127 comments on “Recruiting, Retention and Playing in the Rain”

Recruiting, Retention and Playing in the Rain

A few raindrops we ignore. They’re an annoyance, an inconvenience, and we wipe them away with our hands as we hustle through our busy days.
But as the heavens open up and the deluge begins, we become soaked to the bone or we run for cover quickly. Either way the water pools in front of us and we have a choice: rush inside and dry off, watch from under an awning, or we splash through the rushing water together, milk carton boats in hand.
That’s what it’s like with marketing – we want to seep into the mindset of our buyers, and with recruiting that means seeping (and soaking) into the mindset of job applicants. Attracting talented folk to our organizations is an art more than a science – we start with a lot of rain, a funnel and see what squirts out the tiny end.
Then what? The part that’s missing is the middle ground, the engagement, the playing in the rain together before we source and recruit. We hire and we pray (and work hard) for the right fit and employee longevity.
Some voluntary turnover is normal and churn happens, but according to Bersin & Associates, the average cost per hire for all U.S. companies is around $3,500, which can add up. (And for those keeping score at home, this month the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved the first American National HR Standard addressing cost-per-hire, the first HR standard developed solely through the sponsorship of the SHRM.)
Whatever your costs are and how they compare compare to other companies, the higher the voluntary turnover rate is for new hires in year one, the more dramatic the cost per hire numbers can become.
That’s a storm no talent acquisition leader or CFO wants to face. And yet, marketing and recruiting don’t play nice together with retaining candidates long term; they don’t run out in the rain to race to the street river, milk carton boats in hand, solidifying the relationship before the hires are made and after.
A recent article by Dr. John Sullivan titled Do You Need a World Class Retention Program? A Checklist of What It Takes, Dr. Sullivan shares “the most thorough and comprehensive checklist on retention that you will ever see.” I highly recommend it. Surprisingly though, there was really no reference to recruiting as retention partner, and there were only three references to CFO’s playing a role in number-crunching the cost of hiring, turnover and retention.
Let’s go back to marketing rain. Marketing brings in new leads that are generated are then passed over to sales to follow up on and eventually close. Some of them at least. Those in the lead pipeline may be nurtured and marketed to so as to inch them along to close.
Then what? Those that do close become customers and are handed over to account management and customer service folk and then – a year later when it’s time to retain their business and a percentage say thanks but no thanks. “Just wasn’t the right for us.”
User adoption correlates tightly with customer retention, and yet, marketing gets them to the door and sales closes it, then marketing and sales sit on the porch and have a few beers, watching the rain and the employment branding and job applicant kids out playing in it. You’d think that an integrated marketing strategy includes a retention investment, but it’s not.
Same with recruiting talent, regardless if we’re talking contingent, retainer, corporate, RPO — but the argument is that, after the final candidates are presented, even closed, “management” leadership takes over and whatever happens 3, 6, 12 months down the road, isn’t recruiting’s problem.
But I’d argue that insightful leaders understand that reducing turnover, increasing team retention and improving overall quality of fit with workplace culture are huge initiatives in an ever-changing and highly competitive social talent economy. That means everybody pre- and post-onboarding on your team plays a role in “user adoption.”
Recruiting is marketing and sales. Marketing and sales should be customer service, but it’s not. Marketing and sales should be partners in retention. The milk carton boats must be made, together.
So make it rain and let’s play.
5 comments on “Learn to play nice with girls in tech playgrounds”

