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Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR, CPLP is the HR Bartender, whose blog is a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When she’s not tending bar, Sharlyn is president of ITM Group, Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. Her off-hours are spent searching for the best hamburger on the planet, fabulous wine that cost less than $10 bottle and unusual iPad apps.

Every organization has a culture. Culture is defined as a collection of commonly-held traditions, beliefs, and behaviors by a group of people. Culture is a part of every company and, in many workplaces, it’s never documented. In order for a company to achieve its business goals, they must recognize and leverage the talent within the company. That means being able to create a culture that is empowering, supportive, and, in turn, allows people to do their best work.

It also means having a culture that is diverse and inclusionary. Lew Platt, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, summarized the business case for diversity and inclusion best. “I see three main points to make the business case for diversity: 1) A talent shortage that requires us to seek out and use the full capabilities of all our employees. 2) The need to be like our customers, including the need to understand and communicate with them in terms that reflects their concerns. And 3) Diverse teams produce better results.”

The question becomes, how do we create a culture that does all of these things? Well, the first step is hiring the right people. The people that align with your cultural identity. Here are four steps to consider:

STEP 1: Understand Your Cultural Identity

Organizations need to have an unfiltered understanding of their culture – not the culture they want to be, but the culture they really are. As a human resources professional, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen companies make is to have meeting rooms full of posters that they say represent who they are as an organization only to discover employees don’t embrace those same qualities.

A company’s cultural identity is tied to the personal leadership of its employees, the emotional intelligence of its leadership, the trust employees share with each other, and the business’ ability to be agile and change.

STEP 2: Incorporate Your Identity into Your Career Website

If companies want to hire employees that align with their culture, they have to share what their culture is all about. A company’s cultural identity should be clear when a candidate looks at the company’s career site.

Organizations can use images and video to give candidates a sense of the organization. For example, I know companies that have demonstrated a commitment to diversity and hiring people with disabilities. It is part of their cultural identity and their career websites reflect that.

Images aren’t the only aspect. Your culture comes through in the wording of job descriptions, job openings, and the communications you send out to talent networks and communities.

STEP 3: Share Your Culture with Candidates

Today’s candidates want to see your cultural identity before they ever apply to your company. They are also looking for confirmation of your culture when they interact with recruiters and hiring managers.

This includes the exchanges taking place during career fairs, interactions on social media, and conversations during screening and interviews. Each contact between a candidate and the company either confirms or denies your cultural identity.

When an organization understands and embraces their cultural identity, sharing corporate culture becomes a natural part of the conversation. If a recruiter is trying to “sell” a culture, it’s often very obvious – the candidate knows it and the recruiter knows it as well.

STEP 4: Include Your Culture in Onboarding

Organizations do not have to lose their cultural identity during orientation and onboarding. For those parts of the process that have been automated, make sure they still incorporate a piece of your cultural identity. Obviously, the company can bring their culture to life using video introductions. But organizations have a great opportunity with mentoring and coaching activities.

One of my former bosses called mentoring “an opportunity to tell you where all the landmines were” and how to maneuver around them. Those landmines were are part of the company’s culture and, to be successful, you need to know where they are.

Cultural identity reflects many things: trust, leadership, accountability and working relationships. It’s what companies stands for and the way for companies to excel is to hire individuals that share those same cultural values.

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Natalie Trudel is the lead author for the Employee Performance Management Blogwhose posts offer practical advice and great resources on performance management and HR. When she isn’t writing, Natalie is the Marketing Manager for CRG emPerform, which offers leading online performance management software (and happens to be one of our newest partners!).

All year long, Santa watches over the children of the world, taking notes on their behavior, their growth, and the effort they’re investing in trying ever so hard to be good. Nobody knows exactly how he gets this job done, but the outcome is clear: the good receive presents, the bad receive stockings full of coal, and both get to end the holiday with a valuable lesson in the books and a clear plan for the year ahead.

