Posts Tagged ‘ Human resources ’

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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Who Do you Think is the Most Influential Leader in Global Recruitment?

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Do you work for or know an influential leader?Banner 344x80

I am sure many of us will have been fortunate to have worked for, or with a manager who has been an inspiration to us and has possessed the true ability to lead, not only the team and its delivery of services, but also has had the clarity of thought to lead the thinking on different issues important to you and to the business that you support. They are rare and we don’t always appreciate them at the time, but each of them as had a bearing on you and how your do things.

In their August edition Recruiter magazine launched “Most Influential In-house Recruiters” with a stellar line up of in-house practitioners for 2013, each of whom in the opinion of the author of that piece made a significant impact in their business or is a key influencer and thought leader. Many, myself included (I am pleased to say I am friends or at least know all but two of those mentioned), recognise that they each deserve to be included and for a variety of reasons. These leaders have made a significant difference to the teams they lead, the services they deliver, the innovations they have implemented at their employers or the changes they have influenced in the wider recruitment landscape.

It goes without saying that each one of those included by Recruiter deserve to be there, yet there will be countless others across the world that have had a similarly significant impact on the people they work with and the services they deliver and also richly deserve the accolades of their peers.
Do you work with someone that deserves the acknowledgement?
Who has made a difference to you and your business?

Whether you consider someone to be a good leader or an inspiration to you or others will always depend on circumstance and perspective of course.  And it is your perspective that counts.

Who do you think deserve to be honoured as The Recruitment Leader of The Year 2013? who will you nominate?

Get your nominations in now  >> Click HERE

Closing date for entries is 30th Sept 2013

Originally posted on The FIRM Awards site

Resourcing – Why Chop Logs with a Teaspoon?

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This weekend I spent loads of time in my garden. About 4 hours on Saturday and about 3 on Sunday. It was time well spent.

I had a list of things I wanted to get done, the sun was shining, it was warm and dry, perfect weather for some hard work.

In the spring of 2010 we had six very large Ash trees felled in various parts of the grounds.  Two of the trees were easily 30 meters tall and were felled inside the garden with no way to get them up the very high steep bank through the woods and out of the garden.  I managed to get some of them cleared last year but had left the rest in piles to season where they fell.  Time to move some more; cut, split and stack them in the stables, (we don’t have horses, it’s just a giant storage shed), ready for winter use.

I’d put this particular job off for most of the summer hoping for a long hot spell to really dry the wood out.  That and the fact it was going to a long hard job and I didn’t really fancy it at all, but with cut and split logs costing in the region of £100 a tonne if purchased it made sense to use what was already ours. So to work.

With my in-ear headphones and the iPod on shuffle I just got on with it. A chainsaw and a bow saw on Saturday, an axe and hatchet on Sunday.  I was having fun, all the time the number of tree trunks and branches from around the place were being reduced to the size we could use in the house.  Whilst I was doing this I was thinking, amongst other things, about my next blog post.  Each time I latched onto a theme I just couldn’t make it work.

Then on Sunday it occurred to me.

I just spent hours reducing trees to 20cm logs to burn in an open fire.  Whilst it was most certainly hard work it had not been difficult at all, in fact it was easy.  I was methodical.  I paced myself.  It occurred to me was that I was enjoying what I was doing, I had the enthusiasm and energy to get the job done and I had the correct tools for the job.

Of course my mind linked it instantly to Resourcing and how organisations big and small don’t generally give it the priority it needs, don’t have the appetite, energy or the right tools to do it right.  To do anything right, there has to be an appetite, enthusiasm and energy to do it well and the right equipment to do it effectively and efficiently for the right results have to be available.  I could have created the same amount of fire logs with a bow saw and a regular saw and just an axe but it would have taken me so much longer and with much more effort and lots of pain.  This is a task I have done for year and love it! I know what I am doing and have the right approach, tools and technique.  Yes anyone can do it but you have to know what you are doing.  I’ve seen the damage done by poor attention to the detail and poor technique; it’s not pretty

When it comes to Resourcing the appetite comes from the leader of the organisation.  Many executives say it is a priority but few give it anything other than lip service and it tends to get marginalised because outdated attitudes to sourcing and attraction are cemented firmly in days gone by, i.e. pick the phone up and call and agency or search firm. (A bit like using a rust old and blunt hand saw).  This last sentence assumes it is recognised as an essential and specialist business function in the first place. I doubt very much that it is in the majority.  There are many companies that are happy for the hiring managers to leverage personal networks, place job adverts and engage with agencies; and for many this works well.  Whilst it doesn’t actually add any real value to the business it puts bums on seats.  Sadly for the majority of hiring managers and HR practitioners that’s all it’s about.

Equipping a Resourcing function properly is key to its success and essential to it adding far more value to the business than most people think it can.  It doesn’t start with simply giving someone the responsibility to recruit for your company.  It starts with a commitment to do it properly and to recognise that it is something that you need to invest in to allow the proper policies and procedures to be put in place and then constantly refined, retuned and modified to keep pace with a constantly changing landscape.

It also takes time to get it right for your company.  There is no overnight fix, but there can be a dramatic and identifiable improvement within a reasonably short space of time.  I’m talking within the current accounting period.

The one big mistake that many hiring managers, HRDs, HR Managers and company executives make when it comes to Resourcing is thinking it is easy and that anyone can do it.

Last year I asked an audience made up of about 100 HR management types “How many of you have personally been responsible for Rescouring someone in the last year?”

All but a few put their hands up.

Then I asked them “How many of you did that without using agencies or search firms?”  Only three hands stayed up.

