Archive for April, 2016

Using Professional Associations as a Recruiting Tool

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Social and professional online networking has quickly become an important tool in the Human Resources arsenal for connecting with a larger pool of passive candidates for future job openings. Often, recruiters can narrow their search within these tools by focusing on specific groups or associations to which these candidates may belong or are following.

Using_Associations_for_Recruiting

There are a number of professional associations that focus either on a specific industry or role common across all industry verticals. Many of these associations are large enough to have a national following, with local chapters having regular discussions and expanding membership. Typically, such associations can be divided into one of two groups, functional and technical. Some examples are:

Functional Associations:

  • AAA (American Accounting Association)
    For Accountants, Finance Specialists, Controllers, etc.
  • AMA (American Marketing Association)
    Dedicated to serving the educational and professional needs of marketing professionals
  • CSCMP (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals)
    Worldwide professional association dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of research and knowledge on supply chain management
  • CAI (Capital Associated Industries)
    For members of CAI, we offer the opportunity to post to our job boards, through myCAI, our members only online community which reaches 2,700+ HR and business professionals throughout North Carolina.
  • SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)
    Largest organization for HR professionals including HR Generalists, HR Managers, HR Diversity, HR Business Partners, Compensation, Benefits, Employee Relations, and University Relations

Technical Associations:

  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)
    Known for Mechanical Engineering, but also collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, standards, and certifications
  • INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering)
    Dedicated to the advancement of systems engineering
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
    The largest engineering association in the world with a focus in Electrical and IT/Systems Engineering

Professional recruiters can identify such associations by talking with their existing employees to determine which groups exist and, more importantly, to separate the more “serious” groups from those that may be less organized or less followed.

From here, recruiters can use such group memberships to zero in on their top passive candidates and perhaps engage them directly regarding a current job opening. Proactively, recruiters can begin to assemble a pool of passive candidates to approach with future job openings.

For example, you could add to your search criteria the phrasing “cscmp OR Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals”. Add to this the words “bio OR profile” to eliminate job postings and get the equivalent of a resume or CV. Finally, incorporate “manufacturing OR materials” in order to target specific areas of industry.

Proficiency in mining exactly the results you are looking for will allow you to get the jump on your competition, undoubtedly looking for the same type of candidates in much the same way. By narrowing your search the first time, you can make direct contact more quickly and start a rapport that could lead to the hiring of top talent for your organization.

Candidates with similar skill sets tend to hang out with each other and travel in the same circles. This tendency to form tight bonds with each other, promote online discussions and participate in online associations can be used to your advantage as a recruiter.

renee

Renee Watkins is on  CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team.   A seasoned HR professional with practical hands-on experience in various human resource functions, Renee provides solutions to retain and motivate outstanding workforces.  She also specializes in counseling and advising management for best practices, processes and strategies to support employee morale and organizational effectiveness.

Talent Acquisition: The Power of Recruiter Pushback

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

One difficulty faced by most recruiters is how to balance the desire to provide great customer service to the hiring manager with the need to speak freely about real issues pertaining to the recruitment process. Conducting a brief job specifications meeting with the hiring manager (prior to initiating the recruitment effort) helps to identify the target and set clear accountabilities for both of you. However, there are clearly times when you need to pushback if the hiring manager is not properly partnering with you.  keepcalmandpushback

Done appropriately, pushback can elevate you from being an ‘order taker’ to becoming a trusted advisor whose input and views are solicited before anything takes place involving talent acquisition.

Here are a few reasons that pushback can be helpful:

♦ Pushback sets clear roles, responsibilities, and timelines for successful partnerships. Once established, it will lead to a far more effective working relationship.

♦ Pushback enables an honest exchange of ideas and open dialogue in areas of disagreement. This exchange ultimately translates into doing the right thing for the hiring manager, the candidate, and the company. For example, sometimes you just need to ‘speak up’ and tell the hiring manager that the candidate they have locked onto is just not a good fit.

♦ Pushback demands accountability from your hiring managers and yourself as it relates to the quality of the process, the interview experience, and the candidate experience. For example, if the hiring manager is claiming to be too busy to review résumés or conduct interviews, pushback may be in order.

♦ Pushback educates and informs your hiring manager about the candidates, the market, the desirability of the position, sourcing strategy, obstacles, compensation levels, and the teamwork required to close the deal.

How do you establish pushback so that it is seen as a positive experience that will enhance processes and improve results?

