Archive for General HR

Job Connection: Song and Dance

dance stepsEarlier this year, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) announced they would be launching the Louisiana Job Connection; a free job board to link Louisiana employers with job seekers. I sat through the first song-and-dance about this in January when a few of the folks (i.e. the marketing team) came to speak to the Louisiana SHRM State Council.  As 2014 rolled on I kept an eye on the launch which was, wisely, done in phases: employers were allowed to sign up and create profiles in June while job seekers were able to begin registration last week.

I have run into the LED Marketing folks (and their hired guns) all over town; they popped up again last week at a local SHRM chapter meeting for a 5 minute update. Their talking points have not evolved much; they continue to bring in the sexy factor by talking about their “innovative” and “advanced matching algorithm.” Many of the HR gals and guys, not fully realizing this technology has been around for years, think we in the Bayou State are pushing the envelope or something.

But how does it work?  How does any of this work?

I have seen ZERO details shared with either recruiters or job seekers on the magic behind the system. If I’m with one of the companies that LED is attempting to woo and/or placate (and thus presumably I have a lot more power in this game than Joe the Job Seeker) I would expect to get a lot more details about the how, why and what of the inner workings of this “innovative algorithm.” If I’m a recruiter with Big-Deal Company A I best have a pretty clear explanation on how, exactly, these search algorithms are working. If I’m going to let LED ‘match me’ with the employees they anticipate I will want to review, interview and hire…I sure would like to know HOW these folks were matched.

Is the matching of keywords, skills, jobs, whatever done as a broad match, a phrase, or an exact match? How, exactly, does the ranking system work? LED tells me I can choose to be matched with candidates who meet 10%…20%…on-up-100% of my posted job requirements.  But there needs to be a bit more transparency coming from LED on how the scoring works. Is, for example, the system creating some sort of Boolean search string of keywords from both the job posting and the job seeker profile?

As a recruiter, if I’m going to use the system, I demand a bit more transparency. Otherwise, just like other sites that have come before it (I’m looking at YOU Louisiana Workforce Commission) it will become nothing more than a place where Debbie the HR Assistant has to go do some busy work every few days. (note: the mechanism to post jobs is fairly straightforward, even allowing the employer to scrape job postings from other sites, but it’s nowhere near the greatest).

Granted, it’s only been a week but there are certainly a number of improvements needed to the site. On the recruiter side there is absolutely no integration with social channels and the search capabilities are crap; the criteria one can search are industry (broad and basic categories), job fields (i.e. Accounting, Banking, Insurance), experience level, and or keywords. It also appears that the keyword search is not even working; to test this I searched by job field “human resources” and came up with 175 candidate results statewide. I looked at 20 of these candidates, noted they all had the phrase “human resources” multiple times in their respective resumes yet, interestingly enough, when entering “human resources” in the keyword search box (and only keyword search) I got – wait for it – ZERO results. I repeated this with a search for software developers and got 127 candidates when searching “Information Technology” in job field and ‘software developer’ as keyword yet when I JUST did a keyword search I got – wait for it – ZERO. So, it would appear, that even though the directions to recruiters state you can enter “one or more” criteria that’s not really accurate.

The goal for these LED folks is a numbers game; get as many employers to post jobs as possible (to show opportunities!) and get as many job seekers to create profiles as possible (to show availability of talent!) and as this initiative gains steam the requisite heavy hitters have come out to share gushing quotes via LED press releases. I recently read a rah-rah quote from the VP of Global Talent Acquisition for a company with a huge gleaming office building in Baton Rouge which, it should be noted, is winnowing the staff in the Red Stick and informing hundreds of employees they can either opt to relocate to Houston or pick up their pink slip.

Look…I get it; this all sounds enticing when LED heads out to pitch to Company ABC why they should relocate their business to Louisiana – “You’ll find the talent here! We’ve got matching algorithms y’all!!” Mr. CEO, the recipient of the pitch, will think this sounds great.

But I wonder what Company ABC’s recruiting team will think.

It surely doesn’t appear any recruiters have been asked to participate in the development of a system they’re been clamoring (or so LED tells us) to use.

