Month: December 2014

What You Need to Know About Mobile Recruiting

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Mobile Recruiting Is Hot: Here’s What You Need to Know


Mobile RecruitingThese days, we can do just about anything on our mobile devices, from ordering dinner to watching a movie to managing our money. So it only makes sense that more and more people are managing their careers on their smartphones and tablets. And we aren’t just talking about getting work done on the go, either. According to one survey, 43 percent of jobseekers are searching for jobs using their mobile devices. It seems that the days of scouring the newspaper classifieds and circling interesting openings with a red pen are truly gone.

However, while jobseekers are using their devices to look for jobs, employers aren’t exactly keeping up with the demand. As a result, they could be missing out on talented candidates. If you want to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for top talent, it’s vital that you incorporate mobile into your recruitment strategy. But since doing it wrong is just as bad, if not worse, than not doing it at all, here are a few points to remember before you launch a mobile recruitment strategy.

Mobile Web Pages Aren’t Just Smaller Versions of Existing Pages

Unfortunately, many companies hear the words “optimize for mobile” and interpret that to mean “make what we have fit on smaller screens.” While resizing pages for viewing on screens that may be as small as a few inches wide is important, successful mobile recruiting requires developing a site that takes advantage of the very features that make people use their phones in the first place.

This means condensing your website, with its pages and pages of useful information, into simple calls-to-action. It means making it easy for candidates to upload their resumes directly from their devices. It could even mean creating a dedicated application for managing the entire application process, from posting to hiring. In short, you need to explore the potential of mobile and be creative, understanding that a mobile site is different from your regular website.

Streamline the Mobile Application Process

Do you want to alienate and frustrate applicants? Then make your mobile application cumbersome. Research shows that the average mobile application takes 20 minutes to complete, and the majority of applicants end up finishing their applications on a desktop computer, especially if they need to upload a resume or other documents.

Ideally, a mobile application should take no longer than five minutes to fill out. Even better, applicants should be able to link directly to their LinkedIn or social media profiles to fill out an application instantly, and have the option of directly uploading a resume, cover letter, or portfolio samples from an online service like Dropbox. Another key to simplicity is to avoid collecting extraneous information up front. Collect only what you absolutely need to make a decision regarding an interview or other follow-up, and ask for additional information then.

Get Social

One of the best ways to drive candidates to your mobile careers site is via social media. Chances are they are already using their smartphones to log on to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, so why not use that to your advantage and meet them where they are? Make posts using shortened URLs, or incorporate QR codes into marketing materials that will lead candidates right to your mobile career site.

Know Your Audience

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Millennials are most likely to use mobile recruiting tools, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it if you are aiming for more experienced candidates. In fact, people over age 45 are the fastest-growing segment of app users, and those who are already familiar with the mobile landscape may expect to be able to apply for new jobs on the go.

At the same time, knowing your audience also means understanding that not all older or more experienced workers are comfortable managing their job hunt on their smartphones, and may still rely on the traditional ways of searching for and applying to open positions. Therefore, you need to find balance in your recruiting strategy; in other words, mobile recruiting should be part of your strategy, not your entire strategy.

Mobile HiringUse Mobile to Streamline the Hiring Process

Mobile recruiting isn’t just about posting open positions and accepting applications. Recruiters should tap into a smartphone’s functions to make everything about the hiring process easier, even interviews. Try conducting first round interviews via video chat on a mobile device, saving everyone time.

Again, a dedicated recruiting app can make it easier for candidates to see where they are in the process, or easily contact a recruiter with questions. Including a “click to call” button or instant message function on the app, for example, allows candidates to stay in touch easily as they move through the process. Mobile scheduling for interviews and follow-ups is another useful feature that makes the process easier for everyone.

According to Inc. Magazine, companies plan to invest 50 percent more in mobile recruitment efforts this year than they did last year, and the numbers are still growing. If you have not yet explored how you can include mobile in your recruiting efforts, the time to do so is now, or you risk losing out on qualified and talented candidates.

