THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

September 20, 2007   view past issues

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WEDDLE’s Research Factoid: What Do Employers Want?

WEDDLE’s continuously conducts both primary and secondary research on the Best Practices in employment and HR leadership. Recently, we explored the implications of data collected by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills and SHRM. Their joint report, entitled,Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce, provided the results of a survey of over 400 employers nationwide. Its purpose was to determine what skills employers want most and seem to have the most difficulty finding in their new hires.

Workers, of course, need basic skills-reading, writing and math-but, increasingly, they also need applied skills. The following were identified by employers as today’s five most important applied skills for employees: professionalism, teamwork, oral communication, ethics and social responsibility and reading comprehension. The percentage of employers citing each of these skills for high school graduates, two year and four year college graduates were:

  • Professionalism: High school graduates-80.3%; Two year college graduates-83.4%; Four year college graduate-93.8%;
  • Teamwork: High school graduates-74.7%; Two year college graduates-82.7%; Four year college graduate-94.4%;
  • Oral communication: High school graduates-70.3%; Two year college graduates-82.0%; Four year college graduate-95.4%;Ethics & social responsibility: High school graduates-63.4%; Two year college graduates-0%; Four year college graduate-0%;Reading comprehension: High school graduates-62.5%; Two year college graduates-71.6%; Four year college graduate-0%;What the Findings Mean

    While the need for additional skills among candidates is readily apparent to anyone in recruiting, these results suggest that there may also be a number of skill blind spots among employers. For example:

  • Not citing ethics and social responsibility skills as a priority for two and four year college graduates is the equivalent of saying that the Enron debacle was caused by the accounting chicanery of high school graduates. Obviously, that was not the case. In fact, so-called white collar crime now dwarfs the inventory and cash register theft perpetrated by low skilled workers. In other words, we definitely need more honesty and ethical behavior in the workplace, but we need it at all levels of the workforce.
  • Not citing written communication skills as a primary requirement for workers is the equivalent of saying that most work-related communications today occur by voice. While the phone and face-to-face meetings are obviously still a big part of the business day, the predominant medium for employee-to-employee communication is now the written message transmitted online. E-mail is the lingua franca of everyone from sales and marketing and finance and accounting professionals to research scientists and senior executives, and studies show that as many as 50% of their messages are, in some way, misunderstood. The only way to correct that deficiency is to upgrade the written communication skills of everyone in the workforce.
  • There was another interesting finding in this survey. By a substantial majority, the employers indicated that they believe it is the responsibility of educators to fix the deficit in applied skills among workers. With all due respect, I disagree. While teachers are certainly a part of the solution, I think employers must be, as well. The way they do so, however, should change. Instead of fixing the problem once a person is on the payroll, why not offer skills assessment and remediation before they start work? In other words, offer the training to all minimally qualified applicants during the recruiting process and make passing it a precondition of employment. Most recruiting cycles run 60 days or more for an opening, so there’s plenty of time to impart basic applied skills. Sure, there’s a cost involved, but it’s less than when you’re paying the workers involved and providing the instruction during the recruiting process, itself, provides yet another way to evaluate candidates. It will help you determine who has the sense of personal responsibility and commitment to upgrade their own occupational capabilities.

    Please Note: As a part of our ongoing research, WEDDLE’s has been surveying both job seekers and recruiters on the Web since 1996. We’ve amassed hundreds of thousands of data elements probing:

  • what they do and what they don’t do,
  • what they like and what they don’t like,
  • and most importantly,

  • what they think works best.
  • To add your insights and opinions to our research, please visit the Polling Station at the WEDDLE’s Web-site.


    This Issue’s Sponsor: IAEWS

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of the International Association of Employment Web Sites (IAEWS), the trade association of job boards and career portals.

    Why should you care about a trade association for job boards?

    Most job boards are operated in accordance with generally accepted business practices. Some, however, are not. These unscrupulous sites misrepresent the services and capabilities they provide to employers and recruiters and abuse the trust of job seekers. When you use them, therefore, they undermine the return on your investment in recruitment advertising and talent sourcing.

    How can you protect yourself and the organization for which you work?

    Use job boards that are members of the International Association of Employment Web Sites (IAEWS). Every member of the IAEWS has agreed to abide by the first-ever Code of Ethics for the online employment services industry. That code ensures that you will receive accurate information about a job board’s capabilities and that its services will be delivered as they are represented to you.