Learn to play nice with girls in tech playgrounds

Come to think of it, they’ve been all men. Unshaven men wearing “Alcatraz” t-shirts and smelling of taco trucks and Mountain Dew and playing Rock Band or World of Warcraft or Words with Friends.
Okay, that’s a unfair exaggeration, and my apologies to my tech brethren, but it is true that every single technology company I’ve talked shop with of late has had all men creating system architecture, managing IT infrastructure, setting up databases, working out UI, crunching code, fixing bugs and dressing up the software.
All men, with the exception of one recent interaction where there was one woman in a development team of six. Interestingly enough, I’ve seen more female founders and CEO’s in Silicon Valley than actual practicing technology professionals, so that may make more of a difference at some point.
In fact, most of my career in tech marketing, HR and recruiting has included more female counterparts than men. Although certainly not equal, there were more women in the workforce the last two years outpacing men – and of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women.
However, in a recent article about IT professionals, “while hard numbers related to the number of women who work in high-tech as technical support or managers in the private and public sectors in the U.S. today are hard to come by, some studies estimate women constitute 15% to 25% of the ranks at most, and about 8% of managers…To be sure, women in the U.S. aren’t coming out of undergraduate and graduate programs in computers sciences in huge numbers. As of 2009, only 18% of graduates in computer science were women, according to the report.”
Time to evolve, gentlemen. My two little girls, both of whom take smart device usability to uncanny levels, may want to be in tech someday and I’m going to be right there urging them on through school and into their careers (and I will battle you, my tech brethren). According to a recent study by the Anita Borg Institute, an organization dedicated to increasing the role of women in technology, there needs to be a culture shift inside companies today. They need to recruit from bigger candidate pools and advertise positions more neutrally, removing stereotypes and culture references that tell “diverse” candidates to stay away. When hiring, make sure that at least one woman is in the running for every tech job as well as being a part of the recruiting and hiring management teams.
We’re not talking rocket science here. In fact, it can all easily start online today with talent networks, circles, pools, communities, playgrounds even – whatever you want to call them. You can attract like-minded people, male and female alike, interested in specific yet gender-neutral careers, skills, hobbies, technologies, your brand – you name it. Let them communicate with one another, challenge one another without malice, commiserate and collaborate about career commonalities, whether they apply for a job with you today, tomorrow or a year from now (or never).

Of course you’ll promote your brand – you should never stop promoting your brand – but with women dominating today’s colleges and professional schools (for every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same), I recommend you learn how to play nice with girls in tech playgrounds.

11 comments on “The New Relationship Marketing by Mari Smith: High Tech and High Touch”

The New Relationship Marketing by Mari Smith: High Tech and High Touch

Mari Smith, probably the ultimate Facebook guru (see my review in March 2011), is also the author of The New Relationship Marketing that came out last October.
Social networks tend to be perceived as channels, or as conduits that enable us to broadcast information in order to attract attention, and more often than not we may forget the key premise of social networking that Mari Smith’s book reminds us of: “People do business with people they know, like and trust.” So the whole point is: how do you get to be known from people, how to you get them to like you and how to you earn their trust? It’s all about building a relationship that matters to both parties. It’s precisely what “the new relationship marketing” is about.
Mainly targeting “a business person feeling the pressure to shift to using social media marketing to better understand the new soft skills required for success on the social web,” the book is also extremely reassuring and designed to overcome apprehension. The social web is not going to eat you up: anyone can carve up his piece of the always-on society on his own terms. After all, the operative word of the social web is ultimately conversation. Strike it when you want it and how you want it. It’s up to you to decide.
Like Erik Qualman in Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence, which I reviewed earlier this year, Mari Smith dispels the threat that social networks still signify to many people. You don’t need to turn into social media addicts to survive. You need to know what you want to accomplish and work at it in a consistent fashion — as well as leverage key real world social values, and traditional soft skills. High tech is ultimately high touch — i.e. the ability to communicate your core values, to structure the relationship circles that matter to you, and incrementally build on these relationships. Nobody is expected to become an influencer overnight, but it’s up to each of us to create the environment that enables us to create the flow (flow into is the latin root of influence) that others will want to join. In the end, to understand social media, try to forget about the Rolodex metaphor. It’s not so much about who you know as it is about who knows you!
This book is just as endearing as its author — enchanting by all accounts to use one of Guy Kawasaki’s favorite words.
Originally posted on my personal blog.

