Tagged: Technology

It’s 2014: 3 Ways Technology Can Drive Your People Strategy

Last Saturday night I sat on the patio of a local pub trying to hold back from devouring the plate of funnel cake fries sitting in the middle of the table but, more importantly, to celebrate one of my closest friend’s 25th birthday. We all went to high school together, and during those wonder years, the patio I was sitting on was home to a Borders.

My inner geek started creeping in and I thought to myself how incredible and powerful technology is, putting entire industries either out of business or forcing those who survive to radically change their business models (e.g. Barnes & Noble).

Poof. The need for another “me too” storefront retailer of CD’s and books is gone. Thank you iTunes and tablets. But, iTunes is so 2006, and online music streaming is now putting even the almighty iTunes at risk of extinction.

Every two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning of time until 2003. Today, it’s no secret data can aid in making better, more efficient decisions. Why not start applying it to how we attract, develop, and retain people?

In a few years (or today if you’re a Decoded Company):

(1) Internal referrals will never be the same!

Your LinkedIn profile is a data source being tapped by people you’ve never met, terrifying right? Not really.

With LinkedIn data and network notifications, you can be reminded of that ex-coworker who meets all of the requirements for the Accounting Department’s open analyst role. A quick e-mail asks if you would work with him again. A survey is sent evaluating culture fit. A few clicks later… #boominternalreferral. No outbound recruiting needed.

(2) The best Sourcer is no longer determined by who has the best Boolean string.

Wouldn’t it be cool if while I was sitting at a stoplight on my way to lunch, Wendy’s pinged my cell phone with a Buy One, Get One Free Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger coupon? By the way, it’s right across the street.

Location-based advertising can not only get you a discount on your next burger but maybe even find you your next job. Unassuming passive job seekers would be alerted of an opening on their smart phones when they walk by your office that could be a good fit for their background. Click here to apply. Companies in metro areas should be all over this with the high-level of foot traffic populating their sidewalks.

(3) Training is proactive rather than reactive.

What if you had an internal system tracking your projects? Any mistakes or errors made would be flagged. If an individual is consistently being flagged for the same mistake or error, their manager could be notified in order to provide training rather than wait for a quarterly or annual review to discuss solutions.

How we do things is being optimized by technology, and HR (or whatever snappy title you’ve given this department) is no exception.

We live in a world of information and if companies choose to ignore this or are slow to adapt, they may very well end up like Borders. However, if an organization can adjust their business model, use technology as an asset, and still hold onto their where I came from swag, they may find themselves in the Barnes & Noble safe zone… for now at least.

Anyone reading this blog on a Nook Tablet?

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Be an Employment Brand Junkie: My 2014 HCI Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference Take-Away

I love Southwest Airlines; therefore I have a Southwest Visa and avidly watch my points tally up. I have convinced myself my internal energy tank is low without Starbucks in the morning and I have to use my mobile application to pay or else it doesn’t feel right. I own more t-shirts than a sorority sister in her 6th year of undergrad because I elect to represent my teams in Homage gear. And when I receive a Nordstrom Note in the mail it’s as if I was just accepted to my dream college… Every time.

Your employment brand is directly connected to your consumer brand. However, instead of using this vision to sell more plane tickets, you’re using this vision to ensure you have talented folks flying the planes, serving the drinks, checking the bags, and changing travel plans for those who bought that plane ticket.

Employment Brand Quote

Recruiters have been “selling” companies to potential candidates for decades. Employment branding at its core is not new. Showing candidates why they should work at your company is not a new concept. But how you show candidates is changing. Estela Vasquez Perez mentioned three steps to having a successful employment brand:

(1)  Emotional – Connect with your people and potential people.

(2)  Rational – Connect corporate vision with your people and potential people.

(3)  Experiential – Deliver on the employment brand promise you made (nobody likes liars).