    Who are the members of the IAEWS?

    You’ll find a complete membership list at EmploymentWebSites.org. Members range from some of the most famous job board brands in the world to highly regarded niche sites that specialize in a career field, industry or geographic region. They include sites that are stand-alone enterprises and those that are operated by newspapers, professional publications, radio stations, associations and alumni organizations as well as the vendors that provide products and services to those sites.

    So, what should you do?

    Shop smart when selecting a job board. Use a site you can trust. Use a member of the International Association of Employment Web Sites.


    Section Two: For Your Consideration

    Peter Weddle has been writing columns for his own newsletter and for the interactive edition of The Wall Street Journal since 1999. The following column has been drawn from that work and updated for 2007. For a complete collection of Peter’s writing, please see our book Postcards From Space.

    A Real and Present Danger

    Not so long ago, a survey of HR professionals put a spotlight on a serious situation that is undermining recruiter performance in the War for the Best Talent. The poll was conducted by the outplacement firm OI Partners, Inc. at the annual conference of the Society for Human Resource Management. Its purpose was to identify the key issues facing HR practitioners in the upcoming year. According to the respondents, the following are the 10 most important challenges, in priority order:

    1. Leadership development and succession planning

    2. Employee retention

    3. Benefits costs

    4. Training

    5. Compensation

    6. Skills availability

    7. Outsourcing

    8. ROI with people (whatever that means)

    9. Workers compensation

    10. The economy

    Why do I think there’s a problem with these results? Take a look at the disconnect between priority #1 and priority #6. It reveals that the respondents (and many other employers) see succession planning as a leadership (i.e., executive) activity, and not a recruiting (i.e., workforce) function. And in my view, that’s a formula for disaster.

    The War for the Best Talent is a battle to source the rare skill holders and superior performers who differentiate the most successful companies from the also-rans. Because these workers are so highly valued, they are almost always employed, so recruiters have to build a value proposition that will convince them to do the one thing all humans most hate to do: make a change. In other words, they must convince the best talent to go from “the devil they know” (their current employer, boss and commute) to “the devil they don’t know” (the recruiter’s organization, a new boss, and a different commute). That’s no easy task.

    Equally as important, it takes a lot of time. In fact, winning over the best talent requires that recruiters build a relationship with them. They have to nurture the prospect’s familiarity with the recruiter, him or herself, and with the organization they represent plus earn their trust and confidence in matters that will shape the future of the prospect’s career. Why go to such lengths? Because the best talent is unlike every other cohort in the workforce.

  • They aren’t active job seekers and thus ready to go the minute we call.
  • They aren’t the average performer who is always looking for a little more money or a little better title.
  • And, they aren’t job hoppers who leap from employer-to-employer every time a slightly better opportunity comes along.
  • That’s why succession planning is so important. Not just for executives, but for all workers. If skills availability is the sixth most important priority for HR people (and I would rank it much higher), then we need to know all of our succession-driven recruiting requirements as early as possible. Whether they’re generated by business growth, the introduction of new technology, the relocation of a facility, or attrition, we need to know what skills the enterprise will (or likely will) need six months, 1 year and 2 years from now. Nobody expects the crystal ball to be perfect, but even being half right is better than being all wrong. Moreover, it is the only way we will ever have the lead time necessary to identify prospective high caliber candidates and build relationships with them.

    Undoubtedly, the CFO will argue that, while succession planning for executives is critical to the enterprise’s success, this messy workforce succession planning is a waste of time. They’ll whine that it requires the addition of headcount and budget in the HR Department, and, of course, they’re right. The return on that investment, however, is clear and compelling.

    The McKinsey & Company report that gave this era its name-The War for Talent-actually quantified and monetized the impact of hiring better talent. It found that an “A” level performer is 50-100% more productive than a “C” level one. With even the most rudimentary math, that means 50%-100% more revenue generated per salesperson, 50%-100% lower costs per product produced or service delivered, and 50-100% higher customer satisfaction scores. You pick the metric, but the business case shows that winning the War for the Best Talent is definitely worth the effort.

