talent acquisition

Winning the Tech Talent War

This article was originally posted on Nov. 16th on LinkedIn.

Author: Pete Smith

Last night, I attended TalentMinded’s Next Generation Talent Acquisition meet-up on “How to Hire and Retain Tech Talent”. The panel included Jack Noppé, Chief Product Officer of Intelex Technologies Inc., Lauris Apse, Senior Director of Digital Operations at CBC, Malgosia Green, Chief Product Officer, TopHat and Gianluca Cairo, Chief of Staff, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Government of Canada.

The panel discussion for the evening explored ways that companies are being successful in attracting and retaining scarce technology talent. The moderator for the evening, Kim Benedict, CEO of Talentminded kicked off with a sobering statistic. In a forty-kilometer radius of the event, there are currently over 700 open job postings for full-stack software developers and this is just one of the many job titles that make up the software development infrastructure of a company. Against this backdrop, I captured five important themes from the evening to share.

Companies are moving away from hiring for “Culture fit” to hiring for “Values fit”. This may seem a very subtle and nuanced difference, but it is an important distinction. “Culture fit” often leads to hiring people who look and think like you and therefore eliminates a large number of candidates from the pool, creates systematic biases and reduces diversity. Hiring for “Values fit” means hiring people who share the same values as you and your company, but may think very differently about how to accomplish these. This leads to diversity in thinking, higher productivity, better solutions and a more diverse and less homogeneous workforce. It also opens up larger pools of candidates.

The second key point was around understanding your employee value proposition, embracing what you are and matching your recruiting strategy to attract the people that looking for the distinctions that you offer. Working in Digital Media at CBC represents a different employee value proposition and attracts a different employee than the value proposition of working at high growth start-ups like Intelex or TopHat. One is not right and the other wrong, but rather each attracts different candidate types.

Third, imbed your recruiters into your development team so that your tech recruiters sit with, go to lunch with, and socialize with your Dev team. Break down silos between HR / Recruiting and your hiring managers. When I led a large team at PeopleSoft, we approached the working relationship between a recruiter and a hiring manager similar to the working relationship between a salesperson and their sales engineer. Both have distinct roles but ultimately work as a team to sell your value proposition to a candidate and convince them to join your company.

Fourth, you can not run recruiting as an “off-the-side-of-your-desk” activity. Recruiting must be a primary activity for leaders and metrics are required to hold managers, directors and executives accountable for results. Three years ago, I worked with a client to restructure their recruiting approach. At the time, I told their SVP for Products and Services that he needed to carve out 30% of his schedule to devote to recruiting. Eighteen months later, he confessed that at the time that he thought I was crazy, but looking back, he thought my time estimate was low and he had spent more than 30% of his time on recruiting.

Finally, think of “Diversity” as Canada’s secret weapon and superpower in the talent war. We have internationally renown universities that attract students from around the world (for example, 35% of University of Toronto’s enrollment is international students). Our challenge is to keep that talent here once they graduate while also attracting experienced talent to relocate to Canada as permanent residents. To that end, for qualifying companies, The Canadian Federal Government is establishing a two-week "standard" for approving visas and work permits.

There was a lot of wisdom floating around last night. I hope these few points that I captured help you in winning your war for talent. 

Why talking about career growth opportunities is essential in getting the right candidates

Published by Stephanie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded Inc.

Most job ads are boring and generic; a sea of sameness.  But what do candidates really want to know? What would make the best talent take notice of your job opportunity?

One common theme that almost always comes up during the interview process is career growth. What’s the next natural progression from the role they are interviewing for? Yet for many firms this almost never makes it into the job ad, let alone the screening process.

A question we like to ask candidates is “if you were offered the job, what factors will you use to determine if this role is the ‘right job’ for you? 80% of the time career growth makes it to the top of the priority list.

Don’t get me wrong - the culture of the company has influence over the candidate’s decision, however we find that ‘what’s the career path?’ gets asked the most. 

This raises the question - why don’t more companies ‘talk’ about (and promote) the opportunity for career advancement in their job ads?

I was at a tech social recently and asked people – ‘when you are reading a job ad, what entices you the most to apply to the job?’ When talking to people it became clear that opportunities for career advancement was huge!  People want to be challenged, promoted, valued, on a mission and progressing their own goals as much as the companies they work for. Win-win.