20 comments on “Career sites will be windows of the marketing and sales soul”

Career sites will be windows of the marketing and sales soul

And there were those who said the internet would kill business (then with a capital “I”). Crazy, don’t you think? We certainly know better now.
I worked in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s where companies scrambled over another like ants to sugar to get a website up, any website up, in order to have a website up. Fast forward to today and we’ve learned a lot about search engine optimization (SEO), lead capture, call-to-action and the fact that according a recent The Economist article there are 4.6 billion mobile-phone subscriptions worldwide (though many people have more than one, so the world’s 6.8 billion people are not quite as well supplied as these figures suggest), and 1 billion-2 billion people use the internet.
One to two billion people use the internet. Research survey after research survey validates that the first place more and more of the growing internet user world goes in online, so it makes sense that the primary business website (and mobile-friendly website) are the eyes to the window of the marketing and sales soul.
Consumer product companies get that and B2B companies are getting it. But what is still lagging is the parallel (and the parable) of the company career sites, portals, pages, whatever you want to call them.
We treat (we can only hope) our prospects and customers like kings and queens because they’re the livelihood of our businesses. However, so are our employees and managers, because they’re the ones who make and deliver the things that are the livelihood of our businesses.
Just as we profile our customers we profile our candidates (or should be), but unlike our core buyers, we should give our future employees the opportunity to profile themselves, to create a “universal profile” that’s portable and includes a 360-view of all interests and skills and experience, housed anywhere they want – LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, other networks – to then be able to move among the online crowd whether they apply for a job or not. Yet.
Granted, talent acquisition technologies including applicant tracking systems (ATS) have been slow to adapt to the online profile – there’s still the “click here” to upload your resume. That’s changing for the better as the candidate experience improves allowing for easy integration of the online profile to the employer of choice, not to mention the benefits of a search optimized professional profile. Kind of like the way we’ve moved into the product and service marketing realm.
And that means that the company career portals will continue to evolve as the final destination – all employment brand fodder and job opportunities will lead to them like sugar trails of Web lore.
Career sites will become windows of the marketing and sales soul. Amen.

2 comments on “Through the recruiting lens”

Through the recruiting lens

It’s not like the polar ice caps of data have been sliding into the warming world around us of late; we’ve been accumulating this stuff for a long, long time.
In recruiting, companies have been accumulating tons of applicant data, mostly in the form of the infamous resume, although more often these days it’s in the form of online profiles (thankfully). Thousands and thousands of people apply for jobs every day at companies around the world, and all that information goes into some kind of data storage – spreadsheets, applicant tracking systems, talent networks and communities, talent management systems and human resource management systems once they’re hired…
Add to that the other sourcing activities of recruiting lore like name generation via stealth cold calls; internet searching and advanced Boolean search; and more recently LinkedIn sourcing; social recruiting sourcing across Facebook, Twitter and other networks; and let’s not forget the old-school way of sourcing at live networking events. There’s more data being stored about applicants (and potential applicants when they’re just shopping employment brands) than ever before – an almost 360-view of professional and personal.
Lots of valuable data that’s then stuffed into electronic boxes and stored somewhat disheveled in the back room. The irony of course being that once they’re stored away, ain’t nobody digging through the boxes at a later time.
“Put a lens on it for me.”
I sat across from him at the table, his team and mine along the periphery, waiting for him to expound on the statement.
He kept flipping back and forth in the proposal pages as if magical insight would jump forth and say, here I am — buy me!
“Yes, that’s what I need to see — put a lens on this for me so I understand what to expect.”
That was only a few weeks ago and has stuck with me ever sense. That’s what any of us need in business, right? Give me a lens on “information” I’m interested in so I can make fact-based correlations, recommendations, decisions and predictions.
The ol’ what’s in it for me shtick. Really this time, in real-time. Because Googling, managing spreadsheets and guessing is so 2007.
Managing data is mind-bending. Even though the human brain can store vast amounts of information, our working memory can only recall up to 7 things at one time.
Easy peasy. But recalling vast amounts of data to make fact-based decisions?
Not gonna happen humanly (yet). Imagine the sheer volume along and you’ll pass out. A petabyte of information is equal to one quadrillion bytes, or 1000 terabytes.My goodness that’s a lot of information. Our minds have a hard enough fathoming a gig much less a handful of megabytes.
Or up to 7 items at once.
But today we can put a lenses on the vast amounts of data we deal with in business and again make fact-based correlations, recommendations, decisions and predictions. We have the storage space and the magic algorithms that make it all happen.
That means that the art of sourcing is becoming more science than art (don’t tell my recruiting friends that). The term is “Big Data” and it truly is big. According to a recent New York Times article titled The Age of Big Data:
Data-guided management is spreading across corporate America and starting to pay off. They studied 179 large companies and found that those adopting “data-driven decision making” achieved productivity gains that were 5 percent to 6 percent higher than other factors could explain.
And more closer to recruiting home:
Today, social-network research involves mining huge digital data sets of collective behavior online. Among the findings: people whom you know but don’t communicate with often — “weak ties,” in sociology — are the best sources of tips about job openings. They travel in slightly different social worlds than close friends, so they see opportunities you and your best friends do not.
We’re going to need more data-literate recruiting analytics experts to better monitor and manage applicant data – from outside the orgs as well as in – and that’s what will give companies competitive advantage in the years to come. Not that sourcing pros and recruiters can’t do some of this today, but as the warm data waters rise, we’re going to have to be able to dive deeper than ever before to monitor, analyze and comprehend an increasingly complex world of work and vast amounts of information while delivering more effective sourcing, recruiting and quality of hire.
“Put a lens on the recruiting world for me, would you?”
Absolutely. We can do that now. As Dominique Hermsdorff, VP of Engineering at TalentCircles puts it, “Today, we have too much data and not enough of the right information. Moving from resumes to profiles and profile analysis will transform your data into actionable information.”
2 comments on “Talent network evangelists unite!”

