When Talent is Scarce, This is Where Recruiters Should Focus Their Efforts

When Talent is Scarce, This is Where Recruiters Should Focus Their Efforts – Linkedin-Lou Adler


When it comes to a recruiting strategy, I usually advocate a 40-40-20 sourcing mix. This means spending 40% of your time networking, 40% searching for candidates online and using campaign marketing to get them to respond to your messaging, and 20% of your time creating compelling job posts that are reverse engineered to be found by those who are looking.

However, in a talent scarcity situation – when the demand for talent exceeds the supply – this should be shifted to a 50-40-10 mix. That means more time networking and less time on job descriptions. Why do this? Because this is how you get referrals.

Why recruiters should focus on referrals when talent is scarce

I was discussing this mix idea with the CEO of a small staffing agency in the UK the other day and asked him how his recruiters now spend their time. He told me it was more like 10-70-20 (less networking, more job posts). I told him he would either have to reduce his fees to stay in business or present too many candidates to get a person hired.

My contention is that the best candidates are those who have been referred – especially when talent supply is low. I call these people recruiter’s gold. Here’s why:

  1. They call you back 100% of the time.
  2. The call is more natural since the person is connected to a common acquaintance. Your first degree connections’ connections are referred to as weak acquaintances. Mining these weak connections is the sweet spot for top talent.
  3. You’ll only call people who are prequalified.
  4. You’ll only call people who are in the budget range.
  5. The person would see your opening as a career move by asking the referrer if the person would find the job a good move.
  6. The hiring manager is more likely to hire the person if the referrer is a trusted person in your company.

Given this extraordinary bundle of benefits, you need to ask yourself why a recruiter wouldn’t spend most of his/her time getting these types of referrals. The typical excuse is they don’t have enough time. The real reason is probably a lack of confidence or call reluctance.

Regardless of the reason, here’s what I told the staffing agency CEO his recruiters need to do to get on the phone and start getting referrals.

  1. Know the job

The job is what a person does, not what a person has in terms of skills and experiences. The difference in your opening and what the candidate is doing now represents the career opportunity. If you don’t know the job, you can’t figure this out.

  1. Partner with the hiring manager

If the person who first talks with a passive or referred candidate hasn’t personally met the hiring manager, the likelihood of convincing the prospect to seriously consider what you have to offer is unlikely. That’s why sourcers and recruiters need to be SWK– Someone Worth Knowing.

  1. Be proactive about getting referrals

Cherry pick your connections’ connections using Clever Boolean to identify 2-3 top people. Then ask your connection if these people are as strong as they appear. Then mention the referrer’s name when reaching out to the prospects.

  1. Sell the discussion, not the job

It takes hours over weeks for a passive candidate to decide if a job is a true move. The process starts by just exploring this possibility, not hustling your open job as an “awesome” opportunity.

  1. Position a career move as a 30% increase

career move needs to provide stretch, growth, improved satisfaction and more impact. Using this measuring stick as the basis of the discussion is a great way to focus on the future rather than the compensation.

  1. Conduct discovery during the first call

When reviewing the candidate’s profile look for the 30% growth opportunity.

  1. Set up a 2ndcall to validate the 30% increase

Once I find 3-4 factors that could indicate a career move I describe these as reasons to have a second more in-depth call to validate them.

  1. Use the goldilocks reposition to get more referrals

I tell candidates who are too strong that the open job is beneath their ability. I tell those who are too light that the job is too big a stretch. I then connect on LinkedIn and search on their connections for perfect referrals.

I can understand that cold calling is not fun. But calling referrals is not cold calling. While it’s not the same as a warm call pitching a job to someone you know, it’s darn close. More importantly, by spending more time with fewer high quality, referred candidates you’ll save time in the long run and improve quality of hire. In my mind, getting referrals is how all recruiters should be judged. This is the essence of recruiting and also it’s future.


How ‘robo recruiters’ could affect your job prospects- BBC blog

How ‘robo recruiters’ could affect your job prospects







Technology of Business

Next time you apply for a job, it could be a computer algorithm deciding whether or not you fit the bill.

This is because clever, self-learning programs are getting better than human recruiters at analysing vast amounts of data gleaned from application forms, CVs (curricula vitae or resumes), and social media profiles.

Not only can they see if your credentials match the basic requirements of the job description, they can identify personality traits from the way you’ve expressed yourself on paper and online.

These algorithms try “to automate the 20-to-50 things the best recruiters do consciously or unconsciously” when shortlisting candidates, says Jon Bischke, chief executive of Entelo, a recruitment tech firm.

But he doesn’t believe we’ll ever reach the point where the computer makes the final decision.

“The goal is not to tell you who to hire,” he says. “But it might tell you which five people to bring in to interview.”

Learning on the job


The more data recruitment algorithms can analyse, the more accurate their assessments will become. And they can learn from previous successes and failures.