If you’re an experienced HR pro, this whole scenario might sound familiar…Is it possible that Santa Clause is actually an all-seeing HR manager in the giant workplace otherwise known as childhood? Maybe. Or maybe we’ve had too much eggnog. But in either case, HR pros have a lot to learn from Santa’s methods. Here are a few of the most important take-aways.

  1. Santa never stops paying attention. He doesn’t just form rushed opinions and snap judgments two weeks before toy season. He watches and takes careful, fair and accurate notes all year long. This doesn’t change just because his “employees” scramble to bring out their best behavior during the final countdown.
  2. Santa knows the difference between high performance and high growth.Bad children who make an effort to sweeten up during the year sometimes deserve as much praise—or even more—than good children who haven’t changed much from last year to the present.
  3. Santa understands that effort should be meaningfully rewarded. He offers praise and approval that are worth working for, not just meaningless lip service. Like Santa, great HR managers know that a strong review should be backed by appropriate raises and bonus compensation.
  4. Santa leaves children with a clear performance approval plan that can guide them during the year ahead. Actually, no he doesn’t. But effective HR managers do. After the celebration is over, the work doesn’t end—it begins.
  5. Santa understands the value of a strong performance management platform. Or at least, we assume he does. After all, Santa does have a list and he checks it twice. But in a world where HR is a year-round gig, a paper list just won’t cut it. If Santa’s list is ever eaten by reindeer or if Mrs. Claus nudges him into the 21st century, chances are he would be using emPerform to set, track, and align performance goals and automate his methods.

Santa sounds like the perfect HR manager right? Maybe not. We can’t help but feel like HR might have some things to teach good old Saint Nick and those lessons would revolve around timeliness. Sure, Santa does a great job, but only once a year. What about the 364 days in between Christmas? We are not proposing a year-round Christmas bash (although we wouldn’t object), but maybe Santa should drop some lines throughout the year and provide feedback and coaching on an ongoing basis so everyone involved is crystal clear on expectations and can remedy bottlenecks more quickly. HR definitely knows the value of that!

If you’re in the mood to automate your ‘list’ this year, check out emPerform – talent management software guaranteed to bring loads of cheer.


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We turn to our smartphones and tablets for almost everything, and these mobile devices are well on their way to becoming the primary means for accessing the Internet. Whether searching for a place to eat, investigating what the weather is like outside, or even looking for a job, people are increasingly turning to the small screen for help. 

However, the rise of mobile adoption by job seekers presents a new set of challenges for employers. Having a mobile presence is imperative for an organization to be perceived as modern and forward-thinking in order to obtain top talent.

• All iCIMS-hosted Career Portals are mobile-optimized to automatically accommodate the appropriate viewing experience whether the candidate is on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet. In addition to the device-friendly experience available, candidates can now upload their resumes or documents straight from their device, Google Drive account, or Dropbox account.

A mobile-friendly application process can increase your conversion rates by providing the candidates with a simple application experience. According to a 2012 Career Builder study, one in five employers who have mobile career sites reported that at least 20% of their applications came through mobile devices. Career Builder research also shows that 40% of mobile candidates abandon the application process when they are notified that they are about to encounter a non-mobile friendly apply process. Since candidates are more likely to abandon sites that aren’t mobile-optimized, it’s critical for organizations to embrace mobile to attract top talent. Simply Hired recently reported that 86% of job seekers would use their smartphone for job searching if the capabilities were available. When asked, here’s how those job seekers indicated they would use mobile for landing a position:

• 55% want to receive alerts
• 45% want to apply for jobs
• 45% want to be able to track application status
• 23% share information via email
• 19% share information through social networks

The writing is on the wall: job seekers are eagerly embracing mobile as a way to search and apply for jobs. If employers want to win the war for top talent they must provide a seamless experience between their online site and their mobile presence to attract potential candidates.

Want to learn more? Download our Whitepaper, Top Talent is Mobile to read more about mobile recruitment.