I’m not sure what they thought they were doing but it wasn’t Resourcing, but it was easy.  I told them that the only thing they had proven to me was that they knew how to use a phone.  Only one or two of them had actually done the resourcing, all of the others had offloaded it to 3rd parties.    Now this is not a fault at all but simply an indication of what many think Resourcing is all about.

Recruitment, Talent Acquisition, Resourcing, Staffing – call it what you will, is not a one dimensional function and it does not follow a simple linear process that has a clear beginning and an end. To be sure that your business doesn’t suffer because of the bad hires you have made or the bad impression you have made in the market it must be given specialist continued focus and attention.  It is a front line customer and consumer facing function.  Treating it as anything else could be neglecting your responsibilities.

Providing your company with the right tools means applying the right priority to the function, finding the right people, paying them what they are worth, the right training, giving them the appropriate budget to use the appropriate technologies and platforms and give them the corporate support to ensure they are not marginalised by HR, Sales, Marketing or any other function.  Think about it!  An effective Resourcing team might speak to more people every week, selling your company to a wider audience than any other department in your organisation.  Do you really want them to be doing a bad job of it?   You get the right people with the right attitude and attributes and give them respect they will both save you money and add to your company’s bottom line.

With the right tools for the job you get a job well done, you get added benefit in terms of corporate reputation, the delivery of the right skills at the right time for the business and is done efficiently.  The best talent in the market will give you more respect and as such could well put you at the top of their list of places to work when they are ready.  And as with anything done right you will get value for your money.

I am looking for work at the moment and know from first-hand experience how bad the Resourcing/Recruitment processes are in companies if left to the HRBPs, HRDs or generalists. It’s not the individuals’ fault all of the time; it’s probably the priority given to it.  There is a simple answer – Hire me I’ll sort it out for you.  I can be contacted here

Let me just add this; if it was easy to do, why do so many of you get it so wrong all of the time?

Music of the Day – In Loving Memory by Alter Bridge

Thanks for reading

CV Farmers or Hunters for Top Talent? what would you rather be?

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Just over three months ago I embarked upon #MyJobHunt and started to really learn a lot about the abilities and the attitudes that pervade recruiting.   I’d had my own experiences, been influenced by other people’s and formed my own opinions, but the 6 weeks of #myjobhunt and the subsequent 10 weeks has taught me so many more realities around what we do and how we do it.

During my six week journey and adventure whilst I was looking for my next employment option I had two clear thoughts  and have used them a number of times in discussions and in presentations.

1.       The number of companies that have dedicated in-house recruitment teams is the tip of the iceberg; the number of those companies that have a sophisticated in-house team represent  the pinnacle of the tip of the iceberg

 

2.       The second point is that no recruiter is as good as they think they are; no process is as good as it is meant to be.

 

I’m not going to comment on the sophisticated teams and structures because they really are very very  good at what they do and how they do it.

Anyone hear the expression CV Farmer?  I use it quite a bit. It can apply to agency and in-house recruiters alike.  A CV Farmer is a recruiter that posts job adverts on company web sites and job boards or gives an agency a brief then sits back and waits for the CV’s to come to them.  They then do basic screening and then pass them directly the Hiring Managers.  The vast majority of in-house teams or structures are made up of CV Farmers or as their HR colleagues call them and their customers refer to them; Administrators.

These structures and individuals generally lack the understanding of what it takes to be a Hunter, actively searching for the right individual, assessing their capabilities and competencies in line with the needs of the business and the culture of the environment, let alone be able to provide substantiated advice and guidance to the Hiring Manager.

Don’t get me wrong. Farmers fill vacancies. They can do it and save on fees that may be spent on agencies or search firms. However how confident are you that you have hired the best possible candidate rather than a convenient one?

I’ve had countless conversations with other in-house recruiters over the last few months, covering a wide variety of topics.  One common thread is how a recruiting team’s performance and its worth to the business can be directly influenced by or as a result of the attitude of the person at the top of the tree in HR.   I can relate to this, unfortunately.

I have only ever met a few HR Managers or Directors that know how to recruit, unless their primary role is recruitment.  I was given a perfectly clear example of this recently when speaking with HRDs from organisations of various sizes and markets.  I asked by a show of hands how many of them had personally recruited for people in the last year.  Most of them put their hands up.  When I then asked them to put their hands down if they had used an agency or search company, all but one put their hands down.  All they had proven was that they knew how to use a phone.  I told them so, which opened up all sorts of conversations.

One clear point from personal experiences during #MyJobHunt, as well as before and after, is that the majority of HR departments treat recruiters as Administrators, which in turn means that they tend not to be equipped well enough to give a candidate a proper experience and therefore don’t add any real value.  In fact in many companies recruitment is managed by HR Administrators.  Worse still, if they are treated like administrators, they will behave like administrators and not necessarily give the candidate the experience they will need or deserve.

What I find troubling is that we constantly read in the business or HR press, or are informed internally that attracting and acquiring top talent is a Top 5 Board level priority, yet it is rarely treated as such and tends to be treated with little respect and importance by HRDs.

I agree that I have generalised and  appreciate that there are many reasons why in-house teams are not as good as they think they are or could be, and I am pretty sure that this post will stimulate a few comments, but hey it I didn’t hear it or experience it I wouldn’t comment on it.  I think you know that about me.

The point I am trying to make is that recruiters can add significant value to your employer brand, your corporate brand, your reputation in the market, your ability to attract and acquire top talent and when supported, equipped and engaged correctly they will add far more value to the company balance sheet than any other part of HR…………..arguably.  I am biased of course

I’m in the lucky position to have joined a company as we go through a transformation, part of which is the creation of an improved and hopefully sophisticated team at the pinnacle of the tip of the iceberg with all the processes, tools and skills to add real value to the company – yeah that’s my goal and my job!