Leveraging Technology to enhance Recruitment Productivity

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Over the past decade technology has changed the recruitment industry dramatically. Undeniably, recruitment industry has now been relying on technology heavily right from sourcing to background checks to references. Traditional recruitment methods are slowly fading away. 20 years ago recruitment world was a lot different. Mail, fax, and word of mouth were the most preferred methods of resume submission. Employers didn’t expect hordes of job applications for any open job as it was impossible to receive that many applications. Social media has changed the way we communicate. This change has also created a significant challenge to recruiters. This change has also created a significant challenge to recruiters. For recruiters it’s the hordes of applications they receive via their Applicant Tracking System plus the potential passive candidate pool available online via social networks. It’s extremely essential for recruiters to have the right strategy in place to attract the right talent in this extremely competitive environment.

Some clear benefits offered by technology are mentioned below:

Integration – By Integrating Applicant Tracking System with other systems, organizations can ensure that candidates don’t have to fill same information multiple times. Once a candidate provides his details at one platform, it should automatically flow to other process like BGC, On boarding etc. This will help in improve candidate experience and company brand image.

Reduce Time to hire – Onset of professional networking channels like LinkedIn has created a common platform for recruiters and candidates. It is best practice for recruiters to leverage these platforms to create their brand identity and awareness among potential candidate communities. Via these channels recruiters can create virtual talent pool which can save time and create more efficiency in the hiring process.

Improved Productivity – Advancement in technology has made it easier for recruiters to understand their success of the hiring process. Keeping track of yield ratio, time to fill ratio, interviews to offer, etc., will give a good overview of the overall success of the hiring process. Best part, recruiters don’t have to calculate these numbers and these are readily available in your recruitment technological tool.

Improved Quality – Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruitment Survey suggest that leveraging social media improves candidate quality by 44 percent over those using only “traditional” recruiting techniques like phone screenings and filtering resumes based solely on skills and experience. Social media allows not only information about a candidate’s experience and skills, but a better glimpse into their lifestyle, values and their cultural fit, which is crucial for companies looking not just to recruit and hire, but also to engage employees and improve retention rates.

The Jobvite survey reveals that 80 percent of recruiters are using social media to evaluate a candidate’s potential culture match. The emphasis on cultural fit is a major reason recruiters are doubling down on social media as a tool.

The debate between modern and tradtional hiring methods

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One may argue that the most important task that your company has to undertake is recruitment. Finding new talent in the market is incredibly difficult and HR managers across the country have tried different methods of recruitment in order to find the best possible candidates for their organizations. Overtime there have generally been two different types of recruitment methods that are employed by HR managers across the world as mentioned below.

1.Traditional Recruitment Methods

Organizations around the world have reaped the benefits of the traditional recruitment methods which have served them well and delivered employees which have played a key role in defining their organizations:

Local Paper Advertisements – The best way to spread the word about new jobs is through local newspaper advertisements. One can argue that this is the simplest form of recruitment and yet the most effective method of all as well.

Local Employment Office Postings -Many organizations have employed recruitment methods which are based on postings at local unemployment offices, where there are bound to be people looking for a job and you are likely to find all types and sorts of employees.

Temp Agencies-One of the most used recruitment methods is through temporary employment agencies that can shortlist potential candidates for your company and find you experienced professionals in your field easily.

Internal Hiring-Another way of recruitment which has been extremely successful over the years has been the internal hiring program, through which the company often promotes employees who are already part of the organization into the positions for which they are hiring. This is one of the safest methods of recruitment, since you know all about the employee and the level of work you are getting from them.

Employee Referrals-It is one of most popular methods of recruitment which not only helps get quality candidates but also retain existing employees. It has significant cost implications as the money shelled out as an incentive to employee when their referrals are finally selected are usually much less as compared to what is dolled to hiring consultants.

2.The Modern Recruitment Methods

The 21st century has seen a significant rise in technology and has seen modern day recruitment methods grow in influence and make a difference in landing candidates for organizations all over the world.

The Power of Social Media-It is quite common to use the services of social media, when you are recruiting today, since it is both inexpensive and allows you to form a vast pool of potential candidates, within a very short period of time. Social media websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have communities where potential employees submit their resumes and credentials in the hope of landing a job.

Smart Phones-Smart phones access to countless applications and virtually any web page. Job candidates the world over are glued to their phones. Interact in their space by optimizing your careers portal, providing ample information about your company online, and even leveraging older phone techniques.

Event Recruitment-This concept has been pioneered by CISCO. Sponsoring events and building brand value is a relatively useful concept. Companies sponsor events which are related to their ethic value, value which they wish to represent through their association.

Online Assessment-Many organizations are tapping into the huge potential of online assessments, which help in selecting suitable candidates through battery of tests. Some of the characteristics which can be easily assessed online are aptitude, technical competence, psychometric profile, job related behavioural competencies etc.