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Every December, I like to set aside some time to think about my personal and professional goals for the coming year. While this might sound like a traditional New Year’s resolution, I like to think about it more in terms of kaizen. Kaizen, which means “good change,” refers to continuous improvement. As a core concept at iCIMS, this idea resonates with me personally as I look to 2014.

And certainly, as my department is expected to grow in 2014, we are all considering the role kaizen plays in the successful sourcing, recruiting, and onboarding of talent. Everyone plays a role in making improvements and streamlining processes to attract top talent, whether it be through creating an appealing candidate experience, improving communication among stakeholders, or monitoring key performance indicators to track improvements. This is especially true for recruiters and other HR personnel, who may discover that they are empowered to set the tone for HR organizational improvements in 2014. 

Goal: Bring in Game-Changing Talent with a Great Candidate Experience
Your best candidates may be juggling multiple offers or interested in multiple companies, so it is vital to make a great impression at every stage in the hiring process. 

The following are some questions to get you thinking as you set candidate experience goals for 2014:

• What are you doing to get in front of applicants at the early stages of their job research?

Are you actively promoting or incentivizing your employee referral program to get current employees on board? Are you posting your jobs on job boards or websites (based on location, industry, etc.) that the right kind of talent might frequent? Do you have a clear recruiting social media strategy?

• Once you have an applicant’s attention, what are you doing to keep it?

Do you offer applicants a simple application process, even if they are searching from a phone? Do applicants have the option to submit a resume or sign up for a talent pool, even when there are no current openings in their field?

• Do you give candidates clear opportunities to showcase unique skills and talents?

What kinds of questions or tasks can you present that will allow the candidate to demonstrate why he or she is a great fit for your company? What opportunities (such as video cover letters, writing samples, code tests, etc.) can you give candidates that will let them stand out early in the hiring process?

Goal: Improve Communication among Key Stakeholders

For successful talent acquisition, communication among stakeholders is key. No matter how successful your current processes are, organizations always benefit from communication improvements. This is especially true in the world of HR, where the first result on Google for the innocuous search phrase “hiring managers and recruiters” is currently an ERE article titled “How Recruiters Can Tame Frustrating Hiring Managers.”

Again, while there are many areas for potential improvement in communication, it may be easiest to take a step back and focus on addressing the most important communication concerns first. Many communication issues may be resolved easily with better technology or clearer internal processes.

Some questions to get you thinking as you set communication goals for 2014:

• What are your standard operating procedures for communication, and could they be improved?

How well are your standard operating processes for communication expectations documented, and are all stakeholders aware of their responsibilities? What processes (such as approvals, tasks, feedback, reminders, etc.) can be easily automated with supporting technology? What solutions (such as mobile approvals, etc.) can allow stakeholders to move the process forward efficiently?

Goal: Take Advantage of Benchmarks and Real-Time Reports to Recognize Efficiencies and Identify Bottlenecks

Ultimately, the best way to determine if you are improving and achieving your goals is through the collection of benchmark data and the analysis of your key performance indicators. While reports may not be the most glamorous part of an HR job, they provide valuable information to set the tone for future improvements. They also can help identify where to begin when planning your agenda for the coming year.

Some questions to get you thinking as you set reporting goals for 2014:

• How are you tracking your successes?

How are you utilizing the information available to you within your talent acquisition technology (such as source effectiveness, email campaign effectiveness, and onboarding productivity)? Would you benefit from personalized reports to support your specific responsibilities and goals?

• How are you tracking and addressing areas for improvement?

Do you have specific processes or standard operating procedures for dealing with bottlenecks within your talent acquisition process? Do you have a clear sense of how to implement or pitch better HR processes or technologies, as merited?

In order to provide additional insight and statistics regarding the potential for HR process improvements in 2014, iCIMS recently released an eBook with tips for HR in the coming year. Looking to improve and want to learn more? Download our free eBook 14 HR Tips for 2014.

