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Recruitment Automation 101

A trend that is becoming pretty exciting right now is recruitment automation. Likely accelerated by the tools that are more readily available like integromat and zapier, and more open APIs between HR apps and Applicant tracking systems, recruitment automation is a brave new world of growing and improving your HR and Recruitment Systems and keeping your human interactions exactly that, more human.

The most important item to stay focused on when considering recruitment automation is the candidate. What is the end-result, and what is the purpose of what you are trying to automate.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Picture of Steven R Covey
Steven R Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

Steven R. Covey, of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (Amazon) fame is accredited with the famous line “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” #

As you consider what you are trying to automate and why, this is an important piece of the puzzle. Just because something can be automated does not mean it should.

Another way to look at this has become my unofficial axiom for recruitment process automation in general:

Automate the things computers do well, so you can do the things humans do well.

This means rethinking the old standbys like calling candidates personally to book calendar appointments, but then sending blind, generic emails from “noreply” email accounts when they are no longer considered in the process.

Perhaps, automating your calendaring time could help candidates feel in some control of the process as well as allowing you to let candidates know they are not being considered any longer for a role with a personal call, not a heartless “thanks but no thanks” message.

Categories
Blog Jobseekers Networking Recruiting Industry Relationship Working with Recruiters

How to Ask for Help on Linkedin

Linkedin, as a social network, is different than others in that it was created around connections and networking, and the purpose of it, generally speaking, is to connect people together professionally.

To that end, since people go there to ‘Network’, there is a tendency for people to be willing to help you professionally, if you ask for it correctly.

There’s three ways I can think of to immediately ask for help on Linkedin:

  1. Give 10x more than you receive
  2. Ask for specific, actionable help
  3. Go out of your way to be thankful

Give 10x More Than You Receive

Nobody likes a beggar. Especially a persistent one. The old rule in networking is to give ten times before you ask once. My friend Jason Alba taught me that principle and he turned me down when I offered him a job 12 years ago only to create his own company (JibberJobber) literally helping people get jobs (his amazing 6 week Job Search Program currently is on sale at more than 60% off with this link—and a JibberJobber subscription is included!) . He’s also an accomplished Pluralsight author if you’re a member of their great program.

His advice, to give 10x more than you receive, has been a cornerstone of my personal and professional philosophy. As I have built my company, and my network of thousands of hand-picked first level LinkedIn connections, i have tried to maintain this posture of helping 10x before asking once. It focuses my efforts on being good and kind as well and that helps in the most challenging times.

Be sure you are helping others more than asking for help. It’s good for your soul and your reputation.

Ask for Specific, Actionable Help

The biggest thing you need to do is ask for something specific. If you just yell out “help!” but you don’t provide some kind of direction, you will hear nothing but crickets.

Ask for something specific, depending on where you’re posting.

On your feed, asking for leads on a new job is totally appropriate. Or perhaps “anyone know companies that are hiring?”

In a private LinkedIn group, you can do the same but be more specific, and know that your request isn’t public for the world (or your employer) can see.

Finally, in a personal one-on-one message, you can also directly ask for a connection to a specific person or company. For example “Hi, Mary. I hope you’re well. I am looking into this role (link) at your company. Do you know who I should talk to? My resume is attached.”

Also, Say Thank You!

Finally, go out of your way to thank those who help you. Publicly or privately, let people know you appreciate any help they provide.

Paying it forward by helping others and crediting the help you’ve received along the way is a great way to show your appreciation as well.

Pro tip: If someone gets you that dream job you wanted? Surprise them with $200 gift card to their favorite restaurant or store once you get your first paycheck or signing bonus. If they don’t want the money, ask to donate it to their favorite charity in their name and send them the receipt for tax purposes.

Categories
Blog Communication Life Relationship

Be Interested, Not Interesting

Here on the corner of my computer screen, I have a little piece of a sticky note with the following on it:

Interested > Interesting

Meaning, being interested is better than being interesting. And, if you’re in the people business, or have any personal relationships that are important to you, this is good advice.

