recruiting

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. 

Robots vs Recruiters: AI and the Future of Talent Acquisition

As technology advances, many in our industry wonder whether or not artificial intelligence (AI) will replace recruiters or, at the very least, how it will impact what we do and how we do it.

Is the death of the recruiter finally here? 

Our sold out and much anticipated #NextGenTA MeetUp on June 8th covered this topic thoroughly through a panel discussion and audience questions. We wanted to ask some of the industry’s best and brightest where they thought AI would take us and what kinds of obstacles and opportunities might be presented along the way.  

At the MaRS Discovery District, we sat down with Kevin Grossman, President of Global Programs, Talent Board, Victoria Reynolds, Head of Talent Acquisition at Capital One, Chris Brown, Director of Talent Solutions, Canada at LinkedIn and Sara Cooper, Talent Director at Omers Ventures. Here are just some of the highlights from our conversation and insights these talent leaders provided to the packed house at MaRS: 

Q: Is AI the death of the recruiter?

Sara answered: “No, I read this 10 years ago and we’re still here. It will however transform HR and recruiting. A good recruiter uses tools to be better and faster. If a transactional recruiter is just posting jobs and waiting for applicants, then AI might be the death of that recruiter. If you believe in building relationships then AI will only help you be a better advisor and elevate your career.”

Q: Kevin, what are your thoughts on AI’s impact on recruiters and the candidate experience?

“Relax, the robots aren’t taking over. I came into the HR tech space in 1999. AI had a job matching algorithm, which was solid technology at the time. I haven’t seen a lot of change until very recently. Like Sara said, AI helps empower recruitment. Where we will likely see the most impact (and potential job loss or restructuring) will be in sourcing and administrative tasks. Companies that win, will invest in leveraging new technology to drive efficiencies and provide better feedback loops through people.”

Q: Chris, what is AI and how is it being used today in recruitment?

It’s important to frame the different types. The term “artificial intelligence” is fairly generic. In recruitment, a lot of AI is heavily focused on matching and resume parsing. What we’re seeing now is a transition to more intelligent learning. For example, AI becomes very interesting regarding speech recognition. It’s working towards learning - using AI technology in a customer service chat bot, perhaps moving to interviewing, and face recognition. Sourcing, however, is where we might lose jobs. We can’t comprehend how fast it changes because it will almost certainly occur faster than humans can adapt to it.”

Q: Victoria, what are your thoughts? What happens if companies don’t adapt? 

“We need to find balance. We’re make progress using predictive analytics, using data to cut down on both the recruiter and candidate time. At Capital One, we’ve looked into chat bots for credit card customers - can we apply this to the recruiting experience? We’ve also looked at building an application for scheduling and aiding candidates in their preparation. We chose to build this in-house as our teams know culture and we believe that can’t be taught unless you’ve lived it.” 

Q: Sara, how has technology modified the role of the recruiter? Have we raised the bar to strategic thinking?

Recruiters don’t have the best reputation – you just have to read Linkedin to know that. They have to be better at adding value and being proactive and AI will allow them to do that. AI will separate the great recruiters from the rest because it will free them up to focus on strategic work. Recruiters who will survive are the ones who can meet the needs of the business not just today but six months or even years from now. If we are going to prep our business for our CEO stepping aside five years from now, we need to start building a pool of potential replacements today. Those relationships need to start today. That’s something that AI can’t do, at least not right now.

Q: Kevin, based on candidate experience benchmarks, where do recruiters win?

“The one thing we measure is the potential business impact of how candidates are treated. If candidates are treated fairly, communicated with, and given closure, 64% of the time they will apply again, refer others, and buy your stuff. 43% of candidates who have a bad experience will sever that relationship. This is significant for a consumer based business.” It comes down to respect for the candidates time, no amount of automation can fix that.

Sara jumped in on this one: “Always remember that declined candidates are future customers. We need to better predict with accuracy what we may need - perhaps AI will help us do a better job at workforce planning.”

Back to Kevin: “There is a speed aspect that AI can help with. Often candidates withdraw due to the length of the recruitment process.”

 

Q: Chris, what’s happening with LinkedIn right now when it comes to AI? What can we expect as it relates to Talent Solutions? 

“AI exists today on LinkedIn with features such as “jobs you are interested in” and “people you may know”. As engagement improves, AI does the heavy lifting to get you more value. LinkedIn Recruiter is still restricted to skills and keywords but it’s moving toward social cues like a LinkedIn user’s affinity to the company or brand, or intent. Our AI technology will celebrate what we do for both companies and candidates. AI will help us move from just finding people to real recruiting which goes beyond just finding people but to attracting and engaging those with the right skills and affinity to your brand.”

Q: Victoria, are we going to create bias through machine learning and AI?