Talent network evangelists unite!

With all the talk of the online job boards dying and the resume dying, you’d think they were dying.
They’re not. In fact, according to an article on
For being so out of fashion, so yesterday, job boards manage to come out on top or top-adjacent on nearly every source of hire study. In a Bersin & Associates surveythis fall job boards tied for first with internal transfers as the leading source of all hires. CareerXroads says job boards produced 24.9 percent of all external hires in 2010, second only to employee referrals (27.5 percent).
Resumes are uploaded to job boards continuously every day. So, the reality is that the models are evolving – meaning, resumes are becoming online profiles and job boards are becoming talent networks.
Well, the former more than the latter (fact is, talent networks are evolving into interactive job boards and then some). Remember when you used to painstakingly format your resume, or pay someone to do so, in one of multiple standard formats, and then mail it to employers you wanted to work for?
Some of you older kids do, like me. And even when we evolved and moved to electronic formats in our resumes, they were in multiple formats that didn’t include what we now include when it comes to our growing online footprint.
Think about these stats:
  • Facebook is nearing one billion users globally – and growing.
  • LinkedIn is over 135 million professionals around the world – and growing.

LinkedIn is a no-brainer. It’s become the new standard by which the online resume, or better known as the online profile, is managed by the above millions and millions of professionals around the world. And it’s become the first choice of recruiters and hiring managers worldwide to source and recruit candidates.
Facebook is right about the corner. Still primarily known for a media-rich playground where friends and family play, it’s becoming fast a new playground for recruiters and hiring managers seeking candidates in Facebook users who are updating their profiles to include their careers, skills and experience.
Consider this: Facebook, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), DirectEmployers Association (DE), and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) created the Social Jobs Partnership. The partnership’s goal will be to facilitate employment for America’s jobless through the use of social networks, including job postings delivered through Facebook at no charge. That is very cool.
I’ve written about this before, but for those of you already have an online career profile you manage, as well as you employers that source and recruit online and value the online profile over the resume, please evangelize to accelerate the rest of the world, because this is where it’s going.
In fact, the career management industry can help too by sharing some of the same best practices applied to the resume that can and should be applied to the online profile:
  • A consistent standard layout for portability
  • A concise professional summary
  • Accomplishment highlights that are relevant to the bottom line
  • A clear timeline of professional activities that account for any gaps
  • Search-optimized profile with the keywords you want to be found for
  • Request multiple online recommendations as well as giving them
  • Update regularly whether you’re looking for a job or not

Let’s get everyone to know the power of the online profile! Talent network evangelists unite!