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Ok … I admit it … I was wrong.
But, you don’t know what I am talking about, so let me back up and explain. 

Months ago, when I learned that iCIMS was building a new product, Video Cover Letter, I was skeptical of the value the product would bring to the hiring process. Since a good part of my job here at iCIMS relates to swimming through statistics and industry trends, I was well aware that prominent industry analysts and researchers were saying that video would be the next game-changer in recruiting. 

For example, the Aberdeen Group claimed organizations that incorporated video into the recruitment process experienced:

• 67% reduction in travel costs
• 47% shorter time to fill
• Improved cost per hire

While these statistics are great, I’m a hiring manager. I certainly don’t mean to sound crass, but honestly, I wanted to know what Video Cover Letter was going to do for me and my department? 

Once Video Cover Letter was ready for beta testing, iCIMS began using it internally for our recruiting. The results were staggering. In addition to saving our recruiter’s and hiring manager’s time in screening, Video Cover Letters have improved the alignment and communication between the recruiters and hiring managers. How? Well, in retrospect, It’s pretty obvious. 

Many recruiters out there may have noticed that sometimes it can be a challenge for us hiring managers to clearly explain what we are looking for in a candidate. It’s difficult for a hiring manager to come up with the right words to explain intangible attributes that make for a good fit within our department. This communication problem, results in delays in hiring. Meanwhile, my staff and I are struggling to compensate for the vacancy and no one wins. 

Video Cover Letter fixed that by giving us hiring managers tangible examples we can point to as we work with our recruiters. Now, when I see a great Video Cover Letter, I can tell the recruiter “this is what I am looking for, that is what I mean, find me more like this”. As a result, the quality of candidates the recruiters are sending me has improved exponentially and the recruiters are less frustrated with my sad attempts at communication.  I’m no longer skeptical. I’m completely sold on the fact that Video Cover Letter is a game-changer. 

Now, I take every opportunity (like this blog post) to tell my story to recruiters. Most are extremely interested to hear the hiring manager’s perspective and they are excited about a chance to improve their working relationship with the hiring manager. Still, recruiters are very conscious of their responsibility to EEO compliance and they worry that Video Cover Letter may be problematic for their organization. But, that’s no problem for me! I am always ready with an answer – straight from the EEO’s mouth! 

Here’s what EEO has to say about using video in recruitment: 

“The EEO laws prohibit covered entities from recruiting and selecting new employees in a discriminatory way. The EEO laws do not expressly prohibit the use of specific technologies or methods for selecting employees, and therefore do not prohibit the use of video... The key question under the EEO laws is how the selection tools are used...”

EEO’s statement makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. Technology in and of itself cannot discriminate.  Discrimination happens when narrow-minded people fail to see the benefits of diversity. That narrow-mindedness can occur at any time during the recruitment process, from the phone screen to the face-to-face interview, and it can happen with or without technology. It would be a terrible mistake to overlook so many benefits and blame an inanimate technology for human failings.  

In short, I now thoroughly believe Video Cover Letter is THE recruiting game-changer and I am very glad to say that my initial skepticism was completely wrong.

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Effective recruiting is what turns an average company into a great company, and HR professionals can turn not only to other professional organizations for best practices, but also to other institutions that seek to recruit top talent. 
Fraternities and sororities, for example, have to be proactive recruiters in order to support their goals and make their organization well-known, successful, and effective on college campuses. The question is, what can HR learn from Greek organizations?  In many ways, recruitment for Greek Life illustrates a number of best practice techniques that are similar to how the most effective companies source for new talent.  

Rush Week/Sourcing

Rush week is the single most important time for Greek Life.  Every single Greek organization presents their events and activities for the week to the entire student body in hopes those interested will come.  Knowing how to effectively market and get the word out about the events is crucial to getting potential candidates to “apply” for a fraternity or sorority.   Many promote their events through social media, word of mouth, and guerilla marketing tactics.  This ensures the greatest reach to potential new members. 

