Issues In Job Recruitment and Research

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Job Orders: Better, Faster, Smarter

Job Orders: Better, Faster, Smarter
By Bill Radin

There’s both an art and a science to writing job orders. The science involves information: getting a description of the position, the selling points of the job, the company’s sense of urgency, and an idea of where to look for candidates.

The art has to do with gathering all this information quickly while building a rapport with the hiring manager and nailing down a fee agreement.

In theory, each new job order would read like a Michelin travel guide: a detailed roadmap of the position, the work environment, the manager, the company, the industry, the salary, the reporting relationships, and so on.

But in reality, it’s unrealistic—and impractical—to get a huge amount of detail, especially in your first conversation with a new client. I’ve found that even the most patient employers tend to get fidgety after about 20 or 30 minutes.

So, my approach is to keep the job order—and the worksheet I use to gather information—simple. I try to hit the major points and get the most data possible in the least amount of time. That way, I can get a snapshot of the employer’s needs, evaluate the quality of the assignment, and in the process, prepare a list of follow-up questions to ask later.

Hit the Major Points
If you work from your job order checklist too literally, the sheer volume of questions might make it sound as if you’re putting the employer on trial. To keep things short and sweet, a typical first-round sequence of questions may sound something like this:

“Mr. Employer, to better understand the job and my ability to help you, let me take you through a very brief series of questions. Are you ready? Good.

“First, tell me why the job is open. What problem do you want the person to solve? Isn’t there anyone on staff who can do this? I mean, what would happen if you couldn’t find the right person for the job?

“You say you’ve been trying to fill the position for several weeks. How many people have you interviewed? Where did you find them? And you never reached the point of making an offer? How come?

“What sort of compensation package did you have in mind? Is that what you’re paying other people in a similar capacity? And you’re finding qualified candidates in that price range?

“If you don’t mind, I want to play devil’s advocate for a moment. Why would someone quit a perfectly good job and go to work for your company?

“So, let me see if I understand the situation. If I found a qualified candidate and we scheduled an interview for next week, and there was mutual interest, you could make a competitive offer and have that person start in about two to three weeks.

“Great. Now let me take care of a little business. I charge a placement fee for my service, which will be due once the candidate I refer accepts your offer of employment. We’ll discuss the exact amount of the fee in a moment, but once we agree to the terms, I’m going to send you an agreement to sign and fax back before I can begin the search. Do you have the authority to sign an agreement and pay a fee? Excellent.”

See how it’s done? You hit the major points first to qualify the job order. Once the job’s been qualified, you can go back and fill in the blanks, with additional information about the company, the specifics on the technical skills or experience needed, what the short and long term results would be if the person did a superlative job, who the person reports to or supervises, how much travel is involved, what the hiring process is, and all that good stuff.

An artful job order interview not only allows for a more objective evaluation of the company’s needs; it also puts the employer at ease by starting a conversation—not an interrogation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Understanding How a Recruiter Works

Remember, a recruiter works with you, markets/promotes your background to his or her client companies, but he does not work for you. A recruiter works for the company or organization that pays for his or her services. Your relationship with a recruiter is much like the relationship you might have with a real estate broker who represents a home seller, but wants to help you, a buyer, find something that you would like to buy. In order for this to work, a good recruiter will be interested in where you want to live geographically, what you like to do professionally, now and in the future, as well as how much money you want to earn.

As with any relationship, honesty is important in this relationship, as well. Let the recruiter know those things that are very important to you, as well as those of lesser importance. Different factors have more or less weight with different candidates. Factors that you might consider include: job content/responsibilities, growth prospects, compensation, travel, location, company size, benefits, commercial vs. defense-oriented work, mentorship, start-up vs. established company, to name a few. Letting the recruiter know what is really important to you and what matters less will help the process.

For this to work, a recruiter must introduce you, the candidate, to an opportunity that satisfies your needs, while at the same time satisfying the needs that his or her client firm has for the individual(s) they seek to hire. It is not an exact science and there is always some amount of give and take on both sides. No one gets married without making some compromises -- the same is true in this relationship between you, the candidate, and the prospective employer.

Selecting a Recruiter

Your best bet in selecting a recruiter is to ask for a referral from someone in your industry/area of specialization. You want to work with someone who has placed other people with your background, or a similar background. You wouldn't use a recruiter for retailing if you were a software engineer. Professional societies or publications from these societies, or trade magazines, are a good source of potential recruitment firms. Remember, those firms that have been doing recruitment and placement in your field are more than likely to have the greatest number of contacts and industry resources/access to help you.

The other thing is you would like to talk to someone who you feel comfortable talking to. Even if a recruiter cannot help place you today, if they give you advice about your resume or career options, this is someone you might want to talk to in the future when they can help you.

The Referral Process

Once a recruiter has referred your resume to an organization, and interest is expressed by that organization, the recruiter will introduce the firm and the opportunity to you and then you can decide if you are interested or not. Generally, if you are not in the firm's immediate vicinity, the company will conduct a telephone interview. After this, if both parties are interested, a face-to-face interview is the next step. If that goes well, a second or even a third round of interviews might occur. It is possible that you might receive an offer after the first interview.