Who does this really well? Or at least is on the right track to do this very well? I saw multiple videos at the conference, showing off speaker companies and what it’s like to work there. One stood out and that was Hewlett-Packard. Yes, HP,  the company that has been knocked by many not only for the jet-lagged innovation to Apple in recent years but their revenue numbers have not shown promise either. However, with new CEO Meg Whitman they’ve reassessed their employment brand. HP pulls you in with understanding its history then rationalizes it by showing their inventions of then, now, and the future. And as for the experience part… Guess you’ll have to work there and see if it lives up to expectation.

The job search landscape is competitive. Technology is either crippling your company if you can’t catch-up or lifting your company if you embrace and deliver on it. There is going to be a shortage of talent. High-potentials are going to leave your company. Millennials are knocking on your door. If employment branding wasn’t important before, it certainly is now. It’s no secret these kids are showing up in droves. And guess what?… WE LOVE BRANDS.

We are brand junkies. Don Draper said these famous words on AMC’s Mad Men, “Advertising is happiness.” When you read, listen, or watch an ad, its purpose is to generate happiness leading to a transaction. When you think of a brand, what you remember is how that brand made you feel. I’m only going to say, “Yes,” over and over again to a brand that gets it.

You want the people who come to work for your company to be brand junkies. Make them happy. Get them hooked. Show people what it’s like to work at ___________. Next thing you know they’ll be waving your flag through the streets.

4 Ways Talent Management Programs Can Learn From Millennials

If you take a holistic view of the workforce and use a little math, it can be determined that millennials are the closest in age to their childhood. Your 20-somethings within your organization are fresh off the “becoming an adult” train and who knows, maybe some of your 30-somethings are too. 

For as much as we millennials love the future and being on the cutting edge of technology, pop culture, and style (for those fashionistas out there) we also love looking back at ourselves, seeing how we grew up and remembering “that one night when…” As technology continues to shape how millennials operate in the workforce it’s also enabling a generation to say, “Remember when…” and track moments in time that would otherwise be overlooked.

Talent Management Programs continue to grow in popularity. When an organization is ready to develop their talent as well as focus on engagement and retention, a TM Program is usually looming overhead. Charts, graphs, feedback outside of the “annual review” from the supervisor, virtual high fives, those are… “Okay,” as Juan Pablo from The Bachelor would say. But if you look at how millennials are tracking their own lives… maybe there’s something to be learned.

1. TimehopThis is an app you connect to all of your social media outlets. Timehop aggregates posts, pictures, Tweets, places you’ve “Checked-In” and tells you what was going on in your life one year ago, two years ago, and three years ago today. Similar to SportsCenter saying “Today in sports history…” We can now say, “Today in my history…” Pretty cool, huh?

Timehop Example

2. SpotifyI now have every ‘NSYNC and Backstreet Boys album at my fingertips. Music gets old fast these days. If I have to hear “Blurred Lines” or “Cups” one more time I might give up on the radio. But, the #throwbacks – those stay forever. You want to listen to J. Lo or 2Pac? Maybe even LFO, Third Eye Blind, or Blink 182? Go right on ahead. 

Spotify Example

3. ‘Look Back’ Videos: For Facebook’s 10th anniversary Facebook users could create a ‘Look Back’ video. A ‘Look Back’ video selected unrelated posts and pictures from people’s profiles, put it to music, and told their 10-year (or less) story in a one-minute snip it. It is a potpourri of your life and brings back sentimental feelings connecting you to your family, friends, milestones in your life, but also the days you were just hanging out watching football with your dog.

Look Back Example

4. BuzzFeed Junkies: Who needs news? I could scroll through BuzzFeed all day to remind me of what I loved as a kid and a teen.

I know I’ve taken a risk posting these links as those with short attention spans have already clicked and are on to another window but for those who haven’t I will close the blog.

BuzzFeed Example

Why is this important in today’s workplace? Think about if you were able to track employees careers like they track their personal life. Wouldn’t it be cool to Timehop that one day you won your biggest account? When you hired your CEO as an intern and now he’s calling the shots? Why not add ways to ‘Look Back’ and show your history, where you came from and where you’re headed?

Incorporating a similar type of platform could remind valuable, top talent why they joined, stayed, and want to continue growing within your organization. 

