As new graduates flood the market and unemployment remains high (especially for recent grads), I found this article by Tom Friedman timely.  Friedman writes about HireArt, a start-up firm focused on connecting employers with candidates who demonstrate their job fit through realistic job previews and assessments.  They solicit not only resumes from job seekers, but also written and video responses to hypothetical but realistic work situations.

I've  written in the past about candidate assessment as well as how to determine when to cut people loose who weren't good fits.  Hiring people always feels risky.  Organizations try to mitigate this risk by encouraging employee referrals, and often by looking at lots of candidates before they make a decision.   The HireArt approach makes a lot of sense.  In the hiring part of our business, we similarly help organizations source and assess candidates whose skills and preferences will allow them to be successful.

As I've also mentioned before, though, candidate assessment is only half the equation.  You need to start with the right set of assessment of criteria.  As a first step to hiring success,  managers need to work with recruiters to create hiring profiles based on the competencies required for success in the position.   Based on that profile, managers and recruiters can then work together to establish appropriate screening and assessment criteria and approaches.  This approach is harder and takes more time than posting a recycled job description and hoping that the right resume will appear in the pile.  It may, however, save you from the pain and heartache of positions that remain open for months or worse yet, the mutual disappointment of hiring the wrong person for the job.

What we're reading this week:

The problem with the “babies are a focus-killer” angle: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/the-real-problem-with-the-babies-are-a-focus-killer-theory-bad-for-business/276282/

What will cloud computing mean in 10 years? http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/what-will-cloud-computing-mean-in-10-years-219497

Next step in Cloud - target the user: http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/05/next-step-in-cloud-computing-target-the-user/

Myths about Obamacare: http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/29/opinion/carroll-obamacare/index.html

The 4 kinds of candidates you shouldn't hire this year: http://www.tlnt.com/2013/05/30/the-4-kinds-of-candidates-you-shouldnt-hire-this-summer

Bloomberg BusinessWeek on the rise of the "alpha dads": http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-30/alpha-dads-men-get-serious-about-work-life-balance

RT @SHRM: Are you headed to #SHRM13? Connect with other attendees BEFORE you get to Chicago here: http://ow.ly/lyazH

Are Disengaged Employees Sabotaging Your Company's Success? http://ow.ly/lsHAQ via @TLNT_com

Inspire Millennials To Get Their Best Work http://ow.ly/lsLvO via @Forbes

Implications Of An Older Workforce http://ow.ly/lvczQ via @hrbartender

Motivation Mystery: How to Keep Employees Productive http://ow.ly/lxTCa via @Forbes

Navigating Work Stress From the ER, Bed and Beyond http://ow.ly/lxUex via @HealthyLiving

Kronites are talking about:

CEO Aron Ain's appearance on Bloomberg radio: 5.30.13 Aron Ain Interview with Bloomberg

New Time Well Spent #Cartoon: http://ow.ly/lmcWz #Cloud

Thank you to the families of the fallen that we honor today. http://ow.ly/1WLAEe via @SmarterCafe

Escape the Dark Service Pack Forest http://ow.ly/lvckb via @SmarterCafe

RT @SmarterCafe: I think "stewardship" is in its 15 minutes of fame. http://ow.ly/lxXKJ #Kronos #LiveUnited

When it comes to preparing for the #AffordableCarAct, cover all the bases. Join our exclusive event at Wrigley Field: http://ow.ly/lsH4e

Don't miss out – $300 KronosWorks savings ends May 31! http://ow.ly/lv3hm

It's not #bigdata that's the big deal – it's what you do with it that matters. http://ow.ly/lv5m5

@ventanaresearch Recognizes #Kronos and @UnitedWestTexas (#UnitedSupermarkets) for Innovation http://ow.ly/lvYMX

Free HR Webcast:Success Begins with Strategy: #HR #Innovation in the Workplace http://ow.ly/lxOhj via @HRDailyAdvisor

The Human Resources Guide To the Affordable Care Act [#ACA] http://ow.ly/lxvYK via @hrbartender

I've seen a recent flurry of articles about strategies to avoid bad hires, perhaps in response to those oft-cited disengaged employees deciding that the economy has recovered enough that they can take a chance on a new position.  In this blog post at  Fistful of Talent from Steve Boese, Jonathan Kaplan, founder and CEO of Pure Digital (creator of the Flipcam), is quoted saying "If you hire someone bad, fire them immediately and give them a big severance package so they feel good about you".  At Zappos, call center employees are offered a $1,000 bonus if they choose to leave after their first week of training.

Steve's post explores different termination scenarios in which he feels that paying severance is a reasonable strategy, excluding the case where the employee is not just a poor fit for the job from a skills perspective but also a behavioral perspective.  He rightfully assigns significant responsibility to the employer for not only poor screening and hiring decisions, but failures to onboard, coach and develop new employees.