At the offer stage, the recruiter will probably have some insight as to what you can expect. Some firm's offer is a "best and final" offer; others might have room for some negotiation. If you prefer to do your own negotiating because you have established a good rapport with your prospective supervisor, great. If you need some help, the recruiter can help you. Remember, the recruiter is trying to help the parties "to the altar", so he or she will work to satisfy your needs as well as his or her client's needs. It won't work any other way.

Helping the Process

Telling the recruiter where you have already sent your resume will help avoid duplication and wasting their time. If you have interviews already scheduled, let the recruiter know where you are in terms of timing, especially if you are expecting an offer in the near term. Remember that if you treat someone the way you would like to be treated, then the experience should be a positive one for all parties -- you, the recruiter, and the company.

Institutional Investor's Ranking of Independent Research Firms Finds Sanford C. Bernstein and Co. Tops for Second Straight Year

nstitutional Investor's Ranking of Independent Research Firms Finds Sanford C. Bernstein and Co. Tops for Second Straight Year


For a second year, New York-based brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. is the most honored firm in Institutional Investor magazine’s annual ranking of independent investment research providers.

New York, NY (PRWEB) December 14, 2005 -- For a second year, New York-based brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. is the most honored firm in Institutional Investor magazine’s annual ranking of independent investment research providers. Based on a survey of money managers, the firm easily outpaces its peers, ranking in 26 categories and earning first place positions in 19. Institutional Investor’s ranking of the best independent research providers — defined as firms that perform no investment banking — appears in its December issue alongside its annual ranking of the best boutique and regional research firms.

To identify the top independent research providers, Institutional Investor asked institutional money managers participating in its 2005 All-America Research Team to name the three sources of independent U.S. equity research that they had found most valuable in each of 71 sectors over the preceding 12 months. The magazine also asked analysts and portfolio managers at investment firms to name their top choice for the boutique or regional firm that produced the best research in those sectors.

Among boutiques and regional firms, two firms lead the way, each winning in five categories. FTN Midwest Securities Corp, based in Cleveland, earns top honors in Food, Health Care Facilities, Machinery, Retailing/Broadlines & Department Stores and Retailing/Food & Drug Chains; FTN also had five first-place finishes in 2004. New York’s Keefe, Bruyette & Woods dominates the Financial Services sectors, capturing the top spot in Banks/Large-Cap, Banks/Midcap, Brokers & Asset Managers, Mortgage Finance and Specialty Finance. In 2004, KBW won in four categories. Boston-based health care specialist Leerink Swann & Co. leads four sectors: Biotechnology, Medical Supplies & Devices, Pharmaceuticals/Major and Pharmaceuticals/Specialty. New York–based Fulcrum Global Partners wins in Cable & Satellite, Chemicals/Commodity and Entertainment; and Houston-based energy boutique Simmons & Co. International walks away with the Integrated Oil, Oil & Gas Exploration & Production, and Oil Services & Equipment categories. Among independent firms, Fulcrum takes top honors in five categories. Buckingham Research Group, also based in New York, places in seven categories and captures two No. 1 slots. International Strategy & Investment Group, Portales Partners and Precursor each place in four categories.

Online Job Availability Slips In December

NEW YORK -- The availability of online jobs declined a bit last month.
The Monster Employment Index was down four points from November to 145. Every state and most occupations showed lower levels of online job recruitment.
The decline ends a four-month growth trend but the index is still 32 points higher than it was year ago. Monster Worldwide said the December decline was probably due to seasonal factors, since many employers had already filled holiday-related temporary jobs.
The company said despite last month's dip, almost all industries, occupations and regions show much higher levels of online job availability than a year ago, which bodes well for job seekers this year.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Profits: A human resources theory of relativity

