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Job Seeker Tip #347-Passion Matters

I have been thinking about interviewing lately. I was telling a group I spoke to earlier in the week about the importance of finding people that are “sold out” on the culture and the organization. It never ceases to amaze me that some people still fail to prepare adequately for their interviews. No, I’m not talking about knowing how to answer the canned”What’s your greatest weakness?” type questions. I’m talking about being excited, upbeat, and ready to talk about how you are the perfect fit for the job.

Here’s a good example. I can still vividly remember an interviewing process for a subcontracts administrator position. We interviewed more than half a dozen people in the first round. Three of those were lukewarm and honestly left me wondering if they really wanted a job at all. Two of those were both enthusiastic and qualified. One of those was both very enthusiastic and very overqualified. Those three people were the ones brought back for a second interview, and in fact I was able to pick the person that was ultimately chosen days before the “final” selection (though that is always the hiring manager’s call in the end). How did I know?

  1. She made a great case for why the company would be better off with her specific experience.
  2. She shared with us her interest in why she would specifically like to work at our company (not just a company like ours, but ours specifically!).
  3. She was a great culture fit for us. Her previous actions and behavioral questions were closely aligned with our core values.

Honestly, I don’t care if you’re applying for jobs through Jobtonic, a job with my company, or something else. If you’re qualified for the position, and you can figure out how to do all three of those things, then you have a much greater chance of being selected than those who don’t. It’s not a magic bullet, but it’s a formula that I’ve seen play out on many occasions.

What is your take on passion and enthusiasm in the interview process? Is it a discriminator or just noise interfering with the process?

The Secret to Zappos’ Amazing Success

Today we’re hosting a guest post from a long-time friend and fellow HR practitioner. Jane Jaxon is the rockstar HR Director for a tech company in Boston. Learn more about her in the bio below the article. 

Zappos is my HR idol. I have posters on the wall, read articles about them in HR Beat, ask them to sign things – you know how these crushes go. I’m obsessed not because of their dreamy eyes or perfect coif, but because they are known world-wide for their happy employees (many of whom are in a call-center – no easy task!), clearly defined values (that they have the cojones to hire and fire by), and because they scaled culture without negatively impacting their bottom line (they still are the dominant player in their market).

I was lucky enough to tour their HQ in Las Vegas recently. They do Insights tours daily and quite literally open their doors on company culture. There were some obvious takeaways as to what makes them special – the perks, zany work environment, and tons of things they do to make work-life easier for employees – but I walked away thinking I finally get their special sauce. Hint: it isn’t what companies focus on poaching when trying to create a special culture, but it’s what they should focus on.

The Zappos secret

So what makes Zappos, Zappos? Employees really, truly feel comfortable being themselves. It’s not just a show they put on for the tour, it’s palpable. Zapponians dress in what makes them comfortable. Work stations are tailored entirely to their owner – be it a prim and proper organizational center or an ode the their favorite sports team or hobby. Work seems to be an extension of who each and every employee is as a person. Oh yeah, and their CEO is out there for everyone to run into, talk to, and approach with issues.

How can we, as HR professionals, allow and encourage employees to be themselves? It starts with the interview (maybe even before). Give candidates a chance to talk about what gets them excited outside of work … and genuinely care to hear the answer. It will let them know that they can be more than a contributor at your company – they can be a person. Boy does that make a difference!

It also comes from the top. Is the leadership team opening up and sharing a bit about who they are as people with your employees? Is your CEO accessible and open with employees? Do you celebrate your employees as people instead of just as contributors? The answers to all of the above should be a resounding yes.

Aspiring to be like Zappos is a challenge, but I’m convinced that there is a business reason to try. Recruiting gets easier through referrals and word of mouth. Happy, engaged employees will work harder, be invested in the company’s success and stick around much longer. And coming to work doesn’t feel like, well, work. Who wouldn’t want that?

About the author: Jane Jaxon is the HR Director of a high-growth tech company in Boston where she gets to focus on building a great workplace and scaling people operations. Jane’s favorite buzzwords of the trade are eNPS, talent density and (of course) people operations. She likes neither pina colada’s nor getting caught in the rain, but sure loves marathoning critically-acclaimed tv series, reading in the sun, plotting her fantasy football world domination and, lastly, keeping a stealthy social media presence. Find her on LinkedIn.

HR Data: It’s About the Application

brandon hall groupLater today (1p EST, to be exact) we’re going to host a free webinar on our new DataNow tool.

In a nutshell, DataNow pulls from almost-real-time data to give users the opportunity to find out what companies are doing in terms of talent acquisition, talent management, workforce management, HR, etc. Instead of pushing out data that is a year or more old, this will allow us to share our latest data from surveys almost immediately.

It’s been a great process watching the team build it, and personally I’m excited about how companies are going to use it. It has always been my thought that while we at Brandon Hall have ways we think companies and practitioners will use the data, we’ll be surprised at some of the ways people find to leverage the information to make their businesses better. That’s the fun of new, innovative products!