“Humans are biased. Machine learning can highlight whether or not there is bias. The more technology we use to identify unconscious bias, the better off our recruitment processes will be. The robots might actually help.”

To gain the full Next Generation Talent Acquisition experience - awesome panelists and thought leaders, sponsor rewards and networking - keep an eye out for our next MeetUp announcement for September 19th! The topic: Diversity. Not a member? Join here.

Thanks again to our panelists!

Lastly, this event would not be possible without our awesome sponsors. Thank you to XRefIdealTalentMinded and ViziRecruiter for not JUST sponsoring the event but sending your awesome teams to join in on the fun and add value to the conversation. 

If you are interested in speaking, sponsoring or have a topic that you would like to see us tackle please contact Kim Benedict, kim@talentminded.ca.

Have a wonderful summer #NextGenTA friends - we’ll see you in September!

Why referrals (especially in start-ups) should be a top priority

Why Referrals should be top priority

Why Referrals should be top priority

Why referrals (especially in start-ups) should be a top priority

Author: Stephanie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded

From the time that I got my first “real job” I learned quickly about the power that employee referrals can have on a company and its culture. As well, after working in the start-up world, I have seen first hand how important it is to tap into the pool of talent in your network to hire people who believe in your company and mission. 

As it turns out, I found my current employment through a referral.  It’s easy to see why my employer is tapping into their referral network before posting positions online–hiring through an employee referral is faster, more cost effective and generally a better culture fit–and I’m living proof! I would also go as far to say that the majority of people I know found their first and often second job through a referral. 

It’s important for companies, especially tech start-ups, to understand the end-to-end value of an employee referral. Here are some of the reason employee referrals should be your number one, if not only source of hire when you are in the early stages of growing your business–and they may be different than you think.

JOB HOPPING HAS BECOME THE NORM

“Job hopping” has become the new norm; 91% of millennial workers only anticipate spending 3 years or less at one company. With so many options out there for a lot of skilled talent, especially in tech, it’s easy to keep fast tracking your career forward with great leaders and great companies.

Being a millennial I can attest to this myself and I see it happening within my network all the time. We have the mindset of always thinking about the next best thing. When I talk to people in my network about their current jobs, the majority are not planning to grow their career within the current employer or foresee the opportunity to do so. 

So there are two key points to this: 

1.       Given millennials may move jobs more often, having someone you trust refer them into your company can be a good sign.  Often times we dismiss ‘job hoppers’ thinking they can’t hold down jobs or get fired.

2.       Cutting through the noise on job boards and inmail ‘spam’ or avoiding it all together by going direct to your immediate referral network can be a key competitive advantage especially in a tight labour market. 

EMPLOYEE REFERRALS = HIGHER RETENTION RATES

We have entered into a time where it is easier than ever to apply to jobs and find them online – or the jobs find you! With tools like LinkedIn and Indeed, people can apply to multiple jobs with ease and/or receive daily notifications about jobs that match their search criteria. When applying to, and getting jobs, is this easy, it is essential for employers to look at other methods of employee retention.

Employers who have employee referral programs have 25% higher retention rates of employees after two years than those who do not. When you already have the inside scoop on a company, and know people who you respect within the company, it helps in making a smooth transition. Employers who use their network for referrals, and not just internal employees, have a better chance at extending their reach into the labour market and attracting talent who are pre-qualified ‘fits’ for the company.

My first experience with this was when I worked at a bank during my undergraduate degree. After my first year of employment, I referred two people to the company–one that I had worked with, and one a fellow student. At this bank, culture fit was very important, and since I had a great sense of what it was really like to work there, everyone I referred was hired and stayed and moved up in the company.

When you think about companies who have had success in hiring through employee referrals, like my current employer TalentMinded, the ROI is in employee engagement, retention, lower cost and time to hire and company growth.  

SO HOW CAN YOU INCREASE EMPLOYEE REFERRALS?

A lot of companies, especially start-ups, give employees perks for referring people to the company. It’s standard to have some sort of monetary compensation or tangible reward to motivate employees to tap their networks. We find most companies offer a minimum of $1500 per hire paid out after 3 months or half and half during the probationary period.

There are other things companies are trying in an attempt to fill their pipeline with quality referrals for hire.  I have a friend who works for a company that is doing some cool things with their referral strategies and its working. For example, they give their employees extra vacation days if they hire your referral.  They also take the employee and their referral out for lunch the first week the referral starts and make sure they publically recognize the employee’s contribution through a monthly newsletter and townhalls.  

Another way to increase your referrals and get your employees jazzed about digging deeper into their networks is to give it a brand of its own.  Try creating a sub-brand for your program with a logo and tagline to match.  This will help get your employees rallying behind something more tangible and visible then just an email reminder from time to time.