“Call Me Maybe”, “Harlem Shake”, and A Business Take Away

Self-made dancers and videographers are swarming the Internet. What’s the next big movement? Well, we won’t know what the next “big thing” in YouTube dance sensations will be until another artist unleashes their genius on the world again. But, whether it’s a teen looking to break into the market diluted with young stars already or a DJ spinning a beat – the world has gone crazy for dance.

Exhibit 1: “Call Me Maybe

callme

Because I have a personal bias toward “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, I turned to social media to gather some data regarding how people currently feel about the song when it comes on the radio, do you leave it on or change the station?

  • 41% said change the station
  • 59% said leave it on

While it wasn’t an overwhelming majority, the majority agreed with me – leave it on. And if you’re me, you turn it up and create your own music video while driving home from the office. It’s catchy and had the whole world hooked on Carly Rae for the summer of 2012.

Abercrombie & Fitch featured the song to promote their global stores and WOW their target audience. Even the London Olympics caught Carly Rae Fever with the US swim team and many others putting their own dance remix to the track.

What is the business impact you ask? “Call Me Maybe” opened the door and offered an inside look, even if just for 3 minutes, into the personalities and “off the clock” antics of some of the most focused, decorated athletes and mega corporations in the world. Their “Call Me Maybe” videos made them real people. People you could identify with.

Social Media allows you and your corporation to be real. Someone and something you can touch. Or at least believe that you can.

Exhibit 2: “Harlem Shake

Miami-Heat-Harlem-Shake-635

 

As I have previously written blogs about my distaste for LeBron James, the Miami Heat had me thinking after I viewed their Harlem Shake video. These athletes are put on a pedestal of greatness and fame. Through this short video clip, they let the world see they are regular guys who like to have fun just like you and can get caught up in a social craze just the same.

In my opinion, this was the first time LeBron was “real” to me. It made him human and is a pure example of how social media has increased the visibility of those once thought of as unreachable.

Business Take Away:

First things first, you don’t have to go create a YouTube video and please don’t think that is the point of this blog. We are not all equipped with the time and budget to create impressive, creative music videos. However, I do think it is common practice to be present on social media outlets for companies and executives.

Being present on social media is one thing but being real and relatable is another. You want to identify with your peers, customers, colleagues, and overall network. Be yourself and be personal.

Products and services are a dime a dozen.

Social Media is a tool to help build your identity and make your company accessible.  People want to surround themselves with not only intelligent business associates but, business associates they like. Keep that in mind.

Why would I buy a $4 coffee? Customer Engagement. That’s why.

It’s difficult to sit here and cite specific examples of “what I learned in college” and how it relates to the real world. To be quite frank, I was one of those kids that smashed all of the information in my brain for that test and that semester then off it went into the stratosphere. If there was anything that stuck, it was purely by choice and a slight Christmas miracle. In my consumer behavior class, an elective I took primarily due to my liking for the professor and the distaste for anything requiring addition or subtraction, I learned something I still remember today. We read a book called Predictably Irrational and if anything can top Freakonomics, which is difficult, it’s this book written by Dan Ariely.

In chapter 2, The Fallacy of Supply and Demand, Ariely addresses Starbucks v. Dunkin’ Donuts and all other “wannabes.” The brilliance behind the Starbucks brand is they have found a way to divert their customer’s brains to everything other than price. As noted by Ariely it’s the ambiance – the way you order, the food offerings, the décor. It’s unique and up scale. Why wouldn’t you pay $4 for the coffee? Buying a coffee at Starbucks is an experience not a daily chore. When in all reality, I have an entry level job and if I bought a $4 coffee each weekday for an entire year (which I do not, I try to be reasonable now and then) it would cost me just over $1000. I’m predictably irrational, I could use that $1000 on something other than coffee clearly… yet, I choose to buy over-priced, you guessed it… coffee.

photo

Now let’s get down to the real reason I wanted to discuss my coffee buying habits or obsession rather, the coming of the Starbucks Reward card. Enter big data. Take any gift card you bought for yourself at Giant Eagle to earn fuel perks or that you received from your gracious friends who know it will go to use immediately, and register it online.

