Takeaways from the Employment Branding Conference

As the spring conference season begins to wind down, and I’m almost done with the visits that make up April and May, I find myself in my stomping ground of New York City at the Employment Branding Conference held by Universum.

Here are some of the takeaways that I had from this employment branding and university recruiting centric get together.

1. You need to push for early identification of students that will be recruited for internships and direct hires. According to the career services organizations of Drexel, NYU, Purdue, MIT, and University of Delaware, identification should begin with the freshman and sophomore class. Having a four year plan, meaning looking at each of the 4 classes, seems to be a way for the corporation to strengthen its ties with the university and student body.

2. The strategy that you have at each university needs to be different based on the mechanics of that university. Universities have demographics such as public or private, rural or metro, land-grant or not. The combination requires some finesse as you engage those institutions, because the financial models of those organizations are very different. This seems to be an opportunity to understand more about financial mechanics of a university, and come up with a few processes to address those types.

3. Leadership development is again the hot topic. Organizations that showcase leadership development in freshman and sophomore classes are going to have increased resonance with the student population. Additionally organizations that are authentic with leadership development programs are going to win over those were not. I had a great conversation with a company that employs over 15,000 people in the Middle East, and less than 3000 here in the United States. What they’re doing with their leadership development program can be so much different than the traditional models that tend to be mirrored out of General Electric, Pepsi, and others.

4. Immediate feedback to students is absolutely critical. People have been talking about getting back to students after interviews within 24 to 48 hours, not a week or two later.

Now hear are a couple takeaways that are more employment branding centric, not university relations centric.

5. The employment brand is the brand that most people live with the most. We work 60 hours a week and are constantly bombarded with messaging from our employers. As consumers we experience a brand in short instances, so we need to spend a lot more time being authentic with our own employees about what work is about, and then crafting a message outwardly that represents that work. Don’t spend so much time selling – just talk about what’s it like, and if that message isn’t what you want, then start having the conversation on how you change that, not how you hide it.

6. Gamification and employment branding is not just about making a social media game like angry birds. It’s about having fun in expressing your employment brand in getting people involved. Everybody plays games. It’s better to do something fun and exciting and authentically engage with people. Don’t think that gamification means that you actually have to make a game, it’s more about making the engagement dynamic, fun, and playful.

7. Honest engagement with candidates is your number one weapon in the war for talent. Reaching out to candidates and telling them what it’s like, how it is, and being authentic is going to trump any logo, messaging, team, or tweet that you can execute. Even if you have all kinds of resources in social media and branding, you can really mess it up with poor engagement.

8. You have to experiment. Try stuff. I heard all kinds of interesting mechanics and methods around engaging students, financial rewards, contests, competitions, leadership development, and so much more. Go buy a T-shirt that says “that won’t work here” and put a big no smoking symbol through it and wear it around the office. It’s okay to try things and know that not all of them are going to work, but at least you try and you tried with passion. Realize if you use several different experiments at once, and one of them hits, the impact can be tremendous to a business or even just a person. Don’t be afraid of that.

Big shout out to the entire team at Universum that was so hospitable this week – Melissa Murray Bailey, Jonas Barck, John Flato and many others. Also great job to Jason Lauritsen (emcee) and Anna Brekka for herding the group and keeping the dialogue going.

Measure the Quality of Hire for Sourcers – NFL style

I have a theory – quality of hire can be a standard formula – but the variables can be defined differently for each company. Of the QoH measures I have seen, there is always a multi-metric formula involved. This plus that plus that divided by something and so on. Its certainly made of several variables, constants, and operators.

What I think is that we need a constant rating system – a number that when you say it, people say – WOW that’s a quality hire. So I look to sports – because like math, many sports have international standards and language. The fact is that in golf, as an example, if you score 65 – that’s a good score. It does not matter which course, what tees you play from, or even really the difficulty of the course – that’s a really good score.

As much of a golfer as I am, I struggled to find something in the PGA ranking that was obvious. So I looked around and found another metric I liked – Passer Rating – stolen from the National and Canadian Football Leagues. In the spirit of the Superbowl, I re-configured the Passer Rating formula using some of the same comparison principles we used for the ANSI Cost Per Hire standard, and came up with a formula for Quality of Hire that is actually pretty straightforward, but configurable for virtually ANY position. It allows you to rate an individual within a job, but then also compare that hire with another hire in completely different position. Its like saying that you shot 72 on one golf course from one set of tees, and then 72 on another golf course from the same tees.