Professional organizations can look to how Greek organizations approach sourcing to develop some of their own sourcing techniques.

 Make it Easy for Applicants to Find You: By utilizing a recruitment software, you can automatically post your jobs to your career sites and job boards so potential candidates view them.  
 Keep Applicants Interested on Social Media: You can announce new positions on social media in order to identify and engage pools of talent who might be interested in working for you.  Social media is the latest trend, and having the technology to post jobs automatically to multiple social media outlets puts you one step ahead of the competition.

Recruitment Chair Acts as Fraternity/Sorority HR Department

The recruitment chair is a potential new member’s main Point of Contact when rushing a fraternity or sorority.  They are also the person who determines which potential member will receive a bid, similar to how a hiring manager decides which candidate will get the official job offer.  The fraternity/sorority recruitment chair is responsible for making potential candidates feel comfortable and introducing them to the fraternity/sorority culture and values.
Sound familiar?  This responsibility is very similar to what the best recruiters do on the job every day in their respective human resources departments.

 You Are the Face of Your Organization: The recruiter is often the first point of contact for a potential hire, as well as the first person to communicate and their organizations’ values.
 Accurate Record-Keeping is Key: Recruiters might interact with dozens of candidates each day. It is important for recruiters to keep careful notes on candidate impressions as well as stages within the hiring process in order to make sure that the best potential employees are identified efficiently. 

Integrating New Candidates into Your Organization/Onboarding

Bringing a new person into your organization, and introducing them to “the way you do things” can seem like a daunting task, but in reality it’s fairly simple.  In Greek Life, new members go through an onboarding process that introduces them to the ideals and history behind their respective organization.  Therefore, upon completion of the process, they are ready to be full-fledged members of their fraternity or sorority.
In reference to hiring candidates into a company, the full onboarding process can be automated.

 Make Sure Your New Hires Get up and Running Quickly: With an online onboarding portal, you can easily display information on company culture and mission, host electronic paperwork, and give new hires an introduction to the values of your organization.  Transition your new hire into a prepared employee by educating them about your organization before they even walk in on their first day. A strong onboarding program will ensure your new employees are confident and ready to be productive from day one!

It’s amazing to see how recruiting best practices within the Greek community can also serve as guidance for professional recruiters. By taking advantage of these tactics, you can effectively recruit the best candidates, whether that be for membership in a Greek organization, or the best candidates for a job at your organization.


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Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR, CPLP is the HR Bartender, whose blog is a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When she’s not tending bar, Sharlyn is president of ITM Group, Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. Her off-hours are spent searching for the best hamburger on the planet, fabulous wine that cost less than $10 bottle and unusual iPad apps.

As the labor market continues to become more competitive, companies are shifting their focus to the candidate experience. Organizations have always placed importance on their employment brand and what job seekers think about the business. However, it’s clear that today’s candidates have options and companies need to step up their game.

Smart companies are doing critical self-evaluations of their recruiting processes to ensure they are offering the best candidate experience as possible. One method of self-evaluation is to consider the common complaints that job seekers have when it comes to the hiring process then making sure that whatever they do, these things won’t happen within the organization again.

1) Only talking with candidates when there’s an opening. In today’s market, recruiters should always be looking for talent. The days of starting the recruiting process when a job requisition shows up on your desk are long gone. Organizations are developing talent networks and talent communities to address their short-term and long-term staffing needs. Successful recruiters are adopting Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) strategies to consistently promote the company culture and communicate value to candidates. 

With the iCIMS Recruit solution, recruiters have the ability to search their systems and determine if they are building the talent pipelines they need. This allows them to constantly monitor and adjust their recruiting strategy. The only way to win the war for talent will be by staying diligent when it comes to candidate sourcing and engagement.

