Archive for the ‘ Business ’ Category

Which Is The Best ATS for Me?

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One of the most common questions I seem to get asked or see being asked by many is paraphrased along the lines of “we are looking to get an ATS, which one would you recommend?”

It’s a very good question. With so much choice out there and an increasing number of users with opinions and experience of one or more products, it makes sense to ask for help and advice at the outset.  Yet asking such a question is a bit like asking how many bricks are needed to build a house.  It is just not possible to answer the question in isolation.  When building a house there are an abundance of issues and objectives to be established and prioritised before the design and architecture can be decided upon, let alone constructed. Much in the same way, when you feel you need to acquire technology to help you resolve a problem or organise your processes it is essential you know why you are embarking on such a project in the first place and once selected, what you plan to do with the ATS.

This kind of planning and forethought is fundamental, yet this is hardly ever the way in which companies or, in particular their HR Departments proceed when in an apparent rush to select and acquire a shiny new ATS.  Now I should make it clear at this stage that every organisation will need to go about things differently and this will be based on a number of things but in theory any justification for budget spend and intention to acquire a new tool should consider the following:-

  • Business Objectives
  • Strategic Workforce Plan
  • Size, scale and scope of project
  • Budget
  • Resources, capabilities, skills
  • Previous experience and knowledge of similar projects

And don’t forget one size does NOT fit all.  What works well for one organisation won’t necessarily work for you and vice versa.  Whilst companies may choose to use software from the same vendor, their experiences of it and the benefits they derive from it will vary considerably. Such variations will be entirely dependent on how the system, or should I say the required solution, has been designed and architected prior to and during implementation.  It is also true to say, sadly, that the level of service received from the software vendor will vary depending on the nature of the contract, price paid and the relationship that you have established with them.  So many variables.

In the last 5 years there has been a growth in the number of ATS or other e-recruitment systems available, this in response to the growth in demand for such technology by organisation of all sizes.  There is a solution for every company of every size and market. The available solutions will help you manage the processing whether you are recruiting for volume or niche roles, for executive or graduates and school leavers, for professional specialist skills or temps. These solutions work.  Rarely do they not, let’s face it the software vendors wouldn’t be able to sell it if it didn’t.  When companies get frustrated by the software they have selected, it is rarely the products’ fault. More often than not the dissatisfaction is as result of poor understanding in the first place a lack of adequate design or poor implementation. In many cases business requirements have changed yet the architecture of the system was overlooked or people have moved on leaving a void in the available expertise to make such changes.

In simple terms an ATS – Applicant (or Application) Tracking System is a software package used by organisations to help them manage the journey that a person takes when they apply for a job, become a candidate during an interview process and then proceeds to being offered a job, if they are fortunate.  There are a myriad of other functions that it can be applied to and have an impact on, but for the purposes of this post we don’t need to go into what they are.

Typically if used wisely the ATS will help organisations structure, schedule and report on activities taking place at each stage for each vacancy and for each person in the process.

What it doesn’t do, and won’t or can’t do, is the recruiting for you.

Now I know this make sense to some of you, yet there are some who are now pausing, or at least I hope they are.  The ATS is a tool, a tool that needs to be used by people, following processes defined by the company and the Resourcing function.  Yes, it will address some of the administration issues that you have to deal with, it will help you as a company organise and keep track of workflow so that the information about a vacancy requisition and those that apply to it can be maintained and organised, in the hope that errors are minimised.

What an ATS won’t do is replace human interaction and hands on recruitment. Recruitment by needs to be high-touch and have a significant level of engagement, otherwise it becomes less recruitment and more administration, common amongst those companies that don’t really take recruitment seriously enough to invest in it properly. I’ve known some people/companies that have been able to justify an ATS on the promise of saving headcount, only for that to cause serious issues down the road.  It is therefore crucial that time and effort be set aside to define your objectives, map your processes  and consider the architecture of the installation and how the software will be used and how it will effectively meet your business needs.  This will need to be assessed in line with your current or planned operating model and the capability of your resourcing function.  You will always be thinking of scalability preferably in line with your long term Strategic Workforce Plan which will be mapped to your organisation’s overall five to ten Business Strategy.