Rethinking Strength Based Development

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Strength based development has been the dominant leadership development paradigm for a long time now. Its appeal is definitely powerful – I remember the time I took the Gallup Strengthfinder test and was mesmerized by its appeal and optimism. To be fair, I also found positive applications of the same in my worklife. In particular the tenets that make most sense are

  • Attempting to fix our weaknesses is hard work with limited returns
  • It is our strengths that have the leverage to move us to exceptional levels of performance

And hence the thrust on recruiting, developing and managing around employee strengths to build an ‘excellent’ organization.

But having run a business for over 5 years now, I do believe that the strength based development framework may be too simplistic and ignore a complex set of issues that running any dynamic business encompasses. Infact, focusing only on strengths may create a fresh set of problems centered around inertia and an inability to face ground business realities.

Specifically, I see myself questioning the following

  • Does strength based development lead to a ‘leadership complacency’ where the leader stays within his comfort zone and lacks the versatility to lead in an uncertain, dynamic world? In a narrowly defined stable environment, it’s the best thing to keep playing to your strength, but what if the playing field itself changes and your ‘one big strength’ becomes irrelevant, and worse yet, you have not developed yourself to keep adapting and building ‘new strengths’?
  • Is a leadership group which has been groomed based on an accentuation of their positives, resilient enough in the face of adversity and challenges? Can they reinvent themselves and redeploy efforts when circumstances change and motivate an entire organization to do so?
  • Are we not creating a homogeneous set of leaders at the senior level with similar outlooks, thus holding back the larger benefits of diversity?

Overall, while a strength based development strategy may be relevant for individuals in the talent pipeline, for the leadership team of an organization in a dynamic environment, it may need some rethink.  Just as organisations fail when they rely on the success formula that historically worked, leaders run into trouble when they assume their current strengths will always outdo their rivals. Bob Kaplan and Rob Kaiser argue in “The Versatile Leader” that a reliance on strengths produces a lopsided leadership outlook that makes for poor strategic decision making and misguided implementation.

Strengths have the potential for excellence – especially when used judiciously by leaders to build their teams by focusing time on best people, celebrating successes and building on established talent. But, I believe they also have the potential to skew our overall leadership priorities in a particular direction. What leaders in today’s business reality increasingly need is versatility and the objectivity to change, adapt and grow.

Leveraging ‘People Led’ development tools

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Managers today play a vital role in talent management. Gone are the comprehensive career management systems and expectations of long-term employment that once functioned as the glue in the employer-employee contract.  In their place, the manager-employee dyad is the new building block of learning and development in firms. Good managers attract candidates, drive performance, develop, engage and retain people, and play a key role in maximizing employees’ contribution to the firm.

Employee Development Planning is often the most neglected yet important aspect of management. For many reasons this valuable activity gets ignored –

  • Managers tend to focus more on here and now vs future. Businesses operate in such dynamic environment that managers naturally focus more on day to day operational issues rather than thinking long term which may have less certain consequences.
  • Most organizational processes turn out to be so bureaucratic, time consuming and confusing that managers are just satisfied to finish them. There is hardly any time spent to create something constructive from the whole data.
  • There is just never enough time to do the job. Managers keep struggling to cope up with business exigencies and fire fighting.

Managers understand that taking genuine interest in the future of their team members builds loyalty, engagement and drives productivity. Some of the key tools that can be used by the managers in their day to day routine to help develop their team members are discussed below:

  1. Feedback – Regular, timely and objective feedback is the most impactful way of helping employees understand their current strengths and development areas which can be the base of development planning. Setting a rhythm to discuss performance, progress and pitfalls with employees provides them with confidence about their future.
  2. Coaching – It is a powerful way to help employee achieve an important goal! Managers can either themselves take up the role of a coach or assign someone within the organization as a coach to support employee’s growth and development. Coaching is goal oriented, time bound, skill/ task related intervention which provides guidance and support to experiment, explore and facilitate learning.
  3. Mentoring – It is long term relationship oriented tool. It focuses on skill/ career/ professional development of employee. Mentor can span the role of coach, motivator, role model, provider of contacts etc. Usually mentors don’t have direct working relationship with the employee so that confidentiality and trust are maintained.
  4. Networking – Providing ample opportunities to participate in cross functional meets, projects, presentations, trainings etc. to facilitate cross pollination of learnings. I helps brings fresh ideas, knowledge, thoughts and enrichment to routine job.

Using a healthy combination of such interventions ensure a deep connect with the employee and the organization. They also help in complementing other formal employee development initiatives like trainings, certifications etc.  to  create a holistic development model.

New trends in e-learning

Elearning is changing. Despite a decline in overall training expenditure since 2009 in the corporate sector, elearning itself has grown and is continuing to grow General budget constraints, reduction in training time and other mitigating factors appear to be the main drivers of the shift towards using e-learning. As the eLearning market continues to grow from strength to strength, it’s only natural that eLearning evolves too. Here are some key upcoming trends in this industry.

1.Big Data – Numbers in eLearning are becoming so large that processing user generated data using traditional methods is becoming impossible. Big data analysis can help eLearning in many ways – deeper understanding of learning process, helping track learner and group patterns, feedback analysis, compiling a comprehensive ROI report for learning.