So if a selected candidate does well in the job, for example, his or her profile can be fed back into the algorithm so that it can spot people with similar profiles in future.

“Maybe in life I’ve looked at 20,000 or 30,000 resumes,” says Sheerov Desai, chief executive of Gild, a machine learning recruitment firm. “A machine which has been fed hundreds of millions is going to outperform me.”

Before the advent of powerful computers and data science, recruiters “would spend a lot of time doing manual research on applicants, Googling them, looking for details about work they’ve done in the past, seeing if they would be a good cultural fit,” says Mr Desai.

All this has now been automated and speeded up.

Joining the dots

And these algorithms can often spot things we humans can’t.

For example, one of Gild’s clients complained that the agency was sending them Java engineers for a vacancy for an Android programmer.

“But the machine is scanning hundreds of millions of resumes, and it started to make the conclusion that Java and Android were quite similar technologies,” says Mr Desai.

The machine was right – a Java programmer not already familiar with Android would pick it up very quickly, he says.

Another big advantage computers have over humans is that they are free from racial and gender prejudice.

Where human recruiters may – even unconsciously – dismiss candidates based on assumed ethnicity, sex or education, algorithms can assess anonymised applications objectively.

More features about the Future of Work

robo work







It is this kind of bias that drove Stephanie Lampkin to launch Blendoor, a “Tinder for jobs” that hides applicants’ race, age, name, and gender and matches them with companies based on skills and education alone.

Happy staff?

Finding the best candidates is one thing, keeping them motivated and loyal once you’ve hired them is another.

Most companies set their goals annually, but research shows the average goal’s shelf-life is actually just 40 days, says Kris Duggan, chief executive of BetterWorks, a business management software company.







Mr Duggan’s product lets employees set goals quarterly and check in on their progress – he compares it to the fitness-goals system, FitBit.

BetterWorks is also researching how to apply machine-learning to assess how effective a company’s goals really are.

The more engaged staff are the better they perform, says Jim Barnett, chief executive of Glint, a company that regularly surveys employees.




“Measuring engagement isn’t like an annual check-up with your doctor – it’s more like fitness and diet, which you should be monitoring all the time,” he says.

Algorithms sift through the survey data to predict which teams may be running into problems, and suggest how managers might forestall them.

But how much monitoring is too much?

In a recent experiment at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, employees in a business wore monitors to track their basic emotional states.

Algorithms sifting through the data identified that all employees experienced flashes of anger during their day. Further analysis showed this was always during meetings with a particular manager.

Now that might be useful to know if you’re the boss, but how happy would staff be at that level of intrusion?

Not so smart

And what are the risks of relying so heavily on computers for recruitment purposes?

Algorithms trained to spot correlations and patterns – to seek out candidates that fit an ideal based on previous experience – may reject candidates from non-traditional backgrounds who would actually be excellent, some experts warn.

If you write the algorithm too rigidly, it may end up selecting competent applicants but reject “the next Picasso, Shakespeare, or Turing”, says Petar Vujosevic, co-founder of GapJumpers, a recruitment tech company specialising in “blind audition” assessments of potential candidates.








Gap Jumpers believes setting relevant online tasks for applicants is a better way of assessing talent than simply wading through – probably embellished – CVs.

“If people are not careful how they think about and build recruitment technology, in what is essentially a human process,”‘ says Mr Vujosevic, “it will only make people feel even less engaged and appreciated for their talents – and on a scale human recruiters never could manage.”

Money talks

Caveats aside, the financial case for using self-learning algorithms is clear.

There are 5.3 million new job hires every month in the US, according to the country’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. And each corporate vacancy attracts 250 applications on average.

That’s a lot of documents for businesses to plough through. Automating this process saves money – that’s the bottom line.

In the UK, replacing a departing staff member costs £30,614 on average, says Oxford Economics – which works out at more than £4bn a year in total for British business.

And with a third of new hires leaving after six months, as a business you really want to do everything you can to get the right person the first time round.

So if your job application is rejected in future, you may have to blame a computer, not the HR department.

How to Make the Hiring Leap From Good to Great- Linkedin- Lou Adler

How to Make the Hiring Leap From Good to Great




If you’re wondering just how effective (or ineffective) your hiring process is, finding out is actually pretty simple. All you need to do to evaluate the quality of your company’s hiring processes is to categorise the results you’ve had over the past year or two into the four buckets listed below.

As you bucket your hires, in most cases there will be a big bulge in the middle. This represents the classic “make no mistakes” approach to hiring. Unfortunately, this same approach eliminates the high potential and diverse candidates who enable a company to raise the talent bar. Surprisingly, the biggest problem is when the mix is all over the board. This means your hiring process is totally out of control.

Here are the four buckets your hires fall into:

  1. The mistake prone

When you hire too many people who should never have been hired in the first place, it indicates you have a fundamental problem with your hiring process. In these cases usually the decision to hire was rushed, background checking was superficial or ignored, the focus of the interview was on a narrow subset of the skills or the interviewing team overvalued the person’s presentation skills and energy involved in getting the job.