One could argue that even with all the planning and foresight you will never get a perfect solution, there are always going to be compromises and limitations. Well that is true, but having clearly defined objectives, a solid plan and the knowledge and expertise at hand to know what the limitations will get you closer to a perfect than you were before you started.

For now.

Music of the moment: The Blister Exists by Slipknot

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Words I am Unlikely to Say

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I was recently researching a company online and that included having a look at the profiles of their senior management.  Each of them had “Words I am unlikely to say” at foot of their bios.  The answers were along the lines of “nothing is impossible”, “never”, “I can’t” etc. You get the drift.  Maybe these words do honestly sum up the personalities of those that they are attributed to, only they will know for sure.  I can sort of understand what it was or is they want to convey, yet it comes across as cheesy, all faux positivity and formulaic, straight out of a motivational seminar. and hardly likely to be consistent with a properly profiled personality.  It was as if they haven’t given it much thought or, thought it would be a good reflection.  Maybe they had some advisors that did it for them. Who knows?

Still it did get me to asking myself about the words I never say in the same context however.  I didn’t have to reflect, because they were there front and centre of my mind as I read.  I’ve lived by them for as long as I can remember.  Actually there are two such standards I’ve used as a yard stick to getting things done properly.

I suppose they may have been drummed into me in my early 20s when I moved from driving a keyboard working in datacentres to selling at a recruitment agency.  The Sales Director had a huge influence and has remained an inspiration to me. His name was Dennis Linscott.  Dennis sadly passed away 11 years ago, but many of the lessons he taught remain with me today. Chief among them is the attention to detail and thinking about what else can be done to get job done right.

Whether what I learned from Dennis moulded me or coincidentally suited my personality only psychologists can answer that one, but what I do know is I’ve always been one of those people that gives it all or nothing.  This can manifest itself in many ways; from total immersion into something, attention to the detail and form, tenacity, bloody-mindedness, belligerence and so on.

Slight deviation needed here. I am aware that I don’t always see typos or spelling errors. That’s not the attention to detail to which I refer above.  I refer to knowing, understanding, covering all the angles and perspectives, thinking what else can be done or needs doing, asking myself “so what?” That’s the attention to detail to which I refer. Dennis taught me that.

What I do now and how I go about it is governed by those principles.  I always ask myself “so what?” when putting a proposal or business case or project recommendation together; “what’s in it for them?”, “what would make a difference to them?”

So what are the two things you are never likely to hear me say when it comes to doing something well?

“That’ll do” and “It’s good enough”

Certainly not as a statement that I consider a task well done or indeed completed and if I do happen to use them when accepting work from others…….well the ambiguity of the phrases could mean I’m happy that all that can be done has been done, alternatively I might just be less than impressed.  I will let you guess, but a clue; Winston Churchill was fond of saying, “I am easily pleased…….by perfection”. I first heard that at school from a teacher drilling a similar thing into the class and that became a mental tattoo.

It’s an attitude and a way of being.  It’s me. I don’t even think them unless it’s to check what else I need to do, can do, should do etc.

“That’ll do” never does. Just by asking if it will do, you have abdicated caring about the quality. Likewise if you think something is good enough it very rarely will be and is an acceptance of a compromise to quality and to doing the job right.

It is always likely to be the difference between making something happen rather than just letting it happen by chance.

When I read the statements from the management of the company I was researching I could almost hear them saying “yeah that’ll do” and seeing the slight shrug of the shoulders as they said it.

So to keep the theme going what words are you never likely to say and why?

Oh and music of the moment – My Wave by Soundgarden

Include or Engage – Dont They Mean the Same Thing?

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Last Friday there were a lot of Tweets using the #HFCHAT – this stands for HireFriday Chat and takes place online surprisingly on Fridays. I confess I’ve not paid too much attention to it so cannot offer any thoughts, however on Friday last week there were a number or tweets using the hashtag that seemed to follow a theme.

One in particular from Steve Levy @levyrecruits caught my eye

@levyrecruits Companies and Recruiters: I know you’re reading this… STOP RECRUITING TO EXCLUDE PEOPLE; find ways to include them #hfchat

This got me thinking.

Was this referring to the linear CV sifting process or was it talking about community and engagement? Could apply to both.

Let quickly look at the former first.