(note: I have also created a job seeker profile and, while I give LED credit for using the LinkedIn API, errors abound. Eight days after the launch and I continue to get the message “Alert: Could not update, please try again later.”  (this occurs whether I connect via LinkedIn Or enter my data manually). To their credit, the marketing folks I spoke to told me to call the Help Desk and they would sign in to my profile and see if it’s a programming issue. I think it is; I had to send them a tweet on day 1 to inform them that the abbreviation for Wisconsin (WI) was listed, incorrectly, as WA on their drop down list. Now, perhaps every time I select WI I get tossed into some sort of netherworld.

I’m also not sure the search engine on the Job Seeker side is functional; I’ve tried keyword searches for companies I know have posted jobs and I get ZERO returns.

Then again, it appears from the marketing efforts that this site is created for employers… the hell with the disposable commodities… I mean candidates. But that’s a post for another day…)



Kiss Me – I’m a Job Seeker

date nightI am neither the first (by a long shot), nor will I be the last (I can guarantee) person writing about how looking for a job is like dating. I truly think whenever some HR, Recruiting or Career blogger wants lots of clicks they write a post on the subject; guaranteed to be internet traffic gold. These posts usually contain all sorts of advice about creating your online profile (if using an online dating site), and understanding that the 1st interview is like the first date (“just getting to know you!”).

But I have yet to see someone write anything about how, if at all, women approach this process differently than men.  I wonder if they do?

For a number of years the ladies looking for love have been told they need to come out of pretty pretty princess land and learn to “date like a man.” The moony-eyed romance-starved gals have been told:

  • Don’t set out with the intent of finding “the one”; date multiple people to keep your options open
  • Realize that dating comes in stages; it will likely take months to become the girlfriend – not three dates
  • Don’t be so quick to take yourself ‘off the market’
  • Don’t overanalyze every action, word or piece of minutiae from a text message, phone call or in person interaction

Recently a dear friend of mine (female) stuck her toes in the dating waters and launched her online quest for love; she knows what she wants – a long-term relationship – and is clear about it. Good for her. But, like many of my female friends before her, as soon as she began some conversations with one particular guy she scrubbed her online dating profile. This was prior to even meeting him for the first time.

That’s like having a phone screening interview with the recruiter and taking down your Monster or LinkedIn profile. Or holding off on networking for any other job opportunities until you know for sure if you’ve landed this one.

I have another friend (female) who landed a gig, thought it was “the one” and immediately ceased all online activities in the mistaken belief it would demonstrate to this new employer her unwavering commitment. The job ended up not being “the one” and when she was back on the market shortly thereafter she had to start from scratch.

Sometimes these clichés are clichés for a reason; I’ve had numerous girlfriends over the years who’ve met a dude, had one date and immediately began planning for the picket fence and a houseful of babies. Is this solely a chick thing? I’m sure it’s not. There are guys out there who act like this in the dating world although we, perhaps unfairly, think of them as stalkers more than romantics.

So whether looking for a job or looking for love I say keep your options open. Hold hands. Assess kissing ability. Run a chemistry experiment; and then run it again.

Unless you want to go the courtship route a la the Duggar family.

Yeah; I didn’t think so.

Yours, Mine and Ours

don-and-blankenshipI think we can all agree that language matters in the workplace. Often this is a culture indicator; the leadership team at the silk-stocking law firm may (in public at least) be formal and circumspect – “Miss Blankenship, will you please come in here and bring your steno pad?” The dudes running the tech start up down the street however embrace my favorite four-letter word and freely interject this vivid descriptor into any and all conversations – “What the f’ing hell is going on with this f’ing beta test?”

Language also reflects how we view and treat our employees – sometimes in subtle ways.  This struck me the other day after separate conversations with two different leaders from two wildly divergent industries. Fellow A spoke of his team in the context of “we” while Fellow B referred to his staff members as if they were his possessions.

Ours vs. Mine

It struck me that Fellow A came across as inclusive; exhibiting a spirit of “we’re all in this together.”  Fellow B, on the other hand, came across as a total dick. Everyone in his glorified solar system orbited around him; he could scarcely speak of others without relying on his own title and elevated function to describe their jobs.