2) A lengthy online application process. Organizations should regularly test their applicant tracking system (ATS) to make sure it’s user friendly. This includes trying to apply directly via the company career site, social media platforms, and mobile devices. Recruiters and hiring managers can view the process from the candidate perspective and ask some tough questions.

a. Do we have enough information about the candidate’s skills and experience? Recruiters don’t need to know everything about a candidate at this point. They will learn more about the candidate during the interview. It’s about making sure the company has collected enough information to make an educated decision.

b. Have we captured the right information about the candidate? There are so many things we want to know about candidates. Again, we’ll learn a lot during the interview. We need to gather only the information that will help us decide who to interview.

3) Withholding information about the interview process. Recruiters want to share with candidates what to expect during the interview appointment and process. For example, I would always tell candidates who are scheduled for interviews on casual attire day what to expect. I would tell them what I was wearing so they weren’t surprised. And if they wanted to join the fun and wear jeans, I told them it wouldn’t be held against them. 

I also made sure that at the end of every interview to explain the hiring process. I’ve worked for companies where it wasn’t unusual to interview 4, 5, 6 different times.  The job title didn’t matter. It was a part of the corporate culture. I would explain to candidates that the company felt this process allowed candidates to connect with the organization. So on Day 1, the new employee knew more people than the human resources director and their boss. Candidates appreciated the explanation and were patient because we had explained the process.

4) Lack of information about the work and benefits. Recruiters should make sure candidates completely understand the job responsibilities, pay, and benefits. Many companies share the job description with candidates during the interview process. That’s great but I I’d share some of the unwritten responsibilities of the job as well. For instance, give the candidate an office tour and let them know every employee takes turns cleaning out the break room refrigerator. 

Also, there can be a taboo about discussing pay and benefits upfront in the interview. Don’t wait until the end of the process or, even worse, the job offer. Let candidates know early in the process the company philosophy on starting pay, salary increases, and benefits. If an employee isn’t able or willing to be satisfied with the compensation package, then both of you are able to part ways amicably. 

5) No response. Nothing frustrates candidates more than feeling their application has been sucked into a black hole never to be seen again. Applicant tracking systems have features that allow companies to keep candidates informed of their status. In fact, theiCIMS Recruit solution gives companies an array of templates that they can use to communicate with candidates or, if you prefer, the ability to craft personalized replies that align with your employment brand. These replies can be automated so it doesn’t add extra steps for the recruiting team.

The best way to tell candidates that you want them to work for you is by showing them. The way you show them that is by creating a hiring process that’s effective, efficient, and respectful of everyone’s time.

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Madeline Laurano is the Research Director, Talent Acquisition Solutions, within Aberdeen’s Human Capital Management research practice, and is responsible for leading and collaborating on Aberdeen’s research coverage across a range of HCM topics, including contingent workforce management, talent mobility, workforce planning, sourcing strategy, recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), employer branding, onboarding and talent acquisition. 

Additionally she is responsible for delivering research findings via published works, speaking engagements, on-line events, and Aberdeen’s annual Human Capital Management Summit.

In September, I attended iCIMS’ customer advisory board and was incredibly impressed by the level of discussion around strategic talent acquisition and the best practices shared during the two day event. Below is a recap of my session on creating a positive new hire experience.
Year-after-year, onboarding remains one of the most popular topics we cover in our HCM research at Aberdeen. One reason is that onboarding is something that impacts everyone. As employees or managers, we have all had a positive or negative new hire experience and we understand the impact that experience can have on productivity, retention, and engagement efforts. In fact, we found that 90% of organizations believe an employee makes a decision to stay at an organization within the first 6 months. During this presentation, we examined the challenges facing organizations when onboarding new hires, the strategies they implement to drive business outcomes, and the technology they leverage to achieve success.

Why is Onboarding so Difficult?

Despite the enthusiasm for onboarding, only 37% of organizations have had a formal program in place for more than 2 years. Most often, organizations fail to connect onboarding to business objectives. Yet, when we asked organizations to identify their top pressures for onboarding- productivity and engagement were top on the list. These are business pressures not HR pressures- a clear indication that onboarding impacts the bottom line. 