  1. The partially competent

Whenever a manager overvalues technical skills over soft skills the results are quickly obvious. Here are some of the likely symptoms: Poor cross-functional collaboration, an inability to meet deadlines and budgets, an inability to influence others regardless of the merits of the person’s point of view, overthinking and underdoing and missing the big picture. Here’s a post that will instantly help you assess these critical soft skills. As I’ve said many times before: Soft skills are too important to be called soft.

  1. The competent but unmotivated

If the bulk of your hires are people who have plenty of skills and demonstrate the full set of generic competencies (e.g., great soft skills, results oriented, good communication skills, affable, etc.) but are not motivated to do the work required, the cause is easy to spot: They were hired for the wrong reasons.

Being motivated to get the job is not the same as being motivated to do the job. So unless job expectations are clarified before the job is posted, you’ll be attracting, filtering and assessing people on the wrong criteria. If the candidate ultimately accepts the job without knowing if the job is a true career opportunity then he/she will overvalue the short-term merits (compensation, title, location, company reputation) rather than which job meets his/her intrinsic motivators for growth and satisfaction.

  1. The fully competent and highly motivated

These are your company’s true leaders and they weren’t hired by chance. Most were referred or direct sourced. As important, when accepting your offer they saw the job as the best career opportunity among competing alternatives. Aside from stopping all of the mistakes described above, here’s what I recommend as the best approach for hiring these top tier candidates.

How to hire more of the fully competent and highly motivated

When starting on a recruiting assignment, ask the hiring manager to define what the person needs to accomplish in the first year to be considered a top tier performer. The answer is always 5-6 performance objectives that describe some specific task, the action or leadership role the person hired needs to take and some measurable result. For example, “Lead the preparation of the three-year product roadmap with engineering and operations.”

Next, force the hiring manager to describe the upside career opportunity if the person is successful. With this performance-based job description in hand, drive the point home by saying, “In order to find people who are both fully competent and motivated to do this work we must stop filtering them on their skills, experiences, whether they’re active or passive and their monetary needs.”

The idea behind this is that if you can prove they can do the work they obviously have all of the skills and experience necessary. As important, if they are highly motivated to do the work and they see the job as a career move then the compensation will be negotiable.

Proving they can do the work is easy. Just ask the people to describe in detail their major accomplishments most comparable to the performance objectives defining top tier performers. This is the purpose of the Performance-based Interview I’ve been advocating for years. (Here’s the Lynda.com course if you want to get started on this right away.)

However, it’s a little more challenging to prove the job represents a career move. It begins by describing a career move as a minimum 30% non-monetary increase. This consists of some job stretch, a more impactful job, a mix of more satisfying work and a faster career trajectory. You’ll need to conduct a series of in-depth interviews to determine the gap between what your job offers the person’s track record. As you’ll discover, negotiating a fair compensation is relatively easy once you validate the 30%.

Of course it does take a great job, a fully engaged hiring manager and a great recruiter to make all of this happen, but that is how you make the hiring leap from good to great.

The cover letter is dead – here’s what’s replacing it – Emily – Business grapevine

The cover letter is dead – here’s what’s replacing it

The age of the cover letter may seemingly be over, according to new research from ‘Jobvite’s 2017 Job Seeker Nation Study’.

CNBC reports that the survey, which interviewed 2,200 candidates, found that fewer than ever are actively submitting a cover letter with their CV. What’s more surprising, is that recruiters and employers don’t seem to mind.

47% of those asked said that they didn’t attach a cover letter alongside their most recent application. Furthermore, only 26% of recruiters “consider cover letters important”.

Which begs the questions, what exactly are candidates doing instead? Well, according to the report, they are relying on referrals.

A spokesperson in the Jobvite report commented: “Almost 35% of jobseekers applied to their current or most recent position via referral — especially millennials. Luckily, Jobvite data shows that referred applicants are five times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.”

CNBC reports that savvy applicants are also utilising creative strategies to stand out, sending branded messages to market their personality in a way that the hirer will remember.  This is a trend that we have seen many times; from cupcakes with digital CVs attached, to delivering an application via a quirkily dressed courier, to even creating a virtual game for hiring managers to play.

However, if your candidate insists on sending a cover letter, a recent podcast from Slate’s Editor-in-Chief Julia Turner, explained how to best use them in a constructive way.

“An effective cover letter should be an argument for how the set of experiences you’ve had up to this point in your career make you the perfect candidate for the job,” she said.

“It should reveal your understanding of the place you’re trying to work at and a set of beliefs about how the things you’re good at would help that place achieve its goals.”




How unlocking talent helped this rec firm to fly – recruitment grapevine

How unlocking talent helped this rec firm to fly


Marrying candidates to their ideal employers is not an off the cuff issue. It takes time and dedication to fully understand both the jobseekers’ aspirations and the needs of the client.