I naturally have done so, electing to offer my personal information to the twenty-fifth website and creating another username and password… for what? Starbucks Rewards, that’s what. Some perks include free refills on brewed coffee, a free coffee on your birthday, free music downloads, and “other promotions.” Let’s just say the other promotions don’t come around too often.

However, with your Starbucks Rewards card you can now download the Starbucks Application on your smart phone, manage your account online, pay with your phone and ditch the plastic card. In summary, I get a free coffee on my birthday (yes, once per year), free refills on brewed coffee (I don’t order their brewed coffee), download music (if it’s popular music they probably aren’t handing it out for free) and a free promotion now and then (that usually requires you to buy something first then get money back – spending money you otherwise wouldn’t).

And yet, here I am at 7:10am lining up and getting my coffee. I am fully aware that Starbucks is conning me into thinking I am so great for belonging to their club and sitting on the edge of my seat until I reach the Gold Card status and the best part is? It really doesn’t bother me at all. I’m going to have my Gold Card, pay with it on my iPhone, smile, and walk away content. Buying my $4 coffee is interactive and flat out cool.

I’m a predictably irrational millennial, armed with caffeine and an iPhone ready to take on the day.

What irrational purchases have you made?

Millennials: Get Out and Vote but Also Don’t Forget to Impact Your Own Career

Innocently thumbing through my Twitter feed after lunch, I came across a Tweet with a link to the HuffPost Live webcast on the topic of “The Millennial Vote.” As a Millennial (and self-endorsed politically educated young person) I was intrigued. Each person in attendance was given the opportunity to discuss the candidates and issues up for debate in the 2012 election and there was one resonating topic – JOBS.

As stated by Pete Dominick, Sirius XM Talk Show Host and CNN contributor, “Millennials do not use the word economy but, rather jobs.” While I do think Millennials should learn more about the economy and how it affects job opportunity – let’s focus on jobs specifically.

On Tuesday, November 6th 2012 Millennials who are registered to vote, which is down 11% from 2008 as noted in the webcast, will enter the voting booth and elect the individual they believe
to be in their best interest to find them a job. I thoroughly support voting and do believe it to be our civil duty to do so, however, simply voting for the candidate who can make the strongest promises about employment is an inherently flawed idea. Again, please vote but that is only a battle in the unemployment and underemployment war. Millennials need not only show up at the polls but also need to educate themselves on how to find the right job and take control of their job search. It’s the “how” I’m concerned about.

The wrong answer is to the “how” is settle for statistics like “11.8 percent of young Americans are now unemployed through no fault of their own and more still are falling out of the workforce due to a historic lack of opportunity” and statements like, “Young Americans know this is not fair, and they are asking why the White House continues to push policies that are moving them backward.” Now I know HR, Gen X, and Baby Boomers will rejoice at the next statement I make as they try to work with these “entitled young kids.”

This election year rather than depending on Washington to come through and being satisfied with answers such as “it’s not our fault” and “it’s not fair,” become an educated job seeker. Impact your own career.

If you’re a 20 something here are 5 ways to impact your own career:

Leverage your current network

You’re a marketing major. Are you sure your Mom’s best friend isn’t a Brand Manager at P&G? Are you sure your Dad doesn’t work for a bank with an open entry-level marketing role? Are you sure the professor you loathed, didn’t used to work at one of the largest steel manufactures? Are you sure your sister’s childhood friend’s dad isn’t the CEO of a small business? Ask the question of anyone you know. Why not?

Your first job may not be your dream job

No job description calls for 0 years of experience. Understanding you need experience to get experience – 2-5 years experience spent not working at Google or Nike? Is ok. Working for a local tech firm or retail sneaker store will give you a real resume to talk about with Larry Page or Tinker Hatfield.

Be a honey badger

Make job searching your job. Be active on Indeed and other job posting sites. Are you sure you’ve applied to EVERY single job there is? I doubt it. Oh, you’re caught in a black whole resume vacuum? Call the recruiter, over and over. Call the Vice President, over and over. Call the CEO, over and over.

