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Posts Tagged ‘hiring’

If you can’t tell by the title, I am a little bit ticked! I’ve just gotten off the phone with a close friend who managed to get me all stirred up about the intersection of these three topics: diversity, lip service, and incompetent hiring. She works for a company that I won’t name (Texas, oilfield services, etc.) but the company was cited publicly for its lack of diversity so they panicked. The organization went on a hiring crusade and for the next several months, everyone hired was a person of color with little thought as to whether the individual was the most suitable candidate for the position! That’s where incompetent hiring enters the picture! The eventual outcomes should reflect more harshly on the hiring parties than the ones hired but it’s not often that companies look back that far to determine where things may have gone wrong. 

Diversity is extremely beneficial to an organization if approached thoughtfully. There should be little reason to recite that an organization which has leveraged diversity in terms of talent, perspectives, and problem-solving approach, not just headcount, will be more successful over the long-term. I just wanted to say it as a reminder. Yet here lies the rub, many companies have not approached diversity in the most thoughtful manner. For the company mentioned above, it was treated as a numbers game which has yet to yield positive results for the company nor for the individuals who struggle to succeed in positions for which they are simply not suited. Maybe that was the malevolent intent. However, I have a hard time conceiving of an organization which would chose to place profit in jeopardy in an attempt to abase any group of people.  So that leaves me with the belief that the organization simply did not put enough thought into this important aspect of its business. Let’s imagine that the likely scenario was that the CEO informed his/her top HR executive to “do something” about the lack of diversity. S/he then informed the recruiting team to “do something” about it. The recruiting team then set about furiously recruiting diverse candidates under fire and rather haphazardly rather than working diligently to identify the candidates most suited to the roles being filled. At this point, the one thing I’m certain of is that no one sat down to develop a plan for addressing the lack of diversity from a strategic point of view. Given that, there could not have been the slightest thought towards finding ways to truly leverage its value.

Companies have appeared to support diversity initiatives publicly while actually disregarding it in ways that matter.  That’s merely giving lip service to the issue. They thought they had to say or do something or risk appearing backward. After all, everybody else appeared to be on the diversity bandwagon. These organizations rolled out “trophy” programs with buttons and posters that had very little substance to them and minimal staying-power. Current employees saw through the programs and tolerated them as a company public relations requirement. Programs like this look good on the careers page of the website but not in the numbers of the annual report.

The annual report holds most of the numbers that seem to matter to organizations. Companies merely need to look around to know that the numbers in the annual report can be positively impacted through a more diverse workforce. Catalyst, the workplace research group, recently studied 353 Fortune 500 companies and found that those with the most women in senior management had a higher return on equities — by more than a third.  Also, a Glass Ceiling Commission report found a direct relationship between stock market performance and the diversity, in gender and race, of the workforce. When treated as a valued asset, diversity and the different perspectives that are inherent with it, allow organizations to more easily solve problems, make better decisions, and therefore get better results.

Organizations do not have to settle for surface-level diversity initiatives versus real results. Organizations that engage with all staff from the start and measure the right stuff (solutions and unique ideas, not just headcount) can leverage the diversity within their employee populations for better business outcomes. It just takes more effort than moving your lips and walking people through the door to get those outcomes.

Interested in really making a difference and not just sitting pretty? Visit Mora&Associates at http://morahr.com/diversityvalue.aspx.

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HR in orange coveralls is truly a snafu in the original sense of the word! For this post, we will use this term euphemistically. Snafu is a military acronym that stands for “situation normal all fouled up”. By now, you may know that Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, wants to trot you along with the rest of management off to jail if you have not been meticulous in meeting immigration regulations in your hiring practices.

Now, if just hearing this causes tightness in your chest and shallow breathing, you may have work to do.

In the past years, we’ve turned on the news and witnessed workers being ushered on to buses and vans following a raid at this workplace or another. Napolitano states that to truly get at the heart of this issue, we must strike at the demand side – employment – meaning employers. In the new administration’s view hauling workers out without making those responsible for hiring them accountable makes little to no sense. Can we argue with her logic? One can try; however, the workers did not just walk in and start working. They were screened (used loosely) and hired by someone. In most cases, more than one someone is involved in the hiring. HR, however, becomes “the usual suspect” when it comes to verifying authorization to work.

The Form I-9, produced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), serves to help employers verify who is and who may not be legally authorized to work in the United States. Employers must complete a Form I-9 for every new employee hired after November 6, 1986.