It comes from Mark Goulston, Author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.

This is a great book and, for me, has been instrumental in me trying to really deepen some personal relationships as well as going farther to develop connection with the people I work with, both as candidates, hiring managers and as just other great humans I want to know better.

The whole book is interesting. Mark, who trains hostage negotiators, opens the book with a pretty intense confrontation between a man threatening to commit suicide in a mall parking lot. You see two kinds of negotiations take place. The “Hey, you’re in big trouble so put the gun down” kind that we see on TV and a much different approach that diffuses the situation and brings a peaceful resolution — listening.

One challenge I admit that I have in listening better is, well, asking questions. It sounds funny, but I sometimes get stuck just knowing what I should be asking someone!

So, from my notebook to yours, here are some fantastic tips you should hold on to. Let me know how it goes? I am definitely curious! ?

Great Questions You Can Ask Anyone To Show You Are Interested

As quoted from the book Just Listen by Mark Goulston. See the snippet here on Kindle.

Professional:

  • “How’d you get into what you do?”
  • “What do you like best about it?” 
  • “What are you trying to accomplish that’s important to you in your career (business, life, etc.)?” 
  • “Why is that important to you?” 
  • “If you were to accomplish that, what would it mean to you and what would it enable you to do?”

Personal:

In personal relationships—for instance, at a party or on a first date—questions like these can often trigger a heartfelt response: 

  • “What’s the best (or worst) part of (coaching your kid’s soccer team, being away from home, etc.)?” 
  • “What person has had the biggest influence on your life?” 
  • “Is that the person you’re most grateful to? If not, who is?” 
  • “Did you ever get a chance to thank that individual?” (If the person asks, “Why are you asking these questions?,” you can say: “I find giving people the chance to talk about who they’re grateful to brings out the best in them.”) 

FTD Delivery

Mark goes on to talk about how he tries to get people to respond to questions that include how they feel, what they think and what they did or would do. He mentions in passing that you can use the initials of those phrases, FTD, and the name of the popular fast florist delivery company of the same initials as a way to remember the formula.

“I know that when people ask me questions that generate all three of these answers, I feel known by them in ways that I usually don’t if we’re talking exclusively about what we feel or what we think or what we did or would do.,“ Mark continues.

He finishes with these sage words that I am trying to take to heart day by day.

Much of who we are is composed of what we feel, think, and do, so when we’re in conversations where we get to express all three, we feel more satisfied. Eventually, one of your questions will click and you’ll see the person lean forward eagerly to tell you something with enthusiasm or intensity. When that happens, do the right thing: Shut up. Listen. Listen some more. And then, once the person reaches a stopping point, ask another question that proves that you heard (and care about) what the person said.”

Try this tip out and let me know how it goes!


Read The Book:

Editor’s Note: The links to Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston in this article reference Amazon.com with an affiliate code. Using this link helps to support our services. However, if you’d prefer to go directly to the book page on Amazon, this link is affiliate free !

Photo Credit: Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash

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Categories
Blog Economics Jobseekers

Let the Adventure Begin

image_11798ab3-6a86-48e3-bcbf-064a13b092e3

I have a mug that says this on the side in cute, right-aligned, lower case serif letters:

let the
adventure
begin

The alignment, the blatant disregard for conventional spacing, capital letters and punctuation give it a playfulness I love and I find makes my heart smile a little each time I read it.

Does ‘work’ feel adventurous to you?

In a small way, isn’t this what work could feel like, too? I can hear the voices of droning mall-store bosses lecturing well-rehearsed ted-talks on the merits of hard work and thats-whats-wrong-with-your-generation speeches, but aside from all of those sounds, let’s just ponder for a moment.

What if work actually did feel adventurous?

I think, if you look around at the people you admire in your field*, the ones who make it look effortless, I think you will find one thing they have in common is, almost a sense of wonder that they get to do what they do and, perhaps, a sense of awe as if the things that seem to just “go right” for them, they never would have expected.

