Are you feeling overwhelmed by trying to keep track of open requisitions, or the candidates you have in the interviewing process? Not to mention the candidates with unanswered offer letters or those that have accepted or declined an offer. There are a lot of moving pieces in the acquisition process, now add to that the expectations of the candidates themselves and you could end up spending more time writing emails and making phone calls than actually recruiting anyone!
In their book “The War for Talent,” Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod tell us more about the new reality created by the war for talent. Within the old reality, people needed companies; machines, capital, and geography were the competitive advantage; better talent made some different; jobs were scarce; employees were loyal and jobs were secure; and people accepted the standard package they were offered. However, within today’s new reality, there is a shift more towards focusing on and keeping employees because companies need people; talented people are the competitive advantage and better talent makes a huge difference; talented people are scarce; people are mobile and their commitment is short term; and people are demanding much more.
While the employee/employer relationship of today impacts every type of business, it has an even more profound impact on project based organizations. You rely on your people to deliver world class projects every day. Without them, your projects suffer, your customers suffer, and ultimately, your bottom line shows the negative consequences. BUT, there are better ways to cope with the challenges of talent acquisition.
With this new reality in mind, let’s cover what you can do to stay ahead of the curve and secure the strongest candidates in the marketplace. Firstly, you need to expedite the talent acquisition process, secondly, understand how talent pools can help you keep track of those highly specialized roles, and finally, how optimizing employee branding and the candidate experience can make a huge difference for your organization.
Expediting Talent Acquisition
The days of candidates flocking to your website to apply for positions is over. Remember, if they are a great employee, you can bet you are not the only one trying to convince them that your organization is the best place for them. Mindsets have shifted. The dialogue is no longer “why should we give you a job”, instead it’s “why our organization will be a great place for you to build your career.” This means we need to rethink our hiring process completely to understand how to present a strong value proposition to prospects. People want to work where the culture is strong and the projects are interesting. How are you communicating that to prospective employees?
All this change gets a whole lot easier when you leverage technology to track and adjust your processes.
To get a clearer picture of your talent acquisition process, take a look at it and break it down into intervals of time between each of the steps between the job posting and the first day on the job – from when a candidate was sourced, to when they were screened, to when they were interviewed, etc.
Considering you have this information available – both the steps and time to fill – a part of the equation you might be missing is how long it takes you to complete each step. This piece of information lets you know right away if there are any steps that are consistently taking longer than others, and gives you a chance to evaluate your processes to make them more efficient. According to Dr. John Sullivan, the steps that tend to hold up the process the most are:
Approving new job postings
Each of these steps can be tracked in an ATS, a great tool to aid you in the reporting of this information. Reporting on the average amount of time in each step can help to identify blockages and where to focus to improve processes and efficiency for future hires. At the end of the day, it’s all about having the right people available at the right time to keep your projects staffed and running smoothly.
For example, through reporting you can identify if you are indeed struggling with approvals of job postings, where to make improvements to the process and if the changes you are making are improving the timing.
How Brilliant HR’s Talent Acquisition solution can help:
When creating a requisition, approvers for that requisition can be established. These approvers then receive email notifications to accept or reject the requisition, with reminders if they do not take action.
You application process can include screening questions that score applicants as they apply to the requisition. These can be used to auto-screen candidates, or you can review these responses as a part of your initial review.
When it is time to interview a candidate, the Brilliant HR ATS gives you the ability to select dates and times to send to the candidate, which they can then accept or reject online.
You can also report on how long each of these steps takes, and evaluate if there are areas you can improve.
Another area an ATS can assist with is in building and maintaining talent pools. Deltek’s Clarity research shows that finding qualified talent is a top challenge for project based firms and establishing talent pools can really help to flag candidates that you want to stay in touch with for future opportunities.
As resumes are added to your ATS, you can review and then flag those that would be a good fit for future openings.