Progressive Discipline Policy

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Why Your Company Needs a Progressive Discipline Policy

Employee write-upsIt can happen to even the best leaders: An employee (or employees) fails to follow company policies. Perhaps they are chronically late, take too many breaks during the day, or spend too much time updating their Facebook statuses and not checking on client status. Whatever the offense, the outcome is that productivity is down, and the employees that are following the rules are starting to get frustrated.

Many leaders overlook occasional minor offenses. After all, who isn’t late for work every once in a while? However, when employees habitually break the rules, it’s important to take action, since many people cite inconsistent enforcement of the rules as a reason for leaving their jobs. The problem, though, is that if you don’t take the right action, you could be setting yourself up for a disgruntled employee, or even worse, a lawsuit brought by an employee who feels he or she was unfairly disciplined or terminated.

Covering your bases when addressing rule infractions is the primary motivation for a progressive discipline policy. A progressive discipline policy addresses employee behavior with an increasingly punitive series of sanctions, ranging from warnings up to termination. A clearly outlined set of responses to rule infractions not only ensures consistency when it comes to discipline, it also provides guidelines for leaders who may be uncomfortable or unprepared to reprimand their colleagues.

What Goes Into a Progressive Discipline Policy

The most important part of a progressive discipline policy is a written policy regarding behavioral expectations. In other words, you must tell your employees what is and isn’t allowed. Some points might seem like common sense, like showing up to work on time, but if you do not clearly articulate your expectations and what constitutes a violation, an employee could potentially claim discrimination when disciplined for a violation.

Therefore, the first step to a progressive discipline policy is to outline the punishable offenses. Keep in mind that you don’t want to be overly legalistic, but you want to create a comprehensive list of offenses that could lead to progressive discipline. These might include chronic tardiness or absences, failure to meet deadlines, failure to meet quality standards, inappropriate use of company Internet or phones, failure to meet job requirements, arguing with co-workers, taking too many breaks, taking extended breaks, insubordination, and harassment.

Keep in mind that in some states, enacting a progressive discipline policy could be viewed as a requirement to use it; in other words, employees may “test the limits,” expecting that they will only face verbal warnings, even though they have committed a fireable offense. Therefore, you must carefully consider the behaviors that will be covered by the progressive discipline policy, and outline the offenses that are exempt from that policy and could lead to immediate termination.

Progressive Discipline PolicyHow Progressive Discipline Works

Progressive discipline is exactly what it sounds like: The punishment progressively gets more severe as infractions continue.

In most cases, progressive discipline includes four levels.

  1. Verbal Warnings. Step one is letting your employee know that there is a problem, and that they need to correct their behavior or risk additional punishment. For example, if an employee arrives late four out of five days, have a conversation to let the employee know that you have noticed, and try to get to the root of the problem. It could be that he or she has to put their children on the school bus, and the bus consistently arrives late. In that case, you might be able to adjust that employee’s schedule, or at least give him or her a few minutes leeway.
  2. Written Warnings. In general, if the verbal warnings don’t change the behavior, a written warning is the next step in a progressive discipline plan. In this case, the supervisor will meet with the employee to discuss the behavior and desired course of corrective action, but also provide a written statement covering the issue. This statement should be signed by the employee and kept in his or her employee file. In some cases, supervisors will opt to make more than one written warning before moving on the next step.
  3. Performance Improvement Plan. If behavior doesn’t improve after the written warning, the third step is generally a performance improvement plan. In some cases, this also includes a suspension from work. The PIP outlines the issue and the corrective action taken thus far, and presents a plan for corrective action, which could include increased supervision, more training, fewer privileges, or any combination thereof. Most PIPs cover a 30-, 60-, or 90-day period and allow for additional actions should the behaviors recur or other problems arise.
  4. Termination. The final step in a progressive discipline plan. If the employee has failed to comply with the terms of the previous steps, then termination may be the only option.