One recruitment firm who understands the importance of nurturing fledgling talent is MiddletonMurray. In an interview with The Telegraph, Founder Angela Murray explained how her firm focuses on finding new talent and teaching them the skills they need to achieve their dream career.

“This is a current hot topic for business, but we’ve been doing it for many years,” commented Murray. “We have tremendous relationships with employers, and have always done detailed career preparation with individuals before putting them in front of an employer.

“We have earned trust and credibility that has won us major government contracts: we’ve worked with the Department for Work and Pensions to help newly unemployed professionals during the recession; and with the National Apprenticeship Service to deliver apprenticeships. We are considered a safe pair of hands.”

Murray went on to explain how Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) programme helped to shape her ideas on growth and strategy when she eventually launched her own agency. Murray added that whilst her turnover quickly grew from £350,000 to £2million in year four, it stayed at that level for a couple of years. And, even though the firm attained £5million to £7million – sometimes growth was simply not attainable.

“I needed to have the right structure in place, with a really strong management team to run the business day-to-day without having to funnel everything through me,” she added. “I realised I had been managing a bottleneck, making all the decisions; I was my own chokehold on the business.”

She advised skilling up your own internal workforce, which in turn contributed to a “great company culture and high level of staff retention”. She theorised that the skills she perfected along the way allowed her to “be systematically focused on every single aspect, and as long as you are pushing each one forward just a little bit, eventually you will see the big changes”.


Why do talented people leave? – hrgrapevine

Why do talented people leave?




It’s a truism that ‘people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers’ and last year Approved Index found that nearly half (42%) of employees have left a job because of a bad boss. In its survey of 1,374 employees, almost a third (30%) feel their current boss is a bad manager and 44% said they disliked their boss.

The Institute of Leadership and Management ran a survey to look at the reasons for seeking a new role and found that we need to manage the talent pipeline to ensure staff have opportunities to develop and progress:

• More opportunity for progression (59%)
• Better pay (56%)
• More interesting job (50%)
• Better management (30%)
• More opportunity for training/development (27%)
• More opportunity for flexible working (18%)
• Nicer people (5%)
• Better options for parental leave (3%)

We know that employee voice plays a role in employee engagement so it’s interesting to note the employee feedback data from the Best Companies to Work For survey which looked at responses to the statement I would leave tomorrow if I had another job. Unsurprisingly, the highest correlated statement was “senior managers do a lot of telling and not enough listening”; 55% of employees who agreed to this statement would leave tomorrow if they had another job.

Holding on to the brightest and best

Recognition for a job well done should consist of more than just another job. Top performers tend to be self-motivated but they won’t like be taking for granted. Managers with good staff retention rates are those who show they care about their staff. They are the ones who celebrate the success of their employees, empathise with them and challenge them with roles that will help them achieve their aspirations.
The most talented of employees want and value feedback and they want development opportunities. If you look for ways to develop the skills of employees, no matter how good they already are, you are more likely to inspire their commitment. If good workers feel they are not growing, developing and doing stimulating and meaningful work, there is a risk they will become bored, discontented and seek challenges elsewhere.

Growth mind-set

It’s important to most of us to do a good job in a meaningful role. So, you need to talk to employees to understand what matters to them, their ambitions and motivators. Many managers are really bad at this sort of ‘man management’, partly because they’ve never had any training in holding career conversations or providing feedback. Studies show that 37% of employees had never had a career conversation with their line manager, and 75% of organisations do not provide career coaching.

If you want employees to develop and grow with your organisation then perhaps you ought to look at the people who are managing them first. Best-practice management development can result in a 23% increase in organisational performance. Leadership and management are where organisations should focus if they want to nurture employee potential with effective management strategies for coping with change, enhancing employee engagement and building the skills of the workforce.

The organisation that aims for long-term success can’t afford to ignore management proficiency. A progressive, long-term and sustainable approach to workforce planning and skills development that provides ongoing investment in people as part of business strategy are likely to have better managers and higher employee engagement and retention.



Gen Z Is Here: 4 Things You Should Know In Order to Recruit Them – Maxwell – LinkedIn

Gen Z Is Here: 4 Things You Should Know In Order to Recruit Them

Turns out, not so much – there’s actually a pretty big difference between the two generations and what they want in work. The oldest Gen Z-er’s (the generation with those born somewhere between 1995 and 2014) are now 22 years old —walking off the graduation stage and into the workforce.

And that means recruiters must ready themselves for this new wave of workers and understand the difference between them and the millennials that came right before. For example, early research suggests that Generation Z is more pragmatic, more money-conscious, and more entrepreneurial than their millennial counterparts.

If you’re rolling your eyes thinking “oh great…another generation to figure out” we feel you. That’s why we put together four simple facts you should know about Gen Z and how to change your recruiting strategy accordingly:

  1. They value independence over collaboration in the workplace (unlike millennials)

It’s been common workplace wisdom for years now that millennials value collaboration in the office, and 88% of them really do claim to prefer a collaborative work environment. This thinking has led to the rise of open offices and workplace messaging systems like Slack, while entire workflows have been re-designed based on data that shows millennials are more likely to use online collaboration apps and prefer text and email communication to one-on-one meetings.