Here are some tips to start:

  • Do not select your most difficult hiring manager to practice on and be sure you prepare for the conversation in advance. For example, if you are pushing back on the way candidates are being treated in interviews, make a list of what the behaviors are and why they are detrimental.
  • Don’t allow pushback to turn into rudeness or disrespect. Always approach the topic in a respectful manner and be prepared to lay out a well-considered case while being open to new ideas. Remember, HR roles are usually advisory in nature and the hiring manager may, or may not, choose to follow your advice.
  • Pick your battles. While some hiring managers welcome feedback and change, many struggle with it. Bringing a laundry list of complaints to the table may put your hiring managers on the defensive. Don’t be afraid of a healthy dialogue. At times it might resemble an argument, and that’s okay as long as the conversation is productive and the end result is positive for both parties.

In summary, think about pushback as a tool to open the lines of discussion and unplug the talent acquisition bottleneck. Plan your strategy, come to the table armed with research, advice based upon experience, and be prepared for some healthy pushback on your pushback. You will be a better recruiter for it.

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Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

 

Spousal Health Coverage Costs Continue To Rise

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Guest blog from Joy Binkley who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

Spousal Health CoverageThe cost of health insurance continues to rise, but the cost of covering one’s spouse is looking to be quite expensive for those spouses that waive their own employer-sponsored benefits. According to a recent survey of U.S. employers, the use of spousal surcharges is expected to double by 2018, from 27% to 56%. The average spousal surcharge is $1,200 per year, which is tacked on the previously determined payroll deduction.

The surcharge is going on top of the fact that employers are just asking employees to pay more to cover spouses and dependent children. More than half (56%) of employers are increasing payroll deductions for spouses, while just under half (46%) are increasing the cost to cover children. This is a trend we are seeing here in North Carolina as well. The most recent CAI 2015-2016 North Carolina Benefit and Cost Survey shows the average medical cost increasing for family rates going up 6.2% versus the previous survey’s increase of 4.4%. Employers are consistently asking employees to pay roughly the same portion as last year, which is 47% of the total premium cost.

Employers are continuing to focus on ways to impact healthcare cost. Besides asking those to pay more that are waiving their own employer plans, some are considering dropping spouses all together. The elimination of spousal health coverage is permitted under the Affordable Care Act criteria. The rational to drop coverage entirely can depend on the underlying benefit strategy. Some employers are dropping coverage due to low (or no current) participation on their plans, therefore eliminating coverage just entitles those that may be subsidy eligible to earn those governmental credits. Other may be considering it due to a financial hardship. Regardless, of the reason the current landscape is quickly changing for spousal health coverage.

Look back on the trends in spousal health coverage in 2014 and 2015, and see how the numbers have changed over the past couple of years.

When Are You Required to Pay Interns?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

With summer months fast approaching, many employers are considering employing interns.  CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team often receives questions regarding pay requirements for interns.  There seems to be one school of thought out there that says the employer can decide whether or not they pay interns.  Well in fact, the USDOL (United States Department of Labor) has issued guidance on this issue (Fact Sheet #71.)  This fact sheet Internspecifies tests that must be met to exclude interns from minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act).

The following criteria must be applied when making this determination:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship

If ALL of the above factors are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the minimum wage and overtime requirements do not apply.

Of course, the decision to pay an intern goes beyond the legalities of such.  There are many differing opinions as to whether or not employers should pay interns.  Local columnist, Alice Wilder at the Daily Tarheel, has written an interesting article on the virtues of paying an intern, that may be useful in making your decision.

Transgender Bathrooms, Overtime Rules and Odor-free Workplaces, oh my!

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

yellow-brick-road-elton-john-mc3a1gico-de-ozFor North Carolina companies, trying to stay in the know about recent federal and state employment and labor laws can be a bit like navigating the yellow brick road.  You never know what perils lie ahead… And, with aggressive enforcement activities by government agencies, staying compliant is more important than ever.

New overtime regulations from the USDOL…expanded definition of protected concerted activity by the NLRB…broadened expectations on “reasonable” accommodations under the ADA… These are just a few reasons why it is more important than ever for employers to ensure that they understand recent employment and labor law and regulations changes.

We know that keeping your organization protected can be both time consuming and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be.  Sure, you can sift through the vast amount of federal and local regulatory information on your own, with online searches or by visiting government agency websites, but how much is your time worth?  Take just two short days out of your busy schedule and we promise that the knowledge you gain from our industry experts and top labor law attorneys will help you make the best decisions for your company throughout the coming year.

Join us for our 2016 Employment and Labor Law Update on May 18 and 19 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.  Conference topics include:

New Overtime Regulations

Transgender Issues

Use of Independent Contractors

The Expansion of “Reasonable” Accommodations

Employee Theft, Embezzlement, and Other Criminal Conduct

Perils of the Digitally Integrated Employee

FMLA Intermittent Leave Abuse

Handbook Headaches

NC Legislative Update and more!