Another reason that onboarding is so challenging is that many organizations have not established a clear owner. For many organizations, onboarding as a process is shared between recruiting, HR and learning functions. As a result, there is little standardization or accountability for the success of these programs. By identifying an owner for onboarding, organizations can begin to mature in their onboarding efforts and make sure they can measure the effectiveness.

How Can Technology Help?

Technology can have a dramatic impact on an organization’s onboarding initiatives. Not only by automating the collection, management and tracking of new hire forms but also by improving productivity and engagement. In fact, nearly 50% of organizations plan to increase their onboarding investment in 2013 compared to 24% in 2012. Organizations looking for a comprehensive onboarding solution should consider:

• Forms management: Organizations will be able to store all forms in a central repository, handle digital signatures, track all forms, and synchronize users and groups.
• Tasks management: Organizations will be able to better manage all internal and external tasks related to new hires. They can easily notify various departments and send out frequent communication.
• Socialization: Through new hire portals, organizations can effectively engage new hires and keep them up-to-date on activities to acclimate them in the company culture.

If you have any questions on how companies are using technology to improve and innovate their onboarding process, please feel free to email me at

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Growing as a Servant Leader

As a typical high school student, I went through the college selection process weighing all options that would contribute to professional success and personal fulfillment. I thought long and hard about the factors that would optimize my potential: price, academia, athletics, brand recognition, demographics, community fellowship, leadership opportunities, and any affiliated costs … Now, looking back six years later, the deciding factor was that Seton Hall genuinely fostered a community centered on servant leadership. My service-oriented character was able to transition well from high school to college because of this, and I naturally found my groove as an up-and-coming leader. Although I can go on and on about how this was the crucial contributing factor to reaching certain collegiate milestones, my end goal in publishing this post is to share how employees, managers, and recruiters who practice servant leadership can directly impact long-term business success and employee retention.

Servant Leadership in Management & Marketing
Servant leadership, often hidden in various sectors of society, is centered on developing a “living for the sake of others” mindset along with making and keeping accountable goals. As an emerging marketing professional, my first reference point for consistent leadership is my direct manager at iCIMS. She has shown me firsthand that employee empowerment, paired with accountability, can directly result in greater productivity, higher performance levels, and better professional relationships. Not only does this help form a positive corporate culture for recruitment advertising, but naturally results in a higher degree of organizational loyalty and  lower employee turnover. 

In the realm of marketing, this tenant of servant leadership can be employed when applying advertising tactics, increasing prospect engagement, and creating a content strategy. Regardless of an organization’s industry, sales and marketing efforts that reflect “why” a company does what it does will naturally attract prospects that believe in its core values- and will feel called to purchase a product (or suite) not only as a want but as a need. These potential customers become more engaged in what the company stands for and are thus more likely to perceive this organization as an industry disruptor and educational leader. 

Long-term Impacts of Servant Leadership in Organizational Development 

Whether your organization is an innovative industry trailblazer or in a constant battle with competitors, according to Simon Sinek, great organizations think, act, and communicate in the same way: the complete opposite way of everybody else. In his TED talk viewed over 14 million times, Sinek shares how organizations disrupt industry norms by hammering the following point home: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.  iCIMS does business based on a “why” with core values of drive, passion, innovation, customer orientation, communication and adaptability at the center of how and what we do (reference the golden circle for better context). Whether we are selling talent acquisition products or plush Ikes (fictional example), iCIMS stands on foundation of integrity and service- and the industry can feel that. This orientation results in positive and long-term impacts on all aspects of the organization- customer training, product development, C-level decision-making, sales strategy, top talent attraction, employee retention, etc … Even if it can’t be seen or felt initially, servant leadership changes the direction of an organization. It’s long-term and short-term results can be seen and even motivate an entry-level Marketer to write about an intrinsic value that can only be known firsthand by working in a culture of true success based on the “why”.