Maintaining talent pools by continuously accepting and flagging resumes from strong applicants can help you move faster when you win a new project, or when someone leaves unexpectedly and a succession plan for that individual is not in place. In his post The Smart Move for Growing Companies Is to Always Be Recruiting Talent, David Ciccarelli further expands on how having a pipeline in place can help, and some techniques for expanding the pipeline.
In the example of where someone leaves unexpectedly, this is where having a pipeline of candidates can be critical, filling that gap sooner rather than later. There is nothing worse than having to delay a project start date because you lack the appropriate resources!
How our Talent Acquisition can help:
When you review a resume, you can add that resume to a pool so that you can easily find them in the future.
Pools enable you to keep lists of candidates with specific requirements, helping you stay in touch with those job seekers with email communication. These lists can be generated manually or through the use of search agents that automatically add to the list. They can also be shared for easy access to information. Inviting job seekers in these pools to apply to job openings they are a good fit for and have the appropriate skill set. Again, potentially filling a position quicker by already having the talent defined by using Talent Pools.
Employee Branding and Candidate Experience
It is very important that you are attractive to candidates as an employer; their experience moving through your online application and hiring process can have a huge impact on this perception. An ATS can help you identify areas where applicants drop from the process and make it easier to keep in touch so that your organization avoids giving candidates the “black hole” experience.
A recent Forbes article gives some insight into some of the things that job seekers found negative in the process.
60% of employers “never bothered letting me know the decision after the interview”
43% of candidates found out during the interview “the job didn’t match what was written in the job ad”
34% of the candidates said the company representative “didn’t present a positive work experience”
This is where a focus on your branding and candidate experience aided by an ATS help to ensure that your offer is the one that gets accepted!
How our Talent Acquisition can help:
You are able to create your own email templates for notifications, and then tie those to different steps in your recruiting workflow to make sure that you are keeping candidates informed.
You can access your listing of job descriptions when starting a requisition, and use those descriptions to fill in your job description and requirements within the requisition form.
Talent Acquisition can assist you with your career center – the Brilliant HR and Deltek teams work with you for a branding experience that matches your company’s needs, while providing you with the ability for applicants to find and view jobs online (including on their mobile device). This also includes an application process, where you drive the steps and information collected from your applicants.
Here are four tips for attracting young talent into your organization.
Tip 1: Create a Compelling Job Posting
When looking for jobs today, candidates want to get a really good idea from the job description what they will do every day, how they will contribute to the company, and what they will gain from working with your company. Simply posting a bullet-ed list of requirements and responsibilities is no longer enough to grab their attention. You could be missing out on some great candidates by writing descriptions that don’t address their major concerns. Are you giving them enough information and are you taking advantage of all of the new media that is available to you? Share graphics, videos, and other resources on social media to draw candidates in and pay special attention to focus on information important to them.
Tip 2: Look in Non-Traditional Places
Sometimes your best candidates aren’t those found through traditional listings on your website or standard job boards. Often the key to finding the right talent is making the most of all candidate sourcing channels available to you. Build and maintain your referral networks, reach out on niche job boards and leverage professional organizations to access candidates who may not be actively searching for a new position. Encourage your employees to leverage their networks and social media presence; it’s a great way to find candidates and to build your company brand.
Tip 3: Make the Interview Evidence-Based
It is important to know that the people you bring in can do the job – that they have the right skills and experience required to step in and successfully perform in their new position. Prepare a standardized set of questions to ask each candidate interviewing for the position. This is a good way to draw more accurate comparisons between candidates. An effective way to understand how someone might fit into the team is to ask detailed questions about their experience and how they would perform routine tasks. Pose typical problems they might encounter on the job, and ask them how they would address them. This can provide more tangible evidence of their experience and how they think on their feet.
Tip 4: Define Your Measures for Success
Let prospective employees know how your company measures success. What do they need to accomplish to be a top performer, and what is your reward or recognition structure for those who do perform to your expectations? Are incentives both employee and team oriented? Is there a career path and what is it? In order to hire and retain exceptionally talented people in the new workforce, you have to work hard at it. It’s a two way street. You must keep them motivated and inspired and give them work that fills their sense of purpose and lets them know they are valued.
