Table of Contents
Have you ever wondered about the disconnect between what you need and what HR Technology companies provide? Are you tired of the awful stereotypes used to characterize the profession? Have you noticed that HR is different depending on where it’s practiced? Are you certified or uncertified? Does it matter?
Do your eyes roll back in your head when you hear mindless discussions about HR that have nothing to do with what keeps you up at night? Have you noticed that the trends forecast by the industry soothsayers never seem to come to a theater near you? Do you wonder who gave all of those consultants a corner on the truth?
This year, HRXAnalysts is launching the first ever comprehensive survey of the demographics, psychographics and brand preferences of the HR Industry. We want to understand, and help the industry understand, the realities of the jobs, decisions and opportunities in the business of HR. We believe there’s a major story to be told about what really happens, who really does it and what role technology plays.
So, we’re going to build a really big team of people who help us see and understand the realities of life in HR. We’ll do it in a number of ways that I’ll be telling you about over the coming months.
The first project is to build the largest ever survey of the industry. Our goal is to build a statistiacally significant picture of the profession and the types of people who work in it. That survey provides the foundation for the rest of the work. To get it right, we need to have about 1,000 people answer the questions in the survey.
Of course, people who help with this survey will get a copy of the executive summary as soon as the data is published. That’s the very least we can do.
The benefits are much bigger than that. Our comprehensive survey will be the beginnings of helping you to explain to your colleagues how HR works in your neighborhood and how you fit into the big picture. By painting an accurate picture of the people, attitudes and practices of HR, vendors will make smarter projects and the news media can be given a more accurate story to tell.
In addition, people who participate will have, if they desire, the chance to participate in deeper, advanced surveys that mine specific practices in specific subsets of the industry. As we mature the process, we expect to be able to compensate the people who help us. It all starts by taking this initial survey.
Colin returns to the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board this week with a new article on improving your corporate career site. Colin W. Kingsbury is the president and co-founder of HRM Direct, a leading SaaS provider of applicant tracking and onboarding systems to mid-sized organizations. Colin brings a lifetime of experience from both in and outside of the software industry, having previously held positions in product management, software engineering, sales, and as a newspaper journalist with expertise in knowledge automation, and has consulted on technology and business practices for Northrop Grumman, Boeing, General Electric, and the US intelligence community. Full Bio
Eliminate the Black Hole –Improving Your Corporate Career Site
by Colin W. Kingsbury
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about corporate career websites–and specifically, how to make them truly inspiring and captivating to jobseekers. If it seems like a terribly dull subject, well, that’s precisely the point.
Even the best sites — the ones filled with pages of lush multimedia content, built with luxuriant budgets and dedicated staff- place only a superficial gloss on the problem. All it takes is one or two clicks for a jobseeker to transport herself from that world of fantasy and into the bowels of the company’s ATS, where impersonal job descriptions and bureaucratic application processes dishearten even the most enthusiastic applicant.
The problem stems from a mindset that sees websites as another form of broadcast media, like print or TV advertising, rather than a truly interactive opportunity.
This can be seen on a much larger scale in the competition between Facebook and MySpace. Many thought Rupert Murdoch was crazy to pay $580m to acquire MySpace in 2005. But with Facebook’s value today well into the tens of billions while traditional broadcast media struggles to merely hold position, it could have been the deal of the decade. Instead, MySpace failed to keep up with Facebook’s growth and ultimately ceded its longtime audience leadership to the onetime niche competitor in 2008.
While it’s hard to pin this on any single factor, I think it’s fair to say that Facebook brought a different architectural mindset to the game. Facebook is led by programmers and Silicon Valley VCs, while MySpace is headquartered in Beverly Hills and owned by a corporation built around broadcast news and entertainment. MySpace’s approach is that media is something consumed by an audience. Facebook sees software as something that provides features for users.
Today, most of the excitement now centers on social media, which delivers the very personal and interactive experience that corporate websites lack. Should they replace the corporate website, or relegate it to second-tier status as nothing but a place to fill low-value jobs and march people through the formalities of applyin
I don’t think so. While Facebook and Twitter do enjoy powers of scale and vast audience reach, so did (and do) third-party job boards–yet no one these days is talking about Monster or CareerBuilder replacing the company career website. The corporate site remains the premier avenue for companies to define themselves in the eyes of jobseekers. However, what we need to do is bring some of the key elements of social media to the staid and static corporate career site. Here are a few ideas of how this might work:
1. Add Interactive Features. Social media offers interactivity, where most career sites are essentially online versions of what might as well be newspaper ads. Years ago, eBay added an “Ask the seller a question” feature that allows potential buyers to send a question to the seller, who can answer the question, and optionally post the answer publicly on the listing as well. It’s a simple way to be less of a brick wall to jobseekers without subjecting recruiters to an onslaught of personal emails and phone calls.