Be intelligent

Is your LinkedIn profile attractive to recruiters? Know the title of jobs you’re looking for. All of them. Don’t know? Send a LinkedIn message to someone who does what you want to do. You’ d be surprised how many people will reach out. Research the top companies who do what you want to do. If it’s HR? Surprise, every company in every industry needs HR. Take your pick.

Utilize technology

Follow, Like, Mention, Retweet, Blog, Comment, E-Mail, Regram – find where your companies are talking and engage them. Companies are spending time and money figuring out this digital age and engaging candidates just like you. Locate them and they’ll most certainly oblige to respond. Millennials – I look forward to seeing you out at the polls and I also look forward to a re-energized group of young people who are educated, relentless job seekers.

Please comment with any thoughts or Tweet feedback @nicole_tsp

I should have just clicked “Yes.”

An October 1 article by Lorraine Mirabella in the Chicago Tribune discusses frustration felt by job applicants interacting with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).  I read or heard this other places as well.  Unsurprisingly, many candidates dislike the impersonal nature of trying to demonstrate their qualifications for the role by answering some “Yes” or “No” questions.  A “wrong” answer often triggers an email informing the candidate they are no longer being considered for the position.  To be sure, there are many good reasons for using these kinds of systems, including how “internet applicants” are defined by the federal government, decreased barriers to applying, and downsized HR staffs.

The consternation felt by job seekers brings to mind two issues near and dear to my heart as an industrial/organizational psychologist; applicant reactions and validity.  Let me quickly summarize why these are important to this discussion.

Applicant reactions can be described as the emotions and opinions applicants have as they go through a selection process.  Do they feel it was fair and they had a chance to adequately describe their qualifications and skills?  Did your organization come across as professional?  What did the process tell me about the culture?

For many organizations, applicants and potential customers are one in the same.  A bad experience (actual or perceived) may actually choose to not shop or eat there any more either– not to mention there is always a chance the scorned applicant will let fly with an epic Twitter rant that ends up getting a million hits on YouTube or file one of those pesky employment lawsuits.  None of these are positive outcomes your organization or employment brand.

Validity refers to how realistic the inferences are that we draw from data available to us.  When pre-screen questions are used to eliminate a candidate from the selection process, the inference is that specific answer means it is no longer worth continuing to talk to that person.  In some instances, this may make sense.

Consider the position of an Advanced Bulldozer operator and these two questions:

  1. “Have you ever operated a bulldozer before?”
  2. “Do you have 10 years of experience operating a bulldozer”

If the answer to Question 1 is “No,” I can see how one could make a reasonable inference that the respondent is someone who does not meet minimum qualifications for the position – eliminate them from the process by all means.  To me, eliminating someone for answering “No” to Question 2 is a far more suspect conclusion.  How do you know that 10 years is the “magic” amount? Is someone with 10 years of experience significantly more qualified than someone with 9 years of experience?  Too often, the line between “required” and “preferred” qualifications get blurred in the bells and whistles.

The moral of the story?

Just because the technology to do something is available, that doesn’t mean we should always use it.  And just because technology can reduce workload and make some “decisions” for us, that doesn’t mean other tradeoffs do not exist.  Too often, I find features and functions of online systems end up driving selection system design decisions, not what is in the best interest of the business.

The good news?

We tell the computers what to do! (at least until singularity comes!)

  1. Always, always treat applicants with respect.  It’s the right thing to do – and it has the upshot of helping solidify the employment brand you have been worrying about.
  2. Use technology to make the experience more personal, not less.  Make your “no thanks” email something other than “We are keeping your application on file.  Thanks.”
  3. Be very selective in what becomes a “knockout” question.  Ask whatever questions you want, but use most of them to help you figure out who to phone screen or call in for an interview first.
  4. Ask hard questions internally…how do we know someone has to have majored in marketing to be able to do this role?  Does that twelfth year of commensurate experience really make a difference?

Happy hiring!

Chad Thompson, Ph.D. is the Managing Director of the Consulting and Assessment Practice at Taylor Strategy Partners.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn or following him @TSP_Consulting