Who exactly comprises the “new” workforce? Most likely, your mind went generational, and applied this term in that vein. Perhaps you briefly thought of new employees within your organization. You may have applied the term universally to anyone entering a new career. While this may largely be comprised of the millennials and generation Z, this also applies to those who are entering the workforce at a later stage in life. But what about those of us who adapt and evolve? Those of us who are open to new experiences, challenges, ideas and opportunities? Those of us who are resistant to change, content or happy where we stand? How about just thinking of the “new” workforce as all of us…the “modern workforce”?
When we read studies, observe behaviors, read social media articles, or are just in tune with society, we know that the workforce, and people, have evolved. Unfortunately, no matter how much we read or know, so many of our organizations have just not caught up. If we are approaching this from an HR/business process perspective, let’s use an example that states the following: long gone are the days where employees seek meaningless, exhaustive performance appraisals. That said, feedback…i.e. meaningful, timely feedback is something all generations crave. We seek out feedback both in our personal and professional lives. We desire to know where we stand in our relationships, and we seek specific, relevant feedback than can help us progress, advance our knowledge and position, and solidify and grow our relationships.
In addition to such feedback, autonomy and flexibility are often items we think of with the new workforce, but more importantly, how about versatility? Stability? Financial reward? How about development and opportunity for growth and advancement of skills/our career paths? A recent Forbes article discussed the volume of Generation Z entering the workforce. The article states they are looking for good money, job security, opportunities to advance rapidly, excellent mentoring, the chance to showcase their competitive nature and more. Where I struggle is, are these really qualities of just one or two generations? Although I read more and more that these are characteristics of millennials and generation Z, honestly as a former HR executive, I know these qualities to be important across all employees. This includes generations, different socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. We all have evolved, and while there are differences among us, let’s not be so quick to pin characteristics only on certain groups of people.
As stated, development is also strongly valued. Knowing that, why aren’t most of our organizations meeting this basic employee need? Various studies show anywhere from 60%-80% of companies do not have a formal learning management system that fuels development. A Gallup poll recently showed that only 21% of employees strongly agree that their company’s performance management process motivates them. A recent Business Insider survey shows 71% of millennials are dissatisfied with their development plans and are planning to leave their employer in the near future. Maybe not all of these aforementioned characteristics are important to each of us, but one or more apply to all of us.
Let’s get back to our example about performance appraisals. We know that all generations value specificity and meaningful feedback, yet so many organizations are still mired in long, exhaustive appraisal cycles. We are riddled with a lack of trust, including long approval paths for anything that needs to be moved forward. We are so concerned with measurements (which are very important), but seem satisfied measuring many of the wrong items…items which hold no real business value or are not actionable. Reporting to the CEO that our average accountability score is 4.3 out of 5 is not actionable. Scoring an employee in March on items that happened 14 months ago is not useful. A long workflow that goes through 9 steps and multiple approval stages is not practical in an agile world.
Think of a calendar year, and nod along (or off to sleep) to this scenario. We are supposed to be delivering final appraisal feedback/scoring in December; however, because we have outdated processes that are not relevant, timely, specific or interesting/meaningful, appraisals rarely get completed. Next thing you know, it’s March, and 45% of our appraisals are still not completed. We are almost a full quarter into the new fiscal year, and we still can’t tie a bow on the prior year. Are you really interested in spending time in March on objectives from last year? Of course not. So why aren’t we changing, and why aren’t we giving the new/modern workforce what they want?