Yet, as we are all too well aware – many companies are still posting job ads that list what the person will do – not what they will become (Lou Adler).

Here are some real live examples, tips and job ad excerpts from some of our favorite clients and most admired brands on how they address career advancement opportunities in their job communications:

  • “Why join our team? This is your opportunity to learn the business from the ground up, and eventually take those skills and apply them in a more senior position at the company.”
  • Prove it. Share statistics about promotions within the company – “In 2015 we had 40 in-house promotions - once you join our company you won’t want to leave. We’ll provide you the opportunity to move-up.”
  • “But know this. If you do decide to apply for this position, and we agree that this is the right job for you, you'll be supported by a plethora of internal programs whose only focus is the continued progress of your career.”
  • “People in our career track drive delivery and capability excellence through the design, development and/or delivery of a solution, service, capability or offering. They grow into delivery-focused roles, and can progress within their current role, laterally or upward.”
  • Be authentic. If there’s no fast track growth plan, then don’t make it up.  Candidates trust and are attracted to authenticity.
  • Provide mentorship. If the growth opportunity isn’t readily available or yet defined, providing mentoring or coaching can be a great alternative to finding and keeping great people.
  • All of this ties back to job seekers thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, and that in order to advance they will likely need to move to a different company. If you address areas of growth within the company early on, it could help keep employees around longer. We suggest that hiring managers map out at least the next logical career progression for someone entering into a role at their company.

Paint a picture of where your ideal candidate is currently and what are they not getting that you can offer them and then advertise that.  And if/when the question of career progression comes up in the interview phase, and it will, at least you would have a well thought out answer.

WHAT THE BEST COMPANIES DO BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE (ON CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE)

Co-authored with Candice Sommers, Project Analyst, TalentMinded.

Every year we encourage our TalentMinded team members, clients and HR community to participate in the Candidate Experience Awards to drive best practices in their recruiting programs.  At a recent workshop hosted by Achievers and facilitated by the Talent Board we learned more about what it takes to provide a truly positive candidate experience - and the results might be different from what you think!

Here’s a summary of what we know about what the best companies do better than everyone else: 

  • They pay attention to job descriptions - they create unique, compelling job ads 
  • They invest in the right channels to attract more of the right people
  • They invest in their careers site and technology to enable the process
  • They include employee testimonials in their content & invest in referral programs
  • Their recruitment process is mobile compatible and responsive
  • They make it is easy to provide status updates and communicate to candidates often
  • Acknowledge candidate skills and experience throughout the process
  • Provide agendas to interviewees
  • They provide feedback and follow up no matter what the outcome
  • Provide clarity on the process and explain decisions 
  • Ask relevant questions at every stage of the interview process
  • Ask for candidate feedback 

Providing a consistent and positive candidate experience doesn’t have to be a daunting task nor is it all about expensive swag or extravagant tactics. While ‘Candidate Charters’ and ‘Concierge Teams’ can be awesome, focusing on these simple best practices have proven to help companies raise the bar. 

In our next blog we’ll share our favorite candidate feedback survey questions and tips on how to implement some of these improvements.

TalentMinded helps companies scale through better talent acquisition programs. We offer the best in people, process, tools, technology and brand for one monthly fixed price.  You don't just need a recruiter, you need a recruitment solution.  Call or email to learn more - kim@talentminded.ca, 416.587.1283.

If your recruiting is failing, what can you do about it?

A collaborative blog post with Pete Smith.

In our last blog, we asked: 'How do you know your recruiting is failing?'  In that post, we provided six metrics for a CEO to test whether their recruiting process was performing adequately.

Recruitment is hard and it’s only going to get harder. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If what you have been doing isn’t working, what should you do differently?

Let’s revisit our six metrics:

1.       Is your time-to-hire more than 52 days?

If it is taking longer than 52 days to source and hire the right people, then there’s a good chance there’s a gap in your process.  While sourcing and screening inefficiencies can cause a long time-to-hire, we also see challenges from other problem areas, most notably wait time. Time kills candidates. Long waits between steps in the recruitment process dilute candidate enthusiasm and lose you great candidates.