  1. Gamification – This is arguably one of the most exciting developments. Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. Learning based games can be quite easily implemented in many elearning courses and learning management systems. Almost 80% learners say that they would be more productive if their institution/ work was more game like.
  2. Personalized Learning – Personalized Learning is the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments to meet the needs and aspirations of individual learners. Some aspects of personalized learning are – adjusting the pace of instruction, adjusting the learning approach, allowing users to choose their own learning path, adjusting the form of content presentation between audio, video or text, leveraging participants experience and interests.
  3. Mobile Learning – As mobile use continues to grow, mobile will become the dominant medium for offering learning material. Devices like smartphones and tablets are allowing the learning to be on the move. In enterprises, the usage of tablets for business related activities and enterprise mobility is on the rise, making eLearning on tablets almost a necessity. Another related trend most commonly found in organizations in m-enablement – which is conversion of existing elearning courseware into tablet compatible format.
  4. Focus on ROI – Return on Investment (ROI) compares the investment in a training deliverable with the benefits over a specified period of time. Despite the traditional difficulties of calculating ROI, its importance will rise, as it provides a strong argument in favor of e-learning.
  5. APIs – Application Programming Interface (API) is basically the way applications communicate with each other. The widely accepted SCORM and Tin Can are two examples of APIs in eLearning. Systems like Zapier, offer non-programmable ways to integrate APls between services and achieve desired effects. TinCan API is the next generation of reporting for learning and LMSs around the world, if your LMS doesn’t support TinCan, then you are in for major problems!  This year TinCan hit version 1.0, so expect to see even greater adoption the latter half of 2013.
  6. Automation – Content creation is a tedious and time consuming process. If we could somehow automate the process of content creation then we could potentially create a revolution in the quantity and quality of online courses. Areas where automation is possible are quizzes, tests, exercises generated automatically from course content, customizing content to each user by automatically matching difficulty levels to user skill levels.
  7. Augmented Learning – Augmented learning is an on-demand learning technique where the environment adapts to the learner. Augmented Reality market is expected to grow significantly – from 60 million users in 2013 to 200 million in 2018.
  8. Corporate MOOCs – Possibly the most controversial trend, MOOCs are causing quite the stir, but the utility of the model is not certain.  Still, the possibility of MOOCs is quite exciting. Massive Open Online Courses are open courses for large numbers of users. MOOCs are often used by top universities. In the last few years MOOCs have also been getting more popular among companies and organizations in areas such as – internal training of big group of employees, open courses for teaching skills that are tailored to company’s future needs.
  9. Rise of Cloud LMS – Despite speculations about the death of LMS, last year showed continued growth in the industry. Forecasts for 2015 predict it will continue to grow. Out of all learning systems, cloud-based platforms had the highest growth in the last two years.

New Year Resolutions of a manager!

New year is here. Some of you are going to dive head-first into setting ambitious business goals, but what about your people? What are you doing to help them? If your 2015 goals don’t relate back to your actual employees, you can expect turnover, misalignment, and poor performance. So let’s do something about it. Here are seven new year’s resolutions for every boss:

  1. Stop micro-managing. The biggest problem with micro-managing is that most managers don’t think they do it. Yes, delegation can be tough, and yes it really is your reputation on the line, but you need to let your employees do their job. Nothing is more frustrating for employees than managers preventing them from doing the job they were hired for.
  2. Communicate more. The best communicators make the best leaders. Make a promise this year to keep your employees informed, and allow communication to flow in both directions. You can do this by asking your employees for feedbackand then listening to it.
  3. Start coaching.When you think of yourself as a coach rather than a manager, great things happen. Your employees earn your trust, you get better insight into their strengths, and performance improves overall. Start by understanding their motivations.. Encourage them to share their career aspirations and help as best as you can to achieve them.
  4. Get rid of annual performance reviews.No one likes an annual performance review. Not you, not your HR department, and definitely not your employees. There are a lot of better ways to manage performance. Find a process or tool that includes frequent communication, coaching, and task visibility.
  5. Recognize your employees. Organizations whose employees feel recognized outperform those who don’t. There are a lot of tools that help with this. At a basic level, and as your first step, go recognizeand thank someone’s achievements right now. It likely isn’t hard to spot.
  6. Live your core values. Can your employees recite your core values? Probably not. Most employees are unfamiliar with corporate core values because their work is unrelated. There are a lot of ways to make this happen. One way is to recognize and reward behaviour associated with the core values. However you accomplish it, make this the year your core values stop collecting dust.
  7. Listen to your people.A lot of managers talk rather than listening. Yet, how are employees supposed to feel valued, engaged and productive when they aren’t being listened to? Start by scheduling 1-on-1s, and refrain from interrupting. Your employees likely have ideas. Great ideas. If you want to know what they are, you need to first listen.

None of these are a surprise right? You likely read enough and know enough to realize investing in your people is going to relate back to the bigger picture. Now it’s time to do actually something about it.