On April 3, 2009, a new Form I-9 was issued along with several new or modified requirements for all employers. Following this change, I discovered a couple of my clients almost frozen in place regarding what to do in light of the new requirements and the news coming out of the DHS. The paralysis came out of fear of earning a criminal record due to: (1) the possibility of not being able to distinguish a valid employment document from a fraudulent one; (2) having to go back to review all of the documents on file for current employees; and (3) the most egregious of all, pressure from “management” to hire “regardless”.

In addressing the first concern, the DHS does provide for a “good faith” defense. If you have examined a document and it appears to be valid, you must accept it to avoid possible discrimination. To assert a good faith defense, you must be able to show that you did not knowingly hire an unauthorized alien. As for current employees, you are only required to re-verify employment authorization when an employee’s authorization expires. If you think there may be a concern with previous I-9’s completed, I would advise you to review all current I-9’s, not just a segment of them. The final concern is most concerning. However, “management” must understand that the potential roundup for criminal charges would not exclude them. Napolitano has made it clear that the objective of DHS’s enforcement unit is to build cases against the employer and prosecute to the full extent necessary to squelch illegal hiring.

This may be the first and only time you hear me say this, but I am hopeful that it is not going to be an isolated incident. The USCIS has produced a very useful document, Handbook for Employers M-274, which provides instructions for completing Form I-9. The instructions are clearly written, provide excellent guidance, and include great document examples. Do not go out and buy any of the publications being sold on this topic. You can download the 54-page handbook from the USCIS site, www.uscis.gov. I would have included the link but the last time I clicked on it from the USCIS site, it brought up a completely different document (no comment on that facet of the operation, but hope is eternal). If you want a sure way to get hold of the handbook, I have a link on my web site to a saved copy of the handbook (http://www.moraHR.com/hrnewsview.aspx). Once you get there, just click on the document title. Read it and use it to stay compliant with the regulations. You’ll be breathing easier and avoiding this particular snafu!

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We are all professionals in whatever endeavor we have chosen and we are also multidimensional human beings. There are so many things that define who we are.  This can make developing and defining yourself on the web somewhat tricky. There are so many web and social networking tools available for “putting yourself” out there. It’s difficult to not scatter yourself in every direction. I am on Facebook and LinkedIn. I have 3 websites. I blog at WordPress and I tweet on Twitter. I even have a MySpace page that I haven’t visited in months. This entry was inspired by a recent invitation from someone I think highly of to connect with them on Namyz although we are already connected on LinkedIn. When I received the invitation, I followed the link to Namyz. However, as I contemplated setting up another social networking profile, something held me back. I couldn’t do it. It had nothing to do with Namyz itself. I came to realize that I am spread too far already which explains why my MySpace page languishes without any interference from me. I’ve reached my limit of what I am capable of maintaining with any level of quality while still putting in several hours of “real” work each day. I urge you from a professional and a personal standpoint to also examine your current web presence. Have you excercised discipline as well as a healthy level of caution in defining yourself on the web?

Our lives are made up of a series of choices and the behaviors that result from them – the things that we do and things that we don’t do.  My professional expertise lies in the practice of human resources and I am a masters-level sociologist by academic discipline. Given this background, of course, I believe that behaviors define who you really are. When considering a job candidate, I focus very sharply on the things the canddiate does as well as the things the candidate does not do – the choices he or she has made along the way. With so many companies utilizing your social networking presence to find you and to then determine whether or not you may be a good fit within their organization, exercising discipline in establishing and maintaining your web presence can be critical to your career. For others, like me, who are either entrepreneurs and business owners or who work independently, your web presence can help an individual or organization decide whether or not to conduct business with you. Does that not make your web presence something you consider very carefully each time you sign on?

My WordPress blog, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, website content, and Twitter tweets all define me to those who don’t know me personally. I want ensure that definition is one of quality not just quantity, so should you. Choose carefully!

“No choice ranks a man so quickly as his skill in selecting things that are really worthwhile. Every day brings the necessity of keen discrimination. Not always is it a choice between good and bad, but between good and best.”  A.P. Gouthey

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No, not personal names. That’s a completely different subject and is way touchier than what I want to cover today. I’m not feeling all that controversial today. The sun’s shining out the window and I’ve just finished reviewing 80 resumes for a position my firm is working to fill for a client company. That’s why the subject of names has come up. Shakespeare quoted, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  In his writing, it is asserted that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention. In a job search, I would not be so fast to assert this!