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Reid Klion is Chief Science Officer of pan. Involved with pan since its founding in 2000, he provides psychometric and science-based oversight in the development of technology-based personnel assessment systems and is involved in internal and external consultation on assessment system design, psychometric issues, test content, and test implementation. He is active in industry, scientific, and regulatory affairs and plays a leadership role in a number of professional organizations. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the Association of Test Publishers and the International Personnel Assessment Council. A member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Reid is a graduate of Hobart College and received his doctorate from Miami University.

In the aftermath of the most severe economic downturn since the 1930s, there are signs of improvement including companies holding higher levels of cash, unemployment rates trending downward, and consumer spending increases. This means organizations will eventually be faced with the need to increase staffing levels to meet rising demand.

Many employers have avoided hiring thus far, both to manage costs and avoid prematurely adding to the workforce. However, when hiring resumes, the need for increased staffing could be substantial. It is critical for human capital leaders to invest in the resources required to wisely expand their workforces in an increasingly competitive job market.

Strategic Workforce Planning

The process of strategic workforce planning in its simplest form involves two important steps: clarifying vision and self-study.

As organizations grow, it is beneficial for human capital leaders to help the company clarify its vision and direction. They must facilitate discussions to help reach important decisions about future employee roles and competencies that will be required to realize longer-term initiatives. Unless recruitment, selection, and development processes are aligned with the overall vision, the organization will have little chance of success in achieving its goals.

Leaders must also engage in self-study by examining the strengths and weaknesses of current human capital using metrics such as turnover rates, sales, employee engagement and customer satisfaction data. If the answer to questions about these metrics is “we don’t know” or “we can’t get the data,” this is a warning sign. Not knowing where you are means there is little chance you’ll be able to reach your destination or even know if you’ve arrived. Organizations must be educated on the importance of collecting and using accurate workforce performance metrics.

Operational Improvements

Even if wide-scale change in the workforce is not envisioned, it may be time to look at current hiring processes. This could include completing job analyses, using validated pre-hire assessments and providing great candidate experiences.

It is important from both a hiring and compensation perspective to review information about various job roles to ensure it is consistent with work tasks. Job analyses define the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required for successful performance in a position. This information must be up-to-date and comprehensive so human capital leaders will have a road map in determining if a particular applicant is well-suited for a specific position.

With a good grasp of the key competencies required for success in a job role, the next step is identifying best-fit individuals and one of the most effective ways is the use of psychometric assessments.

There are two basic types of assessments: those that measure what an individual can-do and those that measure what an individual will- do. Assessments that measure can-do, or someone’s best possible performance, are tests of cognitive abilities and job skills while will-do assessments typically measure attitudes and work preferences. Unlike clinical tests used by psychologists and social workers, the assessments used by human capital leaders look at factors that are directly related to the skills and competencies required for a specific job position. Used in this way, organizations can be sure the people they bring on are well-suited for their roles.

A common concern when using assessments is exposure to increased legal liability.  However, any method used to make hiring decisions—résumé reviews, interviews, background checks, etc.—is considered to be a test and held to the same legal standard as the use of assessments. Avoiding assessments to protect the organization from legal issues not only creates a false sense of security but also rules out one of the better methods for identifying qualified candidates. 

Finally, selling the organization as a place candidates will want to work is extremely important in the recruitment and selection process. The most attractive candidates will likely have multiple employment offers, and human capital leaders need to ensure that their organization stands out with a seamless hiring process. Candidates also have the potential to become future customers or influence buying decisions, so a good experience during the recruitment and selection process is vital.

Looking Forward

Human capital leaders need to face the reality of increasing staffing levels head on. Therefore, it is time to help organizations determine how they want to function in the future. Will the organization simply do more of the same or implement a systematic, research-driven approach to identifying individuals who have the greatest potential for success?

Human capital leaders have an opportunity to prove that implementing best-practice talent acquisition processes can help improve their organization’s bottom line.

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