But it’s a mistake to extend this same logic to Gen Z. In fact, according to research conducted by Gen Z Gurus David Stillman and his seventeen-year-old son Jonah, Gen Z is actually more independent than the generations that preceded them.

“Our biggest difference will be our independent and competitive nature. Workplaces have become so used to Millennials’ collaborative style that this will throw them off,” says Jonah. “Take something as simple as office space. Collaborative Millennials have pushed for the open office concept where they can all work together. Gen Z’s independent nature doesn’t work in an open office.”

In fact, according to the Stillmans, 35% of Generation Z “would rather share socks than an office space.” Similar research suggests that Gen Z actually prefers face-to-face meetings—although that would include video streaming options, like Skype.

Unlike with millennials, when it comes to attracting Generation Z, recruiters may find more success touting private offices (and competitive salaries) than teamwork and constant collaboration.

  1. You need to meet them where they are (like on Snapchat), but stay on top of changing trends

Major corporations like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Goldman Sachs have already begun using Snapchat, Generation Z’s favorite social media platform, to up their recruiting game with young people just entering the workforce. It’s a clever strategy that has helped big brands get ahead of the curve in recruiting future leaders.

But recruiters must also keep in mind that the digital landscape changes quickly and constantly. Just four years ago, Facebook was king, with 94% of teenagers maintaining a profile on the site. One year later, Instagram had become teenagers’ favorite app, with Facebook’s popularity declining, and by 2017, Snapchat had opened up a huge lead over its competition.

Also, a strategy that works today may not work in six months or a year, and though the big social networks will likely stick around, their uses and nuances can change on a dime. For example, while Snapchat is high schoolers’ preference for communicating with friends, they see Facebook as more of a necessity for school. As this group ages, they may look for job information there and see Snapchat or Instagram recruiting as intrusive.

When it comes to social media and apps overall, recruiters must be agile, adapting quickly to new and changing trends.

  1. Make sure the right information about your company is out there, and tailor it for 8-second attention spans

With Generation Z, sometimes also referred to as the true “digital natives,” technology is often the story. In their book Gen Z @ Work, the Stillmans note that Generation Z is so acclimated to technology that they often “don’t see the line between the physical and digital anymore… They are one and the same.”

Compared to previous generations—even millennials—Generation Z also possesses excellent online research skills. Even before entering college, they’re likely to turn to the Internet first to answer their questions, with 52% leveraging social media as a research tool in school. And this is a generation whose members were mostly born somewhere between the invention of the smartphone and the debut of the iPad, so mobile connectivity is in their bloodstreams.

For recruiters, that means that it may be difficult to hide anything unfavorable, but it also provides a chance to highlight your employer brand and differentiators across channels. In this context, employer branding will matter more than ever, because Generation Z will find any marketing material that your team puts out.

Although Gen Z’s digital intuition can make employer branding and messaging easier, there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind. First of all, their average attention span is only eight seconds, even shorter than the 12 seconds attributed to millennials. They’re also far more visual in nature, having grown up in a post-newspaper, Netflix-ready world.

In other words, recruiters should avoid trying to reach Generation Z with lengthy job descriptions and content, while videos, animations, and even emojis are more likely to get the message across.

“Having a beautiful careers site with a lot of content is frankly a waste a time in trying to recruit this generation,” says Melissa Murray Bailey of Universum, a global employer branding firm. “They won’t read it. They prefer visual platforms, especially YouTube.”

  1. When it comes to employer branding and messaging, be authentic and consistent everywhere

Recruiters already know that authentic employer branding, including employee-created content and testimonials, is one of the most effective tools for attracting modern candidates. The good news for those ahead of the curve is that this trend should continue with Gen Z, who tend to respond and engage with memorable online messaging.

For Generation Z, employer branding needs to be not just authentic, but consistent and across different platforms. According to the Monster Multi-Generational Study, Gen Z uses “several different sources to get their information.” In other words, if your Facebook posts feature very different branding from your job listing, these digital natives will probably sniff that out—and may be turned away.

Your branding will also benefit from being in more places online—not necessarily because Gen Z won’t see it on just one platform, but because the regular messaging will keep your company top of mind. After all, Gen Z is multi-tasking the Internet more than anyone—while we once thought that millennials used an excessive number of devices, Gen Z actually uses five screens on average, making millennials’ three-screen average sound almost old school by comparison.

Overall, it’s clear that some of the investments recruiters are making now, like better and more authentic employer branding, will keep paying dividends with the incoming generation. But as this group enters the workforce, the employers who work to understand its nuances will also benefit most from its unique skills and perspectives.