We recommend conducting an audit on your process to identify areas where you can drive efficiencies.  Usual problem areas include the headcount approval process, offer letter generation, interview scheduling and changes in job specifications or hiring priorities.  As well, nothing will kill a good candidate’s desire to work for you than a lousy recruiting experience caused by unprepared hiring managers, delays in the process, lack of communication, feedback and nurturing and generally being treated as a commodity.

2.       Are 90% of the applicants for any open position unqualified for the job?

If you receive hundreds of applications and spend hours upon hours screening just to get to a handful of applicants that you are willing to engage in a screening interview, something in your process is failing.  Many companies think that’s just the way it is. We say different. Generic job descriptions don’t tell candidates what they truly need or want to know about the role, environment, and company. They also generate unnecessary volumes of applications putting the onus on the company to do all the work. This makes no sense! Creative and compelling job ads increase candidate quality by better illustrating the role and allowing the individual to self-qualify in or out of the process.  The best prospects are looking not just what skills they need to be considered a qualified contender, but “why should I?” Stop thinking of you job posting as a qualifications list and start thinking of it as a piece of marketing collateral that sells the candidate on your company.

3.       Are less than 20% of your job applicants coming from referrals?

Have you asked your employees to encourage their friends and former work colleagues to apply? Your employees should be your biggest and most enthusiastic fans. Better yet, provide incentives to turn your employees into an extension of your recruiting team. Incentives aren’t just cash rewards for a successful recruit. They also encompass elements that make it easy for employees to see open positions and know what type of candidates you are looking for, as well as a streamlined VIP process that prioritizes referrals. The last thing you want is for an employee to be embarrassed by the experience their friend or former colleague has in your recruiting process.  Recruitment tools such as Jobvite make it easy to communicate job openings through employees’ social networks at a click of a button.

4.       Do you interview more than ten short-listed people for any role?

This is a downstream problem in the process that starts at the front end. Have you defined the correct job, with a realistic set of expectations compared to what is available in the market and at the correct compensation? The higher the bar for qualifications, the more likely the successful candidate will come from the ranks of passive candidates that you need to go out and find. Is your job ad compelling? Have you communicated why a unique candidate would want to disrupt their life and invest time in even talking to your recruiting team? Everything needs to be aligned in your recruiting efforts: expectations; messaging; process; communications between recruiters, hiring managers and candidates; the compensation and benefits being offered; and the technology used in your recruiting process. These are all points of failure, and we recommend taking time upfront to plan properly to avoid waste down the line.  “Hurry up and post the job” is not a strategy.

5.       Are 20% or more of your job offers declined?

Do you measure which of your hiring managers are most successful? If so, why are some more successful than others? We see big differences in success rates between hiring managers. Some just aren’t engaged and hiring is their last priority, regardless of what they say. Others just can’t inspire people to join. There are always superstars (especially at the executive level) that tell such a compelling story about your company that candidates are excited to accept a job offer. Identify these people and use them as your closers, just like you use your best sales folks to close big deals.

6.       Is your Glassdoor score higher or lower than 3.1?

Bad reviews about your company culture, or no reviews at all, can turn off candidates right out of the gate. But even if all of your reviews aren’t glowing, there are lots of ways to leverage the good, the bad and the ugly on Glassdoor.  Good places to start include responding to bad reviews to show that you’re listening, asking new employees to write reviews as part of their onboarding process, and sharing fun photos from your holiday party and other employee events that show insights into how you celebrate being your accomplishments.

Calisi.jpg

Pictures like this say something about your company culture.  Calisi’s first day at work at Seradex.

Also, don’t forget about LinkedIn. Check the analytics on your company page. Posting jobs and employee events on your company feed should result in greater engagement and click-throughs than most of your marketing content. If your own employees aren’t liking and sharing insights into your company culture, including job postings, then why should anyone else care?

If you aren’t meeting your hiring targets or attracting the right candidates, these are fixable problems. But, like anything else, change in recruitment takes focus, time, research, and ownership of the problem. Start with an audit of your current processes against target metrics. Follow-through with an analysis of where your process is breaking. Commit resources, identify owners, and assign responsibility to fix the breaks and fill the gaps. Finally, bake your metrics into your business just like you manage any other process.

These actions will help get you one step closer to winning the talent war.

Kim Benedict                                           Peter Smith

CEO / Co-Founder,                                 Managing Partner, 

TalentMinded Inc                                   The Meaford Group Inc