2. Make It Personal. Social media is powered by user-generated content, while career sites are often entirely top-down. One of the hardest tasks recruiters face is writing job descriptions that are both accurate and engaging. Imagine instead, if each job listing on your website had a series of Facebook-style mini-profiles of several people to let an applicant see what having the job would be like. Include the department head, someone currently in the job, and perhaps a peer or two, accompanied by brief statements about that job and why it’s important, exciting, challenging, or otherwise awesome. Not only do you get a much richer picture of what the job is about, you a very authentic and immediate sense of the company and who actually works there. This deeper, more personal, view is critical to capturing the attention of truly extraordinary candidates.
3. Make It Worth Their Time. Social media is powered by the promise of engagement, while corporate career sites are notorious for being black holes. Currently, we ask candidates to spend precious time registering and filling out applications. Maybe they’ll get a response. Instead, what if we offered people a carrot for applying, or for giving us their business card? For example, tell us about yourself, and we’ll introduce you to the hiring manager by providing a detailed bio, personal statements, and an opportunity to post questions or comments. For jobs that get hundreds of applicants, this might offer ways to help those candidates differentiate themselves. For jobs that are lucky to get a dozen, this could provide a much stronger reason for someone to apply or share his contact information.
Do all these ideas make perfect sense for every company? Surely not. My goal is not to provide a blueprint, but rather, a few charcoal sketches for inspiration. The significance of social media is less about being on Site A or Site B because “everybody’s on it,” than it is about finding ways to create truly interactive and personalized online experiences. Embrace that, and the candidates will surely follow!
Steve leads content development, thought leadership and public relations activities as a partner at Starr Tincup. Steve received his B.A. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2001, Steve has specialized exclusively in human resources and human capital-focused communications consulting after nearly a decade as a newspaper journalist. He has earned numerous awards for his business writing and his blogging and believes that most of life is just showing up and not being a jerk. Full Bio…
Mad Men HR: What Can Don Draper Teach Us About Talent?
Is there a more difficult job in HR than ESPN, a contender for the worldwide leader in sexual harassment? The good news for the folks in Bristol is yes. I’m thinking of Sterling Cooper and its successor firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
Although fictional, the world of AMC’s Mad Men is really more than good midcentury modern eye candy. Though it’s ostensibly about the ’60s and is supposed to make us feel “you’ve come a long way, baby,” it really says a lot more about our current modern overworked condition and generational struggles in the workplace.
There are a number of interesting riffs on talent in the workplace flowing through any given episode. Consider this clip:
First, a couple of thoughts:
- Uh, smoking? Let me refer you to page 34 in the Employee Handbook.
- Scotch? Don’t mind if I do … or should I say, page 32, please.
- Where’s Don’s EAP? The number’s on the back of your medical benefits card. It’s confidential, dude. IJS.
OK, all of that is pretty obvious. But what about the talent undercurrents that are a little less obvious?
Undercurrent No. 1: Generational (or Communications) Differences?
Oh, of course, there’s the whole theme about the restless younger generation trying to carve out a career niche while the older generation just doesn’t understand. Sounds pretty Gen Y to me. You see, we’re not just talking about 1965 anymore.
So how should Peggy handle this? Well if she’s truly, Gen Y, she’d better update her Facebook status to single. The next thing she’s probably going to do is hit her LinkedIn contacts looking for work. She’s a top performer and a high-potential employee — she worked her way up from the secretarial pool to become a lead copywriter. She’s got chops, and that means she’s got options.
You can complain about obstreperous Millennials all you want, but this is not just a generational trait. I actually think it is more a difference in communication styles. Top performers are always going to be restless and wanting more. Those actually seem like good qualities to me. Why wouldn’t you want ambitious employees who are hungry for more?
So you know how it’s going to go over when Don tells Peggy, “There is no ‘Danny’s idea.’ Everything here belongs to the agency.” And top performers are worth it. There’s no shortage of research on the topic — they generate more revenue per employee, are more likely to stay with the company, etc. It’s up to employers to figure out how to keep them engaged and retained in the long run. Yeah, Don. I’m talking to you.
Undercurrent No. 2: How Do You Engage Employees?
Now that we’ve dropped the e-word, let’s zero in on it a little more via this exchange between Don and Peggy
Don: “It’s your job. I give you money. You give me ideas.”
Peggy: “And you never say thank you!”
Don: “THAT’S WHAT THE MONEY IS FOR!”