*Side note: If you don’t see anyone in your field you admire, that might be your sign ?

Now Is the Best Time to Have an Adventure

The world is freaking out right now, and, well, they should be. There are some seismic shifts happening in the world today.

But you don’t have to freak out and wring your hands

Let me show you why:

As I write this, the world is trying to re-awaken economically from the COVID—19 pandemic. We still don’t know what will happen and, in the United States, with official unemployment numbers topping 14% (as of May 8, 2020), people estimating the real number is much higher and could climb as high as 25% before this is said and done, there is a lot to be mindful about. The first part of that is it means we are undergoing a once-a-century forced reset of how our economy works at all.

During this unprecedented time when, in the US, many people are earning more on unemployment than they were at work, what this strange, strange time in history may become is the perfect seed ground for whatever it is that you want to do next.

Many of the great companies of our time have come about during times of economic downturns. Facebook, Microsoft, Disney, Trader Joe’s… its a long list. And, look, you don’t have to be the next Warren Buffett to see an opportunity to work on something you feel passionate about and, since some of the people you trust to work with you are also out of work, why not!?

Passion Doesn’t Mean Travel OR Entrepreneurship. It Means Being On Purpose

Don’t get me wrong, there’s something deceptively alluring to packing your bags and moving to Taiwan for a year and hoping everything works out financially, but you don’t have to start a company or go traveling the world to match your work with your passions.

If you can choose, purposefully, the things you will do and will not do in your life from this day forward, you will have a singular advantage over every other person working for a buck in the world who does whatever they’re told, won’t say no, then complains to everyone about how their life feels soul-sucking and useless.

Your advantage? You will be doing things on purpose.

But—that doesn’t mean glamorous, either.

But it does mean actively choosing.

I know plenty of people who purposefully do very difficult things today so they don’t have to do those things forever.

I also know several who gladly give up certain perks and benefits of a cushy white collar lifestyle so they can have other things more important to them, like family time or being able to volunteer when and where they want.

So… What Do You Love?

For me, this question surfaced recently in a raw and powerful way. I made the choice in 2005 to fully dive into recruiting as a way of life and I have not looked back.

Now, 15 years and recruiting for fantastic companies and meeting thousands of incredible humans later, I find myself asking what is next? The next job req? The next placement? Those things still bring passion and fire in my belly, but I find myself scratching at something more… something just beyond that which I still have not quite uncovered but it has me, and this is critical—

It has me CURIOUS.

  • I realized a year ago that I want to be truly helpful to the world and one way I can do that is to help 1 Million People get Better Jobs in 5 Years. I am 9 months in and have not scratched that, it seems. But each Resume Review I do and each webinar or newsletter I send out seems to do a little more, and I expect the results to be compounding.
  • I realized that I have mastered a series of recruiting behaviors in my career that can both help anyone become a master recruiter and can help any recruiting team do their best at keeping hiring more human, solving the problems of bias in their workplaces, being more inclusive, and welcoming.
  • Finally, I realized that my true passions lie around recruitment automation and helping companies minimize the processes that computers can do and instead maximize the things humans are best at doing.

All of these things do not take me away from recruiting, and I will never stop having candidate conversations as often as I can to fill those interesting roles, but I do think I can have even more excitement in my work as I follow these paths to more adventurous outcomes than simply keyword searching for candidates and repetitively busting out linkedin messages will get me.

These are the things I love… now your turn

Perhaps you need to take a walk or a hike, sit on a mountain or in a quiet room and think about the things you want and the things you love.

How can you marry those things with the things you do?
When you step back, what is it about the things you get very excited about which you can replicate? Is it process management? The chance to be creative? Closing a deal? Seeing the balance sheet work out perfectly? Consider these signals and follow them closely.

Now What?

Follow my lead and work to proactively choose to say YES to the things on your list of things you love and NO to the things you don’t.