Why Hiring Managers Shouldn’t Be Making the Hiring Decision – Linkedin



Last week I met with more than 450 recruiters and talent leaders in Milwaukee, Portland and Chicago. Two weeks earlier I met with 400 recruiters and talent leaders in San Francisco. And last month, in Amsterdam, I met with a group of recruiters from Europe, Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, India and Bangladesh. With each group I asked them to describe their current hiring challenges. While the accents were different they all pretty much said the same thing.

Here were their top two challenges:

Not seeing enough quality candidates. While the reasons varied a bit they covered the range of the best people wanting too much money, the best people not being interested in taking lateral transfers, their companies weren’t attractive enough, their job postings were boring, they have too many unqualified people applying and the best people aren’t responding to their emails.

Hiring managers are the problem, not the solution. Here’s the summarized list of hiring manager caused challenges: they over-specify job requirements, they’re not great at interviewing for anything other than technical skills but they all think they’re perfect interviewers, they want to see too many candidates, they’re afraid to make a yes decision, too many overvalue first impressions, many senior managers overvalue their intuition, the interviewing team rarely agrees and they often hire the best presenter, not the best performer.

The simplest solution for the hiring manager related problems is to not let them hire anyone until they’ve proven they can do it properly.

Recruiters and talent leaders are also at fault here since they are reluctant to fight back with a better solution.

But the underlying fault is that most companies are using the wrong talent acquisition strategy that relies too much on people applying and not enough on proactively identifying the best people and recruiting them.

Following is the short summary of the advice I offered to address all of the challenges. (I’m hosting a webcast next week on this same topic if you’d like to attend.)

The Root Cause of Most Hiring Problems is the Wrong Strategy

When figuring out the best solution to any hiring challenge, I always start by asking if there’s a surplus of great talent or a scarcity. Surplus means there are plenty of good people available. Scarcity means the demand for the best people is greater than the supply. For the challenges mentioned, everyone agreed there was a scarcity.

I then went robotic and repeated my oft-repeated mantra:

You can’t use a surplus of talent strategy when a surplus of talent doesn’t exist.

This idea is covered in depth in this YouTube “Staffing Spiral of Doom Catch-22” video I prepared with LinkedIn a few years ago. As I see it, most companies use a surplus of talent strategy by default that’s built into their ATS that emphasizes posting jobs and being more efficient weeding out the weaker candidates with the hope that a person magically appears.

In a talent scarcity situation you need to proactively attract the best people and then convince them your opening represents a true career move. This collectively requires a great job, a strong recruiter and a fully-engaged hiring manager who knows how to attract, recruit and hire great people.

To Hire a Great Person You Need a Great Job

Few recruiters, and far fewer hiring managers, appreciate the recruiting effort required to attract and hire top tier people who are not looking to change jobs. Over the past 40 years I’ve been asking top performers, all fully-employed at the time, why they switched jobs.

Here’s what I discovered:

hire chart

The career opportunity offered was clearly superior to their current situation. I suggest a 30% non-monetary increase as a starting point for determining this. As shown in the graph this 30% is the sum of a bigger job, more satisfying work, more important work and faster growth.

The best people want to work for someone who is a great manager, a strong judge of talent and a mentor. As pointed out by Gallup long ago the first step in being a great manager is clarifying expectations upfront. Judging talent properly starts by digging into the candidate’s most comparable accomplishment to determine competency, fit and motivation with these expectations.

A recruiter needs to orchestrate the entire process. One way recruiters can intervene and help the hiring manager understand real job needs (and more accurately assess candidates) is to convert the critical skills and competencies into measurable performance objectives. For example, for strong communication skills the outcome might be, “Make monthly presentations to the board of advisors on project status.” This adds objectivity to an important but hard-to-measure requirement.

The offer must combine a fair compensation package in the short term with significantly more upside growth potential in the long term. Few companies can afford budget busting compensation packages. Proving the 30% Solution is a great way to make this case.

In my opinion, if hiring managers haven’t demonstrated the ability to hire top tier talent they shouldn’t be allowed to make the decision without help. Every Performance-based Hiring trained recruiter I’ve met can provide this help, but this is a one search at-a-time solution. It becomes scalable when companies shift to a scarcity of talent strategy and mindset that emphasizes attracting the best talent based on how these people make career decisions.

4 Steps to Eliminate First Impression Bias and Hire the Right Candidate – Linkedin

4 ways

First impression bias is the primary cause of most hiring mistakes. Why? Because when we feel good about someone right away, we tend to ask easier question. And, when we feel negative right way, we ask more difficult questions. In other words, we (often subconsciously) look to confirm our first impression.

This is the primitive friend vs. foe reaction taking place every day in the interviewing room. As a result of focusing on the candidate’s presentation over their performance, we often hire people who underperform and avoid hiring people with weaker presentation skills who are top performers. This double negative impact is summarized in the grid below.