The problem that many in-house teams or HR generalists face is the lack time and the lack of engagement. The teams either don’t have the resources to afford the time or they are not afforded the time by the hiring managers to fully understand what it is they need. Very few in-house recruiters are given the opportunity to actively partner and engage at a business level with their hiring managers. There could be many reasons for this; managers not respecting what recruiting function could do if engaged properly, recruiters not having the commercial awareness to be anything other than transactional, HR Managers and BP’s marginalising the recruiting function and operating in a culture of elitism, where only they have access to the hiring manager community. There are I suspect a few more valid reasons. None acceptable to me, but valid nonetheless. All of these are common and familiar. None of them help the company or its ability to identify good talent from amongst the dozens, maybe hundreds of applications received for each position. And none of them help the candidate community get to know about the company.

Companies can be spoiled by the volume of applications received per vacancy, the vast majority of which are irrelevant. Irrelevant applications are received all of the time; because of wishful thinking or belief that they can genuinely do the job, stupidity or because of a lack of information provided by the company. Whatever the reason for the application, relevant or otherwise the overburdened recruiter will typically follow a linear process. At this stage they are looking to exclude people in order to identify those they want to include. Even once they have spent the time to create a decent long list they have their minds focused on finding perfect fits or best fits and therefore look to include only those that fit the predefined criteria and to exclude those that clearly don’t. It’s a process of elimination until they arrive a suitable shortlist of candidates that are worthy of further time, consideration and interview. It happens this way, it has always happened this way and it will always continue to happen this way.

But what happens if the shortlist doesn’t contain that many people or that they don’t have the “perfect fit” attributes required as briefed? How many companies and their leaders and their recruiters have the time, maturity and sense, as well as the understanding of the business function they are recruiting for, to look at what transferable skills the candidates might have and how they can be applied to the role being recruited for? Very few I would suspect. Could this be the point that Steve was making in his tweet?

If we replace the use of the word “include”, in Steve’s Tweet with “engage” we address the latter thought above and move closer to where both candidates and companies will gain greatest value and benefit.

Recruiting teams must be allowed to partner with the business if they want to become anything other than administrators. In order to add value to the business they need to understand it. Understanding the business and the functions of the individual business unit therein is the first step in transitioning a recruiting team away from being an administrative support function to one that is a valuable extension to it. It will give the individual recruiters the knowledge and confidence to engage properly with a target candidate community/group/pool and proactively identify suitable people. It will give them the opportunity to sell through conversation and inclusion and be able to speak with authority and knowledge. Not possible when kept at arms-length

I agree whole heartedly with Steve in respect that we shouldn’t be sitting back waiting for the applications to arrive in our inbox or ATS and then select through a process of elimination based on buzz word matching or like-for-like experience matching we need to look at all attributes, if that is what he meant.

By including and fully engaging with recruiter the hiring managers equip them to properly represent their department, function and job to the world. It also enables them to confidently engage with targeted or open communities, whether they are online or offline. In doing so employers and potential employees have the opportunity to come together to explore each other without commitment or obligation. I would suspect that good people will be identified or at least stand out much easier and at the same time many of the irrelevant applications will be eliminated.

There are two things then we need to get better at – well there are many but in the context of this post – we need to be better equipped and willing to identify transferable skills and think about what we can teach and what we can learn from a hire. We also need to be more open and transparent and fully engage with our internal customer community to enable us to engage with their potential candidate communities.

The discussions that can result in transparency and engagement could lead anywhere. Why miss that opportunity?

Are you Embarrassed to Work for Kodak? I’d be Ashamed

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On 6th March 2011 I wrote a blog explaining how deceptive calling the Kodak ESP9250 a printer is and how dissatisfactory Kodak’s impression of Customer Services had been to that point. I am sorry to say not much has improved and it’s not likely to either until they admit they have a major problem and speak to customers about what matters. I won’t go through the Oct 2010 – March 2011 events or thoughts, I’ll let you read it for yourselves

So where did I leave off, oh yes a rant at Kodak on the blog and via email at the beginning of March.

On Monday 14th March I finally got a phone call from someone at Kodak in the UK offering to help. Unfortunately this was a bad day at work for me; I was winding things up at work so that I could take two-three weeks out of the office for surgery and recovery. I suggested that I would have to call them back a few weeks. But of course that was a touch too difficult for them to understand, they called me back twice. The first time was an hour or so after I had woken from the anaesthetic and then the second time a day or two later, when I still didn’t know my up from down.