Here’s an example of how a company might use this tool. Imagine you’re developing a plan to implement a new talent management system. Currently you’ll probably have to rely on data that is anywhere from a few months up to a year or so old (at least if you’re working with Brandon Hall Group–I can’t speak for other research firms).

Now you’ll be able to access data shortly after a survey closes. Having the latest information at your fingertips will help you to make a more informed decision and potentially help you avoid issues that other organizations report as problematic.

This aligns with what I’ve been saying for a while: data isn’t about the collection, it’s about the application. I’ll have a blog post on that coming pretty soon, because with all the pushing of “big data” these days, I think it’s worth the reminder.

If you’d like to check out the webinar, here’s the link. If not, I’ll have more good content for you later this week. Thanks!

Vendors: Why Your Customers Hate You

Last week I was talking with a friend who is the Director of HR for an eleven million dollar company. They are trying to find an applicant tracking system to replace their current solution, and he asked me for some advice on where to start his search. He spent several hours looking around the web, scouring Google, and checking in with friends (hence the call to me). After all of that searching, all he had was a headache from the various frustrations he met during his search. While the experiment is quite informal, I think it’s an interesting peek into the mind of your average customer.

Why he’s changing platforms

He has been really happy with the applicant tracking system his company is using, but they have slowly started “premiumizing” the basic features he has come to rely on to get his daily work done. Bit by bit it was an acceptable nuisance because the basic price fit his budget and it was a tool the company had used for three years successfully.

We all know the truth, though. Businesses change. Products change. That’s part of life.

However, the new pricing model is built not on how much the system is used from a recruiting standpoint (number of applicants, job postings, recruiters, etc.), but on how many employees the company has. My friend is having trouble making sense of why that is the driving factor of the price when it isn’t relevant to the duties of a recruiter.

To be blunt, he feels slighted by the company that he has put his credibility on the line for, because he now has to request additional funds to purchase another system, train hiring managers to use it, and find out how to import legacy data into the platform.

I’m certain the new prices are going to fit some customers well, but it isn’t something that he can fit into his budget, so he’s on the hunt.

Lack of pricing information

Like pretty much every business decision, one of the initial hurdles is budget-based. In other words, can we afford it? However, even a simple question like that is virtually impossible to answer in a cursory review of some of the applicant tracking websites out there. Here are some of the questions that surfaced:

  • So how is this pricing model determined again?
  • How much will it actually cost? Is there a setup fee? What’s the annual cost? Is there a discount?
  • The website says “free trial,” but I have to give them a credit card number to test it out—I don’t know if I trust them enough to give them that information just yet.

Lack of feature description

The next priority is feature set. Will this do what we need it to do?

  • The website doesn’t have any screenshots. I need to see the user interface to see if it’s going to be intuitive for the recruiting team, hiring managers, and candidates.
  • It lists a key feature I need, but it doesn’t tell me what tiers the feature is available for.
  • I’d really like to see a demo or video tutorial, but all of that stuff is locked behind a sales rep. I don’t want to get on someone’s telemarketing list—I just want to look at the application.

Do your potential customers a favor

Have someone who is unfamiliar with your product visit your site and the sites of two or three of your competitors. They need to be looking for standard information: pricing, features, etc.

Without prompting or leading them, allow them to try and see how quickly they can find the information they are seeking and track how long it takes to do that.

If they have trouble finding the information, then a change might be necessary. Don’t do it for me–do it for your customers.

Perspectives on Managing Employees on Social Media #TNSHRM14

This morning the social media team and I went to a presentation on social media “hazards” presented at the TNSHRM conference. I had high hopes for the session covering some of the important concepts to understand. as an HR professional. Unfortunately, the speaker took approximately 99% of the time talking about how social media is a dangerous thing for HR and recruiting professionals.

In the presentation that the social media team and I are doing, we plan to mention that yes, there are potential pitfalls; however, there are also great gains to be had by participating in social media. I think it says a lot about your leadership practices by what you do or don’t allow employees to say.

More importantly, if your company is terrified of what people are going to be saying on social networking sites, then that’s a bigger problem than just social media. Here are two short videos from others on the team discussing their thoughts on this topic and what companies should do instead of following the standard lawyer advice of “stay away at all costs.”

Dave Ryan

@DaveTheHRCzar

Melissa Fairman

@HRRemix

Lyn Hoyt

My good friend Lyn Hoyt talked about this topic a while back in relation to another edition of the TNSHRM state conference.

But, the lawyer’s presentation did not start out as well as it ended. The round table began with the pitch. It was a power point talking about the ‘why you should have a social media policy.’ It was based in fear as the motivator to take action and illustrated with a sewer pipe. Yep. You heard right. A sewer pipe photo illustrating that the information flowing through social media is nothing more than $%*#. And then a picture of a manure spreader popped up illustrating how this sewer of information spreads. To me it illustrated the uphill perception battle that there is nothing of value being published through social media. They see it as a pure social, entertainment and marketing tool. It is a waist of time, not a business tool. Big mistake.