Your Top Performers Can Help Attract Good Talent

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

The recruiting process is, in some ways, very similar to the sales process. In the recruiting sense, the product you are selling to the candidate is your organization and what it can do for them and their career.  As with any sale, you want to position your product in the best possible light, showing key differentiators between your product and your competition.

In an extremely competitive market, like North Carolina, there is an overwhelming array of features and options that can be mixed-and-matched with any product sale togoldfish further confuse the buyer (or candidate).  When faced with so many choices, we often turn to others to see what their experience has been.  This is where your top performers come in!

What is it about your organization that motivates your top performers to give 110% each day?  Why did they choose to “buy” your product, and why do they continue to remain a loyal “customer” today?  The answers to these questions will help you to better position your product against your competition during the recruiting process. Below are a few items that typically motivate top performers.  Your current employees will be able to provide you with what specifically motivates them each day.

  • Compensation – No doubt a paycheck is a strong motivator.  However, the total rewards package also includes other benefits and non-tangible perks such as workplace flexibility.
  • Values – Adoption of a positive corporate culture is one of the most powerful  intangible benefits of working for an organization.  If a company shows a corporate responsibility toward the environment, for example, candidates will appreciate that. Or, if an organization practices charity and giving back to the community, their corporate culture is viewed by many as philanthropic.  These ideals are big attractors for candidates who have similar values.
  • Quality – Product quality and support of the customer base is a big motivator.  It goes back to treating people the way you want to be treated.  An organization that cares about its brand will likely care about its employees in the same manner.
  • Goals – Everyone has goals.  They may be long-range goals, or shorter-range goals which are “stepping stones” to a larger goal.  In either case, when an employee or candidate’s goals are aligned with those of the organization, it is a win-win for everyone.
  • Innovation – Knowing that your organization is open to new ideas and willing to listen to your thoughts on a new product or process can go a long way toward attracting and retaining top performers. Companies that embrace their employees as individual contributors and value their input will have no trouble selling their “product” to potential candidates.

As Human Resource managers, knowing what motivates your top employees today will give you the references you need to convince your candidates to “buy” from you instead of your competitors.  Reach out to your top performers and involve them in the recruiting process.  Ask them what would be important to them if they were interviewing with your company today.  Have them spend a few minutes alone with a candidate to talk freely about why they choose to work here.  If you’re recruiting college graduates, take your stars with you during campus recruiting trips.  We have one member that takes newly hired engineers on college recruiting trips.  They tell potential recruits about all the cool projects they get to work on (whereas in many companies new engineers do grunt work).  This practice alone has helped the company become a destination place for top engineers.  There is nothing more convincing than a solid reference from someone who consistently uses your “product” on a daily basis.

And remember, as Jill Feldman, CAI’s HR ON Demand consultant states, “recruiting and hiring is NOT the sole responsibility of Human Resources. Anyone who has people reporting to them is responsible for recruiting and hiring.  Don’t be afraid to get others involved in the process.

Avoid Making Bad Hire Decisions

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A great hire can inject a spark in your organization that will spread throughout your workforce and drive everyone to raise the bar.  Likewise, a bad hire can deflate your employees, costing time and resources to either train or replace them with a better fit.

The difference between a great hire and a bad hire can often rely on how the interview is conducted.  Below is a list of common mistakes made during the interview process that you will want to avoid.Bad-Employee - Bad Hire

Overlooking Important Skills

Interviewers will sometimes put too much emphasis on the specific skills required for a position while overlooking traits such as critical thinking or initiative, that are often harder to develop or come by naturally.  Organizational fit is at least as important as technical ability.  Many experts argue fit is more important.

Asking Hypothetical Questions

Some interviewers will ask questions such as “How would you handle a problem client?” or “How would you close a difficult sale?”  These hypothetical questions will yield hypothetical answers.  Instead, use “Tell me about how you once handled a problem client?” or “Tell me about the most difficult sale you had to close”.  These answers will relate real experiences for you to evaluate.

No Follow-up Questions

During an interview, some interviewers will ask only one or two questions regarding each job listed on the candidate’s resume.  Instead, dig deeper in order to get more information.  Zero in on a prior job that is closely related to your opening and spend some quality time on that experience.  The details of that job will give you a better idea of how qualified they are for this position.

InterviewingToo Much Talk About Company

Interviews that spend too much time on the company, its history, its product or services, etc., will yield little information on the candidate’s qualifications.  Remember, you are here to find out about this candidate and their experience.  A serious candidate will have already researched your company and would not be at the interview if they were not interested. Spend the limited amount of time you have on what is important – the candidate.  A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be talking more than 20% of the interview time.