So, how do you fix this? Start by switching the decision process from presentation to performance. In this case, the red arrow is horizontal rather than pointing down. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to make this change, and how important. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Script the opening of the interview to increase objectivity

When starting an interview, don’t make a yes or no hiring decision for at least 30 minutes. This overcomes the tendency to ask people we like questions to falsely confirm their ability and people we don’t like questions to falsely prove their incompetence. The Appendix to The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired has a complete set of sample scripts that cover the first 30-60 minutes of the interview.

  1. Measure first impressions at the end of the interview

Whether the impact of first impressions is important for on-the-job success or not, it’s important to assess it when you’re not being seduced by it. At the end of the interview, ask yourself objectively whether the person’s first impression will help or hinder on-the-job performance. If you can wait that long, you’ll discover that in many cases your negative reaction to a candidate is due to the person’s temporary nervousness or something unimportant. As important, in just as many cases you’ll discover there isn’t much substance behind those you initially perceived to have a positive first impression.

  1. Conduct a phone interview first

Bias is reduced dramatically by avoiding the visual impact of first impression. A phone screen naturally shifts the focus towards work history and major accomplishments. As part of the phone screen find out why the person changed jobs and if the change was successful, and dig into the projects and the teams the person was assigned to and if these teams or projects are growing in scope and importance. If the above is positive and you invite the person for an onsite interview, you’ll be less impacted by his or her first impression.

  1. Shift your point of view 180°

Assessing team skills before individual strengths is another way to minimize the impact of first impression bias. You can do this by first conducting a work history review and asking this team question followed by the fact-finding questions shown:

Can you please describe a major recent team accomplishment?

  • Who was on the team and what roles did they play?
  • When did the project occur and what was your assigned role? How did this role change during the project?
  • How did you get on the team and did you select any of the team members?
  • What were the objectives of the team and were they met?
  • What was your biggest contribution to the team? How were you recognized formally for this?
  • Who did you influence the most? Did you coach anyone? Did anyone coach you?
  • Did you receive any formal recognition for being on this team like an award, promotion or being assigned to a more important team?

By itself, this type of question and fact-finding reveals a lot about the team skills of the person being interviewed. If you ask a similar question for a few other major team accomplishments over different timeframes you’ll be able to observe the growth rates of the person’s team projects.

This trend provides tremendous insight about the candidate. Growth in the size, scope, scale and importance of the teams indicates the candidate is respected and trusted by senior people in the company. How and why the person got selected confirms work quality, reliability, cultural fit, the ability to deal with customers, vendors and executives and if the person has developed a cross-functional and strategic perspective.

Delaying the yes/no decision for 30-60 minutes and asking everyone the same questions will help increase objectivity and reduce hiring mistakes. As important, by assessing team skills first you’ll quickly understand if the candidate is a top performer or not and why. This is how you confidently avoid hiring people you shouldn’t and hiring those you should.



Six figure salaries and hounding recruiters: The war for London’s tech talent – Management Today

Companies are fighting over a shortage of top software developers in the capital.

Last month, an experienced software engineer in London decided it was time to change jobs – his company was struggling and no one wants to stay on board a sinking ship. He accidentally made his CV public on a jobsite. By 10.30 that morning he’d had no fewer than 72 calls from recruiters and had agreed to six interviews.

‘That’s mad,’ says David Kerr, the 73rd recruiter to call (but one of the few the harassed developer actually picked up on). ‘If the market carries on like it is, it’s going to become a war.’

Some would say it already is. A shortage of top-drawer tech talent is already biting in the capital, as companies fight to find, hire and retain the best staff.

‘Companies are poaching from each other – even companies who are in the same portfolio with VCs [venture capital firms], because there’s such a limited pool,’ says Divinia Knowles, the president and CFO of children’s gaming company Mind Candy.

‘We recently have struggled quite a lot to find mobile developers, [therefore] you can’t move as fast as you want to, you have push back launches,’ she explains. ‘So it does actually affect your business, your revenue and what you’re trying to achieve.’

6 fig-1


Mind Candy’s offices bringing out the inner child.

In 2008, as the financial crisis started, a graduate software developer in a ‘mainstream language’ (Java, C#, C++) could expect a £25,000-£28,000 basic starting salary, according to data gathered by Client Server, the company Kerr co-founded in 1999. Outside finance they can now command up to £40,000, while banks are splashing out as much as £50,000 a year before bonuses on grads fresh from the country’s top computer science courses. Team leads are pushing six figures.

Current salary growth looks relatively modest at first glance. In the first quarter of this year, developer salaries in London rose 1.5-2.2% annually, according to research firm CEB, although wages for IT service roles increased 2-5.7%.

But that obscures the ever-increasing demand for rare or ‘fashionable’ skills. To give just one example, javascript developer salaries have surged 6.25% in the last year, according to IT Jobs Watch. ‘We’re seeing people being paid 70, 80, 90,000 basic salaries… which is breaking records,’ says Kerr. ‘The contract market has exploded in that discipline.’