In honor of SourceCon 2013 let’s use sourcers as an example:

Metric 1 – Define “Completions and Attempts”. Each job has certain tasks that are supposed to be done according to target. Count how many times an assignment was made, and how many of those assignments had their targets met. For a quarterback, they are supposed to throw the ball (attempts), and its supposed to be caught (completions). For a sourcer, lets use the number of assignments given (A), and the number of times they meet their assignment goal (B). Assignment goals could be get 1 candidate, get two candidates – whatever.

Metric 2 – Define “Total Forward Movement”. Each job has tasks that are supposed to move toward a goal,  target, or assignment completion. For a quarterback, its measured in the number of yards. For a sourcer, tally the number of candidates that are submitted across all those assignments (C). You will compare this with the number of assignments given (A)

Metric 3 – Define “Touchdowns”. Each job has a significant score, goal, or accomplishment that clearly are celebrated. For a quarterback, its throwing a touchdown pass. For a sourcer, let’s count how many candidates they recommend that are hired (H). You will again compare this with the number of assignments they are given (A). Update – instead of just hires, you may want to consider tracking number of offers made to recommended candidates (thanks Jan Grohoske at Right Thing). 

Metric 4 – Define “Interceptions”. Each job has perceived mishaps or failures. In the NFL/CFL, the quarterback throwing an interception is defined as such. For sourcers, lets count the number of candidates that were recommended by the sourcer to a hiring manager or recruiter, and were rejected because they missed the mark (R). I know thats a little harsh, but we want passes to be smart and complete – not just throwing for the sake of throwing. You are going to compare the rejections to the total candidates submitted (C).

What is REALLY cool about the Passer Rating is that it introduces constants that make the rating a maximum of 158.3 – it can never be higher. 158.3 is perfection. The different constants are weighted by overall impact. It also states that there is a minimum value of zero for every metric, and maximum values for every metric, 2.375.

So lets pull your QoH together for a member of the sourcing team:

Step 1 – Calculate your four metrics
Metric 1 = 5 ((# of times an assignment’s target was met / total # of assignments) – 0.455))
Metric 2 = total # of candidates submitted / total # of assignments
Metric 3 = 20 (total # of submitted candidates hired / total # of assignments)
Metric 4 = 2.375 – (25 (total # of rejected candidates / total # of candidates submitted))
updated on Feb 11

Step 2 – Adjust your scores within minimums and maximums
Across all 4 metrics, if your any metric value is less than 0, then make that metric’s value 0. If a metric’s value is greater than 2.375, then make that metric score 2.375.

Step 3 – Add the four scores together, divide by 6, and multiple by 100

Now you have your rating 🙂 The maximum rating is 153.3. You can do this for a month, a week, a quarter, a year, a group of hires, by business, by function – whatever segmentation you need. Segmenting by business group is interesting when you have a sourcer who covers more than one business – you can see their performance by business or group they support individually and compare to other groups.  My appreciation for segmented data is what lead us to develop our business intelligence tool, where you can segment and analyze all of your data from any and all of your HR systems.

This is great for sourcers, but what about recruiters? I tested the formula, and it totally works – except you need to change metric 3. Instead of tracking # of submitted candidates hired, try tracking # of candidates hired that have an exceeds on their next performance review or track the number of hires that are marked by hiring managers and candidates as having a high rating of satisfaction. Ultimately you need to find that “touchdown” for recruiters. Typically, an assigned recruiter ALWAYS gets a hire – eventually. You have the opportunity to define the touchdown based on slate size, feedback, time to fill or whatever. But again, the maximum for metric 3 is still 2.375. Remember, the denominator is the number of assignments, so they should do it some of the time, but its hard to do it all the time.

The key takeaway here is the if we want to be able to compare data we must have standards.  Implementing a standard for Quality of Hire is just the beginning.

Jim Collins, sled dogs, and traits of great leaders

I attended a speech of Jim Collins yesterday and he was talking about how he and his colleagues have studied the leadership traits of thousands of corporations and leaders and have narrowed down to three critical trades that great leaders have that good leaders may not have. They are three characteristics that if you want to be a great leader you statistically would be in very good company if you develop these.