 

No Live Testing

As they say, “talk is cheap.”  Questions and answers during an interview worked fine in the past.  If you really want to separate your stars from the pack, simulate real activities the candidate will face.  For example, if interviewing candidates for a sales role, have them prepare a slide presentation of their qualifications and “sell” themselves to your team.  This “live test” cannot be conducted for every role, but use it where applicable.

Intimidation

Likely, there is already enough pressure on the candidate during an interview without deliberately adding more.  Some interviewers, however, will try to see how a candidate responds to high-pressure, intimidating interviews.  High pressure and intimidation is not the norm for the workplace or, at least, it should not be.  Therefore, it makes no sense to put the candidate through that.  It might backfire on you and you may lose a top candidate.

One-sided Viewpoint

A smart interviewer will be very candid and up-front with the candidate about both the positive and negative aspects of the job.  By only focusing on the positive aspects, the candidate will begin to wonder what you are not telling him/her.  This will lead to doubt about the position.  Honestly describing everything about the role, on the other hand, will lead to trust and will help you to avoid surprises down the line.

Inconsiderate or Unprofessional

Never start an interview late or cancel at the last minute without offering an apology.  Do not read your emails or accept phone calls during an interview.  This sends a message to the candidate that they are not important to you or your organization.

Average Attention for Above-average Candidates

Interviewers should remember the candidate is also interviewing the company during an interview session and afterwards.  Top candidates typically have multiple options from which to choose. If you are interested in a specific candidate, let them know by paying special attention to them after the interview. Send a thank-you email and provide them with your positive feedback on how you felt the interview went.  Have a manager or potential employee peer reach out to them and ask if they have any further questions.  Show definite signs of interest on your part in order to keep their interest.

Hire Personalities, Not Skills and Experience

Too often, we tend to want to hire people we like based on their personality or how well they get through an interview.  Do not fall into this trap.  At the end of the day, you want the brightest and most qualified people as a part of your workforce.  Everyone is different and diversity has a way of bringing out new ideas and new forms of collaboration that leads to greater productivity.

Making a bad hire decision wastes everyone’s time and will take some of the energy and momentum away from your company.  Avoiding these common mistakes during the interview process will give you the best potential for making a great hire and building your workforce with strong, qualified employees.
renee

Renee Watkins is on  CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team.   A seasoned HR professional with practical hands-on experience in various human resource functions, Renee provides solutions to retain and motivate outstanding workforces.  She also specializes in counseling and advising management for best practices, processes and strategies to support employee morale and organizational effectiveness.

Good Hiring Managers Make Effective Use of Data

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News & Observer column, The View from HR.

Human Resources and management require soft and hard skills. Still, the best HR leaders and managers succeed primarily because of their soft skills in working with people. The ones who fail usually have inadequate soft skills.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Because HR and management professionals rely so much on their ability to advise, convince and problem solve, they too often underutilize hard skills that could make them even more effective. One hard skill that would make us all better is the regular and effective use of data.

I am not talking here about “big data”, the kind of server clogging repositories that allow marketers to slice you up into multiple consumer categories. No, I am talking about basic data every workplace has, or can easily obtain, to make much better decisions.

We meet employers frustrated with their inability to hire the right people for the job. “Where are the candidates?” “Which internet sites should we use?” Those are probably the wrong questions.

Finding success

A better place to start is where you have success today. Where did the best hires in the last two years come from? How did they find us? Which prospects did we successfully convert at a higher rate than others? Can we find out where this particular skill set “hangs out” digitally and how they prefer to send and receive communications?

When we make good hires but they do not stay long, why is that? Where are they going? What were the reasons? Are we avoiding the difficult pay decisions? Did we talk with them or just warn them not to violate their non-compete clause?

Some data is numerical and some is opinion information sliced in useful ways. For example, we conduct a 31 statement organizational assessment for member companies that asks management team members to rank how they think they are doing on important measures. When the team replies collectively we are at 1 or 2 on “we always hire the best people for the job”, there is a problem.

Right data

The value of HR and management data is to help frame the right questions. If we all agree the company does a poor job hiring great people, then we can ask if we want to improve, the benefits of improving, how we can improve and what resources are needed. Without this data, it is so easy for opinions to dominate and action to be delayed.

Author and businessman Andrew Glasow said: “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” A danger in HR is that the relative lack of traditional numerical data from accounting or operations allows us to hide from the facts. Yes, data must be interpreted, but an imperfect interpretation of reality is better than a mere reaction to anecdotes.

Employers should look for the data right in front of them in the form of opinions, results, behaviors, rankings, ratings, preferences, effectiveness, cost, market pricing, efficiency, rationale, alignment, purpose and points of agreement (or disagreement). It will be well worth the reasonable effort required to collect and analyze.