After the lawyer finished, many of the questions revolved around Labor Board and protected conversation. Then I introduced myself as the Social Media Outreach VP at Middle Tennessee SHRM. I immediately told him I did not share his view that all social media was a sewer pipe. He was a bit embarrassed. I asked if he tweeted or was on Facebook. He did not. So I respectfully asked that I hoped he or someone in his office would be involved in social media as a way to best advise their clients. Because policy should not only address negative outcomes but educate on positive practices. I specifically addresses a point in their policy that tells management not to friend employees on Facebook. I asked why? And told him managers should be trained to engage employees at all levels in order to foster communication. source

And finally, one of the things I have said for five years is this: if you are afraid to use social media, don’t do it. But just know that if I’m in the same industry, my company will eat your lunch, because we are not afraid to find the good candidates, engage our employees, and build our brand using social tools.

Look for more great content coming from the TNSHRM state conference this week!

The Newest HR Ninja and What it’s Like Working from Home

Most of you probably are not yet aware, but we have some pretty exciting stuff going on over here at the Eubanks house.

The best thing? Little HR Ninja #3, Briggs Eubanks, is on his way.

My wonderful wife is due late in November, and we are thrilled about his impending arrival. I’ll be spending HRevolution in a mild state of panic worrying about everything back home, but I know it’ll all work out fine. :-)

With my move to Brandon Hall Group earlier this year, I started working from my home office. That has been an interesting change (and sometimes a challenge of sorts), but we’re about to make a little extra room for an actual office for me to work in. The nursery is taking over my work space, so for now I’m a laptop nomad within my own home, but soon enough I’ll have a dedicated space to take care of the various work I have to do.

One of the most common questions I get is “What’s it like working from home?”

Well, maybe the most commonly asked work question, since the other one is “When is the baby due again?”

Anyway, exactly what is it like working from home? I miss interacting with people, sometimes. Previously I worked for a company that offered a lot of flexibility in terms of my work schedule and setting priorities, but even that pales in comparison to my current level of work flexibility and autonomy.

I still have meetings (plenty), phone calls (plenty) and deliverables (more than plenty). But I get to work at 5am, then get the kids off to school, and still have time to spend with them in the evenings because I’m not spending 90+ minutes on the road every day. On occasion, I have some work to complete after the family is in bed, but it’s not an everyday occurrence.

As far as the whole “managing your own schedule” and “motivating yourself” part of the experience, I will say it’s not for everyone. It’s not a perfect, mystical world with no requirements. But it fits me and my work style.

This summer was pretty tough with the family at home, but the way we’re planning to redo things around here, I’ll be a little farther from the daily “flow” where my office will be positioned, so that will definitely help.

The only other thing, inconsequential as it may be, is the high speed internet access here in our neighborhood. AT&T is the only service here, and every time I try to find out if faster service is available, they tell me it isn’t. However, I just found out that my two neighbors both have the uverse service that’s three times faster than the DSL I have. I have spent hours going in circles with the customer “service” (yeah, right) folks and could write a dozen blog posts on how to NOT treat loyal customers.

Again, minor and inconsequential, but I’m hoping to get that resolved at some point. Maybe in those sleepless nights when Briggs arrives I can hassle every shift of AT&T employees until we get some action. Yeah, that sounds like fun… :-)

Startup HR: Planning vs Doing

Startup HR is something that I have talked about a bit before. Today I will answer a question from a reader who works for HR in a startup company.

The question

Good Morning,

I have been reading your blogs and your Slideshares and it has been easy reading for me and is helping me along my way. I just started working for a start up tech company in Portland Oregon in May. The CFO was basically doing all HR work until now. I am now THE HR department. I am new and I have never had a role in HR before. I was wondering if there was a way to guide me in implementing HR stuff over the next year. What I should be doing in this next month, three months, six months, and so forth.

Please help!

The answer

First of all, have you seen the guide to building an HR department?

I think that will be incredibly valuable for you. It’s really tough to say what you should be doing at specific date-based milestones, because there’s no telling what the business will look like at each of those 6, 12, 18 month marks.

The big picture is understanding what sort of HR needs the business and staff have at each stage of the game and planning ahead to make sure you can hit those targets when the appropriate time comes. For instance, at some point you’ll need to start thinking about performance reviews for staff or maybe you’ll have to find a good applicant tracking system if you guys are hiring. Knowing some of those items on the horizon is how you show the best value for the business. Especially when you’re doing startup HR for a technology company, it’s important to keep those overall business needs in mind, because they can change rapidly.

Thanks for reaching out!

Ben

Do you have a suggestion for the reader? Feel free to share! Also, if you have questions, shoot them over to ben AT upstarthr.com and I’d be happy to try to fit them into the schedule. Thanks!

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