Table of Contents
In 2003, I launched a small endeavor called “CandidateVoice”. The idea was to audit websites based on their ability to deliver a sound experience for each candidate who visited the employment section of a website. As usual, the idea was ahead of its time.
The CandidateVoice service involved assessing 60 different aspects of the candidate experience. From interface design to click flow, from web server speed to personalization, the service set a benchmark and measured against it.
In recent years, Claudia Faust has been making great strides with her ImprovedExperience assessment process. Customized surveys embedded in the job hunter’s workflow gave Recruiting managers their first ever real time assessment of actual candidate experience. The firm operates on the notion that the best assessors of candidate experience and job site design are, well, candidates.
Several things have been clear about candidate experience from the very beginning:
- Candidate experience depends on the candidate. What works well for RF Engineers is likely to be a bust for teachers or retail workers.
- Ease of access to opportunity trumps fancy design. More clicks (and therefore more time) always equals less success for everyone involved.
- Transparency comes right after ease of access. Candidates want information about the status of their application and the reasons they were turned away. This sort of public accountability is foreign to the hiring process which would rather be done in the dark.
- Putting the candidate first is hard. Candidate needs are usually the opposite of hiring process requirements. The idea that candidates are actually customers and stakeholders is new and hard to grasp.
- Good candidate experience probably includes bad candidate experience. The truth is that you want the kinds of people you want to have a good experience that leads them to want to spend more time with you. The rest will be better off off their good experience is a firm pointer towards the door.
- What’s good enough varies by industry, region and position. You simply have to treat executives differently than low level hourly workers. It doesn’t mean that either should have a bad experience. Just that what’s appropriate varies widely. It’s unlikely that a single web experience is appropriate for all.
- Candidates require differing experiences for the phase of their relationship. Great recruiting operations are constantly building relationships with prospective employees. It is prudent and important to treat potential candidates differently than actual candidates. One’s experience as a member of the talent pool should be compelling.
- Candidate experience doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Without a way of understanding how many candidates flow through a particular system and what the error rates are, it’s not really possible to evaluate the overall effectiveness of one approach versus another.
- Candidate experience is validated by data not intuition. This is the powerful lesson from ImprovedExperience. Click rates, conversion statistics, signups and productive candidate output are necessary datapoints for any evaluation of the Candidate Experience.
This is our way of introducing the Candidate Experience Awards. An industry first, this new award is designed to recognize excellence in the delivery of Candidate Experience. Organized by Gerry Crispin, Elaine Orler, Ed Newman and Mark McMillan, the operation has partnered with Bersin and Associates for its research backbone.
The awards will be presented at this year’s HRTech. With any luck, the new awards will help employers shift their focus towards making hiring a pleasant experience.
Imagine the anxiety levels of some one who is desperate to find work and required to sift through a database of a half million job offerings. The combination of tedious work and the desire to get something done is a standard part of the Job Hunter’s Mindset. The Internet amplifies the intensity significantly.
Like cramming for a math final after skipping the class all semester, the active job hunter is faced with a sea of conflicting number one priorities, often without the resources required to effectively fill in all of the blanks. Clarity about the next step, self-confidence (in spite of whatever prompted the need to shift jobs), an orientation of accomplishment and a clear sense of “What Do I Want To Do” are the most basic components of this standard recipe for a nervous breakdown.
That’s right, people who are actively looking for work tend to be scattered and faking it. Otherwise, the layers of embedded conflict would eat them alive.
When you write for this audience understand that you are dealing with explosive levels of conflicting value. What feels good is certainty and the ability to relieve the tension.
When job hunters are given the opportunity to examine endless opportunities, what do you think they do? Truth is that after about a dozen thorough readings of job ads, they revert to skimming. The web actively encourages this approach…it’s a skimming medium. Following a skimming phase, the job hunter reverts to reviewing opportunities briefly and punching a resume button in response. It’s extremely Pavlovian.
Under the right circumstances a job hunter can submit around 75 resumes in a 10 hour day of looking for work. Our research indicates that the pace can be sustained, unabated, for about 15 days. That’s what they tend to do unless you can reach them early on (by getting the data right) with a compelling story (content) about why they should apply to you.
It’s a difficult audience with an extremely high payoff.
The most important thing to remember when crafting advertisements and content for this group is that they are not “passive”. Delivering ads and content to a “passive” audience requires an entirely different set of tactics.
It’s easy with “All You Can Post” from Beyond.com, the world’s largest network of niche career communities. Advertise all of your jobs on all relevant sites across the network for a low fixed price.
“All You Can Post” is based on your specific recruitment needs, so you won’t overpay. In fact, our quarterly trial is a great way to stretch your remaining 2011 recruitment budget.
The net effect of the increasingly social nature of web communications is that people are aware of the ways in which they are connected and to whom. It is now possible to see who your friends’ friends are. It is now possible to manage the influence you have over your network and, to some extent, the networks attached to those networks.
Older language (like the term referral) is wearing thin. The things we are now able to do exceed what could be imagined only a short time ago. Here’s a first attempt to identify the different kinds of transactions that are now lumped into the referral category. Each case is different and will have different levels of effectiveness.
Outbound Referrals (I Send Jobs To My Network) In order of the amount of work required from me.