    Succession planning is an activity that identifies candidates for critical positions in the enterprise and then ensures that relationships with those candidates are developed so they are ready to say “Yes” whenever a vacancy occurs. While such advance preparation is an accepted practice for executives, it is, all to often, overlooked when it comes to the rest of the workforce. Companies may have been able to get away with such indifference in a labor surplus market, but in an era when critical skills and superior performers are in short supply, it poses a real and present danger to their success.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. Please tell your friends and colleagues about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and benefit from your recommendation. And, we’ll certainly appreciate it too!


    Section 3: News You Can Use

    JobFox.com announced the introduction of a number of new features on its site that are designed to help employers and job seekers make better and more timely connections. These include the Jobfox Resume Tracker which notifies candidates by text message to their mobile phone whenever their resume is viewed by an employer; the Jobfox Tracking Center which provides candidates with information on how they rank for a particular opportunity in terms of job fit and the employer’s level of interest; and the option for Jobfox users to make their online instant messaging presence available to potential employers so the conversation between them can get started more quickly. The site believes that these and other features will significantly increase the participation of passive prospects and, as a result, provide recruiters with a more effective way to wage the War for the Best Talent.

    Technology Review, published by MIT, announced the results of a study which reveals that online advertisements may be effective even when viewers do not click on them. According to the study’s authors, people respond to Web-based ads depending on how they store the ad’s information in their memories. Some information is stored in the explicit memory and is used to decide whether or not to take an immediate action (such as clicking on an ad). Other information, however, is stored in the implicit memory and is used to make informed decisions at a later time. Why is that important for recruiters? Because, a well written job posting that does not generate immediate applicants may do so subsequently if the ad includes more information than the requirements and responsibilities of the open position. What is that additional information? It is a complete and compelling description of the organization’s value proposition as an employer. In other words, every job posting on the Internet should be both a classified ad and an ad that promotes your employment brand.

    WEDDLE’s introduced its 2007 Fall-Winter Training Series. The Series provides a full curriculum of training programs that are delivered by toll-free teleconference. You get the PowerPoint slides for each program in advance, and on the day of the training, you simply call a toll-free number and have the presentation delivered right to you. All of the programs are presented by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle, and draw on WEDDLE’s 10+ years of research into the Best Practices for sourcing and recruiting online. The Fall-Winter 2007 series is sponsored by Bernard Hodes Group. It includes:

  • October 2, 2007: Optimizing the Candidate Experience: The Secret to Selling Top Talent
  • October 23, 2007: Staffing Metrics That Count in the Corner Office
  • November 6, 2007: Googling, Blogging & Other Sourcing Techniques for Passive Prospects
  • November 27, 2007: Blink Recruiting-Getting to “Yes” Fast With Passive Prospects
  • December 4, 2007: Building a Corporate Career Site for Top Talent
  • December 18, 2007: A-to-Z in Best Practices for Online Recruitment Advertising
  • These are great learning opportunities presented by one of our industry’s most highly rated speakers. In addition, you can’t beat the price; it’s hundreds, even thousands, of dollars less than comparable programs elsewhere plus you get discounts for attending multiple programs. Registrations are limited, so reserve your seats now. To get pricing information and sign up, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.916.9424.


    Please Support Our Sponsor: IAEWS

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of the International Association of Employment Web Sites (IAEWS), the trade association of job boards and career portals.

    Why should you care about a trade association for job boards?

    Most job boards are operated in accordance with generally accepted business practices. Some, however, are not. These unscrupulous sites misrepresent the services and capabilities they provide to employers and recruiters and abuse the trust of job seekers. When you use them, therefore, they undermine the return on your investment in recruitment advertising and talent sourcing.

    How can you protect yourself and the organization for which you work?

    Use job boards that are members of the International Association of Employment Web Sites (IAEWS). Every member of the IAEWS has agreed to abide by the first-ever Code of Ethics for the online employment services industry. That code ensures that you will receive accurate information about a job board’s capabilities and that its services will be delivered as they are represented to you.

    Who are the members of the IAEWS?

    You’ll find a complete membership list at EmploymentWebSites.org. Members range from some of the most famous job board brands in the world to highly regarded niche sites that specialize in a career field, industry or geographic region. They include sites that are stand-alone enterprises and those that are operated by newspapers, professional publications, radio stations, associations and alumni organizations as well as the vendors that provide products and services to those sites.

    So, what should you do?

    Shop smart when selecting a job board. Use a site you can trust. Use a member of the International Association of Employment Web Sites.