Tag Archive for candidate experience

You CAN Bring the Sexy Back: ‘Branding’ Employee Discipline

dominatrix-mistress-with-her-whipIt seems you can’t click open your web browser without reading something about “Employer Branding.” Or “Talent Branding.” Good stuff to be sure; I think it’s important and critical.

What fascinates me is how we tend to explore this concept primarily from a talent attraction or recruiting standpoint. Oh sure, during the strategy phase of “employer branding” there is cursory attention paid to overall organizational culture and the end-loop/integration to the employee life cycle. “If we recruit these people,” says Mary the HR leader, “we need to think about retaining them.” Well…yeah.

So great care is given to ensuring that the brand carries on throughout the onboarding, performance management and succession planning processes. The Learning & Development team aligns their instructional design and training delivery to the brand. Marketing and recruiting teams work hand in hand and it’s a wonderful and glorious thing.

But you know what’s often neglected in this strategy planning? That which HR is often best known for: employee relations. ER, as defined by our friends at HRCI, is the interaction between employees and an organization (for example, communications, conflict resolution, compliance with legal regulations, career development, and performance measurement).”

For the non-HR types, this catch all category includes:

  • “Joe reports to work 30 minutes late 3 times per week”
  • “Maeve is an insufferable know-it-all who pisses off every single human being in the office”
  • “Bob told a dirty joke in the lunch room”
  • “the VP of Sales has been patting the derrieres of all the female account executives”

So, because this kind of crap goes on in every workplace your local HR Department creates an Employee Handbook/Policy Manual. This is where you find information about how you get paid, EEO statements, and your rights under the FMLA.

And nestled in amongst all those nuggets is the section that let’s you know what will happen if YOU are the one telling dirty jokes in the lunch room. But there’s often no attempt to think about brand here; this section of the handbook/policy manual/rule book is often given an authoritative sounding title like Code of Conduct or Company Rules.

Included in this section you will learn that when your manager does need to have a discussion, you may be facing:

  • A Corrective Action Notification
  • The Disciplinary Procedure
  • A Counseling Report
  • The Progressive Discipline Process
  • A Verbal Warning, Written Warning, FINAL Warning


And you’re given this on your first day of employment.

So even in the midst of all the #culture and #transparency and #WeAreFamily hoopla that connects your candidate/applicant experience to your NEW/NOW employment experience, you are slapped right up side-the-head with something that was left out of the employer brand strategy conversations.

HR professionals as tyrannical police agents? Moms? Headmistresses?


I’m not saying we downplay important information by bathing it in sunshine and serving it up with lollipops and cotton candy. I am saying that HR teams, when working on an employer branding strategy need to connect all the dots. Language is important and the branding of your employee relations (discipline!) approach is just as critical as the branding of your career site.

So…what’s your brand?


credit: image

The Realistic Job Preview

jiminy21The eBook for the North American 2013 Candidate Experience Report was released this week by The Talent Board. If you work in HR or Recruiting I encourage you to read it; you can register to receive the eBook here.    The report covers a wide range of topics from candidate attraction to the application process to screen and selection and nearly 50,000 candidates who applied to close to 100 companies shared their insights.

One of the areas I found quite interesting was the information gathered around Type of Interview Events.  Per the report “A small number (5.3 percent) of candidates participated in a realistic job preview (RJP) via a ride along, job shadow or actual workplace experience. Traditionally, the RJP serves two functions – educate the candidate on a range of workplace conditions and demands of the performance environment and inviting candidates to self-select out. RJP research shows candidates that are given a fair and balanced understanding of the job are more likely to increase their commitment and work through rough spots they encounter.”

I was somewhat surprised that the percentage of candidates participating in an in-person RJP was so small.  Granted, this probably has a lot to do with the type of position; it’s highly unlikely that a company will take Joe the Coder Candidate through a RJP and tell him “Hey Joe; we want you to sit with Steve for 4 hours and watch as he knocks out some Python coding!” Paint = drying, am I right?