- Network Sourcing (The Company Mines My Network Independent of Me)
In this situation, the company has access to my networks and sends information about jobs (and other employment branding material). My role in the process is to authorize the company to do this.
- Personal Referral (I Send My Friends to Jobs)
Here, the company offers me the opportunity to send job related content to my friends and network. I send it along to help increase the distribution of the opportunities
- Personal Referral With An Automated Endorsement (I Send Jobs to Friends that are likely matches)A ton of attention is being paid to the possibility that matching can be more effective in a networked setting. In this case, I forward jobs to people the company tells me are interesting matches.
- Personal Referral With A Warranty (I tell my friend that this job would be good for her)
I am actively persuading a friend or colleague to take a job.
Inbound Referrals (I Send People In My Network to My Company’s Jobs)
- Network Referrals (The Same As Network Sourcing. I Send My Network to the Company)
I give the company access to my networks. They send job related content as they see fit.
- Network Referrals to Automated Matches (I Send The People Who Match to the Company)
I get a report that tells me who matches particular jobs. I forward those bits of contact information to the company as requested
- Network Referrals To Jobs That I Agree Are Interesting (Partial Warranty)
I evaluate matches proposed by the company and make a determination that the jobs are interesting. I forward the information to the company.
- Network Referrals to Jobs That I Believe Are A Good Fit (Personal Guarantee)
I evaluate my network closely. In this case, I make recommendations that I am willing to bet my reputation on.
Once the company is in possession of contact information, it has an asset that can be converted into sustained competitive advantage. A well run network referral operation has its eye on the development of pre qualified groups of potential candidates who receive preferential treatment. Sometimes called talent communities, these lists of potential employees can be used to reduce recruitment advertising costs and increase employment brand awareness.
The world of referrals is changing rapidly. What used to be the province of personal relationships and intimate references is becoming a transactional marketplace for contact information. The notion that executives think this is the best source of new employees is balderdash.
But, there is real opportunity for refined data analysis here. Different styles of network relationship and information distribution produce different results. They have wildly different costs and require extremely different levels of employee engagement in the program.
Is Your Non-compete Agreement Enforceable?
by Heather Bussing
A Non-compete agreement is a contract between an employer and employee where the employee agrees not to work for competitors of the employer for a certain amount of time after the employee leaves.
Each state has its own unique laws and rules about whether, when and to what extent a non-compete agreement is enforceable. Usually the law where the employee works applies even if the company is located in another state where the agreements are enforceable. Recently Georgia, which had traditionally been hostile to enforcing non-compete agreements, enacted legislation that expressly permits the enforcement of noncompete agreements under fairly broad circumstances.
Anatomy of a Non-Compete Agreement
Non-compete agreements typically have two important parts: 1) protection of trade-secrets; 2) restrictions on where employees can work after they leave.
The trade secret protection is essentially a non-disclosure agreement and is designed to keep a company’s proprietary information secret. It usually covers company product information, sales strategy and client lists and contains a long list of other things that boil down to one of the above.
The work restrictions usually prevent an employee from working for a competitor in the same market or geographical area—usually for one or two years. These provisions are often drafted so broadly that the only place the employee could ever work would be a research substation in Antarctica teaching polar bears to surf.
Non-Compete Agreements Are Often Restricted or Unenforceable
Because non-compete agreements are so restrictive, they are often restricted or not enforceable. In California, non-competes are effectively illegal unless you are selling a business. Other states will enforce some provisions, usually the trade secret protection, but not the work restrictions.
The first thing to look at is whether there was some form of payment or consideration for the non-compete agreement. When the agreement is signed at the beginning of employment, courts will usually interpret the NCA to be part of the overall employment deal and find that there was some fair exchange for the agreement. But when an employer asks an employee to sign a non-compete agreement after starting employment and there is no extra payment or benefit to the employee for signing it, then almost all courts will invalidate the agreement for lack of consideration.
The next thing to consider is the laws of the states involved—where the employer is headquartered and where the employee will physically be working. If either has restrictions against enforcing NCAs, then the agreement may not be effective.
About one-third of states have some restriction on the enforceability of non-compete agreements because they interfere with a person’s basic ability to work and make a living. The restrictions usually limit the geographical area where the employee cannot work for a competitor and limit the time of the non-compete to less than two years. The employer has the burden of showing that any restriction is reasonable and necessary to protect against unfair competition. California, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Oregon and Michigan have the most restrictions against non-compete agreements. Other states, like Texas, will enforce the agreement but the courts often re-write non-compete provisions to the restrictions the employer can prove are necessary to preventing an unfair advantage by the new employer.
In California, non-compete agreements are illegal and unenforceable except in very limited situations. California will recognize an employer’s right to protect trade secrets, but only if the employer can show that the information really is proprietary and should be kept secret—not just because the employer says it is. Even client lists are not secret if the information can be obtained in other ways besides the employer’s internal lists.
In addition, employers who have fired employees working in California for refusing to sign a non-compete agreement have been liable to the employee for wrongful termination and have also been liable for damages for unfair trade practices for trying to enforce a non-compete agreement in bad faith.
So before you require employees to sign a non-compete agreement, make sure the agreement is valid under the law where the employee works.