2 comments on “You can stuff a Potato Head, but you can’t fake community”

You can stuff a Potato Head, but you can’t fake community

It’s been on the market for decades and it’s barely evolved from its original state. Sure it’s added a myriad of enhanced accessories over the years, some more fun and attractive while others are more utility than anything, but fierce competition from more technologically advanced products threaten to extinguish its presence once and for all.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato head, time to ride off into the sunset.
Or is it? As parent of two little girls in a family of “Toy Story” fanatics – that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. In fact, these toys have lived revival after revival over the years.
Like the applicant tracking system (at least in their own unique short history). Wait, I know you’re thinking, “C’mon, Kevin. Really?”
Yes, really. Maybe you remember EZaccess, the software created for staffing firms way back in the mid-1990s. Or, maybe you remember when it became Personic and then Unicru and then to the many flavors of talent acquisition software on the market today.
Applicant tracking systems for the most part store candidates and candidate stuff; you can also store stuff in your Potato Heads. But the trend of late is to add features and enhancements to make the systems more seemingly social, to go beyond talent storage to talent networks via social recruiting activities – posting jobs on social networks and sourcing candidates from them. And there are a lot of quality talent acquisition systems out there scrambling to add social.
But that alone doesn’t make for talent networks and quality connections and engagement – facilitating communication and activities between candidates as well as employers and candidates, 3-way conversations do.
The key here being the interactive activities and the orchestration within. And it’s the people that make that happen, whether one-on-one or in groups. It’s the HR pros, the recruiters, the hiring managers, the candidates and those who are interested in the employment brand but haven’t actually applied for anything yet (and may never apply). The talent network then orchestrates how systems are used and in turn creates “community” of sorts.
It’s really dark inside the Potato Heads especially when all the appendages are attached, all the holes plugged. That’s what it’s like with the basic social functions of ATS’s today. Applicants are sourced, filtered and stored, but there’s no interaction inside, and only limited outside. Just cold and dark and lonely and the qualified applicants inside aren’t going to wait, just stagnate and move on to other talent networks.
The quality interaction that which engages is what happens outside of the cold, dark stasis. Potato Heads on their own aren’t connector networks, but where they’re played with, when the kids (the applicants) and the parents (the employers) conduct the orchestration between Potato Heads and one another, then the reason-to-stay fun begins.
It’s got to be a 3-way Potato play:
  • Playing solo with all the interactive accessories (career management exercises, assessments, etc).
  • Playing live in similar groups (“kids” with other “kids” – white boarding, mentoring, video chats)
  • Playing live in mixed groups (“kids” with the “employer” – webinars, training, video chats)

You can stuff a Potato Head, but you can’t fake community. And basic ATS social just isn’t enough to drive the interactive engagement you need to stay competitive with the right talent.

2 comments on “The Strategic Role of Sourcers in the Social-driven Economy”

The Strategic Role of Sourcers in the Social-driven Economy

by Sean Sheppard and Marylene Delbourg-Delphis
The role of sourcers is changing as quickly as the role of marketers and in very similar fashions.
The times when marketers assumed that customers would buy a product because they needed it (or be brainwashed by advertising into believing they did) are rapidly vanishing. Today, as consumers, we expect to build a relationship with a company. We expect an experience – a positive experience, not the “bad” experience that makes us return products and try competitors – as well as vent our disappointment on social networks or other public venues such as Groubal.
In today’s competitive business environment, consumers demand personalized attention before and after any transaction. So do job seekers. They don’t want to be treated as interchangeable pawns, even for lower positions. People are not job-fillers… They are people first – and if they are unhappy, they’ll just look for another opportunity. Let’s keep in mind that the vast majority of people who look for or are open to a new job already have one!

It’s time to start looking at things a little differently.

Staffing departments, just as all other departments must rewire the way they work to succeed in a world where brands are no longer what companies alone shape up, but are equally what customers/users declare to their friends and peers on social networks as “great” or “poor.” When our friends speak ill of a brand, do we rush to buy from it? No. We look at the competitor.
Candidates are just like customers. In fact they are customers, not wretched creatures who can be talked to condescendingly and should be happy to be offered a job no matter what. If they don’t like your brand, if they don’t gain sincere insight on what it’s really like to work for your company, they’ll go next door. You will lose that top 1% that all sourcers want to find, regardless of what this top 1% represents — whether it is the cool kid who has the potential to be an amazing administrative assistant, or a brilliant, tenured engineer.