I've blogged about this topic before.  It remains relevant because making good hiring decisions is both difficult and important.  Picking the right employees  requires a combination of clarity on the part of the hiring manager about what's required for success in the job, an effective working relationship between the recruiter and hiring manager, and the use of appropriate screening mechanisms to objectively determine the right fit for the job.

It seems to me that some of the management omissions that lead to the need to let new hires go quickly are the same ones that create disengaged employees - failure to observe, develop and coach.  Depending on the survey you read, 30-50+ percent of employees say they are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months.  Paying attention to those smoke signals in your organization may not only help you retain your current talent, but improve your odds of holding on to those willing to join you in the future.

Our board member, David Creelman, provided today's guest blog post:

This article in Management Issues cites research showing overqualified workers stay as long or longer and perform better than candidates who are supposedly a better fit.

Organizations hiring hourly workers should check if their branding discourages "overqualified" workers from applying or if the selection processes screen them out. If a highly capable individual wants to work in a relatively low-paying job, for whatever reason, you are hurting your own organization if you rule them out.

I once knew a successful corporate manager who, fed up with the stress, threw it all in and went to work as a clerk in a grocery store. He was overqualified but psychologically very happy with the move (his wife had other opinions, but that's a different part of the story).

There may be a pool of really excellent hourly workers in the marketplace that organizations have been ignoring for the ironic reason that they thought these people were too good.

kfquilt.jpgWhy the quilt picture?  I'm a quilter.  While I didn't make this quilt, it's by one of my favorite textile artists, Kaffee Fasset.  He makes beautiful quilts, knits, pottery and other wildly colored beautiful objects.  Like the quilt shown here, they may look somewhat ad hoc.  They are all, however, carefully designed in order to achieve the right balance of color and movement in the finished product.

In a previous post related to candidate assessment, I wrote about the manager's role in helping ensure that recruiters understand the competencies and qualities that will ensure success on the job.  In this recent article from Talent Management Magazine, Steve Hunt expands on strategies that hiring managers can employ to retain qualified hourly workers by investing more time in the first stages of the hiring process to clearly articulate the skills and qualities that correlate to success (and satisfaction) on the job.  In this article, Steve provides step-by-step guidance on how to identify these desired candidate attributes.  Specifically, he helps managers and recruiters dig below generic platitudes (good attitude) and surface job specific descriptions (dependable attendance). 

Another interesting aspect of this article is Steve's discussion of thinking about candidate fit not only from the perspective of what the individual has done in the past (experience), but also what candidate can do (potential) and is willing to do (motivation).   Hiring managers often focus their attention on candidates whose prior experience directly maps to the job at hand.  When they do so, they not only limit their talent pools unecessarily, but may also be setting themselves up for retention challenges with employees who will become more quickly bored with a job, vs. those who'll remain engaged longer as they learn new skills.  As is the case with the vibrant quilt pictured above, the effort managers expend in the design phase of the hiring process will pay off in a more successful final outcome - employees who are more successful and engaged in their work.

We have just posted a chapter from Steve Hunt's book, Hiring Success, in the tools section of this site.   The book is a great read for any manager interested in improving his/her skills in selecting candidates who can do the job at hand.  Candidate assessment - and specifically the use of science based tools to help with assessment - remains somewhat controversial.  One of the key questions facing recruiters and hiring managers is " what is the right blend of art and science in candidate assessment?" 

The proliferation of internet enabled hiring technologies - from job boards to applicant tracking systems to science based predictive tools - provides organizations with a growing arsenal of tools they can use to attract, screen and hire employees.  While many of these tools have massively increased hiring efficiency, we still need to ensure that the hiring process will be effective in delivering candidates who can fit the position at hand.  My experience with a large array of buyers of these technologies suggests that companies that balance a sound recruiting process with an appropriate level of hiring manager flexibility will always trump those who expect that technology alone will provide them with an edge.    

I'm not talking about anything too fancy.  Start with the basics.  When a hiring manager invests time in a conversation with a recruiter about the unique requirements of a position, that recruiter will deliver better fit candidates to that hiring manager.  When the recruiter and the hiring manager take the time to develop an interviewing strategy - preparing screening questions, choosing the right interview team members, deploying sound assessment tools and exercises - they will likely get a better result from the process.  When they take the time to not only check candidate provided references, but also to pursue unsolicited references through the many Web 2.0 alternatives (LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, etc.), they will have more complete information on which to base a decision.

I'd love to hear from you about what's working - and what's not - in your organization when it comes to candidate assessment.  And do take the time to checkout Steve's book.... 

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