Why an RJP?

The first step in the interview process, of course, is making sure the right candidates are applying; being ‘realistic’ in recruiting, targeting and acquisition strategies helps at this point.  Accurate, complete and meaningful job descriptions, postings, and messaging means you should be able to successfully limit the number of candidates – resulting in applications from only those who are truly a fit for both the job and the organization.

Being realistic means resisting the urge to market malarkey; not every moment in the job you’re trying to fill or in your organization is filled with sunshine, champagne and jubilant employees. Throughout the recruiting process you need to share a balanced view of what day-to-day life is really like including being brutally honest about the job’s inherent joys and satisfactions as well as the challenges and frustrations.

There is great value for both the employer and the candidate when the candidate truly understands the realities of the job, the work environment, and the dynamics of the team/co-workers. There are one of two outcomes – either the employee makes the decision to remove themselves from consideration (good thing!) or they have a keen sense of what the job and work environment will truly be like and agree to move forward (also a good thing!). I’ve worked with hiring managers to successfully provide RJPs during the hiring process for route sales positions, health care professionals, HR staff, manufacturing jobs and high-volume phone/customer service positions. It makes a difference.

And remember Joe the Coder?  He also wants to learn all he can about the job; from the expectations to the time demands to the type of equipment and technology he’ll have available.  The RJP applies to all positions.

Technology as Friend

It’s important to provide the opportunity for candidates to ‘see’ where they will be working; I’ve always made sure that final candidates check out the physical space (office or cubicle), get a tour of the facility in which they will toil, and observe other employees in action.

Some organizations are successfully using video to share some of this information with job seekers; as an example check out the series of Home Depot’s Behind the Apron videos on their career site. Sure, the videos are snazzily produced and full of corporate-speak but notice that amongst all the talk about passion and pride it’s also mentioned that the job in customer service is “hard work” and “challenging.”

While this may make sense in a high-volume hiring environment, I don’t think a video can replace a deep and heartfelt conversation between hiring manager and candidate nor can it replace time spent on-site by the candidate.  But it’s better than nothing.

Technology as Foe

If an employer opts to hide their head in the sand and not share the ‘real deal’ they can be assured their current and former employees are doing it for them; online reviews at sites like Glassdoor can attest to that.

But technology is not really a foe.  In this case technology is a bit like Jiminy Cricket – serving as a conscience and reminding employers of the importance of telling the truth.

Wishing upon a star is not good enough.

John Doe’s Resume

blank name tagAt a recent HR gathering one of the folks in attendance shared the story of a resume he had recently been shown.  The resume, received by yet another HR colleague, was a one page document written as such:




My name is John Doe.  This is my resume.


My name:                John Doe


My wife name:         Mary Doe


My father name:      Bill Doe


My mother name:     Sally Doe


My birthday:            March 1, 1955


My church:              St. John’s


My jobs:                 ABC and XYZ


My reference:           Alice Doe




This is not an exaggeration.  This was how the resume was formatted and the content/spelling that was included.

This gentleman had a work history and background that is quite common in my area, and, let’s face it, most everywhere.  He’s worked in general maintenance/ handyman/laborer roles for decades.  You may note he had no hesitation in listing his birthday and at 59 years of age he’s got a few years of working ahead of him; he quite possibly anticipates working until the day arrives when he just stops drawing breathe.

After all the initial “oh my god, how can people submit a resume like that?’ chit chat around the table died down I pointed out that this was, in my estimation, more than likely the first resume this man had every put together.  I’m quite sure that for all his working life he was able to find a job by walking into a company, completing a paper application, and landing a gig.  I theorized that he was looking for work, admonished by the HR lady to send in his resume, and so he approached a family member or friend to help him put something together.  And, quite obviously, the person who did this for him had never compiled a resume either.  At some company where this guy wanted to work an ATS demanded to be fed or a hiring manager insisted upon seeing a piece of paper.