Write down your things. Each time you feel you are forced to sacrifice one of your long-term loves because of a short-term necessity, write it don on a sheet you can recall. Go back in a month, three months or six months. Have things changed? Ask for them to change again and see what happens.

If you consciously push on these boundaries of things you’re asked to do versus things you love doing, and do this for five years straight, you will be living a MUCH DIFFERENT LIFE than you are now.

Which is good, since the world has changed, too.

Welcome 🙂


Written by Robert Merrill 5/18/2020 from near Salt Lake City, Utah
#blog #askrobertmerrill

Categories
Hiring Process Improvement

4 Smart Ways to Improve Recruitment Candidate Experience during COVID-19

4 Smart Ways to Improve Recruitment Candidate Experience during COVID-19

If you’re a little tired of hearing about these “unprecedented times” here’s perhaps something you can do about that if you’re on the “front lines” of a team lucky enough to be hiring and dealing with an inbound flood of applicants.

tl;dr: Skip to the Goods!

Recognizing that, as of this writing, thirty million people in the United States have claimed unemployment and are actively seeking work and that many hiring teams who are lucky enough to still be hiring may also have been impacted negatively in terms of having less help on the team and less tools or resources.

Hiring Teams Have Been Impacted, Too

In this environment of less help, less tools and way more applicants, recruiting and TA teams are faced with a very real problem: How to help everyone when you know you can’t hire them all and that many of them will not be qualified anyway. 

The urge to want to not miss all these people is real, and good and human. There are steps you can take to both help them how you can and not lose sleep or sanity doing so. 

Crank Up the Transparency

Improving the candidate experience during a time of massive inbound candidate flow will require some teams to begin taking a deeper look at how they are actually working, being more honest and open with candidates than they have before and starts with Recruiting and TA getting a better process in place to begin with. 

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were the one that was seeking a new role.  Add on an extra measure of desperation, a little paranoia that all the good jobs are going to be gone, and that job application processes are so unique sometimes that the candidate’s stop reading and just start, well, button mashing until they get the next application in. 

An opportunity to breathe a little and help your candidates do the same will go a long way to improving the job search process a little more human for everyone involved. ❤


Four Ways you can Immediately Improve Candidate Experience

Four ways your recruiting team can manage your candidate experience during COVID-19 times include: 

  1. Better job advertisements
  2. Stated, public SLA updated for COVID-19
  3. Better, more human approach to rejection
  4. Stop lying

I think companies who find ways to do a better job of connecting with applicants and finding how to really and truly express what they want from an applicant and being bold in that will find their applicant pools are actually way more interesting. 

I’ll give some high level explanations below and deep dive into each of these in the coming days. 


First: Better job advertisements.  

Job advertisements today are lame.  

Rewrite them so it is absolutely crystal clear what you are looking for, how you will measure what you are looking for, and what you are not looking for. 

A powerful and moving way to do this is video.  Grab a phone or record a zoom meeting of the hiring manager, team leader or someone doing the role explain some of the key things that are needed and what the business problems are that you are wanting to solve.  

Humans communicate so much more through nonverbal cues. Your video will do wonders for your communication of what the role really is.  

Want to level this up? Some B-roll of how your hiring team works to vet candidates and what the interview process will be like would be a great addition.  Tie it all off with that clip from your SLA (see below) of your CEO noting how hiring is important to them and inviting candidates to reach out directly if they experience problems with the process,.  Please do NOT say “I am the CEO and I approve this message”, but you kindof get the point. 

But really, getting something out there is better than nothing. 

Pro-Tip: Add these two caveats to your job postings to boost applications from a more-diverse background and help people NOT apply but still stay connected with you if they feel this job isn’t right:

  • Encourage people to apply if they are on the bubble and might second-guess their qualifications. 