Is a paycheck really a thank-you? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think so. It’s part of the equation, but how many business people today really believe that a paycheck is carte blanche to wring every last bit of effort and innovation from your employees? I’d say it’s a pretty small number, but not as small as one might hope.
So how should Don have handled this? Put Peggy’s name on the award entry? Bonus her out for her contribution? Well, yes and yes. But I’d wager that Don could have gotten just as much bang for the buck by saying, “Good job. I really appreciate your great work. Thank you!”
That “thank you” is a powerful thing. As Dr. Bob Nelson (management and employee recognition specialist and best-selling author) points out, employees are five times more likely to feel valued, seven times more likely to stay with
the company, six times more likely to invest in the company, and 11 times more likely to feel completely committed to their jobs when they are recognized for the value of their work. This adds up to 57 percent greater effort on the part of employees.
The power of a thank-you is highly underestimated. I believe it is a real shortcut to engagement. That’s why I believe that Rewards and Recognition really is a sleeper category in the world of talent management. If you haven’t been paying attention to this trend, trust me — now is a good time to start.
Undercurrent No.3: How Do You Retain Top Performers?
What is the purpose of talent management? Is it to develop employees or to help an organization become more efficient and profitable? Let’s be clear — it’s totally about the company and the bottom line. However, no business can get there without answering one burning question from employees: What’s in it for me?
Sure, Peggy’s pissed because she didn’t get a CLIO and she’s working on her birthday. But how long is she willing to put up with it? Over the past few years, companies have asked employees to put up with a lot. And most employees have been more than willing to comply because they were afraid not to. But now that things are getting better, expect more of them to decide it’s not worth it.
So what are the options? Sure, money talks — and certainly Peggy wouldn’t mind cashing a fatter check. Lots of companies are taking that approach, with incentive pay, variable comp and pay for performance initiatives. That’s why other companies are putting time and money into career pathing and succession management. Those companies are trying to show top performers/high potentials that there is a future for them in the company. Isn’t that what Peggy is really looking for?
Undercurrent No. 4: Why Do Star Performers Usually Suck as Managers?
OK, we know that Don is a badass creative guy but … would you want to work for him? I mean, just watch the video above, not to mention that his track record with secretaries could be better. It’s a story as old as time, top performer gets promoted to management and does a horrible job. This article captures it best:
“Because of their previous success, stars are understandably reluctant to give up the attitudes and practices they think produced their success thus far. And they’re unwilling to change. They don’t know how to develop or coach people because they never needed much coaching themselves– or so they believe. They don’t know how to deal with people who lack their motivation. Because they’ve never failed, they don’t know how to reflect on and learn from difficult experiences. No wonder many former stars turn into mediocre bosses. If you were a star, be aware that the very success that produced your promotion can now work against you.”
So what’s a business to do? A little management training for one. An awareness that just as employees have been asked to “do more with less” over the past few years, managers have borne the brunt of that stress. And last but not least, don’t ruin your great performers by making them managers. Provide other ways to promote and recognize people. Let your stars in functional areas continue to do the work they are great at — and flourish. Understand where their best value is.
Wrapping It Up: So What?
Maybe I just like Mad Men because I run a creative agency. However, I’m also interested in the talent issues that people inside HR and out are wrestling with every day. What can we learn from Mad Men, The Office, 30 Rock or most any TV show set in the workplace? HR, at its core, is still a human business. We can talk about strategic HR, “a seat at the table” and all of that other stuff. But understanding the human side of talent for the benefit of the business is still something that HR can do better than any other part of the business. Got it? Great. Scotch anyone?
In The Know v 2.05: Changing Management Styles
Following up on last week’s edition of In The Know, we have another ‘fistful’ of notable movements in the management universe. As the economy regains its footing, expect to hear a lot more about techniques that rearrange management approaches. There will be a heavy emphasis on startups and a deep desire to eliminate meetings and endless planning sessions.
The other thing you should expect is a tidal wave of predictive analytics. With small shops like MatchpointCareers hitting the markets, there’s certain to be an explosion of firms claiming to be able to predict an entire universe of things.
With each of these trends, it pays to figure out which is snake oil and which is petroleum,
- Agile vs Waterfall Methodology
Management techniques are under siege. The web brings fast accomplishment and detailed accountability to enterprises where neither used to exist. One of the key emerging tools in software development is called the ‘agile methodology’. Using sports analogies, the technique focuses on sustained accomplishment of goals that are constantly morphing. It will be arriving at an HR Department near you someday soon. Read about it here.