Do your leaders or managers say:

  • my administrative assistant” or “the department’s administrative assistant”
  • my A/P clerk” or “our A/P clerk”
  • my HR Rep” or “the company’s HR Rep”

Does it sometimes make sense for a bona-fide denizen of the C-suite to say “contact my assistant to schedule that?” Sure. Although saying “contact my assistant Ida to schedule that” (use her name!) recognizes Ida as a self-sustaining and productive member of the team and not merely an entity that exists solely for the continuation of Mr. C-Suite’s exaltation.

Know what I mean?

This isn’t Mad Men anymore – “My girl will take your coat.” “My girl can get some coffee for you.”

Oh well, it’s 2 pm. Freshen up my drink won’t you Miss Blankenship?

Shhhh…Don’t Tell Anyone But We’re Hiring

whisperIf you attend an HR conference in 2014 you’re more than likely going to find a session or two on topics like employer branding, social recruiting and/or how to build a talent network/talent community/talent pool (pick your poison). Mobile…social…SMS. Creating a dynamic and interactive career site. Effectively using video and images (Instagram!) to share your culture. If you are to stand any chance of hiring the necessary talent (you’re told) you better start managing your talent acquisition programs in a whole new way. Naturally, the implication is that if you are not already doing all of these things you are hopelessly out of date.

Yet, despite all these admonishments, there are a number of organizations that continue to reside firmly in 1998 and see no reason to change.

Look, there are some recruiting practices, decidedly old-school, that continue to work effectively for certain industries, in specific geographies and when targeting particular positions. Within the last week, while going about my daily about-town business here in Baton Rouge, I saw a billboard alongside the interstate advertising a job fair (10 AM – 4 PM!) at Company A, heard an announcement on the local news advertising a job fair at a community college for Company B (9 AM – 3 PM!), and found a flier on the door of a local coffee shop encouraging interested parties to complete an application for barista jobs (ask the Manager!).

Curious as to what was going on across the spectrum of jobs in town I decided to explore the local classifieds; it’s been quite some time since I looked at job listings in the (online) newspaper and I was bemused to see the category for tech jobs is called “computer personnel” – talk about 1998. Am I right?

While many ads provided the URL to company career sites there were a sizable number that did not. Some directed applicants to apply in person while others requested a resume be sent via email.  There were a few for which the only method of resume submittal was via fax or by mailing resume/cover letter via US Mail. Seriously? I need to either track down a fax machine or get a stamp and an envelope?

A fair number of those requesting resumes via email, fax or US Mail did not disclose the name of their organization but rather dropped cryptic clues like “a leading community bank” or “well respected law firm.”  And some, apparently believing what-they-do is akin to the CIA, opted to merely state “Company Confidential.”  (and no…those were not 3rd party recruiters playing the game on behalf of a client).

After musing about this on Facebook someone inquired if, in fact, the “mail to P.O. Box” was a blind ad.  No it wasn’t; the company name was front and center.

But THAT took me down an entirely new rabbit hole because those ‘blind ads’ do still exist. Talk about employer branding all you want; chatter on about demonstrating organizational culture via videos and pictures and storytelling; make the point that HR practitioners should target efforts on only having the most appropriate candidates apply (those who get the culture, brand, story).  Talk about that stuff all you want but remember at the other end of the spectrum from Glassdoor and UPS and Zappos and Sodexo sits the Community Bank of South Louisiana (80 employees!). **

Debbie the HR Manager at CBofSL is instructed to leave the name of the company off when she has a position available above a certain level so the CEO isn’t inundated with phone calls from his golf buddy Jim who want to finangle an interview for his wife’s hairdresser’s son. The powers-that-be don’t want it to appear to customers that the bank has retention issues so jobs are not to be posted publicly. Debbie’s only hope of developing an applicant pool is by using traditional post-and-pray recruitment channels and hoping for the best; she sure can’t head out to any social networks to build a community for secret jobs. And as she doesn’t have the wherewithal to set up a generic email account or sideline something through her non-existent ATS she ends up gathering resumes via US mail to a top secret PO Box.

That’s employment and culture branding right there, isn’t it?

Shhhh…we have secret job openings!

** not an actual organization