Every executive roundtable has discussed its organization’s appetite for change. Do we welcome it? How does our staff handle it? Are we good at developing change management principles and do we communicate and execute well? While these are important discussions, Harvard Business Review tells us that there are some significant reasons we (people) don’t move forward with change. When we know change is coming, we fear we will lose control in areas we may currently have control over. We become uncertain about what’s next for us, and as creatures of habit, we are frightened. We dread more work will come with change, and we are fearful that new processes will shed a negative light on the old ones we developed. As a result, we feel we will lose face and begin to feel incompetent.
I get it, change can be scary and intimidating. Changing a business process, switching software, moving to a new town, leaving an abusive partner, etc. The unknown can intimidate us, and the “what ifs” will paralyze us. But as we deal with HR and business processes, or life in general, I choose to look at it a little differently. We aren’t necessarily “changing”. Many times, we are simply “catching up” or moving through phases that we might have had to endure to get to where we need/want to be. And sometimes, we have to go through long periods without good process, innovation, support, care, positive relationships, etc. to get to a better place in life.
Take something like music for example. Most people have their favorite genre or decade. And when we find that era that we love most, we often look at the prior era and think less of it. Here is your example. The 80’s. For many people who loved 90’s or 2000’s rock, they look at the 80’s and think it was a dumpster fire. But for those of us who didn’t like the 80’s (I am not one…I loved them, because who doesn’t look good in a “Frankie Say Relax” t-shirt?), we need to change our perception to understand how it was a necessary part of the evolutionary journey.
So what does this have to do with HR/business processes? Well, we unfortunately had to go through a long period of ineffective performance management, lack of development, and poor understanding of people in order to get to a much easier, relevant, meaningful way of managing people. We had to evolve our understanding of relevance, and develop trust to craft better process. We needed technology to advance in order to have better collaboration or allow remote work/flexibility. We had to suffer through the 80’s to get to the 2000’s, music fans. My question to you now is, how much longer do we need to keep suffering through the 80’s to get to where you want to be? Are you prolonging the 80’s unnecessarily? I know you love that t-shirt, but it may be time to break it out only on throwback day at the office.
Here we are, 2018. My iPhone recognizes my face, I’m playing Jeopardy on my Echo Show (I promise, I do have actual friends too), and an AI chat bot can fix my internet connection. Many of us though, are still mired in outdated processes and approaches to people (personally and professionally). Fraught with fear of change, we are paralyzed daily by our inability to act. So here is the call to action. Stand up. Embrace modernization of HR/business processes. Ditch the old irrelevant processes… long appraisal cycles, lack of investment in learning and development, lack of trust in approval processes, lack of flexibility and inability to manage by deliverables. Stare fear down, and no longer allow it to own you. I keep mentioning the personal side too. Invest in those around you. Seek feedback on how you can improve. Be vulnerable and open to change so you maintain the relationships you value.
You won’t be seen as incompetent, and you won’t lose face. You will be seen as someone who truly values improvement, and is ready to progress through the 80’s to get to the 2000’s…because you care about those around you. You want to be at your best for your loved ones, your employer, and you want to contribute to continuous improvement by staying relevant and versatile.
Spend some time thinking about what the modern workforce wants. Investigate your processes. Are they truly meeting the needs of this workforce? If not, you will suffer massive retention issues, face incredibly difficult uphill battles with talent acquisition, and be irrelevant as an employer in your industry/market. Do not prolong the 80’s. Do not be afraid to admit it’s time for something new, and please be the one to act on it.
In 2017, Baby Boomers will be between 53 and 71 years old. Their waning numbers underline the need for good succession planning, especially since this segment likely represents the majority of the senior team. Yet 68% of firms have no formal succession plan leaving organizations at risk when baby boomers retire.
While succession planning is typically thought of as more of a learning and development discussion, more and more organizations are finding the need to tap recruiters’ skills for both external recruitment and internal redeployment of roles, finding talent that is often overlooked or neglected by traditional development methods.
Retirement Trends for 2017
According to Deltek’s 2016 A&E Clarity Report:
1 in 10 workers in the A&E industry fall into the Baby Boomer or Millennial categories.