So, what is in a name? I received 200+ resumes for this one position referenced above. Not all of the candidates met the qualifications for this particular position. However, what stands out to me is that almost 20% was eliminated due to a name; a cute name, a sexy name, no name, or a clever but inappropriate name. Some might say this is a superficial justification. Is this elimination from the candidate pool based on “an artificial and meaningless convention”? It’s not, in this case (or I’m justifying it as not). This is a top position for a function within an organization. It requires strategic thought and good judgment.  Of the 80 job seekers’ resumes currently under review, all used an email address that most people would classify as professional and a straightforward or functional name for their resume file. Cute and not so cute names in an email address (snuggles777, coocoo4cocoa, jessiesgirl, nightrider99, 2kofun, etc) should be reserved for communicating with friends and other loved ones, not the person who may hold the key to your next career move.

Set up an email address just for the purpose of job hunting if your customary email address is less than super-professional (you can put super in front of almost anything to up the level, right?). Based on the number of email addresses that are available to a single account these days, you can’t run out unless you’re a spammer. In that case, maybe you shouldn’t get the job anyway (please spare my inbox). Given the tight competition for scarce jobs today, don’t guess as to whether your customary email address is or isn’t professional enough. Use your name or your name in combination with your location if you don’t want to use your name alone (“jonathandoe” or “jdoe-houtex”). Whatever you use, try to avoid being cute, sexy, or overly clever. I know you want to show your personality but just being you works best here. That’s who the recruiter wants to see, not Snuggles or Jessie’s Girl.

My next comment concerns the name you allocate to your resume file. More than a dozen email resumes for this one position arrived with the name “Resume[1].doc” or something similar. Why? It’s the first resume in the resume folder on your computer so you named it “resume[1]”. It makes sense in that setting. Let’s shift to you now sending this file to a recruiter in a company or an independent firm, someone like me.  Remember, it’s now the 149th for the open position and the 10,000th for the recruiter’s overall database. Assign it a name that will have significance to the recruiter. Would “jondoe_civil engr_PE” work better than “resume[1]”? The first example gives the submission meaning and actually makes it easy to consider, not only for this position, but for other positions calling for a civil engineer with PE certification. 

Final note on this, most recruiters including those who use applicant tracking systems (see my last post if you are not familiar with these) save resume files to a folder for later review or as backup after the system extracts information. When this occurs, only one file named “resume[1]” can be saved. Will it be yours? There is definitely something in a name. Don’t risk elimination because of it. Set your resume apart from the crowd with a name that tells the reviewer who you are immediately. Stay in the gene, uh, candidate pool.

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Darwinism, in the modern sense, is used to describe evolutionary concepts.  Most commonly, when used, it is weaned down to the single concept of natural selection. Of course, Charles Darwin covered way more territory than this but since we are going to discuss “the resume” this is fitting. The resume, after all, is a selection tool. You pull together a collection of detailed information about your career. You format it in a standard fashion. You locate a job of interest. Finally, you send it off to a company to be reviewed along with many others and you hope that from among that group, yours is selected for follow up of some kind.

Now, let’s go back to the concept of natural selection. Natural selection is defined (answers.com) as “the process in nature by which only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated.”  This applies well in screening resumes because so many candidates permit themselves to be eliminated by simply not adapting to the environment. Every job, which is the “environment”, is different. When you choose to not customize your resume submission to the job for which you are applying, you allow the law of natural selection to go to work in eliminating you from the gene, uh, applicant pool. Yes, it’s more work – more work than merely sending the same resume (and cover letter) for every job. But how’s that been working? By customizing your submission and showing the recruiter or the applicant tracking system (we’ll discuss this) that you are a perfect fit for the job, you allow the law to work in your favor. You get to survive and possibly transmit your genetic characteristics, also known as work efforts, to succeeding generations! The process I described at the end of the above paragraph actually should be applied in this order: You locate a job of interest. You pull together a collection of detailed information about your career based on that job. You format it in a standard fashion. Finally, you send it off to a company to be reviewed along with many others….

All job seekers need to understand applicant tracking systems (ATSs) and how they work.  ATSs are designed to accept your resume in electronic form, then, screen and sort them based specific inputs or keywords which usually come from the job description. MOST companies use these. As an independent recruiter, I use one. Therefore, if you did not customize your submission or, at least, review it for fit against the job description, it doesn’t stand a chance of getting in front of a recruiter or hiring manager. The ATS will eliminate you from consideration before any human can intervene. Put some work in your resume. The strategic use of keywords and position-specific terms found in the job description can get you past the ATS and possibly get you that follow up you’ve been seeking.

Take or leave this nugget of information but remember, Darwinism is always hard at work even it you aren’t. Survive.

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