Again, not all offenses can be handled appropriately with a progressive approach to discipline, and some — such as violence or theft — may warrant immediate termination. However, by maintaining a progressive discipline policy, you can handle discipline problems fairly and consistently, and keep your employees happy in the process.

Beat the First Day Blues

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Beat the First Day Blues: How to Make a New Employee’s First Day the Best It Can Be

Employee's first day of workThe first day of any new job is often nerve-wracking and overwhelming, no matter what your position in the company may be. Not only is it time to show off all of the skills that got you the job in the first place, you also have to meet the whole team, fill out reams of paperwork, and figure out where the bathroom is located.

As an employer, you can make the onboarding process go more smoothly and help a new employee feel more welcome — and start on the right foot — if you do a few important things on the first day of work. Instead of showing a new team member to his or her cubicle and dropping a pile of file folders on the desk, take some time to get him or her comfortable and off to a good start. After going to all of the trouble to find and hire the perfect candidate, you don’t want to make him or her feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable from the start.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Before your new employee arrives to work, run through his or her workspace to ensure that everything is in place before day one. That means making sure that there is a clean desk and chair, that all evidence of previous employees has been removed, and that the tools and equipment necessary to be productive are all in place. Would you want to have to track down a stapler and some pens on your first day? It’s also thoughtful to put together a small welcome gift of company swag for new employees. A coffee mug or tote bag is a nice way to help the employee feel welcome and part of the team.

Use the Buddy System

New employees shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves on their first day, or have to track down others to find out what to do next. Pair new employees with others from the team to help show them the ropes; several people can takes shifts throughout the day to avoid overburdening one person. Make sure that at least one person is available to take the new employee to lunch; all the better if the boss can join as well.

Ease the Paperwork Burden

Most people expect to spend the better part of their first day on the job filling out endless forms. While it’s important for HR to check certain documents to ensure eligibility for work, many forms can be taken care of via a paperless system, or given to the employee to fill out at home either before or after the first day. Not only will that save time, it will also allow the new employee to more thoroughly review the options and make better choices.

Provide Training

Inevitably, there will be equipment, a process, or a procedure that the new employee is unfamiliar with. Before his or her first day, prepare a checklist of the areas that the employee will need to be trained in, and determine who will provide the training and when. You might not get to everything on the first day, but be sure to cover the top priorities so that the employee won’t be stymied if they need to handle something unfamiliar. If you have to spread training out over several days, create a schedule — and stick to it — so nothing is overlooked.

Incorporate Some Work Time

While most first days include a lot of orientation, familiarization, and introductions, there are bound to be times when other team members have to get work done, or there might be occasions when the newbie will finish something faster than expected. It’s a good idea to have a few small assignments prepared so that he or she can start wading into their actual work and feel like a part of the team. Ask your existing team members to prepare summaries of projects that are in process and share copies of notes, directives, already completed work, and other materials that will help a new person get up to speed quickly.

Employee's first day on the jobConduct a Postmortem

Schedule some time at the end of the day to have a wrap-up and first day postmortem with your new employee to get a sense of how the day went, and to outline the rest of the first week and what he or she should expect.

Encourage the new person to jot down questions or concerns throughout the day that you can address during this meeting. Go over any questions or issues the new employee might have and ask whether the employee needs anything for the next day or going forward that will ease their transition into your company. Reiterate that you are glad to have him or her on the team, setting the tone for a productive relationship going forward.

While most employees expect that the first day of work will be a whirlwind of introductions, paperwork, and getting settled, as an employer, you can make the first day a reflection of the employment experience and set the tone for the employee experience going forward.  When you do, you increase the likelihood of a seamless transition and a happy, more productive employee.

6 Red Flags When Interviewing Candidates

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Watch Out for These 6 Red Flags When Interviewing Candidates

Interviewing CandidatesOn paper, a candidate looks perfect. He or she has the right education, plenty of experience, and the skills you are looking for to fill a position. During the interview, though, something doesn’t feel quite right. You can’t put your finger on it, but something doesn’t seem right about this person.