I finally called them back at the beginning of April to move things along and yes you guessed it, they hadn’t actually given much thought to resolving the issue despite the detail provided to them, along with the content of the blog which I know they were fully aware of.

After a number of conversations and then several emails with Customer Support staff in the USA on 3rd May I was promised a new replacement printer; a brand new model. It was promised fast in a number of emails, all apologetic about the delay and yet it still didn’t arrive until 25th or 26th of May; 3 full months after I posted the blog and 9 months after I made the initial mistake to buy a Kodak device (I have trouble calling it a printer).

So we have (or did have at the start of last week) the new ESP2170 printer installed and running as advertised or so it seemed.

During the conversations with the Customer Support personnel in the USA I was given a choice of accepting a newer model i.e. the ESP2170, an older model or yet another ESP9250. I think I snorted at that last option.

I asked one qualifying question to the lady I was speaking to; did the cartridges that we had purchased for the ESP9250 fit the new ESP2170. The question was answered in the affirmative. And as a show of good faith a few additional cartridges would be delivered. So I elected to go for the newer model on the basis that we would only have to wait a week. This was important because Mrs F was studying and revising for exams. Her revising techniques called for a lot of printing and without a printer she was in trouble and very very stressed. So you can imagine the relief we both had when the new printer finally turned up and she was able to print, albeit without the extra cartridges promised.

Mrs F then proceeded with her printing and use a full Black cartridge in a day and then tried to replace it with one of the older ones we’d purchased for the ESP9250. So having waited for so long we had a brand new functioning printer…………….for a day.

Yeah you can guess, we’d been lied to and they weren’t compatible at all. I don’t suppose for a minute that this was malicious just, very pathetic and doesnt even come close to the defination of the word ‘service’.

I then sent an email to the one person throughout of all this who has been very responsive and to a large extent reactive, asking him to call me. His name is Ricky Frazier and is a very good Customer Service rep that has to be embarrassed to be working for Kodak. He seems to be doing all he can with inadequate support from the infrastructure he works within.

He promised to send me 3 colour print cartridges as well as 3 colour cartridges along with details of how I could trade the old non-compatible cartridges with new ones that will work and details of which UK retailers stocked them.

I got a confirmation email from him and was also rewarded with further emails from the despatch teams confirm that 3 of each cartridge had been ordered and then expedited. You can image what I was feeling when I opened the package to find only one of each inside.

Not only does their definition of expediting mean sticking the parcel in the post, but it would seem that they cannot count. Just plain stupid.

There have been so many inconsistencies, so many failures and so many untruths told. Many had seen my rants on Twitter including @Kodak. Whoever was monitoring the @kodak mentions contacted me asking if they could help. On the assumption they would be able to concentrate for sentences longer than 140 characters I asked them to read the blog. They didn’t read it or didn’t respond. You can only laugh can’t you?

Whilst I was waiting for the printer to arrive I read this blog post on MonsterThinking.com “How Kodak Learned to Listen to the Social Media Conversation” apparently and of course I commented. Another joke in their repertoire is this article in Amateur Photographer last year.

They really should go on tour.

Anyway today I wrote an email to my mate Ricky and this time copied on the Exec VP responsible for InkJet Printers, Susan Tousi. This time I have asked for a full refund or a replacement with an HP or Lexmark printer. I do not see why after all of this crap I can’t get my money back a formal apology and some kind of compensation. What do you guys think?

So when the tv ad says that they will save my money from draining away, they should try harder to stop their customers from draining away.

I have no confidence in Kodak and do not want to use their products. I do not have any interest or wish to contribute to Kodak’s balance sheet.

I will leave it to you to decide if you wish to.

Write your own damn blog!

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I am willing to be up front and state that I have moderated a comment on this blog post and rejected it as spam. It was the inspiration for this spontaneous post.

Unfortunately there are one or two people that tend to comment quite a bit on other peoples blog posts in order to antagonise or worse, just plain promote themselves, their company or their products under the guise of very thinly veiled comments. Not here you don’t.

It is a dilemma isn’t it? Do we allow open and honest debate letting anyone comment and letting the reader decide or should we give a slap to those that abuse the platform, lazily using it as an opportunity to influence, abuse or promote to someone else’s readers?