The first trait he calls fanatic discipline. Leaders who exhibit excellent growth rates in their business and significant achievements over time typically exhibit a fanatic discipline and approach to how they operate their businesses. He was referencing earlier in his speech how the south pole was discovered, and use the analogy of a “20 mile march per day” throughout his lecture. The successful explorers who got to the south pole and back from the coast of Antarctica did so with a simple concept of always advancing 20 miles per day regardless of environment. They did 20 mile, no more, no less, but consistently as they explored. It’s depressing to say this, but the competing exploring team that failed to reach the South Pole did not use this type of methodology and subsequently the entire team died in the cold.

He asked us to identify what are 20 mile march was for our businesses. It is what we do systematically every day, every week, every quarter, or every year without fail in order to drive progress.

He used an example of Intel and how they address Moore’s law. Their 20 mile march was that every 18 months they would double the speed of the processors that they made. They would do that regardless of investment, regardless of growth, and regardless of resources. They would make this happen.

This fanatic discipline made Intel the leader in processor production and innovation. So what is your 20 mile march? Why not take a lesson directly from Intel:

We will double our engagement with [specific talent marketplace] by every 18 months.

There is likely one or more roles or functions in your business that are absolutely critical to growth and revenue. What are they? Is it developers? Is it programming? Is it supply-chain? Is it leadership personnel?

You will know better then we will know. But challenge your team to do this regardless of demand. Do this as a percentage of improvement to your current status. This is going to force you to use all your resources, have a discussion about what you can and cannot do, and also be doing directly tied to the advancement and development around the growth of your business.

Imagine where your business will be in five years if you have increased your current engagement by 400%. Where did you think your employment brand is in that space? How do you think you’re engaging those people for future positions? Where do you think you are in that talent marketplace as being a serious developer of talent? Probably much better than you are right now.

I appreciate that you’re going to have to have some pretty sophisticated data collection and business intelligence platforms in order to do this. Those are readily available.

The only thing stopping you from doing this is saying that you’re going to do this.

Job Growth: Please sir, can I have some more?

In January, the United States added 240,000 jobs. In February, 227,000.

However, in a somewhat  muted statement, the Congressional Budget Office went on record that saying throughout 2013 unemployment would stay above 8% and potentially stay above 9%. I’m curious to know how that got buried in the news cycle.  The budget office is probably looking at the same statistics that I’m looking at. I would also think that the economists that have been muted are also looking at the same statistics that I’m looking at. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has been keeping records for some time and has very good statistics associated with our job growth and how more industries add jobs since World War II. So when I hear economists and the budget office of our Congress talking about job growth, I tend to listen a little bit more than I do to the broadcasters of Fox news, MSNBC and CNN.

I have decided to start talking more about our job growth, or our lack thereof. It seems it is not getting the press that it needs to get, given that this is an election year. I have been doing research to better understand our demographics in the United States, the growth of immigration and how it relates to labor, the surge of dual income houses over the past 30 years, the ongoing trend for people to stay in the work place beyond the age of 62, and other social trends. The simple truth is that each month of the year, our economy needs to add approximately 125,000 jobs in order to sustain its population density and its growth. Without that addition, we are actually in the negative for job growth. In the winter of 2008, we sustained the job losses we have all heard about – to the tune of an additional nine million more unemployed than “normal” levels.

Nine million short. Statistically, we could triple the needed job growth from 125,000 to 375,000 and it would take us at least three years to probably reach the unemployment levels that we have prior to the winter of 2008. That’s a sobering fact. In order to do that, we would have to sustain a triple local job growth in 36 months.  That also means we need to significantly increase the output for jobs we have had in the last two months, and they were the best months in three years. Looking at the the labor statistics that have been published, I haven’t seen that kind of job growth by percentage or sustainability looking as far back as the 1960s.

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer. I’m just looking at statistics that are currently available. There’s been a lot of talk about job growth, and there is rhetoric that is circulating in the United States political environment. The news cycle tends to be limited to what’s going on in the United States, and I encourage you to investigate some of the job growth or lack thereof that exists outside the United States.

Over the next few weeks and months as I continue to talk about this topic,  I will  simply publish ideas on job growth. There are ways that we can do it, but we need to face the reality that US job growth will not occur at the 300,000+ jobs per month level. I know we need to start realizing that that is a very tall order.

As I have ideas, they really will break into two types – INCREASES and DECREASES. The way to stimulate profit in a business is to impact both revenue AND expenses. Job growth is no different. We need to get more jobs available, but also control the amount of people who come into or leave the workforce. I am not going to really introduce an idea unless I think it can have a net effect of at least 100,000 jobs, which will add to the regular job growth.