When you interview candidates to fill an open job, certain red flags are obvious: The person shows up dressed inappropriately, arrives late, answers calls during the meeting, uses profanity, etc. In those cases, it’s easy to remove the person’s name from consideration and move on.

However, some red flags are less obvious. These are the things that may give you pause, but aren’t always easy to identify. Some are easily explainable, but for the most part, if you interview someone that demonstrates these behaviors, it’s probably best to keep looking for a more suitable candidate.

1. Doesn’t Take Responsibility

One of the best questions that an interviewer can ask is about a time when something went wrong, or a project did not turn out as planned. Why? Because people learn from failures as well as successes.

When a candidate is not only willing to admit a failure, but can demonstrate what he or she learned from the experience and acknowledge his or her own role in the failure, it demonstrates a high degree of self-awareness and critical thinking skills. It also helps identify those candidates who will be blame-shifters and finger-pointers, never taking responsibility for their own actions and making excuses. Those are not the people you want working for you.

2. Unprepared

You might think that anyone who takes the time to apply for a job would at least know what the company does and what their role within the organization would be. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Many interviewers report meeting with candidates who failed to conduct even the most rudimentary research about the company, its mission, and the job itself.

Obviously, a candidate doesn’t have to be a walking encyclopedia of the inner workings of the company, but he or she should be able to demonstrate at least a surface knowledge of the company, and be able to articulate why he or she would like to work there.

Red Flags When Interviewing3. Treats Staff Poorly

The people who are the most successful are often those who treat everyone with kindness and consideration — not those who are dismissive or even rude to those who they feel are “beneath” them. When a candidate comes in for an interview, ask your receptionist and anyone else who interacted with him or her for their impressions.

Do you want to hire someone who doesn’t respect their potential co-workers at all levels? Often, a candidate will reveal a superiority complex during a second interview, which usually includes other team members. If the person doesn’t make eye contact, addresses only the manager, or otherwise behaves dismissively to the other team members, that’s a red flag.

4. Focused on “What’s in It for Me”

Successful jobseekers know that to land the best jobs, they need to be able to show employers what they bring to the table. Yet there are still some who are focused primarily on what your company can do for them rather than vice versa. This usually manifests in questions about salary and benefits before they are appropriate to ask, or statements like “I want to work for this company because I believe that it will be good for my career.” These should serve as warnings that the candidate may not be a team player, and may not be committed to your company for the long term.

5. Is a “Know It All”

As a recruiter, you want to talk to candidates who are confident and well-versed in their field. Unless you are hiring for a CEO or senior executive level position though, be wary of the candidate who has an experience or story at the ready for every single question you throw at them. Asking behavioral questions that require examples are a more effective means of gauging a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses than asking him or her directly, but a candidate who has an answer for everything may not be telling the truth.

If a candidate is confident enough to say, “Well, I do not have experience with that directly, but here is what I might do,” or admits to gaps in his or her experience (and has a willingness to learn) you’ll get a more accurate picture of the strengths, weaknesses, and character of the candidate.

6. Nothing Nice to Say

Remember when mom told you that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all? Nowhere is that more true than in a job interview. A candidate who badmouths a former employer, colleague, client, or competitor is not someone who you want working for you. Not only should you be concerned about what he or she could say about your company down the road, but also there’s a good chance that someone who is so willing to speak ill of others will be a drain on their team.

Of course, as you gain experience interviewing, you may identify other red flags that cause you to question a candidate’s suitability. If you start by staying alert to these traits, though, you have a better chance of avoiding bad hires and placing the right people in the right jobs.

Ways to Boost Employee Morale

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5 (Almost) Free and Unusual Ways to Boost Employee Morale

You know when office morale is low. There’s a feeling of discontent in the air, which usually fuels poor performance, office gossip, and high turnover.Increasing Employee Morale

Some managers try to boost morale via peppy slogans or incentive programs. The problem is that posters don’t usually work, and incentives can be expensive — and aren’t always in tune with what employees want.