- How to Really Do More With Less: Why Recruiter Training Doesn’t Work
Jason Warner (who has run Recruiting for the bigs), kicked off a great series for ERE with this piece. Part of the agile approach involves a clear understanding of the problem before you start. This is the introduction to a great series.
- Startup America
Startup America is a “national campaign to help ‘win the future’ by knocking down barriers in the path of men and women in every corner of this country hoping to take a chance, follow a dream, and start a business.” (From the Whitehouse)
- Time Cops
If the police can predict crime with data, where are the comparative efforts in HR and Recruiting? “In a paper slated for publication in the Journal of the American Statistical Association, the team of UCLA researchers working with the LAPD compares this kind of repetitive crime to earthquakes. The initial crime is the first tremor. Subsequent crimes follow like aftershocks. We don’t know exactly where or when the after-crimes will occur—or if they’ll occur at all. But we can create a predictive model based on probabilities. Police departments can then feed real-time crime data into these models and organize patrols based on the likelihood of certain crimes occurring in certain places.”
- $3 Million Prize Offered to Solve Hospital Admissions Puzzle
“There’s a physician in Los Angeles who wants to give you $3 million. All you have to do is design an elegant math model that accurately identifies which of 100,000 patients from an actual 2009 database required an unplanned hospital admission in 2010.” Imagine what you could do with an applicant tracking system database.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: John Sumser, (415) 683-0775
HRExaminer, Starr Tincup Create HRxAnalysts to Gather Research into Human Capital Solutions Buyers, Brands
New entity will develop research into HCM buyers and brands,
as well as offer a social media channel to reach HR buyers
Bodega Bay, California (January 21, 2011) – HRExaminer, the online magazine focused on the people, technology, ideas and careers of senior leaders in Human Resources and Human Capital, is pleased to announce the creation of a strategic partnership with Starr Tincup, the premier full-service marketing agency dedicated to the human capital management (HCM) solutions industry. The result of this partnership will be the creation of a new entity, HRxAnalysts, focused on developing independent research into HR buyers and providers of HR software and services.
The move was announced today by John Sumser, HRExaminer founder, author and editor-in-chief, and Bret Starr, Starr Tincup founder and partner. It was also announced that HRxAnalysts will be led by industry veteran George LaRocque. HRxAnalysts will focus on three core areas:
- Analyst services: The first HRxAnalyst psychographic research into HR buyers is underway, to be followed later in the year with a breakthrough study on brand perception and influence in the HCM industry.
- Consulting: HRx will offer expertise and insight to HCM technology and services vendors to assess the marketplace and carve out a differentiated position.
- Media: Traditional media approaches, such as print and electronic ads and email, have a place, but to reach HCM buyers today, companies need to leverage social media in a different way. HRx offers a unique “asymmetrical” approach to social media that will change the way vendors reach HR and HCM buyers.
“This is not a mere ‘press-release partnership’ like so many in this industry,” said John Sumser, of HRExaminer. “This partnership will move from concept into action and ultimately be successful because George LaRocque is involved. And with him in the lead, HRxAnalysts is poised to provide unprecedented insight into the attitudes, actions and perceptions of HR buyers and sellers and engage them in several ways.”
Bret Starr of Starr Tincup said: “There is a surprising lack of information in the human capital space about the attitudes, behaviors and perceptions of actual practitioners. “Through this research, I believe that we can develop extensive, statistically valid, on-going data models that provide real-time visibility into perceptions of HR solutions buyers. Do they perceive one talent management brand to be stronger than another? What tools do they use? What tools do they like or not like? Now we can know and track these changes over time.”
To say that HRxAnalyst president George LaRocque is an HCM industry legend is no overstatement. Starting in 1988, he worked in the staffing market where for 10 years he built teams and companies focused on Recruitment Process Outsourcing/InSourcing, Executive Search, Contract and Permanent Placement. In 1998, he joined HireSystems, which became BrassRing (now Kenexa). He led BrassRing’s revenue growth from zero to $50 million in five years. He has also held executive positions for TalentTechnology (HireDesk), Bullhorn and others. LaRocque will also continue in his role as director of revenue consulting at Starr Tincup, where he helps technology and services vendors in the Human Capital market assess the marketplace and themselves.
“One of the biggest brand challenges in this industry is the lack of differentiation,” said LaRocque. “Too many companies are trying to be all things to all people. That’s not a winning strategy, and I believe that this research will help us show companies in this space how to position themselves as unique and appeal to buyers.”
For more information, contact George LaRocque at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 702-1080.
HRExaminer is an online magazine focused on the people, technology, ideas and careers of senior leaders in Human Resources and Human Capital based in Bodega Bay, Calif.