumanizing and therefore demeaning. I wanted to talk with Tim about his ideas for the workplace and also see if I couldn’t persuade him to move away from the use of terms like human capital but the meeting just couldn’t happen due to my schedule. Tim was very understanding and even reached out to me after the conference to offer to meet back in our hometown of Minneapolis. He also sent to me a copy of the book.

I’ve read through the book and really like what Tim and Sara have written, even though I still wish they had used a term like “talent” or “human resources” rather than “human capital.” But if you can get past the “human capital” phrase or perhaps not be bothered by it at all, the points that Tim and Sara make in the book are excellent. As stated on the introduction page of their web site, “Corporate leaders who are able to react to market improvements with agility are best positioned to hire the best human capital faster than their competition. Human Capital Supply Chains explains how companies can link their strategic workforce planning and staffing functions more tightly to their business planning functions to optimize workforce productivity and decrease the total cost of human capital, while maintaining or increasing the overall quality of their workforce.”

When I first read that and also watched their YouTube trailer for the book, I was prepared for a cold, bottom line, who cares about people kind of approach to staffing. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, Tim and Sara make the case in the book that when we head into recessions — even terrible ones like we’re coming out of — business leaders should have a more fluid approach to managing their workforces. If the leaders had done a better job of understanding that their businesses were slowing, they would have done a better job of gradually ramping down their staffing levels such as through attrition. Instead, many and perhaps most business leaders reacted in a state of panic and engaged in massive and far more painful layoffs. Organizations of all sizes and the people who work for those organizations would be better served by leaders who “calibrate and fine tune their workforce, quickly responding to changing market conditions in small steps rather than in painful mass layoffs or mass rehire campaigns where workforce quality is likely to suffer.”

If you’re a leader of a large organization, a procurement manager, or a staffing leader, this is a book that you should read. The massive layoffs of this recession are still very fresh in our minds yet I suspect that few organizations have really sat down to de-brief what they did and what they should have done instead. This book will help them with that reflection and planning. We have an obligation to our organizations and shareholders to survive and thrive but we also have an obligation to our employees to treat them as human beings and that means with respect and compassion. Massive layoffs caused by panic in the executive halls is not respectful or compassionate. So whether your focus is on doing right for the bottom line or doing right for your fellow workers, this book will help you.

Posted October 12, 2010 by

Learning How to Recruit and Retain Millennials

Judy Anderson and Terese Corey Blanck of Emerging AdvantageI don’t have a human resources or recruiting degree of any kind yet, as an owner of job board CollegeRecruiter.com, I need to understand the issues facing those who do. I attend a lot of human resource and recruiting conferences and try to take in as many of the sessions as possible and speak with as many practitioners and thought leaders as I can. Today I had the good fortune of listening to two of the foremost experts on the recruitment and retention of Gen Y / Millennial young adults: Terese Corey Blanck and Judy Anderson.

Terese and Judy are the principals behind Emerging Advantage, which helps organizations gain a competitive advantage by providing services which engage and accelerate the development of entry-level employees impacting retention, performance and promotability. In a 2.5 hour presentation to a packed room, Terese and Judy skillfully played off each other and the attendees in first making the case that Gen Y behavior frustrates many employers then proving that it has been misdiagnosed as a generational issue and then laying out specific recommendations for how employers both large and small can recruit and retain those 18-30 year old, emerging adults so they are ready to replace the Boomer Generation as the retirement of those older workers accelerates over the next decade.

The session was sponsored by the Emerging Leaders Association, which also deserves kudos for putting on such an interesting and informative event in an effort to help its members and guests like me guide our future leaders to a state of readiness for the uncertainties and challenges ahead. If your organization is struggling with recruiting and retaining Gen Y candidates, I urge you to contact these two fine organizations to learn more about how they can help.