Increase Idea – Militarize border, immigration, and homeland security departments of the government. We have more military folks coming home, and less work for them to do. In the meantime, we have several burning platforms on security. The military has targeted less armed ground forces, which is a direct impact on labor. However, you can place more feet on the street, especially in border states, major port cities, and along our coasts. As we reduce our military assets in foresight lands, keep those people employed by having then do work here on our own soil. We could easily augment security in our own borders. There are 80,000 troops remaining in Afghanistan, and there were over 40,000 in Iraq last year. Not to mention the 248000 out of work Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. We could use some strong experience in protecting and monitoring our own security, and there are certainly plenty of qualified people. Realize by militarizing these departments, Congress has to use the Defense budget to fund the activities, and Defense is one of the largest spending categories. Now, there are not that many border agents – about 20,000. So I am not suggesting multiplying that by 10. However, as a country we have focused our efforts on border security and terrorist activities, and we can change that strategy. Costs to increase these types of security? At G-12 levels, it’s about $65,000 in salary, and probably at least that in equipment and support. So if we augment by 100,000? $13 billion annually. Check out the Iraq / Afghanistan appropriations over the past few years. This is not even a 1% of those costs, and we are keeping many of these SAME people employed.

Decrease Idea – Bring back apprenticeships. Where did they go? About 3MM students graduate from high school in this country each year. Many go to college, some to the military and others to the working world. The college bound and military bound don’t impact short term job growth – but the entering do. We need to slow that pace down. There is a tremendous need for trade work in this country and there is a need for more technology work involving design, programming, and coding. All require training, but actually they require more experience and hours. So let’s get apprenticeships back in vogue. New high school grads go into jobs for skills, earn less money, and they should stay at home to reduce expenses (sorry mom and dad). After a few years, these employees start their own businesses, get experienced level jobs, and are earning some serious money – usually north of $75,000 a year. They will likely have no debt, and serious coin in the bank (if they are responsible). We now have thousands of 22 to 23 year olds with 4 years experience in a trade with real skills, no debt, and making good money. There are obvious social wins here too. In addition, this actually ADDS jobs to the marketplace. The pay is so low that many people who are already in the trades won’t compete for these jobs, and they are easier to afford than traditional entry level jobs.

Focus on Assessment – Integrity

INTEGRITY is a word that is used in many corporate behavioral constructs. It is not unusual for the 12 or 15 behaviors of a Fortune 500 company to have INTEGRITY listed either as a value on its own or to be weaved into that value system across the board. I do find it using that although INTEGRITY seems to be something that most corporations take great pride in, when I asked how do you measure for it during your assessment process they seem to be a bit at a loss.

There may be several definitions or interpretations of what INTEGRITY is, but in regards to assessment for a new hire, I’ll try to use a definition is broad enough so it can be assessed . INTEGRITY involves maintaining and promoting social, ethical, and organizational norms and conducting internal and external business activities. INTEGRITY is something that typically is not as such taught as much as it is reflected and were learned great care to be taken to avoid condoning behavior that indicates “low integrity”. If a manager exhibits the behaviors that are “low integrity”, it is likely that the team that reports about will believe that “low integrity” is approved within the organization.

It has been my experience that integrity is something very personal. As such, you may want to get a better understanding of the hiring manager in their style in general, so that you understand what integrity needs to know.  When considering competencies or experiences to measure in order to assess integrity, you may want to consider certain questioning based on the function specifically. As an example, if you are measuring integrity for sales personnel, you may want to measure how someone up sells the customer with a strong value proposition. If you are measuring someone who is in quality, you may want to better understand how to maintain accuracy consistently.

About Rounded Assessment and its Value to Recruiting

Assessment comes in many forms. Our contention is that competencies need to be identified for each position at an organization, and a level of mastery for some or all of those competencies needs to be identified for each candidate that has applied for the role – whether they are internal or external.

It is the hiring manager’s responsibility to then understand which competencies to leverage, which to develop, and which to avoid in order to have the new employee reach desired productivity in the desired timeline. Competence needs to be assessed, but assessing experience, work habits, cognition, intelligence, and other areas are also critical. We believe that the advocacy of a combined assessment, or “Rounded Assessment” is the job of every recruiter. It is not necessarily their job to assess everything, but rather make sure that the assessment is performed and documented so a hiring manager or business leader can make sound decisions.

This blog post is part of a series of posts that are set to release over a long period of time. In each, Aspen provides insight on the elements and assets within Rounded Assessment.