    Something like “We are interested in people from all walks of life and backgrounds. We can’t guarantee a job to everyone, but if you don’t have every one of these skills, but you’re close and can knock our socks off in at least 2 or 3 of them, then let’s talk. Please.“ And give them a way to actually reach you.  THis will increase engagement as well as a proven way to improve responses from a more diverse candidate pool. 
  • To encourage people to stay connected with you even if this role isn’t quite right yet.  

    Giving candidates some other way to connect with you, perhaps a way to get into your applicant pool that does not involve them applying to a role that they know they’re not qualified for, but one that still gets them to be affiliated with your company and get access to insider tips, jobs or information. 

Have a Public COVID SLA.  Have your CEO introduce it. 

I think it would be a good idea to publish how you will communicate and how often you will communicate with candidates during the COVID crisis.  This should cover specific milestones with deadlines. Perhaps you commit to get to every applicant within 2 weeks from their apply date with either a go/no-go response.  You tell them how you are working through vetting each profile. Don’t overpromise, but follow up on time, every time.

 Post that online publicly.  Link to that in your job postings and have your automated email that goes out when someone applies mention it.  

Even better, have your CEO or head of talent record a video talking about what you will do.  Tell us about the challenges your team is facing as well, but that you are committed to getting people to work and doing this right.  Ask for a little patience as you figure it out, and give candidates as much control over the process as you can. 

Better than that, at the end of the video invite applicants to email you if something goes awry and promise to help make it right without judgement.

Give yourself a way out, too

Finally on this, give yourself a way out, too.  If setting a two-week deadline means 13 days in three hundred people get blind “sorry” emails, that doesn’t work either.  A better way may be to automatically email each candidate who is being considered, even tangentially, with a “we’re taking a look at your profile, but it’s taking longer than expected.”  note.  Perhaps the ones who still have not been touched after a week perhaps get a “Yikes, this is taking longer than we thought” message with an updated timeline and an email at least weekly until their application has been vetted. 

Pro-Tip: Give candidates a way to respond to these updates — to a human.  If something has changed in the candidate’s search, they got a job or want to withdraw their candidacy for some reason, let them. Help them help you. Be real that you may have missed the best candidate you could have ever hired here.  You should loop in any self-withdrawals to your NPS scoring system or some other feedback loop, but that’s for a different day. 


Reject better.  

Here’s how I recommend you do this: In your SLA, you discuss your posture for rejections.  Then, tell the candidate how you do rejections when you talk to them.  Finally, follow your process each time. 

Since you’re moving at scale, something I have done that works is to tell candidates I will do this first, but then I send an immediate, lightly detailed rejection message to the candidate as soon as I know. I told them I would, so I do.  Then, crucially, I invite them to setup a time with me to discuss detailed feedback if they like, with a link to my calendar-scheduling tool. 

Some old-school HR and Legal types will freak out mildly here because I did say that I will gasp give real feedback to the candidate if they ask for it and setup a time. This is something some candidates yearn for and deserve.  This is a small gesture, but people deserve this.  This part should not be automated. 

Pro-Tip: Not every candidate will ask for feedback. This is why the two-step approach helps you move quickly at scale, but it is important that you describe this process up-front. 


For the Love, Stop Lying to Candidates.

One terrible but common behavior in recruiting is we get to be masters at putting someone on “the back burner” or putting them on hold when we know they are not going to make the job.  

Be more honest with candidates.  Tell them “I am sorry to say that you scored about average in our test.  That means you’re not out, but you’re not really “in” at the moment until we do a few other reviews.  I know this is an awkward place to be, but I would want to know if it were me, so I am letting you know as well.”  

This goes over better than you think it will.  Give the candidate a chance to walk away. They will thank you for it. 

Summary

Here are four ways you can improve your inbound candidate flow, treat people the way they would want to be treated and help yourself as well. 

I think companies who find ways to do a better job of connecting with applicants and finding how to really and truly express what they want from an applicant and being bold in that will find their applicant pools are actually way more interesting. 

Let me know what you think!


Photo by Headway on Unsplash