Of course, pay is only one measure of how piping hot the market is. Wanted Technologies, a recruitment analytics firm, puts the difficulty of hiring a java developer in London at 90, on a scale of 0 to 100, versus 81 in the UK as a whole. Compared to other large European and American cities, only San Francisco is as high (although it has more than 10 times the number of developers).

For demanding companies it’s especially tricky to track down that elusive combination of know-how and nouse. ‘We’ve really found it hard to get recruiters to send us candidates that were actually suitable,’ says Paul Lessing, a developer at a gambling start-up. He doesn’t blame recruiters, though. ‘It’s incredibly hard to look at a CV and go: that candidate is useless.’

Once companies have eventually found and persuaded their targets to join them, how do they hang onto them, when they’re being ‘hounded’ several times a week on LinkedIn and the phone by determined recruiters?

T-shirt and hoody uniform aside, clearly not all developers have the same motivations. But there are some reasonably solid rules of thumb, says Chily Fachler, the chief technology officer at ecommerce site Green Man Gaming.

‘What we’ve done is said, “We’re a great company to work for, we have exciting technologies and transformational projects on the go. On top of that we will not underpay you”,’ he explains. ‘For someone who is a gamer and a top developer, it’s manna from heaven.’

That’s cut resignations from one or two a month to just one in the last year, he says, while his tech team has grown from 15 to 23. He admits, though, to being ‘lucky’ to work for a VC-backed company where sales have grown an average of 106% annually for the past three years, to £16.3m in 2014.

Not all companies have the resources or commercial imperative to invest in big new ideas and the cutting-edge tech developers are so eager to play with. And therein lies the crux of the problem: what is new can very quickly become old-hat in the fast-moving world of tech.

‘No one really wants to be doing maintenance. It’s the bread and butter you don’t desperately want to do,’ says Iain Reid, who works across creative and technology teams at agency Ideas Made Digital. But those who write a piece of code are more often not the best people to keep it ticking over.

There are things companies can do. Knowles recommends giving developers the time and training, if necessary, to learn new skills. Mind Candy also runs meet-ups and hackathons and sends staff to conferences. ‘It’s definitely worth investing in that side of things,’ she says.

6 fig-2

Hackathons, like this one in Tel Aviv, can help keep tech staff engaged.

Michael Chadwick, a senior front-end developer at B2B software company Old St Labs, agrees. ‘Companies that help you grow and teach you things on a daily basis, where you’re constantly learning from your peers, are the best places to be in my opinion.’

The atmosphere, including the obligatory casual dress code, helps too. ‘It took me a long time to move away from my current job,’ says Lessing, who is joining Ovo Energy (in part to work with a new technology – AngularJS). ‘It’s not just saying there’s a beer fridge that’s available on a Friday. It has to actually be an environment where it feels like everyone’s at home.’

Banishing 9-5 ‘presenteeism’ can work wonders too, explains Lawrencia Sarah Oppong, a recruiter who has worked in-house at companies including Yammer, Skype and Eventbrite and now runs consultancy Eliana.

‘Financial services and professional services need to learn to be a bit more flexible in terms of their working practices,’ she says. ‘Ultimately people have left, because it shows that you don’t trust your people.’

Kerr recalls visiting one client at around 11am to find someone fast asleep on a sofa in the middle of the office. ‘The CEO… smiles and says, “Tom was working half the night, he’s just having a kip.” Years ago you’d never have seen that. [It’s a] very modern way of approaching a management situation.’

Start-ups have another advantage when hanging onto tech staff. ‘You’re often doing more exciting things if you’re in a growth phase,’ Fachler says. ‘In a very large development team it’s unlikely the work they’re doing is central to the company. But big companies needn’t despair – as Oppong says, ‘Not everyone will survive in a start-up.’

Meanwhile, government immigration policy isn’t exactly helping. ‘We are missing out on some amazing talent from Russia, Ukraine – and I mean genuinely gifted, world-class people,’ says Kerr. ‘They can’t get visas.’ (Although he can’t complain personally – turnover at Client Server, which works for everyone from ‘established’ start-ups to investment banks and one of the world’s biggest financial information companies, rose 100% to £10m between 2012 and 2014 and is set to hit £15m this year.)

More Brits than ever are studying computer science or teaching themselves to code, although that will take a while to filter through. Getting more women into the industry will help address the bottlenecks too – and they’re in especially high demand. ‘I have seven big companies with an active positive discrimination policy,’ Kerr says. ‘Three weeks ago we got a good female. Within an hour [she had] four interviews. Didn’t even send a CV.’

But even as companies crave their skills, developers can’t get complacent either. ‘The winds are shifting a little bit to be a bit more demanding of the staff,’ says Ideas Made Digital’s Iain Reid. ‘There’s a lot of really talented young people coming out now. If you’re not keeping up with your industry, then it’ll go right past you.’

Neither employer nor employee can afford to sit still, then. Welcome to the war for tech talent.