The good news is that there are some free (or almost free) solutions that are virtually guaranteed to boost employee morale and increase productivity.

1. Let Employees Create Their Own Titles

What is your job title? Does it really reflect what you do — or what you perceive as your role within the organization? According to new research in the American Academy of Management Journal, most people do not think that their titles are accurate reflections of their work, and in fact, employees who are allowed to create their own titles are less stressed and less likely to burn out than those who receive titles from their boss.

That conclusion is based on research from the London School of Business, which found that when employees are asked to create their own titles, they are better able to express themselves and are generally more thoughtful about their work and can articulate why it is important. The researchers also discovered that when employees create their own titles, it tends to break down the traditional hierarchies within companies, creating stronger teams and improving communication. Sure, you might wind up with some unusual and oddly specific titles, but you will also have a happier workforce.

2. Encourage “Passion Projects”

Many employees have ideas and concepts that they wish they had time to develop fully. These might be ideas for new products, ways to better complete tasks, new creative pieces — the list is endless. The problem is that many people are so caught up in their day-to-day work and in meeting deadlines that they don’t have time to pursue these “passion projects.”

This could be holding your company back — big time. Not convinced? Ask Google. The tech giant allows employees to spend up to 20 percent of their time working on personal projects that are related to the company, but that are outside the realm of their normal job responsibilities. The results of this policy include such developments as Gmail and Google News.

The idea is that if you allow employees a certain amount of creative freedom, whether it’s a percentage of their working hours or just a day or two each month, they will stay passionate, engaged, and excited about their work. And of course, there is always the possibility they could develop the next multi-million dollar idea.

Employee Naps3. Allow Employees to Take Naps

The idea of letting people sleep on the job might sound counterintuitive — after all, nodding off at your desk has traditionally been a surefire way to earn a one-way ticket to the unemployment line. However, studies show that employees who take short rest breaks during the day are more productive and happier. In fact, a NASA study found that a short nap (less than 30 minutes) increases alertness by more than half, and productivity by 34 percent. As one expert pointed out, companies are more focused than ever before on employee wellness, and offer massage, workout rooms, and nutrition counseling, but neglect to acknowledge that sleep is one of the most important factors in overall health and wellness.

Some companies have added “nap rooms” to their buildings. These rooms may offer a comfortable recliner, hammock, or cot in a cool, dark, and quiet space, where employees can take short breaks to refresh and rejuvenate. If you’re worried about abuse of the privilege, require employees to reserve the nap area in advance, and place time and frequency limits on napping.

4. Learn Together

Learning new skills helps stimulate creativity and brain function. When learning takes place at work, employees may feel more engaged and connected to their work, especially if they are learning something unrelated to their daily duties. Try organizing a series of lunch and learn meetings, where employees can learn new hobbies, stress-relief techniques, or skills that they can put to use in their daily lives.

We’re not talking about training sessions on how to use the new time clock system or how to enter reports. The type of learning that boosts morale is sessions that provide new skills for work (learning how to edit photos or conduct focus groups, for example) or a shared experience for the team.

5. Allow Volunteer Time

Giving your employees time to give back outside of the office is another proven way to boost morale — and it can improve your company’s profile within the community. For many people, long workdays combined with family responsibilities make finding time to volunteer a challenge. If they can take one afternoon a month to devote to volunteering, they usually come back to work rejuvenated. In many companies that allow employees paid time off to volunteer, departments work on projects together, which helps strengthen the team and build camaraderie.

Boosting office morale isn’t always about expensive incentive programs or cheerful slogans. Sometimes, all it takes to get your employees happy and engaged in their work is learning about what makes them tick, and allowing them the freedom to explore their interests and expand their minds.

Reviewing Social Media When Recruiting

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How Far Is Too Far When Reviewing Social Media?