The average turnover is around 13.3%. Departing Baby Boomers are likely contributing to this number but turnover is being driven primarily by voluntary departures.
As retirement rates accelerate for Baby Boomer-era partners who have historically bore the lion’s share of the Business Development burden, the responsibility is now spreading throughout the organization.
59% of firms have the same number of open positions as last year, while 1 in 4 firms reported more open positions and only 16% reported fewer. Large firms had the most unfilled jobs with more than 30% reporting a greater number of open spots than last year. Large firms are losing employees faster than their small and mid-sized counterparts, highlighting the need for better processes to engage and recruit employees.
70% of firms rank talent acquisition as one of their top three most expensive HR processes, with succession planning at the sixth most expensive.
Just 19% of companies surveyed said they have a repository that helps them source and acquire talent for projects.
68% of firms have no formal succession plan or the plan applies only to a select few people leaving organizations at risk when baby boomers retire or a key member of the firm leaves unexpectedly.
Prevent lack of leadership or critical talent
Identify talent gaps
Identify individuals with potential
Speed up development
Minimize leader turnover
Discourage talent hoarding
Goals of Succession Plans
Shortcomings of Traditional Succession Planning
Succession plans fail when you don’t have the right mindset, processes, and support to make them succeed. There are some things you should definitely think about to reduce the chances that your plans will not work out.
Don’t use the “set it and forget it” mentality. Let’s face it – things change and you need to make sure that you are able to account for those changes. People leave; availability changes; the company changes direction. You need to be thinking about these things when making plans and evaluate the plans regularly (at least once or twice a year) to make sure that you still have the best people identified as successors.
Have a backup plan. Again, things change and you don’t want to be caught in a lurch if there are unforeseen changes. It is a good idea to have other potential successors identified provide for flexibility in succession planning.
Develop your potential successors. Once you’ve identified potential successors, make sure you groom them so that they are ready if they need to step up. Under-developed leaders weaken the entire organization, erode workforce confidence, and impact job satisfaction. Make sure you have the resources in place to get your successors ready for the next step.
Include managers in the process. This will not only broaden your search, but it fosters engagement. Both managers and team members feel they have a voice and are represented in the company’s planning.
Consider your entire workforce. If you only consider HiPos, you may miss hidden talent. Don’t overlook talent that is new to the company. And make sure to consider all important criteria, not just past jobs held and skills/competencies.
Listen to what your employees say they want. This encourages engagement, positively impacts retention rates, improves job satisfaction, contributes to overall business success and demonstrates support for employees’ goals and aspirations.
Don’t keep your employees in the dark. Tell employees they are on a succession plan. This is a huge opportunity to impact retention in your highest performers, and this engagement can impact the bottom line. Also, keeping employees aware can motivate self-development.
Tapping Recruiter Skills for Finding Talent
Recruiters can be a great resource for identifying potential successors within your organization. They are already strong at sourcing for openings, and those same skills can come in handy for succession planning. Recruiters have multiple sources at their disposal, can ensure the job is the right fit, and can include external candidates.
Your recruiting team can also be a valuable resource in building career paths for employees, evaluating the quality of new hire, looking at HiPo employees to build interview questions, and sharing information with managers.
Another good reason for including recruiters is that sometimes (unfortunately) managers might not be the most reliable source for identifying potential successors. This happens when managers fail to develop their talent, either for their current role or future possibilities. Also, some managers will hold back employees who are ready for more because of the impact that would have on their team’s performance. Study after study identifies bad managers and lack of challenge/opportunity as the number one and number two reason people leave a job. This could lead to your best talent being deprived of growth opportunities and walking out the door.
From finding the best talent and the right fit for your company to looking internally at the possible employees who are best suited to take on a higher role. Understanding your company’s values and culture and having the right systems in place will help make the transition to the next role easier.