A new approach to sourcing

So what can sourcers learn from what the social media groups in marketing and customer service departments are doing? How can they combine their efforts to engrain “social,” engagement, and relationship marketing into the corporate modus operandi? The urgency for such cross-departmental collaboration is all the more obvious as sourcers are in charge of identifying the job candidates who will be the flag-bearers of the “socialized” brand and the representatives of the new corporate behaviors.
Below are examples of conversation starters that sourcers can use to start learning from their social media and marketing counterparts:

  • How is social media redefining the company’s brand strategy?
  • How can we combine efforts in relationship marketing?
  • How can I/we become a digital leader and empower teams into digital leadership?
  • How is social media impacting key performance indicators?

In truth, sourcers are poised to become critical touch points in the “social” economy, for sourcing is where it all starts. Sourcers must immerse themselves into the engagement culture that will be able to spot and attract the socially connected who in turn will help companies to migrate from the 2000′s to the 2010′s and beyond.
By engaging and remaining connected with candidates, whether or not there is an available position for them at a particular point in time, sourcers have the power to turn potential job seekers into fans, and provide them with a sense of belonging and relevance. And just as marketers, sourcers will have a critical role in building the value and the equity of a brand within social networks, because social is a key differentiator. In the years to come, social capital will become a major indicator of companies’ performance and impact their market cap.
Sourcers and marketers have all the reasons in the world to share insights and collaborate in order to better adapt to a fast-changing business environment. They work for the same company and can only benefit from the success that can be found in combining forces – start the process of cross-company education and start learning from one another!
Originally posted on SourceCon.

3 comments on “Social Recruiting 2.0: Own Your Talent Network”

Social Recruiting 2.0: Own Your Talent Network

From Social Recruiting 1.0 to Social Recruiting 2.0

Social Recruiting today primarily refers to the ability to post jobs and spot candidates on public social networks, and comes across as the equivalent of classified advertising on new channels. It’s business as usual, only with an extended reach. Is it “social?” Marginally. Does it substantially change the way organizations engage with candidates? Scarcely. Does it significantly improve the candidate experience? Minimally. Does it simplify the life of recruiters, improve their relationship with hiring managers, reduce costs and time-to hire? Barely.

Using social networks as a sort of outsourcing mall for everything social is only a small part of the socialization of business and may even end up weakening the Web presence of a brand: “why would you spend so much over the last 10–15 years in marketing money to get people to your web site only to send them somewhere else?” asks Jeremiah Owyang, one of the most prominent analysts in social media. In other words, what becomes of your Web identity as an organization and how do you differentiate yourself from all the other companies that compete for the same talent as you do? That’s what “social recruiting” as it is performed today doesn’t address.

Social Recruiting 2.0

What is Social Recruiting 2.0? A way for recruiters to leverage technology to scale what’s part of their DNA: create relationships, facilitate and encourage connections with and between people, communicate the brand identity, its purpose, and its values, and identify talents to whom hiring managers will relate.

When companies compete for the top 1% in whatever category (the best engineers as well as the best administrative assistants) and 6o% of employees are actively seeking or open to a new job, how can you intercept and nurture the attention of potential candidates? The only way is for companies to create a hub for people and information, a place “where people and company opportunities meet,” as Gerry Crispin likes to say. This means welcoming candidates into a trusted private social network where recruiters can maintain a bond between the brand they represent and the people. The Social Recruiting 2.0 approach prompts an environment conducive to focused interactions between a company and the candidates and fosters a continued engagement that enables recruiters to meet, retain and select people who show true interest in the company’s culture and its values.

Great candidate service is as critical for any brand as is great customer service. Recruiters are poised to be at the forefront of listening and engagement and will play a critical role in the socialization of businesses.

Is it time to jump into Social Recruiting 2.0?

Yes. Social Recruiting 1.0 only adds a social “layer” to recruiting, which only adds complexity on top of sometimes unyielding systems. Social Recruiting 2.0 transparently embeds connectedness between people and information, and makes it as natural as in our everyday lives. Simplicity drives effectiveness, which in turn drives ROI.

The TalentCircles Social Recruiting 2.0 design reconciles recruiting networking and technology by mimicking real life interactions in a turnkey “social” home that you will master in a matter of minutes.