Review social media accounts when hiringBy now, you know the statistics: the Society of Human Resources Managers reports that at least 77 percent of all employers use social media to recruit and/or evaluate potential job candidates, almost double the number of companies that did so even just two years ago. Chances are, if you’ve been part of a hiring team, you have probably checked — or at least been tempted to check — an applicant’s online presence during the hiring process.

As a result, jobseekers are cleaning up their online profiles, locking down privacy settings, removing questionable content, and taking care to ensure that their online personas reflect who they really are. Nevertheless, the concern about what employers can see online has raised some very important questions, most importantly: How far can employers go when looking at someone’s online life?

Passwords, Privacy, and Protection

As anyone who has ever been involved in hiring knows, there are certain questions that you simply cannot ask potential candidates. Questions about race, ethnicity, religion, family, marital status, age, sexual orientation, and health are among the topics expressly forbidden by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If a candidate can prove that an employer made an employment decision (usually denial of employment) based on any of those factors, the employer could face serious discrimination charges and sanctions.

However, even though employers may not be able to ask questions about specific personal topics during an interview, in most cases all it takes is a cursory glance of someone’s Facebook profile or Twitter feed to find out all you want to know, and more, about a person. Within seconds, you can often discover that a candidate is Jewish, pregnant, gay, or a father of five without even really trying.

Discovering the information isn’t necessarily the problem, though. It’s what you do with it that’s the issue. Most employers claim that they only use social media to confirm information contained in an application or to check for behavior that could potentially reflect poorly on the company, such as racist or offensive content posted online. However, looking at social media before an interview usually creates an initial first impression and can influence the entire hiring process.

Another issue? Whether or not employers can request usernames and passwords to social media accounts. Some states have outlawed the practice, and Facebook expressly states that such requests are a violation of the site’s terms of service. Yet some employers continue to request access as a matter of course. Employers who request access claim that they are usually only looking for specific information, such as evidence of activity that could reflect poorly on the company, or to monitor what employees are saying about their employers online, but to most privacy advocates, such requests are a clear violation.

Performing Legal Background Checks

Besides the fact that online searches can reveal information that shouldn’t influence hiring decisions, the legality of such methods is also a cause for concern.

In short, the law requires employees to notify jobseekers if they plan to run a background check, and to notify them if any adverse action is taken because of information discovered during the background check. Currently, searching social media profiles isn’t covered under this protection, but several court cases, as well as the federal government, are looking at expanding the scope of the law to include social media reviews as a form of employment screening.

Currently, the law does prohibit accessing someone’s social media profiles via illicit means, including hacking or posing as another individual in order to gain full access to portions of a public profile restricted from public view. Because technically speaking, once someone puts something online it’s no longer considered private, some investigators argue that everything on social media is fair game. However, if Reviewing social media when recruitingsomeone takes advantage of privacy controls, and limits access to certain areas of their profile, and the employer gains access anyway, that could constitute a violation of privacy.

So You Want to Use Social Media?

Even with all of the potential privacy issues and pitfalls, many companies continue to use social media to evaluate candidates. If you do so, there are some important points to keep in mind in order to avoid landing in EEOC hot water.

  • Consider using a professional background search firm to conduct your investigations. Such firms will focus on the relevant information you need to know, and provide reports, thereby shielding you from inadvertently accessing information that could potentially lead to a discrimination case.
  • Be clear in your purpose for perusing social media. Develop a policy that outlines specifically what you’re looking for, who will conduct the search, and at what point during the hiring process the search will take place. In general, it’s best to avoid social media searches until you have reached the reference stage of the hiring process to avoid creating false first impressions.
  • Never resort to hacking or impersonation to gain additional access to profiles.
  • Avoid asking for personal passwords without a compelling reason (i.e., a matter of national security.) Employees have a right to a private life outside of work.

The issue of how employers can, and should, use social media to evaluate candidates may be a bit of a gray area for now, but expect more guidance and legal restrictions in the future. In the meantime, use caution, or an innocent Google search could cost you.