I suspect that the usual suspects will respond to this. If they do should I point them out so that you can read what they write on other people’s blogs and see why I am taking this stance?

Thoughts please.

Why would I want to work for your company?

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“Why would I want to work for your company?” and “What is in it for me?” are two questions, we as recruiters very rarely hear from candidates and yet both of them are top of the list of questions that candidates need to ask, should ask and probably subconsciously consider when job hunting.

We ALL do it without exception when we are looking for a job and must remember to consider these same questions as a prospective employer and ask ourselves “why would someone want to work for us” and “what would they get out of it?”

A professional recruiter is tasked with promoting their employer, its values and the career opportunities it has the potential to provide to people, yet so many recruiters, HR Directors and Managers as well as hiring managers and shamefully executives too, take it for granted that if a brand or company is big enough in its space (whether that is locally, nationally or globally) it will be a magnet for candidates. Seriously though it is a common mistake that so many people (companies) make, and it can be fatal as far as candidate engagement goes. If you are a recruiter or if you are a hiring manager and fail to provide a candidate with a compelling reason to join your company they just won’t!

A good indicator about how well you are “selling” the company or giving candidates the right level of information and incentive is to look at the number of rejected offers you get and the number of people who leave your organisation voluntarily within their first year of employment. Statistics will vary dept. by dept. and company to company, but if is higher than 10% I suggest that you need to look at how well you are selling yourself and your company.

There could be any number of points that candidates might find compelling and they’re likely to be different from candidate to candidate. Earnings Potential, Team, Challenge, Office Environment, Career Stability, Career Progression……..the list goes on. They are all very personal to the candidate and each will play a part in his or her decision process. Add to them the corporate employer brand, your place in the market and you have a big big story to create.

Unless the time and effort is invested to make the candidate feel important by finding out what is important to them you won’t be able to help them make the right choice. If you have found the right person, one you and others in the hiring process know will add value, you have an obligation to give them all of the information they want, as well as information you think they should know so that they can choose you.

There is no point in just assuming because you have a job to offer and a decent salary it will be enough to get a decision in your favour. Similarly, just because you have a great product or service doesn’t mean that you have a reputation of any kind, good or bad as an employer. You have to sell the benefit and value and what it could mean to each person. Do not take anything for granted.

Do you need a LinkedIn Profile to be trusted?

[tweetmeme source=”GaryFranklin”]
I have a question for you; the post title isn’t it. But first a bit of background

For those that don’t know I frequent the Twitterverse quite a bit and am generally happy to chat with people in the open on Twitter about anything that interests me. Yesterday evening I struck up a conversation on Twitter with @Jerry_Albright, someone who follows me and whom I have followed for some time and is known to many through his blog www.jerrytherecruiter.com. Jerry and I share a professional interest in recruiting and as of last night I now know that we also enjoy fishing. So the conversation continued. After a while I get a question from a completely unknown Twitter user. Not a problem as this happens a lot and I concluded that this person follows Jerry or had searched on conversations around fishing and decided to join in. Always glad to talk fishing with people. On further investigation, his Twitter profile indicates that he too is interested in recruitment, so two points of common ground. Tweets go back and forth and nothing alarming happens at all. However being curious by nature I decide to find out a bit more about this chap.

My first port of call is always LinkedIn. I am a big fan of LinkedIn and have been using it daily in my professional business life since early 2004. In fact I found out this week I am member #150,542, which is very cool. I use LinkedIn lots, far more than I use Facebook or any other platform, Twitter aside, as a recruiter to find potential candidates and as a Group owner to engage with other people. So when it comes to looking into someone’s background, even if it is just to find out where they work or have worked, where they may live, to get an idea of who they are, LinkedIn is always the first place it turn to. Invariably it provides me the information I need. So when I looked this chap up, searching different permutations and couldn’t find a LinkedIn profile, it unnerved me quite a bit. Was I right to feel this way?

Now he is likely to be completely genuine and has done nothing at all suspect or underhand. There are many genuine reasons for not having a LinkedIn Profile. Am I right to question and doubt or am I narrow in my thinking?

So the question I have for you all is:-

Would you trust someone on Twitter if you couldn’t find a profile for them on LinkedIn?