The subject of millennials is similar to the subject of technology, they both have changed the workforce in the last decade. As a millennial myself with mostly millennial peers, when I thought about hiring my generation and what we bring to the workforce, I thought about our goals and what motivates us. I can think of a clear difference in motivation compared to other generations. Everything from conversing and how we interact and socialize with our coworkers to our expectations about work was shaped by our upbringing. The millennial mindset is heavily influenced by the growth of technology as well as stress levels from finances and the pressure to compete with your neighbor.
With the growth and expansion of mobile technology, we can see that millennials are a lot more public via social media. Millennials hear about jobs via social media (like Facebook) and also through interactions on Twitter/LinkedIn. Once it is out, millennials search and find it. The next step for most of them is getting hired. Employers assessing the value of the applicant and also the pros and cons they hear in rumor mill about hiring millennials can be quite the challenge.
What are the pros and cons about hiring millennials?
Bring energy and excitement to their role
Flexible working remote or in the office
Create or want to be a part of an active company culture
They are harder to retain because they job hop more frequently
More demanding on flexibility on job
More demanding for work/life balance
Want more recognition from higher ups
They get bored easily and need to be kept stimulated
Sometimes carry a sense of entitlement and aren’t willing to work hard and “pay their dues”
So with all of that, how do companies maintain millennials if they are constantly hopping from one venture to the next? Or getting bored easily and carrying a sense of entitlement since they aren’t willing to “pay their dues?”
First, we need to understand their frustration. A majority of millennials attend college and come out of it with no work experience in order for them to start using their degree. Or are competing for entry level positions with people who have been out of school for far longer than them. Most entry level jobs that they see postings on LinkedIn, Indeed, etc. have a minimum requirement of 3 years or less. But realistically, the employer prefers the applicant with at least a couple years under their belt, which already is creating a disadvantage for them. Anthony Carnevale, a director and research professor for Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce says, “the bar is higher today. They’re (Millennials are) the first generation that needs to have a college degree and experience to compete, before they even enter the workforce.” (Newsweek) Compare this to previous generations making enough to support a family off a high school/GRE diploma.
Most millennials are viewed as hopping from one job to the next and demanding too much on salary when realistically a good amount of them are being laid off for company purposes or are not being paid enough to pay off their student loans or debt and living expenses, both which create this need to search for a new job elsewhere. People shouldn’t assume it is the norm, according to Business Week’s Richard Florida, “the average for the under 30 group is 1.5 years between job changes,” and I’ve been in my job a little over two years and have several friends who have been in their jobs even longer. People cannot always trust the stereotype.
Besides the stereotype of job hopping there is the stereotype of being lazy, but Millennials do want to pay their dues but they want to see the value coming from what they are doing. They want to see an end goal. And having performance or learning programs once they are hired excite them and encourage them to keep working harder. They see a light at the end of the tunnel to keep working harder. That’s the messaging companies should give as well when hiring, to be realistic in what the work day includes but also certain potential positive outcomes for working the lower pay job.
Millennials can be a powerful resource for companies who take the time to get to know them, share opportunities, and value their excited and energetic attitudes about work. They have new ideas and are eager to prove their worth to the organization – not to just be another piece of the corporate framework, but to be valued for who they are and the ideas they bring. Be prepared to offer them the salary, support, and culture they need and they can be among your hardest working employees. And if you don’t, you become a large part of a millennial’ need to job hop.
Feedback is a critical component to motivating your workforce. According to a recent study by AccentureTM, providing frequent, direct performance appraisals ranks in the top 5 ways to engage your employees*. A technology solution that facilitates this process by providing ongoing access to documented expectations, departmental objectives and goals, and a location where employees can log their achievements and challenges reinforces to employees that they are an important part of the organization’s success.
With a full understanding of factors that drive your top performers, you are able to ensure they have access to the career development opportunities they require. Top performers are often career driven, willing to go the extra mile to remain on the path to success. With Brilliant HR Performance solution in place, they can identify their career goals and share them with their managers. Managers then have the information they need to keep them engaged in their work and productive at your company.