The ‘ask’ for more effort and energy in driving an increase in qualified referrals should also come from the top down.  A message from the CEO can be more powerful than a standard HR policy announcement or poster in the lunch room.

Lastly, consider rewarding your brand ‘ambassadors’ beyond your company walls.  Encourage referrals from external networks and people who know you and the company well.  Being a start-up usually means your small, so why not reward ALL the people that care about your success.  Extend your reach by expanding your rewards to other raving fans around you.  And as we mentioned, it doesn’t have to all be all about the dollars and cents. As stated in one of our earlier posts, “Why don’t companies reward the people who care about them”, it’s the thought that counts – don’t underestimate how far a $25.00 Starbucks card can go in helping you build your brand!

Essentially I am a firm believer in employee referrals based on what I have experienced personally as well as the success I have witnessed through my network and their career paths. Having some sort of employee referral system in place, that employees will actually pay attention to and action, should be a top priority when crafting your recruitment strategy.

Please feel free to share some of the things that your company does to drive referrals!

Author, Stepahnie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded

 

 

 

 

How do you know if your recruiting strategy is about to fail?

A collaborative blog post with Pete Smith.

Before the holidays, we were talking to a manager who was bemoaning their workload. On top of everything else, they were conducting candidate screening interviews because they had four open positions and their internal HR team was too busy to get the screening interviews done. Kudos to the manager for picking up the slack—but as a CEO, is this how you want to run your company? 

In our last post, we asked: Would you run your sales process like you run recruiting? We are in a talent war. Tech CEOs know this, yet most lack metrics to understand whether their recruiting process is working well, about to fail, or already on life-support.

No CEO runs their business by periodically looking at their financial results to see how they performed. Instead they use forward-looking metrics and trends such as size of their sales pipeline, average time to close a deal, average deal size, and the trends underlying these metrics to predict their future financial performance.

The same goes for recruiting. If you aren’t already tracking, measuring, and diagnosing your future recruitment success, here are six metrics to get you started.

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

52 days is the average time-to-hire, and that metric hasn’t changed much over the past ten years. Obviously there will be outliers (such as an average of more than 250 days to hire a sales rep in San Francisco), but this 52-day benchmark provides a good diagnostic to understand whether your recruiting team and hiring managers are executing well.

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

This metric is the ratio of applicants rejected prior to screening interviews divided by the total number of candidates who have applied. Beyond the obvious waste of time in filtering, a too-large applicant pool makes it difficult to pick the best fit candidates. Hiring managers should spend 20-30% of their week recruiting, but not on filtering applicants. This time is best used on networking, generating referrals, having ‘coffee’ conversations with passive prospects to build future talent pipelines, and of course interviewing only the most qualified (short-listed) candidates. If you can’t map these tasks to your hiring managers’ activities, you have a problem.

3.      Are less than 20% of your hires coming from employee referrals?

If less than 20% of your hires come from referrals, then you may not be tapping into the best talent pool.  Multiple studies show that employee referrals are better quality candidates, take less time to hire and are happier and more productive than other sources of hire.

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

A 10:1 ratio is very generous. Ideally five short-listed candidates should yield a good hire if your process is working. This metric is calculated from the ratio of candidates hired to the total number of applicants that pass the screening interviews and are recommended for further interviews by hiring managers. Interviewing more than ten short-listed candidates either means that your recruiters and hiring managers aren’t aligned on the job requirements, or that they can’t tell the candidate a compelling story about the position and why they should want it. It could also mean that you are mostly interviewing active job seekers and not searching out enough passive candidates (which are often the stronger candidate). Five short-listed candidates or fewer per hire is a good metric.

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

If more than 20% of the offers you extend are declined, you’ll never be able to keep pace with your growth. This may indicate that your compensation and benefits package is not competitive, or reveal that the candidate experience during the interview process is turning off short-listed candidates. Bad reviews on sites such as Glassdoor, especially recent ones that go unaddressed, can also have a big impact in the eleventh hour. 

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

If your score is lower than the state average of 3.1 (according to Bersin by Deloitte) your company will raise a red flag in the candidate’s mind. A higher score, coupled with authentic, positive, and engaging employee comments, can mean the difference between a passive candidate rejecting or accepting your request to talk. Current stats show that approximately 67% of candidates use Glassdoor as part of their decision making process, and on average a candidate will use up to 14 different pieces of online information to assist in deciding whether to accept an offer with your company.

If you like our benchmarks, feel free to use them in your business. If your metrics aren’t measuring up, our next post will tell you what you can do to change the game.

 

Kim Benedict                                           Peter Smith

CEO / Co-Founder,                                 Managing Partner, 

TalentMinded Inc                                                   The Meaford Group Inc