I get it.

I just wonder – and worry – about ensuring access to jobs for people who don’t spend their days updating their resume or wondering if their online personal brand is sufficiently optimized.


There are solutions out there that focus on connecting the “hourly” job seeker with employers: Snag a Job is a well known job board and Apploi has an app that provides job seekers with the ability to create and store a profile which can then be used to “apply” for various positions at any number of companies.

As I was intrigued with the whole scenario and to satisfy my curiosity I went poking around for some local positions that might be of interest to John Doe.  After finding a Front End Loader opening (full or part time!) I set off to begin the online application process with the local staffing agency filling the position.  I appreciated that the application did not require me to key-in a lot of information (I only had to input name and contact information) but then I was asked to attach my resume.


Perhaps something like that occurred to John Doe.


I think it’s important for folks in the HR and Recruiting space who like to discuss sexy things like mobile, social employee referrals, and the candidate experience to remember that we need to focus on all job seekers.  It seems to me that many of the conversations, whitepapers and conference sessions around this topic always concern either the need to find candidates for high-demand tech positions or the experience for candidates at glamorous global companies.   There are, indeed, large retail or service companies employing tens of thousands of hourly workers who do pay attention to the process across the spectrum of their workforce; read this post about Sears as an example.

And yes, drop-off rates are discussed and some organizations are tracking and attempting to improve the process to minimize frustrations for job seekers – which is great; for every John Doe who takes a pause, types up a resume, and goes back to continue the application process there are a high number of job seekers who move on to something else.

But I wonder… when John Doe the Front End Loader drops off does it cause the same level of consternation as it does when Joe the Java Developer does?

Branded a Loser: Vintage Candidate Experience?

Ah yes the ’70s.  Post the introduction of the Pill.  Post Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.  The era of Title IX and the (failed) attempt to get the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratified by the states in order to become part of the US Constitution.  Those pesky second-wave feminists were busy.

And in a decade when air travel was still viewed as a glamorous experience complete with ashtrays, cocktails in stemware and people who dressed up for a trip to the airport (I’m looking at you guy-in-sweat-stained-unbuttoned-shirt with a bag from McDonalds’s that sat next to me on a recent flight) the fine folks at Eastern Airlines apparently settled on a way to make sure their consumer brand (especially for the male business traveler) matched their employer brand.  Their solution? Shame not just their job candidates but all women.

“Presenting the Losers”


The copy reads:

“Pretty good, aren’t they?  We admit it.  And they’re probably good enough to get a job practically anywhere they want.

But not as Eastern Airline stewardesses.

We pass up around 19 girls, before we get one that qualifies.  If looks were everything, it wouldn’t be tough.  Sure, we want them to be pretty…don’t you?  That’s why we look at her face, her make-up, her complexion, her figure, her weight, her legs, her grooming, her nails and her hair.

But we don’t stop there.  We talk.  And we listen.  We listen to her voice, her speech.  We judge her personality, her maturity, her intelligence, her intentions, her enthusiasm, her resiliency and her stamina.

We don’t want a stewardess to be impatient with a question you may have, or careless in serving your dinner, or unconcerned about your needs.

So we try to eliminate these problems by taking a lot more time and passing up a lot more girls.

It may make our job a little harder.  But it makes your flying a lot easier.”


How nice.  They actually ‘talked and listened’ during the selection process rather than just judging hair, nails and bust-waist-hip ratio. And check it out 1970’s job candidates – if you were fortunate enough to pass phase 1 (the ugly screen) Eastern Airlines kindly laid out the job competencies right there in the advertisement: patiencepersonality, maturity, intelligence, intentions, enthusiasm, resiliency and stamina. 

After your trip to the beauty parlor and the make-up counter you might have had enough time to think about answers for the moment you were actually deigned worthy enough to enter into conversation about actual skills and abilities.