By Terry Corbell

As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” His quote has applications for business. Indeed, Einstein had imaginative insights. He even helped shorten World War II.
In August, 1939 – more than two years before America was drawn into war after it was attacked at Pearl Harbor – some six years before the atomic bomb shortened World War II – Einstein wrote a two-page letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In it, he proposed ideas on uranium and nuclear chain reactions, which he believed could be used in the construction of “extremely powerful bombs.”
In his quotation on imagination, Albert Einstein was probably referring to physics or his renowned theory of relativity, but his thoughts are also applicable for profits in 21st century business.
For example, CEOs of publicly traded companies want to able to predict which strategies will appeal to investors. In its December quarterly newsletter, McKinsey & Company says its research shows that each company only has to worry about the preferences of 100 core investors who have the ability to influence share price movements. Like any sales situation, the key is to know the customer. Unfortunately, some companies inflate share prices at the expense of quality in the eyes of consumers.
Information technology professionals might think security and data integration are the keys to profits. Newspaper classified ad salespeople probably consider online pictures to be vital for sales success. Chief Financial Officers believe they should have more time for strategic planning, but they’re so weighed down mainly by compliance documentation and earnings reports, they aren’t able to help grow their companies, according a recent IBM study.
Candidly, for companies to compete successfully in 2006, profits will depend on the performance of workers; about which many CFOs have little knowledge. And performance depends on morale and attitudes.
Perhaps it’s a little strong, but here’s a recent nuclear bomb-like announcement from Towers Perrin, a HR consulting firm with a Seattle and global presence. It recently released its world’s-largest human resources study on worker attitudes; it concluded that employee attitudes pose a threat to corporate performance.
Only 14 percent of employees are fully committed to their jobs and employers, according the survey of more than 85,000 workers at midsize and large companies worldwide.
The highest motivated employees (40 percent) work for companies in Mexico. As a result of the stress on long hours and low wages, the least motivated (less than 10 percent) are Asian workers. Americans and Europeans are somewhere in the middle. The term Towers Perrin used to describe motivated workers, “engaged.”
Only 21 percent of American workers are engaged. The two reasons the firm cited: Skepticism about CEO leadership and lack of trust. Fifty-five percent are “passive” job-seekers; which means they’re receptive to job offers. So turnover is a financial problem.
Worldwide, regarding product quality in companies: Among the highly engaged employees, more than 80 percent are optimistic they can make a difference compared to 31 percent of the disengaged workers.
In customer service, 72 percent highly engaged workers believe they can contribute compared to just 27 percent of the disengaged.
In efficiencies, 68 percent of the highly engaged can influence costs vis-à-vis 19 percent of the disengaged.
Only 59 percent of the highly engaged anticipate remaining with their current employers.
Julie Gebauer, managing director of the firm’s Workforce Effectiveness practice, indicated U.S. workers are frustrated with pay issues. She said they’re also unhappy with other issues: “Elements like career opportunities, fairness and work/life balance are often more important than pay and benefits when people are making decisions about whether to stay with or leave a company.”
“This presents two challenges for employers,” said Donald Lowman, a Managing Director of Towers Perrin HR Services. “One is understanding, in concrete terms, the nature of the work experience needed to achieve higher levels of engagement. The second is identifying the unique people practices and programs required to shape that experience -- from management style and behavior to communication and culture; from career and performance management to rewards.”
Indeed, another study last month concluded that 80 percent of companies fail to take effective precautions in employee retention and recruitment of workers. Spherion, a publicly traded HR firm, with Harris Interactive polled both workers and companies.
Spherion learned there is a disconnect between employers and workers think. For example:
Time and flexibility are important to 60 percent of employees; however, just 35 percent of companies understand workers’ feelings.
69 percent of workers believe wages are an important consideration for them to remain with their employer but only 49 percent of companies.
Aside from compensation, and time and flexibility, here are the other employee priorities:
Benefits, 68 percent.
Growth and earning potential, 64 percent.
Management climate, 60 percent.
Supervisor relationship, 57 percent.
Culture and work environment, 54 percent.
Training and Development, 49 percent
Forty percent of workers plan to job hunt in 2006 but firms anticipate a 14 percent turnover; the survey also showed 33 percent of employees, aged 25-39, is suffering from burnout.
As Einstein alluded, everything is relative; it just depends on your perspective. Over the years, I’ve lamented the lack of 19th century values of focus and hard work among workers, but my sense also is 50 percent of profits depend on the success of a company’s HR programs and employee performance.
To inspire worker loyalty, survey your employees using open-ended question methodology, and take the indicated corrective measures. You can spend all the money you want in branding and marketing, but you won’t enjoy maximum profits until you develop a contented, productive workforce. Your human resources program will then become a center for increased profits.
From the Coach’s Corner, not to over simplify but here is a quick checklist of 13 tips in cost-effective recruiting and retaining of the best workers:
Have a job description for every position, no matter how little skill is needed.
Continuously network, ask your best workers for employee referrals, use trade publications, and advertise in economical local newspapers. Although tempting, free online ads won’t generate the most productive workers.
Screen for common sense, creativity and education. Einstein’s theory about imagination being more important than knowledge often works in HR.
Remember job knowledge or hard skills are important but so are soft skills in communication and teamwork. Coachable workers who aren’t afraid to work on their strengths and weaknesses, and set goals will make you money.
Check references thoroughly using open-ended questions for comprehensive answers.
Family and friends will work fine as workers in tight economic times. Don’t forget temporary help firms for short-term projects or for hiring on a temp-to-perm basis.
Create a favorable first impression with a gracious welcome of new workers and encourage a buddy system.
Take a page from the playbook of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) by developing an inspiring communications program.
Survey your workers about their priorities. Accommodate employees when feasible.
Regularly appraise workers.
Don’t cut corners in training and development.
Treat workers equally and regularly enforce your company’s procedures.
Use exit interviews as opportunities for growth and to learn from mistakes. The good workers might return or refer outstanding candidates to you, if you’re seen as a caring employer.